Women and the Ancient Landmarks

The Free-Masonic Institution is an Initiatic, Esoteric, Humanitarian, Philosophic and Philanthropic Order that labors in pursuit of the spiritual, ethical and moral evolution of humanity; It propagates in profane societies the ideals of scrupulous respect for human rights and for the individuality of men and women, in a multinational, multiethnic, multicultural, secular, free and democratic world intended to be the best formula to work toward the positive development of all countries. Free-Masonry works for the defense and diffusion of the principles that consecrate Man, seen and considered as an individual and unrepeatable being, superior vertex of the pyramid of evolution, subject to obligations and duties and beneficiary of inviolable rights defined and protected by free and democratically promulgated laws. Free-Masonry, by making use of any legal mean within its reach, struggles actively against all forms of slavery, torture, violence, discrimination of gender and every limitation of rights stipulated by International Declarations, Treatises and Laws.

In concordance with the previous postulates, I now proceed to revise a small segment of Albert Mackey’s Ancient Landmarks:

Recognizing in Free-Masonry the very principles of Progressiveness, unrestricted Respect for Human Rights, the Dignity of Man and Woman, Justice, Solidarity, Social Progress and the absolute Liberty of Conscience; and accepting the fact that most instituted laws in the U.S. make Intolerance, Injustice and Inequality illegal, it becomes necessary and justifiable to address a long over due topic of concern to all Free-Thinking-Masons: Women and Free-Masonry. This, is a rather ample subject to which I have and will dedicate much time to write about in the near future; However, on this occasion I will only address – briefly – Albert Gallatin Mackey’s XVIII Landmark, in hopes of verifying whether or not this edict is in faithful concordance with the basic tenets and principles of the Order.

The XVIII landmark states in essence that “No Woman, Slave, Cripple, Mutilated Man, Atheist, Mad Man/Fool, Minor and Man in his dotage can be made a Mason”. Given the fact that criminals, minors and men of advanced age are not being initiated into the Craft, and there are no slaves (at least not legally) left in our society, it is necessary for Mainstream “Regular” Masonry to align itself to that tendency to which most Latin American and European countries subscribe: An anti-dogmatic F-r-e-e-Masonry that represents and incarnates the dynamic forces which stand against the static/conservative proclivities that support the concept that Masonry is a cult founded upon religious tenets, and whose dubious original principles – the ancient landmarks –  are immutable until the end of time, and, thus, NO modifications in principles and/or fundaments can be applied to “Original Masonry” without forcing it to cease being so. This prohibition is, of course, against the very Progressive principle of the Order.

It is time to take into consideration that the Landmarks were employed in rather remote times by English operative Masons when addressing the practices, customs, laws and usages of Masonry; and the fact that the migration from Operative Masonry to Speculative Masonry has transformed many of those same customs, laws and usages, just as it has transformed humanity.

We should equally consider that in addition to the “Landmarks of Mackey”, there are also 12 of MacBride, 8 of Pound, 3 of Pike, 24 of Lecerf, 54 of Grant de Louisville, 24 of Lawrence, 27 of the General Assembly of Franc-Masons held in Paris in 1523 and 8 of the Grand Lodge of England. Some of these landmarks are common, others are rather different, and, in some cases, some are in total contradiction with each other. How, then, is a semi-educated Free-Mason to determine which are the right-ones? Which are the “True Landmarks”? How do we establish this? Which are the patterns of reference that should be employed to identify the “Genuine Landmarks”? These, are questions that we, as sensible and aware Free-Masons, must endeavor to answer with utmost discernment. Surely, of course, “Mackey’s Ancient Landmarks” alone will not suffice.

This very controversy is perhaps the most recurring symptom of Spiritual Glioblastoma that, ever since the dubious legal emergence of the “Grand Lodge of London” in 1717, has been rotting the foundation of organized “Mainstream Regular Masonry”: Chronic Politics mutated with Acute Special Interests. Nowadays, just like in the past, the implementation of many and different landmarks obey sectarian, religious, financial and political interests, clearly responding to the sole purpose of exerting exclusivity over the governments of the Craft and introducing a defined orientation, against the principles of Universality and Progressiveness which have characterized Free-Masonry through the ages. Consequently, I find it imperative to determine which of these “landmarks” are authentic and indispensable for the conservation of Nature and the effectiveness of Fraternity, in function with the type of Free-Masonry that we want for the future.

