In this installment of Symbols and Symbolism, we explore the origins of the Latin phrase ordo ab chao better known as order out of chaos. Often taken as an esoteric alliteration of transformation, the source of this oft used Latin phrase has its roots deeply embedded in the origin story of the Scottish Rite in the Americas.
While philosophically esoteric, the phrase holds closer to the literal movement from darkness into light, with the formation of the Scottish Rite at Charleston.
Mackey, in his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, describes the phrase, thus:
A Latin expression, meaning Order out of Chaos. A motto of the Thirty-third Degree, and having the same allusion as lux e tenebrious(this Latin phrase belongs to the Latin translation of the Gospel of John: “et lux in tenebris lucet et tenebrae eam non conprehenderunt,” meaning “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it”). The invention of this motto is to be attributed to the Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite at Charleston, and it is first met with in the Patent of Count Alexandre Francois Auguste de Grasse, dated February 1, 1802. When De Grasse afterward carried the rite over to France and established a Supreme Council there, he changed the motto, and, according to Lenning in his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry 1822 or 1828,Ordo ab hoc, Order Out of This, was used by him and his Council in all their documents.
The phrase appears on the grand decorations of the Order of the Sovereign Grand Inspectors General. The decoration rests on a Teutonic Cross which sits below a nine-pointed star, formed by three triangles of gold, one upon the other, and interlaced. From the lower part of the left side toward the upper part of the right extends a sword, and, in the opposite direction, a hand of Justice. In the middle is the shield of the Order, blue; upon the shield is an eagle like that on the banner; on the dexter side of the shield is a golden balance, and on the sinister a golden compass resting on a golden square. Around the whole shield runs a stripe of blue, lettered in gold with the Latin words ” ORDO AB CHAO;” and this stripe is enclosed by a double circle formed by two serpents of gold, each holding his tail in his mouth. Of the smaller triangles formed by the intersection of the principal ones, those nine that are nearest the blue stripe are coloured red, and on each is one of the letters that constitute the word S. A. P. I. E. N. T. I. A. (Latin: wisdom, discernment, memory)
You can read more installments of Mackey’s Encyclopedia under Symbols & Symbolism here on this site and video of these segments on YouTube.
In this installment of Symbols and Symbolism, we look at Albert Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry definition of the Great Architect of the Universe, more aptly know as the deity or God. While an obvious connection to the cosmic power at hand in in the mysterious workings of the cosmos, his definition is an interesting skirting of an obvious connection to a Christian appellation and connection to the Christianization of Freemasonry as he opines “… it cannot be denied that since the advent of Christianity a Christian element has been almost imperceptibly infused into the Masonic system, at least among Christian Masons” So then, how does Mackey define the aspect of deity at work in the doings of Freemasonry – as a Great Architect of the Universe.
You can read more installments of Mackey’s Encyclopedia under Symbols & Symbolism here on this site and video of these segments on YouTube.
From Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry:
The title applied in the technical language of Freemasonry to the Deity.
It is appropriate that a society founded on the principles of architecture, which symbolizes the terms of that science to moral purposes, and whose members profess to be the architects of a spiritual temple should view the Divine Being, under whose holy law they are constructing that edifice, as their Master Builder or Great Architect. Sometimes, but less correctly, the title “Grand Architect of the Universe” is found.
In this edition of Symbols and Symbolism, we look at a reading from Albert G. Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry on the subject of Riding the Goat.
Goat riding is one of those superstition that permeates most every corner of fraternal initiation. Not exclusively a Masonic institution, goat riding or making candidates “ride the goat” has been an aspect of hazing fueled initiation meant to scare and embarrass neophytes and initiates joining the institution. Yet, the practice seems to have a more succinct history involving ancient pagan practice and ritual.
