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The Landmarks of Freemasonry, as compiled by Albert Mackey in 1858, are not universally accepted; they are not really landmarks at all. For example, the "three" degrees of Craft Masonry aren't a landmark. The Third Degree didn't exist at the time of the formation of the first Grand Lodge in England. Landmark 8 is also a controversial item in some jurisdictions. Landmark 14 is noteworthy since in some jurisdictions, visiting is considered a privilege. Landmark 20, regarding resurrection, raises theological questions which some jurisdictions feel unqualified to address.
This enumeration of Landmarks has not been accepted or authorized by this Grand Lodge and is only presented as an historical document.
History of the Landmarks
In 1720 George Payne, Grand Master of England, compiled the General Regulations, which were approved by the Grand Lodge of England in 1721 and published by Dr. James Anderson in 1723. Regulation XXXIX reads "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 Land-Marks be carefully preserved."
The Landmarks were not defined. The term "Landmark" may possibly derive from Proverbs 22:28, "Remove not the ancient landmark which thy fathers have set,"
An early attempt to codify the Landmarks of Freemasonry was made by Albert G. Mackey as an article in the October 1858 edition of the American Quarterly Review of Freemasonry (volume ii, page 230) entitled "The Foundations of Masonic Law." Mackey later included it in his Text Book of Masonic Jurisprudence. Since then, his list of 25 has been adopted by a number of North American Grand Lodges.
H. B. Grant of Kentucky ennumerated 54 landmarks in the Masonic Home Journal of 1889, a list that was frequently reprinted.
On December 11, 1918 the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts adopted, as Sections 100-102 of their Constitutions, a shorter list recognizing the following Landmarks:
"Monotheism, the sole dogma of Freemasonry; belief in immortality, the ultimate lesson of Masonic philosophy; the Volume of Sacred Law, an indispensible part of the furniture of the Lodge; the Legend of the Third Degree; Secrecy; the Symbolism of the Operative Art; a Mason must be a freeborn male adult. The above list of Landmarks is not declared to be exclusive."
As regards Landmark 18, Brother Lawrence in Masonic Jurisprudence and Symbolism, 1908, pp. 141-2, noted that English practice, as of September 1, 1847, was to substitute "free man" or simply "free" for "free by birth."
In 1923 Melvin M. Johnson, Past Grand Master of Massachusetts, wrote in the July 1923 issue of Builder (p. 195) that "the Landmarks are those essentials of Freemasonry without any one of which it would no longer be Freemasonry." Albert Pike is cited in an excerpt from the Proceedings of the Masonic Veterans Association, District of Columbia found in Research Pamphlet No. 20 (Wisconsin Grand Lodge Committee on Masonic Research, 1924, p. 147) , as stating: "There is no common agreement in regard to what are and what are not 'Landmarks.' That has never been definitely settled." Pike makes a similar statement in the Iowa Grand Lodge Proceedings (1888 ; p. 157).
A copy of Mackey’s 25 Landmarks can be found at: http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/grandlodge/landmarks.html

Excerpted from Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry.


© 1871-2021 Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon A.F. & A.M. Updated: 2007/03/04