A Modern Examination of the Landmarks of Freemasonry

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Few subjects in Masonic Jurisprudence generate more interest and debate than the Landmarks of Freemasonry. Every new Brother is charged to protect and preserve them, but there is much conflicting information about what the Landmarks of Masonry actually are. Considering that the proper observation of the Landmarks is a primary factor in the decision of whether a Grand Lodge is recognized or not and the preservation of them one of the most important considerations in making any Masonic policy, it is important that the Landmarks of the order be well understood.

Unfortunately, determining what constitutes the specific Landmarks of the fraternity can be a complicated question. There are a number of lists of Landmarks used by various Grand Lodges, but the two primary lists of the Landmarks of the order were constructed by Albert Mackey and Roscoe Pound. However, these two lists have not made the issues surrounding the Masonic Landmarks any clearer. Some Brothers regard Mackey’s Landmarks to be infallible and others find Pound’s more correct. Still, others believe that neither list is without error and have made various amendments to them.

Perhaps a reexamination of these Landmarks is in order to resolve the conflicts surrounding them. In order to do this, it will be necessary to study the criteria set by Mackey, Pound, and their predecessors to determine the individual Landmarks of the order. Then, it can be properly determined whether the lists constructed by Mackey and Pound fit these criteria. It will also be necessary on some occasions to examine more recent documents in Masonic history to see if the fraternity continues to regard these customs as Landmarks and examine the repercussions of not recognizing certain customs as the landmarks of the order. Finally, a set of Landmarks may be assembled which takes all of these factors into account and which can alleviate much debate.

What Constitute the Landmarks of the Order?

Anderson’s Constitutions of 1723 offer a very vague reference to the Landmarks of Freemasonry. The only reference to the Landmarks in the document is found in the statement “Every Annual GRAND-LODGE has an inherent Power and Authority to make new Regulations, or to alter these, for the real Benefit of this ancient Fraternity: Provided always that the old LANDMARKS be carefully preserved

There is no definition of the term ‘Landmarks’ offered in the document. The Ahiman Rezon makes a nearly identical statement regarding the Landmarks. While these two documents represent the two pillars of Masonic Jurisprudence, they make no effort to define the Landmarks and only offer speculation as to their definition.

The first person to specify the Landmarks of Masonry was Albert Mackey. Mackey’s publication A Textbook of Masonic Jurisprudence defines the Landmarks in great detail. In this work, Mackey divides Masonic jurisprudence into three categories: Landmarks, General Regulations, and Local Regulations. He states that “the unwritten laws and customs of Masonry are its Landmarks.” He defines the General and Local Regulations as being the written law which is determined by a general or local Masonic authority. He also states that one of the requirements of a Landmark is that “it must have existed from ‘time whereof the memory of man runneth not to the contrary.’” Therefore, he lists the antiquity of the custom as being one of the most important features. Mackey also identifies the universality of Masonic custom and its permanency as additional requirements for a law to be considered a Landmark

3 So Mackey has identified four criteria for a law or custom of the fraternity to be considered a Landmark: it is an unwritten law or custom, it must be of significant antiquity, it is universal, and it cannot be changed.

Roscoe Pound agrees with this analysis of Mackey’s criteria. Pound’s legal background allowed him to have an interesting and thoughtful perspective on the subject of the Masonic Landmarks. He gives the following justification for his reduction of Mackey’s twenty-five Landmarks to seven.

“When, therefore, we recognize an important category of established customary law, not indeed wholly unalterable, but entitled to the highest respect and standing for the traditional element of our Masonic legal system, we are able at once to dispose of many subjects of controversy and to reduce the matter to a footing that eliminates the most serious features of disagreement.”

Therefore, Roscoe Pound’s criteria give due reverence to Mackey’s method but provide that the Landmarks must be those usages which constitute the very fabric of the organization and which would not cause disagreement among the Brethren. It must be properly noted that several documents preceded Mackey’s definition of the Landmarks and all used them in the sense that they were those established usages and customs of the order, but none of these ever attempted to define the content of the Landmarks. The sentiment of the documents can be summarized in a quote by Dr. George Oliver found in Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry.

