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Magic Spell Symbols

Symbols are integral parts of our everyday lives. Sigils and their meanings, through the many formats, shapes, sizes, and appearances are used in a variety of ways to assist us in navigating through not only our days, but also through times of joy and sadness. What follows is a list of some of the most popular symbols, signs, sigils (or siglia) that are frequently encountered.

ALCHEMY

alchemy mystical symbolAlchemy combined a wide variety of geometric shapes to represent the various natural and esoteric "elements" needed for its science, spells, medicine and magic.

ALL-SEEING EYE

all seeing eye version 2A universal symbol representing spiritual sight, inner vision, higher knowledge, and insight into occult mysteries.

EYE IN TOP TRIANGLE OF THE PYRAMID

all seeing eye in pyramidMasonic symbol for the all-seeing eye of god.

AMULET

ancient magic amuletA magic charm, worn to bring good luck and protection against illness, accidents and evil forces.

ANGEL

angelSymbol of good and evil spirits in religions around the world.

ANKH

image of an ankhAn Egyptian cross symbolizing a mythical eternal life, rebirth, and the life-giving power of the sun.

ARROW

arrowThrough history, the arrow has symbolized war, power, swiftness, the rays of the sun, knowledge... as well as deities such as the Greek god Apollo and goddess Artemis (both hunters), the Hindu weather god, Rudra; and various gods of sexual attraction: Eros (Greek), Cupid (Roman), Kama (Hindu)... On ancient Roman coins, it represented the Zoroastrian god, Mithra. The native American Cheyenne warriors revered the "sacred medicine arrows" as symbols of male power. Arrows held by skeletons would point to disease or death. Today, they usually just point in the preferred direction.

BAT

image of a bat animalA symbol of good fortune in the East, it represented demons and spirits in medieval Europe.

BLAIR WITCH

blair witchA five-pointed compound symbol with a center triangle (see below) pointing down. The five lines resemble the microcosmic man with arms and legs outstretched inside a circle (with a pentagram in the background)— a magic symbol or charm among medieval alchemists and wizards. Popularized in the Hollywood movie "The Blair Witch Project" released in 1999.

BUTTERFLY

butterflyTo many pagans, its mythical meaning is linked to the soul (of the deceased) in search of reincarnation.

CIRCLE (sacred hoop, ring)

circleAn ancient and universal symbol of unity, wholeness, infinity, the goddess, and female power. To earth-centered religions throughout history, as well as to many contemporary pagans, it represents the feminine spirit or force, the cosmos or a spiritualized Mother Earth, and a sacred space. Gnostic traditions linked the unbroken circle to the "world serpent" forming a circle as it eats its own tail.

CIRCLE with a DOT (BINDU) in the center

circle dotIn the complex symbolic system of Hinduism and Buddhism, the bindu (dot) represents the male force. Together, the circle and the bindu symbolize the merging of male and female forces. (See "Sun Sign" below and "Circle" above)

CIRCLE (quartered)

circle quarteredThe sacred circle filled with a cross, four equal lines pointing from the center to the spirits of the north, east, south, and west—or to the basic element: earth, water, air (or wind), and fire. In Native American traditions, it forms the basic pattern of the MEDICINE WHEEL and plays a vital part in major spiritual rituals. Many contemporary pagans consider it their main symbol for transmitting the energy of the goddess. Christian churches have used variations of the same popular shape, usually calling it the Celtic Cross.

COMPASS (Masonic)

masonic compassThe Masonic symbol of the compass and the T-square represents movement toward perfection and a balance between the spiritual and physical which resembles Egyptian and oriental mysticism. The compass (used to form circles) represents spirit. The ruler (part of a square) represents the physical.

COW

cowIt symbolized the sky goddess Hathor to Egyptians, enlightenment to Buddhists, one of the highest and holiest stages of transmigration (reincarnation) to Hindus.

CRESCENT MOON

crescent moonA symbol of the aging goddess (crone) to contemporary witches and victory over death to many Muslims. In Islamic lands, crescent can be seen enclosing a lone pentagram.

CROSS

crossChristians believe that Jesus accepted crucifixion on a cross for the benefit of us all. This has not always been the case however. Christians didn't use the cross as their religious symbol for many generations after Christ was crucified. Rather than being a Christian symbol it had associations with executioners.

Initially, Christians adopted the fish symbol to identify their religion. Then, early in the fourth century, when execution by crucifixion was abolished by Emperor Constantine and Christianity became the state religion of Rome, the cross became the emblem for Christians.

The cross is used extensively in black magic and in many religions.

The Cross has been used to torture, to threaten whole civilizations, yet used as jewelry and sometimes worshipped. It has associations with an illegal psychedelic 1960s drug, SARS, BSE and bird flu, hatred and despair, love, valour and heroism, World War I, World War II, the Crusades, mythology, Satan, and salvation.

