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The Shamrock is the ubiquitous symbol of all things Irish. Although today it is usually regarded as a simple good luck charm or a St. Patrick’s day decoration, it is one of the oldest Celtic symbols.

The shamrock is a native species of clover in Ireland. A Catholic legend holds that St. Patrick used it’s three lobes as a device for teaching the Holy trinity. To the Druids who came before, it symbolized a similar “three in one” concept- the three dominions of earth, sky, and sea, the ages of man, and the phases of the moon. In Celtic folklore, the Shamrock is a charm against evil, a belief that has carried over in the modern reliance in the four leafed clover as a good luck charm.

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Mistletoe’s (Old English, “Misseltan,” meaning, “missel twig”) standing as an icon of the winter holiday stems from very ancient beliefs. How did this rather ugly, poisonous plant became so popular?

The answer lies in ancient sun worship, particularly of the Celtic Druids. The mistletoe has several qualities that made it attractive to these tree revering ancient Celts. The Celtic Druids were skilled in herbal medicine and magic; mistletoe was by far the most sacred of their magical plants. It grew amongst the branches of the sacred trees, seemingly without sustenance. Having no roots, and thus no connection to the earth, it was considered the sacred plant of the sun.

A tree that hosted a mistletoe plant was a tree marked as particularly sacred by the gods. With its golden color, and growing high off the ground without roots, it was naturally associated with the sun. Most specifically, it was considered to be the sperm of the solar deity Taranis, the promise of the sun God’s rebirth.

It was believed that mistletoe took on the properties of its host tree (this has much truth to it, as mistletoe feeds on its host tree), containing its essence and power. The most powerful mistletoe, of course, grew on the sacred oak. (The name Druid is believed to be a compound of two words, Dru and Vid, strength and wisdom- oak and mistletoe!)

Old Norse tales of mistletoe’s origin blame the plant for the death of the sun-god Baldur, who is felled by a dart made of mistletoe, the only plant his mother neglected after a prophecy of the god’s death; some versions of the story tell that the plant became a tree-dweller after the wrathful goddess flung it there. druids

Cutting the Mistletoe at the Solstice

When the weather turned cold the leaves dropped from deciduous host trees, revealing the sacred leaves and waxy white berries- a promise of the return of the sun. During the period of the Winter Solstice, branches were harvested with great ceremony and used for a variety of magical and medical purposes- protection from lightning and fire, curing of poisoning, etc. Branches would be cut from the trees on a day sacred to the moon, and sacrifices of livestock offered in return for the precious gift. Belief in the magical powers of mistletoe has long outlived the Druids.

In medieval times, the plant was called allheal, and used medicinally for a variety of ailments, from epilepsy to cancer. Sprigs were hung in stables to protect livestock from the mischief of fairies, and over cradles to protect babes from the vexation of witches. In Scandinavia, its branches were fashioned into dowsing rods to search for treasure. An old English superstition held that as long as a sprig was retained in the home, so would love be retained. It became popular in some households to insure that a fresh sprig was installed in the household every year, and this is probably where the origin of the kissing ritual can be found.

A Druid priestess

A priestess with sickle and crown of mistletoe

The uniquely English tradition involved hanging clumps of the plant in halls and doorways, where it served as a bit of a love charm- and as an ice breaker between interested couples. As the superstition went, one who wasn’t kissed would not be married within that year- an incentive for the romantically inclined to be sure to find themselves underneath a sprig at a convenient moment. According to this same tradition, the plant was burned at the end of the season, to prevent the charm from backfiring and creating enemies rather than friends. As late as the early twentieth century, a sprig of mistletoe was believed to bring dreams of a future husband when placed under the pillow of a hopeful young woman.

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The lulav and etrog (literally, palm-branch and citron) in Judaism is a symbolic bundle of plants (the “four species” or Arba Minim) used to fulfill the mitzvah of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, an agricultural festival commemorating the Israelite’s sojourn in the desert.

The bundle contains:

  • Lulav, a frond from a date palm
  • Hadass, a branch of myrtle
  • Aravah a willow branch
  • Etrog, a citron, the fruit of a citrus similar to lemons

The bundled plants are waved ritually on all seven days of Sukkot, as prescribed in the book of Leviticus:

“And you shall take for yourselves on the first day , the fruit of the citron tree, tightly bound branches of date palms, the branch of the myrtle tree, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.”

A blessing is recited with the branches in the dominant hand (usually the right) and the fruit in the favored hand.


From an early synagogue floor

Related Symbols:

Nidstang

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hathorAn Egyptian hieroglyph representing the headdress of Hathor, a multifaceted goddess of the love, beauty, and fertility.  The headdress consists of a sun disk surrounded by horns, the emblem of Hathor’s cow-goddess aspect.  

Hathor is equivalent to the Roman Venus and the Greek Aphrodite.  She is associated with the Milky Way, and the souls of Egyptian women judged to be worthy were identified with her.

As with the emblem of Venus, Hathor’s sign was often represented as or fashioned into a mirror.

Related Symbols:
TyetFeather of Ma'atMenat

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The Heart in Hand, an image of a heart in an open palm, is an easily recognizable symbol in the North Eastern US. This cheerful, welcoming image originated with the Shakers and is found on crafts, signs, and even cookies. The symbol is a pictoral reminder of the words of Mother Ann Lee, the founder of the Shaker sect, who promoted a simple life of hard work and spirituality, “Put you hands to work, and your hearts to God.” The image is typical of the Shaker attitude, and implies also a loving welcome.

oddfellows

A heart in hand has also been in use for about a hundred years as a symbol of the Order of Odd Fellows, an early Fraternal Order. These commonly display three linked rings representing friendship, love, and truth. A similar symbol used in Masonry represents charity.