“…some restrict them [the Landmarks] to the O.B. Signs, tokens, and words. Others include the ceremonies of initiation, passing, and raising; and the form, dimensions, and support; the ground, situation, and covering; the ornaments, furniture, and jewels of a Lodge, or their characteristic symbols. Some think that the Order has no landmarks beyond its peculiar secrets.”While the documents of Mackey and Pound reference several statements regarding the Landmarks of the order, they all essentially echo the sentiments of Dr. Oliver. Therefore, this paper will not waste the reader’s time by making several iterations of the same opinions.

Through this discussion of the definition of Landmarks and the criteria by which they are determined, the following conclusions can be developed. The opinions regarding the nature of the Landmarks which precede those of Mackey and Pound regard the modes of recognition and perhaps the ceremonies of the degrees and the form of the lodge as the Landmarks. Mackey identifies the Landmarks as the unwritten laws or customs of Freemasonry which possess significant antiquity, and a universal and irrevocable nature. Pound uses historical evidence as well an approach similar to Mackey’s to identify those items in Mackey’s list which are laws and customs essential to the character of the Masonic fraternity as the Landmarks. The question now becomes: did these men adhere to these criteria when developing their specific Landmarks?

Do the Landmarks Developed by Mackey Follow His Criteria?

Before discussing Mackey’s Landmarks, it is necessary to list them. The Landmarks specified by Mackey are given below and their definitions are taken from Mackey’s A Textbook of Masonic Jurisprudence.

Landmark First: The modes of recognition

Landmark Second: The division of Symbolic Masonry into three degrees

Landmark Third: The legend of the third degree

Landmark Fourth: The government of the fraternity, by a presiding officer called the Grand Master, who is elected from the body of the craft

Landmark Fifth: The prerogative of the Grand Master to preside over every assembly of the craft

Landmark Sixth: The prerogative of the Grand Master to grant dispensations for the conferring of the degrees at irregular times

Landmark Seventh: The prerogative of the Grand Master to give dispensations for opening and holding lodges

Landmark Eighth: The prerogative of the Grand Master to make Masons at site

Landmark Ninth: The necessity of Masons to congregate in Lodges

Landmark Tenth: The government of the craft, when congregated in lodges by a Master and two Wardens

Landmark Eleventh: The necessity that every lodge, when congregated, should be duly tiled

Landmark Twelfth: The right of every Mason to be represented in all general meetings of the craft, and to instruct his representatives

Landmark Thirteenth: The right of every Mason to appeal from the decision of his brethren in lodge convened,to the Grand Lodge or General Assembly of Masons

Landmark Fourteenth: The right of every Mason to visit and sit in every regular lodge

Landmark Fifteenth: No visitor unknown to the Brethren present, or to someone of them as a Mason, can enter a lodge without first passing an examination according to ancient usage

Landmark Sixteenth: No lodge can interfere in the business of another lodge, nor give degrees to brethren who are members of other lodges

Landmark Seventeenth: Every Freemason is amenable to the laws and regulations of the Masonic jurisdiction in which he resides, and this although he may not be a member of any lodge

Landmark Eighteenth: Certain qualifications for candidates are derived from a Landmark of the order

Landmark Nineteenth: A belief in the existence of God as the Grand Architect of the Universe

Landmark Twentieth: A belief in the resurrection to a future life

Landmark Twenty-first: The book of the law shall constitute an indispensable part of the furniture of every lodge

Landmark Twenty-second: The equality of all Masons

Landmark Twenty-third: The secrecy of the institution

Landmark Twenty-fourth: The foundation of a speculative science upon an operative art, and the symbolic use and explanation of the terms of that art, for purposes of religious or moral teaching

Landmark Twenty-fifth: That these Landmarks can never be changed

Mackey’s first Landmark is defined as the modes of recognition. Since these are written, of considerable antiquity, certainly universal, and are considered a permanent fixture of the fraternity, they certainly constitute a Landmark. There is little debate on this subject as Mackey’s predecessors also referred to the modes of recognition as Landmarks.

