Ancient Landmarks


MWSA Secretary
Within the Master's Charge is found that "The ancient landmarks of the order, entrusted to your care, you are carefully to preserve; and never suffer them to be infringed, or countenance a deviation from the established usages and customs of the fraternity", but further monitorial references to the "ancient landmarks" are lacking. As with the symbols and allegories, here lies an area for personal thought and reflection.

The term, landmark, can be traced to ancient times, in that the placement of stones to "mark" land parcels, boundaries, and roadways was an important aspect of early peoples and civilizations. The penalties for moving such landmarks were most severe since land was considered a part of one's inheritance and both the future, and past, of a family depended upon such wealth.

For the Freemason the landmarks of the Craft mark the path by which he is to guide and direct his actions. The boundaries of moral conduct and the tracing a design upon the Trestle board should follow the paths of those who have preceded us and the lessons of the Degrees should serve as guideposts to a good and productive life.

Unfortunately there no definitive list or clarification of the "ancient landmarks", although Brother Albert Mackey developed a list of some 25 "landmarks" which were presented in 1858 in several texts. He noted the definition that "Landmarks … are the unwritten laws of the Order, derived from those ancient and universal customs which date at so remote a period that we have no record of their origin". Similarly Brother Arthur Waite states in his "New Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry" under landmarks that "there is no recitation of their number or nature" and many authors have written upon the subject. , but with no definitive answers.

Consequently each of us is at liberty to reflect upon what customs are central to the Craft and so universal as to serve as a "landmark", but there is one place to begin. The requirement of a belief in the existence of God, so essential to the Degrees and each member of the Craft. Our Fraternity depends upon such a requirement in order to insure the merit of initiates in their obligations and commitment. As an established requisite of the Fraternity, now, in the past, and the future, this requirement might well be a "ancient landmark".

Other landmarks, as with many lessons of the Craft, are there to be found by the individual Mason as he seeks his path. The serious questions to ask are, "What are the landmarks for my life?", "Where is my path?", and "How do I find my 'Spiritual Home'?'. Upon reflection, "What guide posts are so ancient, so universal, and so basic, as to mark my footsteps?".