The Vegvisir or runic compass is a Viking rune stave, a magical device used to aid in sea navigation. According to a number of legends, this apotropaic (protective) symbol was inscribed on seagoing vessels to insure their safe return. The most common depiction of the rune comes from the 17th century Galdrabók, and Icelandic grimoire.
Today, it is most commonly paired with the aegishjalmer, used as a symbol of spiritual guidance and an emblem of identification by Asatru believers. The most well-known example is worn as a tattoo by the Icelandic pop singer Bjork.
See also: Aegishjalmur
The Triple Horn of Odin is a stylized emblem of the Norse God Odin. This symbol consists of three interlocked drinking horns, and is commonly worn or displayed as a sign of commitment to the modern Asatru faith. The horns figure in the mythological stories of Odin and are recalled in traditional Norse toasting rituals. Most stories involve the God’s quest for the Odhroerir, a magical mead brewed from the blood of the wise god Kvasir.
The tales vary, but typically, Odin uses his wits and magic to procure the the brew over three days time; the three horns reflect the three draughts of the magical mead. Below is an image of the pre-Christian monument called the Larbro stone.
The symbol above the rider’s head is the triple horn:
Also known as: Hrungnir’s heart, heart of the slain, Heart of Vala, borromean triangles
The emblem at left found on old Norse stone carvings and funerary stelés, is sometimes called “Hrungnir’s heart,” after the legendary giant of the Eddas. It is best known as the Valknut, or “knot of the slain,” and it has been found on stone carvings as a funerary motif, where it probably signified the afterlife. The emblem is often found in art depicting the God Odin, where it may represent the gods power over death. Some versions of the valknut can be drawn unicursally (in one stroke), making it a popular talisman of protection against spirits.
The Valknut’s three interlocking shapes are suggestive of related Celtic symbols of motherhood and rebirth- it may have been a goddess symbol at some point in history. The nine points suggest rebirth, pregnancy, and cycles of reincarnation. The number nine also suggestive of the Nine Worlds (and the nine fates) of Norse mythology. Their interwoven shape suggests the belief of the inter-relatedness of the three realms of earth, hel, and the heavens, and the nine domains they encompass.
The symbol’s nine points have an obvious correlation with childbirth; the placement of the symbol on funeral monuments mark it as a sign of rebirth of reincarnation. The Valknut is also an important symbol to many followers of the Asatru religion, who often wear it as a symbol of the faith. A variation called an “open” valknut, due to the looser, non-unicursal design:
Another, less common version of the Valknut, called a triceps, resembles a cut-away triangle, or a triangle formed of three diamonds (three ‘othala’ runes interwoven):
The triceps was used into the middle ages as a magical sign of protection. The othala rune signifies the home and one’s ancestors.
This Mjolnir, or Thor’s Hammer, is an ancient Norse symbol, a stylized representation of the legendary magical weapon of the Norse God Thor. “Mjolnir” means “lightning,” and symbolized the God’s power over Thunder and Lightning. The Hammer Mjolnir was said to always return after it had been thrown.
The Thor’s Hammer amulet was worn frequently by believers as a symbol of protection- a practice so popular it continued even after most of the Norse population had converted to Christianity. In modern times, is often used as an emblem of recognition for members of the Asatru faith, and as a symbol of Norse heritage.
A later form of the Mjolnir is called the Wolf’s Cross, or Dragon’s Cross, and was associated with early Norse Christianity:
The monstrance is the ceremonial vessel used in during the Roman Catholic Mass to display the consecrated communion host. Although the monstrance has taken many shapes during the period of its use, it typically, takes the shape of a solar cross, with a clear central area made of glass or crystal. The host is usually placed in a small crescent shaped holder within the crystal, called a lunette due to its moon-like shape.
Upon the death of Pope John Paul II, the Vatican televised broadcast only an empty monstrance while preparing to announce the Pontiff’s passing.
An ornate Monstrance or Ostensorium
The clasped hands prayer gesture is ubiquitous in Christianity. The hands are clasped together and held before the heart; it is a symbol of submission and sincerity.