The second Landmark regards the division of Symbolic Masonry into three degrees. This is another Landmark which offers little debate. However, Mackey adds that the Master Mason degree includes the Holy Royal Arch, which is well defined in the Articles of Union between the two Grand Lodges of England in 1813.3 However, the Royal Arch is considered a part of the York Rite and not symbolic Masonry in the United States. The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) also released a statement regarding the inclusion of the Royal Arch degree in 2003. “At the Quarterly Communication of 10 December 2003 the United Grand Lodge of England acknowledged and pronounced the status of the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch to be ‘an extension to, but neither a superior nor a subordinate part of, the degrees which proceed it.’”7The words “extension to” seem to declare that this is no longer a mandatory part of the third degree. Therefore, that particular characteristic of Mackey’s second Landmark does not meet the criteria because it is neither universal or irrevocable. The Landmark Third deals with the Hiramic Legend. As this legend possesses antiquity, universality, and appears to be an unchangeable part of the degree work it seems that it could actually be combined with the Landmark Second.

Following Mackey’s first three Landmarks are a set of Landmarks regarding the regulations of the order. As discussed before, Mackey identifies three categories of Masonic law. In Mackey’s A Textbook of Masonic Jurisprudence, he states that “Next to the Unwritten Laws, or Landmarks of Masonry, comes its written or statutory laws. The are the ‘regulations,’ as they are usually called, which have been enacted from time to time by General Assemblies, Grand Lodges, or other supreme authorities of the order.”3 An examination of Anderson’s Constitutions of 1723 shows that many of the Landmarks proposed by Mackey appear in the Charges of a Free-Mason or the General Regulations. Therefore, it is necessary to make a list of the Landmarks Fourth through the Sixteenth and their appearance in this written document intended to regulate the government of the craft.

Landmark Fourth: The 12th article of the General Regulations clearly defines this Landmark.

Landmark Fifth: The 1st article of the General Regulations clearly defines this Landmark.

Landmark Sixth: The 4th and 5th articles of the General Regulations make it clear that the Grand Master can grant dispensations for the irregular conferral of degrees. Therefore, it can be assumed that the Grand Master possessed the power to confer the degrees of Masonry at his pleasure.

Landmark Seventh: The 2nd article of the General Regulations gives the Master of the Lodge the right to assemble his lodge at will, therefore this right would certainly be given to the Grand Master who governs the entire craft.

Landmark Eighth: See the explanation given for the Landmark Sixth above.

Landmark Ninth: Referred to in the 3rd Charge of a Free-Mason.

Landmark Tenth: Outlined specifically in the3rd Charge of a Free-Mason

Landmark Eleventh: No specific mention is made of “tiling” the lodge. However, the sixth part of the 6th Charge of a Free-Mason (Behavior towards a strange Brother) states “You are cautiously to examine him, in such a Method as Prudence shall direct you, that you may not be impos’d upon by an ignorant false Pretender, whom you are to reject with Contempt and Derision, and beware of giving him any Hints of Knowledge.” This obviously admonishes the Brethren to tile the lodge.

Landmark Twelfth: This is specifically referred to in the 12th article of the General Regulations.

Landmark Thirteenth: This is specifically referred to in the first part of the 6th Charge of a Free-Mason (Of behavior in the lodge while constituted).

Landmark Fourteenth: The 11th article of the General Regulations mention the ability of Masons to visit other Lodges. The 6th charge also mentions that if a man is found to be a Brother, when examined for admission into lodge, that “you are to respect him accordingly.”

Landmark Fifteenth: See the Landmark Eleventh above.

Landmark Sixteenth: No specific reference, but as each lodge has its own Master, it is implied that one lodge may not control the actions of another.

Some may argue whether the Charges of a Free-Mason constitute the Landmarks or General Regulations. First, it is strange that Anderson’s Constitutions would refer to the Landmarks when they could simply refer the reader to the Charges of a Free-Mason.1 This would eliminate much speculation. Also, Mackey does not include all of the Charges in the Landmarks of the order.3 Therefore, it can be determined that Mackey did not necessarily regard the Charges as Landmarks and so they fell into the category of General Regulations. Thus, each of Mackey’s Landmarks from the Fourth to the Sixteenth fall under the category of General Regulations.

