We see symbols every day – on the road signs, in the logos, in the graphic design of all the product we use. They are modern ones, not like the ancient, but follow the same logic.
So what exactly a symbol is and why we put different meanings in it? The word comes from the Greek „σύμβoλoν,“ meaning combining parts. It represents the essence of a particular object or phenomenon.
To understand better why humankind uses symbols we need to roll back in time to 4000 B.C. One of the first ancient civilizations – the Sumerians – used pictograms to “write.”
This was centuries before the birth of hieroglyphs and alphabets. Pictograms are very similar to symbols – they use simple schemes to describe the object by showing only what’s essential. The fundament.
Symbols are much more than just schematic drawings depicting everyday objects. They reveal abstract ideas, meanings, and associations about how humans see and understand the Universe. It sounds too broad, but symbols are a way to express visions about different aspects of life, standard beliefs, and archetypes.
Symbols walk hand in hand with religion, philosophy, astronomy, Sacred Geometry, and alchemy. Depending on different cultures symbols and their meanings vary, but generally, they try to show there is something more than just the visible aspect of life.
Very often they are related to magic, spirituality, and mysticism. They are signs reminding the viewer of the transcendent, the hidden meanings. They show us the way to decide what is still a secret for us. There many types of symbols, all of them interconnected with each other.
The holy symbols deal with magic and superpowers and are the key to open the door to the physical and the magical world. They are sometimes signs of protection and serve as a tool against demon powers, black magic.
Let’s see which are the holy symbols with most new meaning and some of the most popular ones.
The Pentagram is an ancient symbol seen in many modern and archaic religions. In philosophic beliefs the five-pointed star of the Pentagram symbolized life, and the number 5 was associated with the man.
In ancient beliefs, the star is a combination of the symbols of the four elements- fire, water, air, and earth. They create a union, which is often seen as the matter “aether”- the fifth element of which the “top layer” of the Universe consists.
The pentagram has its place in esoteric practices, such as the Jewish Kabbalah. It also persists in old Christian beliefs as the wounds of Christ. The most common interpretation of the pentagram sees it as a symbol of protection against evil.
The circled pentagram meaning deals with the eternal cycle and serves as a powerful tool to keep the spiritual powers.
The down-pointing pentagram is widely known as a Satanic symbol. The inverted pentagram is not necessarily symboling of evil and the Devil as Count Dracula. More likely in Satanic context it represents the spirit, which embodies the physical elements. The whole idea is to note the material is not unclean and outlawed.
Amongst the positive meanings of the pentagram are those, who see it as a microcosm or symbol of humankind. It has been related to the influence of planets on peoples life.
Ying Yang is one of the best-recognized symbols all over the world. It has a long history and beautiful meaning and a crucial point in Chinese Feng Shui philosophy. Ying Yang represents life itself and the principles of the Universe. The symbolic meaning is that life is an infinite circle and a combination of opposites. The two sections describe the connection and dependence of the opposites between each other.
Here lays the idea of the duality of the world. Nothing is completely “black or white.” There is a bit of the other to create the balance. The S-like shape meaning is blending in harmony.
Together placed in the shape of a circle they create balance, which stays in the foundation of Feng Shui. Another name of Ying Yang symbol is Thai Chi, where Chi is the energy. Ying and Yang cannot exist separately. They need each other to create life.
This fantastic symbol gives us another way to view existence and understand nothing is constant, nothing is still. If we fall, we will rise- life is a cycle of good and bad, of darkness and light. To know what is white you first need to know what is black. To understand what happiness is you need to experience sorrow – just like seasons change and the night turns into day.
The symbol of the Aquarian Star is more widely known as Unicursal Hexagram. It is a six-point star drawn with a single movement. This symbol is created by the British writer, poet, and occultist Aleister Crowley as part of the iconography of his modern occultist movement-Thelema.
In Crowley’s variation of the hexagram, the symbol has 5-petal rose in the center, meaning the divine feminine and also a pentacle – the microcosm. The hexagram symbolizes macrocosm because its points represent planets. The hexagram is sometimes viewed as a combination of opposites, as it also includes within its structure the four elements.
The Unicursal Hexagram has other connections with other esoteric movements such as the Kabballah and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Because it is drawn with a single movement and has no end or beginning its meaning is close to endless knot’s meaning.
The idea of the third eye has its origins in Hinduism, and it is related to the energy centers in our bodies. The third eye is the 6th chakra with a location between the brows. This symbol is famous for its mantra “Ohm, ” and the mantra imagery is also part of the iconography. The down-pointing triangle symbolizes the path to enlightenment from the bottom to the top.
In Yoga practices and meditation, the third eye is one of the last energy centers to be unblocked. This means higher self-consciousness, wisdom and the ability to experience illumination. The petals of the lotus in the image represent wisdom and eternity.
The idea of the third eye and the symbol itself is part of Hinduism and Buddhism religions. The meanings are close – higher knowledge, seeing with your mind, rather with your eyes and entering subtle worlds.
The Seal of Solomon is said to be signet ring of King Solomon- the King of Israel kingdom in the 10th century. The figure of King Solomon also appears in Islamic and Christian religions as a prophet and messenger of God. In Jewish tradition, King Solomon is attributed with magical powers, referred to an as great magician and ruler.
His magical ring- the Seal- has the symbol of hexagram composed of two interlacing equilateral triangles. One pointing up and one pointing down. This symbol is also known as the Star of David. This is later name and concept, which appeared in 19th and was acquired as a symbol of the Jewish Zionist movement. Later the Seal of Solomon (or the Star of David) symbol became an official sign of the Judaism and today we can see on the Israel national flag.
