What are the Acient Landmarks?

Various Grand Lodges have adopted various lists of Ancient Landmarks and thus have given the tenets in the list the force of law in those Grand Lodges. But no Grand Lodge can make or unmake a landmark, any more than the Congress of the United States can make or unmake a law of nature. Congress might pass a law saying that the law of gravitation was hereafter to be inoperative, but presumably an apple rolling from a table would still fall to the floor!

Grand Lodges which leave landmarks undefined and unrestricted by listing seem to have the better practice, just as those churches which do not list the moral law clause by clause seem to have a better grasp of what it is.

The late great Charles C. Hunt, Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Iowa, put this point of view in a few words:

“The Masonic conception of a landmark is fundamental law of Masonry which no body of men or Masons can repeal. Anything that can be adopted can be repealed. If a Grand Lodge has power to adopt, it has power to repeal. It is the very fact that they are unalterable which makes the landmarks similar to scientific laws which cannot be changed or altered by any man or body of men.”

It is probable that all English speaking Grand Lodges will agree that at least seven Masonic fundamentals are landmarks. These are:

a.       Monotheism, the sole dogma of Freemasonry.

b.      Belief in immortality, the ultimate lesson of Masonic philosophy.

c.       The Volume of the Sacred Law, an indispensable part of the furniture of a lodge.

d.      The legend of the Third Degree.

e.       Secrecy.

f.       The symbolism of the operative art.

g.      A Mason must be a freeborn male adult.

Every Mason should ascertain what his own Grand Lodge has adopted (or not adopted) as landmarks and govern himself accordingly. [One Hundred One Questions About Freemasonry, The Masonic Service Association, 2003]

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