The only possible exception to the determination that these Landmarks are only General Regulations, is that the offices of Master, Senior Warden, and Junior Warden (and therefore Grand Master, Senior Grand Warden, and Junior Grand Warden) play a large part in the symbolism of the degrees. These offices are of great antiquity in Masonic tradition. It also appears that while the appointed offices of the Lodge have changed with regard to geography and time, these three offices remain intact. Thus, the three principal offices of the Lodge (or Grand Lodge) deserve special consideration when determining the specific Landmarks.

The Landmark Seventeenth makes the assertion that a Mason is bound to the regulations of the Masonic jurisdiction in which he resides. This presents some particular problems because this essentially makes the doctrine of exclusive territorial jurisdiction a Landmark. Paul Bessel quotes the Commission on Information for Recognition of the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons in North America as saying:

“But the question of exclusive territorial jurisdiction is not so clear-cut. In some European and Latin American countries, a geographical or politically self-contained unit may be served by two or more Grand Lodges. If these Grand Lodges and hence their constituent Lodges are working in amity, and both are worthy of recognition in all other respects, this joint occupation of a country, state or political subdivision should not bar them from recognition.”6

Considering this statement from the Commission and the number of United States Grand Lodges which recognize their Prince Hall Affiliated counterpart, it can be assumed that this is not a Landmark. After all, which Grand Lodge’s regulations is the Mason bound to in geographical areas which have multiple recognized Grand Lodges? This Landmark simply does not meet the criterion of being universal.

The Landmark Eighteenth regards the qualifications for admission into Masonry. He defines these qualifications as “that he shall be a man—shall be unmutilated, free born, and of mature age. That is to say that a woman, a cripple, or a slave, or one born in slavery, is disqualified for initiation into the rites of Masonry.”

The qualifications for membership are clearly outlined in the third Charge of a Free-Mason as “true Men, free-born, and of mature and discreet Age, no Bondmen, no Women, no immoral or scandalous Men, but of good report.”1 The UGLE outlined the Basic Principles for Grand Lodge Recognition in 1929. These specifically stated that in order for a Grand Lodge to be recognized its “Lodges must be composed exclusively of men.”7

Obviously, the masculine membership of the order is widely regarded to be an important custom of the fraternity. Considering the stance of the Grand Lodges concerning this custom, it can certainly be considered universal and irrevocable in nature. This seems to promote it from being a written law to a necessary custom of the order and therefore a Landmark.

In modern times, this Landmark could be shortened to say, men, of lawful age, and of good report.

The next Landmark is regarded by many Masons as the most important. The Landmark Nineteenth states that a belief in a Supreme Being is a Landmark of the order. This Landmark possesses great antiquity considering that Masonic tradition regards the building of King Solomon’s Temple, a monument to deity, as the model by which the fraternity is operated. The UGLE has specified this Landmark as a requirement for recognition and the act of not regarding it as an absolute necessity has led to the withdrawal of recognition from some jurisdictions. It is mentioned in the Charges of Anderson’s Constitutions. The First Charge reads:

“A Mason is oblig’d by his tenure, to obey the Moral Law; and if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist, or an irreligious Libertine. But though in ancient Times Masons were charg’d in every Country to be of the Religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet ’tis now though more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves…”

In this case, it is clear that the charge is meant to clarify that Masons are not required to subscribe to a particular religion and is not meant to create a new General Regulation. When considering the ceremonies of the degrees, it is apparent that the belief in a Supreme Being is an absolute qualification of a Mason and the fact that the builders of King Solomon’s Temple were of differing religions demonstrates that the exclusion of a man from the order due to a difference in opinion in his religious persuasion is certainly prohibited. As to the argument that the Constitutions do not create a requirement for the belief in a Supreme Being, the phrase “he will never be a stupid Atheist, or an irreligious Libertine” seems to revoke that assumption. So while this Landmark has become a written law over time, it appears that it originally possessed the quality of being unwritten, is of antiquity, is universal, and has been proven to be irrevocable.

