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Cultural and Religious Symbols

Triquetra Triskele Celtic Cross Brighid's Cross Scottish Lion Rampant Scotch Thistle Harp Shamrock Claddagh Welsh Dragon
Triquetra
Triskele
Celtic Cross
Bridgid's Cross
Lion Rampant
Thistle
Harp
Shamrock
Claddagh
Welsh Dragon
Pentacle Chalice Well Cover Green Man Elven or Faerie Star Triple Goddess World Tree Celtic Knotwork Cross of St. Andrew / Flag of Scotland Cross of St. George Cauldron
Pentacle / Pentagram
Chalice Well
Green Man
Elven or Fairie Star
Triple Goddess
Tree of Life
Celtic Knotwork
Saltire or St. Andrew's Cross
Cross of St. George
Cauldron
Zia Awen Kokopelli Medicine Wheel - Healing Hands Thor's Hammer Ankh Cross of the Knights Templar Jolly Roger / Skull and Crossbones Om Scarab
Zia Sun
Awen
Kokopelli
Medicine Wheel
Thor's Hammer
Ankh
Cross of the Knights Templar
Jolly Roger
Om
Scarab

Click on the symbol, name or letter to go there

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

 

 

Descriptions of the Symbols

A

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Ankh

Ankh

The ankh appears frequently in Egyptian tomb paintings and other art, often at the fingertips of a God or Goddess in images that represent the deities of the afterlife conferring the gift of life on the dead person's mummy; this is thought to symbolize the act of conception. Additionally, an ankh was often carried by Egyptians as an Amulet, either alone, or in connection with two other hieroglyphs that mean "strength" and "health." Mirrors of beaten metal were also often made in the shape of an ankh, either for decorative reasons or to symbolize a perceived view into another world. The ankh was almost never drawn in silver; as a sun-symbol, the Egyptians almost invariably crafted important examples of it (for tombs or other purposes) from the metal they most associated with the sun, gold. A similar metal such as copper, burnished to a high sheen, was also sometimes used. [1]

Awen

Awen

 

In some forms of Neo-Druidry the term is symbolized by an emblem showing three straight lines that spread apart as they move downward, drawn within a circle or a series of circles of varying thickness, often with a dot, or point, atop each line. The symbol was invented by Iolo Morganwg and adopted by some Neo-Druids. The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) describe the three lines as rays emanating from three points of light, with those points representing the triple aspect of deity and, also, the points at which the sun rises on the equinoxes and solstices - known as the Triad of the Sunrises. The emblem as used by the OBOD is surrounded by three circles representing the three circles of creation. Various Neo-druid groups and individuals have their own interpretation of the Awen. The three lines relate to earth, sea and air; body, mind and spirit; or love, wisdom and truth. It is also said that the Awen stands for not simply inspiration, but for inspiration of truth; without Awen one cannot proclaim truth. The three foundations of Awen are the understanding of truth, the love of truth, and the maintaining of truth. The rays also stand for the letters from which all others evolved: I, O, and U. It is said, "No one without Awen from God can pronounce these three letters correctly." [1]

B

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Brigid's Cross

Brighid's Cross

Bridgid's cross, Brigid's Cross, Brighid's cross, or Brigit's cross, often with the "Saint" prefix, or (in the Irish language) Cros Bríde, Crosóg Bríde or Bogha Bríde, though not recorded before the seventeenth century, is an Irish symbol. Though a Christian symbol, it possibly derives from the Pagan sun wheel. It is usually made from rushes or, less often, straw. It comprises a woven square in the centre and four radials tied at the ends. Brigid's crosses are associated with Brigid of Kildare, who is venerated as one of the patron saints of Ireland. The crosses are traditionally made on February 1st, which in the Irish language is called Lá Fhéile Bhríde (St. Brigid's feast day), the day of her liturgical celebration. This feast coincides with the more ancient one of her pagan namesake, one of pagan Ireland's most important Goddesses, Brigid, who is associated with fire; it signifies the beginning of Spring, and is called Imbolc. Many rituals are associated with the making of the crosses. These were formerly commonplace but are now rare. It was traditionally believed that a Brigid's Cross protects the house from fire and evil, and is hung in many kitchens for this purpose. [1]

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Cauldron

Cauldron

Cauldrons have largely fallen out of use in the industrialized world as cooking vessels. While still used, a more common association in Western culture is the cauldron's use in Witchcraft (as popularized by various writings, as Shakespeare's Macbeth). Witches oft-times were thought to prepare their potions in a cauldron. Also, in legend, a cauldron is purported to be where Leprechauns keep their treasure - at the end of the rainbow. In Wicca, a cauldron can be placed in a sacred circle and used to burn items that will be set alight during a ritual. It is a symbol of the womb of the Earth Goddess and rebirth as it was in ancient Celtic religions and is therefore sacred to the Goddess. Water can be placed into a cauldron for scrying (a method of divining the future) or it can hold the ingredients necessary for a spell or incantation. In some forms of Wicca which incorporate aspects of the Celtic past, the cauldron is associated with the goddess Cerridwen. Celtic legend also tells of a cauldron that was useful to warring armies: dead warriors could be put into the cauldron and would be returned to life, save that they lacked the power of speech. It was suspected that they lacked souls, as with the Golem, so these warriors could go back into battle until they were killed again. [1]

