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An officer elected or appointed in the Continental Lodges of Europe to take charge of the contents of the alms-box, to carry into effect the charitable resolutions of the Lodge, and to visit sick and needy brethren. A physician is usually selected in preference to any other member for this office. An Almoner may also be appointed among the officers of an English Lodge. In the United States the officer does not exist, his duties being performed by a Committee of Charity. However, it is an important office in all bodies of the Scottish Rite.
A box which, toward the close of the Lodge, is handed around by an appropriate officer for the reception of such donations for general objects of charity as the brethren may feel disposed to bestow. This laudable custom is very generally practised in the Lodges of England, Scotland, and Ireland and universally in those of the Continent. The newly initiated candidate is expected to contribute.
Brother Hyde Clarke says in the Freemasons' Magazine (London, 1859, page 1166) that "Some brethren are in the habit, on an occasion of thanksgiving with them, to contribute to the box of the Lodge more than on other occasions."
This custom has not been adopted in the Lodges of America, except in those of French origin and in those of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.
Although almsgiving, or the pecuniary relief of the destitute, was not one of the original objects for which the Institution of Freemasonry was established, yet, as in every society of men bound together by a common tie, it becomes incidentally, yet necessarily, a duty to be practised by all its members in their individual as well as in their corporate capacity.
In fact, this virtue is intimately interwoven with the whole superstructure of the Institution, and its practise is a necessary corollary from all its principies. At an early period in his initiation the candidate is instructed in the beauty of charity by the most impressive ceremonies, which are not easily to be forgotten, and which, with the same benevolent design, are repeated from time to time during his advancement to higher degrees, in various forms and under different circumstances.
"The true Freemason," says Brother Pike, '"must be, and must have a right to be, content with himself; and he can be so only when he lives not for himself alone, but for others ,,who need his assistance and have a claim upon his sympathy."
The same eloquent writer lays down this rule for a Freemason's almsgiving: "Give, looking for nothing again, without consideration of future advantages; give to children, to old men, to the unthankful, and the dying, and to those you shall never see again ;
for else your alms or courtesy is not charity, but traffic and merchandise. And omit not to relieve the needs of your enemy and him who does you injury" ( see Exclusiveness of Freemasonry).
This manuscript is written on twelve quarto pages as a preface to the Minute Book of the Company and Fellowship of Freemasons of a Lodge held at Alnwick, where it appears under the heading of The Masons' Constitutions. The document tells us of the "Orders to be observed by the Company and Fellowship of Freemasons at a Lodge held at Alnwick, Septr. 29, 1701, being the General Head Meeting Day."
Among the items are the fifth and ninth which are of especial interest to us:
"Noe mason shall take any Apprentice (but he must) enter him and give him his charge within one whole year after.''
"There shall noe apprentice after he have served seaven years be admitted or accepted but upon the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel. "
But, the festival was in 1704 changed to that of Saint John the Evangelist and later entries of'"made Free Decr. 27th" indicate clearly that. those,who had served their time were admitted or accepted on that date according to the purpose of the ninth "Order."
This record was first published in 1871 in Hughan's Masonic Sketches and Reprints, American edition, and again in 1872 by, the same author in his Old Charges of the British Freemasons. In this latter work, Brother Hughan says of the records of this old Lodge that, "ranging from 1703 to 1757 they moslij, refer to indentures, fines, and initiations, the Lodge from first to last remaining true to its operative origin.
The members were required annualiy to 'appear at the Parish Church of Alnwicke with their approns on and common squares as aforesaid on Saint John's Day in Christmas, when a sermon was provided and preached by some clergyman at their appointment.' A. D. 1708." The manuscript was reproduced in facsimile by the Newcastle College of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia in 1895.
In the Egyptian mysteries, this is said to have been the name given to the aspirant in the highest degree as the secret name of the Supreme Being. In its component parts we may recognize the .... ALE or EL of the Hebrews, the AUM or triliteral name of the Indian mysteries, and the ...JAH of the Syrians.
ALOYAU, SOCIETE DE L'.
The word Atoyau is the French name for a sirloin of beef and hence the title of this society in English would be The Sociely of the Sirloin. This was a Masonic association, which existed in France before the Revolution of 1789, until its members were dispersed at that time.
They professed to be possessors of many valuable documents relating to the Knights Templar and, according to the Acta Latomorum (i, page 292), they claimed to be their successors (see Temple Order of the ).
ALPHA AND OMEGA.
The first, and last letters of the Greek alphabet, referred to in the Royal Master and some of the advanced degrees. They are explained by this passage in Revelations ¯ xxii, 13 '1: ''1 am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last." Alpha and Omega is, therefore, one of the appellations of God, equivalent to the beginning and end of all things, and so referred to in Isaiah (xiiv, 6), "1 am the first and 1 am the last."
In the old rituals of the Fourth or Secret Master's Degree of the Scottish and some other Rites, we find this passage : ''The seventy-two names, like the name of the Divinity, are to be taken to the Caballstic Tree and the Angels' Alphabet." The Caballstic Tree is a name given by the Cabalists to the arrangement of the ten Sephiroth (which see). The Angels' Alphabet is called by the Hebrews ...., chetab hamalachim, or the writing of the angels.