Related Resources:

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I get a lot of email with questions on a variety of symbols.  Some of it is very interesting, so I’ve decided to start sharing a select few.  Last names will be redacted for privacy and safety.  If I post your query here and you would like it removed, just drop me a line.

Questions, complains, and grammar corrections can be sent to symboldictionary AT gmail DOT com

Messages are sorted newest first.  If you don’t see your question here, check the comments below before submitting your own.

Note: I cannot address questions about the meanings dreams, unusual marks on the body, or coincidental occurrences.

Q  Heavy metal

Luis asks

Hi, i need to get some info on 3 symbols i medium i went to saw on visions. I tracked down them and i have them here:

I too have here a list with a lot of symbols from the same topic but i really don’t know what the topic is about:
Click to enlarge

can u point me in the right direction, maybe even give some explanation about the 3, especially the first one.

Thanks and God Bless you.

 

 The emblems you’ve linked are all alchemical notations.  The three specifically are for tin, antimony, and arsenic.  All are metals.  Antimony and arsenic are often used in alloys with tin or lead, and by themselves are poisons.  Hope this helps!

 

Q: The Celtic symbol for…

Paul writes:

Hi
Is there an actual Celtic symbol for “Wisdom”? It seems quite varied across different websites. Also, is there a Celtic symbol for “Warrior”, preferably “Young Warrior”?

I understand the symbols have limited or vague meanings which can represent a number of things but can you offer any advice or point me in the right direction.

Thanks

Krystle writes:

Hey I am looking to get a tattoo of the celtic symbol that resembles inner strength, but every website I go to is showing a different design, which one is the actual design?

 

The short answer is that these symbols generally do not exist.  We get regular requests for symbols for motherhood, strength, sisterhood, healing, love, etc.  These are all ideas that would have been completely abstract and foreign to early Celts, at least in the context of symbol designs.

I suspect the notion that there are such symbols stems in part from modern usage of emblems and in larger part from the efforts of tattoo and jewelry artists.  Around the nineties there was an explosion of Celtic knot themed jewelry, each knot being mapped to a very specific modern idea.  (This wasn’t restricted to the poor Celts, there were also similar things done with Native American and other cultural symbols.)  To this day you can walk into any new age gift shop and buy a “celtic love knot” pendant, etc.  The reason these vary so widely in design and description, however, is that they are just invented bunk.

I’m trying not to be pedantic about it, but most of the requests we get are intended for tattoos, so I want to be as clear as possible before steering anyone toward an irreversible decision!  I cannot emphasize enough: if someone presents to you a pretty Celtic knot design as an emblem of love, friendship, etc., they are trying to sell you something.  Many folks are taking Celtic knot clip art books and assigning fanciful meanings to random designs that were originally used as filler ornaments on books and tombstones.

If you want a true Celtic emblem to honor a specific ideal or heritage, there are a few that could be used without too much stretching.  Celtic animal symbols can be used for their equivalent qualities – a boar for boldness or courage, etc.   Just keep in mind that many modern ideas won’t have any truly authentic emblem.  There just are not any genuine ancient Celtic symbols of brotherhood/sisterhood, mother & son, etc.  If you wish to assign a personal meaning to a design (as in, “I chose this beautiful Celtic knot to honor my Mother’s Irish heritage/the love I have for my sister/to remind me to be courageous/etc.”) , go for it- it will have your personal imprint and will be unique and meaningful to you.

So, keeping in mind that the Celts would never have used them in this fashion, some Celtic symbols and their meanings

Q: Ring with symbols

Hi , i have a golden ring quite long , but still i can not find out what is representing or what the symbols mean , Please anyone help …
on the one side there is hand with a heart inside the hand, on the other side there is an eye , in between all this there is some kind of symbol (like a book but not exactly ) with 2 swards going inside and letters F(left) T (right) and L above all this ….

Sounds like you have an Odd Fellows ring.  The “FTL” stands for friendship, truth, and love.   You can read a little about the heart in hand symbol here.  Wikipedia has a good overview of the Odd Fellows: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_Order_of_Odd_Fellows

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Some caveats here.  Meanings are derived from Celtic mythology and folklore.

Spiral: life,  eternity, rebirth, walk of life

Tree: life, family/ancestors, shelter, sustenance, endurance, strength

Shield knot: Protection

Dragon/serpent: healing, wealth, authority

Salmon: wisdom, prophecy

Raven: death, afterlife, communication

Triskele/triskelion: rebirth, pregnancy

Bull: fertility, wealth

Deer: motherhood, lost love, transformation

Stag: Transformation, protection

Swan: love, hope

Dogs or hounds: friendship, loyalty, companionship, honor

Horses: parenthood, prophecy, clan or tribe

Boar: courage, cleverness, fearlessness, overcoming obstacles

Claddagh: friendship, loyalty, love

Bride’s cross: fertility, good fortune, new life, female strength or authority

Shamrock: luck, fortune, a charm against evil, the trinity, earth, sea, and sly

mermaid: vanity, femininity, dual nature

Celtic cross: Celtic heritage, time, the four corners of the earth

Cauldron or cup: fertility, wisdom, abundance, prophecy, happiness, artistic inspiration

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The marriage-knot or knot of Hercules, a strong knot created by two intertwined ropes, originated as a healing charm in ancient Egypt, but is best known for it’s use in ancient Greece and Rome as a protective amulet, most notably as a wedding symbol, incorporated into the protective girdles worn by brides, which were ceremonially untied by the new groom. This custom is the likely origin of the phrase “tying the knot.”