CROSS (IRON or EISERNAS KREUZ)

iron crossAlso called Mantuan or Maltese cross. First linked to an ancient goddess temple on Malta, it was adopted as the Iron Cross in Prussia. During the First World War, it appeared on German fighter planes and tanks. Later, it became a fascist symbol in France, Portugal and other nations.

CRYSTAL BALL

crystal ballUsed for divination (fortunetelling, scrying, clairvoyance...). When the heavy crystal balls were too expensive, witches often used glass-ball fishing floats, colored glass balls, or magic mirrors.

DOUBLE-HEADED EAGLE

double headed eagleA Masonic seal and initiation symbol. The number inside the pyramid over the eagle's head is 33. The eagle is a universal symbol representing the sun, power, authority, victory, the sky gods and the royal head of a nation.

DRAGON

dragonA mythical monster made up of many animals: serpent, lizard, bird, lion... It may have many heads and breath fire. To mediaeval Europe, it was dangerous and evil, but people in Eastern Asia believe it has power to help them against more hostile spiritual forces.

DREAMCATCHER

dreamcatcherAn American Indian magic spider web inside a sacred circle. After making dreamcatchers in crafts lessons in school, many children hang them on or near their beds as it is believed that dreamcatchers will block bad dreams but allow good dreams to pass through the center.

ELEMENTS

elementsThe four basic elements to many pagans are earth, water, air (wind or spirit) and fire. Many consider the first two passive and feminine—and the last two active and masculine. In Wiccan or Native American rituals, the "quartered circle" (similar to the Medicine Wheel) represents a "sacred space" or the sacred earth. The four lines may represent the spirits of the four primary directions or the spirits of the earth, water, wind and fire.

EYE OF HORUS

eye of ra or horusIt represents the eye of Egyptian sun-god Horus who lost an eye battling Set. Pagans use it as a charm to ward off evil.

FROG

frogA symbol of fertility to many cultures. The Romans linked it to Aphrodite, the Egyptian to the shape-shifting goddess Heket who would take the form of a frog. To the Chinese, it symbolized the moon—"the lunar, yin principle" bringing healing and prosperity. Since frogs need watery places, their image was often used in occult rain charms.

HEXAGRAM or SIX-POINTED STAR

hexagramWhen surrounded by a circle, it represents the "divine mind" to many occult groups throughout the centuries. Many still use it in occult rituals. But to Jewish people, it is their Star of David.

ITALIAN HORN

italian hornAlso called the Cornu, Cornicello, Wiggly Horn, Unicorn horn, Lucifer's horn, or Leprechaun staff. The ancient magical charm or amulet worn in Italy as protection against "evil eye" has also been linked to Celtic and Druid myths and beliefs. Other traditions link it to sexual power and good luck. It is often worn with a cross for double protection or luck. In pre-Christian Europe, animal horns pointed to the moon goddess and were considered sacred.

LIGHTNING BOLT

lightning boltIn ancient mythologies from many cultures (Norse, Roman, Greek, Native American, etc.) the lighting bolt would be hurled by male sky gods to punish, water, or fertilize the earth or its creatures. Navaho myths linked it to the Thunderbird, the symbol of salvation and divine gifts. On children's toys, it represents supernatural power. Double bolts were used to symbolize Nazi power.

LIZARD

lizardIts "sun-seeking habit symbolizes the soul's search for awareness." To the Romans, who believed it hibernated, the lizard meant death and resurrection.

MAGIC MIRROR

magic mirrorUsed for "scrying" (foretelling the future, solve problems, answering questions, etc.). They are often decorated with "magic signs" during full moon rituals. Rosemary Ellen Guiley explains: "The ancient art of clairvoyance achieved by concentrating upon an object—usually one with a shiny surface-- until visions appear... The term scrying comes from the English words descry which means 'to make out dimly' or 'to reveal'."

MANDALA

mandalaThe Hindu term for "circle". In Hindu and Buddhist meditations, it is used to raise consciousness. In meditation, the person fixes his or her mind on the center of the "sacred circle." Geometric designs are common. The center of some mandalas show a triangle with a bindu (dot) inside a circle. It represents the merging of male and female forces.

MASONS (Freemasons)

masonic compassThe Masonic symbol of the compass and the T-square represents movement toward perfection and a balance between the spiritual and physical which resembles Egyptian and oriental mysticism. The compass (used to form circles) represents spirit. The ruler (part of a square) represents the physical.

PEACE SYMBOL or NERO'S CROSS

Nero Peace CrossA broken, upside-down cross. To Roman emperor Nero, who hated and persecuted the early Christians, it meant destruction of Christianity. Revived in the sixties as a sign for peace, it now symbolizes a utopian hope for a new age of global peace and earth-centered unity.

