Museum of Freemasonry - Masonic Library
In early times, prior to the development of modern surveying techniques, and the recording of the position, shape and size, of land areas, it was very difficult to establish the permanent boundaries of a farm, estate, or other piece of land. Almost the only known way was to fix upon some prominent feature, such as a hill, a stream, a rock, or even a tree, and draw a line from it to some other feature, and thus establish the limits beyond which a man's property could not, or should not, go. Later, more or less permanent stone markers, with identifying marks cut into them, were set up. Their self-explanatory name was landmarks.

Throughout history, we see evidence that the destruction or removal of landmarks, was considered a serious offense, as without them, there was no means of measuring the encroachment by one person on the property of another.

In the craft of Freemasonry there are certain principles, practices, traditions, usage's and laws, which are considered to be significant to the essential identity and nature of Freemasonry. These things, which are spoken of as the Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry, cannot be changed by any Freemason, Lodge, or even a Grand Lodge.

It is not intended to make an exhaustive list of the things that constitute the Ancient Landmarks. However, the following are some examples of the things Freemasons see them to be, - the things which make Freemasonry different from other organizations.

Belief in God

An important feature of a Lodge Room, is a pedestal, upon which is an open Volume of the Sacred Law. As Freemasonry holds the concepts of the Brotherhood of Man, under the Fatherhood of GOD, belief in a Supreme Being is a fundamental requirement of Freemasonry. If this spiritual belief were removed, Freemasonry would degenerate, and cease to exist. A Belief in a Supreme Being, is therefore accepted as being a Landmark in Freemasonry.

Respect For The Civil Law

Freemasons are good citizens, and may not engage in riots or rebellion. Political discussion is not allowed in Masonic assemblies, in order to avoid controversy, and to preserve harmony.

Secrecy

There are certain confidences revealed in our ceremonies which are considered private to ourselves, and which we do not share with the outside world. These confidences relate only to certain parts of our ceremonial ritual, and the means of recognition between Masons. These confidences stem from the operative masons' desire, in times past, to protect their reputation for sound work and good conduct, thus ensuring that their work continued at the highest standard.

Sound Qualifications

Each Candidate for Freemasonry must be well recommended, of good character, and of mature age. These qualifications are required so that we may be assured that a Candidate will be capable of living a Masonic life, in all its aspects.

The principal tenets of Freemasonry are Friendship, Morality, and Brotherly Love.

Friendship

Man is a social creature and, usually, cannot find happiness by himself, but seeks the companionship of other of like mind. To be accepted by a Lodge, is evidence that the Lodge believes that the friendship of Freemasonry will appeal to you, and that your friendly spirit will be acceptable to it. Sincerity, loyalty, tolerance, sympathy, interest, devotedness, and unselfishness, are some of the ingredients of true friendship.

Morality

Good morals are the accepted standards of behavior, by which any action is measured, and form the exercise of those accepted standards. There is no such thing as a Masonic morality which indicates a separate or exclusive code of conduct. Our standards are those contained in the Volume of the Sacred Law, and adherence to those principles is strongly developed amongst Freemasons.

Brotherly Love

This tenet can be described as impartial friendship, and shows mutual respect and understanding between men. Each respects the other as a friend, a companion, an associate, and a neighbor. To work with that person is one of life's pleasures. Freemasonry builds on brotherhood, and provides opportunities to share true fellowship. It encourages us to practice Brotherly Love, and to make it part of our existence.

These then, are the principal tenets or foundations of Freemasonry.