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Algoma District Travelling Square
ANCIENT LANDMARKS - June 12, 1958
PRESENTED TO: TERRACE BAY LODGE A.F. & A.M. No. 622 BY PORT ARTHUR LODGE A.F. & A.M. No. 499
TERRACE BAY, ONTARIO
With the emphasis of ‘always on the move’ the Travelling Square will leave Port Arthur Lodge No 499 and travel again to the Country to be presented to Terrace Bay Lodge No 662 so that all of the country visits can be completed during good weather leaving the City Lodges clear for the winter months.
THE ANCIENT LANDMARKS
In ancient times it was the custom to mark the boundaries of lands by mean of stone pillars. To remove these was considered a heinous crime. “Thou shalt not,” says the Jewish Law, “Remove thy neighbour’s landmark which they of old time have set in thine inheritance.” Hence those peculiar marks of distinction by which we are separated from the profane world and by which we are able to designate our inheritance as the “Sons of Light’ are called the Landmarks of the Order. The Universal Language and the Universal Laws of Masonry are landmarks by which we examine our visiting brethren. Language and laws are landmarks, but not so the local ceremonies, laws, and usages, which vary in different countries. To attempt to alter or remove these sacred landmarks, by which we examine and prove a brother’s claim to share in our privileges, is one of the most heinous offences that a mason can commit.
In the decision of the question of what are and what are not the landmarks of Masonry, there has been great diversity of opinion. Perhaps the safest method is to restrict them to those ancient customs of the Order which either gradually grew into operation as rules of action or if at once enacted by any competent authority we enacted at a period so remote that no account of their origin is to be found in the records of history. Both the enactors and the time of the enactment have passed away from the records and the landmarks are therefore of higher antiquity than memory or history can reach. Antiquity is the essential element. Were it possible for all the Masonic authorities to meet in perfect unanimity, to adopt any new regulation obligatory to the whole craft, such would not be a 1andmark. Such an act would have the character of Universality but it would not have that of Antiquity. Landmarks are not repeal able. Grand Lodges can neither enact nor repeal landmarks. Like the laws of the Medes and Persians the landmarks of Masonry can suffer no change. What they were centuries ago, they must still remain and must continue in force until Masonry itself shall cease to exist. Only in 1858 (over a hundred years ago) was any attempt made to enumerate the landmarks. Writers of Masonic Law, therefore, have very generally agreed on some 25 landmarks of the Order which are listed as follows:
1. The modes of recognition are unquestionable. These admit no variation.
2. The division of Masonry into three degrees has been better preserved than any other of the landmarks.
3. The legend of the Third degree is a very important landmark, the integrity of which has been well preserved. The very essence and identity of Masonry is embodied in the Temple Builder.
4. The government of the Fraternity by the Grand Master, Past Grand Masters or their equivalent are found in the records of the institution long before Grand Lodges were established.
5. The prerogative of the Grand Master, whereby he may preside over every assembly of the Craft wheresoever and whensoever it is held is the fifth landmark. This law from ancient usage and not from enactment enables the Grand Master to assume the chair at Grand Lodge and as well at the communication of subordinate lodges where he may happen to be present.
6. The prerogative of the Grand Master to grant dispensations for conferring degrees at irregular times is a very important landmark.
7. The prerogative of the Grand Lodges which permits a number of brethren to meet and confer degrees, such as lodges under dispensation.
8. It has been from time immemorial the custom of masons to congregate into lodges, and this is another landmark. The lodges would meet from time to time.
9. It is and has been the prerogative of the Grand Master to make a man a Mason on sight. So criticism is levelled at this landmark but Masonry seems unwilling to do anything about it.
10. The Government of the Craft in a lodge by a Master and two Wardens is a time-honoured custom. A congregation of Masons meeting together under any other form of government would not be recognized.
11. The duty of guarding the door to the lodge and of keeping off all cowans and intruders and eavesdroppers is an ancient one and constitutes a respected landmark.
12. The right of every Mason to be represented in all general meetings of the Craft and to instruct his representatives is the twelfth land mark. Formerly even the Entered Apprentices could come to general assemblies. Now, however, the Masters and the Wardens are summoned and they represent the brethren.
13. Every Mason is privileged to appeal to Grand Lodge and this is considered a landmark highly essential to the preservation of justice and the prevention of oppression.
14. The right of every Mason to sit in any regular Lodge is an undisputed privilege. To every Mason travelling through the world this recognized as his inherent right. Masonic Lodges are considered merely divisions of the Universal Masonic family. No Mason in good standing who can qualify for admission is refused entrance to any lodge anywhere.
15. Visitors to Lodges who are unknown are obligated to submit to a test before they can claim the right of admittance.
16. No Lodge can interfere in the business of another Lodge. Nor can a Lodge give degrees to a brother who is a member of another Lodge except only under most unusual circumstances and then only by special permission.
17. It is a landmark that every Freemason is amenable to the discipline, laws and regulations of the Masonic jurisdiction in which he resides. This is true even though he may not be a member of any lodge. Non-affiliation is in fact a Masonic offence. This, however, does not exempt him from Masonic Jurisdiction.
18. Certain qualifications of one desiring to enter Masonry are as follows: He must be a man, unmutilated, free born and of mature age. That is to say a woman, a slave, a cripple or one born in slavery is disqualified into the rites of Masonry except under special dispensation.
19. Candidates for Freemasonry must be believers in God. The annals of the Order never yet have furnished or could furnish an instance in which an avowed atheist was ever made a Mason.
20. The belief in the resurrection to a future life is a landmark deeply impressed upon all candidates.
21. The “Book of the Law” forms part of every Masonic gathering and is a part of the furniture of the Lodge. In Christian countries, that book must be the Old and the New Testaments. In a Hebrew Lodge it would be the Old Testament. In Moslem countries, the Koran would be the book. The Book of the Law is to the speculative Mason his spiritual trestle board. A book, purporting to be a book of the revealed will of God, is essential.
22. The equality of all Masons is another landmark. Within the lodges, the nobleman, monarch, artisan and workman are all children of one Great Father. In some lodges, closing is done by every member gathering on the level before the altar, a truly wonderful exemplification of the possibilities of Universal Brotherhood.
23. Secrecy is a landmark evolved with the Order itself. Without this Masonry would soon lose its identity and would cease to be Freemasonry. Masonry as a secret institution has lived for many centuries unchanged.
24. The foundation of a speculative science upon an operative art and symbolic use of the terms of that art, for the purpose of religious or moral teaching, constitutes another landmark. Hence all the comparatively modern Rites of Masonry, however they may differ in other respects, religiously preserve the TEMPLE HISTORY OF KING SOLOMON and these operative elements as the substratum of all their modifications of Masonic System.
25. The last of the landmarks is that these landmarks can never be changed. Nothing can either be subtracted or added and not even the slightest modification can be made in them. As they were received from our predecessors, we are bound by the most solemn obligation of DUTY to transmit them to our SUCCESSORS.
Hence, Worshipful Sir and Brethren, when at Installation, the Ancient Charges are read to the newly installed Master, you may well reflect on Charge No 11 which says, “You admit that it is not in the power of any man or body of men, to make innovation in the body of Masonry.” This constitutes the feeling of the Craft from the Most Worshipful, The Grandmaster down to our newest member and it is with the blessings of the Great Architect that we pass it on to you.
Presented by Wor Bro S.I. Knox, Chairman of Masonic Education for P.A. Lodge No 499 June 12, 1958