Celtic Cross

Celtic Cross

A Celtic cross is a symbol that combines a cross with a ring surrounding the intersection. The symbol has ancient origins and was likely a regional variation of the "Sun Cross" (which has arms that do not extend outside the circle). When Christianity spread to the British Isles, the Celtic cross was combined with their cross. As a result, Christian "high crosses" (which are made of stone and richly decorated) are often, though not always, built in this design. It is widely accepted that the Celtic cross has ancient, pre-Christian origins. The "sun cross" can be found in Bronze Age Europe. The archaic English word for cross as an instrument of torture is "rood" (literally "pole", cognate with rod). The word cross in English derives only indirectly from Latin crux via Old Irish and possibly Old Norse, introduced in the 10th century. Celtic crosses may have had origins in the early Coptic church. The similarity between the Ankh, symbol of "life" and variations of the cross or ankh with a circle on Coptic stella and textiles from as early as the 5th century clearly show that the combination of circle and cross were used in early Christian Egypt. Although some experts say that the crosses were originally carved horizontally on stone, their geometrical ring construction and the fact that the lights in east-facing high crosses can be seen to refract early morning sunlight is indicative of vertical construction. In Ireland, it is a popular myth that the Celtic Christian cross was introduced by St. Patrick or possibly Saint Declan during his time converting the Pagan Irish. It is believed that Saint Patrick combined the symbol of Christianity with the sun cross, to give pagan followers an idea of the importance of the cross by linking it with the idea of the life-giving properties of the sun. [1]

Celtic Knotwork

Celtic Knotwork

Celtic knots are a variety of (mostly endless) knots and stylized graphical representations of knots used for decoration, adopted by the ancient Celts. These knots are most known for their adaptation for use in the ornamentation of Christian monuments and manuscripts like the 8th century St. Teilo Gospels, the Book of Kells and the Lindisfarne Gospels. The use of interlace patterns had its origins in the art work of the late Roman empire. Knot patterns first appeared in the third and fourth centuries AD, and can be seen in Roman floor mosaics of that time. Interesting developments in the artistic use of interlaced knot patterns are found in Byzantine architecture and book illumination, Coptic art, Celtic art, Islamic art, Medieval Russian book illumination, Ethiopian art, and European architecture and book illumination. Spirals, step patterns, and key patterns are dominant motifs in Celtic art prior to the Christian influence on the celts, which began around 450 A.D. These designs found their way into early Christian manuscripts and artwork with the addition of depictions from life, such as animals, plants and even humans. In the beginning the patterns were intricately interwoven cords, called plaits, which can also be found in other areas of Europe, like Italy in 6th century. A fragment of a Gospel Book, now in the Durham Cathedral library and created in northern Britain in the 7th century, contains the earliest example of true knotted designs in the Celtic manner. Examples of plaitwork (a woven, unbroken cord design) predate knotwork designs in several cultures around the world, but the broken and reconnected plaitwork that is characteristic of true knotwork began in Northern Italy and Southern Gaul and spread to Ireland by the 7th century. The style is most commonly associated with the Celtic lands but it was also practiced extensively in England and was exported to Europe by Irish and Northumbrian monastic activities on the continent. In modern times Celtic Art is popularly thought of in terms of national identity and therefore specifically Irish, Scottish or Welsh. [1]

Chalice Well

Chalice Well Cover

Chalice Well is a holy well at the foot of Glastonbury Tor in the county of Somerset, England. Archaeological evidence suggests that the well has been in almost constant use for at least two thousand years. Water issues from the spring at a rate of 25,000 gallons per day and has never failed, even during drought. Iron oxide deposits give water a reddish hue, as it becomes oxidized at the surface and is precipitated. The water is believed to possess healing qualities. In addition to the legends associated with Glastonbury, the Well is often portrayed as a symbol of the female aspect of Deity, with the male symbolised by the nearby Tor. As such, it is a popular destination for pilgrims in search of the divine feminine, including modern Pagans. The Well is popular with all faiths and in 2001 became a World Peace Garden. Wells often feature in Welsh and Irish mythologies as gateways to the spirit world. The overlapping of the inner and outer worlds is represented by the well cover, designed by the church architect and archaeologist and presented as a gift in 1919. The two interlocking circles constitute the symbol known as the Vesica Piscis in the well lid's design, with a spear or a sword bisecting these two circles - a possible reference to Excalibur, the sword of the legendary King Arthur, believed by some to be buried at the nearby Glastonbury Abbey. Foliage on the coover represents the Glastonbury Holy Thorn. [1]

