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.