60 spiritual symbols and their meanings ( full guide)
Spiritual symbols are sacred symbols that can be found anywhere in our everyday life. Sometimes these spiritual symbols talk a lot beyond the language and speak with our subconscious mind directly. In this context, most of the spiritual symbols carry positive meanings, where some symbolise negativity too. In this article, the detailed inner meaning o1f such spiritual symbols will be described to understand their significance in daily life.
Horned God is a symbolic representation of the Wiccan deity, considered the god of nature, wilderness, sexuality, hunting, and life cycle. Wiccans are the new pagans who believe in the duo theistic theological system where Horned God and the Triple Goddess form the primary deities. Horned God has been a subject of many psychological theories and has frequently appeared in fantasy literature due to his relationship with traditional British witchcraft.
Caim is a spiritual symbol in demonology whom many consider being a gallic version of Cain, the infamous son of Adam and Eve, who committed the first murder in the history of mankind, that of his brother Abel out of jealousy. Caim is hence considered the originator of murder and the prince of hell, as he was condemned to be. Caim is represented pictorially as a black thrush, a bird that can shapeshift into human form.
In the broadest sense, elephants are considered the symbol of strength and power of libido, but in Europe, they were a symbol of lethargy.Owing to their use in war, the elephant symbol has become universally associated with war,royalty, and wisdom. As per African shamans, the elephant symbolises victory and triumph. In Christianity elephant symbolises the vastness of God and his all-encompassing love.
A natural phenomenon that has been part of many myths across cultures around the world. While the Norse saw as Bifrost, a bridge connecting Midgard (earth) to Asgard, the abode of gods, rainbows hold almost a similar meaning in Japanese and Maori mythology. In Greek mythology, the rainbow represents Iris, a messenger from gods to humanity. In Hindu mythology, the rainbow is considered as the bow of Indra, the god of war and thunder. As per Sumerian kings, the rainbow was considered divine sanction for war, as mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh. The Australian natives considered the rainbow a serpent who is the actual creator of the world and all its beings.
It is a spiritual symbol in Buddhism that has attained popularity as a tattoo choice of late. It symbolises the path to enlightenment. The spirals denote the twists and turn in life and the straight lines define the moment one reaches enlightenment, thereby achieving eternal peace and harmony. In the end, the dot represents the end, that is, death, where everything fades into nothing.
An important symbol in Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, the endless knot symbol is also known as Shrivats. It is a mark on the chest of Vishnu, where his wife Lakshmi rests. Shrivats represents samsara, or the endless cycle of life, death, and rebirth. The symbol is still very commonly found in old houses in India, particularly in rural areas. The symbol was also found as marking on all 24 Tirthankaras of Jainism.
In Christianity, the dragon is a symbol of evil, but in Chinese and Japanese mythology, a dragon symbolises supernatural power, wisdom, strength, and knowledge. They are regarded as guardians of treasure in the form of gold and riches or knowledge. A dragon also represents chaos and untamed nature; hence killing a dragon is considered a heroic act that brings order to that chaos.
A dream catcher is a protective talisman with its origins in Native American culture. It was used as a protection and hung-over beds of children to protect them from nightmares. They are also considered apotropaic charms that protect one from evil influences. The outer circle represents mother earth, while the intricately woven web serves as a spider’s web to catch nightmares. Dream catchers have become popular of late as articles of interior decoration.
A mystical diagram originating from Hinduism’s tantric traditions comprises nine interlocking triangles that radiate from the centre. The yantra hence represents the union of the masculine and feminine divine. This yantra is installed in various temples across India and Nepal and is regarded as the highest form of worship of Devi, where the Devi is in the form of Tripura Sundari.
Considered as the holiest and auspicious yantra in Hinduism, it is used for spiritual elevation, and it also boosts the mental and physical strength of the user. Gayatri yantra guides one to the path of self-realisation. Gayatri yantra is the representation of Goddess Gayatri. The yantra holds the most powerful Gayatri Mantra, whose recitation is associated with Atonement.
Ganesh, or the elephant headed god, is one of the most prominent deities of Hinduism.Son of Shiva, the god of destruction and Parvati, the Goddess of fertility and creation, Ganesh is worshipped before any other god as he is regarded as the remover of obstacles.Symbols of Ganesh can be found in the entire south and southeast Asia. Ganesh is also considered to be the god of learning and intelligence.
