Masonic Rings: Points In Or Points Out?

by Midnight Freemasons Contributors
Noble Brian Schimian
&
 Todd E. Creason, 33°

Todd Creason: Some time ago I wrote a piece about whether President Obama was a Freemason or not. There was a photo circulating at the time of what was purportedly the President's hands, and the right hand was clearly wearing a Masonic ring. All the photo showed was two hands holding the Presidential Seal. There was a lot of buzz at the time that this was evidence that President Obama was a Freemason.  However, the President is not a Freemason--the photo wasn't of the President's hands. It was posed by a photographer for a magazine piece. Some years ago, the President was speaking for an audience, and suddenly, the Presidential seal fell off the podium and crashed to the floor. The President took it in stride, walked around the podium, picked it up off the floor and rehung it on the podium to the amusement of the people in the audience. The piece was written about that funny incident, and the photo was taken later for the piece--the hands belonged to a stand-in.

But I made a mistake in the piece--I questioned whether the stand-in was a Mason, because (at least according to me) he was wearing his ring upside-down. I got over a hundred emails on the subject. As I quickly learned, the custom for wearing a Masonic rings varies a great deal by locale. I was dead wrong on that point. As it was quickly pointed out to me, many Masons wear their rings with the points out.  Live and learn.

A couple weeks ago, the subject came up again--on Facebook. I posted a picture of a friend of mine, the Illustrious Brother William J. Hussey, Jr. 33°, and one of the Midnight Freemasons, Brother Brian Schimian, asked why he was wearing his ring upside-down. Bill Hussey was wearing his ring the same way I wear mine. I thought to myself "oh boy, here we go again!"  There were a number of comments on that post--over 90 in an hour--including comments from Midnight Freemason Bill Hosler and our newest member Aaron Gardner. Brian Schimian and I later talked on the phone and decided this would be an excellent topic for a piece on the Midnight Freemasons. Since he was taught to wear his ring points out, and I was instructed to wear mine points in, we decided to write the piece together and compare the reasons why we wear our rings the way we do.

Points In?
In my part of the world, Masons wear their rings with the points down--towards your wrist. When I was a new Mason I didn't know it mattered. Ever since the day I was raised a Master Mason, I wear my ring each and every day, and in the beginning, I wore it which ever way I happened to put it on that morning. I was at a degree one evening, and afterwards, we're sitting around a table in the dining hall, and a Brother noticed how I had my ring on and told me I was wearing it upside-down. That particular day, I'd put it on points up. I looked around the table and noticed everyone at that table was wearing it points down. We had a discussion about it. The explanation is that the points of the compass should point towards your heart, to remind you of your obligation. That ring, according to our local custom, is a reminder to the wearer of those tenants we honor, and the Fraternity we represent. I've worn it that way since. I thought it was Universal at the time--as I learned later, it certainly is not. There are those that wear it points down. Like Brother Brian Schimian.

Points Out?
Brian Schimian: For as long as I can remember while I was growing up, I wanted to wear my father’s Masonic ring. It represented everything that he was and what I strove to be. As I moved my way through Masonic education, that ring and the symbolism therein came to mean more. The typical Masonic ring is a combination of Masonic symbols. The Square, or earthly perfection, and Compasses, or heavenly perfection. Frequently, the letter G is incorporated into the center. Along my journey of enlightenment, I came to understand that the ends of the Square point up to show ones aspirations toward God and the points of the Compasses point down to represent heavenly qualities coming down to earth from God. The ring, as all Masonic symbols are displayed in the same manner, to show others that I know what my obligations are and to show the rest of the world I am a Mason.  The ring exemplifies how I live my life: upright & on the level. If someone asks what that ring represents, it is easier for them to see the design as you show it to them and describe the different points if it is worn points down.

I remember one Brother explaining it like this as he showed me his ring: "Sharing the light of Masonry or advertising, if you will, being a mason is being “Upright” and “On The Level” as so should be the emblem of a Mason. By displaying the ring points out, a Mason makes the statement that as others see his actions, so will they gain a upright perception of the Craft. This Brother wore an old Masonic Signet ring that was older than both of our ages combined. He continued, "The original Masonic signet rings had to face this direction to ensure that when the wearer pressed the ring into warm wax to validate and seal an authentic Masonic document, the legs of the compass pointed down on the resulting wax seal."