Claddagh

Claddagh

The Claddagh's distinctive design features two hands clasping a heart, and usually surmounted by a crown. The elements of this symbol are often said to correspond to the qualities of love (the heart), friendship (the hands), and loyalty (the crown). The expression which was associated with these symbols in the giving of the ring was: "With my hands I give you my heart, and crown it with my love." Yet the expression, "Let love and friendship reign forever" can be found as another meaning for the symbols. The way that a Claddagh ring is worn on the hand is usually intended to convey the wearer's romantic availability, or lack thereof. Traditionally, if the ring is on the right hand with the heart pointing outward and away from the body, this indicates that the person wearing the ring is not in any serious relationship, and may in fact be single and looking for a relationship. When worn on the right hand but with the heart pointing inward toward the body, this indicates the person wearing the ring is in a relationship, or that "someone has captured their heart." A Claddagh worn on the left hand ring finger, pointing outward away from the body, generally indicates that the wearer is engaged. When the ring is on the left hand ring finger and pointing inward toward the body, it generally means that the person wearing the ring is married. [1]

Cross of the Knights Templar

Cross of the Knights Templar

During the late 13th, early 14th century, England under King Edward I was at war with Scotland. In 1314 his son, Edward II, engaged the Scots at the Battle of Bannockburn. According to legend, the Scots won the battle largely due to the intervention of the Knights Templar on the side of their King Robert the Bruce. In reality, none of the contemporary or near contemporary accounts of the battle at Bannockburn mention the Knights Templar at all, and the excommunicated Robert the Bruce had very good reason to have nothing to do with the Templars, since he was desperate to keep on the right side of the Pope and of the King of France. It is also worth noting that the Knights Templar had fought for Edward I at the battle of Falkirk in 1297. Militarily he managed very well without them from 1307-1314 and from 1314-1328 and the story could only be seen as a sop to English pride - the 'real' reason for their loss isn't because they were fighting against the Scots but against an elite force of knights. This legend is the basis for degrees in the invitational Masonic Order known as the Royal Order of Scotland. Though the Knights Templar were officially disbanded in the early 1300s, some believe that the Templars, who were known to possess a sizable fleet of ships, may have fled to the New World by following old Viking routes, making one of the pre-Columbian voyages to America. In Portugal, the Knights Templar did not disband, but simply changed their name to Knights of Christ. In 1492, this group provided the navigators for Christopher Columbus' journey, and the Order's cross was featured prominently on the sails of his ships. [1]

Cross of St. George

Cross of St. George / Flag of England

The St. George's Cross (or the Cross of St. George) is a centred red cross on a white background, and is the national flag of England. St. George's Cross was originally the flag of Genoa and was adopted by England and the City of London in 1190 for their ships entering the Mediterranean to benefit from the protection of the powerful Genoese fleet. The maritime Republic of Genoa was rising and going to become, with its rival Venice, one of the most important powers in the world. The English Monarch paid an annual tribute to the Doge of Genoa for this privilege. It was adopted for the uniform of English soldiers during the Crusades of the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries, particularly by the Knights Templar. From about 1277 it officially became the national flag of England and Wales. After the dynastic union of England and Scotland in 1603 (the so-called "Union of the Crowns"), a combined British flag was created in 1606, initially for maritime display, later restricted to the King's ships, by combining St George's Cross with the St. Andrew's Cross (the flag of Scotland). The St. George flag remained the flag of England and Wales for other purposes until the Acts of Union 1707. At the union, the first Union Flag become official for all purposes in the new Kingdom of Great Britain. [1]

E

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Elven or Fairie Star

Elven or Faerie Star

This seven pointed star (a heptagram) is often known the Elven Star or Fairie Star, a sacred symbol to those who follow the Faery and other traditions, and is a symbol of magical power in some other Pagan paths as well. It was used as a symbol in the Kabbalah, and later by Aleister Crowley, where it was known as the Star (or Seal) of Babalon. In Alchemy, a seven-sided star can refer to the seven planets which were known to ancient alchemists. The heptagram is also used in Christianity to symbolize the seven days of creation and became a traditional symbol for warding off evil, thus the reason that most sheriff's badges are first heptagonal shaped. Its also the symbol of perfection (or God) in many Christian religions. The seven pointed star is incorporated into the flags of the various bands of the Cherokee Nation. [1]