A maple leaf goes from green in spring and summer to yellow, orange, red and burgundy in autumn before falling off in winter; hence it is widely regarded as a symbol of ageing or passage of time, with each colour representing a part of life. A green or yellow leaf is symbolic of hope or a new beginning, while a red/orange one implies loss or sadness. In the Celtic culture, the maple leaf is a symbol of resistance and invincibility.
Cupid is the god of desire, erotic love, attraction, and affection, represented more commonly as a chubby boy with a bow and arrows. Ancient versions also depict him as a slim young man. In some interpretations, cupid is also considered the demon of fornication, which guides people to a life of sexually promiscuous vices.
Apple is a symbol with lots of interpretations but is most famously remembered as the forbidden fruit in Bible. It can represent love, knowledge, wisdom, Joy,death, and luxury. Apple is also considered an erotic symbol due to its association with the shape of a woman’s breasts.When sliced in half, the core is symbolic of the vulva; hence, it was considered the symbol of temptation and original sin in Eden’s garden.
A universally accepted symbol of hope and peace, doves also represent purity, gentleness, devotion, beauty, and faith. Dove was also depicted in various motifs as an agent of god sent to protect humanity from violence. In Native American culture, doves denote monogamy and enduring love. They are also a symbol of fertility, while in Egyptian folklore, they are a symbol of innocence.
Swans are prophetic birds that are said to predict their own death. This, coupled with their beauty, has made them a symbol of beauty, purity, grace, love, and melancholy passion and has been a sacred symbol for various cultures. In Celtic myths, swans are a representative of the healing power of the sun. In Gaelic and Irish culture, there is also a symbol of love within each of us. A Black swan, on the other hand, is an occult symbol with negative connotations.
“I am the rose of Sharon and the Lily of the valley”- Sons of Solomon 2:1
The biblical reference of Rose connects the fragrance of flower to the presence of god’s angels. The rose of Sharon represents the divine love between god and his people. A red rose is also considered a symbol of martyrdom, while a wreath of roses is an illustration of Christian joy. A white rose is considered a symbol of innocence and purity. White roses are used in Christian weddings to signify the purity of the bond of love between those entering the institution of marriage.
Famous as a mathematical symbol, the infinity symbol also has an alternative symbolism in modern mysticism where it is considered a variation of the ouroboros, a snake eating its own tail. In the Vedic culture, it is used to describe kundalini, while in Gnosticism, it represents eternity and the soul of the world. The symbol also has connotations related to fertility, where the tail represents the phallus, and the mouth represents the womb.
A symbol of indigenous natives of modern-day USA, a medicine wheel is a symbol that has been given various interpretations. The most common version is divided into four quadrants. Each quadrant represents the four cardinal directions or the four stages of life. Native Americans also considered medicine wheels as sacred sites which are associated with spirituality and healing.
In the Buddhist school of Zen, Enso is a circle hand-drawn in 1-2 uninhibited brushstrokes to express a moment when mind is free to allow the body to indulge in creation. It symbolises a state of mind brought about by absolute enlightenment. Drawing Enso is a spiritual practice performed to date by followers of the Zen school of Buddhism and is a popular symbol even in today’s world with variations used by leading corporations like Apple, AMD, HSBC etc.
Eye of Horus
Horus was the god of kingship in ancient Egyptian mythology who battled Set, the god of violence and lost his left eye in the ensuing battle. Henceforth Eye of Horus became a symbol of protection, health, and restoration (Hathor restored his damaged eye); the symbol was worn in amulets by Egyptians to bring good luck and keep away the evil from their life.
The most famous symbol of ancient Chinese philosophy that explains the concept of dualism is how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may be complementary or interconnected and may give rise to each other. The concept of Yin (chaos) and Yang(order) explains that chaos gives birth to order. Order eventually descends into chaos, thereby proving that the two are interconnected. Everything in life follows the cycle of order and chaos.
Tree of life
From Mayans to Celts and from Buddhism to Nordic mythology, the tree of life is an ancient mystical symbol signifying that everything in life is connected. The tree of life shows both the physical relationship in the form of roots and the spiritual realm in the form of the growth of branches that we are trying to achieve. It also represents our family and ancestry, with roots representing our past generations and branches epitomising our future generations.