Particularly, I believe that to cast aside women, cripples and other physically incapacitated individuals from organized Masonry and any other institution for mere historical motives, is to live in a virtual reality mode, anchored to a past that is not ours, for, after all, we are only responsible for the Here and Now. The sole qualifications and conditions to belong to organized Masonry are: to be free and of good (verifiable) breeding. I understand, however, that in the XVII and XVIII centuries the first basic qualification was difficult to meet, not only due to the nature of operative labors and intrinsic incapacity, but, due to mere historical and social impositions.

In the context of Women, nowadays the situation has changed, at least in most countries of the secular world. The access of women to education (including University) and their access to the working world  have given our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters a legal standing to preserve, protect and enforce their own liberties, rights and prerogatives before society – precisely the freedoms that they did not enjoy around the time when these alleged “Ancient Landmarks” and the so called “Anderson’s Constitutions” were drafted.

To impede women and the physical disable (Not intellectually disable) the access to any organization (fraternal and/or otherwise) for reasons of gender and physical condition, is to automatically place such organization at the margin of legality – Given the fact that these are rights stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which the “land of the free and home of the brave” is an endorser and a well known “world enforcer”.

As a somewhat aware and semi-educated Man and Free-Mason, I believe that it is and must be a question/issue of Time and Maturity to accept into the Craft the human being who seeks to better him/herself as a person and the society he/she lives in, without regard to sex, race, nationality and/or age. Everything else that counters this belief is simple and clear Discriminaion.

Organized Mainstream “Regular” Masonry can no longer ignore that the rights of Women constitute an essential part of Universal Human Rights. At this juncture in the development of humanity, any attempt to defend or perpetuate discriminatory practices against them, can only be based upon the Intention of denying them their condition of Equal under the Law. The struggle for Human Rights has been a Masonic battle, for it was inspired on principles embraced by the Order and brought to the world arena by Brothers.

Free-Masonry is THE institution created for the reflection and action that sets the course and pace for the development of humanity. And if a Woman is part of said humanity, she also has the right to assume this challenge next to us, Men, the ones who have unjustly and fanatically excluded her for such a long time.

Let us remember, my Dear Brothers, that we cannot detain Evolution itself by tying it to the inextricable limits of a Dead Past! Nature is not stationary! Institutions age while Humanity rejuvenates, incessantly! Methods can be spent, the exigencies of Time and Spirit may be modified and doctrines can be corrupted; But, only the “End” remains identical to itself, for we are here “in the Valley” and “it” dwells up-there “in the summit”.

With these reflections and without anything further to add (at this time), I thank you for reading and I embrace you on the Five Points of Fellowship.

Reprinted by Carlos Antonio Martinez, Jr., J.D., PH.D., M.A., 33º

Posted in Featured, Sojourners and tagged , .

A devoted student of the Western Mystery Traditions, Greg is a firm believer in the Masonic connections to the Hermetic traditions of antiquity, its evolution through the ages and into its present configuration as the antecedent to all contemporary esoteric and occult traditions. He is a self-called searcher for that which was lost, a Hermetic Hermit and a believer in “that which is above is so too below.” Read more about Greg Stewart.


  1. Bro. Martinez:

    Nice article. Landmarks are indeed not universal; rather, they are, for each jurisdiction, what has been adopted by its members. There are a few landmarks that can be said to be universal (the division of craft Masonry into three degrees, the legend of the third degree, government of the lodge by Masters and Wardens, to name a few) but it is unlikely the fraternity could go much beyond a handful of landmarks that would have universal application. There are simply too many cultural differences across the globe. This is the reason we accept what is adopted for our own Grand Lodge and we don’t concern ourselves much with what other Grand Lodges have adopted.

    Regarding your suspicion of gender discrimination, I would only point out that Freemasonry does not discriminate on the basis of gender. Discrimination exists only when there is a total prohibition from belonging solely on the basis of gender. Being a fraternity, we are what we traditionally were–a secret rite for men. And it’s legally permissable to embrace that tradition so long as a fraternal experience is also possible for women. This is why our disciplines are quite naturally divided into three groups: male only, female only, and mixed gender. This is the way it must be; as what is transmitted in the initiatic experience of all three differ.

  2. Bro.Davis,
    I can see your point but I would also like to ad that while there are those other two “types” of Freemasonry for women they are marginalized by the mainstream. Until that situation is at least eliminated they will not be seen as a real flavor of the same species.

  3. That is unfortunate; because all three disciplines are regular in their own right. As Freemasonry becomes more global in the average Freemason’s experience, I think this will all change. I can see many concordants of amity in our future. We may not sit in lodge together, but we should love each other mightily. We are all Freemasons. One needs only to read the rituals of the other to know this. And these are readily available to those who are looking.

