What are landmarks? We find ourselves confronted by a problem of such complexity that we might fill up a volume with our discussions, but space and the further demands of our studies compel us to a brief and simple treatment of the theme.

You may divide and sub-divide a drop of water into particles ever so microscopic but at last you will reach a point where a further division of your particle will give you, not a speck of water but a gas, oxygen or hydrogen. This smallest particle in which matter may be thus divided without losing its identity the scientists call a "molecule." Suppose we use this as an analogy of the analysis of Masonry.

We may divide Masonry into elements, stripping away one thing after another, but our elements will still be "Masonry"; but if we go far enough in our "stripping away" process we shall come at last to a point where any further division will destroy the identity of the Craft and Masonry will cease to be Masonry. We shall have reached the "molecules." These Masonic molecules are the landmarks.

One might use another analogy, suggested by the word itself, which literally means a "land marker," one of the most lucid definitions which I have ever seen is that furnished by MacBride in his "Speculative Masonry," a beautiful and wise book which I hope you will sometime read. He says: "In all ages stones, pillars or other things have been erected to show the boundary lines between different countries, between the territories of different tribes, and the possessions of different individuals. These stones (and other objects, natural or artificial--H. L. H.) were called landmarks and, as their preservation was of importance, severe penalties were attached to their illegal removal and alteration.

"In Speculative Masonry, landmarks are certain established usages and customs, occupying the position which usage and custom do in a community. Politically, they are termed 'common law'; Masonically, they are termed 'landmarks.' "

But it does not follow, as MacBride himself warns us, that because a landmark is an established use or custom, therefore an established use or custom is a landmark. "It must, in addition, perform the function of a landmark; that is, to mark out, more or less clearly, a boundary or dividing line between two territories or possessions.. . . It has doubtless been a custom with Masons, from the time of Moses, to blow their noses, but that custom does not make the blowing of the nose a landmark.

"From these observations, the landmark in Masonry may be defined as certain established usages and customs that mark out the boundary lines of the Masonic world, in its internal divisions and in its external relations to the outer world."

In the last analysis MacBride's analogy with the "landmarks" and my own analogy with the "molecules" mean the same thing at bottom, like "the vital organs of the body," are absolutely essential to the existence of Masonry as Masonry. If our Masonic writers have disagreed widely on the subject it is not so much because they attach different meanings to the word as that they differ among themselves as to just what these "vital elements" are.

"The first use of the term (landmark) appears to have been in Payne's 'General Regulations' published with Anderson's Constitutions of office in 1718, first term, and again in 1720, Preston's 'Illustrations of Masonry'--a standard work these many years, clearly uses the word landmarks as synonymous with established usages and customs of the Craft--in other words what I have called Masonic common law." In 1819 the Duke of Suffolk, Grand Master of England at the time, defined landmarks as the authorized ritual. Dr. George Oliver used the term without defining it in 1820.

In his "Historical Landmarks of Freemasonry," published in 1846, he uses the word in a figurative sense "as the phrase 'beacon light' for example, is used in Lord's 'Beacon Lights of History.' " Four years afterwards, in his "Symbol of Glory," he attacks the problem without much success, coming to the conclusion that what landmarks are and what are landmarks has never been clearly defined. But in 1863 he makes bold to name at least forty landmarks, divided into twelve classes, even though, in this book, "The Freemason's Treasury," he still contends that "we have no actual criterion by which we may determine what is a Landmark and what is not."

But this attempt to make out a list is itself significant for it proves that Oliver had come under the influence of Mackey's famous classification. Mackey's great "Encyclopedia of Freemasonry," a reference work that you should keep on hand, was originally modelled on Lenning's "Encyclopedia" published in 1824. Neither Lenning nor the French "Dictionary of Masonry" published in Paris the following year, attempts a list of landmarks, and Mackey himself, in the earlier editions of his Encyclopedia, devoted but twenty-four lines to the subject. But in the 1856 edition he comes forth with his list of twenty-five which "obtained for a time a universal acceptance."

Inasmuch as this tabulation may be readily found in the easily accessible Encyclopedia there is no need to reprint them here, but the theory on which he based his classification is of importance to our study: "The landmarks are those ancient and universal customs of the order, which either gradually grew into operation as rules of action, or if at once enacted by any competent authority, were enacted at a period so remote that no account of their origin is to be found in the records of history. Both the enactors and the time of enactment have passed away from the records, and the landmarks are therefore of higher authority than memory or history can reach."

