Among the traditions of Freemasonry, which, taken literally, become incredible, but which, considered allegorically, may contain a profound meaning, not the least remarkable are those which relate to the existence of a Masonic system before the Flood, the word antediluvian being from the Latin language and meaning before the deluge. Thus, Anderson (Constitutions, first edition, page 3) says: "Without regarding uncertain accounts, we may safely conclude the Old World, that lasted 1656 years, could not be ignorant of Masonry.''
Doctor Oliver has devoted the twenty-eighth lecture in his Historical Landmarks to an inquiry into "the nature and design of Freemasonry before the Flood" ; but he admits that any evidence of the existence at that time of such an Institution must be based on the identity of Freemasonry and morality. "We may safely assume," he says, "that whatever had for its object and end an inducement to the practice of that morality which is founded on the love of God, may be identified with primitive Freemasonry."
The truth is, that antediluvian Freemasonry is alluded to only in what are called the ineffably degrees; and that its only important tradition is that of Enoch, who is traditionally supposed to be its founder, or, at least, its Great Hierophant, or Chief Priest (see Enoch).
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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