The Landmark Twentieth refers to the requirement of a belief in a resurrection to a future life. Masonry teaches its initiates to hope for a future life and that concept is reiterated throughout the degrees. However, the use of the term resurrection could be interpreted as being dogmatic. Mackey’s statement “to believe in Masonry and not believe in a resurrection would be an absurd anomaly” begs the question of whether those religions which do not hold a literal belief in a resurrection may be admitted. It should also be noted that the first Charge of a Free-Mason states of the religious beliefs of Masons “’tis now though more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men agree.” It appears that the requirement of a belief in resurrection to a future life almost constitutes religious dogma and could be in conflict with the this charge. Therefore, this Landmark must be further discussed in the next section of this paper.

The Landmark Twenty-First states that a Book of the Law is an indispensable part of the lodge’s furniture. Mackey’s definition of a Book of Law doubtlessly refers to a Volume of Sacred Law or book of faith.T he Constitutions never mention the requirement that a Book of the Law must be open in the lodge.

This Landmark appears universal and modern events in the fraternity have demonstrated its irrevocable nature. The removal of the requirement to display a Volume of Sacred Law within the lodge, or even the perception of its removal, has led jurisdictions to be unrecognized.6 As to the question of antiquity, two early Masonic exposures state that the Bible was in fact a part of Masonic ritual.1727’s Dundee Manuscript and Samuel Prichard’s 1730 exposure, Masonry Dissected,both mention taking the obligation on the Holy Bible.8,9 So this Landmark possesses antiquity. However, Mackey’s definition of this Landmark states that the Book of the Law does not have to be the Bible, but may be “that volume which, by the religion of the country, is believed to contain the revealed will of the Grand Architect of the universe.” He further explains that in a Christian country the Bible would appear on the altar, in a Jewish country, the Old Testament, and in a Muslim country, the Koran. This could easily be interpreted as meaning that no other Volume of Sacred Law other than the Bible may appear on the altar in a country with a primarily Christian population. This, like the former Landmark, raises some questions which must be addressed in the next section.

The Landmark Twenty-Second refers to the equality of all Masons. This seems like an inherent Masonic right. Mackey cites the Old Charges and the ritual as his justification for this Landmark.3 The fourth Charge of a Free-Mason certainly addresses the requirement that Masons be preferred by their merit and this clarifies that equality among Masons is essential. It may be best to examine this Landmark not by asking the question “Is it a Landmark?” but by asking the question “What if it is not a Landmark?” This certainly changes the viewpoint. It would appear that much of the symbolism and the allegorical lessons of the rituals would be endangered should the equality of all Masons be rejected. Therefore, it seems prudent to preserve this Landmark. It also meets Mackey’s criteria because it is not explicitly written, possesses antiquity, is universal, and is unchangeable when considering the repercussions of disregarding this Landmark.

The Landmark Twenty-Third states that the secrecy of the institution is a Landmark of the order. It may be assumed that the Landmark First, which regards the modes of recognition, implies this Landmark already. However, this Landmark is necessary to prevent the belief that the modes of recognition are solely ritualistic in nature and are not meant to guard the secrecy of the order. Mackey properly notes that a number of statements made in Anderson’s Constitutions refer to maintaining the secrecy of the order.3 Indeed, the Sixth Charge of a Free-Mason clearly explains how the Mason should behave in public, in the presence of strangers, and in the presence of a strange Brother. It seems to clarify that the modes of recognition are not solely ritualistic, but serve a purpose to maintain the secrecy of the fraternity. This Landmark is certainly part of the unwritten law (although care has been taken to charge Masons to maintain it), of antiquity and a universal nature, and is doubtlessly irrevocable considering the obligations of a Mason.

The next Landmark specifies the “foundation of a speculative science upon an operative art” as an integral part of Masonry and its teachings. Mackey justifies this by citing the allegory of the building of King Solomon’s Temple which is presented in the degrees. The Constitutions of 1723 never mention this in any specific manner. However, the third Charge of a Free-Mason makes many references to the allegorical customs of Masons. This charge uses phrases like “both the Master and the Masons receiving their Wages justly, shall be faithful to the Lord, and honestly finish their work” and “for no man can finish another’s Work so much to the Lord’s profit, unless he be thoroughly acquainted with the Design and Draughts of him that began it.”It is obvious from phrases like this that the use of an operative occupation to teach a speculative science is an ancient and universal part of Masonry. It is also necessary to distinguish this Landmark from the division of symbolic Masonry into three degrees. Without this Landmark, it could be assumed that Masonry’s only teachings come from the performance of the degrees and the institution was never meant to facilitate further education.

