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Author Topic: What is the oldest Pagan symbol?  (Read 9900 times)
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« Topic Start: July 09, 2009, 11:40:22 am »

I have been thinking about this for a while, searched for some information but havent found any so far.
Does anyone know what is considered the oldest Pagan symbol? Or what group of symbols are the oldest? Or is such information lost?
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« Reply #1: July 09, 2009, 12:03:26 pm »

I have been thinking about this for a while, searched for some information but havent found any so far.
Does anyone know what is considered the oldest Pagan symbol? Or what group of symbols are the oldest? Or is such information lost?

Well - I'd think that if you're referring to Pagan as pre-Christian, just about every symbol has been used at some point or another.  Certainly the simple ones - square, cross/plus sign, that sort of thing.  Which is oldest .. well, there's no way to know!
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« Reply #2: July 09, 2009, 09:32:00 pm »

I have been thinking about this for a while, searched for some information but havent found any so far.
Does anyone know what is considered the oldest Pagan symbol? Or what group of symbols are the oldest? Or is such information lost?

The first thing that came to mind was the Venus statuettes.

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« Reply #3: July 09, 2009, 11:24:42 pm »

The first thing that came to mind was the Venus statuettes.



i was thinking spirals and various moon, star and sun shapes
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« Reply #4: July 10, 2009, 12:02:00 am »

I have been thinking about this for a while, searched for some information but havent found any so far.
Does anyone know what is considered the oldest Pagan symbol? Or what group of symbols are the oldest? Or is such information lost?

Still looking for the oldest religious symbol, but found this and thought it might be of interest in the mean time Smiley

World’s oldest ritual discovered. Worshipped the python 70,000 years ago
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« Reply #5: July 10, 2009, 12:02:22 am »

i read once....and no, i don't believe everything i read, but it made sense...... alot of the old religions were lost through time and trial..... there are stories of symbols that would identify a group, whether family, sect, religiously, status,...the list goes on.  perhaps these are the oldest pagan symbols.....
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« Reply #6: July 10, 2009, 07:22:44 pm »

Still looking for the oldest religious symbol, but found this and thought it might be of interest in the mean time Smiley

World’s oldest ritual discovered. Worshipped the python 70,000 years ago

Excellent article.

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« Reply #7: July 10, 2009, 08:40:14 pm »

Excellent article.

I particularly liked the part about the how the shaman could hide behind the python rock and pretend to be the voice of the god.  It reminds me of all those History Channel programs about the ancient temples and the tricks the priests used to make the people believe the gods were present.  Wink

As for the oldest pagan symbol...  The problem -- I think -- is in understanding what the symbols meant to the people who made them.  F'ex, there are tons of examples of equal-armed crosses -- some within circles, some not  -- carved into rocks in lots of places around the world.  Archeologists think these are solar symbols, which makes some sense given the importance of the sun.  But we don't really *know*.  And the little "venus" statues that are interpreted as religious icons are the same.  We know they existed, but we don't really know what they meant to the people who made them.  They could be goddess images.  Or they could be joking representations of somebody's mother-in-law.   Cheesy

All that said, though, I, personally, find symbols to be incredibly powerful and important to me.  So, as long as *I* know what something symbolizes *to me*, I have no problem using it. 
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« Reply #8: July 10, 2009, 10:14:38 pm »



It's one of the things that I encounter in semantic analysis; ontological dependencies between signs are only valid within a given society of sign users. For example, a semantic ontology might say that if those things referred to by the signs 'person' and 'organisation' exist then the thing known as 'employs' can exist; which all makes great sense so long as you are part of the group that share a common understanding of waht it is that the signs 'person', 'organisation' and 'employs' refer to.

For most archeological signs, we have the sign but not the society of understanding it. It means nothing to us; although we can make educated guesses about what it might have meant, and we certainly believe that we recognise it as a sign of some sort.
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« Reply #9: July 12, 2009, 12:56:53 am »

I have been thinking about this for a while, searched for some information but havent found any so far.
Does anyone know what is considered the oldest Pagan symbol? Or what group of symbols are the oldest? Or is such information lost?