PENTACLE or PENTAGRAM

pentacle 2A standard symbol for witches, Freemasons, and many other pagan or occult groups. To witches, it represent the four basic elements (wind, water, earth and fire) plus a pantheistic spiritual being such as Gaia or Mother Earth. The pentagram is also used for protection. to banish evil energy or to draw positive energy, depending on how it's drawn."

PENTAGRAM (FIVE-POINTED STAR pointing down)

FIVE-POINTED STAR down pointing pentagramUsed in occult rituals to direct forces or energies. Often represents Satanism, the horned god, or various expressions of contemporary occultism, especially when a goat-head is superimposed on the inverted pentagram.

SPIRAL

spiralLinked to the "circle". Ancient symbol of the goddess, the womb, fertility, feminine serpent force, continual change, and the evolution of the universe.

SQUARE

squareIn contrast to the circle which often symbolizes the sacred and spiritual (including the sacred earth), the square represents the physical world. Like the quartered circle, it points pagans to the four compass directions: north, east, south and west. While the circle and "spiral" symbolize female sexuality in many earth-centered cultures, the square represents male qualities.

SUN GOD FACE

sun god faceThe sun face is a symbol that has been central to most major spiritual systems throughout history. Since the sun god usually reigned over a pantheon of lesser gods. His symbol played a vital part in pagan worship (and in the rituals of occult secret societies) around the world. In Inca myths, the sun was worshipped as the divine ancestor of the nation. The sun was worshipped as a personified, life-giving deity in Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and other major civilizations of history. The more common symbol is the familiar face in the center of the sun's rays. A dot or point in the center of a circle symbolizes the blending of male and female forces. Hindus call the midpoint in a circle the bindu - the spark of masculine life within the cosmic womb.

SUN & MOON JOINED AS ONE

sun and moon joined as oneA universal pagan expression of the merging of opposites. Like the "Yin Yang" (below), the marriage of the male sun and the female moon represents unity in diversity, compromise instead of conflict, and conformity to a new consciousness where all is one.

SUN WHEEL or RING CROSS

sun wheelA universal symbol found on ancient slabs in Nordic countries, in pre-Columbian America and in Mediterranean countries. The sun wheel represents power and supremacy. It serves as a logo for the Swedish national socialist party, Nordiska Rikspartiets, and for the French Jeune Nation.

TONGUE (protruding)

tongueLinked to flame, fire, fertility, sexual power and spiritual power. In nations around the world, images of deities or masks with protruding tongues have indicated active and occupying spiritual forces, often a union of masculine and feminine spirits. Such images were vital to pagan rituals invoking spirits. The sexual/spiritual forces represented by gargoyles with protruding tongues which adorned Gothic cathedrals were believed to protect the buildings from other spiritual powers.

TRIANGLE

triangleAssociated with the number three. Pointing upwards, it symbolizes fire, male power and God. To Christians, it often represents the Trinity. Pointing down, it symbolizes water, female sexuality, goddess religions, and homosexuality.

UNICORN

unicornTo many New Agers, it means power, purification, healing, wisdom, self-knowledge, renewal and eternal life. Origin: In the 4th century BC, Greek historian Ctesias told about a wild animal with healing powers and a spiral horn on its forehead. Medieval myths suggested it could only be caught with help from a virgin who would befriend it.

OUROBOROS

ouroborosThe "circular" serpent biting its own tail represents eternity and the cycles or "circle of life." Medieval alchemists linked it to the cyclical processes in nature.

WHEEL

wheelA universal symbol of cosmic unity, astrology, "the circle of life," evolution, etc. The pagan sacred circle plus any number of radiating spokes or petals form the wheel - a Wheel of Life to Buddhists, a Medicine Wheel to Native Americans, a Mandala to Hindus. It symbolizes unity, movement, the sun, the zodiac, reincarnation, and earth's cycles of renewal. Pagans use it in astrology, magic, and many kinds of rituals.

WISHBONE

wishboneCivilizations dating back to the 4th Century (Etruscans, Rome, Britain, America) have held turkey or chicken wishbone contests. Pulling the dry turkey or chicken bone until it snapped ("lucky break"), they believing the winner's wish or dream would come true. Today, many believe that this symbol will "catch" their dreams, bring good luck, and make their wishes come true. As in contemporary witchcraft or magic, the object becomes a channel of "good" energy. Astrology and horoscopes link it to Sagittarius. It might also be confused with the Lambda (looks like a lower case, upside-down "y"), the Greek letter adopted by the International Gay Rights Congress in 1974 as the global symbol of homosexual "pride".

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