One fully skilled or well versed in any art; from the Latin word Adeptus, meaning having obtained, because the Adept claimed to be in the possession of all the secrets of his peculiar mystery.
The Alchemists or Hermetic philosophers assumed the title of Adepts (see Alchemy). Of the Hermetic Adepts, who were also sometimes called Rosicruzians, Spence thus writes, in 1740, to his Mother: "Have you ever heard of the people called Adepts? They are a set of philosophers superior to whatever appeared among the Greeks and Romans. The three great points they drive at, are, to be free from poverty, distempers, and death; and, if you believe them, they have found out one secret that is capable of freeing them from all three. There are never more than twelve of these men in the whole world at a time ; and we have the happiness of having one of the twelve at this time in Turin.
I am very well acquainted with him, and have often talked with him of their secrets, as far as he is allowed to talk to a common mortal of them" (Spence's Letter to his Mother, in Singer's Anecdotes, page 403).
In a similar allusion to the possession of abstruse knowledge, the word is applied to some of the advanced degrees of Freemasonry.
The Encyclopedia Masonica exists to preserve the wealth of information that has been generated over the centuries by numerous Masonic authors. As Freemasonry is now Speculative and not Operative, the work of a Mason is now conducted in the quarries of symbolism, literature, history and scholasticism. Freemasonry encourages intellectual exploration and academic achievement in its members and many Masons over the years have taken up this calling. The result has been that an incredible amount of philosophy, symbolic speculation and academic insights have been created. However, as Freemasonry teaches, human knowledge is frail and fragile. It is easily lost in the turnings of the ages and unforeseen catastrophes can result in great setbacks to human knowledge.
For too long these great works have sat on forgotten shelves, gathering dust and concealing the light that could be shed on the darkness of our ignorance. The Encyclopedia Masonica has been created to act as an ark, sailing through time, to ensure that future generations of Freemasons have access to the same knowledge that inspired the Brethren that came before them. It will contain the works of such Masonic Luminaries as Albert G. Mackey, Manly Palmer Hall, G.S.M. Ward, Albert Pike and many others. The Encyclopedia Masonica is a living work and the volunteers of Universal Co-Masonry will continue to labor until the most comprehensive Masonic reference work the world has ever seen has been created. The Encyclopedia Masonica is open to any who wish to use it and will remain open so that the treasures contained within may increase the wealth of all those who seek its wisdom.
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