Membership in the Turtles is by invitation only. If you are interested, please contact your local chapter (by asking around in your local bar), or contact me.

Once a candidate has made contact with a Turtle, they may be invited to join the fraternity. If the candidate agrees to join the Turtles, they are taken to a side room or private area where the initiation can be conducted in relative privacy. A circle is formed around the candidate by the Turtles present, and no outsiders are permitted to observe the initiation. The candidate is advised that they are about to join an honorable drinking fraternity composed of ladies and gentlemen of the highest morals and good character, ladies and gentlemen who are never vulgar. It is assumed by the Turtles that the candidate also owns a donkey of a sweet and kindly disposition (the explanation of this cryptic inquiry is given to the candidate after they’re initiated).

This being explained to the candidate, they are then asked by the presiding officer, often referred to as a “Grand Turtle,” “Imperial Turtle,” Grand Snapper,” or “His Shellness,” if he is willing to submit to the initiation of the fraternity, and answer “The Four Sublime Questions.” If the candidate agrees to answer the questions, he is then informed that there are penalties and rewards, both of which are in the eye of the beholder. Four (4) drinks of the candidate’s choice are then purchased. Every Turtle present has a drink of their choice in their hand.

The presiding officer advises the candidate, “If you fail to answer the question correctly, or with vulgarity, you must drink one of the four drinks we have placed before you. If you answer the question correctly, with dignity, all of us present must take a drink. Either way, it’s a win-win proposition.”

If the candidate answers one of The Four Sublime Questions incorrectly, all hoot and demand him to “Drink, candidate!” After he has drank his beverage, he is advised of the correct answer, which is never vulgar. And the questioning continues.

After the completion of The Interrogation, and all of The Four Sublime Questions are presented and answered by the candidate, the presiding officer asks all the Turtles present to vote on whether the candidate should be admitted into their ranks as a Brother or Sister Turtle. The Turtles step aside from the candidate and hold a conclave. There is much grumbling and whispering in the circle, and finally, they agree to admit the candidate.

The circle is re-formed around the candidate, and they are advised by the presiding officer:

“Candidate, you have been found worthy and well-qualified for membership in our Order. By the authority invested in me by the Ancient and Honorable Order of Turtles, I shall now invest you with the sign, grip, and passwords of the Order, which you shall divulge to no one except duly initiated Turtles. As a Brother (or Sister) Turtle, know ye that all Turtles are your brethren. When asked the password by a Brother or Sister Turtle, and you fail to give the proper response in its entirety, you shall forfeit to that Turtle a beverage of their choice. If you ask a Brother or Sister Turtle the password, and they fail to give you the password in its entirety, they shall forfeit to you a beverage of your choice. As a new Brother (or Sister) Turtle, I welcome you into the Order, and by this sign, grip, and password, identify yourself to each Brother and Sister in this circle.”

The new Brother or Sister Turtle then goes around the circle of new friends, and gives the sign, handclasp and password to each.

The next candidate is then called upon to join, and the procedure is commenced once again.

The Turtle initiation works best in person, however Brother Jonathan Emrys has created an online initiation:

If you would like to be initiated, please e-mail me and I will send you the password.