Stow says that the Freemasons were incorporated as a company in the twelfth year of Henry IV, l412. Their arms were granted to them, in 1472, by William Hawkesloe, Clarenceux King-at-Arms, and are azure on a chevron between three castles argent; a pair of compasses somewhat extended, of the first. Crest, a castle of the second. They were adopted, subsequently, by the Grand Lodge of England.
The Atholl Grand Lodge objected to this as an unlawful assumption by the Modern Grand Lodge of Speculative Freemasons of the arms of the Operative Freemasons.
They accordingly adopted another coat, which Laurence Dermott blazons as follows: Quarterly per squares, counterchanged vert. In the first quarter, azure, a lion rampant, or. In the second quarter, or, an ox passant sable. In the third quarter, or, a man with hands erect proper, robed crimson and ermine. In the fourth quarter, azure, an eagle displayed or. Crest, the holy ark of the covenant proper, supported by cherubim. Motto, Kodes la Adonai, that is, Holiness to the Lord.
The reader in following the above language of heraldry will note, with reference to the colors, that of the words in French, taking them in order, azure means blue, argent means silver, vert means green, or means gold, sable means black.
These arms as described by Dermott and adopted by his Grand Lodge are derived from the tetrarchical, as Sir Thos. Browne calls them, or general banners of the four principal tribes ; for it is said that the twelve tribes, during their passage through the wilderness, were encamped in a hollow square, three on each side, as follows : Judah, Zebulun, and Issachar, in the East, under the general banner of Judah ; Dan, Asher, and Naphtali, in the North; under the banner of Dan; Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin, in the West, under the banner of Ephraim; and Reuben, Simeon, and Gad, in the South, under Reuben (see Banners).
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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