The vulgar idea that “riding the goat” constitutes a part of the ceremonies of initiation in a Masonic Lodge has its real origin in the superstition of antiquity. The old Greeks and Romans portrayed their mystical god Pan in horns and hoof and shaggy hide, and called him “goat-footed.” When the demonology of the classics was adopted and modified by the early Christians, Pan gave way to Satan, who naturally inherited his attributes; so that to the common mind the Devil was represented by a he-goat, and his best known marks were the horns, the beard, and the cloven hoofs. Then came the witch stories of the Middle Ages, and the belief in the witch orgies, where, it was said, the Devil appeared riding on a goat. These orgies of the witches, where, amid fearfully blasphemous ceremonies, they practiced initiation into their Satanic Rites, became, to the vulgar and the illiterate, the type of the Masonic Mysteries; for, as Dr. Oliver says, it was in England a common belief that the Freemasons were accustomed in their Lodges “to raise the Devil.” So the “riding of the goat,” which was believed to be practiced by the witches, was transferred to the Freemasons; and the saying remains to this day although the belief has very long since died out.
The Lone Ranger writes about the continued abuse of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey. He and his deputies must remain anonymous for fear of reprisal.
It’s a sad day when a number of Masons within a Grand Lodge must go underground to protect themselves.
What gives Super Authority to the Grand Master of New Jersey is a much disputed Landmark which is New Jersey’s Landmark #3 as written in its Constitution. You can see a printout of this below. See also New Jersey Landmark #7. These Landmarks give the Grand Master absolute dictatorial power to do whatever he wants as long as it doesn’t violate another Landmark. It gives him the power to ignore or overrule any of the by-laws, rules and regulations of the Grand Lodge. What this translates out to is tyranny and abuse of power, whereby Masons live in the threat of being expelled and Lodges live in the fear of being closed if the Grand Master’s orders are not being followed.
The following is a newsletter that The Lone Ranger has recently sent out titled IN GOD IS OUR TRUST:
THEN CONQUER WE MUST, WHEN OUR CAUSE IT IS JUST,
AND THIS BE OUR MOTTO:IN GOD IS OUR TRUST
The Star Spangled Banner (4th stanza)
NOLUMUS LEGES MUTARI (WE DO NOT WANT THE LAWS TO BE CHANGED)
We now have over 3,600 Deputy Rangers. Thank you for your continuing interest and unflagging loyalty. Recently, many of you have written to ask why we are crusading against the Elected Line for the removal of the illegitimate Landmarks 3 and 7 and the restoration of Warren Lodge #13’s Warrant and the restoration of the illegally suspended and/or expelled masons from around the State.
You might have seen the edicts issued by our new Grand Master. He has re-arrested the warrant of Warren Lodge, in an effort to deprive its members of their building, continuing the unmasonic, and expensive lawsuit against the Masonic Temple Association of Belivdere (Warren Lodge) and has continued the illegal suspensions and expulsion of brothers who have not been given their U.S. Constitutional right and Grand Lodge Constitutional right to a trial. It appears that he is now joined the “Gang of Four”, now to be known as the “Gang of Five”.
We have been fighting this fight since 2014 and realized that most of you were not “Deputized” when we began, so we are going to review how this travesty has come to be.
The crux of the problem goes back to 1903. The Grand Master had put together the “Wallis Committee”. It was made up of Past Grand Masters who INVENTED Landmarks 3 and 7. You need to know that these so-called landmarks appear nowhere else in any list of Landmarks, recognized or not, anywhere else in the world. To be real Landmarks they have to be of ancient origin, universally recognized and absolutely irrevocable.
They were inserted in the Committee’s report in an attempt to seize absolute power for the future Grand Masters. They would give him the power to do whatever he wanted to do, to disregard the Constitution and By-Laws at will, and to never be held responsible for any of his actions.
In 1903 M.W. Brother Ewan moved that the report of this Committee be received and spread in the proceedings of the Grand Lodge, just as any other report. There never was a vote to accept them and that was for one obvious reason.
I ask you, if you were a Past Master, Master or Warden, would you have voted to give the future Grand Masters the powers of an ABSOLUTE DICTATOR? Of course you would never do it. Obviously, that Grand Master realized it would never go anywhere and he wisely did not call for a ratification vote.
For the next 111 years Landmarks 3 & 7, hereafter referred to as “unlandmarks”, were not abused and caused no problems, with one exception that will be reviewed in a future newsletter. In 2012, less than Grand Master Glenn R. Trautmann started the persecution of the brethren of Warren Lodge because one of his cronies did not like the results of that lodge’s election. He vacated the legal election of the lodge and suspended and/or expelled some of the membership without the trial that is guaranteed by our Constitution. In 2013, less than Grand Master Dorworth, hereafter referred to as “Dorworthless,” arrested the warrant of Warren Lodge and filed a lawsuit that is aimed at the confiscation of the Masonic Temple Association of Belvidere’s property and funds. ((a recognized, legal New Jersey Corporation) This lawsuit was continued by less than grand masters Sharpe, Montuori, and yes, our new less than grand master Kaulfers (shame on you).