Gabffarel (Curios. Inouis., xiii, 2) says that the stars, according to the opinion of the Hebrew writers, are ranged in the heavens in the form of letters, and that it is possible to read there whatsoever of importance is to happen throughout the universe.
The great English Hermetic philosopher, Robert Fludd, says, in his Apology for the Brethren of the Rosy Cross, that there are characters in the heavens formed from the disposition of the stars, just as geometric lines and ordinary letters are formed from points; and he adds, that those to whom God has granted the hidden knowledge of reading these characters will also know. not only whatever is to happen, but all the secrets of philosophy. T'he letters thus arranged in the form of stars are called the Angels' Alphabet. They have the power and articulation but not the form of the Hebrew letters, and the Cabalists say that in them Moses wrote the Tables of the Law"
The astrologers, and after them the ailchemists, made much use of this alphabet; and its introduction into any of the high degree rituals is an evidenice of the influence exerted on these degrees by the Hermetic philosophy.
Agrippa, in his Occult Philosophy, and Kircher, in his Oedipus Egyptiacus, and some other writers, have given copies of this alphabet. lt may also be found in johnson's Typographia, But it is in the mystical books of the Cabalists that we must look for full instructions on this subject.
Nearly all of the significant words in the Masonic Rituals are of Hebraic origin, and in writing them in the rituals the Hebrew letters are frequently used. For convenience of reference, that alphabet is here given. The Hebrews, like other ancient nations, had no figures, and therefore made use of the letters of their alphabet instead of numbers, each letter having a particular numerical value. They are, therefore, affixed in the following table :
See Cipher Writing.
ALPHABET, NUMBER OF LETTERS IN.
In the Sandwich Island alphabet there are 12 letters; the Burmese, 19; Italian, 20; Bengalese, 21; Hebrew, Syrian, Chaldee, Phoenician, and Samaritan, 22 each; Latin, 23; Greek, 24; French, 25; German, Dutch, and English, 26 each ; Spanish and Sclavonic, 27 each ; Persian and Coptic, 32 each; Georgian, 35 ; Armenian, 35; Russian, 41; Muscovite, 43; Sanskrit and Japanese, 50 each; Ethiopic and Tartarian, 202 each.
It is believed by Scholars that, previous to the captivity, the alphabet now called the Samaritan was employed by the Jews in transcribing the copies of the law, and that it was not until their return from Babylon that they adopted, instead of their ancient characters, the Chaldee or square letters, now called the Hebrew, in which the sacred text, as restored by Ezra, was written. Hence, in some rituals, especially those used in the United States, the Samaritan characters find use. For convenience of reference, the Samaritan alphabet is therefore here inserted. The letters are the same in number as the Hebrew, with the same power and the same names; the only diflerence is in form.
Shortly after the Civil War a constitutional number of white citizens asked for a Dispensation to organize a Lodge at Newark, New Jersey. The Grand Master issued such authority. In due course the Grand Lodge authorized a Charter to Alpha Lodge No. 116 under date of January 19, 1871. At the time following the war many negroes found a haven in the neighborhood and petitions were received from them by the Lodge. Some of these petitioners were elected by the Lodge to membership. As a result several Grand Lodges withdrew their recognition from New Jersey but they all subsequently rescinded this action, Mississippi finally agreeing in 1927 to renew former relations.
refers to the Grand Lodge of Switzerland. A Lodge was organized at Geneva in 1736 ; the Worshipful Master, a Scotchman, being the following year appointed a Provincial Grand Master by the Grand Lodge of England. This Lodge was forbidden by the Government to initiate native citizens. Notwisthstanding this handicap, the Institution thrived. Nine Lodges met in Convention on June 1, 1769, and on June 24 of that year they formed the Independent Grand Lodge of Geneva. ,another Lodge, named Espérance, meaning Hope, was chartered at Berne by the Grand Orient of France on September 14, 1802.
This became a Provincial Grand Lodge under an English Warrant in 1815. The Helvetic Grand Orient was formed in 1810. Several of the Lodges working under these two organizations founded the National Grand Lodge of Switzerland. There were also some other Lodges using the ritual of the Rectified Rite under the control of a Grand Directorate. This lack of unity led to various efforts at organized cooperation and several General Assemblies of Freemasons in Switzerland were held at Zurich, Bern and Basle in 1836 and for some years later. The union so long patiently sought was perfected at a Convention held at Zurich, July 22 to 24, 1844, when fourteen Lodges agreed to a Constitution and organized the Grand Lodge Alpina, the name being a happy allusion to the Alps, a picturesque mountain range.
The most important article of furniture in a Lodge-room is undoubtedly the altar. It is worth while, then, to investigate its character and its relation to the altars of other religious institutions.
The definition of an altar is very simple. It is a structure elevated above the ground, and appropriated to some service connected with worship, such as the offering of oblations, sacrifices, or prayers.