According to the legends, King Solomon used his magical ring to possess special powers and to command good and evil demons. In fact, there are many other symbols known as Seals of Solomon. Some of them are based on the shape of a pentacle, while others use planetary symbolism.
All of them, including this symbol, are used like amulets to unlock the special potential of the wearer.
Because the symbol is hexagram, it bears broader meaning. Similar to the pentagram it refers to the signs of the four elements combined in one, meaning unity and balance. In a sacred context, its meaning points to a combination of the physical and spiritual. You can also find it in the symbol of the heart chakra mandala meaning protection, love, and harmony.
This symbol, sometimes called Devil’s trap is one of the many pentacles used in a Renaissance grimoire called The Key of Solomon. Such grimoires- books of magic spells and practices were prevalent between the 14th and 16th century. In history are found many similar manuscripts and different more recent translations originating from the Key of Solomon grimoire. Probably these examples of Renaissance magic books were inspired by earlier ideas of Kabbalists and alchemists.
Later in the 17th century, another book with a similar name – Lesser Key of Solomon – describes the same ideas. It is probably inspired by the 14th-century text.
The Key of Solomon texts explains how to control angels and demons, one of the top mythical creatures out there. In the book are mentioned magical spells, prayers, and amulets – pentacles. These pentacles are related to planets and their magical influence over demons and angels. By using amulets, the magician can control them and make them obedient.
The Devil’s Trap symbol is one of these amulets. It has this modern name because its purpose is to keep evil demons inside the circle. They are locked inside. According to the British occultist Samuel Mathers who made translations of both Key of Solomon manuscripts the symbol’s name is Great Pentacle. Its purpose in Mathers’s readings is the same – to control all spirits and be a tool for the exorcism.
Anti-possession symbol is a modern variation of the good old pentagram. Widely used in contemporary culture, movies and tattoo art this symbol is a regular pentagram. It is probably seen in this context because it takes a central part in Wicca religion– the pagan religion on a new age.
Wiccans worship nature, but their cults also include magic practices. They widely used the pentagram as a tool for protection and banishing evil energies. For Wiccans, the symbol combines the four elements, which blend into “spirit”- the top point of the pentagram.
We can make more associations with protection and anti-possession of bad energies in other interpretations. Pythagoreans- the followers of the Greek philosopher- were both interested in philosophy, mathematics, and mysticism. They believed the pentagram was a symbol of health. They even included letters spelling the word “health.”
Sometimes, when referring to magic and sorcery, the pentagram is included in a circle. It is not touching the circle’s borders and is a symbol of the magic, placed the safe circle. Sometimes this symbol substitutes the Seal of Solomon, as a simplification of the hexagram.
There is no direct meaning pointing the circled pentagram is an anti-possession tool. It is a multi-layered symbol with an overall positive meaning of unity and perfection. It is also connected win Neo-Pagan religion; this is why people take it as a sign of protection against evil.
You’ve probably seen this symbol many times, as it often serves as a decorative element, a pattern used in ornamentation. The endless knot sometimes called eternal knot is a symbol of Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism with many meanings.
First, it is part of the Eight Auspicious Signs, which are attributes of an enlightened mind. In Buddhism, the endless knot symbol sometimes means the infinite wisdom of Buddha. Its design is constructed of two symmetrical sides, interconnected without beginning or end. This could mean the interconnection between compassion and wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism.
Some interpret it as a representation of Samsara- the never-ending cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. In Sanskrit, the word Samsara means cycle and constant movement.
Some different translations of the symbolism of the endless knot say it originates from the belief of Nagas. Nagas in Indian and Chinese religions are believed to be types of beings, like deities. They could live in different locations and transform themselves into human form when are enlightened. Some refer to them as teachers and being both demons and gods.
In Indian typography, Nagas are represented as snakes, or half-snakes, half-humans. The endless knot might be a confluence of the opposite nature of Nagas. Within this context, the symbol means dualism and merging of opposing forces.
In Celtic traditions, we can find variations of the endless knot. There are many Celtic knots, but the most recognizable is the Trinity knot-Triquetra. It means the unity of mind, body, and spirit. The broader meaning of this symbol always leads to thoughts of eternity, life and time cycle.
The ankh is an ancient Egyptian symbol, which still popular today. Many love its symbolism and interesting meaning and wear it as amulets. The ankh symbol has blurry origins, but in its most common meaning, it deals with eternal life.
The origin of the word itself is still unclear. Some believe it came from the word for a sandal, which is “‘nkh,” but this claim was never proven true. Other think “ankh” or “‘nh” meaning is “life” or more specifically “breath of life.” Excavations of tombs revealed the extensive usage of the ankh symbol – in wall painting, sarcophagi decoration and sculptures.
Wall paintings show different gods from the Egyptian pantheon holding it as an amulet in their hands or offered near to their mouths. The symbol is an accessory of many gods, but the goddess Isis is pictured most often with an ankh.
In Egyptian mythology, Isis was the faithful wife of Osiris- the god who died and was reborn with her help. Perhaps this is one, but not the only reason ankh symbolizes eternal life and life after death.
Anks associated with mirrors and many have been found in that shape. For Egyptians, the afterlife was a mirror image of life on Earth.
Other interpretations note the symbol’s meaning deals with male and female principles. The loop is the female womb, and the cross shape is the male phallic symbol. The ankh is unity between genders and represents fertility.
Variation of the name of the symbol is “Key of life” – because of its shape and the belief it could unlock the gates to unknown, heavenly worlds. There are translations that the ankh is a symbol of the sun and the loop shows how it rises above the horizon.
In Christianity, the Coptic Christians used the symbol to remind there is life after death and fortify the message of Christ. There is also a spread of cards in Tarot with the same name- Ankh. This spread means seeing the big picture and prospects and achieving results.
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