5. In the nineteenth century, water and oil were generously applied
while the initiate sat in a tub. In the twentieth century, the washing and anointing
became more symbolic: officiators merely dabbed a little water and oil on each
part of the body while the initiate sat on a stool, clothed in the shield. Despite
the increased modesty, the twentieth-century initiatory remained a physically
intimate rite, requiring officiators to touch initiates on the center of the
sternum (while blessing the "breast"), on the lower back near the
kidney (while blessing the "vitals and bowels") and on the side near
the hip (while blessing the "loins"). These gestures were facilitated
by the shield's being open at the sides.
The 2005 revision eliminated the touching of the various body parts. Officiators pronounce the same blessings as before, but they do so while laying hands on the initiate's head. The washing and anointing have thus become even more symbolic than in the twentieth century, with water and oil being applied only to the forehead or crown. Because officiators no longer wash or anoint other parts of the initiate's body (which is covered by the garment), the shield is now closed at the sides.