Pagan Symbols and Their Meanings
There are a lot of pagan symbols out there. Each symbol has its own interesting backstory. Here are some of the more famous pagan symbols as well as some other esoteric symbols that have become very popular in recent years.
- Triple Moon
- Eye of Horus
- Hecate's Wheel
- Setogram (Faery Star)
- Spiral Goddess
- Horned god
- Eye of Ra
- Black Sun (Schwarze Sonne)
- Helm of Awe (Ægishjálmr)
- Tree of Life
- Rod of Asclepius
- Thor's Hammer (Mjölnir)
- Flower of Life
- The All-Seeing Eye (Eye of Providence)
- Unicursal Hexagram
- Satanic Cross
The star in this symbol is used to represent the four classical elements of earth, air, water, and fire plus spirit. A circle is then placed around them to symbolize the connection and reciprocal relationship between them all. The pentacle is sometimes used on altars and in magical work to symbolize the element of earth.
The triple moon symbol represents the three phases of the moon, known as waxing, full, and waning. Within some paths and traditions, this symbol is also known as the triple goddess and is used to show the three phases of womanhood: maiden, mother, and crone.
The first crescent, the waxing moon symbolizes new life, rejuvenation, and new beginnings. The middle circle represents the full moon when magic is at its most powerful. Finally, the second crescent moon represents the moon during its waning period. This time of the moon phase is a time that is regarded as the best to send things away, remove them from your life, or to finish things.
Eye of Horus
The Eye of Horus is an ancient Egyptian symbol that is often used for protection. This symbol is also known as the Wadjet. The Eye of Horus is believed by many to have healing and protective powers as well as the ability to ward off evil spirits. Because of this, the Eye of Horus is often used to decorate protective amulets and other items. Horus was an ancient Egyptian God of the sky, and he is typically depicted as a falcon. In ancient Egyptian mythology, Horus injured his left eye during his battles with the god Set, and thus his left eye represents the waxing and waning of the moon.
This ancient Egyptian hieroglyph means life or living. Over time the ankh has come to symbolize eternal life and immortality to people from many walks of life. In ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the gods are always seen carrying an ankh, making it a symbol of divinity. This symbol is also chosen by some who wish to show that they have spiritual beliefs rather than beliefs belonging to one specific religion.
The Ankh is also known as the Egyptian Cross, or by its Latin name, crux ansata, which translates to "cross with a handle."
The symbol of Hectate's wheel is used to represent the three aspects of the goddess: maiden, mother, and crone. Hectate is a goddess in Greek mythology who is associated with crossroads, entrances, the moon, witchcraft, magic, herbs, necromancy, and sorcery.
The wheel is used to symbolize the power of knowledge and life and is a popular symbol in feminist traditions.
The triquetra has long been used to symbolize the holy trinity but predates Christianity and its use as such. This symbol has been found in Celtic and Nordic inscriptions and arts as well as on Germanic coins and Swedish runes as far back as the 11th century.
Some modern traditions use it to represent the connection between the mind, body, and soul. In Celtic-based pagan traditions, it is often used as a symbol of the three realms of earth, sea, and sky. In the past, there has been speculation that the triquetra is a symbol of the triple goddess or was used as a Celtic symbol of feminine spirituality though no solid scholarly evidence has been found to date.
The triskele is generally considered to be a Celtic design, but it has also been found within Buddhist writings. The exact design can vary, but this symbol always features one shape repeated three times, with each repetition interlocking. Triskeles can be found all over the world, for example, it can be found carved on many Neolithic stones in Ireland and Western Europe, in the symbol for the Isle of Sicily, and on bank notes in the Isle of Man.
Some Celtic traditions use the triskele to represent the realms of earth, sea, and sky.
Setogram (Faery Star)
The setogram is also known as the faery or elven star. It is used within some faerie traditions but is also associated with many other magical traditions.
