Amazingly, the English descent from the Guild of Church Builders is challenged today by the authors of the so-called loan theory.
David Stevenson: The Origins of Freemasonry: Scotland’s Century, 1590-1710, Cambridge University Press, 1988, argues that masonry, although it appeared in England, has developed into its current character in Scotland, where the first typical elements appeared for the period Speculative: Interesting secret rituals centered on the Word Mason. The first strong evidence of the Scottish speculative era is the Schaw statutes of 28 December 1599, drafted by William Schaw, General Warden of the Masons of Scotland, where it was stipulated that each lodge would have to examine its members annually on the art of Memory and science thereof. This would be the famous Ars memorativa, a whole of mnemotechnical techniques with ancient roots in the sacred science and in Hermetism. The Middle Ages know the spectacular developments of this “arts”, which are said to have been accomplished by the Pitagoricians: Perhaps following the example of Metrodorus of Scepsis, looks described in Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria, Giordano Bruno, a defrocked Dominican, used a variation of the art in which the trained memory was based in some fashion upon the zodiac. Apparently, his elaborate method was also based in part on the combinatoric concentric circles of Ramon Llull, in part upon schematic diagrams in keeping with medieval Ars Notoria traditions, in part upon groups of words and images associated with late antique Hermeticism, and in part upon the classical architectural mnemonic. According to one influential interpretation, his memory system was intended to fill the mind of the practitioner with images representing all knowledge of the world and was to be used, in a magical sense, as an avenue to reach the intelligible world beyond appearances, and thus enable one to powerfully influence events in the real world. (Perhaps following the example of Metrodorus in Schepsis, which was loosely described by Quintilian in Institutio Oratoria, Giordano Bruno, a widespread Dominican monk, used a variant of the art in which the trained memory was based to some extent on the zodiac. As it turns out, his thorough method was based partly on the concentric circles of Raymondus Llulus, partly on schematic diagrams from the medieval traditions of Ars Notoria, in part on the groups of words and images associated with late ancient hermeticism and partly on classical architectural mnemonic. According to an interpretation to be taken into account, his memory system intended to fill the practitioner’s mind with images representing the entire knowledge of the world and was to be used, in a magical sense, as a way of touching the world intelligible beyond appearances, thus allowing the strong influence of events in the real world. The quote is from Wikipedia). This would be evidence that masonry, in Scotland, had acquired the essential vocation of the speculative era: the passage from physical work to the metaphysical work, based on occult science. The statutes of 1599 had been drafted by Schaw in response to a request from the Kilwinning Lodge, which required privileges given by the king. Previously, in 1598, also on 28 December, Schaw had drafted another document, called First Schaw Statutes, similar to the Gothic, but more coercive constitutions, which David Stevenson claims to establish a coherent lodge system for all Scotland.
As for England, David Stevenson argues that there were the first lodges in the whole of non-operatives showing that English masonry would be an artificial creation, not something that grew from the beliefs and institutions of the Freemason’s operatives (working Freemasons). He claims that in the 18TH century, groups of influence decided to borrow the outer elements of the Masonic Guild to mask their own form of the secret society. This secret society painted in Masonic colors and masked with Masonic objects would have had other purposes and other mentality towards the Guild of Church Builders, so it is something entirely special, a novelty in the market of secret societies. The theory is attractive as an intellectual exercise and comes from a real observation: the speculative masonry inaugurated in 1717 has significant differences over the operative masonry of Gothic constitutions. But she cannot explain the attitude and beliefs of the 18TH century Freemasons, who he speaks of: they were certain that their organization came from the lineage of the Church Builders Guild. They always said, starting with Anderson’s constitutions of 1723. The great Battle of the Ancients with the Moderns, who educated the English masonry and lasted almost a century, from 1725 to 1813, went and was won precisely in the name of return to the tradition decided by the practice of the Guild of Church Builders (even if no one He couldn’t explain precisely what that “tradition” meant.
Currently, Freemasonry expresses its compliance with tradition through the so-called landmark.
The term landmark, famous in the fraternity, designates a milestone placed on the earth that delimited the agricultural properties in England. The word is untranslatable, due to the connotations it has acquired in English. He is also associated with the legacy, with tradition, with the inviolable property and the essence (with what makes a structure so and not otherwise). It appeared late in Masonic literature, being used barely by Anderson in 1723, in art. 39 of the General regulation contained in the constitutions which it had drafted. Subsequently, they began to compile lists of landmarks, the most famous being developed by Albert G. Mackey in 1858. All related to the reality instituted in 1717 and contained significant differences in organization, ritual and religious faith towards Gothic constitutions. If we look at Mackey’s list, for example, we notice that only the landmark 1, 9, 10, 11, 14, 18, 22 and 23 are also the operative era, to which 19 and 20 can be added, with the important observation that it is no longer confined to the Christian faith in the Holy Trinity, the unique belief of Gothic constitutions. So, the landmark is the axioms of the speculative era, but in them, we find evidence of the offspring and how this lineage evolved towards its own life.