Skull and Crossbones (Death’s Head, Jolly Roger)

The origins of the ubiquitous skull and crossed bones symbol are unclear. The symbol itself is quite old, and appears as a funerary symbol in christian catacombs. In the middle ages, it was a common tombstone decoration, and appeared in many “memento mori,” illustrative reminders of mortality. In more recent times, the skull and crossbones signifies poison.

Another common appearance of the symbol is on the “Jolly Roger,” or pirate’s flag, the so-called “Jolly Roger,” is believed to have been named after the jolie rouge, the name French Templars gave the red flag flown by Templar warrior ships, and later co-opted by pirates. The significance of the symbol to the Templars is not known, but bodies in Templar graves have been found with the legs removed and crossed.

The skull and Bones and Freemasonry

The skull and crossbones is also an important emblem in Masonry, where it symbolizes the transience of the material world, and is used in initiation rituals as a symbol of rebirth. It may also symbolize the sephirah daath on the kabbalistic Tree of Life, the gateway to the higher realms of understanding only achievable through spiritual death and rebirth.

In hermetic kabbalah, the skull and bones are related to the Chi-Rho, symbolizing time,death, and rebirth.

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Keystone (Masonic Keysone, Royal Arch Symbol) |
September 18, 2009 at 5:42 pm
Religious Symbol Dictionary |
November 29, 2009 at 3:06 am
Symbols of Death and Time (Western) |
December 10, 2009 at 10:22 am

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff October 28, 2015 at 5:22 pm

Some old crucifixes depicted the cross placed above a skull and crossbones. It was believed that Adam was buried on Golgotha (the place where Christ was crucified) and the skull and crossbones represented Adam’s bones. It can also be seen to represent Jesus’ triumph over death.


Chris R. September 3, 2012 at 7:16 am

In regard to the Egyptians, this symbol also represents the skull and leg bones of Osiris’ (Orion) celestial embodiment, which is missing those very things.


Dogy June 15, 2012 at 10:07 am

Hi, Trutz Seeker,

I feel compelled to reply to your question, even though I wasn’t the one who was asked. In my understanding (that in a way is backed up by modern science), everything in the whole universe practically boils down to the somewhat undefined “consciousness”. Quantum physics shows us now what ancient sages already knew, that nothing is really solid and that the Universe mainly consists of energy, more or less crystallized into connections and shapes that look and feel like matter. So, humans are no exception of this. All we are, in essence, is a vibrating cluster of consciousness, and this cluster can come forth in all shapes and forms.

I like to think of reincarnation like a huge ocean. Everything is together first, a huge sea of consciousness, and then parts of this huge sea depart from the unity of the ocean and take on a new form, like clouds, for example, before they get even more materialized (and lower in vibration) as raindrops. Once they fall down and find their way back to the ocean, they are still part of the whole, but they bring with them the experiences and vibrations that they had along their “physical” existence.

Just because there is only one ocean, there won’t be a shortage of raindrops, and the same applies to humans.

We come from one unified consciousness, go through this phase of “separation” (perhaps with the goal of finding out that there isn’t any real separation, as we all are the same and part of the whole) and after we had this materialized phase, we return to what we always were and add to the whole by the experiences we could only make in this form of seemingly materialized consciousness, where we can see, hear, smell and taste.

At any time there can be an unlimited number of humans on earth, as this stream is unlimited. And the next time(s) we come forward, we come in different clusters and combinations, never ending, eternal.



Truth Seeker January 3, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Salutations Leo,

Thanks for your clarifications. I really found it inetersting. But there is one thing that I can take not for granted: the idea of “reincarnation”. According to the bulk of esoteric doctorines all around the world human beings physically die but then they reincarnate in shape of another body (probably except for those who eventually find the truth and get the heavens out of this reincarnation cycle). So the question for me rises when I think of the “new souls”. I mean in the last centuries there were most likely a couple of hundred million human souls living in this universe and involved in the reincarnation process. But now we, humans, have just hit the populace of 7,000,000,000. That clearly means that there are some, let’s say, 6 billion new human souls in the cycle! How come they spring out? I often think that the very of idea of reincarnation is just a reflexion of human population in ancient times: due to the lack of medical knowledge (vaccination, surgery, etc.) people perished easily and the populace was almost the same at all times and probably only migration or tribal confederations could increase the population of a specific area. Subsequently people commenced to speculate that after death we just return to this very earth and start off living in another body! Please let me know what you think in this regard?



Lou December 22, 2011 at 6:43 am

The Skull and Bones is the seal of Jupiter. The main part in this symbol is the crossed bones, the letter X. It tells you that everything in this universe is submited to the law of couteracting fields, life and death at same time. When a human gets born, he starts living and diing at same time. Teh descendent Bone tells you your life whis goes slow to an end and the ascending bone tells you that you die and this goes forward in same way. The both curbs in a diagram are logarythmic, what means that it obeis to the golden mean. It are two overlapping Hockeysticks. This is the law, the path of existence or manifestation of emanated matter. No man can escape to it. Now, this is as well the symbol of the sandhourglass, X, the holly grail. It is your cronometer, the hourglass of Kronos or Saturn, the lord of time and death. The Wings of an ancient windmill where X form, and that is why Don Quixote fights against windmills, a hopeless fight he will lose anyway. The grail is the same symbol, it tells you that you have a glassfull to drink in a lifetime. Once on end, you turn it over and you are reincarnated. Now, ask yourself if in fact you live, or do you die. It is same as Schrodingers Cat, is she alife or death, or the halffull glass, is it half full or half empty, good question, isn’t it.
So, this symbol is often followed by the 3 22 symbol. this means that the androgenous being in all of us ist 3 fields, 0, + and – . The 22 is the 22 letters of the alphabet of god, the arameic alphabet. The verset 3.22 of the Torah says this: and now that they have eaten of the tree of life, they have become like us, the Elohim, and are allowed to eat from this tree and live forever. This is the wisdom of Kabbalah, all your symbols on this site give you the answer by the knowledge of the Kabbalah. So, take care. By the way, in Eagypt the Skull and Bones was symbolized by Pharao, the enlightened. He crossed his arms on chest, to the right the flagel, to the left the shepperd staff, the symbols of life and death, The skull was his head or daeth mask. The Chi Roh is the intersection of mirrored P, the symbol of Lucifer, the mens Penis, and the X, symbol of life and death, the seal of Jupiter, the swastika is same symbol as well as the sign of the black sun, the SS. Enjoy life, that’s what we are all her for. Samael Ben Sabbathai, e.g. Lou, Rabbi of Kabbalah.


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