No. 6 -- The newsletter of The Freemasons Chamber -- February 2000

Masonic Dating

Courtesy: A Freemason’s Guide and Compendium.

(Available on CDROM from the Lintel Trust UK for about £19 UK postpaid)

On a Brother’s certificate the date is given in two ways; one accords with the Gregorian calendar and the other with the Masonic calendar.

The ordinary calendar year, the year of the "vulgar era" is reckoned from the birth of Christ, and we speak of it as being "AD", or Anno Domini, meaning "In the Year of Our Lord." Craft Freemasonry officially uses that calendar plus its own "Anno Lucis", meaning "In the Year of Light", abbreviated as "AL".

Anno Lucis is " The Year Of Masonry," and is mentioned in the Constitutions of 1723 by Anderson, who arrived at it by adding to the calendar year 4000, representing the number of years once supposed to have elapsed since the beginning of the world. Craft Masonry observes this custom today, and in the certificate issued by the United Grand Lodge (of England) we find the phrase, "In testimony whereof I have hereunto subscribed my Name and affixed the Seal of the Grand Lodge at London this…day of [let us say] AL 5951, A.D.1951."

But it is confusing to find that the year ‘AL’ is sometimes found by adding 4004 to the calendar year, this being in accordance with the chronology of Archbishop Usher. It is not officially observed today in craft masonry (although one of the additional degrees, the Rite of Misriam, adopts it), but it is not without the justification of eighteenth century usage, inasmuch as the lodge constituted in 1742 used to print these summons from an old plate bearing the words "constituted AD 1742, AL 5746."

The abbreviation ‘A.H.’ means Anno Hebracio, "In the Hebrew Year," the calendar used in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. This is found by adding 3760 to the ordinary calendar year, but after September in each year it is necessary to add one more – that is, 3761 – owing to the Hebrew year beginning in September. ‘A.M.’ (Anno Mundi) – In the year of the world – agrees with ‘A.H.’

A diploma issued by the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland was dated Anno Domini, Anno Lucis, and Anno Inventionis. The last name means "In the Year of the Discovery" and alludes to the year in which Zerubbabel began to build the second temple, 530B.C; accordingly the year ‘AL’ is found by adding 530 to the ordinary calendar year.

The Knights Templar observed the form "In the Year of the Order", abbreviated ‘AO’ subtract 1118 from the calendar year; thus1950 less 1118=832 AO.

Another of the additional degrees – Royal and Selected Masters – speaks of "In the Year of the Deposit", represented by "A.Dep." abbreviated form Anno Depositionis. To find the year ‘A. Dep.’ you need to add 1000 to the calendar year; thus, 1950 AD add 1000 A.Dep. The year of the Strict Observance, reckoned from the destruction of the Templars in AD 1314, is found by subtracting 1314 from the calendar year.

Some additional facts from Bro Tofique Fatehi

The Constitution of the Supreme Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland gives these dates:

Ancient Craft Masonry begins its era with the Creation of the World, calling it Anno Lucis (AL) "In the year of Light" (add 4004 years to the current Gregorian year, e.g. 2000 AD). Royal Arch Freemasonry dates from the year when the second Temple was begun by Zerubbabel, Anno Inventionis (AI), "In the year of the Discovery" (add 530). Royal Ark Mariners date from the year of the deluge, Anno Deluvii (A.Dil.), "In the year of the Deluge" (add 2348). The Degrees of Captivity date from the closing years thereof, Anno Reductionis (AR), "In the year of the Return" (add 530); same as AI. Ð

The First Degree in Netherlands Freemasonry

The Netherlands has a population of over 14 million people. According to the figures in the 1986 "List of Lodges", there were 135 lodges with a total membership of 6800. Additional lodges working under Netherlands charters are located in the Netherlands Antilles (5), Surinam (3), Zimbabwe (7) and Johannesburg, South Africa (1). Craft lodges in Holland meet once a week, with an eight-week recess during the summer.

The lodge room, which is called the temple, is only used for ritual work, normally once a month. The majority of meetings are devoted to lectures, which are discussed the same evening. These lectures are not only on Masonic subjects, but also deal with social, philosophical, historical and cultural topics. They cover such matters as, Care of the Aged, Human Rights, The History of Grand Lodges, etc. These lectures are always given in the "Forecourt", which we call the dining room or banquet hall.

Before a lodge meeting, all visitors are officially received in the forecourt, and after being welcomed by the Master, enter the temple together with members of the lodge. The opening and closing ceremonies for the three degrees are the same, except for the passwords and signs applicable to the degree in which the lodge is working. After being initiated, it normally takes two years for a candidate to become a Master Mason.

Before advancing to the next degree, a ballot is taken to decide if the candidate is worthy to receive the next degree, depending on whether his attendance has been regular and whether he has done some Masonic research. He is also expected to give a short lecture on a Masonic subject.

The principal parts of the ritual are laid down, except for some of the Charges and Lectures which are free and may be given in the lecturer's own words. All officers are elected for three years, but can be elected for further terms. There is no automatic promotion of officers, and the Master can call on any officer he thinks fit to work a degree. The rank of Past Master does not exist, and when the Master has vacated his chair, he becomes again an ordinary member.

The brethren pay annual dues amounting to about US$60, pay for their own refreshments and a charity collection is taken at each meeting.

In applying for the degrees, the prospective candidate must submit references from people who have been closely associated with him, and a written summary of his life to the Board of Inquiry. This is followed by an interview during which he is tested on his moral and religious conceptions. At the end of the interview, the candidate signs a declaration that he is fully acquainted with the principal tenets of Freemasonry. When these formalities are completed, and the ballot at the next regular meeting is favorable, he is advised of the date of his initiation.

On the evening of his initiation, his proposer takes him to the lodge and turns him over to the Preparer, who takes him to the Reception room. Contact with any other members of the lodge before the ceremony is not permitted. The Preparer explains to him in general terms the solemnity and the meaning of the ceremony in which he will be engaged, and impresses upon him the importance of the step he is about to take.

After the candidate has signed a declaration of secrecy, he is divested of all metals, which teaches him that in Freemasonry a man is not esteemed for his worldly possessions.

He is then taken into the Dark Room, or Room of Contemplation, a small room adjoining the lodge, barely furnished with a table and chair where no noise or light can penetrate. The candidate is left there to contemplate in order to enable him to prepare for the ceremony of initiation. The only illumination is a single candle. Realizing the darkness in his own heart, he should have a real desire to search for the light.

In the Dark Room the candidate finds the Volume of Sacred Law, emblems of mortality, an hourglass and the words "KNOW THYSELF." The Volume of Sacred Law is opened to the first Chapter of St. John, which teaches the creation of all things. The emblems of mortality remind him of his inevitable destiny and that every rebirth is preceded by death. The hourglass reminds him of his short earthly existence and that time is an everlasting sequence of the past, the present, and the future. His turning the hourglass signifies that he is starting a new period in his life. Before the candidate is led out of the Dark Room, he extinguishes the candle, and hoodwinks himself. He is now prepared to seek the new light. The Preparer leads him before the Temple door, and the moment of his Initiation has arrived.

Editorial Board: Bro Tofique Fatehi, Bro Ahmed Bharucha, Bro Larry Grant.
Published for The Freemasons Chamber by Larry Grant, Post Box 1610, Mumbai 400001, India
Phone 91-22-2151001. E-mail
Master Masons are welcome to request free copies. Please send full name, name and number of lodge, and address. Copies also available by e-mail.

Previous Issue Newsletter Page Next Issue