This particular posture became associated with praying around the ninth century, it probably originated as a secular gesture of humility and submission, such as one would adopt before a superior.
The identical gesture is known as the anjali mudra (offering gesture) in Hindu and Buddhist traditions, a sign of greeting, respect, and veneration. The anjali mudra is used while praying, and also as a gesture of respect toward others, an acknowledgement of their inner divinity.
Symbolically, two hands clasped represents the coming together of opposites, or a commingling of forces. Magically, the hands are the terminus of the body’s polar energy sources, and can be used to channel and direct these energies.
Albrecht Durer’s famous sketch
The Cornucopia (Latin, ‘horn of plenty’), a spiraling, woven basket overflowing with an abundance of produce, is an ever-present symbol of harvest prosperity. The symbol dates back to an ancient tale of the Nymph Amalthea,* who, as a reward from the infant Zeus for a meal of Goat’s milk, was given an enchanted goat’s horn which gave whatever one wished for.**
The cornucopia became a ubiquitous symbol of fortune and plenty, and was associated with many Goddesses, including Fortuna, the goddess of good fortune, and Ceres, Goddess of agriculture.
Amalthea feeds Zeus from the horn
*Sometimes, Amalthea herself is the goat.
**Similar tales include the Finnish Sampo and the Celtic legend of the Cauldron of Plenty.
Indalo is an ancient Andalusian symbol. The original image, dating from Neolithic times, can still be seen in the “Cave of the Signboards” at Almeria, in Southern Spain. He appears as the figure of a man carrying a rainbow between his hands, alongside figures of animals, horned men, and a number of odd symbols.
The name Indalo is derived from the latin phrase “Indal Eccius,” or “Messenger of the Gods.”
Indalo’s original meaning and purpose has been lost, but it most likely represents a Shaman or a God figure.Today, the figure is closely associated with the village of Mojacar, and is used there as a symbol of luck and good fortune, and to ward off evil. Like the Native American Kokopelli, he is often emblazoned on businesses, homes, and souvenirs for tourists.
The Keris (Malaysian, dagger) originated in tenth-century Java and can be found throughout Southeast Asia, particularly Malaysia and Indonesia.
The keris is a talismanic weapon- a sword or dagger with unique characteristics, carried by men and handed down from father to son, often through a great many generations. A new keris is made by a special artisan, known as an Empu.
The keris is not only a protective amulet, but is considered a mark of manhood.
A keris consists of several characteristics, depending on origin. The typical keris has either a wavy (Luk) or straight (Lurus) tapered triangular blade; the pattern of the blade determines the dagger’s magical properties. The hilt is often designed in the shape of a deity.
Malaysian man with keris
This mysterious bird-headed figure, referred to casually as the “Birdman,” is one of many strange symbols found on inscribed wooden tablets written by the early people of Rapanui (Easter Island.) The tablets have never been translated, but are believed to have been religious in nature.
The heartline is found on Zuni fetish drawings of animals; it represents the breath as the life force of the animal.
Amulets containing heart line drawings are considered powerful talismans.
The Neo-Nazi triskele is a symbol resembling a three armed swastika, used by several “Christian” white supremacy organizations and other hate groups. The arms are numerals, “777,” numbers derived from the Book of Revelation symbolizing triumph over the Antichrist.
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The unicorn is one of the most ancient mythological beasts. Although in modern times it is most often depicted as an ethereal white horse, it has been variously described as an antelope, sheep, goat, or as a composite creature akin to a griffin or sphinx. Then, as later, the unicorn was a symbol of power and virility.
The oldest description of a unicorn occurs in the Epic of Gilgamesh, and in Mesopotamian art it is depicted a a great beast with a ringed neck and long, curving horn. The earliest mention of the unicorn in the West comes from a Greek account of a fearsome beast with a red head and blue eyes; it’s horn is ascribed the properties later given to the bezoar stone: protection against poisons and disease. Later, Aristotle was to describe the unicorn as a type of antelope.