G

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Green Man

Green Man

The Green Man has a face surrounded by or made from foliage. Branches or vines may sprout from the nose, mouth, nostrils or other parts of the face and these shoots may bear flowers or fruit. Commonly used decoratively, Green Men are frequently found on carvings in churches and other buildings. "The Green Man" is also a popular name for English pubs with various versions of the name appear on inn signs, sometimes showing a full figure rather than just the head. Found in many cultures around the world, the Green Man is often related to natural vegetative deities springing up in different cultures throughout the ages. Primarily it is interpreted as a symbol of rebirth, or "renaissance," representing the cycle of growth each spring. Some speculate that the legends of the Green Man developed independently in the traditions of separate ancient cultures and evolved into the wide variety of examples found throughout history. Parallels have been drawn between the Green Man and various deities. Many see the Green Man as being connected to many gods, including Osiris, Odin and even the Christian Jesus - as well as Tammuz of the Mesopotamians (who is thought by some to symbolize the triumph of Green Life over Winter and Death). Figures such as Cernunnos, Herne the Hunter, Sylvanus, Derg Corra, Green George, Jack-in-the-Green, John Barleycorn, Robin Goodfellow, Puck, and the Holly and Oak Kings all partake of the Green Man's nature; it has also been suggested that the story of Robin Hood was born of the Green Man mythology. A more modern embodiment is found in Peter Pan, who enters the civilized world from a nether land, clothed in green leaves. Even Father Christmas, who was often shown wreathed in ivy in early depictions, has been suggested as a similar woodland spirit. The Green Knight of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight serves as both monster and mentor to sir Gawain, belonging to a pre-Christian world which seems antagonistic to but is in the end harmonious with the Christian one. In the Germanic nations such as Germany, Iceland and England, depictions of the Green Man could have been inspired by deities such as Freyr or Woden, as both have many attributes of the later Green Men from throughout Europe. According to some research, there is one Celtic deity, Viridios, who has a name meaning "Green Man" in both the Celtic languages and in Latin. [1]

H

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Harp

Harp

The harp has been used as a political symbol of Ireland for centuries. Its origin is from the time of Brian Boru, a famous 'High King' of the whole island of Ireland who played the harp. In Celtic society every clan would have a resident harp player who would write songs in honour of the leader. These were called Planxties. This evolved and would eventually be adapted as a symbol and representation of the Irish people, and under English occupation. It was used to symbolize Ireland in the Royal Standard of King James VI/I of Scotland, England and Ireland in 1603 and had continued to feature on all English, British and United Kingdom Royal Standards ever since, though the style of harp used differed on some Royal Standards. It was also used on the Commonwealth Jack of Oliver Cromwell, issued in 1649 and on the Protectorate Jack issued in 1658 as well as on the Lord Protector's Standard issued on the succession of Richard Cromwell in 1658. The harp is also traditionally used on the flag of Leinster. From 1922, the Irish Free State continued to use a similar harp, facing left, as its state symbol on the Great Seal of the Irish Free State, featuring it both on the Coat of Arms and on the Presidential Standard and Presidential Seal - as well as on various other official seals and documents. This was based on the Brian Boru harp in the library of Trinity College Dublin, which was badly restored in the 1840s. Since it was fully rebuilt in 1961, it is seen to be wider at the base of the soundbox but this has gone unnoticed by Irish officials. The harp also appears on Irish coinage from the Middle Ages to the current Irish Euro coins. [1]

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Jolly Roger

Jolly Roger / Skull and Crossbones

The Jolly Roger is the name given to any of various flags flown to identify a ship's crew as pirates. The flag most usually identified as the Jolly Roger today is the skull and crossbones, being a flag consisting of a skull above two long bones set in an X-mark arrangement on a black field. This design was used by four pirates, captains Edward England, John Taylor, Sam Bellamy and John Martel. Despite its prominence in popular culture, plain black flags were often employed by most pirates in the 17th-18th century. Historically, the flag was flown to frighten pirates' victims into surrendering without a fight, since it conveyed the message that the attackers were outlaws who would not consider themselves bound by the usual rules of engagement - and might, therefore, slaughter those they defeated (since captured pirates were usually hanged, they didn't have much to gain by asking quarter if defeated). With the decline of piracy, various military units have used the Jolly Roger, usually in skull-and-crossbones design, as a unit identification insignia or a victory flag to ascribe to themselves the proverbial ferocity and toughness of pirates. A Masonic legend speaks of three Templars searching the site of Jacques de Molay's burning and finding only his skull and femurs. These they took with them and allegedly were used as the impetus to create the first Jolly Roger flag of Piracy, so that they would never forget. Its claimed that, after the Templars were disbanded by the Catholic Church, at least one Templar fleet split into four independent flotillas dedicating themselves to pirating ships of any country sympathetic to Rome, thus the flag was an inheritance, and its crossed bones a reference to the original Templar logo of a red cross with blunted ends. However, many Jolly Rogers did not have crossed bones. [1]

