Sometimes a simple misunderstanding will cause endless confusion. On this page, we'll
try to clear up some of the confusion about the 'simpler' things you might have wondered
Be sure to check out our "Common Misumptions" page
Sometimes I see "G_d" written by Masons instead of the complete
name of the Deity. Why?
Actually, it's not only writings by Masons where you'd see this. Many Orthodox Jews
will not write the Name of Deity in full in any place other than a liturgical usage for
fear that the paper on which it is written might be destroyed in a manner that would
constitute profanation of the Name, in violation of the third Commandment.
Because Masons take their religious obligations seriously, those Masons of the
Jewish faith may do this in a much larger percentage than the general
Why do Masons call non-Masons 'Profane'?
This is a misunderstanding over archaic language. The word comes from two Latin words,
"pro" meaning 'before' and "fanum" meaning 'temple'. In its earlier
usage, the word "profane" was used literally and meant "outside the
temple", as an opposite of the word 'sacred' just as we now use the word 'secular'.
In more recent usage - and well after the language of Freemasonry became somewhat fixed,
the term was usually coupled with the word 'language' to describe speech which was not
appropriate to be uttered inside a temple or other sacred place. It's usage further
changed so that it became a synonym for cursing and blasphemy: that which we now refer to
When a Mason refers to 'profanes', however, he means only those not initiated into
Masonry using the ancient usage: a person who must remain "outside the temple".
No insult whatsoever is implied.
What are those three dots arranged in a triangular pattern?
The three dots (or three points) were formerly fashionable in Masonic writing instead
of the usual periods after initials. The practice was apparently started in France by the
non-recognized Grand Orient of France in 1774 and Masons were sometimes called 'Three
Point Brothers'. The usage became popular in the US and is seen today in some Scottish
Rite documents. Any significance they had two hundred years ago is now long lost.
Why are Masons involved in laying the cornerstones of buildings? Are all
members of Masonry taught 'operative' masonry skills?
Some of the ceremonies of Freemasonry involve instruction in the ancient arts of
geometry and mathematics as well as types of columns used in buildings of the past. There
are in Freemasonry about the same percentage of 'operative' masons as there are in the
population at large
Because Freemasonry is non-sectarian and the heir to the historical tradition of
building, is the appropriate organization to dedicate the cornerstone of a public edifice.
Of course, many churches invited the Masons to solemnize their cornerstone laying, in
addition to the religious ceremonies.
Some Masons wear their rings with the compass points facing outward while
others wear theirs with the compass points pointing toward them. What's the significance
There is no proscribed manner but for many, there are subtle allegories to which they
attach great meaning.
As one example, some brethren have said that to wear the ring with the points out,
toward the finger tip was to proclaim to the world that a person was a Mason. To wear the
ring with the points in, toward the wrist was to remind the wearer that he was a Mason. In
these instances, there is sometimes an additional admonition that one wears the ring with
the points in until the wearer no longer had to be reminded of their Masonic obligations -
and thus those who've received this admonition most likely wear their ring with the points
There are also some
who'll say that one wears the ring as he last saw the Square and Compasses: if
a Master or Past Master, it would be with the points 'away' from the wearer as
his duties would require him to be 'behind' the altar thus looking from top to
bottom. Who knows?
How the ring is worn is not nearly as important as what it means to the wearer.
should wear his ring should with pleasure to himself and honor to the fraternity!
What are those aprons, funny hats, and metal collars and badges Masons wear?
Like any organization, Masons have various badges of rank and honor. Each has a different
and distinctive meaning. The various accruements will also depend on the Masonic body being
represented. Still further, there are unique differences based on geographical history and
sometimes even personal desire.
If you have a question you'd like us to answer on this page, just drop us a note!