Tag Archives: symbols

Symbols {108} ~ Eye Of Providence

An ancient symbol of omniscience and divine providence, the Eye of Providence represents the eye of God, the singular divine power that has created the entire universe. The symbol shows a human eye enclosed in a triangle. In Christianity, the triangle represents the Holy Trinity and as such, the Eye of Providence symbolizes the divine entity looking over humankind and providing it benevolent guidance.

At times, the Eye is also depicted as surrounded by clouds or bursts of light. Both of these images are representative of holiness and divine glory and so, here too, the symbol signifies that the Almighty is keeping a watchful eye on His creation.

Contrary to these beliefs, there are some people who believe the symbol to represent the eye of Lucifer or Satan whose supernatural powers influence what happens in the world.

Besides being prevalent in Christianity, this concept of ‘All-seeing eye’ can be found in several other religions and cultures. For instance, the Buddhists refer to it as the ‘Eye of the World’; in Caodaism, it represents the image of God; and the Egyptian revere the Eye of Horus as a symbol of power and protection.

Symbols {107} ~ Heart

The Heart symbol is universally seen as a quintessential representation of love, especially (though not solely) of romantic love. It signifies both physical and eternal love. Various cultures through the ages have associated the symbol with affection, compassion, joy, and charity. It has also found ritualistic use in ceremonies of yore performed for strengthening relationships.

The use of the symbol goes far back in history and has even been found on ancient Roman coins. There is a lot of ambiguity about the origin of the Heart symbol as it has only a remote resemblance to the human body organ it represents. In fact, it is largely believed to have been derived from the shape of the seedpod of silphium, an herb popular among the Romans as a contraceptive. Another belief has the symbol originating from the shape of leaves, typically ivy leaves. The Greeks associated ivy with God Dionysus, the god of passion, wine, and other sensual things. Perhaps, this later led the Heart symbol to be connected with romantic love. The longevity and resilience of the ivy vine are also seen as symbolic of eternal love.

Some people link the Heart symbol with an upside-down triangle and associate it with the divine feminine power. The inverted triangle also symbolizes the Water element, which makes the Heart a sign of intuition, psychic perception, emotion, transition, and motion.

Symbols {106} ~ Cross Of Tau

The Cross of Tau symbol derives its name from the Greek letter that it resembles. Its T shape was believed to represent an ancient form of the crucifix. The Cross of Tau was also regarded as a symbol of salvation due to the connection between the tau and the Biblical mark placed on the forehead of the people destined to be saved, as mentioned in Ezekiel 9:4 (וְהִתְוִיתָ תָּו עַל־מִצְחֹות הָאֲנָשִׁי “set a mark on the forehead of the men”). A related theory compares the tau with the shape formed by the hands of Moses in Exodus 17:11.

Also known as St. Anthony’s Cross, the Advent Cross, and Saint Francis’ Cross, the Cross of Tau are associated with the most prominent saints in the Catholic faith. St. Anthony wore a tau-shaped cross on his cloak. St. Francis of Assisi adopted it as a personal emblem and used the tau to decorate the doors and walls of whatever home he was staying at. He also used it as his signature.

Outside of Christianity, the Cross of Tau is a symbol of immortality. The Chaldeans and Egyptians viewed it as a representation of Tammuz, the Sumerian god of death and resurrection. During baptism ceremonies, it was marked on the recipient’s forehead by the pagan priest.

Symbols {105} ~ Kartika

In Vajrayana Buddhism, the Kartika is a small, crescent-shaped knife used in burial ceremonies. As a symbol, it represents the cutting away of all material and worldly aspects of one’s existence, including the human body, which is why it is often depicted in the right hand of Yamantaka, the destroyer of death.

The Kartika is crowned with a vajra (a club with a spherical head), which demolishes ignorance and ushers in enlightenment. The hook incorporated into the design traditionally represents the hook of compassion from Tibetan Buddhist imagery: it pulls the soul out of the endless cycles of transmigration. The crescent-shaped knife slashes apart the ego, allowing one to access and appreciate the clarity and insights symbolized by the Vajra. The goddess of trauma, Vajrayogini, is depicted in traditional iconography with a Kartika in one hand and the kapala, or ‘skull cup’ in the other. In this context, the curved knife represents the way that the ultimate insight cuts away the ignorance of conventional wisdom, while the skull-cup, which is full of wisdom nectar, reminds mankind of its impermanence. In the Tibetan practice of Chöd, the practitioner uses the Kartika as an implement in a ceremony that seeks to understand the infinite. It is also an important component in the Tibetan sky burial ritual, which cuts the body of a deceased person into small pieces and leaves it on top of specially designed burial platforms. The message is that the body is inconsequential in the general scheme of things.

Symbols {104} ~ Day & Night

Through the ages, celestial happenings and natural phenomenon have been used to symbolize important thoughts and concepts. The cyclical occurrence of day and night was one of the things occurring in nature that was believed to hold specific meaning. While different civilizations had different day & night symbols to record the passage of time, Day and Night, by themselves, were thought to have strong symbolic meanings.

The recurring phenomenon of day and night was always considered very meaningful as it was believed that the survival of human species depended majorly on synchronizing the bodily and mental functions with the peculiar demands of day & night.

The Day and the Night seem to present two entirely different worlds. Day and night changes even seem to have biological effects on mankind. The creatures that are aggressive, alert and seeking in the day become quiet and inactive at night. The dramatic contrast presented by Day and Night is equated with the disparity between life and death, light and darkness, consciousness and unconsciousness.

