These four volumes of masonic ceremonies date back to the year 1777. They are handwritten in German, including some Latin passages, using some abbreviations and signs, to which there is a key quoted.

This ancient Order must have been founded well before the date of 1777, and the four volumes refer to the latest revision as approved at the convention of 1777.

In the first three volumes are the rituals and ceremonies to be observed and recorded, when working in the first, second and third degree. It describes the ceremony of the initiation to the first degree (“apprentice”), the pass to the second degree (“fellow craft” and the raise to the third degree (“master”).

The last volume contains instructions and the Constitution of this ancient Order.

The relation of this Order to our masonic ceremonies is evident from the text, freemasons being mentioned on several passages of the script. I would like to mention only some of these on this occasion.

Firstly, that this order worked in three main degrees, the first, second and third degree, in the same manner as we conduct our present work. (Higher degrees are mentioned and tabulated in the book of the first degree).

Secondly, you will find a picture in the first degree book showing the altar of the temple, figuring the cross in the centre, three candles burning and spaced in a rectangular fashion, the Bible opened. These three lights set up in such fashion are still in use in our ceremonies, as can be seen now in this temple; they symbolise: wisdom, strength and beauty.

Thirdly, the open Bible and the Pentagram (a five pointed star).

HISTORY OF THESE VOLUMES

These volumes have been found by Bro. Dr. Moucha, a member of the same Lodge in Prague where I was initiated in 1930. He was an officer of the Ministry of Education and the Chief Librarian of the University of Prague (Czechoslovakia). In his capacity from time to time he came across ancient literature, and found these masonic volumes somewhere in Bohemia.

At this stage I would like to explain that freemasonry was prohibited in some parts of Central Europe, e.g. the Kaiser, as the ruler of the House of Habsburg •for the Austrian territory, prohibited freemasonry, but he allowed it as King of Hungary in the Hungarian territory. Therefore, in order to attend lodge meetings, the masons had to cross into the territory of Hungary or Germany where the craft was permitted to meet.

These books survived the prohibition on Bohemia, then a part of Austria.

After the First World War Czechoslovakia was formed from a part of the Austrian territory where the practice of freemasonry was permitted. However, after the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the German Army in 1939 freemasonry was again prohibited by the Nazi regime. All Lodges were disbanded and closed. Most of the records and tools were destroyed so that they should not fall into the hands of the enemy of the movement. Bro. Moucha hid some of the rituals and literature in the vaults of the University library, including these four volumes of historic value.

After my return to Prague from concentration camp in 1945, I met Bro. Moucha, who showed me what he had saved from destruction. Being the younger Bro. in age, he asked me to keep all the literature, master’s apron, jewels, etc. Then after a short time in Czechoslovakia some lodges reopened for a short period. These lodges afterwards closed again for reasons of political interference by the Communist rulers. When the iron curtain included Czechoslovakia within the Communist bloc I managed to leave the country, brought records of the craft with me not without some difficulty, and migrated eventually to Australia. Here, after my affiliation to Lodge No.936 Thomas L. Warren, I presented these four historical documents to the Lodge for inclusion in the library. However, the Wor. Master and the Officers decided that the best place would be in the archives, U.G.L. of N.S.W, where they would be available to Bros. studying history of the Craft, and be a valuable exhibit in the Grand Lodge historical record.