In the Masonic fraternity, the Lodge along with the appendant and concordant bodies use a unique dating system when keeping records. In this article, I will be discussing those used by the Blue Lodge, Scottish Rite, Royal Arch, Order of the High Priesthood, Cryptic Masons, Knights Templar, and Holy Royal Arch Knights Templar Priests.
In the Blue Lodge, Anno Lucis is used and translates as the Year of Light and adds 4000 to the current year (2015 A.D. = 6015 A.L.). This date originates from creation of the world as read from the Book of Genesis when God brought light to the world, and then created night and day. This dating system is used not because we think Freemasonry to be of the same age as the creation of the world, but due to the fact that Light is an important symbol in Freemasonry as it relates to the truth, knowledge, and mysteries of Freemasonry; just as light helps make things clear before our eyes so will knowledge and truth make things clear for our minds.
In the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, the dating system Anno Mundi, or Year of the World, is used. Like Anno Lucis, this date is to signify the creation of the world, but is based upon an older Hebrew calendar, which starts the year in a different month from that used in the Gregorian calendar; September instead of January. With this dating system one adds 3760 to the current year (2015 A.D. = 5775 A.M.).
In Royal Arch Masonry, the Year of the Discovery, or Anno Inventionis, is used in the dating system as the degrees of Royal Arch Masonry concerns the recovery, or discovery, of that which was lost in the Third Degree during the rebuilding of the Second Temple. This date is created by adding 530 to the current year and signifies the year, 530 BC, in which Zerubbabel began to build the Second Temple (2015 A.D. = 2545 A.I.).
The Order of the High Priesthood is a "chair" degree that is conferred upon those who are or have served as Excellent High Priest for a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons. Within this organization, Anno Benefacio, or Year of Blessing, is used as the dating system which adds 1913 to the current year (2015 A.D. = 3928 A.B.). This commemorates the year in which Abraham was given blessing by the High Priest Melchizedek.
Cryptic Masonry surrounds the preservation of that which was lost in the Master Mason degree and the construction of secret vaults, for which reason Anno Depositionis, or Year of the Deposit, is used by Royal & Select Masters. For this calendar, one simply adds 1000 to the current year (2015 AD = 3015 A.Dep.) and celebrates the completion of King Solomon's Temple.
The Knights Templar use Anno Ordinis, or Year of the Order, for their dating system. For this calendar, you subtract 1118 from the current year (2015 A.D. = 897 A.O.) and is used as 1118 is the year that the original medieval Knights Templar were founded.
An invitation group, the Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests (HRAKTP), uses Anno Renascent, or Year of Revival, to date their calendars. You subtract 1686 from the current year and this date signifies the supposed revival of the order in 1686 AD (2015 A.D. = 329 A.R.).
There are other dating systems, but these are most well-known and which will be discussed in a later article. It should also be noted that there are also some groups that only use the current year to date records.
1. Bessel, Paul. Masonic Dating Systems. n.d. http://bessel.org/masdates.htm.
2. Mackey, Albert. Masonic Abbreviations. 1873. http://freemasoninformation.com/masonic-education/freemasonry-in-general/masonic-abbreviations/.
3. Masonic Calendar. n.d. http://www.themasonictrowel.com/education/references/MCalendar.htm.
4. Masonic Calendar. n.d. http://www.masonic-lodge-of-education.com/masonic-calendar.html.
5. Masonic Calendar. n.d. http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/calendar.html.
6. Masonic Calendars. n.d. http://www.masonicdictionary.com/calendar.html.