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C.2 The Legendary or Prehistoric History of Freemasonry

In the prehistoric period there is no record to prove the truth of the events that are assumed to have taken place in it. Its history is made of myths and legends, most of which are a distortion of historical facts, and the remaining are invented. In Masonry, the prehistoric period, and is legendary history, tell us the history of the creation and progress of the Order in the old times, and describe the events said to have occurred but for which there is no documentary evidence but only oral tradition. It is, of course, difficult to define exactly when Masonry went from its prehistorical period into documented history.

If we assume that Speculative Masonry never was anything else but what we know it to be to day, then the beginning of the historic era began in the second decade of the eighteenth century. If, on the other hand, we assume that Speculative Masonry is the heir of the Operative Masonry, then the historical period initiated sometime during the Middle Ages when the Operative Masonry started to be well documented. In these conditions we have an authentic, well documented and continuous history of a system, that changed with time since it started a few centuries before the Revival of the year 1717.

If we limit ourselves to writing the history of Speculative Masonry, then we should start from sometime during the seventeenth century when, as the records show, the transition from Operative to Speculative Masonry was initiated. However, if we want to write the history of Freemasonry based on the assumption that the Operative and Speculative systems are interconnected and part of one and the same thing, then our history must start well before when the Operative system was created.

Therefore our history of Freemasonry will start with the Operative Masonry of the Middle Ages, of its possible connections with other organisations, of its transformation in a Speculative system and, finally, with the history of modern Freemasonry itself. As a consequence its prehistoric story will be made of previous myths and legends that have, unfortunately, been accepted for a long time by the Craft as true history, but that are not supported by any historical evidence. Many of these myths and legends are still preserved in the rituals and ceremonies of the Craft, but most Masons take them for what they are, inventions of the past or, at best, a distortion of the truth.