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Pagan Symbols and Their Meanings

Updated on October 15, 2015
Goddess symbol
Goddess symbol | Source
The Pentacle is possibly the most well known but often misunderstood pagan symbol.
The Pentacle is possibly the most well known but often misunderstood pagan symbol. | Source

Pentacle

The star in this symbol is used to represent the four elements of earth, air, water and fire plus spirit. A circle is them placed around them to symbolise the connection and reciprocal relationship between them all. The pentacle is sometimes used on altars and in magical work to symbolise the element of earth.

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Triple Moon

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 symbolises new life, rejuvenation and new beginnings. The middle circle represents the full moon, when magic is at it's most powerful. Finally, the second crescent moon represents the moon during its waning period. This time of the moon phase is a that is regarded as the best to send things away, remove them from your life or to finish things.

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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.

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Ankh

This ancient Egyptian hieroglyph means life or living. Over time the ankh has come to symbolise eternal life and immortality to people from many walks of life. This symbol is also chosen by some who wish to show that they have spiritual beliefs rather than religious.

The Ankh is also known as the Egyptian Cross, or by it's Latin name, crux ansata, which translates to 'cross with a handle'.

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Hecate's Wheel

The symbol of Hectate's wheel is used to represent the three aspects of the goddess - the maiden, mother and crone. Hectate is a goddess in Greek religion and mythology associated with crossroads, entrances, the moon, witchcraft, magic, herbs, necromancy, and sorcery.

The wheel is used to symbolise the power of knowledge and life and is a popular symbol in feminist traditions.

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Triquetra

The triquetra has long been used to symbolise the holy trinity but pre-dates 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.

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Triskele

The triskelion 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 shaped repeated three times, with each repetition interlocking. Triskeles can be found all over the world, for example: 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.

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Setogram (faery Star)

The septogram is also know 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 scared number in many pagan traditions and this star symbol can be used to represent different sets of seven things depending on a persons beliefs or tradition. These include:

  • the seven Pleiades (stars)
  • the seven days of the week
  • the seven major Hindu chakras
  • the seven classical planets (sun, moon, 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.

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Spiral Goddess

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 spiralling line can been 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 instants in nature, for example: galaxies and sea shells.

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Labyrinth

Unlike amaze, 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 leave there is only one way to come into and later leave this world. Due to this the labyrinth is sometimes as a symbol of life and death.

Pagan symbol - Air
Pagan symbol - Air | Source

Air

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 colour yellow and white, communication, wisdom and the mind. Air can also be represented by feathers, a fan or incense.

Pagan symbol - Earth
Pagan symbol - Earth | Source

Earth

Earth is one of the classical elements (earth, air, fire and air). The symbol of earth is also sometimes used to symbolise Mother Earth.

The element of earth is associated with the colours of brown and green, abundance, prosperity, and fertility.

Pagan symbol - Fire
Pagan symbol - Fire | Source

Fire

The element of fire is regarded as strong and masculine. Although fire can destroy anything in it's path it can also be an aid to life, for example in enabling 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.

Pagan symbol - Water
Pagan symbol - Water | Source

Water

The element of water is believed to have a strong feminine connection and so is associated with all aspects of the goddess. The inverted triangle used to symbolise water is felt by some to symbolise the womb and so be fitting with this elements 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.

Pagan symbol - Horned God
Pagan symbol - Horned God | Source

Horned God

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.

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The Eye of Ra

Like the Eye of Horus, this is an ancient magical symbol which 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.

How many of these pagan symbols where you already aware of

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    • mcleodgi profile image

      mcleodgi 5 years ago

      Thank you for explaining it so simply (in a way that even early elementary school-aged kids can understand it:)

    • Elderberry Arts profile image
      Author

      Claire 5 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      Your very welcome. Glad it helped :)

    • melbel profile image

      Melanie Shebel 5 years ago from New Buffalo, Michigan

      This is really interesting. I've seen some of these before (the ankh and the pentacle, I've seen a lot!) I think I remember someone drawing a pentacle in the Sleepy Hollow movie with Johnny Depp. I think he thought the girl meant evil by drawing it, but she meant it as a way to protect him... or was it the evil eye? Now I don't remember! :P I've never really thought about the meaning behind these symbols, so I definitely learned a lot here! Thanks!