Day and Night symbolize, respectively, the birth of the Sun and its death. With the rising Sun, the Day is considered representative of new life, and fresh beginnings, possibilities, hopes, and opportunities. It also symbolizes the active, masculine principle and the rise of consciousness.

Symbols {103} ~ Rub El Hizb

Rub El Hizb is essentially the Islamic version of the eight-pointed star, an icon that is found in several spiritual traditions all over the world. The Rub el Hizb is formed by two overlapping squares with one square titled over the other to make an eight-vertex, star-shaped geometrical figure. The symbol often has a small circle in the middle.

According to some historians, the origin of Rub el Hizb can be traced to Tartessos, which was a civilization that existed in Andalusia (a region in Spain) around the 11th century BCE to 6th century BCE. The region was ruled for about eight centuries by Islamic dynasties and it had the eight-pointed star as its unofficial symbol.

The Rub el Hizb symbol is used in Arabic calligraphy to mark the end of a chapter. Its most familiar use is found within the Muslims’ holy book, the Quran, where the symbol is used for the division of the text into passages. Coming from the Arabic terms, ‘rub’ that means a quarter/one-fourth and ‘Hizb’ that means a group/party, ‘Rub el Hizb’ can be translated to denote ‘divided into quarters’.

Symbols {102} ~ Theosophy

Theosophy refers to the ancient, esoteric knowledge that seeks to answer the biggest questions in life. Sometimes called ‘ageless wisdom’, it offers an insight into the mysteries of the origin of this universe and purpose of all creation in the world. It helps in comprehension of the concepts of humanity and divinity and assists in understanding the ties that inter-connect everything in the universe and unite humanity with the divine.

The term ‘theosophy’ is derived from the Greek words ‘Theos’ and ‘Sophia’, which literally translate into ‘God’s wisdom’. So, theosophy means knowledge and understanding of the divine matters. Theosophists dedicate their energies towards examining and analyzing the universe, nature, divinity, and humanity as well as their reciprocal effects on each other. By doing so, they strive to discover the divine truths and experience self-realization.

The use of the term ‘theosophy’ as a synonym for theology (the rational study of the concepts related to God) has been seen as far back as the third century. Modern theosophy began in the sixteenth century in Germany. Interest in it grew stronger and spread far and wide over the centuries. The late nineteenth century saw the emergence of theosophical initiate societies such as The Theosophical Society founded in 1875 by Helena Blavatsky and others, and The Esoteric Society founded by Helena Blavatsky.

The popularity of Blavatsky’s ideas spawned several organizations that came to be regarded as new religious movements. However, theosophy is believed to present only the perennial wisdom that underlies all the philosophies, religions and sciences in the world. Its basic premise is that everything originates from the same eternal source; all mankind is one spiritual family and a compassionate way of living, free of religious and other antagonisms, can ensure a glorious future for humanity.

Symbols {101} ~ Ogham

Ogham is a Celtic alphabet dating back to the fourth century. It is supposed to have originated among the Celtic tribes that migrated from the continent to Britain. The Celtic oracular alphabet is believed to be named for the Celtic God of communication and knowledge, Ogmos who was associated with the Greek Hermes and the Gaulish Ogmios.

The Ogham alphabet consists of twenty characters and each one is assigned a tree that was held sacred by the Druids. Thus, each Ogham letter represents a particular tree and the attribute, feeling or essence that tree symbolizes. All of these simple characters are drawn using one to five angled or straight lines that are incised on a straight (vertical or horizontal) baseline.

The use of the Ogham alphabet has never been very clear. Though there is no actual documentation to prove the symbols’ original use, the Druids, NeoPagans, and Wiccans use them as divination tools. The ancient Celts were spiritually progressive people who connected intensely with nature. Through the Ogham alphabet, they intertwined their writing system into communion with nature and used it for soulful reflection on the cosmic expressions manifest in the sacred trees.

Knowledge of Ogham is thought to have passed down the generations orally until the medieval times. The Book of Lecan (1416), Book of Ballymote (1391) and Book of Leinster (12th century) are some medieval manuscripts that record the use of Ogham as an alphabet system. The Ogham letters were usually inscribed on trees, sticks, and stakes. However, the writing’s surviving traces are in the form of stone inscriptions, generally on road markers and tombstones. Most of these have been found in the British Isles, in Wales and Southern Ireland. Some have also been discovered in places as far as Portugal and Spain.

Symbols {100} ~ Maat

Maat (also known as Ma’at, Mayet or Maae’t) is the Egyptian Goddess symbolizing cosmic order, truth, justice, morality, harmony, stability, and balance. Depicted as a woman wearing an ostrich feather on the head, and holding an ankh in one hand and a scepter in the other, the Goddess is said to be the daughter of Sun God, Ra and the consort of the Moon God, Thoth. Maat was revered even by the Gods.

The Goddess is symbolically represented by an Ostrich Feather. It is a strong Egyptian belief that after death, the dead are judged in the Hall of Maat, where their conscience (heart) is weighed against the feather. A heart heavier than the feather denoted a life of wicked deeds and such a soul would be devoured by Goddess Ammit, while balanced scales indicated an honorable life and such a soul would be welcomed by God Osiris.

Besides being venerated as a deity, Maat is also embraced as a concept or principle that keeps the universe in order and without which everything would perish. The ancient Egyptians thought that Maat bound the universe, nature, and man in unity. They believed that truthfulness, honesty, fair dealings and correct ritual & public life was necessary to create cosmic harmony. Not adhering to the Maat principles would cause a disturbance in this harmony and plunge all creation into chaos.