K

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Kokopelli

Kokopelli

Kokopelli is a fertility deity, usually depicted as a humpbacked flute player (often with a huge phallus and feathers or antenna-like protrusions on his head), who has been venerated by some Native American cultures in the southwestern U.S. Like most fertility deities, Kokopelli presides over both childbirth and agriculture. He is also a trickster god and represents the spirit of music. Among the Hopi, Kokopelli carries unborn children on his back and distributes them to women (for this reason, young girls often fear him). He often takes part in rituals relating to marriage, and Kokopelli himself is sometimes depicted with a consort - a woman called Kokopelmana. Kokopelli also presides over the reproduction of game animals, and for this reason, he is often depicted with animal companions such as rams and deer. Other common creatures associated with him include sun-bathing animals such as snakes, or water-loving animals like lizards and insects. Because of this, some scholars believe that Kokopelli's flute is actually a blowgun (or started out as one). Alternatively, the "flute" may actually be a pipe for smoking tobacco in a sacred ceremony, or some other device entirely. In his domain over agriculture, Kokopelli's fluteplaying chases away the Winter and brings about Spring. Many tribes, such as the Zuni, also associate Kokopelli with the rains. He frequently appears with Paiyatuma, another flautist, in depictions of maize-grinding ceremonies. Some tribes say he carries seeds and babies on his back. [1]

L

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Lion Rampant

Scottish Lion Rampant

A "lion rampant" is depicted in profile standing erect with forepaws raised, it is the symbol on the Royal Standard of Scotland. Displaying a red lion rampant with blue teeth, tongue and claws, within a red double border on a yellow background. The lion is commonly thought to have been adopted in the early 12th century by William I (known as "William the Lion"), but there is no evidence of its use as "the Arms of Dominion of Scotland" before 1222, when it appeared in the seal of his son, Alexander II. It has been suggested that the Royal arms of Scotland were first devised by Malcolm III in 1061, given that the central lion-rampant motif is also used as a badge by Irish clans who claim a place in the Milesian genealogies, in common with Malcolm III. Following the Union of the Crowns in 1603, the flag was incorporated into the Royal Standard of successive Scottish and then British monarchs, appearing in both the first and fourth quadrants of versions used in Scotland while only appearing in the second quadrant on versions used elsewhere. [1]

M

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Medicine Wheel

Medicine Wheel - Healing Hands

Medicine wheels, or sacred hoops, were constructed by laying stones in a particular pattern on the ground. Most medicine wheels follow the basic pattern of having a center of stone(s), and surrounding that is an outer ring of stones with "spokes" or lines of rocks radiating from the center. One of the older wheels has been dated to over 4,500 years old. Like Stonehenge, it had been built up by successive generations who would add new features to the circle. Due to the long existence of such a basic structure, archaeologists suspect that the function and meaning of the medicine wheel changed over time, and it is doubtful that we will ever know what the original purpose was. Some believe that some of the wheels had astronomical significance, where spokes on a wheel could be pointing to certain stars, as well as sunrise or sunset, at a certain time of the year, suggesting that the wheels were a way to mark certain days of the year. Some of the wheels mark the the Midsummer Solstice (longest day of the year). The idea that some Indigenous American and Canadian peoples engage the Medicine Wheel and associated rites to demonstrate the periodicity and cyclicality of nature, change, life, and lifecycles, interdependence, relationships and the mysterium magnum of the Earth and the universe, amongst other teachings, is one of the Western interpretations making American First Nations the "Other," supposedly more spiritual, to contrast with supposedly less spiritual "Us."In the Hopi Medicine Wheel of the Hopi prophesy of the four peoples of the Earth, the cardinal direction North represents the body, plants and animals, the color white and "white skinned peoples," and Childhood (can also represent birth, and/or meeting a stranger and learning to trust as in infancy). The East is held to represent the mind, air, the color yellow and "yellow skinned peoples," learning the groups to which people belong and Adolescence. The South holds the heart, fire, the color red and "red skinned peoples," and Adulthood. Finally West holds the spirit, water, the color blue or black, and "black-skinned peoples" and Elderhood. West also represents the final life stage in the wheel, being an elder and passing on knowledge to the next generation so that the wheel may start again just like the circle it takes after. In many other tribes, however, the North corresponds to Adulthood (the White Buffalo), the South represents Childhood (the Serpent), the West represents Adolescence (the Bear) and the East represents Death and Re-birth (Eagle). [1]

O

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Om

Om

Aum (also Om) is a mystical or sacred syllable in the Indian Religions, including Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism. It is placed at the beginning of most Hindu texts as a sacred exclamation to be uttered at the beginning and end of a reading of the vedas or previously to any prayer or mantra. The Mandukya Upanishad is entirely devoted to the explanation of the syllable. The syllable is taken to consist of three phonemes, a, u and m, variously symbolizing the Three Vedas or the Hindu Trimurti. The name omkara is taken as a name of God in the Hindu revivalist arya samaj. Similarly, the concept of om, called onkar in Punjabi, is found in Sikh theology as a symbol of God. It invariably emphasizes God's singularity, expressed as Ek Onkar ("One Omkara" or "The Aum is One"), stating that the multiplicity of existence symbolized in the aum syllable is really founded in a singular God. [1]