Todd Creason: Well there you have it--two different ring customs, and two different philosophies on how Masonic rings should be worn. And I'm sure if our readers would chip in, you'd find there is a lot more diversity than just these two we've presented here, and I hope our readers will share those with us.

Brian Schimian: Should it look right side up to Him, you or them? In the end it may not matter how one chooses to wear the Points, as long as you act upon them and remember what it means to be able to wear them. Probably the most encompassing explanation I have found is this: “You are supposed to wear the ring with the Compasses pointed into yourself. Until such a time that you become a Past Master of your Lodge. At which time, you can turn the points out to the rest of the world, as spiritually speaking, you have reached the point of Master, and have mastered the art of the Quadrant, and you may now share your wisdom with others.”

Another answer to this question can be found in a new style of Masonic ring that is beginning to make itself around the market. The laser etched Square & Compasses are placed in both directions around the ring. So there you go, the free market has solved the dilemma for us.

~BJS/TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33° is the founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and continues to be a regular contributor. He is the author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is member of Homer Lodge No. 199, and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL). He is a member the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, the York Rite Bodies of Champaign/Urbana (IL), the Ansar Shrine (IL), Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees, and Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL). You can contact him at: webmaster@toddcreason.org

Bro. Brian Schimian is a life member of A.O. Fay #676 in Highland Park Illinois and the Medinah Shriners - Lake County Shrine Club. He was also the Past Master Counselor of DeMolay - Lakes Chapter in 1995. Brian is a father of two Children. He is also the lead contributor to the Brothers In Arms blog, a pro 2nd Amendment blog page. "Start Square, Finish Level" You can contact him at: nobleschimian@gmail.com

22 comments:

  1. Brian Schimian, please provide a link to this ring you speak of.

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    1. Are you talking about the ring with The S&C in both directions?

      http://www.overstock.com/Jewelry-Watches/Mens-Tungsten-Carbide-Freemason-Masonic-Ring-8-mm/6151322/product.html

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    2. As a Past Master when I am in the my lodge I wear my Past Master's ring Points IN. I do this is to remind me that I have served my time in the East and my job is to now advise not run the Lodge. When I leave the Lodge room I revers the ring to Points Out letting others know that I am speaking from the experience and knowledge you gain from service to the Lodge. as far as a regular Masonic ring goes I was once told that Points in is to remind you that your are a Mason. Points out is to let the world know and to ask you about what it means to be a Mason.

      Noel Wenrich P.M.
      Lodge #43
      Lancaster PA

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    3. I was told that it didn't matter which way the compasses point but that as a Past Master you can wear your ring in the manner you see the Three Great Lights from the East. But again, it doesn't really matter unless your Gran Lodge wants it worn a certain way.

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  2. Years ago as a new Master Mason, my father gave me advice that I live by to this day. He told me "There is no set way for a Mason to wear his ring, but I would suggest the following, That you wear your Masonic Ring facing inward (points of the compasses toward your wrist). This is to remind you of your obligations to Freemasonry and humanity, but when you have mastered your craft and you've become a Past Master (You are considered a Past Master the moment you are installed as the Master of a Lodge) that you turn the ring and wear it facing outward (points of the compasses toward your fingertips). This is to remind others of their obligations which is one of the tasks of a Past Master." The day of my Installation as Master I related this story to the congregation that was gathered and turned my ring to face outward.

    Wor∴ Dana A. Wildes, 32°, KT, R.O.O.S.
    District Deputy Grand Treasurer for the Massachusetts 11th Masonic District
    Master, Bethany Lodge A.F. & A.M.
    Secretary, Valley of the Merrimack, A∴A∴S∴R∴
    Junior Warden, Zion Council Princes of Jerusalem
    Secretary, 11th District Past Masters Association
    Chairman, John Greenleaf Whittier Chapter, Order of DeMolay Advisory Council
    Past Master Merrimack Lodge F. & A. M. 2006 & 2011
    Past Master 11th District Lodge of Instruction
    Past President of 11th District Past Masters Association

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  3. I was taught that you put the points outward when travelling.

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  4. When my father (a Past District Deputy Grand Master of NJ) presented me with my Masonic Ring, he explained to me that you wear it (forever) with the points facing you (down). This is the way you first saw the emblem and it is to remind YOU of your obligations. If it is turned out (up) you are advertising. If you have to advertise that you are a Mason, then you are living your life correctly.

