Credit: Bro. Joshua D. Parmer, Past Master, Lodge No. 43, Lancaster, PA
Have you ever wondered about our Blue Lodge dating system of “AL” or those of other appendant Masonic bodies? Most of you probably know or have heard of the abbreviation of AL after the dates listed your blue lodge monthly notice. What you may not know is that it stands for Anno Lucis, a Latin phrase meaning “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.” Research shows that people like Dr. Anderson, 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 4,000 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 6,016th year Anno Lucis.
Virtually all Masonic bodies have their own dating method indicative of some important point of their own histories. For instance, two of the Rites (Scottish and York) use the dating systems of Anno Mundi and Anno Ordinis – abbreviated AM and AO respectively. 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. 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.
Another Masonic calendar 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. The Templars were a monastic group of knights who protected the Holy Lands and their Christian pilgrims. Their historic connection to our present order is tenuous at best by most orthodox Masonic historians, nonetheless the principles and practices they lived by greatly match our moral designs, and theories about our connection continue to abound.
There are 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).
It can be confusing to say the least, but now you know a little more about just what all those extra letters are referring to in your Lodge Notices.
Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry – http://www.masonic-lodge-of-education.com/masonic-calendar.html