Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Idioms, Wikipedia.
Related to Rings: Engagement rings, Ringtones


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Since it is without beginning or end, the ring is a symbol of eternity. As a microcosmic magical circle, it also represents protection. The gold rings excavated from Egyptian tombs—signet rings inscribed with the names of the gods and with prayers to these gods—had both utilitarian and magical functions.

The earliest rings were made of iron, which was regarded as a magical metal. As G. Storms says, "Iron manifestly takes its power from the fact that the material was better and scarcer than wood or stone for making tools, and secondly from the mysterious way it was originally found: in meteoric stones. It needed a specialist and a skilled laborer to obtain the iron from the ore and to harden it. Indeed we find many peoples regard their blacksmiths as magicians."

The British Museum contains a bronze Greco-Roman ring set with an amethyst, designed as a charm against the evil eye. The Romans saw the iron ring as a symbol of strength. Victorious generals were presented with iron rings. It wasn't until the end of the third century CE that the Romans generally accepted gold rings, due to the influence of neighboring peoples. The iron ring became less popular, and eventually became the mark of a slave. Freedmen—as opposed to those born free—were a level above slaves, and were allowed to wear silver rings.

The magic ring of the Germanic god Odin was named Draupnir, the name of the dwarf who made it. Odin placed the ring on the funeral pyre of his son Balder.

Many talismanic rings, believed to have the power to heal, are associated with noble families in Britain and other parts of Europe. King Edward II (1307-1327) had a ring that was supposed to cure the "falling sickness." In Trôyes, France, in 1263, officials passed a statute decreeing that nuns could not wear rings set with precious stones except in cases of illness. Certain stones became associated with specific illnesses and ailments. In some cases, patients drank from a goblet of wine or water into which a ring had been dropped.

Rings were engraved with particular designs for specific purposes: to guard against evil, to bring knowledge of herbs, to cause invisibility, or to promote good health. Ceremonial magic involves a long and intricate ritual to prepare and consecrate a ring. The ring must be made, engraved, and consecrated at particular times, according to the hours and days of various spirits and planets. Such rings are still made and worn today.

References in classic literature ?
When the youth heard all this he determined to try and get possession of the ring, though he did not quite believe in all its wonderful gifts.
I do not think it possible that the ring can have all the power you say it has.
Then the maiden opened the box and took the ring out, and it glittered as she held it like the clearest sunbeam.
When Sir Richard came, he found stout William, puffed up by the shouts of his friends, walking up and down the ring, daring anyone to come and try a throw with him.
At this all laughed; but above all the laughter a loud voice was heard to cry out, "Sin' thou talkest so big, here cometh one from Nottinghamshire to try a fall with thee, fellow"; and straightway a tall youth with a tough quarterstaff in his hand came pushing his way through the crowd and at last leaped lightly over the rope into the ring.
No law can touch me to harm me, even if I slew him, so that it was fairly done in the wrestling ring.
It ran around the ring in search of a way to get out.
It was not a good bull, for again it ran around the ring, seeking to find a way out.
Once again, baffled and made angry by the walls of the ring that would not let him out, the bull was attacking his enemies valiantly.
You have heard, no doubt, that his wedding ring has been taken.
The man who tears a wedding ring off a dead man's--What do you say to it, Mr.
The one in the middle held a mussel in its mouth, which it laid on the shore at the youth's feet, and when he had taken it up and opened it, there lay the gold ring in the shell.