I would think it would have to be the Ouroboros.

The symbol itself has been traced into antiquity as far back as Plato, but with all the dragon/serpent references I have seen in mythology, I have to think that the circlular dragon eating its own tail, (as we can see in the night sky by just looking at the miliky way), has been a motive for thousands of years. 

It would also seem nearly every culture on the planet has a name for it.  Probally since its the most visable thing in the night sky besides the moon.

That symbol, to me anyway, is tied for oldest with sun and moon worship.  The Summerians had a symbol for their mother (moon) goddess that was an eight pointed star.  Other than that, the plain flat disk representing either the moon or the sun is seen often in mythology.

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« Reply #10: July 12, 2009, 01:06:12 am »

The Summerians had a symbol for their mother (moon) goddess that was an eight pointed star.

I was under the impression that the Sumerian moon god was a male named Sin or Nanna.  Could you cite sources for a moon mother goddess in that culture, please?  I would be interested in looking at them.

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« Reply #11: July 12, 2009, 12:43:47 pm »

I was under the impression that the Sumerian moon god was a male named Sin or Nanna.  Could you cite sources for a moon mother goddess in that culture, please?  I would be interested in looking at them.

I might be sitting corrected.

Her name was Inanna, and according to the source I have infront of me, she was the daughter of the moon goddess Ningal, and Inanna's symbol was the eight pointed star, not the moon goddess.  Ningal's may have been a cressent disk, (or at least that is what her consort's was).
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« Reply #12: July 12, 2009, 01:05:27 pm »

I might be sitting corrected.

Her name was Inanna, and according to the source I have infront of me, she was the daughter of the moon goddess Ningal, and Inanna's symbol was the eight pointed star, not the moon goddess.  Ningal's may have been a cressent disk, (or at least that is what her consort's was).

Could you give me the name of the source?  According to the cosmology I am familiar with, Ningal was the wife of the moon god Dis (also known as Nanna)  They had a daughter, Inanna, but neither Ningal nor Inanna were moon goddesses - one was a sky or air goddess, and the other fertility and war (I want to say that Inanna was conflated with Ishtar at some point, but I may just be getting confused here - it's not really my area).

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« Reply #13: July 12, 2009, 02:47:46 pm »

Could you give me the name of the source?  According to the cosmology I am familiar with, Ningal was the wife of the moon god Dis (also known as Nanna)  They had a daughter, Inanna, but neither Ningal nor Inanna were moon goddesses - one was a sky or air goddess, and the other fertility and war (I want to say that Inanna was conflated with Ishtar at some point, but I may just be getting confused here - it's not really my area).

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Me either.  I pulled most of it from wiki and crystallinks.
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« Reply #14: July 12, 2009, 06:12:25 pm »

Does anyone know what is considered the oldest Pagan symbol? Or what group of symbols are the oldest? Or is such information lost?

Other than that, the plain flat disk representing either the moon or the sun is seen often in mythology.

I think you have me there.  At first I questioned whether a circle (disk) would qualify as a Pagan (or Religious) symbol, but a cross certainly does, so that answered that.

Drawings almost certainly predated carving so a drawing of the Sun or Moon, as a representation of an object of worship, would clearly qualify.

Now, in an attempt to settle the Sumerian question: from my recollected readings of Kramer and Wolkstein, Inanna was the goddes of lust and war ('love' being something of a euphemism, IMHO), and represented by the eight-pointed star (which still appears in Middle Eastern architecture and design - I know that one of Saddam's palaces had a continuous frieze of such stars on it's outer wall).  Nanna, an elder god - second generation son of Enlil and Ninlil - represented the Moon.  His symbol was the Crescent and his center of worship was Ur (in Akkadian, Sumerian 'Urim').  The Great Ziggurat of Ur was erected in His honor by King Ur-Nammu, circa 2100 BC.

Been there and done that, no t-shirt though.

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