    • Elderberry Arts profile image
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      Claire 5 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      Your welcome :) some people view the pentacle as evil due to it's association with Satanism but they generally use an inverted pentacle.

    • Dale Hyde profile image

      Dale Hyde 5 years ago from Tropical Paradise on Planet X

      Well done and most informative to those seeking. As a Wiccan High Priest, I do wear various items that use some of these symbols for what they represent as well as how they resonate with myself. Voted up as interesting and useful.

    • Elderberry Arts profile image
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      Claire 5 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      Thank you. I feel commended to be followed by a high priest. I am looking forward to reading some of your hubs

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      All religions have different symbols associated with them and it was informative reading the ones associated with Paganism.

      Voted up/interesting.

    • Elderberry Arts profile image
      Author

      Claire 4 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      Thank you Glad you found it interesting :)

    • Spongy0llama profile image

      Jake Brannen 4 years ago from Canada

      Thank you for this. I found it fascinating! Do you suppose the Horned God is based on bulls, oxen, and other livestock, the spirits of which rural pagans have traditionally worshiped (amongst other things that kept them alive or played a significant role in daily life on the land)?

    • Elderberry Arts profile image
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      Claire 4 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      You are welcome and I think you would be right about the bulls, which of course would have been very important in times gone by. The ancient Egyptians also had bull gods.

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      DArlene 4 years ago

      I found a candle holder with 3 black Egyptian cats with symbols and I can't seem to find the meaning of the symbols and why this holder came to me. Can you help

    • Elderberry Arts profile image
      Author

      Claire 4 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      I would be happy to try. Can you email me a photo of the holder to elderberryarts@ymail.com and I will take a look :)

    • Thundermama profile image

      Catherine Taylor 4 years ago from Canada

      I learned a lot from this hub and really enjoyed it. You are a fabulous resource for Pagan wisdom.

    • Elderberry Arts profile image
      Author

      Claire 4 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      Thank you :)

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      What a great guide to common symbols. So many people have the wrong idea about so many symbols. Excellent hub!

    • Elderberry Arts profile image
      Author

      Claire 3 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      Thank you

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      Deborah Sexton 3 years ago

      Nice Hub. Many people think these symbols have something to do with the devil. Jewish people have the star of David which was David's shield and stands for the six days of creation and the very center is the seventh day of rest. It is also accused of belonging to the devil.

    • Elderberry Arts profile image
      Author

      Claire 3 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      Thank you. I did not know that about the star of David.

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      Deborah Sexton 3 years ago

      You're welcome. I Love your hub.

    • Lyn.Stewart profile image

      Lyn.Stewart 3 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

      Enjoyed reading your hub

    • jamesjohnbell profile image

      James John Bell 3 years ago from Union, Washington

      Nice short descriptions of some of the modern pagan symbolism. The triquetra was used in the 1970s as one of the core symbols for the Aquarian or 'new age' movement and is used still currently in a subtle way to indicate allegiance to those ideas to the baby boomer generation familiar with the symbol. Specifically the pro new age book The Aquarian Conspiracy made the symbol popular by having it be the core image on the book's cover (which is still in print and has been translated into just about every major language). The book promotes the idea that people in all walks of life who hold new age beliefs need to find ways to covertly communicate with others, i.e. engage in the 'conspiracy' in a positive sense, to insert new age ideas into culture at every opportunity, from Hollywood films to the education system to public policy, etc. Many famous people, like VP Al Gore, are on record as having been influenced by the book.

    • Elderberry Arts profile image
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      Claire 3 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      Thank you for your interesting comment and the additional information. I would think that the internet has had a huge impact on the ability to share information and teach/inform others. I know that I have learnt so much and met with people I would not have had the opportunity too if it had not been for the internet.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Elderberry Arts,

      Nice read here. Very well-written. Professional usage of graphics and text. I admire your talent. I cordially invite you to visit my hubs, read one or two, and be one of my followers. I would love that.