P

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Pentacle or Pentagram

Pentacle

A pentacle (or pantacle in Thelema) is an amulet used in magical evocation, generally made of parchment, paper or metal (although it can be of other materials), and is often worn around the neck. , or placed within the triangle of evocation. Protective symbols may also be included (sometimes on the reverse). Many varieties of pentacle can be found, which are also used in some Neo-Pagan magical traditions such as Wicca and other modern forms of Witchcraft alongside other magical tools. The words pentacle and pentagram (a five-point star) are essentially used synonymously - but many magical authors treat them as distinct. In many Tarot decks and in some forms of modern Witchcraft, pentacles often prominently incorporate a pentagram in their design. [1]

S

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Saltire or St. Andrew's Cross

Cross of St. Andrew / Flag of Scotland

The Flag of Scotland is a white saltire, a crux decussate (X-shaped cross) representing the cross of the Christian martyr St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, on a blue field. It is named the Saltire or the Saint Andrew's Cross. In heraldic language, it may be blazoned azure, a saltire argent. According to legend, in 832 A.D. King Oengus II (or King Angus) led the Picts and Scots in battle against the Angles under a king named Athelstan near modern-day Athelstaneford in East Lothian. King Angus and his men were surrounded and he prayed for deliverance. During the night St. Andrew, who was martyred on a saltire cross, appeared to Angus and assured him of victory. On the following morning a white saltire against the background of a blue sky appeared to both sides. The Picts and Scots were heartened by this, but the Angles lost confidence and were defeated. This saltire design has been the Scottish flag ever since. Material evidence of the saltire's use dates from somewhat later. The earliest record to the Saint Andrew's cross flag dates from 1165 AD, where reference is made to the 9th Century battle. By 1180 the St. Andrews cross flag is on the seal of St. Andrews. The St. Andrews cross was shown as the national emblem of Scotland on the seal of the guardians of Scotland. In 1385 the Parliament of Scotland decreed that Scottish soldiers should wear the saltire as a distinguishing mark. The earliest surviving Scottish flag consisting solely of the saltire dates from 1503: a white cross on a red background. By 1540 the legend of King Angus had been altered to include the vision of the crux decussata against a blue sky. Thereafter, this saltire design in its present form became the national flag of Scotland. [1]

Scarab

Scarab

The Scarab artifacts of ancient Egypt, based upon the Scarabaeidae family dung beetle, was the most popular amulet of ancient Egypt. In the ancient Egyption mythos, the sun (Ra) rolls across the sky each day and transforms bodies and souls. The dung beetle's rolling of dung into a ball for the purposes of laying eggs (which would be later transformed into larva) was seen as an earthly symbol of this heavenly cycle. This came to be iconographic, and ideological symbols were incorporated into Ancient Egyptian society. Through different time periods, about 3000 years, the use of the scarab artifacts became many, and varied. As amulets, with a flat surface on the bottom, it became a surface with other utilitarian purposes. Other nations and regions even came to reproduce Egyptian styles, or to adapt their use to their own gods or personal uses. They were also found as grave goods, amulets, talismans, jewelery-types, or gifts-of-affection. [1]

Shamrock

Shamrock

The shamrock is a symbol of Ireland. It is a three-leafed old white clover, sometimes of the variety Trifolium Repens (a white clover, known in Irish as seamair bhán) but today usually Trifolium Dubium (a lesser clover, in Irish its called seamair bhuí). The diminutive version of the Irish word for "clover" ("seamair") is "seamróg", which was anglicised as "shamrock", representing a close approximation of the original Irish pronunciation. The shamrock was traditionally used for its medicinal properties, and is now a common way to represent St. Patrick's Day. Its claimed that the plant was used by St. Patrick to illustrate the doctrine of the holy trinity, but the posthumous timing of this legend (coming some 1200 years after his death) and lack of supporting evidence found in St. Patrick's writings have caused some to question its authenticity. The Shamrock has been registered as a trademark by the Government of Ireland. [1]

T

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Thistle

Scotch Thistle

In the language of flowers, the thistle (like the burr) is an ancient Celtic symbol of nobility of character as well as of birth, for the wounding or provocation of a thistle yields punishment. For this reason the thistle is the symbol of the Order of the Thistle, a high Chivalric order of Scotland. The flower of the Scots Thistle (Scotch Thistle) has been the national emblem of Scotland since the reign of Alexander III (1249 - 1286) and was used on silver coins issued by James III in 1470, and is found in many Scottish symbols. According to legend, an invading Norse army was attempting to sneak up at night upon a Scots army encampment. During this operation one barefoot Norseman had the misfortune to step upon a Scots Thistle, causing him to cry out in pain, thus alerting the Scots to the presence of the Norse invaders. Some sources suggest the specific occasion was the Battle of Largs, which marked the beginning of the departure of King Haakon IV (Haakon the Elder) of Norway who, having control of the Northern Isles and Hebrides, had harried the coast of the Kingdom of Scotland for some years. Spiky plants such as brambles appear to have been used around forts since time immemorial, so the story, whether it factually relates to the Haakon episode or not, likely is the culmination of more than one such event over time. [1]