According to Roman lore, the knot symbolized the legendary fertility of the God Hercules; it probably relates to the legendary Girdle of Diana captured from the Amazon Queen Hippolyta. In this, the marriage-knot was probably a representation of the virginity of the bride.

The symbolism of the knot survived well beyond its religious use, and was a very common symbol in medieval and Renaissance love tokens.

Greek girdle, 3rd cent. BCE

Related Symbols:

Hexagram

Related resources:

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The pomegranate (Latin, pomum granatus, “seeded apple”) was first cultivated by the ancient Phoenicians, who used the jewel-like fruit as both food and medicine. The many seeds made the fruit an obvious emblem of fertility, and by association, love and marriage. The pomegranate is associated with a number of goddesses, including Astarte, Cybele, Hera, and especially Persephone, whose ingestion of just one of the fruit’s seeds (a probable allusion to pregnancy) made her an eternal prisoner of Hades.

Pomegranates were also sacred to the ancient Israelite, who adorned temples and religious implements with its likeness. The tops of the pillars (Jachim and Boaz) of the Temple of Solomon were decorated with pomegranates, as were the hems opf the robes of the High priests. Here, the pomegranate stood for wisdom. The fruit is said to contain 613 seeds, the number of mitzvot (laws) in the Torah.

The pomegranate’s popularity carried over into Christian art, where it variously symbolizes the church (many seeds in one skin), or the passion and resurrection of Christ and of believers (especially when portrayed open or burst).

There is some evidence in ancient art to suggest that both the crown and the globus cruciger are derived from depictions of the pomegranate.

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The Day of the Dead is celebrated annually in Mexico on November 1st, coinciding with the Catholic observation of All Saint’s Day. The Day of the Dead is a uniquely Mexican

celebration, a cultural festival resembling Halloween in many ways, but with more cultural and spiritual meaning. The holiday combines elements of Catholicism with ancient Aztec symbolism, and honors the spirits of departed ancestors and loved ones who are believed to return to earth to join in the celebrations.

Outlined below are some of the more common emblems of this important cultural holiday:

 

Calavera

 

Jose Posada / Public Domain

 

Calaveras- Mischievous Dead

Calaveras (skulls) are probably the most recognizable emblems of the Day of the Dead. Calaveras are whimsical caricatures-most commonly drawings- of skulls or skeletons. In most cases, calaveras are depicted in humorous settings, often in scenes depicting traditional activities. Common images include churches, weddings, musicians, dancers,politicians, policemen, and revolutionary soldiers. The Calaveras are often accompanied by mocking “epitaphs” of persons living and deceased, in the form of satirical poems.

The iconic image at left comes from artist José Guadalupe Posada, whose work has become an integral part of Day of the Dead celebrations, and who may have initiated the tradition in the nineteenth century. She is “Catrina,” a caricature of a wealthy woman of the nineteenth century, and she mocks anyone who takes materialistic pleasures too seriously.

Calacas

Like Calaveras, Calacas are mischievous renditions of skeletal firgures. Calacas include paper mache skull masks and figurines of popular calaveras, such as Catrina. They are popular items for tourists to purchase as souvenirs. Calacas are sometimes adorned with the names of the deceased.

Sugar Skulls

 

 

Sugar Skulls

A common rendition of the Calaveras come in the form of sugar skulls, decorated confections of sugar and egg whites which are exchanged as gifts or incorporated into offrendas. You can find directions for creating sugar skulls here.

 

 

Offrendas

Perhaps the most serious emblem of the holiday is the Offrenda, an altar honoring the dead. Offrendas are most often created in honor of one’s ancestors or loved ones, and contain a number of traditional elements, many drawn from indigenous Mexican traditions:

  • Crosses and other religious emblems, including statuettes of saints
  • Water, sacred to indigenous pre-Columbian cultures, and a symbol of baptism and new life in the Catholic church.
  • Salt, a preservative and purifying agent
  • Copal, a native incense used by the Aztecs
  • Candles, whose light guides the dead
  • Flowers, particularly the Cempazúchitl, or flower of the dead- the marigold, sacred to Mictlantecuhtli, the Aztec god of the dead.
  • Offerings of toys and sweets for children, alcohol and cigarettes for adults. Common food offerings include fruits and pan de Muertos, a sweet egg bread shaped to resemble skulls and bones.

Papel Picado

Papel picado literally means “perforated paper,” and refers to the lacy, elaborate pierced tissue decorations popular during the holiday. Papel picado are created from layers of colorful tissue (or sometimes even plastic), and feature many of the same themes as other Day of the Dead decorations.

Links:

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Music and Pop Culture Symbols:

“Questioning” The Artist Formerly Known as Prince “The Artist” Heartagram Heartagram Zoso Zoso Seal of Lucifer Lucifer Sigil
Triqueta Triquetra

 

Druid & Celtic Symbols

Triqueta Shield Knot Claddagh Triqueta Green man Celtic world tree
Triquetra Shield Knot Claddagh Triqueta Green man Tree of Life
Brigid's cross Triskele Shield Knot
Brighid’s cross Celtic Knot Druidry Triskele Shield Knot Shamrock
Cauldron Welsh Dragon Celtic Cross Druid Cernunnos, Herne
Cauldron Welsh Dragon Celtic Cross Awen Spiral Cernunnos

More Celtic Symbols

All images copyright Jennifer Emick/Symboldictionary.net, except where otherwise noted

Christian & Gnostic Symbols

Ankh Christian Ankh Jerusalem Cross Cross of Lorraine Cross Lorraine Vesica pisces Jesus Fish (Ichthus)

Trinity fish

Triqueta

Orthodox
Reverse cross Anchor Fish Anchor fish Alexamenos Serpent cross Sacred Heart Christogram
IHS IHS Alpha and Omega Alpha & Omega Chi-ro Chi Rho Crucifix Crucifix Messianic seal Messianic Halo Halo

More Christian & Gnostic Symbols

Magick, Occult, Satanic Symbols:

Baphomet Pentagram Necronomicon Chaos Chaos Mendes Goat Mendes Goat Hexagram Hexagram
Witch’s Knot Enneagram Hermetic Seal Unicursal hexagram Unicursal hexagram Ouroboros Ouroboros Sephirot Kabbalah
Mark of the Beast Mark of the Beast Hand of Glory Rose Cross Lamen GD Lamen Seal of Saturn Saturn Star of Babalon Babalon Seal Pentagram

More Occult Symbols

Wiccan/ Pagan Symbols:

Hecate's wheel Hecate’s Wheel Triqueta Triquetra Pentacle Pentacle Green man Green man Triple goddess Triple Goddess Pentacle Pentacle
Theban alphabet Witch’s runes Cauldron Horned God Triple crescent Triple crescent Elven star Athame Athame
Greenman Greenman Seax Seax Boline Besom Besom Witch's sign Witch’s Sign Pentacle Horned God

More Neopagan Symbols

All images/text copyright Jennifer Emick/Symboldictionary.net, except where otherwise noted

Norse, Asatru, Romuva, and Eastern Europe:

Romuva Romuva Triple horn Odin’s horn Valknut Thunder Cross Shield Knot Shield Knot Helm of awe Helm of Awe
Hugin and Munin Hugin and Munin Mjolnir- Thor's hammer Mjolnir Runes Runes Sleipnir Sleipnir Gungnir Gungnir Solar cross
Irminsul Irminsul Jumis Jumis Nidstang Nidstang Yggdrasil Yggdrasil Triceps Wolf's Cross Wolf’s Cross

More Norse Symbols

Egyptian & Egyptian Pagan Symbols:

Uraeus Uraeus Winged disk Ankh Ankh Isis throne Eye of Horus Eye of Ra/Horus Scarab Scarab
Lotus Uraeus Horus Lemniscate infinity Djed Feather of Ma'at Maat Sistrum Sistrum
Abraxas Abraxas Nuit Hathor Ba bird Akhet Coming soon! Flower of Life

More Egyptian Symbols

Ancient Greek, Roman Symbols:

Horned Hand Mano Fico Gorgon Gorgon Caduceus Labrys, sacred axe Labrys Minotaur Minotaur Venus of Willendorf Willendorf
Fasces Fasces Orphic egg Orphic egg labrynth Tetraktys Hygeia Lauburu Lauburu

More Greek & Roman Symbols

Assyrian/Babylonian, Phoenician, Syrian, and Zoroastrian:

Knot of Inanna Inanna’s Knot Assyrian winged solar disk Assyrian sun disk Star of Ishtar Ishtar seal Sign of Tanit Tanit Sign of Shamash Shamash seal Fravashi Farohar
“Dagon” Mesopotamian Tree of Life Mespotamia Simurgh Kerub Tetragrammaton Tiamat Tiamat

More Assyrian/Babylonian Symbols

Islam, Judaism, Sufism, & Baha’i:

Crescent and star Star & Crescent Magen David Magen David Hamsa Allah Allah Sufi winged heart Sufi YHVH YHVH
Druze star Druze Star Baha'i star Baha’i Menorah Menorah Baha'i ringstone Ringstone Messianic Star Messianic Nidstang Aaronic Blessing

More Middle Eastern Symbols

African, Rasta, Vodou & Santeria:

Akua’ba Veve Veve Eleggua fetish Eleggua Rastafarian lion of Judah Lion of Judah Veve, Agwe Agwe Chi-wara Chiwara
Exu; Candomble Riscados Rastafarian star of David Rasta Adinkra Gya Name Ethiopian Cross Ethiopian Cross Adinkra Adinkra

See more African Symbols

Taoist, Shinto, Buddhist, and Asian cultural symbols:

Maneki Neko Maneke Neko Buddha’s Eyes Torii Gate I Ching Endless knot Endless knot Om Mani Padme hum
Enso Enso Buddha's Foot Buddha’s feet Tomoe Tomoe Yin yang Yin Yang Manji Manji Dorje Dorje

See more Asian Symbols

Hindu, Jain, & Sikh Symbols:

Kalash Kalash Garuda Garuda Khanda Khanda Vel of Lord Murugan Vel Chakras Chakra Dharma wheel Dharma
Jain Hand Dancing Shiva Shiva Tattwas Tattwas Om Omkar Universal  Jain Jainism Sri Yantra Yantra

More Symbols of Eastern Religions

Alchemical & Astrological Symbols:

Scorpio Scorpio Venus Venus Mars Zodiac wheel Zodiac Greek Cross Water element Water
Salt Alchemical salt Fire element Fire Capricorn Capricornus Crescent moon Sun Red KingRed King Pluto

See more Astrological Symbols

Shamanic (Native American, Aboriginal, Neolithic):

Wasgo Dancing sorcerer Shaman Kokopelli Kokopelli Man in the MazeMan in the Maze Hunab Ku Zia sun

See more in this category

Masonic, Fraternal Organizations:

Skull and Bones (crossbones) Skull & bones Masonic square and compass Compass All seeing eye Eye Point in Circle Pillars Beehive
A.A. Cipher All Seeing Eye 47th Problem of Euclid 47th Proposition Eagle of Lagash Double Eagle Eastern Star Eastern Star

See more Masonic Symbols

Miscellaneous:


COST

Operating Thetan Op. Thetan Scientology cross Scientology Scientology Unity Cross Atlantis Cross
Raelian Church Raelian Mu Mu Raelian Church Raelian Choku Rei Choku Rei "Prioy of Sion" Priory of Sion Process Church
Swastika Swastika Cable Tow Black Sun Neo Nazi triskele Neo Nazi “Grail Cross” Sacred Chao Sacred Chao Unitarians
Romany Barbury Barbury Crop Circle Reiki Healer Chalice Well Glastonbury Unicorn Theosophy

Special: “Da Vinci Code” Symbols:

Vitruvian Man Fleur de Lis Rose of Venus "Prioy of Sion" Ankh Phi
Vitruvian Man Fleur de Lis Rose Priory of Sion Ankh Phi
Golden Rectangle Jumis Fire element Water element Hexagram
Greek Cross Golden Mean Jumis Fire Water Hexagram

Religious symbols glossary

Symbol glossaries by subject:

Adinkra Symbols

Astrological and Alchemical symbols

Crosses Druid/ Celtic symbols

Egyptian symbols

Hand Gestures

NeoPagan/ Wiccan Symbols

Norse/Asatru symbols

Star Symbols Symbols of Eastern religions- Jain, Sikh, and Hindu symbols

Symbols of Magick and the Occult

Symbols of the Middle East- Sumerian, Zoroastrian, Baha’i, and Islamic symbols

Taoist, Tibetan Buddhist, and Shinto symbols

Tattoo Symbols

Tribal and Shamanic symbols

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The emblem of the female Masonic organization, the Order of the Eastern Star. The symbol is a complex one, and is said to represent the Star of Bethlehem, symbolizing the descent of spirit into matter- the divine in man, or even the presence of God on earth.

Its appellation also implies a relationship with the planet Venus, also called the “eastern star.” Each point on the star has an emblem of a different biblical heroine (Adah, Ruth, Esther, Martha, and Electa) and the qualities they represent- fidelity, constancy, loyalty, faith, and love. The initials “F.A.T.A.L.” found on some are said to stand for the phrase, “Fairest Among Thousands, Altogether Lovely,” a reference from the Song of Songs, although also an apt description, perhaps, of some of the biblical heroines above. OES founder Rob Morris alluded several times to a cabbalistic meaning of the motto, but never fully elaborated it- at least not in any surviving works.

The book and pillar in the center of the star represent the Masonic Lodge’s “volume of sacred law” which is placed in the east. The five implements typically pictured represent the five biblical women and their respective representation of Masonic virtues:

The sword and veil represent Adah, and the virtue of “obedience to duty”

A sheaf of barley represents Ruth, whose virtue is adherence to religious principles.

The crown and scepter represents Esther, who embodies the virtue of loyalty.

The broken column represents Martha, and the virtue of “endurance in trial.”

The “golden cup” represents Electa, and the virtue “endurance of persecution.”

Related resources:

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The upward pointing triangle is the alchemical symbol for fire. One of the four classical elements, fire has the properties of heat and dryness, and symbolizes the “fiery” emotions- love, hate, passion, compassion, empathy, anger, etc., as well as spiritual aspiration- those actions of intent which bring us closer to the divine. Fire is represented in numerous cultures as the triangle, symbolizing rising force.

The symbolism of the upward-pointing triangle symbolizes rising energy. The element is sometimes represented by a sword or knife; when paired with the chalice of water, it is referred to as the blade.

In Paracelsian alchemical tradition, the elemental spirits of fire are salamanders.

The fire symbol is derived from the medieval magical Seal of Solomon.

Zodiac signs ruled by the element of fire are: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius.

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Fire triangle, Tibetan painting
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Related Symbols:
Coptic CrossAssyrian winged solar disk
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Related resources:

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A mezuzah (Hebrew, doorpost) actually refers to a small case, usually made of metal, which can be found affixed to the doorposts of Jewish homes, schools, and synagogues. Technically, the mezuzah is what is contained in the case, a parchment containing the two Hebrew inscriptions from Deuteronomy required by Jewish religious law to be posted on the doorposts of believers:

Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your resources. And these things that I command you today shall be upon your heart. And you shall teach them to your children, and you shall speak of them when you sit in your house and when you go on the way, when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your arm and they shall be an ornament between your eyes. And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

And it shall happen, if you obey my commandments which I command you today, to love God within all your hearts and all your souls that I will give the rains of the land in its proper time, the light rains and the heavy rains, and you will gather your grain, your wine and your oil. I will give grass in your fields for your livestock. You will have enough to eat and you will be satisfied. Guard yourselves, lest your hearts lead you astray and you will serve other gods and you will bow to them. God will then become angry with you and will withhold the rain, and the land will not produce its bounty. You will quickly be lost from upon the good land that God has granted you. You shall place these words on your hearts and on your souls. You shall tie them as a sign on your arms and they shall be head ornaments between your eyes, and you shall teach them to your children to speak about them when you dwell in your house, when you travel on the road, when you lie down and when you arise. You shall inscribe them on the doorpost of your houses and your gates. So that you and your children may live many years on the land that God has promised to your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

The first of these contains the commandment, “And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

The reverse of the parchment reads “Shaddai,” a name of God. This is explained in the mystical tractate Zohar as a notariqon for

“Shomer daltot Yisrael,”

or “guardian of the doors of Israel.” The first initial of this name, “Shin,” is usually inscribed on the outside of the case.

Various rules and strictures apply to the placement and positioning of the mezuzah, and the text must be written precisely. A properly constructed and affixed Mezuzah is believed to serve as a protective device. It is customary to touch or kiss the mezuzah when passing.


Mezuzah

Related Symbols:

YHVHNidstangMenorah

Resources:

Religion resources
Resources for the study of alternative religion and belief. A gallery of Gods and Goddesses, Calendars of holidays, symbols, sacred texts, prayers, and more.

Esoteric Kabbalah
The Western, or Esoteric Kabbalah was created and utilized by Western magicians and Hermetic students for hundreds of years, and is a spiritual tradition in its own right.

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The winged heart is a symbol of the Sufi movement, a mystic branch of Islam. The symbol is a heart with wings, symbolizing ascension; the five pointed star represents divine light, the moon responsiveness to this light. the symbol was chosen by the founder of the Sufi Order, Hazrat Inayat Khan. Here is his description of the symbol, from the Gatha:

The Symbol of the Sufi Order

The symbol of the Order is a heart with wings. It explains that the heart is between soul and body, a medium between spirit and matter. When the soul is covered by its love for matter it is naturally attracted to matter. This is the law of gravitation in abstract form, as it is said in the Bible, ‘Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’ When man treasures the things of the earth his heart is drawn to the earth. But the heart is subject not only to gravitation, but also to attraction from on high, and as in the Egyptian symbology, wings are considered as the symbol of spiritual progress, the heart with wings expresses that the heart reaches upward towards heaven.

Then the crescent in the heart suggests the responsiveness of the heart. The crescent represents the responsiveness of the crescent to the light of the sun, for naturally it receives the light, which develops it until it becomes the full moon. The principal teaching of Sufism is that of learning to become a pupil. For it is the pupil who has a chance of becoming a teacher. Once a person considers that he is a teacher his responsiveness is gone. The greatest teachers of the world have been the greatest pupils. And it is this principle which is represented by the crescent. The crescent in the heart represents that the heart, responsive to the light of God, is illuminated.

The explanation of the five-pointed star is that it represents the divine light. For when the light comes, it has five points. When it returns, it has four: one form suggesting the creation, the other annihilation. The five-pointed star also represents the natural figure of man, whereas that with four points represents all forms of the world. But the form with five points is development of the four-pointed form. For instance if a man is standing with his legs joined and arms extended he makes a four-pointed form, but when man shows activity – dancing, jumping – or he moves one leg, he forms a five-pointed star, which represents the beginning of activity, in other words, a beginning of life.

It is the divine light, which is represented by the five-pointed star, and the star is reflected in the heart, which is responsive to the divine light. And the heart, which has by its response received the light of God is liberated, as the wings show. Therefore, this sentence will explain, in short, the meaning of the symbol: the heart, responsive to the light of God is liberated.

Related resources:

Sufism Explore the mystical heart of islam.

 

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The Sacred Heart of Jesus is today one of the most recognizable symbols of the Catholic faith. The image originated in France near the end of the seventeenth century when a nun named Marguerite Marie Alacoque (Often anglicized to Mary-Margaret) began to publicize her mystical visions of Jesus, who admonished her to devote herself and the country to the veneration of his heart, which she described the heart as the center of communication between humans and the Divine.

St. Mary-Margaret’s vision, of a heart entwined with thorns and flames, sprouting a cross from the top, was drawn from the visions of earlier mystics, and possibly from alchemical imagery common at the time.

A few decades after the Saint’s death, the the bishop of Marseilles, Monseigneur de Belsunce, consecrated his diocese to the Sacred Heart in an effort to spare the region from plague. The plague passed over Marseilles, and the symbol became very popular, associated with acts of charity and piety and used as a charm against disease. Today, to devote oneself to veneration of the Sacred Heart is to in effect make the heart of Christ one’s own- to create within oneself the love and compassion of Christ- in essence, to be Christ-like.

The Sacred Heart as originally envisioned by Sister Mary-Margaret

A common devotional image of the Sacred Heart

Related Symbols:

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Music and Pop Culture Symbols:

“Questioning” The Artist Formerly Known as Prince “The Artist” Heartagram Heartagram Zoso Zoso EN
Triqueta Triquetra

 

Druid & Celtic Symbols

Triqueta Shield Knot Claddagh Triqueta Green man Celtic world tree
Triquetra Shield Knot Claddagh Triqueta Green man Tree of Life
Brigid's cross Triskele Shield Knot
Brighid’s cross Celtic Knot Druidry Triskele Shield Knot Shamrock
Cauldron Welsh Dragon Celtic Cross Druid Cernunnos, Herne
Cauldron Welsh Dragon Celtic Cross Awen Spiral Cernunnos

More Celtic Symbols

All images copyright Jennifer Emick/Symboldictionary.net, except where otherwise noted

Christian & Gnostic Symbols:

Ankh Christian Ankh Jerusalem Cross Cross of Lorraine Cross Lorraine Vesica pisces Jesus Fish (Ichthus) Trinity fishTriqueta Orthodox
Reverse cross Anchor Fish Anchor fish Alexamenos Serpent cross Sacred Heart Christogram
IHS IHS Alpha and Omega Alpha & Omega Chi-ro Chi Rho Crucifix Crucifix Messianic seal Messianic Halo Halo

More Christian & Gnostic Symbols

Magick, Occult, Satanic Symbols:

Baphomet Pentagram Necronomicon Chaos Chaos Mendes Goat Mendes Goat Hexagram Hexagram
Witch’s Knot Enneagram Hermetic Seal Unicursal hexagram Unicursal hexagram Ouroboros Ouroboros Sephirot Kabbalah
Mark of the Beast Mark of the Beast Hand of Glory Rose Cross Lamen GD Lamen Seal of Saturn Saturn Star of Babalon Babalon Seal Pentagram

More Occult Symbols

Wiccan/ Pagan Symbols:

Hecate's wheel Hecate’s Wheel Triqueta Triquetra Pentacle Pentacle Green man Green man Triple goddess Triple Goddess Pentacle Pentacle
Theban alphabet Witch’s runes Cauldron Horned God Triple crescent Triple crescent Elven star Athame Athame
Greenman Greenman Seax Seax Boline Besom Besom Witch's sign Witch’s Sign Pentacle Horned God

More Neopagan Symbols

All images/text copyright Jennifer Emick/Symboldictionary.net, except where otherwise noted

Norse, Asatru, Romuva, and Eastern Europe:

Romuva Romuva Triple horn Odin’s horn Valknut Thunder Cross Shield Knot Shield Knot Helm of awe Helm of Awe
Hugin and Munin Hugin and Munin Mjolnir- Thor's hammer Mjolnir Runes Runes Sleipnir Sleipnir Gungnir Gungnir Solar cross
Irminsul Irminsul Jumis Jumis Nidstang Nidstang Yggdrasil Yggdrasil Triceps Wolf's Cross Wolf’s Cross

More Norse Symbols

Egyptian & Egyptian Pagan Symbols:

Uraeus Uraeus Winged disk Ankh Ankh Isis throne Eye of Horus Eye of Ra/Horus Scarab Scarab
Lotus Uraeus Horus Lemniscate infinity Djed Feather of Ma'at Maat Sistrum Sistrum
Abraxas Abraxas Nuit Hathor Ba bird Akhet Coming soon! Flower of Life

More Egyptian Symbols

Ancient Greek, Roman Symbols:

Horned Hand Mano Fico Gorgon Gorgon Caduceus Labrys, sacred axe Labrys Minotaur Minotaur Venus of Willendorf Willendorf
Fasces Fasces Orphic egg Orphic egg labrynth Tetraktys Hygeia Lauburu Lauburu

More Greek & Roman Symbols

Assyrian/Babylonian, Phoenician, Syrian, and Zoroastrian:

Knot of Inanna Inanna’s Knot Assyrian winged solar disk Assyrian sun disk Star of Ishtar Ishtar seal Sign of Tanit Tanit Sign of Shamash Shamash seal Fravashi Farohar
“Dagon” Mesopotamian Tree of Life Mespotamia Simurgh Kerub Tetragrammaton Tiamat Tiamat

More Assyrian/Babylonian Symbols

Islam, Judaism, Sufism, & Baha’i:

Crescent and star Star & Crescent Magen David Magen David Hamsa Allah Allah Sufi winged heart Sufi YHVH YHVH
Druze star Druze Star Baha'i star Baha’i Menorah Menorah Baha'i ringstone Ringstone Messianic Star Messianic Nidstang Aaronic Blessing

More Middle Eastern Symbols

African, Rasta, Vodou & Santeria:

Akua’ba Veve Veve Eleggua fetish Eleggua Rastafarian lion of Judah Lion of Judah Veve, Agwe Agwe Chi-wara Chiwara
Exu; Candomble Riscados Rastafarian star of David Rasta Adinkra Gya Name Ethiopian Cross Ethiopian Cross Adinkra Adinkra

See more African Symbols

Taoist, Shinto, Buddhist, and Asian cultural symbols:

Maneki Neko Maneke Neko Buddha’s Eyes Torii Gate I Ching Endless knot Endless knot Om Mani Padme hum
Enso Enso Buddha's Foot Buddha’s feet Tomoe Tomoe Yin yang Yin Yang Manji Manji Dorje Dorje

See more Asian Symbols

Hindu, Jain, & Sikh Symbols:

Kalash Kalash Garuda Garuda Khanda Khanda Vel of Lord Murugan Vel Chakras Chakra Dharma wheel Dharma
Jain Hand Dancing Shiva Shiva Tattwas Tattwas Om Omkar Universal  Jain Jainism Sri Yantra Yantra

More Symbols of Eastern Religions

Alchemical & Astrological Symbols:

Scorpio Scorpio Venus Venus Mars Zodiac wheel Zodiac Greek Cross Water element Water
Salt Alchemical salt Fire element Fire Capricorn Capricornus Crescent moon Sun Red KingRed King Pluto

See more Astrological Symbols

Shamanic (Native American, Aboriginal, Neolithic):