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  5. I'd like to thank everyone that shared their ring customs with us today on here, on Facebook, Twitter, etc. That's the reason Brian and I decided to write this--to compare notes, and compare customs. It's much more diverse than even I imagines. Brian and I just might have to come back and share a few of the customs we learned about today. It's an amazing testament to the diversity without our Craft. We have things we all share, and we have traditions and customs that are a little more local in nature. And I encourage you, if you don't want to comment publicly but have a unique ring custom to share, please feel free to email me at webmaster@toddcreason.org. This has been a very interesting exercise.

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  6. "Points in"-this is the position of the points of the compass when you were raised as a Master Mason.
    "Points out"- this is how the position of the points of the compass appear from the WM view at the alter when he approached the altar from the east to raise the brother.

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  7. There is no particular way to wear a masonic ring, but proudly

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  8. The age old question, which way to wear the ring.

    When I look at the two rings I wear now, the replacement wedding band my wife gave me which has the S&C on it, and my Great-grandfather's (passed to me after my Dad passed), both are worn points out and it "feels" right.

    You could make the argument for each orientation or when you should change it, but in all honesty unless you're Grand Lodge states that it must be worn a certain way I say wear as you see fit. Each Mason chooses their own path and each should be entitled to show their pride to the Fraternity their way.

    Wor. Scot Newbury
    Past Master, St. Mark's Lodge #44, Derry NH
    Past Secretary (yes, I made it out of the office while still living)

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  9. It's whats inside that counts, but if the ring's position reminds you of some particular part of the craft, or entices some good man to ask the "big question" it has done its job.

    Wor. Paul C. Malley
    Past Master, Plymouth Lodge
    Plymouth, Massachusetts
    America's Hometown

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  10. New AE here with an observation. The HB,S and C on the altar points the light to the WM. This is with the compass down or "Points Out". I would think that a brother wearing a ring would also want the top point of the compass towards him to help guide that same light.

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  11. Personally, I wear mine with the points toward me to remind myself to remian within due bounds. What I am more curious about is Grand Lodge decrees on this subject. A few times brothern have commented on how they wear their ring, unless a Grand Lodge says otherwise. What are the rules, if any, set down by Masonic jurisdictions pertaining to the wearing of jewelry? Illinois has none that I am aware of.

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  12. Simply put: How the S&C were facing you you when you took your Master Mason obligation is how you wear your ring. When/if you become the Worshipful Master and you face the altar from the east, the S&C is now the other direction, hence, how you now wear your ring moving forward.

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  13. Very informative and quite interesting. I was raised in 1994 and have worn my ring/s with the points outward to symbolize how I share myself to my brothers and others. And maybe because I was also shown at my raising to wear my ring however I want and however I give meaning to it. And I have done so ever since.
    In contrast though, I met a brother while aboard the USS Kitty Hawk and he challenged me by asking, "where'd you get that communist ring"? Rattled and confused by the derogatory description of my beloved ring, I instantly replied in calm a manner as I can in this way. "dear Sir if may ring appears communist to you, may I ask of your few minutes to explain where and how I got this ring and more importantly may I show you a lifetime of how I will wear mine not to be anything as you described." His reply, with the warmest grip I have ever received with the introduction that he was 32' mason and he was happy with my answer. He also explained how he has done that to many young and obviously proud masons.

    just thought I'd share that.

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  14. As did I, my father told me that when you are away from your home lodge you wear the points out. When in your home lodge you wear it points in.
    I have had several brothers ask me if I was wearing the ring for them or myself. I always respond with the same answer. I'm traveling so I want the world to know. Once I'm home I remind myself of why I became a mason.

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  15. Points out symbolizes spreading light to others. In times of introspection, points in symbolizes gaining that light to spread, bringing favor on the Craft.

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  16. Points out symbolizes spreading light to others. Points in during introspection, symbolizes gaining the light to spread to others, thus bringing favor upon the Craft.

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  17. Hi. I am a PM English & Scottish. I wear the points out as that is the position I would observe the S&C from the viewpoint of a Scottish RWM. The District GM disagrees saying that, as a Mason, one has to work "between the points". Kingston Cuthbert, South Africa

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  18. The best comment I've read so far is "proudly". My response is "on your dang finger"...not in your dresser! I have a question though. I've noticed over the years that "flip rings" were popular at one time...especially in Europe. I've only ever seen one in person...a Brother from England. Wondering if any of y'all could shed some light on their popularity and particulars. Thanks!
    Past Master
    Elk Mt #118
    Steamboat Springs, CO

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