Let’s look at the history of Masonic Landmarks:
In 1858, Albert G. Mackey, the foremost Masonic writer of his day, was the first to distinctly enumerate the landmarks of Freemasonry. His “An Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry and Its Kindred Sciences”, published in 1874, lists the 25 Landmarks of Freemasonry. This and other Mackey books became and have continued to be, the recognized authority.
Our current Elected Line and it’s smarmy, subservient legal counsel, better known as the “Evil Legal Beagles”, falsely claim that the powers given to the Grand Master in New Jersey Landmarks 3 and 7 are legitimate because they have existed since 1903. How lame can they get? They can’t even provide any proof of any kind or type showing that these Landmarks were ever voted on, either singly or in their entirety, during the 1903 Grand Lodge Annual Communication. They claim the were voted on in less than past grand Master’s Sharpe’s Annual Communication, but if you were there, you know that was a joke, as he had his “henchmen” walking around the Grand Lodge taking names of anyone who opposed his arrogant rant on the Lone Ranger and his Deputies, and then proceeded to ask that those who agreed with him please stand.You know that there was no discussion and that was NOT a vote. Oh, yes, didn’t the report that less than past grand Master Sharpe had his Grand Historian, Grand Instructor and “Evil Legal Beagle” contrive state that Landmarks could not be voted on, because anything that can be voted in, can be repealed?
They are five spoiled little boys who claim that their fairy godfather gave them special dispensation to do whatever they want to do with or without their parent’s permission. It is nothing less than a naked power grab. In the past they would have gotten away with this abuse because there was no way for us to find out what they were up to. More importantly, there was no way for those of us who had learned what was going on to exposed their abusive disregard of our Constitution. It is the INTERNET that has made all of this possible. The Internet is their second worst nightmare; we are their first.
They have used this lie to usurp sweeping powers to disregard any and all parts of our Constitution. In recent years many brethren have been suspended and expelled without the due process as put forth in our Constitution. Warren Lodge is still under attack by our Grand Lodge. Will you be next? Will your lodge be next?
Just because this mistake has existed for the past 111 years there is no reason, real or imagined,to perpetuate this disgusting abuse of illegitimate powers.
Nowhere in Mackey’s or any other publication on landmarks is the Grand Master given the powers that are enumerated in New Jersey’s so-called Landmarks 3 and 7 as stated in 1903 Wallis Committee’s Landmark Report. It just is not true. As you will read below, the Grand Master’s powers are clearly limited to the recognized landmarks 5,6,7 & 8.
The 1903 Annual Communication would never have adopted these landmarks because they are in direct violation of Landmark 25 (reproduced in its entirety for you to see the truth):
The last and crowning landmark of all is, that these landmarks can never be changed. Nothing can be subtracted from them – nothing can be added to them – not the slightest modification can be made in them. As they were received from our predecessors, we are bound by the most solemn obligations of duty to transmit them to our successors. Not one jot or one tittle of these unwritten laws can be repealed; for, in the respect to them, we are not only willing but compelled to adopt the language of the sturdy old barons of England, “Nolumus leges mutari.” (English translation: “We do not want the laws to be changed.”)
The time has come to demand our Grand Lodge to correct this grievous situation. If the Grand Master and the Elected Line still wants these so-called unLandmark Powers, then they must prove how they can be considered as they are not listed anywhere else or recognized by any Grand Lodge anywhere in the world.
The other 24 Landmarks are enumerated herein. They are reproduced in their entirety as they were originally published in 1858 (1924 edition) in the attached file:
The modes of recognition are, of all the landmarks, the most legitimate and unquestioned…
The division of symbolic Masonry into three degrees is a landmark that has been better preserved than almost any other…
The legend of the third degree is an important landmark, the integrity of which has been well preserved…
The government of the Fraternity by a presiding officer called a Grand Master…
The prerogative of the Grand Master to preside over every assembly of the Craft…
The prerogative of the Grand Master to grant dispensations of conferring degrees at irregular times….