Mackey’s Landmark Twenty-Fifth states that the Landmarks cannot be changed. By the definition previously given for the term ‘Landmark’ as determined by Mackey this is already specified and does not require a Landmark of its own.

When Mackey’s Landmarks are Reduced, How Do They Compare to Pound’s?

After this discussion on Mackey’s Landmarks, they can be reduced to the following list

  1. The modes of recognition
  2. The division of Symbolic Masonry into three degrees including the legend of the third degree.
  3. Masonry’s membership is composed exclusively of men of lawful age and good report.
  4. The belief in a Supreme Being (the nature of Deity being left to the determination of the individual)
  5. A belief in a resurrection to a future life (which must be reexamined due to its dogmatic nature)
  6. A Volume of Sacred Law is an indispensable part of the lodge’s furniture ( which must be reexamined due to its dogmatic nature)
  7. The equality of all Freemasons
  8. The secrecy of the institution
  9. The foundation of a speculative science on an operative art

The following may be considered for inclusion: The government of a lodge by three principal officers, a Master, and two Wardens.

Roscoe Pound determined that there are seven Landmarks

  1. Belief in God
  2. Belief in the persistence of personality
  3. A “book of the law” is an indispensable part of the furniture of every lodge
  4. The legend of the third degree
  5. Secrecy
  6. The symbolism of an operative art
  7. That a Mason must be a man, free born, and of age

Pound also states that the government of the lodge by a Master and two Wardens and the right of a Mason to visit could be considered Landmarks.

All of Pound’s Landmarks appear on the reduced list of Mackey’s Landmarks. It is apparent, based on the literature of Pound that his approach was similar to the one taken above to remove extraneous Landmarks. However, his reduced Landmarks display four major differences: he provides a different explanation for the Landmarks relating to the belief in a persistence in personality and the Book of the Law and does not include the Landmarks related to the modes of recognition or the equality of all Masons. Pound’s Landmarks also do not include the division of Masonry into three degrees, but this discussion can be shortened by stating that the UGLE’s Basic Principles for Grand Lodge Recognition say that a Grand Lodge should have “sole and undisputed authority over the Craft or Symbolic Degrees (Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason) within its Jurisdiction.” This shows that the three degrees of Masonry are just as undisputed as the legend of the third degree and shall be included with this Landmark.

Pound’s explanation of a Landmark requiring a belief in the persistence of personality is much different than Mackey’s. It lacks the dogmatic characteristics of Mackey’s justification. Pound writes “Perhaps any religious doctrine of personality after death would satisfy his [Mackey’s] true meaning so that the Buddhist doctrine of transmigration and ultimate Nirvana would meet Masonic requirements.” This would maintain the ideas presented in the First Charge of a Free-Mason. In light of this more tolerant and less dogmatic rationalization, this Landmark can now be accepted based on Pound’s criteria.

Pound also clears up some of the misunderstandings surrounding Mackey’s assertion that the Volume of Sacred Law found on the altar must reflect the belief of the country in which the lodge resides. Pound refers to the diversity found in the Lodges of India. “For example, in India, lodges in which Englishmen sit with Hindus and Mohammedans, keep the Bible, the Koran and the Shasters among the lodge furniture, and obligate the initiate upon the book of his faith.” Pound sees the need to include the ability for the Volume(s) of Sacred Law which appears open in a lodge to reflect the religion of its individual members as part of this Landmark. Based on this less dogmatic and more universal nature, this Landmark can now be accepted.