Thor's Hammer

Thor's Hammer

Many practitioners of Germanic neopagan faiths wear Thor's Hammer pendants as a symbol of that faith worldwide. In Norse mythology, its called Mjöllnir (or Mjölner) the hammer of Thor - a major Norse god associated with thunder. Distinctively shaped, Mjöllnir is depicted in Norse mythology as one of the most fearsome weapons, capable of leveling mountains. Though generally recognized and depicted as a hammer, Mjöllnir is sometimes referred to as an axe or club. In the 13th century Prose Edda, Snorri Sturluson relates that the Svartalfar Sindri and Brokkr made Mjöllnir at the command of Loki, with the following summary of Mjöllnir's special qualities in that, with Mjöllnir, Thor: "...would be able to strike as firmly as he wanted, whatever his aim, and the hammer would never fail, and if he threw it at something, it would never miss and never fly so far from his hand that it would not find its way back, and when he wanted, it would be so small that it could be carried inside his tunic. [1]

Tree of Life

World Tree

Various forms of Trees of Life also appear in folklore, culture and fiction, often relating to immortality or fertility. These often hold cultural and religious significance to the peoples for whom they appear. For them, it may also strongly be connected with motif of the world tree. The tree, with its branches reaching up into the sky, and roots deep into the earth, can be seen to dwell in three worlds - a link between heaven, the earth, and the underworld, uniting above and below. It is also both a feminine symbol, bearing sustenance; and a masculine, phallic symbol - another union. In Germanic Paganism, trees play a prominent role, appearing in various aspects of surviving texts and possibly in the name of gods. The tree of life appears in Norse religion as Yggdrasil, the world tree, a massive tree (sometimes considered a yew or ash tree) with extensive lore surrounding it. Perhaps related to Yggdrasil, accounts have survived of Germanic tribes honouring sacred trees within their societies. In Norse mythology it is the apples from Iounn's ash box that provides immortality for the gods. The Tree of Life is thought by some as the axis mundi (also cosmic axis, world axis, world pillar, columna cerului, center of the world) is a ubiquitous symbol that crosses human cultures. The image expresses a point of connection between sky and earth where the four compass directions meet. At this point travel and correspondence is made between higher and lower realms. Communication from lower realms may ascend to higher ones and blessings from higher realms may descend to lower ones and be disseminated to all. The spot functions as the navel, the world's point of beginning. The axis mundi image appears in every region of the world and takes many forms. The image is both feminine (an umbilical providing nourishment) and masculine (a phallus providing insemination into a uterus). It may have the form of a natural or manufactured objects (such as a tree, vine, staff or maypole), and is found in cultures having shamanic practices or animist beliefs, major world religions, and technologically advanced "urban centers." [1]

Triple Goddess

Triple Goddess

The Triple Goddess is one of the two primary deities found in modern Wicca or Witchcraft. She comprises three separate goddesses united; a Maiden Goddess, a Mother Goddess and a Crone Goddess, each of which symbolises a separate stage in the female life cycle. She represents the feminine part of the religion's duotheistic system, the other part being the male Horned God - although in the tradition of Dianic Witchcraft she is the only deity worshipped. The idea of the Triple Goddess predates modern Wicca, but the "maiden, mother and crone" aspects originating with the poet Robert Graves, who described her in his 1948 book "The White Goddess." Whilst various Pagan goddesses throughout history have appeared in triadic form, none have had the "maiden, mother and crone" aspects associated with them. The Maiden represents enchantment, inception, expansion, the promise of new beginnings, birth, youth and youthful enthusiasm, represented by the waxing moon. The Mother represents ripeness, fertility, sexuality, fulfillment, stability, power and life represented by the Full Moon. The Crone represents wisdom, repose, death, and endings represented by the waxing moon. Believers claim that the echoing of a normative model of a woman's life-cycle allows women to identify with the deity in ways unreachable by what they consider to be patriarchal religions. Some feminist neo-pagans who identify themselves as Witches believe that the worship of the Triple Goddess dates to pre-Christian Europe and possibly the Paleolithic, and that their religion is a surviving remnant of ancient beliefs. They believe The Triple Goddess is an archetypal figure which appears though various different cultures and they therefore adopt the images and names of culturally divergent deities for different ritual purposes. [1]

Triquetra

Triquetra

The triquetra has been found on runestones in Northern Europe and on early Germanic coins. It presumably had Pagan religious meaning and it bears a resemblance to the Valknut, a symbol associated with Odin. The triquetra is often found in insular art, most notably metal work and in illuminated manuscripts like the Book of Kells. The fact that the triquetra very rarely stood alone in medieval Celtic has cast a reasonable doubt on its use as a symbol in context where it was used primarily as a space filler or ornament in much more complex compositions. But Celtic art lives on as both a living folk art tradition and through several revivals. This widely recognized knot has been used in for the past two centuries a sign of special things and persons that are threefold, such as Mother, Daughter and Grandmother - Maiden, Mother and Crone - Past, Present and Future. The symbol was later used by Christians as a symbol of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). This appropriation was particularly easy because the triquetra conveniently incorporated three shapes that could be interpreted as Christian symbols. A common representation of the symbol is with a circle that goes through the three interconnected loops of the Triquetra. The circle emphasizes the unity of the whole combination of the three elements. [1]