The prerogative of the Grand Master to grant dispensations give dispensations for opening and holding Lodges…
The prerogative of the Grand Master to make Masons at sight…
The necessity of Masons to congregate in Lodges…
The government of the Craft, when so congregated in a Lodge, by a Master and two Wardens…
The necessity of every Lodge, when congregated, should be duly tiled…
The right of every Mason to be represented in all general meetings of the Craft…
The right of every Mason to appeal from the decision of his brethren, in the Lodge convened, to the Grand Lodge or General Assembly of Masons…
The right of every Mason to visit and sit in every regular Lodge…
It is a landmark of the Order, that no visitor unknown to the brethren present, or to some one of them as a Mason, can enter a Lodge without first passing an examination according to ancient usage…
No Lodge can interfere in the business of another Lodge or give degrees to brethren who are members of other Lodges.
It is a landmark that 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.
Certain qualifications of candidates for initiation are derived from a landmark of the Order…
A belief in the existence of God as the Grand Master of the Universe….
Subsidiary to this belief in God, as a landmark of the Order, is the belief in a resurrection to a future life…
It is a landmark that a “Book of the Law” shall constitute an indispensable part of the furniture of every Lodge.
The equality of all Masons is another landmark of the Order.
The secrecy of the Institution is another and most important landmark…
The foundation of a speculative science upon an operative art…
Now that you know the truth. There are two more topics that will be reviewed for you in future newsletters. The first is the truth about the continuing persecution of Warren Lodge #13. In the meantime, think about these questions:
Have you wondered just how much of our money has been spent on this lawsuit?
Was the money for the lawsuit or the suit itself authorized by the members of Grand Lodge at any emergent or annual communication?
Grand Lodge has to have spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000, yet there is no accounting for it in any budget Grand Lodge has faked in the past 4 years. Maybe it is time for a real audit?
The second and latest in Elected line abuse of powers is the secret creation of the now infamous Grand Lodge of NJ Ashlar Fund, Inc. Again, we ask:
Did you vote for its creation?
How much was Acacia Lumberton Manor actually sold for?
Where is the money invested?
How much interest has it earned?
Have you seen an audit?
Do you really believe it cost $75,000.00 to set up that corporation?
Thanks to the Internet and a small group of dedicated Deputy Rangers, the Elected Line and their sniveling underlings are no longer to do whatever they want to do without us learning of their dirty deeds. We will keep you informed.
Grand Master, we are watching every move you make; you cannot hide
Mackey’s notorious list and its impact on Maryland Masonry. Originally published in The Philalethes Magazine, vol. 44, no. 3, June 1991 authored by S. Brent Morris
A mushroom may grow ever so tall, on a boundary line or at a corner, but it will never be mistaken for a landmark Albert Pike on Mackey’s “Landmarks”
Freemasonry in Maryland, as in the rest of the world, is changing. This is a continuing process that began in 1717 at the Goose and Gridiron Tavern in London when four lodges made a radical innovation on the body of Masonry and created the office of Grand Master, an office that prior to that date had been only legendary. The additions, corrections, and elaborations to our Craft have come in fits and spurts since then, and we should not be so naïve to think that our Grand Lodge is immune. What is needed to face the challenges of change is an openness of mind and a flexibility of procedures.
Maryland Masonry is fortunate that its leaders have had minds open to the evolving needs of the Craft. They have laid a solid foundation on which the Grand Lodge has set goals, established programs, and disseminated the tenets of our profession. However, there is a grave danger that we are losing our flexibility of procedures which will be so essentially necessary for our survival in the twenty-first century.
At the 1989 Semiannual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Maryland, we witnessed the elimination of informed debate on several potentially vital pieces of legislation and the disenfranchisement of the representatives of the subordinate Lodges. This disregard for democratic principles was not part of a conspiracy nor planned with malice, but rather it sadly followed from a strict application of Mackey’s so-called “Landmarks of Freemasonry.” These twenty-five platitudes never have been adopted formally by the Grand Lodge of Maryland, but they threaten to become liabilities through a rigid interpretation.
