A.L. / A.D. – Masonic Education by Joshua D. Parmer, PM


At Lodge No. 43’s last stated meeting, Brother Joshua D. Parmer, PM, presented to the Brethren in attendance a discussion on the Masonic Calendar.  The following is a transcript of what Bro. Parmer, PM presented that evening.

Good evening Brethren! It is such an honor to be asked to address this Great Lodge so soon after having left the East last year. I thank the Worshipful Master for his kindness toward myself. I was asked to give tonight’s Masonic Education on our Blue Lodge dating system of “AL” as well as the dating systems of other Masonic apendent bodies. Most of you probably know or have heard of the abbreviation of AL after reading your blue lodge monthly notice. You probably also know that it stands for Anno Lucis. Furthermore the expression means “In the Year of Light.” This date is calculated by adding 4000 years to the present Anno Domini Year or as Mackey’s calls the “Vulgar Era.” For those that may not understand Anno Domini, that means “In the Year of Our Lord.” I personally don’t find this Vulgar at all. Nevertheless my research also shows that people, Moderns like Dr. Anderson and Dr. Desaguiers who wrote Anderson’s Constitution, first used this dating system to explain the history of Freemasonry. You see in the 1720s AD most people believed the Bible to be accurate to the letter, that the world was made in 6 days of 24 hour increments, that the world was simply 4000 years old before Jesus Christ hit the scene. That was when the first verses of the bible took place and God said “Let there be light, and there was light.” Thus we are in the 6016th year Anno Lucis.

You might not know that virtually all Masonic bodies have their own dating method indicative of some important point of their own history and anecdotes. The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania sent the generic Masonic education points to us and I notice they wanted us to explain two of the Rites (Scottish and York) dating systems of Anno Mundi and Anno Ordinis or AM and AO respectively abbreviated. Anno Mundi means “In the Year of the World,” it is the dating system used by The Ancient and Accepted Rite Scottish Rite. It is calculated by adding 3760 to the Present Anno Domini year, until September when you should add one more year as this is when this calendar year starts, its also when new Scottish Rite officer’s officially begin their term of office. So presently we are in the year 5,776 Anno Mundi. Anno Mundi is based on the Hebrew calendar and closely associated with Anno Lucis. However the 240 year difference is based on differences with the Gregorian Calendar presently in use that calculates Anno Domini. This system of Anno Mundi is also synonymous with Anno Hebraico, or AH, which is the same thing and I found it interesting that this system includes a month of Tishri. This is the first month of the Hebrew/Jewish civil year and the seventh ecclesiastical month. This is one reason Reading Consistory and many Consistories in the Southern Masonic Jurisdiction celebrate this Feast of Tishri, which God commanded King Solomon to call for upon the completion of the First Temple (see 1 Kings 8:2). If any Master Masons would like to attend this Feast, its well worth it and all Master Masons are welcomed in Reading Consistory. See Brother Jeff Moyer PM for details.

The other Masonic calendar system the Grand Lodge would like us to cover is that of the Masonic Knights Templar of the York Rite. It is called Anno Ordinis, abbreviated A.O. and means “In the Year of the Order.” This system of dating is calculated by subtracting 1118 years from the Anno Domini system, thus we are in the year 898 Anno Ordinis. For those of you who don’t know much about the Templars past or present, they were a monastic group of knights who protected the Holy Lands and their Christian pilgrims. The Templar’s historic connection to our present order is tenuous at best by most orthodox Masonic historians, nonetheless the principles and practices they lived by greatly matched our moral designs and theories about our connection continue to abound.

One Masonic site, masonic-lodge-of education.com, explains this calendar system’s historical background as such:
“In the year, 1118 C.E. (Common Era), 9 French knights, followers of King Baldwyn, the King of Jerusalem, and at his behest and in his presence, took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.  With great humility, they assumed the title of the Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ.  The job of this brotherhood-in-arms was to protect the pious pilgrims in their passage to the holy city of Jerusalem.  King Baldwyn assigned them residence in a part of his palace which stood near the former site of the Temple of Solomon.  The Abbot and Canons of the Temple gave them a street between the palace and the Temple in which to store their arms and magazines.  Thus, they derived the name of Templars.”

In conclusion there are other Masonic Dating systems for each York Rite body’s use as well. The Chapter of the York Rite works in Anno Inventionis (meaning “in the year of discovery”), the Council of the York Rite work in Anno Depositionis (meaning “in the year of deposit”). Other dating systems found were Anno Egyptiaca (a reference to the consolidation of the Eygptian monarchy under Menes) and Anno Bonafacio (a reference to Melchizedek blessing Abraham). Lastly I would make one recommendation on reviewing the literature about Masonic calendar systems. That being that the author of the generic education for this evening’s subject ought not suggest the Anno Domini system will fall out of use, as its philosophy is quite the opposite. In actuality, I would bet him all the tea in China that if they examined further the Great Light, which most of us swore our oaths on, they would find it quite contrary to their suggestion. Thus it is my recommendation to this Lodge we continue printing AD directly next to AL in our official documentation. Thank you once more Worshipful Master and Brethren for your time an attention tonight.

-Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry