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Author Topic: Explaining your religious/spiritual/occult symbols and images  (Read 33607 times)
Waldfrau
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« Topic Start: May 27, 2008, 10:25:44 am »

An idea I got from Aisling's 'Describing Your Religion'-thread. I'm interested to hear how people came to their religious/spiritual/occult symbols and images and what they do represent for them. I've seen a lot of interesting things in avatars for example like sacred geometry (Moon Ivy?), Gods or animals/plants and other nature features.

  • Which symbols and images do represent your religion/spirituality for you or have a magical purpose?
  • Do you wear them, display them or work with them? Does your avatar or signature include features with religious/spiritual/occult meaning for you?
  • Are there any forms of sacred geometry in your symbols/images or do they symbolize or show Gods, animals, plants, nature features or any other beings or objects which are significant to you in a religious/spiritual/magical way?
  • Which personal meanings do you attribute to symbols/images with a variety of traditional meanings (for example a pentagram, the moon etc.)? Do your personal meanings vary from the traditional ones or is one meaning out of a larger variety more important to you than others?
  • Have you ever experienced misunderstandings of your personal religious/spiritual/occult symbols and images? Which?
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« Reply #1: May 27, 2008, 12:55:41 pm »

  • Which symbols and images do represent your religion/spirituality for you or have a magical purpose?

I have both a symbol that represents my spirituality, the ankh, as well as a symbol of the craft aspect of my practice, the moon (in all phases, but most often a crescent or full moon).

  • Do you wear them, display them or work with them? Does your avatar or signature include features with religious/spiritual/occult meaning for you?

Yes, yes and yes.  I wear both the moon and ankh symbols permanently in the form of tattoos, as well as in jewelry.  Both are always on my altar, as well decorating the places I spend the most time. 

The moon in my avatar obviously holds meaning to me, doubly so since it was taken on a night when I was doing some major work for a friend.  The feathers in my avatar have a spiritual meanings well, being not only a tribute to my winged goddess, but a symbol of a close spiritual relationship with another soul.  The black feather is a bit of a nod to ravens as well, as these birds have a good deal of significance for me (as there's one sitting in the tree just outside my window... sigh, at least he's not perched upon my chamber door!  Wink).     

  • Which personal meanings do you attribute to symbols/images with a variety of traditional meanings (for example a pentagram, the moon etc.)? Do your personal meanings vary from the traditional ones or is one meaning out of a larger variety more important to you than others?

The ankh I assign the typical meaning of life, or more precisely, eternal life, as well as being a symbol of Isis and Osiris.  For me the moon is a symbol of feminine power, magic, psychic abilities, and cyclic renewal. 

  • Have you ever experienced misunderstandings of your personal religious/spiritual/occult symbols and images? Which?

Not really, other than the occasional comment that it's an "unusual cross", usually followed by the question of "What (Christian) church do you attend?" 

My stars and moon tattoo rarely gets seen as anything more than a celestial design, even though it has the most personal symbolic significance of all the symbols I use. 
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« Reply #2: May 27, 2008, 02:32:02 pm »

  • Which symbols and images do represent your religion/spirituality for you or have a magical purpose?

My avatar in places that easily let me have on is the same as here: it's a color-manipulated image of my harp. (She is normally walnut wood, not blue!) She's core to a lot of my self-identity (magical and otherwise), she holds the warding for whatever space I live in (and has for approaching 12 years), and so on.

I don't play her nearly enough. Working on that bit.

I have a wide range of jewelry pieces, which I wear depending on mood - most of them are not obviously Pagan by any stretch of the imagination, and some that are a little more obvious (the amber, for example) aren't obvious unless you know what you're looking at. Dichroic glass pendant, stone pendants, pieces from an extremely talented jewelry making friend... People who know me and the pieces can tell what sort of mood I'm in (or what kind of work I'm expecting to have to do that day) by which one I wear, but they're not obvious to others.

I've generally got a far stronger association to material (cobalt blue glass and silver, in particular) than to symbol or design.

There is one exception: The tradition I work in has a strong phoenix association, and I have several pendants with a phoenix. Two I never wear outside of ritual settings (gifts from my HP and HPS at 1st and 3rd degrees, respectively: different materials and different backs.) Two - one a glass bead etched with a phoenix and dragon, and a scent locket with a phoenix design - I wear far more often out in public.

I personally have a spiral and labyrinth fixation, but it's been hard to find the type of pendant or other jewelry that gets it quite right. I'm also still on the lookout for a Uffington Horse pendant that hangs right.

Quote
  • Have you ever experienced misunderstandings of your personal religious/spiritual/occult symbols and images? Which?

Because I don't use common images, nope.

The only weirdness I've seen was an at-the-time student who went out and got the pendant given to all first degrees (phoenix on one side, pentacle on the other side: and yes, she had been told it was a 1st degree thing for our group: the pendants are made by die pressing: you have to have one made deliberately, but they're not overly hard to get if you know where.) But that's not the sort of thing most people will hit.
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« Reply #3: May 27, 2008, 03:03:39 pm »

Quote
Which symbols and images do represent your religion/spirituality for you or have a magical purpose?

There are several I own and wear.  The dominant one is a small pewter labrys, obtained from the Nordic History Museum.  They had it as an alternative to Thor's Hammer...since apparently in Iceland, Thor was represented with an axe as often as not.

It does not primarily represent Thor to me, however; it began as more of a Great Mother symbol.  Now, it has softened further into a much more metaphorical statement of the events of life which, like the double headed axe, "cut both ways".
I wear it more than any of the jewelry I have accumulated over my life, and I usually am not asked to explain it.  Some say "nice hammer" on seeing it, making a tenuous Nordic conclusion that I do not correct.  And of course, some simply assume I am a lesbian.  That isn't my problem to correct, either.
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« Reply #4: May 27, 2008, 04:16:45 pm »

  • Are there any forms of sacred geometry in your symbols/images
My religious system makes A LOT of use of symbols derived from sacred geometry. I'm swamped at work right now, so I'll explain later.
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« Reply #5: May 27, 2008, 04:44:05 pm »

An idea I got from Aisling's 'Describing Your Religion'-thread. I'm interested to hear how people came to their religious/spiritual/occult symbols and images and what they do represent for them. I've seen a lot of interesting things in avatars for example like sacred geometry (Moon Ivy?), Gods or animals/plants and other nature features.

  • Which symbols and images do represent your religion/spirituality for you or have a magical purpose?
  • Do you wear them, display them or work with them? Does your avatar or signature include features with religious/spiritual/occult meaning for you?
  • Are there any forms of sacred geometry in your symbols/images or do they symbolize or show Gods, animals, plants, nature features or any other beings or objects which are significant to you in a religious/spiritual/magical way?
  • Which personal meanings do you attribute to symbols/images with a variety of traditional meanings (for example a pentagram, the moon etc.)? Do your personal meanings vary from the traditional ones or is one meaning out of a larger variety more important to you than others?
  • Have you ever experienced misunderstandings of your personal religious/spiritual/occult symbols and images? Which?

I wear a tetragram (equal armed cross) inside a circle.  It means a whole lot to me, but the basic premise is the same meaning as the pentagram w/ spirit being the circle which encompasses everything and the cross being the cardinal directions/four elements.  To me it means the divine in all.  And as far as personal meaning, I wear it to remind myself that I am part of that All.  No, people don't generally ask about it because it is not common and if they do I just say it is a variation on the celtic cross, which had a similar meaning.  I plan to get it in a tatoo some time in the next year.
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« Reply #6: May 27, 2008, 05:37:03 pm »

An idea I got from Aisling's 'Describing Your Religion'-thread. I'm interested to hear how people came to their religious/spiritual/occult symbols and images and what they do represent for them. I've seen a lot of interesting things in avatars for example like sacred geometry (Moon Ivy?), Gods or animals/plants and other nature features.

  • Which symbols and images do represent your religion/spirituality for you or have a magical purpose?

The most commonly used are the vaulknot and Thor's Hammer.

  • Do you wear them, display them or work with them? Does your avatar or signature include features with religious/spiritual/occult meaning for you?

I usually wear only my Thor's Hammer, however I have worn the vaulknot once in a while.  My avatar is the vaulknot and it symbolizes my oath to Odin and all the Aesir and Vanir.

  • Which personal meanings do you attribute to symbols/images with a variety of traditional meanings (for example a pentagram, the moon etc.)? Do your personal meanings vary from the traditional ones or is one meaning out of a larger variety more important to you than others?

My meanings usually coincide with the meanings of the symbols themselves.

  • Have you ever experienced misunderstandings of your personal religious/spiritual/occult symbols and images? Which?

I was thought to be a racist by some for wearing my vaulknot and hammer in public.  I keep them under my shirt now most of the time out of exhaustion for explaining myself too many times.
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« Reply #7: May 27, 2008, 09:10:29 pm »

I'm interested to hear how people came to their religious/spiritual/occult symbols and images and what they do represent for them.

I have my own gods with their own myths; I felt compelled to relate all of this to symbols, and sacred geometry looms large in this symbol system.

  • Which symbols and images do represent your religion/spirituality for you or have a magical purpose?

The circle, an up-pointing equilateral triangle inscribed within it, and a double golden spiral all have special religious significance for me. A bunch of other symbols flow out of these, representing more gods and their myths.

Also, my personal sigil, with which I sign all my posts, has special significance.
 
  • Do you wear them, display them or work with them? Does your avatar or signature include features with religious/spiritual/occult meaning for you?

I had the symbols of my gods inscribed into a ring and my personal sigil made into a medallion. I wear them when the mood strikes me; the ring esp. gets worn on my holy days (solstices, equinoxes).

I talked about the sacred geometry behind my sigil in another thread, in this post (http://www.ecauldron.net/forum/index.php?topic=4844.msg84444#msg84444) and its subsequent replies.

  • Are there any forms of sacred geometry in your symbols/images...?

Circle: the divine of the highest order, the Great Goddess. The mathematical constant pi, derived from a circle, is a transcendent number that is endless and unknowable; I think this is a near perfect description of the Goddess.

Up-pointing equilateral triangle within a circle: In my belief system, the Great Goddess takes on 3 male guises to have sex with herself and give birth to the universe as we know it; if you draw these unions as overlapping circles, you get 3 vesica pisces (which in sacred geometry symbolizes opposites uniting to give birth to something new). The long axes of these vesica pisces form the 3 sides of the triangle and  represent these unions. Thus the triangle comes to represent the aggregate male, while the circle represents the female (the Goddess).

(I'm into gender polarity!)

Double golden spiral: This represents the Goddess's song, which is the dynamic principle of the universe. The spirals are "golden" (a sacred geometry principle)--and logarithmic--to suggest the harmony of the natural world. It's doubled to represent the interplay of of light and dark forces that propels the dynamism. The double spiral also represents the macrocosm (the spiral galaxy we call home) and microcosm (our double-helix DNA) that frame our human existence.

Those are a few examples.

  • Which personal meanings do you attribute to symbols/images with a variety of traditional meanings (for example a pentagram, the moon etc.)? Do your personal meanings vary from the traditional ones or is one meaning out of a larger variety more important to you than others?

I think the meanings I attach to these symbols are broadly consistent with traditional meanings (for example, circle for the divine), though the specifics may vary.

  • Have you ever experienced misunderstandings of your personal religious/spiritual/occult symbols and images? Which?

A lot of people mistake my personal sigil for a rune. The few who inspect my ring often assume the symbols (12 on the outside; they usually miss the 3 on the inside) are for the zodiac.
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« Reply #8: May 28, 2008, 02:15:57 am »

To all:
Thanks for all the detailed answers! It's interesting to read about all your personal symbols because this forum is so full of them and for a newbie it's like being in a country with a different writing system where you can't even decipher the street signs because they are in Chinese or something.

My avatar is the vaulknot and it symbolizes my oath to Odin and all the Aesir and Vanir.
Is there any reason behind it being triangles?
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« Reply #9: May 28, 2008, 02:18:32 am »

I talked about the sacred geometry behind my sigil in another thread, in this post (http://www.ecauldron.net/forum/index.php?topic=4844.msg84444#msg84444) and its subsequent replies.
Thanks for the link and your explanations. I've wondered for a while what that funny 'rune' in your sig means.
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« Reply #10: May 28, 2008, 03:00:47 am »

  • Which symbols and images do represent your religion/spirituality for you or have a magical purpose?
  • Do you wear them, display them or work with them? Does your avatar or signature include features with religious/spiritual/occult meaning for you?
  • Are there any forms of sacred geometry in your symbols/images or do they symbolize or show Gods, animals, plants, nature features or any other beings or objects which are significant to you in a religious/spiritual/magical way?
  • Which personal meanings do you attribute to symbols/images with a variety of traditional meanings (for example a pentagram, the moon etc.)? Do your personal meanings vary from the traditional ones or is one meaning out of a larger variety more important to you than others?
I haven't yet decided on a path so it was a bit of a problem to decide for an avatar. I like many Pagan symbols, but are too uninformed about them to walk around with one.

I have a relationship to the Tai Chi symbol (Yin/Yang), but don't carry it around as I don't see myself as Taoist, although I buy into some Taoist principles. That's why I decided on the half moon to represent some of my belief here.

I see dualism present in nature, but don't see it as good vs. evil and also not necessarily as gender dualism, although I like gender dualism as a metaphor for some underlaying basis principle of polarity.

Also I see that polarity as aspects of a cycle. A moon that has become full must wane again. The Tai Chi symbol expresses that too with the little points inside the counterparts. In one aspect there is already the core of the antagonist one inherent. The moon represents that cycle as well for me as the Tai Chi symbol, but I prefer the half moon because I'm no Taoist and also have the impression that the Tai Chi symbol has become such a 101 esoteric symbol. As a form of basic sacred geometry the implicite circle around the moon represents the cycle of nature for me together with the cyclic nature of the moon itsself.

I did take the half one and not the crescent or gibbous, because for me there's a balance between two aspects (again, I don't mean good & evil) and the equality also represent a harmonic unification for me. (Btw, the Tai Chi symbol literally means 'big unification' too.)

So that alls sums up into a harmony of a cyclic unification of polar principles.


My incense bowl is circle-shaped too. (Not a big deal to get one circle-shaped, but it has significant meaning to me.)

What I wear in public with a similar meaning to me as the half moon is a bronze sun symbol in front of a silver crescent moon symbol also representing a cyclic unification of polar principles. (People don't necessarily guess from that any Pagan affiliation.)

Also I have some spirallic jewellery, just because I love the shape of a spiral. Maybe anyone could point me to research material about the sacred geometry and lore of it?


My passionflower/fruit signatures and my screenname are a hommage to a very adored and loved flower & fruit. I'd have liked to desplay the fruits as well, but didn't find any nice pictures in the net when I was designing the signature. (I need ages for something like that.)[/list]
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« Reply #11: May 28, 2008, 09:28:23 am »


I identify most strongly with trees. I wear Tree of Life jewelry and soon will have a tattoo of the same. My avatar here was a funny pic from the stock selection I am using as a placeholder for now. It makes me smile every time though, so maybe I will keep it.

Traditional symbols I have a hard time identifying with. Especially Pentagrams. Given the modern (mainstream) interpretation of them and how they would be viewed in my corner of the world, I don't think they are worth the aggravation.

Very few people outside my spiritual group get that my tree pendant is spiritual in nature. Which is fine, for the most part, I don't want to talk about it.

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« Reply #12: May 28, 2008, 06:34:52 pm »

Thanks for the link and your explanations.

No problem. I'm always delighted when someone else here besides me expresses interest in sacred geometry.

...I love the shape of a spiral. Maybe anyone could point me to research material about the sacred geometry and lore of it?

In sacred geometry, all the interest seems to be on one kind of spiral: a logarithmic spiral (roughly, where the distance between turns becomes progessively bigger; the classic example being a nautilus shell). In particular, the golden spiral--a type of logarithmic spiral--is big in sacred geometry.

Because it grows proportionately, it symbolizes a natural progression.

I've been looking for good links on the logarithmic spiral in sacred geometry, but sorry to say I haven't found much.

When I get home I'll check a reference book I have on symbolism and see what meanings it ascribes to spirals in general.



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« Reply #13: May 28, 2008, 06:59:00 pm »

Traditional symbols I have a hard time identifying with. Especially Pentagrams. Given the modern (mainstream) interpretation of them and how they would be viewed in my corner of the world, I don't think they are worth the aggravation.

I can agree with this sentiment, though I do wear a pentagram. It is a small (about quarter/10-pence-piece sized) silver pentagram with a woman standing in the center with her arms up above her head and holding a triple moon. It's kinda visible in my sig. I wear it for three reasons.

Firstly, my father bought it for me. It was one of the first overt indicators that he gave that he supports my faith and it was and continues to be very important to me.

Secondly, I received it near the beginning of what I would consider to be my serious spiritual search. It has been with me for a long time and holds a lot of memories and energies. At this point it is essentially a part of me and I do not take it off, even to sleep.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, for a good while after I was given it it sat on my dresser or, increasingly, in my pocket. I was too embarrassed to wear it because the inch high woman on the front is naked. Instead I wore a very pretty but far less symbolic plain pentagram. The day I finally got up the guts to wear it in public where people could see it was a big turning point for me in my spiritual and personal development and heralded a progression to near complete comfort in my own body and image. I haven't taken it off (except for Karate classes) since.

The symbol itself, though meaningful, is secondary to the meaning of the pendant itself. The pentacle represents the five elements together: my connection to the world around me. The woman represents my devotion to the divine (which I generally experience as feminine though in theory I believe it to be both and neither). And the moons represent a sort of inexplicable relationship I have with the moon that is really hard to contain in words. Let it suffice to say that whenever I look at the moon I remember that wherever I am at that moment the moon is also shining down (or will very soon) upon my loved ones and upon my home.

As I have already mentioned, it represents a moment in my life when I ceased to be afraid to show who I am. As such I am not afraid to let people see my pendant or to explain it to them. But, with the exception of very select cases, all they get is a basic rundown of the symbol itself and mostly in terms of the general understanding of the meaning of it's parts, not my own specific meanings. It's a similar deal with my tattoo (also a religious symbol for me), folks see it when I swim etc. but only a very few people get it properly explained and to give that explanation to someone is to show an incredible amount of trust in that person. My symbols are parts of me, explaining them properly to someone is like giving someone a key to my soul.

As an odd side note: for some reason I am not uncomfortable explaining them in relatively deep detail here. Perhaps it is because no one here knows me in person and those few folks here who I would consider as knowing me well I am comfortable giving this opening up to... *ponders*. It's probably a distance thing. You can't hurt me with the information so you can have it.
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« Reply #14: May 28, 2008, 09:05:48 pm »

An idea I got from Aisling's 'Describing Your Religion'-thread. I'm interested to hear how people came to their religious/spiritual/occult symbols and images and what they do represent for them. I've seen a lot of interesting things in avatars for example like sacred geometry (Moon Ivy?), Gods or animals/plants and other nature features.

Most of the symbols I wear are spiritual symbols that I associate with Brighid.

My avatar was developed by Juni and Dania during the course of a thread some time ago.  We were talking about jewelry designs we'd like to see, IIRC, and I said I'd love a medallion or something that was a stylized Brighid's cross in a circle, with a triskele in the center.  Juni sketched it up (the white lines in my avatar), then, when we moved to this board, Dania put it on the blue background and turned it into an avatar for me.

The Brighid's cross is, obviously, for Brighid.  It's based on a traditional cross design that has been associated with Brighid for as long as anyone knows about such things.  The traditional version is a little different because it is traditionally made out of rushes.  (More info on the traditional Brighid's cross:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigid's_cross)  Actually, there are several related designs that are traditional in different parts of Ireland, but this seems to be the most universal.  It is thought to be a solar symbol.  I've never seen the version I use anywhere else, which is kinda cool.  To me, it looks sort of modern, which represents the idea of bringing the concept/worship of Brighid -- or Brighid's work -- into modern society.

The triskele in the center is a traditional Celtic symbol, often believed to be another solar symbol, or to represent a "sacred three" like the Irish Land-Sea-Sky cosmology.

The circle represents, to me, a unifying element.

The blue background is also representative of Brighid because I associate that color strongly with Her, probably because of Her connection to water and to healing.

The other major spiritual symbols for me are the sun, flames, and spirals.

I wear a silver Brighid's cross pendant (http://walkermetalsmiths.com/Crosses/340_341.htm) and a silver spiral sunburst pendant (http://www.krobinsdesigns.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=KRD&Product_Code=Radiance_L&Category_Code=SS)
 as well as a another version of the Brighid's cross design on a bracelet, a silver Newgrange spiral charm on another bracelet (like the design in the photo here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_spiral), and a silver Tree of Life (http://www.kelticdesigns.com/CelticTreeOfLife/CelticTreeOfLife.html) charm on an anklet.  I wear those all the time.

I also have a custom-designed pendant that is a moonstone set within a sunburst on one side, and a ruby set in the center of a spiral on the other side, but I don't wear that one all the time.  (http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u115/moonivy53/sunspiralpendand001.jpg and http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u115/moonivy53/sunspiralpendand002.jpg)

I used to have a beautiful, custom-designed silver ring of my avatar design, but I lost it and haven't been able to get back in touch with the artist who made it.   Cry

I also have a tattoo on my left wrist of my avatar design within a sunburst. (http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u115/moonivy53/tattoos029.jpg)

I also find symbolism in the moon -- but not in the usual way.  To me, the moon is all about reflected light and I think of that as symbolic of how I can work to follow Brighid.  IOW, how I can reflect Her light back into the world.

I have a tattoo on my right wrist that is a sun and crescent moon design.  My daughter has a matching tattoo, except hers is black.  (http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u115/moonivy53/tattoos027.jpg)

Finally, I have a tattoo on my right ankle that is two stylized dragonflies, which symbolize my two daughters.  (http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u115/moonivy53/dragonflytattoo017.jpg)

I think that's pretty much everything. 

I have my eye on another pendant (http://www.krobinsdesigns.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=KRD&Product_Code=Firekeeper_S&Category_Code=G) but haven't gotten it...yet.

I really like symbols.   Grin

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