      Best of everything to you.

      Kenneth/ from northwest Alabama.

    • Elderberry Arts profile image
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      Claire 3 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      Thank you for your kind comments and I will poop over and have a read of yours too

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      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago

      Hi, Elderberry Arts . . . thank you for your kind act of reading one or two of my hubs. That is very appreciated. You have a safe, successful day. Your Friend, KENNETH

    • sanjay-sonawani profile image

      Sanjay Sonawani 3 years ago from Pune, India.

      Good article. Triskele is found on Kuru Janpada coins (India) also from 4th century BC. Triskele represented their identity of Kuru region. Whether the symbols spread from one place to another is an issue of debate, but it throws light on the ancient mind sets. Thanks.

    • Elderberry Arts profile image
      Author

      Claire 3 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      Thank you for the extra information and kids comment.

    • profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago

      Elderberry Arts,

      I wish for you , a happy and safe day. I wish that you would would become one of my followers.

      This would make my day.

      Kenneth

    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 2 years ago from Tennesee

      I found this a very enjoyable introductory article on the subject! Simple enough for children to understand and historically sound. Good job!

    • Elderberry Arts profile image
      Author

      Claire 2 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      Thank you for your comment and glad you liked my hub :D

    • social thoughts profile image

      social thoughts 2 years ago from New Jersey

      I like the concise manner in which you wrote this. I knew most of them, but I only work with some of them. It's always good to learn more! Thanks for sharing your knowledge. :) Blessed be!

    • Elderberry Arts profile image
      Author

      Claire 2 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      You are very welcome. Blessed Be.

    • Mel92114 profile image

      Mel92114 2 years ago

      Wonderful article. Very, very well done and so informative. I love so many of these symbols and several are near and dear to me. Fantastic work!

    • Elderberry Arts profile image
      Author

      Claire 2 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      Thank you for your kind comment. Glad you enjoyed my hub.

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      Pagan Lightseeker 2 years ago

      Very well done. I've landed twice on your site now while looking for information on Pagan Spiritualism. Thanks you for taking the time to put this together for those that are seeking.

    • Elderberry Arts profile image
      Author

      Claire 2 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      You are very welcome. Pleased you found it useful. Good luck on your journey.

    • Niko Linni profile image

      Niko Linni 2 years ago from Long Beach, California

      Very interesting! I've seen a few of these symbols around but didn't really know much about them. This'll be a handy reference.

    • Elderberry Arts profile image
      Author

      Claire 2 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      I am happy that it helped you.

    • Joy56 profile image

      Joy56 2 years ago

      Such an interesting hub.

    • profile image

      Eric 2 years ago

      Thanks, I saw the Ankh in a dream around my fiancé, and I was trying to determine where I've seen it before. Great page.

    • profile image

      Lisa 18 months ago

      Awesome information!!! I've been looking for this and finally stumbled here. Thanks for sharing!!!

    • Elderberry Arts profile image
      Author

      Claire 18 months ago from Surrey, Uk

      You're welcome. Glad it helped.

    • profile image

      Pamela Spillmon 14 months ago

      I am interested in learnering more about wicca and paganism and what is the difference between them. I was raised church of christ and was forced to go but never felt right about it like I was lost and didn't agree with what they said but feel like I am looking for something that is more and really feel like I belong there and apart of..

    • profile image

      Ross 5 months ago

      I love all this stuff and I'm copying all these symbols into a blank book so I can memorise them and gain more knowledge on witchcraft and paganism. I'm upsessed with magic so this is AMAZING

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 6 weeks ago from Oakley, CA

      Most interesting. I knew some of the actual symbols, but not all of their meanings or history. It was interesting to learn those bits.

    • Elderberry Arts profile image
      Author

      Claire 6 weeks ago from Surrey, Uk

      Great to hear that you enjoyed my hub. I hope your journey into paganism is going well.

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