Seven is a sacred number in many pagan traditions, and this star symbol can be used to represent different sets of seven things depending on a person's beliefs or tradition. These include:
- the seven Pleiades (stars)
- the seven days of the week
- the seven major Hindu chakras
- the seven classical planets (Sol, Luna, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn)
- the seven notes in a diatonic music scale (white notes)
- the seven tenants (balance, harmony, humility, learning, reincarnation, tolerance, and trust)
- the seven elements (earth, air, fire, water, above, below, and within)
The number three is commonly considered to relate to heaven and the higher realms, while the number four relates to the earth. 3 + 4 = 7 which can be seen as heaven and earth coming together as a whole.
This symbol, often used by Wiccans, is used as a sign of life. The spiral represents the ever continuing cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
The spiraling line can be seen as the constant path of life and has been found throughout history as far back as Paleolithic times, where they were carved on tombs. Spirals can also be found in many instances in nature, for example, galaxies and seashells.
Unlike a maze, you cannot get lost or trapped in a labyrinth. Despite the many twists and turns that may present themselves, there is only one way in and out. This same pattern is seen in life as no matter who a person is, the family they are born to, and the life they live, there is only one way to come into and leave this world. Due to this, the labyrinth is sometimes used as a symbol of life and death.
Air is one of the elements that are found within most pagan traditions. It is considered as the element of the East and is connected to the soul and the breath of life.
Air is one of the four classical elements that are often invoked during pagan rituals and spiritual workings. The element of air is associated with the color yellow and white, communication, wisdom, and the mind. Air can also be represented by feathers, a fan, or incense.
Earth is one of the classical elements (earth, air, fire, and air). The symbol of earth is also sometimes used to symbolize Mother Earth.
The element of earth is associated with the colors of brown and green, abundance, prosperity, and fertility.
The element of fire is regarded as strong and masculine. Although fire can destroy anything in its path, it can also be an aid to life; for example, it enables us to cook food for ourselves and keep warm through the winter.
Fire as an element is associated with the south, strong will, and energy as well as with transformation and change.
The element of water is believed to have a strong feminine connection, and so it is associated with all aspects of the goddess. The inverted triangle used to symbolize water is felt by some to symbolize the womb and is befitting with this element's feminine association.
Water is a healing and purifying element that is connected to the West. Water can be used in rituals involving love and other emotions and flowing water in nature such as a river, or the sea, can be incorporated into magical workings that focus on carrying away negativity or other unwanted aspects from your life.
The horned god is one of the many names given to the male aspects of spirituality and life, and this term most often used within the tradition of Wicca. This symbol can be used to invoke the god during rituals and other magical work.
The horned god is associated with the wilderness and virility. Some people also believe that it is the horned god that carries the souls of the dead to the underworld.
Eye of Ra
Like the Eye of Horus, this is an ancient magical symbol that is often used for protection. The Eye of Ra was painted or carved onto the boats of Egyptian fishermen in order to protect them from evil curses and harm. This symbol was also placed on Egyptian coffins so that the person would be protected in the afterlife.
Common uses for the Eye of Ra are to wear it as a talisman or amulet or to place them in and around the home in order to protect the building and occupants from harm.
Black Sun (Schwarze Sonne)
Also known as the sonnenrad, the black sun is an ancient occult symbol of European origin that was originally used to represent the cycle of the sun. The black sun was utilized by the ancient Merovingian dynasty that ruled northern France in the 5th century. At some point in time, the design was adopted as a mosaic on the floor of Wewelsburg castle, a famous Nazi base of operations for the SS. Since then it has unfortunately had neo-Nazi connotations.
Helm of Awe (Ægishjálmr)
This ancient Viking symbol is one of power and strength. In the ancient Norse texts, the helm of awe is used by the dragon Fafnir as a means to enhance his own power and invincibility.
Tree of Life
The tree of life is an ancient symbol, and it has been used in many of the world's religions. In terms of its most widespread use, many people know of the world tree mentioned in Norse mythology, Yggdrasil. The massive ash tree connects all of the different worlds and is the center of the universe in Norse mythology.
