A look at some common symbols and their meanings

As I was reading one of my many new books, it occurred to me that looking at some common symbols and their meanings would be a good blog post. After all, those of us who are studying Wicca or anything Pagan are familiar with most of these to some extent, and we know generally what they mean and can interpret things based on the context they appear in. Non-practitioners, however, are at a distinct disadvantage. Wicca is a faith that relies on symbols, so to understand the faith, one must understand the symbols.

Here are six common symbols and their meanings. These, and many others, will sometimes appear embellished with Celtic knot work, or other symbols of the faith. (See pentagram pictures below.) Also, rune symbols are a means of communication in and of themselves.

 

The pentagram is perhaps the most recognizable symbol of Wicca. It represents the five elements: earth, air, fire, water and spirit, with the outer circle binding them together. Ironically enough, in early Christianity, the star minus the circle was sometimes used to represent the five wounds of Christ, and that’s not the only non-Pagan place that the pentagram has prominence. The pentagram at right with the brooms drawing the five points is an example of using another symbol to further enhance meaning and power.

 

Now the upside down circle pentagram. Despite common misconceptions, turning the pentagram upside down does change its meaning. This is commonly used as a symbol of Satanism and like faiths. It is sometimes drawn with a goat’s head in the center, and is translated as the “pit” or “void” in Christian terminology. It’s also a common symbol of rebellion in general.

 

The Triple Moon Goddess is one of my favorites. It represents the three phases of life that girls and women go through: the crescent moon at left is the Maiden, the full moon the Mother, and the crescent at right the Crone. This is a popular symbol among the more Goddess-based because of its feminine-affirming nature. The image at left is another variation of the same symbol.

 

The triquetra [trahy-kwee-truh] is a Celtic knot symbol that represents three-fold things, such as karma, and is also another symbol of the triple Goddess aspect. It sometimes represents the unity of mind, body and soul, again a three-fold principle. It, like the pentagram, is a popular symbol of Wicca.

 

The ankh [angk] is generally more of a Pagan symbol than a Wiccan one. It was the ancient Egyptian hieroglyph for “eternal life” and today symbolizes the key to life, or the key to the Nile. Many Egyptian gods were pictured with the ankh painted on their chests.

 

This is the symbol of Dianic Wicca, a specific tradition of Wicca that derives its name from the Roman Goddess of the hunt and the moon. Dianic Wicca is largely a female-practitioner movement that focuses solely on worship of the Goddess and feminism as a whole.

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About Ayslyn'sCorner

I am an eclectic Pagan bordering on atheist who has made her way through a number of different spiritual spaces. You might wonder what a person self-identifying as an atheist has to discuss in a religion/spiritual context – and, well, so do I. That’s one of the things I aim to explore on Ayslyn's Corner. Check out Ayslyn's Corner at http://www.ayslynscorner.wordpress.com Check out Invisible Ink Blog at http://www.whitneycarter.wordpress.com Check out wombs in rebellion at http://wombsinrebellion.wordpress.com/
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8 Responses to A look at some common symbols and their meanings

  1. Good post. But I would like to correct your assumption about the inverted pentegram. While it is used in satanic religions this is not what is symbolises. The pentegram symbolises the 4 eliments (which make up the body) and the 5th eliment, (Spirit, the soul or the mind). The upright pentegram symbolises enlightenment (putting spirit above the body. Whereas the inverted penagram symbolises earthly gain or physical needs (putting the body before the spirit). Neither symbol is good or bad and neither is the symbol of satanic religion. An inverted pentegram may be used in Wiccan magic for example in healing magic where your concern is the body rather than the spirit.
    However the sigil of baphomet (an inverted pentegram with a goats head in the middle) is singularily a symbol of satanic religion and should not be confused with the inverted pentegram itself.
    Blessed be,
    Lucifervulus Sa’kagé.

  2. Luc,

    Thanks for the comment, I was feeling around in the dark on that one, but I wanted to include it since it’s kind of common. I don’t know anyone who wears an inverted pentagram, so I didn’t have any first-hand sources for the meaning, only internet definitions. And you and I both know how faulty those can be, especially when dealing with Wicca and paganism.

    • lucifervulus says:

      You’re not wrong there, the internet has lead me astray many a time. Wikipedia once told me that the atomic weight of Carbon is “ya mama”.
      I don’t think you would find many pagans who wear an inverted pentegram, as paganism is largely about putting your spirt first before your body. But it can be used in magic

  3. Witchy_Girl says:

    Another thing I would say about the inverted pentegram is that in traditional Wicca, it is used as a sign of a second degree initiate (I had to research this for a blog entry, which is how I found out.). Apart from that, a great post!

  4. byronycoffin says:

    Hello Dear I just wanted to say that I’ve been looking for different symbols of Wicca and Pagan sigils. I had a lot of things I’d been looking for. I am trying to learn as much as possible if you have any more common symbols for Wiccan’s and Pagan’s I’d love to see them. Please contact me if you’d like to work together on this project. I have a book with a few more symbols in it but there are only six of them so it was kind of a waste but any knowledge for me if not wasted. Thank you so much for your post I enjoy learning what things meanl. I have a huge tapestry of the tripple goddess in my bedroom covering my window and a celestial tapestry hanging over my bed. I think they are beautiful. I hope to read more from you soon. Brightest Blessings. Byrony

    • I’m glad my symbols page has helped you out. I do try every once in a while to update the page and add more images, do you might want to check back every once in a while and see if there are anymore. 🙂

  5. Wiccan_Angel says:

    Nice. 🙂

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