From The Bench

Magic Symbols: A Xinar Guide to Magical Symbols

Numerous sigils and magic symbols are used in the metaphysical world, and most symbols have no meaning to anyone outside the community. Many signs and magic symbols are used in different witchcraft communities, too. These magic symbols include pentacles, sigils, and emblems.

You can find many symbols in Xinar’s extensive collections of 925 sterling silver charms.

Various talisman marks, magic squares, and magic alphabets are found in ceremonial or ritual magic. Voodoo uses vevers, and alchemy has its own set of symbols. There are a lot of fascinating secrets to be uncovered, from popular zodiac signs to Dutch hex signs.

According to Carl G. Jung, the purpose of religious symbols is “to give meaning to the life of man.

Magic symbolism revolves around more than just using magic symbols in a practical sense.

Numerous symbols are used in numerous cultures, but their meanings can vary significantly from one group to the next. The swastika is a typical illustration.

This essential sign dates back to the year 10,000 B.C.E. The word’s origin in Sanskrit suggests a meditative state. It was used in ancient Greece, China, Persia, Scandinavia, and Europe; on ancient Indian coins; and on Japanese Buddhas.

Think of the sun: as a common symbol, the sun is often represented by the swastika. Despite its association with the Nazi party of Germany during World War II, the swastika is not inherently “evil.” Therefore, it’s a misconception that sure signs immediately wield good or bad powers because it depends on the intentions of the persons using the magic symbols in the first place.

There is no inherent value or negativity in any given symbol; what matters is its meaning for the individual who employs it. The pentagram is another symbol that fits this description. The Christian Devil is not represented by an inverted pentagram (with the point facing down).

The inverted pentagram is common. While Satanists may intend it as a symbol of evil, Wiccans and others see it quite differently. Thus, a symbol cannot be judged as good or bad. What matters is how it is used and how the person or people using it think.

Common and Unique Magic Symbols

The Zodiac Signs

The zodiac signs are a prime example of well-known and well-loved magic symbols. Some folks believe in horoscopes and predictions, and as long as the message is positive and uplifting for the person who wishes to learn from astrology, there’s nothing wrong with believing in the power of the zodiac signs and the constellations. The zodiac signs as magic symbols predate any life on Earth, and we would do well to understand how they influence our lives.

Aztec and Mayan Symbols

Some have drawn parallels between the Maya and Aztec civilizations and those of the Romans and Greeks. Like the Romans, the Aztecs were a warlike people who erected cities on the sites of their conquests’ destruction. Also, they established and refined governmental structures. The Mayans, like the Greeks, were highly cultured and creative. They progressed in building, sculpture, painting, and even astronomy. It wasn’t until 1325 c.e. that the Aztecs won their independence from the colonial king of Colhuacan. Tenochtitlan, their capital city, was founded in a spot where a prophecy was realized (what was later to grow into Mexico City).

The Aztecs held that a supreme deity presided over a world populated by nature gods. Both sexes are considered essential to the continuation of life in Wicca and other religions. This led people to conclude that the gods must be comprised of both males and females. The Aztecs viewed their ultimate power as having male and female aspects. The Aztecs worshiped a god called Ometecuhtli, which translates to “Two-Lord” in English. This God was also known by the name Tloque Nahuaque. Ometecuhtli figures occasionally feature a gender-bending hermaphrodite. He was called “Cause of All” in sacred poetry because he was the first giver of life. He lives far above the clouds. In that order, the altars of the Red God of Fire, the Yellow Sun God, and the White Evening Star God are all located beneath him. Ueueteotl (which translates to “old, old, god”) was the oldest of the gods, and his shrine was the hearth of every dwelling.

The Maya Indian culture flourished in Central America’s Yucatán Peninsula and other wet lowlands. In terms of calendar technology, they were nearly two millennia ahead of the Aztecs, having established a reliable system by 600 B.C.E. The time between 300 and 900 b.c.e. is commonly referred to as the Maya Golden Age because it was their most prosperous era. The most precise calendar calculations were made during this era using a 260-day almanac and a 365-day calendar.

The Maya could draw the human figure in both frontal and pure profile without any distortion, making their art superior to the Egyptians. However, Mayan art rarely depicted humans because the gods did not take human form. Instead, they might have been only partially human or animal.

The most popular design element was a serpent, rarely depicted realistically. Instead, a serpent may be augmented with parts from other animals, along with scrolls and other ornate embellishments. For instance, the serpent’s jaws would be widened and a human head would be inserted.

Aztec Symbols

Gold

Turquoise

Mosaic

Jade

Obsidian

Mayan Symbols

Sun and Moon

Moon in Celestial Band

East

West

North

South

Ceremonial and Occult Symbols

Ceremonial magic was practiced by many of the Middle Ages’ more erudite and wealthy occultists. High-ranking Church officials were particularly drawn to it because they had the resources (time, money, and expertise) to devote to it. Even though this type of magic involved calling upon beings variously known as demons and spirits, it was not frowned upon by the Church or considered heresy because it was more of practice than faith.

This purpose was to demonstrate the magician’s control over different types of spirits by calling them to the stage through solid conjurations. Then, once the magician had proven his superiority, he could command the creature to do as he pleased.

Ceremonial magic had a wide variety of specialized implements. There were crowns, cloth, bells, goblets, knives, swords, tridents, batons, rods, and wands.

Complex magic circles were built to shield the practitioner from the wrath of the angry spirit summoned for the ritual. The magician also fashioned and wore protective talismans. Some bore “Words of Power” (such as the names of angels and archangels), while others were covered with magical squares, signs, and sigils, all intended to provide security. Numerous magical symbols were employed, with many unique to each magician and their respective spells.