Altars, among the ancients, were generally made of turf or stone. when permanently erected and not on any sudden emergency, they were generally built in regular courses of Freemasonry, and usualiy in a cubical form. Altars were erected long before temples. Thus, Noah is said to have erected one as soon as he came forth from the ark. Herodotus gives the Egyptians the credit of being the first among the heathen nations who invented altars.
Among the ancients, both Jews and Gentiles, altars were of two kinds-for incense and for sacrifice. The latter were always erected in the open air, outside and in front of the Temple. Altars of incense only were permitted within the Temple walls. Animals were slain, and offered on the altars of burnt-offerings. On the altars of incense, bloodless sacrifices were presented and incense was burnt to the Deity.
The Masonic altar, which, like everything else in Freemasonry, is symbolic, appears to combine the character and uses of both of these altars. It is an altar of sacrifice, for on it the candidate is directed to lay his passions and vices as an oblation to the Deity, while he offers up the thoughts of a pure heart as a fitting incense to the Grand Architect of the Universe.
The altar is, therefore, the most holy place in a Lodge.
Among the ancients, the altar was always invested with peculiar sanctity. Altars were places of refuge, and the supplicants who fled to them were considered as having placed themselves under the protection of the Deity to whom the altar was consecrated, and to do violence even to slaves and criminals at the altar, or to drag them from it, was regarded as an act of violence to the Deity himself, and was hence a sacrilegious crime.
The marriage covenant among the ancients was always solemnized at the altar, and men were accustomed to make all their solemn contracts and treaties by taking oaths at altars. An oath taken or a vow made at the altar was considered as more solemn and binding than one assumed under other circumstances.
Hence, Hannibal's father brought him to the Carthaginian altar when he was about to make him swear etemal enmity to the Roman power.
In all the religions of antiquity, it was the usage of the priests and the people to pass around the altar in the course of the sun, that is to say, from the east, by the way of the south, to the west, singing paeans or hymns of praise as a part of their worship.
From all this we see that the altar in Freemasonry is not merely a convenient article of furniture, intended, like a table, to hold a Bible. It is a sacred utensil of religion, intended, like the altars of the ancient temples, for religious uses, and thus identifying Freemasonry, by its necessary existence in our Lodges, as a religious institution. Its presence should also lead the contemplative Freemason to view the ceremonies in which it is employed with solemn reverence, as being part of a reaily religious worship.
The situation of the altar in the French and frequentiy in the Scottish Rites is in front of the Worshipfu1 Master, and, therefore, in the East. In the York Rite, the altar is placed in the center of the room, or more property a little to the East of the center.
The form of a Masonic altar should be a cube, about three feet high, and of corresponding proportions as to length and width, having, in imitation of the Jewish altar, four horns, one at each corner.
The Holy Bible with the Square and Compasses should be spread open upon it, while around it are to be placed three lights.
These lights are to be in the East, West, and South, and should be arranged as in the annexed diagram. The stars show the position of the lights in the East, West, and South. The black dot represents the position North of the altar where there is no light, because in Freemasonry the North is the place of darkness.
ALTENBURG, CONGRESS OF.
Altenburg is a town in Germany about twenty-three miles south of Leipzig and capital of the Duchy of Saxe-Aitenburg. Here in the month of June, 1764, the notorious Johnson, or Leucht, who called himself the Grand Master of the Knights Templar and the head of the Rite of Strict Observance, assembled a Masonic Congress for the purpose of establishing this Rite and its system of Templar Freemasonry-.
But he was denounced and expelled by the Baron de Hund, who, having proved Johnson to be an imposter and charlatan, was himself proclaimed Grand Master of the German Freemasons by the Congress (see Johnson and Hund; also Strict Observance, Rite of).
ALTENBURG, LODGE AT.
One of the oldest Lodges in Germany is the Lodge of Archimedes of the Three Tracing Boards, or Archimedes zu den drei Reissbrettern, in Altenburg. This Lodge was instituted on January 31, 1742, by a Deputation from Leipzig. In 1775 the Lodge joined the Grand Lodge of Berlin, but in 1788 attached itself to the Eclectic Union at Frankfort-on-the-Main, which body it left in 1801, and established a Directorate of its own, and installed a Lodge at Gera and another at Scheeberg. The Lodge published a Book of Constitutions in the year 1803 in a folio of 244 pages, a work which is now rare, and which Lenning says is one of the most valuable contributions to Masonic literature. Three Masonic journals were also produced by the Altenburg school of historians and students, one of which -the Bruderblatter, Fraternal Periodical-continued to appear until 1854. The Lodge struck a medal in 1804 upon the occasion of erecting a new hall, ln 1842 the Lodge celebrated its centennial anniversary.
Great labor. The name of the fifth step of the mystic ladder of Kadosh, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.
A plant well known to the ancients, the Greek name of which signifies never withering. It is the Cetosia cristata of the botanists. The dry nature of the flowers causes them to retain their freshness for a very long time, and Pliny says, althouw incorectly, that if thrown into water they will bloom anew.
Hence it is a symbol of immortality and was used bv the ancients in their funeral rites.
The flower is often placed on coffins at the present day with a like symbolic meaning, and therefore is one of the decorations of a Lodge of Sorrow.
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