Mackey's list, as I have already said, was almost universally accepted for a time, but various authorities have never tired of attacking both his definition and list, Pike, for example, demolishing the whole outfit in his most Pikeish manner. And there is no question that both his criteria and his table are open to criticism; nevertheless it will be well to remember that other authorities, for whom Roscoe Pound may speak, contend that, "all defects to the contrary, his list may still stand in its main lines as an exposition of our common law."

Of all the lists proposed by various writers there is neither room nor need to speak but it may well be worth our while to cite a few examples, grouping them according to the three general points of departure, suggested by Pound--the Historical, the Legal and the Philosophical.

A. The Historical. From this point of view the scholar attacks the problem by undertaking to show what are the essentials of custom, usage, law, principles, etc., that have grown up in Masonry's historical development, and what have been considered landmarks in the past by constituted authorities, such as Grand Lodges, Codes, Constitutions, etc. Writing from this point of view, Vibert ("Freemasonry Before the Existence of Grand Lodges," p. 4,) gives in a rough classification ten points, all of which he considers essential to Masonry, and which he uses as touchstones to determine what Masonry has borrowed from other societies, and what it has originated itself.

B. The Legal point of departure. Those who set out from this angle undertake to discover "a body of universal unalterable fundamental principles which are at the foundation of all Masonic law." Josiah Drummond takes this position: "If landmarks are anything else than the laws of the Craft, either originally expressly adopted or growing out of immemorial usage, the term is a misnomer." With this position Hawkins, editor of an Encyclopedia, is in accord. After quoting Justinian's definition of an unwritten law as "what usage has approved" he writes: "Now the Old Lectures of the Craft are its unwritten laws, either sanctioned by ancient custom, or, if enacted, at a period so remote that no trace of their enactment can now be found." It will be seen that Hawkins somewhat combines the Legal and the Historical points of view, as indeed, others also do, for law can not well be divorced from history.

C. The Philosophical. The point of view here has never been better expressed than by Crawley: "The ancient landmarks of Freemasonry, like all other landmarks material or symbolical, can only preserve their stability when they reach down to sure foundations. When the philosophical student unearths the underlying rock on which our Ancient landmarks rest, he finds one sure foundation in the triple dogma (fixed teaching) of the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man, and the Life to come.

All laws, customs, and methods that obtain amongst us and do not ultimately find footholds on this basis, are thereby earmarked as conventions and conveniences, no way partaking of the nature of Ancient landmarks." Of the same opinion is Dr. J. F. Newton: "Manifestly, by a Landmark we must mean, if it is to have any meaning at all, a limit set beyond which Masonry can not go, some boundary within which it must labor.... So, and naturally so, the landmarks of Masonry are its great fundamental principles." Of these he names four: universality; a Mason's organized fellowship and right to that fellowship anywhere; qualifications; secrecy.

Roscoe Pound, approaching the subject from all three points of view, at once offers a list of seven: (1) belief in God; (2) belief in the persistence of personality; (3) a "book of law" as an indispensable part of the furniture of every lodge; (4) the legend of the third degree; (5) secrecy; (6) symbolism of the operative art (of building); (7) that a Mason must be a man, free born, and of age.

Other students differ, as do also the Grand Lodges that have legislated the matter. Horsely names five; Woodford, eighteen; J. T. Lawrence, five; Findel, four; Crawley (as we have seen) three; John W. Simons, fifteen; Rob Morris, seventeen; the Grand Lodge of West Virginia, seven; of New Jersey, ten; New York, thirty-one; Nevada, thirty-nine; Kentucky, fifty-four. T. S. Parvin, no mean authority, will not risk one. (Josiah Drummond took him to task for that!)

This list might be indefinitely extended but already, I am afraid, if you are the "plain man" I take you to be, you will have begun to feel confusion over the whole subject, a feeling with which I can sympathize for I do not believe that anybody, however learned, can produce a list of landmarks to satisfy all. Even so, however, whether we can define it or not, there does exist that which is essentially Masonry, and with that all agree, for, as Pound says, "a nation of unalterable, fundamental principles and groundwork and a 'body of Masonry' beyond the reach of innovation can be traced from the revival (when the first Grand Lodge was organized) to the present." If your own Grand Lodge has decided the matter for your state you are obliged to accept its classification landmarks; if not, you may make up a list to suit yourself.