Albert Galatin Mackey is one of the best-known American authors on Freemasonry. What is less well-known is that his creative genius often overshadowed his quest for historical accuracy and truth. In 1858, Mackey invented his list and foisted it upon an unsuspecting American Craft. Soon after there was a headlong rush by “scholars” to create lists of Landmarks and thus fill in what they perceived as a nagging gap in Masonic tradition. Right behind these creative writers came the Grand Lodges, each trying to outdo the other in adopting the “true” list of fundamental Landmarks of Freemasonry.
These enterprises resulted in nothing less than confusion in the temple. Of the American Grand Lodges, thirteen have adopted no formal list, five rely upon the Old Charges, ten have produced their own lists (ranging from seven to thirty-nine Landmarks), eight use Mackey by custom, and only thirteen have formally adopted his tabulation. The United Grand Lodge of England, the source and origin of all Freemasonry, has never seen fit to adopt any formal enumeration and in particular has never endorsed Mackey’s list, and our English Brethren seem none the worse for it.
Where in all of this does the Grand Lodge of Maryland stand?—somewhere between using Mackey by custom and by formal adoption. In November, 1939, R.W. Harry C. Mueller, Grand Secretary wrote that “Maryland has included in its Code Mackey’s twenty-five Landmarks. By the adoption of this Code we feel that the twenty-five Landmarks in their entirety were adopted also, although there was no specific mention made of this, nor has there been at any time.”
Thus the foundation of Masonic Jurisprudence in Maryland has never been formally adopted!
Isn’t the simplest solution to formally adopt Mackey’s product and to be done with it? That would easily solve the problem F the status of Mackey’s landmarks in Maryland, but like most simple-minded solutions, it’s more wrong than right. There is a naïve satisfaction in having an absolute list of guiding principles, and a childlike comfort in being able to assert, “These constitute the Landmarks … in which it is not in the power of any man, or body men, to make the least innovation.” However, naïve satisfaction and childlike comfort should not be the guiding forces of Maryland Freemasonry as it prepares to face the rigors of the twenty-first century.
To begin with, Mackey was simply wrong. Some of his so-called “Landmarks” are universally agreed upon, but most are just creatures of his fertile imagination. Albert Pike’s scathing denunciation of Mackey’s concoction stands as the damning opinion of contemporary scholar, and Pike was not alone in his condemnation. No serious student of Freemasonry has accepted Mackey’s 1858 list in its entirety, nor have more than thirteen Grand Lodges. “So far as known, no Grand Lodge outside the United States has ever adopted any list of landmarks.…” Even a partial list of those disagreeing with Mackey provides a Who’s Who of Masonic scholarship.
Some Masonic Scholars Disagreeing With Mackey’s Landmarks:
1856, Rob Moms, Past Grand Master, Kentucky
1858, J. W. S. Mitchell, Past Grand Master, Missouri
1885, Robert Freke Gould, Past Master Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076
1888, Albert Pike, Sovereign Grand Commander. Southern Jurisdiction
1910, George Fleming Moore, Sovereign Grand Commander, Southern Jurisdiction
1919, Roscoe Pound, Dean, Faculty of Law in Harvard University
1923, Joseph D. Evans, Past Grand Master, New York
1924, Melvin M. Johnson. Past Grand Master, Massachusetts
1931, E. W. Timberlake, Jr., Past Grand Mater, North Carolina
1961, Henry Wilson Coil, Fellow of the Philalethes Society
1973, Dwight L. Smith, Past Grand Master, Indiana
A Landmark should be something so fundamental, so basic to the fabric of Freemasonry, that any deviation merits immediate condemnation. Mackey’s creation fails this test rather miserably. There is no reason to analyze each of his landmarks; a few particulars should suffice. For example, the Grand Lodge of North Carolina not only does not recognize the prerogative of a Grand Master to make Masons at sight (Mackey’s Landmark 8), but also does not recognize any Mason made by this method, regardless of whether he may belong to a regularly chartered Lodge. Yet we still maintain fraternal relations with the Grand Lodge of North Carolina. Several of the regular European Grand Lodges we recognize use a Grand Masonic Word different from Maryland, thus effectively negating the Mackey’s first landmark, the modes of recognition.
Freemasonry recently has come under increasingly vicious attacks from narrow-minded religionists. One of the frequent accusations made against our gentle Craft is that we are a “secret society” with all of the vague connotations of unknown evil that charge carries. Maryland has wrestled with this problem and has tried to solve it with our rather awkwardly worded Standing Resolution No. 8, which says in part “that our Order is not a secret one in the sense that everything that goes on in the Lodge room may never be revealed; rather it is an Order which has certain secrets which we do not share with the world outside these doors.”
This is all fine and good, but Mackey’s Twenty-third Landmark states in simple, plain language, “Freemasonry is a secret society.” If we adopt Mackey’s invention, then we are declaring to the world that we are indeed a secret society (despite our waffling resolutions to the contrary). If we are not a secret society, then Landmark 23 of Mackey is not a Landmark of Maryland.
The Grand Lodge of Maryland presents another paradox on the one hand we acknowledge by custom Mackey’s Landmark 14, “the right of every Mason to visit and sit in every regular Lodge.” On the other hand we ignore this clear, absolute right and allow only the privilege of visitation. A Brother visiting a Maryland Lodge may be denied admission if any member of that Lodge personally demands it. In fact, Maryland’s deviation from this “landmark” has earned us special condemnation in Mackey’s Masonic Jurisprudence, as an offensive example of a “very contracted view of the universality of Freemasonry.…”
At the 1989 Semiannual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Maryland, an amendment to the Constitution was proposed that would have allowed subordinate lodges to conduct normal business in the first degree. The Committee on Masonic Jurisprudence carefully considered the matter, adhered faithfully to Mackey’s landmarks, and made the straightforward decision that “the proposed Amendment … would violate the Landmarks of Freemasonry and Masonic history and tradition.” This inescapable conclusion that the committee reached by following Mackey’s authority is logically precise and historically wrong. On May 18, 1842, the Grand Lodge of Maryland “Resolved, That all the business of a Lodge, except that of conferring the inferior degrees, and the instruction therein, should be transacted in a Master Mason’s Lodge.”
In other words, from 1749 to 1842, every Lodge in Maryland conducted its business on the first degree—in violation of Mackey’s landmarks and Masonic history and tradition! How is it possible that our first ninety-three years of Masonic activity violated the Landmarks of Freemasonry and Masonic history and tradition? For that matter, what does this say about the United Grand Lodge of England, whose Lodges have never stopped meeting on the first degree? These contradictions are possible only if Mackey’s inventive list is given official status in Maryland, and we abandon our original history and customs.
Finally, there is the example of the recently aborted attempt to provide checks and balances upon the powers of the Grand Master of Maryland. The argument which prevented the amendments from even being discussed was that Mackey’s so- called landmarks do not allow the Grand Lodge to limit the authority of the Grand Master. Mackey states with his usual authoritative tone that Grand Masters and Grand Lodges are “coeval” (a highfalutin word that means “of equal antiquity”). However, there is no foundation in fact—only in modern Masonic ritual—that Grand Lodges or Grand Masters existed before that historic 1717 meeting in London.
These lofty, theoretical arguments overlook a fundamental problem: if the Grand Lodge cannot limit the powers of the Grand Master, how did we get the limitations we now have? Perhaps the Grand Architect Himself ordained the requirement that the Grand Lodge has to approve edicts of the Grand Master for them to remain in force? The powers of the Grand Master spring from the consent of the lodges he governs, and they can modify his powers whenever or however they see fit.
The fact is, Mackey’s fabrication never has been adopted formally by the Grand Lodge of Maryland nor has it made any particular contribution to our jurisprudence. What is true is that Mackey has been regularly ignored by the Grand Lodge of Maryland when convenient, though his invention most recently prevented a democratic discussion of important issues facing the Grand Lodge of Maryland. The solution to the confusion is straight forward: drop Mackey’s lame “landmarks” (either by agreement or by formal edict or by resolution) and give the Grand Lodge of Maryland the flexibility and authority it needs to face the problems of the future.
Quotations from Some Masonic Scholars Disagreeing with Mackey’s “Landmarks”
Robert Freke Gould
We shall vainly search in the records of those early times for a full specification of the twenty-five “Landmarks” which modem research pronounces to be both ancient and unalterable … Of the Ancient Landmarks it has been observed, with more or less foundation in truth: “Nobody knows what they comprise or omit; they are of no earthly authority, because everything is a landmark when an opponent desires to silence you, but nothing is a landmark that stands in his own way.”
