Today we are going to tackle the most difficult question that has ever seemed to plague freemasonry: what are the dues and don’ts of Masonic rings?
How to Wear a Masonic Ring?
Now, if that made you chuckle, then I understand, but this is a rather serious question. The reason it’s a serious question, as I learned over time myself, is because this is an issue in some jurisdictions. In some jurisdictions, there is a correct and a wrong way to wear your Masonic ring, depending on your particular status. So typically, here’s what you’re going to see. You’re going to hear people asking if the compass points in or points out, and they’re just referring to whether or not when you look at your Masonic ring, do you see it right side up or do you see it upside down? The idea being, if you see it upside down, then maybe it’s for other people to look at. I’ve always worn mine this way; it’s just a personal preference, I suppose.
But it wasn’t until I had been a master mason for a couple years and I started talking to those outside of my jurisdiction that I understood that this wasn’t just nonsense that happens to come up on social media time and time again, where people seem to want to argue about the right or wrong way to wear a ring. You know? So should I have it like this or should I wear it like that where I can see the symbols myself? It seems so silly and I promise you, it always comes up and it always devolves into some nonsensical fight between men that are supposed to be freemasons and brothers. But in some jurisdictions, there is a practice that if you are a master mason but you have not served in the chair of being the master of the lodge, you would be required and expected to wear your ring in this fashion so that when you hold your hand up, you will see the square and compass facing you just as you might when you have knelt at the altar.
But when you are elected and elevated to being the master of the lodge and are positioned in the east, as you look out to the lodge and your brethren, you might see the compass and square in this configuration. At that point, it is proper for you to turn your ring around and face the compass is in that direction. So, as it happens, this seemingly innocuous and ridiculous little bickering thing that always happens on social media may have some validity depending on how you interpret things. I like the idea that I happen to be a past master. So in that jurisdiction, my wearing my ring like this would be appropriate. But for me, it’s also just a preference. I like the practicality of people going, “Oh man, let me see what’s on your ring,” and you holding your ring out so they can look at it without it being upside down to them.
Of course, more often than not, I’m likely to just take my ring off and hand it to them because it has symbols all the way around and there’s even an etching on the inside that I’m not going to show you. So brethren, the purpose of this article is to try to inform. I do want you to understand that there are jurisdictions out there that teach this depending on what station you have held and therefore what angle you have seen the square encompasses that. That should be reflected in how you wear your ring. So the dues and don’t, the only other and perhaps unnecessary thing to recite here is that if you are not a master mason, don’t wear the ring, plain and simple. There are jurisdictions, I have learned, that as soon as you are initiated, they will happily allow you to wear whatever Masonic emblem that you wish to show that you are a member of the fraternity.
I think that those are in the vast minority. I think the majority of jurisdictions and the majority of brethren are going to say you should not be wearing a master mason ring until you are a master mason. Can you find rings that are situated as such, that would make them appropriate for an entered apprentice or a fellow crafter? Yes, you can. Should you wear them? There’s no reason not to accept that. Chances are you are going to spend a significant amount of money over your time in freemasonry, buying apparel, pins, ties and other things. Typically one maybe an entered apprentice or a fellow craft for no longer than one year each In most jurisdictions in the United States, it may only be one month each. So the question comes: are you being frugal? Are you using your money in the correct way? If you are buying something that you know, going into, is only going to be used by you for one year, that’s up to you.
That’s your choice, and based on the rules of your Grand Lodge in your jurisdiction, for my money, it’s not worth it. I would not want to go out and buy a ring that’s not going to be used very long. Now that’s being said, this is a silver ring. This is an expensive Masonic ring. You can find stainless steel ones for 10, 15 bucks a pop, and maybe that is something that you feel justified in spending. So take that for what it’s worth. But let’s circle back around. I think the more common do or don’t when it comes to Masonic rings is which direction to wear them in. And as we have learned, there is not only opinion on the matter, but there are also jurisdictions with regulations on the matter as well. So look into it, ask somebody if your jurisdiction has those rules. I would assume that if your jurisdiction has those rules, it would be explained to you at least at the time that you’re raised to be a master mason.
But I don’t think it ever hurts to ask. Thank you all so much for taking the time to read. If you have any other questions, please feel free to leave them in the description below. I read the comments that get attached to every article and that is where I get the questions that I answer here today. I don’t make them up. And these are, in fact, reader questions that I am answering.
Thanks so much to all of our supporters. We’ll see you next time.
By Brother Jared, a Master Mason of Grad Lodge Mississippi
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