While the Indian creature was almost certainly a fancifully described Rhinoceros, scholars today believe the Mesopotamian creature to have been a giant aurochs (a now extinct species of buffalo). It is this beast which is described in Old Testament accounts, and probably identical to the mythical ‘Bull’ of Ninevah. A mistranslation of the name (Re’em, ‘horned’) led to the legend of the one-horned beast, to which the strength of God is compared. Jewish legend linked the unicorn to the lion, describing them as fierce enemies, an image carried over in heraldic art.
In the middle ages, the unicorn was described as a small, goat-like creature who was nonetheless very fierce, and whose capture could only be accomplished by a virgin, whose virtue attracted the beast. Although many of these stories tended to be quite adult oriented, the obvious parallels to the legend of Christ and his virginal mother, the virgin who was chosen as the only suitable vessel to contain the incarnation of God.
The virgin and the Unicorn, Leonardo Da Vinci
Gilgamesh and the unicorn
The symbol of the Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon (commonly referred to by the derogatory term “Moonies”), a group often accused of cult-like tendencies. According to church literature, the different parts of the symbol have various meanings:
“The center circle symbolizes God, truth, life, and light. Those four elements reach out or radiate from this origin to the whole cosmos in twelve directions. The number twelve indicates the twelve types of human character. Historically, the number twelve has been important in God’s dispensation; for example, Jesus had twelve disciples. The significance of the symbol, then, indicates that truth (the Principle) is able to spread out in twelve ways. According to Father, the structure of the heavenly kingdom is also patterned after this basic system; i.e., twelve tribes and twelve character types. The outer circle represents the harmony of giving and receiving action, the principle of the cosmos.”
The central wheel in this emblem is related to the kuruma, or carriage wheel, a traditional Japanese heraldic symbol.
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This symbol was borrowed from Mayan design by James Churchward of “The Lost Continent of Mu” fame, as a symbol of the people of Mu.
In Churchward’s interpretation, it is a representation of the forces of the universe. Mu is elsewhere called Lemuria.
A fanciful Lemurian
This is the symbol of the Raelian “UFO cult,” representing a spinning galaxy within a hexagram.
The original emblem, a hexagram containing a swastika, was deemed offensive and redesigned:
The Raelians have no ties or connections to Nazism; the swastika was intended in its older meaning as an Eastern Cosmogram- a symbol of the whirlings of the universe.
See also: Raelians at Alternative Religions
An emblem used as an insignia designating an “Operating Thetan” in Scientology. The shape is reminiscent of an Egyptian scarab (perhaps intentionally), but is a combined “O” and “T.”
In Scientology dogma, a thetan is analogous to the human soul. According to Scientology, “body thetans” are misplaced thetans that leech off the body of another, and cause a variety of ailments and personality/emotional problems.
An “Operating Thetan” is a person who has “cleared” away body thetans through Scientology auditing.
The logo of the Church of Spiritual Technology, the Scientology-associated non-profit that maintains, archives, and controls the copyrights on materials written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.
One of the aims of the CoST is to maintain a long-term archive of important Scientology texts located underground in Trementina, New Mexico. The above emblem is engraved in large scale in the ground over the vault, ostensibly to aid in the location of the vault in the future by returning initiates.
The emblem of Eckankar, a spiritual group founded in 1965 by former Scientologist and Yoga initiate John Paul Twitchell. The philosophy of “Eck” follows that of numerous Eastern traditions that a divine sound current (“Om”) emanates throughout creation, becoming increasingly denser and entangled within the material. Mimicking the divine sound helps one to attune to that current and purifies matter, bringing one closer to the divine source.
The symbol itself is simply “Ek,” short for eckankar, a corruption of the words “Ek Onkar,” God is one or one essence; ‘omkar’ means, literally, ‘om creator’ and can be likened to the First Cause.
Omkar written in Sanskrit letters is what we commonly refer to as the “Om symbol.”
A figure of a Minoan Goddess in the shape of a bee,* one of several portrayals found in the art and religious artifacts of ancient Minoan culture.
These artifacts are assumed to be related to the local Mother Goddess cult, but very little is known about Minoan religion.
*Or, a representation of the Melissae (bees), the priestesses of the cult.