The History of Freemasonry, New York: John C. Yorston & Co., 1885, vol. 2, p. 59.
There is no common agreement in regard to what are and what are not landmarks. That has never been definitely settled. Each writer makes out for himself the list or catalogue of them, according to his own fancy, some counting more of them and others less.
Most of these so-called landmarks were not known either to Ancient Craft Masonry in England or Scotland before the revolution of 1723, or to the new Masonry, as landmarks, for years afterwards. It is a pity that Masonry has not a Pope, or cannot make one of some Grand Master, Editor, or Chairman of a Committee on Foreign Correspondence, endowed with infallibility, to determine the age which a landmark must have to entitle it to call itself a landmark; what is the essential nature of a landmark; how many of the supposed twenty-five are landmarks, and what others the oracular wisdom of the author [Mackey] of this catalogue has overlooked.
Proceedings of the Masonic Veterans’s Association of Iowa, 1888 (reprinted in Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia, New York: Macoy Publishing & Masonic Supply Co., 1961, pp. 367–59).
E. W. Timberlake, Jr.
A number of Grand Lodges have undertaken, by express enactment, to fix what the landmarks shall be within their respective jurisdictions, and these differ very widely. For example, nine American Grand Lodges declare that the ancient charges contain the landmarks, while several Grand Lodges have adopted statements of their own, varying all the way from seven in West Virginia and ten in New Jersey to thirty-nine in Nevada and fifty- four in Kentucky. It would seem obvious, therefore, that, since even a Grand Lodge can neither create nor abolish a landmark, such declaratory enactments cannot be viewed in any other light than as Masonic legislation.… It is generally conceded that Dr. Mackey’s list includes all of the landmarks, but it is not conceded that all those which he enumerates as landmarks, are in reality such.
“The Landmarks of Masonry,” Nocalore, vol. 1, part 1. pp. 416,1931.
The skeptic says, first, that down to the appearance of Mackey’s Masonic Jurisprudence “landmark” was a term floating about in Masonic writing without any definite meaning. It had come down from the operative Craft where it had meant trade secrets, and had been used loosely for “traditions” or for “authorized ritual” or for “significant historical occurrences,” and Oliver had even talked of “obsolete landmarks.” Second, he says. the definition of a landmark, the criteria of a landmark, and the fixed landmarks generally received in England and American from 1860 on, come from Mackey. Bro. Hextall says: “It was more because Mackey’s list purported to fill an obvious gap than from any signal claims it possessed that it obtained a rapid circulation and found a ready acceptance.” Perhaps this is too strong. But it must be admitted that dogmatism with respect to the landmarks cannot be found anywhere in Masonic writings prior to Mackey and that our present views have very largely been formed—even if not wholly formed—by the influence of his writings.…
In reading [Mackey’s definition of a landmark] we must bear in mind that it was written in 1856, before the rise of modem Masonic history and before the rise of modem ideas in legal science in the United States. Hence it is influenced by certain uncritical ideas of Masonic history and by some ideas as to the making of customary law reminiscent of Hale’s History of the Common Law, to which some lawyer may have directly or indirectly referred him. But we may reject these incidental points and the essential theory will remain unaffected—the theory of a body of immemorial recognized fundamentals which give to the Ma¬ sonic order, if one may say so, its Masonic character, and may not be altered without taking away that character. It is true Mackey’s list of landmarks goes beyond this. But it goes beyond his definition as he puts it; and the reason is to be found in his failure to distinguish between the landmarks and the common law.
Lectures on Masonic Jurisprudence, New York: Board of General Activities [Grand Lodge, F. & A.M.], 1941, pp. 32–34.
Henry Wilson Coil
The way to define a thing or a principle is to examine it closely, list its peculiarities, state how it looks and acts, what it does and does not do, and what it is not as well as what it is. Again, the landmarkers reversed the process by attempting to define the unknown thing arbitrarily and, then armed with that prejudicial formula, search through the rituals, the regulations, and even unofficial literature in search of items which would satisfy the definitions. They did not know that the definition is the conclusion, not the beginning of such enquiry. But, worse yet, they commonly included some items which did not conform to their definitions. Of this class, one of the leaders, Mackey, was a striking example. What he called ancient and unwritten principles were in several of his proposals no more than legislation of the premier Grand Lodge set forth in the Constitutions and General Regulations published in 1723. Some that he called universal were not followed in all, possibly not even in a majority of Masonic jurisdiction. Those called unalterable had already been altered in some instances, and Mackey, himself, gave out several additions which altered his unalterable list of twenty-five.
Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia, New York: Macoy Publishing & Masonic Supply Company, 1961, p. 364.
Dwight L. Smith
The Grand Lodge of England, which should know a thing or two about the ancient landmarks, never has “adopted” landmarks or in any way attempted to define them other than to make casual references to certain practices. To my knowledge, no Grand Lodge of Freemasons outside the United States has ever become concerned about what the landmarks are, or how many there may be.
Not so in the U.S.A. Beginning about the middle of the Nineteenth Century, Grand Lodges started trying to define the landmarks and enumerating them. They literally ran races to see how many ancient landmarks they could “adopt” officially. Some lists became so long and so all-inclusive that it was hardly safe to take aim at the brass cuspidor for fear an ancient landmark would be removed. And the hilarious feature about the various lists of “official” and “unalterable” landmarks is that so many are in total disagreement with their neighbors’ lists!
“Of Landmarks and Cuspidors,” The Philalethes, vol. 26, no. 1 (February 1973), pp. 6 & 22.
Coil, Henry W., et al. Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia. New York: Macoy Publishing aid Masonic Supply Co., Inc., 1961.
Gould, Robert Freke, et al. The History of Freemasonry. New York: John C. Yorston & Co., 1885.
Mackey, Albert G. Mackey’s Masonic Jurisprudence. Revised by R. I. Clegg. Chicago; The Masonic History Company, 1927.
Maryland, Grand Lodge of. Maryland Manual of Ancient Craft Masonry. Baltimore: Grand Lodge, A.F. & A.M. of Md., 1935.
Reports to the Annual Communication. Baltimore: Grand Lodge, A.F. & A.M, of Maryland, November 17, 1986.
Reports to the Semiannual Communication. Baltimore: Grand Lodge, A.F. & AM of Maryland, May 15, 1989.
Masonic Service Association. “The Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry.” The little Masonic Library. 5 vols. Richmond: Macoy Publishing aid Masonic Supply Co., Inc., 1946.
Pike, Albert. “The Landmarks of Freemasonry.” The Little Masonic Library. 5 vols. Richmond: Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Co., Inc., 1946.
Pound, Roscoe. Lectures on Masonic Jurisprudence. New York: Board of General Purposes, [Grand Lodge, F. & A.M.], 1941.
Schultz, Edward T. History of Freemasonry in Maryland. 4 vols. Baltimore: J. H. Medairy & Co., 1887.
Smith, Dwight L. “Of Landmarks and Cuspidors.” The Philalethes, vol. 26, no. 1 (Feb. 1973.)
Timberlake, E. W. Jr. “The Landmarks of Masonry.” Nocalore, vol.1, part 1 (1931).
 Albert Pike, “The Landmarks of Freemasonry,” The Little Masonic Library, 5 vols. Richmond: Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Co., Inc., 1946, vol. 1, p. 66.
 Masonic Service Association, “The Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry,” The Little Masonic Library, Richmond: Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Co., Inc., 1946. vol. 1, p. 95.
 Masonic Service Association, “The Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry,” pp. 76–77.
 Grand Lodge of Maryland, Maryland Manual of Ancient Craft Masonry, Baltimore: Grand Lodge, A.F.&A.M. of Md., 1935, p. C.
 Henry W. Coil, et al., Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia, N.Y.: Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Co., 1961, p. 360.
 Grand Lodge of Maryland. Reports to the Annual Communication. Baltimore: Grand Lodge, A.F. & A.M. of Maryland, November 17, 1986, p. 29.
 Albert G. Mackey, Mackey’s Masonic Jurisprudence, rev. R. I. Clegg, Chicago: The Masonic History Co., 1927, p. 141.
 Grand Lodge of Maryland, Reports to the Semi-Annual Communication, Baltimore: Grand Lodge, A.F. & A.M. of Maryland, May 15, 1989, p. 29.
 Edward T. Schultz, History of Freemasonry in Maryland, 4 vols., Baltimore: J. H. Medairy & Co., 1887, vol. 3, p. 67.