  4. Well, we must also honor our traditions and the preferences of its members. In case of both masculine and feminine Freemasonry, there is a strongly prevailing attitude among both sets of members that separate but equal is the right way. It is only in the mixed gender obediences that we find interest in joining together in tyled settings. This is really not possible if the goal is to uphold the spiritual and psychological transmissions which the rituals are intended to convey. In the case of masculine Masonry, the transmission is initiation into manhood. In feminine Masonry, the transmission is integration with the divine feminine. In mixed gender Masonry, the transmission is integration with humanity. The point is that each initiatic rite has different purposes. It would be unmasonic not to honor these.

  5. In my humble opinion anyone who says that they approve of and respect female Masons but who won’t allow a female Mason into their house (lodge room) is commiting a dispicable act. There is no way a “seperate but equal” attitude will ever be appreciated or accepted by those who take the brunt of it. Nor should it be.

  6. Robert, I couldn’t disagree more. The fact that “seperate but equal” does not cut it in the 21st century. It would not be tolerated in society, we don’t have seperate drinking foundtains any more nor is anyone made to ride in the back of the bus. Those types of actions are known as deplorable and if Freemasonry is to what it was always meant to be , that is a progressive science how can that be via the enforcement of regressive policy?

    Mixed gender Masonry uses the exact same rituals and rites as both segregated forms. I can assure you that spiritual and psychological transmissions (even more so transformitive transmission) is achieved. I disagree that the rite’s of Freemasonry are about transmission through initiation into manhood but that can be an argument for another thread.

    I find to close the door of Masonic on someone 100% based on gender a vulgar and profane practice.

  7. Okay I’ll say it because no one else will, women in freemasonry “bah ha ha ha ha”, it’s a fraternity as such women are not aloud to join and I for one see no need to change it. If you want to form a group where gender has no bearing on the membership requirements go ahead and do it I wish you all the success in the world but don’t call it Freemasonry because it won’t be and never can be.

  8. I laugh at that idea of changing the face of the fraternity. People feel that they can make these changes and still retain the true essence of the fraternity without eroding that which it is. Long live tradition and customs. Those who wish radical changes are seeking something that is not offered. Feel free to reinvent the wheel but don’ call it a wheel, if it ain’t round and doesn’t fit on an axle it’s not a wheel no matter how hard you try and justify it.

  9. Derrick,
    I feel sorry for you as it seems that the lessons of equality and humanity found in the degrees meant nothing to you. This is a widespread problem. We have too many that want to recapture of find out what they missed out on Greek Row and not enough who are interested in building the temple not made by hands.

    You can wear a ring, have a dues card in your wallet and a bumper sticker on your car but none of those things make you a Craftsman.

  10. Derrick, you understand in the English language there is only the masculine correct?

    The semantics matter not at all, it is the lessons that are found within ritual that are important. I am not aware of a single Masonic virtue that calls you to mock and laugh at females, Masons or otherwise.

  11. Derrick, your group has no exclusive rights to anything. No trademark, no copyright. There are many members of all stripes under the collective called Freemasonry. Those is the facts, get used to it.

  12. Derrick,

    “Changing the face of the fraternity” — you do realise that we’ve been around for some time, don’t you? I recommend wholeheartedly Bro:. Karen Kidd’s “Haunted Chambers”, recently publised by Cornerstone Book Publishers. (http://cornerstonepublishers.com/chambers.html).

    Karen digs deeper than any masonic scholar has ever done, but apart from those isolated cases she highlights, my Order has been around since 1893. We’re not exactly new kids on the block.

    Assuming you are a mason either hailing from UGLE or from a jurisdiction in amity, I’d suggest you do some research of your own. UGLE hosted an exhibition on Women in Freemasonry last year. The topic of the 1995 Prestonian Lecture was likewise Women in Freemasonry. UGLE does not formally recognise women’s masonry, but enjoys very good relationships with the two feminine Orders here in the UK — indeed it rents out its Halls to the feminine Orders.

    I had the pleasure of meeting the Past Pro-GM, the MW Lord Northampton in March last year, and he made himself quite clear on the subject — there’s nothing wrong with women’s or co-freemasonry. He greeted me like Brothers do, as did all the other Brn:. at that event — the Award Ceremony of the 2007 Internet Lodge short paper competition at which Bro:. Karen Kidd won the world category with her landmark paper “I am regular”. I suggest you read it — see here: http://internet.lodge.org.uk/shortpaperscompetition/library/SPC200750.pdf.


Comments are closed.