Pound does not create a Landmark regard the modes of recognition, but one may believe that the modes of recognition are included in Pound’s Landmark concerning secrecy. However, this is not true. Pound actually gives an extensive explanation for not considering the modes of recognition as a Landmark. His argument centers around Preston’s account of a conflict regarding the words of the degrees in the 1730’s and their possible modification. He claims that Masonic history requires that this Landmark should not be accepted. He writes, “For one thing, there is Preston’s version of the causes of the great schism in Masonry in the eighteenth century. Even if we do not accept this—and I take it Gould has shown us we should not—it is highly significant as to the development of the important Masonic institution in question.” Pound uses Preston’s historical account, the accuracy of which Pound debates, to rationalize making the modes of recognition part of the General Regulations. A more modern issue, one that Pound would have not considered, is the ability to maintain the secrecy of Masonry without modes of recognition. If the Landmark pertaining to the modes of recognition is removed, they could be considered unnecessary due to modern technologies which allow Masons to be identified without signs, words, or tokens. Pound’s criteria for the Landmarks seek to remove the “most serious features of disagreement.”

Doubtlessly, the ability for Grand Lodges to change the modes of recognition as they please or to no longer regard them as necessary would be cause for considerable disagreement. The rejection of this Landmark also disagrees with Mackey’s predecessors. As discussed before, the modes of recognition were widely considered to not only be a part of the Landmarks but were considered to constitute the term ‘Landmarks’ by some. Considering that Pound’s rebuttal of this Landmark is based on a questionable historical account, that his predecessors widely accepted the modes of recognition as Landmarks, and the consequences of removing the modes of recognition from the Landmarks, its exclusion cannot be accepted.

Pound does not offer any explanation of his exclusion of the Landmark regarding the equality of all Masons in his Lectures on Masonic Jurisprudence. As discussed before, the effects of not including this Landmark could be detrimental to the fraternity’s identity. Therefore, no additional discussion of this Landmark will be included in this paper.

As for the issues which Roscoe Pound mentions as possible Landmarks, it can be noted that they were also either excluded or labeled as customs which belong to the General Regulations earlier in this paper. Pound feels that it is best to keep the customs of the government of the craft by the three principal officers and the right of Masons to visit other lodges in the category of General Regulations. As this is the second time that this conclusion has been drawn in this paper, it can be determined that these customs do not constitute Landmarks.

Conclusion

After a discussion on the Landmarks as specified by Mackey and Pound, it is possible to arrive at a set of Landmarks which would cause little disagreement among modern Masons. The Landmarks can be specified as follows:

  1. The modes of recognition
  2. The division of Symbolic Masonry into three degrees including the legend of the third degree.
  3. Masonry’s membership is composed exclusively of men of lawful age and of good report.
  4. The belief in a Supreme Being (the nature of Deity being left to the determination of the individual Brother)
  5. A belief in a persistence of personality (the nature of the persistence of personality being left to the determination of the individual Brother)
  6. A Volume of Sacred Law is an indispensable part of the lodge’s furniture (the Volume(s) of Sacred Law constituting the lodge’s furniture may reflect the faith of the individual Brethren)
  7. The equality of all Freemasons
  8. The secrecy of the institution
  9. The foundation of a speculative science on an operative art

These Landmarks are certainly threads with which the fabric of the fraternity is woven. These encompass the most important aspects of Masonry and guarantee that its most permanent and distinguished characteristics are maintained.

However, it is certain that any debate regarding the Landmarks will not disappear any time in the near future. It is certain that the fine line which separates the General Regulations from the Landmarks will often be blurred and that the true list of Landmarks will be continually debated as long as the fraternity’s many jurisdictions have different policies regarding the Landmarks. The UGLE has maintained the unclear definition of the Landmarks. The most recent revision of that body’s Constitutions includes among their basic requirements for recognition: “That the principles of the Antient Landmarks, customs, and usages of the Craft shall be strictly observed.” Like Anderson’s  constitutions of 1723, the document does not take the time to specify what those Landmarks
are.

 Bibliography

  1. Anderson, James. The Constitutions of the Free-Masons. London, 1723.
  2. Dermott, Laurence. Ahiman Rezon. 1st ed. London, 1756.
  3. Mackey, Albert G. A Textbook of Masonic Jurisprudence. Kessinger, 2003.
  4. Pound, Roscoe. Lectures on Masonic Jurisprudence. Anamosa, IA: National Masonic Research Society, 1920.
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