Wasgo Dancing sorcerer Shaman Kokopelli Kokopelli Man in the MazeMan in the Maze Hunab Ku Zia sun

See more in this category

Masonic, Fraternal Organizations:

Skull and Bones (crossbones) Skull & bones Masonic square and compass Compass All seeing eye Eye Point in Circle Pillars Beehive
A.A. Cipher All Seeing Eye 47th Problem of Euclid 47th Proposition Eagle of Lagash Double Eagle Eastern Star Eastern Star

See more Masonic Symbols

Miscellaneous:


COST

Operating Thetan Op. Thetan Scientology cross Scientology Scientology Unity Cross Atlantis Cross
Raelian Church Raelian Mu Mu Raelian Church Raelian Choku Rei Choku Rei "Prioy of Sion" Priory of Sion Process Church
Swastika Swastika Cable Tow Black Sun Neo Nazi triskele Neo Nazi “Grail Cross” Sacred Chao Sacred Chao Unitarians
Romany Barbury Barbury Crop Circle Reiki Healer Chalice Well Glastonbury Unicorn Theosophy

 

Special: “Da Vinci Code” Symbols:

Vitruvian Man Fleur de Lis Rose of Venus "Prioy of Sion" Ankh Phi
Vitruvian Man Fleur de Lis Rose Priory of Sion Ankh Phi
Golden Rectangle Jumis Fire element Water element Hexagram
Greek Cross Golden Mean Jumis Fire Water Hexagram

Religious symbols glossary

Symbol glossaries by subject:

Adinkra Symbols

Astrological and Alchemical symbols

Crosses Druid/ Celtic symbols

Egyptian symbols

Hand Gestures

NeoPagan/ Wiccan Symbols

Norse/Asatru symbols

Star Symbols Symbols of Eastern religions- Jain, Sikh, and Hindu symbols

Symbols of Magick and the Occult

Symbols of the Middle East- Sumerian, Zoroastrian, Baha’i, and Islamic symbols

Taoist, Tibetan Buddhist, and Shinto symbols

Tattoo Symbols

Tribal and Shamanic symbols

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The Heartagram was originally created as a logo by the self described “Love Metal” band HIM. It combines a heart with a pentagram, and according to band members, represents the juxtaposition of love and hate/anger, or life and death. The symbol is sported as a tattoo by many HIM fans, including professional skater and “Jackass” stuntman Bam Margera.

Note: A similar-looking symbol, with heart and triangle interlaced, is sometimes worn as a decorative embellishment of the Star of David.

Related Symbols:

ZosoSeal of LuciferTriqueta

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Crosses:

Latin Cross Crucifix
Latin Cross Reverse cross Orthodox Crucifix Methodist Cross fitchy
Cross of Lorraine
Cross Lorraine Andrew’s Cross Tau Cross Papal Cross Greek Cross Jerusalem Cross
Cross of Lorraine Brigid's cross Latin Cross Ankh Ethiopian Cross
Cross Lorraine Camargue Cross Brighid’s cross Coptic Cross Christian Ankh Ethiopian Cross

View more cross symbols

Traditional & Early Christian Emblems:

Chi-ro Vesica pisces
Pentagram Chi Rho Holy Seal Jesus Fish
Passion Orans
Alpha and Omega Anchor Fish Chi-ro Halo
Alpha & Omega Anchor fish Chi Rho Halo Passion Alexamenos
Poisoned Cup
Ichthus Wheel Death Praying hands Seraph Poison Cup Christogram
Globe and cross Pomegranate
Globus Cruciger Pomegranate

 

Catholic Symbols, Symbols of the Saints:

IHS Monstrance
IHS Sacred Heart Auspice Maria Scapular Keys of St. Peter Monstrance
Chi-ro
Triregnum Immaculate Heart Guadalupe Miraculous Medal Chi Rho Shamrock

 

Churches & Denominations:

Lutheran
Unitarian Luther’s seal Unitarian Lutheran Methodist Presbyterian
Crucifix
Orthodox Catholic

 

Messianic Symbols:

Messianic star Messianic seal
Messianic seal Messianic Messianic

 

Gnostic Symbols:

Ankh Ouroboros
Baptismal cross Iao Sabaoth Serpent cross Ankh Ouroboros Serpent Wheel
Abraxas Chnoubis

 

Celtic Christian:

Trinity fish Chalice Well Sheela-na-gig
Evangelists Triqueta Arthur’s Cross Glastonbury Clover Sheela-na-gig

 

Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints):

Moroni
Moroni Melchizedek Beehive

Related Symbol Pages:

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In Vodoun (Voodoo) practice, Veves are intricate symbols of the Loas (gods), and are used in rituals. They are similar to the sigils used in ritual magic.  Each Loa has his or her own complex veve, which is traced on the ground with powdered eggshell or a similar substance prior to a ritual. The ability to draw a Veve correctly is considered to be a particular skill of the initiate. A veve is believed to be more powerful if it is drawn with the correct details.

The picture above is the veve of the love Goddess Erzulie. Similar designs exist in Santeria and Candomble.

Curiously, the Veve is similar in cencept and design to the Hindu Kolams, talismanic designs drawn in rice flour for the Hindu deities.

Pronunciation: Vayv or vay-vay • (noun)

Related Symbols:

Pontos Riscados

Related Resources:

  • Veves View a collection of Veves, intricate magical symbols used to invoke the Lwas of Vodou.
  • Sigils and Veve (offsite) Frater Alastor compares veves with sigils from old grimoires.

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