These letters are the initials of the words Ancient Arabic Order Noblea Mystia Shrine (see shrine).. They may be rearranged to spell out the words A Mason. The claim has been made in all sincerity that this peculiarity was prearranged and is not at all accidental. Such a probability is not as rare as in type as may at first be imagined.
For instance the York Roll No. 1, about 1600 A.D., starts out quaintly with such an endeavor in the form of an anagram, the letters of words or phrases transposed to make different words or phrases, thus:
William Kay to his friend Robert Preston
upon his Art of Masonrie as Followeth :
Much might be said of the O noble Artt
A Craft that'a worth estieming in each part
Sundry Nations Noobles & their Kings also
Oh how they fought its worth to know
Nimrod & Solomon the wisest of all men
Reason saw to love this Science then
Ile say noe more lest by my shallow verses I
Endeavoring to praise should blemish Masonrie.
- Source: Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry
Traditional History of the Shrine
Ed. Note: Although they no longer use this today, the Shriners once held to a traditional (and equally fictional) history like other Masonic groups. The following account is taken from the May 1904 issue of the Trestle Board, a California based Masonic periodical.
“The Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine was founded in the city of Mecca, Arabia A.D. 656, by Mohammedan Kalif, Alee, son-in-law of Mohammed. It was originally organized as an inquisition for the purpose of suppressing lawlessness, violence and the disregard for human rights, at that time running high in Arabia.
“The order spread rapidly and its temples were soon established in all the great centers of population in the east, numbering among its members many of the eminent men of learning and social and political prominence, while the influence for good exhaled by the order was far reaching. Moslem in origin, the order even to the present day has been characterized in its ceremonies by the beautiful imagery of the oriental customs, while its spirit of religious toleration has departed from the old Mohammedan principle of subverting all other beliefs to that of Mohammedanism.
“The authority to establish the order in America was conferred on Dr. Walter M. Fleming, by Rizk Allah Hassoon Effendee in New York in 1872, since which time the order has grown to nearly 100 temples and a membership far above 60,000.
“The story is related of a member of Mecca temple, of New York, who, a number of years ago, was consul from this country to Tunis. There it chanced that he became acquainted with an Arab pasha, who on occasion saw the fez and its decorations of scimitar, crescent and star in the consul’s apartment. He recognized them at once, and it developed that there is now among the Arabs the same order, with symbols preserved from the original organization of Mecca, though Arab and American are far apart in other things. So struck was the pasha with the incident that he soon presented to the consul a large quantity of scimitars, robes and other paraphernalia saying that each had "seen service," and that they were genuine Arab weapons and accoutrements. This gift was promptly forwarded to Mecca temple, and now the visitor to the armory of the New York Shriners may see an outfit, some parts of which are centuries old."
-Source: The TrestleBoard May 1904