There are many other references to the concept of a tree of life in other pagan religions as well.
Used in Hinduism and Buddhism, mandala comes from a Sanskrit word literally meaning circle, and it is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point within. The symbol is meant to represent the universe, and it is used as a tool for spiritual guidance and as a way to establish a sacred space for rituals and meditation.
Rod of Asclepius
In Greek mythology, the God Asclepius, known as the god of healing and medicine, wielded a staff with a serpent coiled around it. Many health organizations use the symbol, though it is commonly confused with the caduceus, due to the similarities between the two.
The caduceus was the staff of the Greek god Hermes, and originally it did not represent healing or the medical profession. However, in many ancient cultures like the Greeks, the snake was seen as a symbol of healing. The confusion between the caduceus and the rod of Asclepius is mainly due to the US Army Medical Corps adopting the symbol as their logo in 1902.
First appearing in ancient Egyptian engravings, the Ouroboros has been used throughout ancient and medieval Europe, eventually becoming a symbol for alchemy in the early renaissance period.
The Ouroboros is a drawing of a serpent eating its own tail, and it symbolizes the eternal nature of the universe and the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. The symbol is closely associated with that of infinity, and the two are typically combined.
Thor's Hammer (Mjölnir)
Out of all the symbols used in ancient Norse mythology, Thor's Hammer is one of the most well-known in the modern world. In Viking mythology, Thor is known as the god of thunder and storms, and the defender of Asgard, where the other gods in the Norse pantheon lived.
Thor wields the hammer known as Mjölnir, a powerful weapon that would always hit its intended target. The hammer also served other ceremonial purposes such as protecting mortals, blessing marriages, and replicas of Mjölnir were used in ancient Viking rituals.
Flower of Life
This symbol has been around for thousands of years and consists of many concentric, equal, and overlapping circles. The flower represents the eternal nature of the universe and is claimed to hold the most sacred patterns of the universe.
There is much discussion as to what this symbol represents in Norse mythology as no one can really figure it out. The symbol consists of three interlocking triangles, and it was carved into ancient Viking burial stones. The god Odin, ruler of Asgard, is typically depicted along with the Valknut but beyond that, it is still unclear what the symbol actually means.
The symbols below are not associated with ancient pagan symbols, but they are used in modern occult and pagan rituals.
The All-Seeing Eye (Eye of Providence)
Also known as the Eye of Providence, this symbol consists of an eye, typically enclosed in a triangle, with rays of light surrounding it. It represents the divine providence of God watching over humanity, and it is used on the US one-dollar bill. Many conspiracy theorists believe the eye has connections to the Freemasons and other occult orders.
This six-pointed star is drawn unicursally, meaning that it is drawn in one continuous line. The hexagram represents the divine and heavenly forces of the universe. In Aleister Crowley's occult order Thelema, a five-petaled flower is placed in the middle to represent the pentacle and the five classical elements.
How many of these pagan symbols where you already aware of
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Are there any other pagan symbols with their meanings?
I think you would be able to find some using a Google image search. Try pagan symbols or book of shadows symbols. BOS symbols is another to try.Helpful 42
Does a half circle with a squiggly line above it have a Pagan meaning?
I have seen this symbol used to represent a fire or cauldron. Hope that helps.Helpful 36
Are there any Pagan symbols of wisdom and loyalty?
An owl is often used to represent wisdom. Perhaps a dog could symbolise loyalty as theu are such loyal compainions to humans? There are many Adinkra symbols from West Africa including Nyansapo, representing wisdom and Mpuannum which is used to symbolise loyalty. You can read more about Adinkra symbols on http://www.adinkra.org/Helpful 22
Is Paganism considered to be Satanism?
Although many people believe Paganism to be Satanism, they are very distinct and separate religions.Helpful 85
Are there any symbols related to magic?
There are many symbols that re related to practicing magic, for example, magic circle, goodness, the elements, besom and athame. If you search online for a book of shadows symbols (or BOS symbols), you will find many to choose from.Helpful 16
© 2012 Claire