Triskele

Triskele

The triscele or triscelion has been used since ancient times in Celtic culture to symbolize the cycle of life. It has also been a symbol for the trinity since post-pagan times and medieval times in Scotland, Ireland and parts of England and Wales. As with many of the pagan myths and stories that changed during this time period so did the pagan symbols that were once part of the culture in an effort to convert the entirety of celtic culture to Christianity. The triscele also was a symbol for the three goddesses of Celtic mythology (also found in Greek mythology). There is also some debate if it came to be a symbol for wise men, leaders, scholars and people of the arts among the druids an ancients celts alike. Origins of this can be found in Brigid daughter of Dagda (Brigid is one of the three goddesses). When looking at the symbol it is clear to see that spirals move inward therefore also being cited that each spiral symbolizes strength, honor & fortitude. The Celtic symbol of three conjoined spirals may have had triple significance similar to the imagery that lies behind the triskelion. The triple spiral motif is a Neolithic symbol in Western Europe. It is carved into the rock of a stone lozenge near the main entrance of the prehistoric Newgrange monument in County Meath, Ireland. A variant of the symbol is also found, carved into the wall in the inner chamber of the Passage Tomb. Because of its Celtic associations, it is also used as a symbol of Brittany (alongside the Ermine). In the north of Spain, the triskelion is used as a symbol of Galizan and Asturian nationalists. A possibly related symbol of Germanic origin is the Valknut, and the Celtic and Germanic Triquetra. [1]

W

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Welsh Dragon

Welsh Dragon

The Welsh Dragon (known in Welsh as Y Ddraig Goch) appears on the national Flag of Wales. In the Mabinogion story Ludd and Llefelys, the red dragon fights with an invading white dragon. His pained shrieks cause women to miscarry and animals and plants to become barren. Lludd, king of Britain, goes to his wise brother Llefelys in France. Llefelys tells him to dig a pit in the centre of Britain, fill it with mead, and cover it with cloth. Lludd does this, and the dragons drink the mead and fall asleep. Lludd imprisons them, still wrapped in their cloth, in Dinas Emrys in Snowdonia (in Welsh: Eryri). The tale is taken up by Nennius in the Historia Britonium. The dragons remain at Dinas Emrys for centuries until King Vortigern tries to build a castle there. Every night the castle walls and foundations are demolished by unseen forces. Vortigern consults his advisers, who tell him to find a boy with no natural father, and sacrifice him. Vortigern finds such a boy (who is later, in some tellings, to become Merlin) who is supposed to be the wisest wizard to ever live. On hearing that he is to be put to death to solve the demolishing of the walls, the boy dismisses the knowledge of the advisors. The boy tells the king of the two dragons. Vortigern excavates the hill, freeing the dragons. They continue their fight and the red dragon finally defeats the white dragon. The boy tells Vortigern that the white dragon symbolises the Saxons and that the red dragon symbolises the people of Vortigern. If Vortigern is accepted to have lived in the fifth century, then these people are the British whom the Saxons failed to subdue and who became the Welsh. The same story is repeated in Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain, where the red dragon is also a prophecy of the coming of King Arthur. It is notable that Arthur's father was Uther Pendragon (chief dragon, erroneously translated by Geoffrey as dragon's head). Henry Tudor flew the red dragon of Cadwaldr ap Cadwallon as his banner, overlaid on a green and white field representing the Tudor House, when he marched through Wales on his way to Bosworth Field. [1]

Z

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Zia

Zia - New Mexico Flag

Zia is a sun symbol. The Zia Indians of New Mexico regard the Sun as a sacred symbol. Their symbol, a red circle with groups of rays pointing in four directions, is painted on ceremonial vases, drawn on the ground around campfires, and used to introduce newborns to the Sun. Four is the sacred number of the Zia and can be found repeated in the four points radiating from the circle. The number four is embodied in the four points of the compass (north, south, east, and west); the four seasons of the year (spring, summer, autumn and winter); the four periods of each day (morning, noon, evening and night); the four seasons of life (childhood, youth, middle years and old age); and the Zia's belief that with life comes four sacred obligations one must develop (a strong body, a clear mind, a pure spirit, and a devotion to the welfare of others). The Zia symbol is featured on the flag of New Mexico. [1]

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The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only, and does not necessarily imply complete accuracy or endorsement by Celtic Myth and Moonlight.  The information was entirely obtained from independent "third party" sources, such as Wikipedia, and is intended to be "politically neutral."  You are encouraged to continue your research using other sources of information.

Wikipedia - The free encyclopedia that anyone can edit

[1] Information obtained from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.

Green Triquetra


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