Since there are hundreds of thousands of different spirits, it would be impossible to list all the different types of small circles used by different magicians to conjure them.

Freemason Symbolism

The Square and Compasses are the universally recognized emblem of the Freemasons. Originally depicted as a true carpenter’s square with one leg longer than the other, The Square is a symbol of morality due to its asymmetrical design. American masons have adopted the practice of drawing the square with legs of equal length and inches marked on it, turning it from a trying square (a 90o measure used to test the accuracy of the edges of bricks and stones) into a measuring square. There is virtue in the Compasses. In modern times, Freemasonry has adopted the square and compasses as its emblem. The letter G is often used to represent them in art. In this context, the letter G often means “God” or “Geometry,” with the latter interpretation recognizing God as the ultimate designer.

Lodges are the organizational units of Freemasonry, a worldwide fraternity for initiating new members. Even though Freemasonry is openly identified and known to the public, its lodges and meetings are supposed to be kept under wraps. Initiates take an oath to protect the Freemasonry’s inner workings.

In the Middle Ages, stonemasons banded together to form a union called Freemasonry. In modern rituals, objects associated with architecture serve as inspiration for the symbols used. In addition, symbolism is a primary means of communication in Masonic education. Given the constraints of the page, only a small but representative subset of the symbols employed can be displayed here.

At the end of the seventeenth century, nonworkers were finally allowed to join the established guilds and their lodges, ushering in a period known as the Age of Accepted Masonry. In the past, aspiring masons were expected to serve an apprenticeship, though many untrained workers would also compete for open positions. To distinguish themselves from the cowans, who may not have received proper education, those who have become apprentices would recognize one another through certain words and handshakes.

But gradually, these cowans, and even nonworkers and gentlemen, entered the lodges, and some even established brand new lodges. By the eighteenth century, more non-masons than true masons were members, and Freemasonry had become symbolic or speculative, as it is today. The practice of “admitting Men into the Society of Freemasons” was “spread more or less all over the Nation,” according to Robert Plot’s 1646 book, The Natural History of Staffordshire. To his delight, he discovered “persons of the most eminent quality, that did not disdain to be of this Fellowship.”

Despite Masonic obligations to respect God and the Church, Freemasonry was officially condemned by Pope Clement XII in 1738. Since then, any Roman Catholic who joined Freemasonry has been excommunicated. The Catholic Church considers Freemasonry to be a deistic or Pagan religion, and the oath and secrecy required to join are against the law. However, in modern Freemasonry, a belief in God is required, and the Bible is always displayed on the altar. The concept of God as the world’s “Grand Architect” is widely held.

Ben Franklin was elected Grand Master of Masons in Pennsylvania in 1734, marking the beginning of Freemasonry in America despite his earlier hostility to the movement. In the second half of the twentieth century, the United States was home to fifty separate Grand Lodges, one for each state. These lodges represented a membership of four million men. British Freemasonry had three levels of membership: Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason. There were more by the end of the 18th century, but these three form the backbone of the Masonic system. Depending on the Rites (Scottish, York, Cryptic, Capitular, Templar, etc.), there can be as many as 33 degrees (though the highest degree is only honorary occasionally).

Christian Symbols

Numerous denominations of Christianity are practiced today, with Roman Catholicism and Protestantism being the most well-known. At its inception, Christianity was a synthesis of Judaism and Graeco-Roman religion; it was named after Jesus of Nazareth, who was considered by some to be the “Chosen One,” or “Anointed One,” the Christ, of God (from the Greek Christos).

For the past two thousand years, the Christian Church has adopted a wide variety of symbols, many of which were initially employed for nonreligious purposes but were later appropriated by Christians. Crucifixes are very common.

Even though Christians hold the cross in high regard, few realize that it is also a Pagan symbol that has been honored for centuries.

The ancient Assyrians and Sumerians possessed some of the earliest known crosses. Most early examples were crosses with equal arms, which were thought to represent the sun. Crosses with equal arms inside of circles also stood for the sun.

Additionally, the cross can be interpreted as a representation of the four seasons, though this interpretation appears to be more recent. Finally, the swastika (also gammadion, tetraskelion, fylfot, and cross cramponnée) is a form of the cross in which the arms are extended and bent.

Crosses were not widely used as Christian symbols until the fourth century CE, long after Christianity had become the state religion of the Roman Empire. It is typical for the cross on which Jesus was crucified to take the form of a tree in medieval artwork. The crux capital, in which the lower leg is outstretched, is the most common representation of the cross. T and even X-shaped forms of the cross (the crux commissa) have been demonstrated (the crux decussata).

The monogrammatic cross, derived from a monogram of the first two letters of Christos in Greek, Chi, and Rho, became widespread in the fifth century.

Two crossbars are used in another variation of the cross. The smaller of the two fragments represents the scroll with Jesus’ name on it that was nailed to the cross. The footboard is sometimes represented by a third, even smaller, cross piece.

The Christian symbol of the fish was once again appropriated from Pagan beliefs. As the Greek word for “fish,” Ichthys was the son of Atargatis, the sea goddess. The fish became a Christian symbol after it was suggested that its name, Ichthys, stood for “Jesus Christ, Son of God.” In addition, the fish Ichthys is commonly associated with female genital symbolism because it was said to have swallowed Osiris’ penis.

In Christian tradition, the key is seen as a symbol of St. Peter. But it is the Christian’s ticket to heaven. This concept originates with Persephone, a pagan goddess who held the key to the underworld (Hades).

In Christian art, the globe (a symbol of the Earth) is typically depicted with a cross atop it to show the dominance of Christianity over the planet.

The so-called “Star of Bethlehem” is the Pagan pentagram representing vital energy.

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