Meanwhile it must be remembered that other societies, even society as a whole, have been no more successful in discovering the "fundamentals" than Masonry itself. For example, how many theologians can agree on a list of essential Christian doctrines? How many moralists can agree on a code of ethics? How many jurists can agree on the body of the common law? We can feel the landmarks, even as we can "feel" the bones present in our bodies; and just as bones can perform their functions even when we can not see them, so with landmarks, the bony frame-work of our Craft. Moreover, we can roughly approximate to the landmarks, and that is usually sufficient for practical purposes just as we make shift with our poorly defined body of common law.

The motive behind the search for the landmarks is usually the attempt to discover that which is peculiar to Masonry, that which is its own unique possession, and which may be described as its "individuality." Can we discover this "unique" element in our Fraternity and thus get at the root of all the landmarks? Our teachings may be found in other societies, the church for instance; ceremonies, rites, allegories are used by other secret bodies; our very symbols are not all our own, for many of them have been used since antiquity.

My own theory, offered for what it is worth, is that the thing "peculiar" to us is the manner in which we have combined and assembled these teachings, rites and symbols, and the manner in which we have organized ourselves to impress them on the minds of men. However, many things we hold in common with other societies, our method of presenting these things is all our own; and that is a matter of very great importance

By Bro. Rui Gabirro

The Landmarks of Craft Freemasonry are a set of rules and regulations which once were printed in the ordinances, statutes, regulations and constitutions of the Ancient Guilds of Masons in Europe.

Some of these Rules and Regulations which we now call landmarks are not applied in modern days to the Craft, for example the rule for Fellow Crafts to attend Church Services every Sunday was one such rule.

At the end of the Operative Craft Guilds in Europe and the appearance of Speculative Craft Freemasonry these so called Landmarks were adopted and referred to in their unwritten form, similar to the Constitution of Britain which, although unwritten as such, still works pretty well.

So the Landmarks of the Craft, although originally unwritten, constitute a set of observances based on those of the original Operative Craft Guilds of Europe.

A comprehensive list of which can be found in the manuscripts and documents constituting the Old Charges.

Regarding the so called Mackey Landmarks.

Some Master Masons in the USA still continue to make references to Albert Mackey, an individual guilty of extremely biased writings and normally not worth taking note of. A patched up and hastily assembled version of The Landmarks of Freemasonry, as compiled by Albert Mackey in 1858 are not really landmarks at all and are not universally accepted by the Craft for the following obvious reasons:

a) Albert Mackey Landmark 2 states that the system of "three" degrees of Craft Freemasonry is a landmark. The Third Degree didn't exist at the time of the formation of the Grand Lodge of London in England in 1717.

b) Landmark 8 is also a most controversial item in some jurisdictions.

c) Landmark 14 is noteworthy since in some jurisdictions visiting other lodges is considered to be a privilege.

d) Albert Mackey Landmark 3, the Master Mason Degree legend isn't unchanged as the oldest legends concern Noah, not Hiram Abiff. The five points of fellowship first appear in ritual 1726 and not in 1717, the year of founding.

e) Albert Mackey Landmark 4 is wrong as there was no Grand Master prior to 1717.

f) Albert Mackey Landmarks numbers 6, 7 & 8 cannot possibly be considered as Landmarks of the Order. They are not part of the Gothic Constitutions and therefore they are not part of the tradition of the Craft and they cannot be
landmarks of Craft Freemasonry. They are privileges vested in the Grand Master by the Grand Lodge.

Albert Mackey Landmark 9 is interesting as operative Masons seemed to have the right to congregate for lodge purposes at anytime that five or six brethren came together.

Albert Mackey Landmark 21 is incorrect as it has the Volume of the Sacred Law as the only holy book containing references to operative Craft Masonry and the building of Solomon’s Temple, stated in the Book of Kings I and II. As Freemasonry is not a religious order or society according to such religious books, there is absolutely no requirement for it to be in a Masonic Lodge. Indeed, it can only be the cause of divisions between brethren who would wish to discuss it’s contents as they are both religious and political and therefore are not allowed to be discussed in any Masonic Lodge.

Albert Mackey Landmark 24 Religious teachings are totally superfluous as Freemasonry does not aim nor takes into consideration the teaching of any form of religion as a percept of the Craft.

Albert Mackey Landmark 25 This is just nothing at all to do with Freemasonry and as such is completely irrelevant.


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