The Ancient Landmarks~ What Do They Really Mean?

Bro. Jon Patrick Sage

With the dawn of a New Year, many new ideas are formed.  Yet, we also find ourselves polishing and refining some older ones. In that train of thought, let us try an experiment–for at least a few months this year, and work our way through, in conversational tones, the Ancient Landmarks.  The Ancient Landmarks are, in the literal sense: Ancient. They were written in the style of the late 18th century, and to be honest–some of the language is difficult to apply to daily and Masonic life in the 21st century.

1st Landmark: Monotheism– the belief in one true God, is THE foundation of nearly every other stone in our collective edifice. The key term here, is collective, meaning all-inclusive.  Thus following, if we are to be all-inclusive, this provides our Fraternity with the concept of Universality. A nice illustration for these concepts may be found in the differences between the “Cowan”–and the “Mason”.

The individual stones which comprise a structure are all “stones”, yet they are also slightly different. Possibly they are different in shape, composition, or general appearance. These stones, being stacked together and piled high, according to some plan, is the basic mechanism of building. The stones, all being slightly different, may require cement to hold them together. Cement, spread evenly and fairly around and about the stones, is in many ways like the blessings and comforts of Deity which surrounds us. Thus, our Masonic cement is representative of the Universal Love of the one true God.

One very old description for a “Cowan” was to describe one who built without cement, and who also built with irregularity. As such, his work could not be trusted. Possibly–he could not or would not accept the cost and the effort of using cement. More likely, it was the notion that the Cowan did not understand the necessity of cement, believing that his individual skill and personal judgment would firm up his edifice.

The Master Mason knew differently. His Faith, rooted in the Almighty, was also supported by his Lessons and Obligation, instructing him to accept each stone as it came to him, fitting them together properly, directed by the plan of the Deity, in order to form the perfect structure.

The Deity provides Masons with wisdom, direction, and knowledge necessary to use the Trowel. Although the individual stones in our Grand Masonic edifice may all be slightly different; the cement, which is Divine in nature, binds and sustains our Masonic society into a single mass.

Let’s all look forward to the New Year, as an opportunity for our Lodge, and our Fraternity, to grow and to prosper; in the eyes of the world, and also in the eyes of our Creator.