Star of David
Magen David, in Hebrew, is a symbol of Jewish identity and Judaism. As perScholarGershomScholem, the appropriation of the hexagram came from the desire to represent Jewish identity with a symbol in the same way ‘The Cross’ is for Christians.Star of David in yellow colour became a tool of hatred by Nazis during the holocaust. The star was used to identify the Jews for genocide, and one had to wear the badge of the Star of David while going out in public.If he was found without the badge, he was severely punished.
Star and Crescent
Originally found in the ancient Sumerian iconography as the representation of moon God Sin and Goddess Ishtar, this symbol got passed on from one civilisation to another until it was incorporated as a symbol of the Ottoman Empire and is now associated with Islamic culture around the world.
One of the oldest geometric shape which is considered as a symbol of creation and growth. Spiral in different forms has been found as a symbol in various cultures and linked to nature, seasons, and part of life. As per noted by psychiatrist Carl Jung, spirals represent cosmic force and the eternal cycle of birth, death, and reincarnation.
Snake or serpent is the oldest mythological symbol with a different meaning in every culture.In Abrahamic religion, it represents sexual desire as the snake is more infamously associated with the Bible than misled Adam and Eve into having the forbidden fruit.
In the Hindu religion, a serpent is symbolic of Lord Shiva, the god of destruction and Chaos.It is also worshipped as Sheshnag on whose kundali Lord Vishnu rests. In Persian culture, a snake is worshipped as patrons of fertility, water, and wealth.
A form of greeting that originated in India, Namaste is a symbolic gesture that is used to welcome someone, be it a relative, guest or stranger. The symbolic representation is called Anjali mudra, where both hands are clasped together with palms facing each other. Namaste is a Sanskrit word that means “I bow to the divine in you”. It is also used to pray to Gods. The greeting has become more relevant in times of covid-19 as it is a non-contact form of greeting.
A geometric pattern that is used as a spiritual guidance tool. It is used as an aid for meditation and trance induction. Originating from India, Mandala is a part of spiritually inclined religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Shintoism.Lost to the time its reintroduction is attributed to noted psychologist Carl Jung who described Mandala as the self and the wholeness of personality.
The lightning bolt is a traditional symbol representing sudden illumination and destruction of Ignorance and darkness. It is also associated with Zeus, the King of Gods in ancient Greek mythology. As per Carl Jung, it can be considered a symbol of soul liberation if manifesting in dreams, although it also comes with negative connotations in the form of intuition about an impending terrible event.
The Lion is a remarkably diverse symbol. It represents majesty, strength, courage, justice, pride,authority, and military might. The Lion is known as the King of the beasts; hence it is considered as a symbol of kingly power and might. In ancient Greek mythology, the Lion is a symbolic representation of death which was beaten by the bare hands of a Hercules.
Triskelion or triple spiral
It is an ancient motif that represents 3 bent human legs. Spiritually a triskelion stands for the present, past, and future or for creation, preservation, and destruction. In Buddhist mythology, it is a meditation symbol. Christianity can represent the holy trinity of the father, the son, and the holy spirit.
Double happiness is a decorative symbol of love. It contains two associated duplicates of the character for satisfaction which is spelt as XI. The double happiness images are used in feng shui, and it pervades bliss into a marriage.
Hamsa is a protective symbol that is associated with luck, health, happiness, good fortune and is also associated with warding off evil and negative feelings. In the Jewish faith, it is known as ‘The Hand of Miriam’, while in Muslim culture, it is known as ‘The Hand of Fatima’.The five fingers in Hamsa denote the five pillars of Islam: faith, prayer, pilgrimage, fasting, and charity. For Hinduism and Buddhism, the Hamsa represents the five senses and their associated mudra which are used to redirect energy flow throughout the body.
The position of the hand is also of importance in the symbolic meaning of Hamsa. Ifthe hand is facing downwards, it represents abundance and goodness and is a welcoming sign that things will be better in your life. An upward facing hand is a representative of protection and repels negativity of both self and others.
Om is the mother of all the mantra, and it is the universal sound by which the entire universe was created. It originated in Hinduism, and since the inception of Hinduism, it is the first primary spiritual symbol of the Hindu religion. It is said that Om is a sound that is present universally in every living being. When pronounced correctly during deep meditation, the Om sound comes to the forefront. It envelops the practitioner in a universal protective glow.
Lotus is used in various religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Shintoism. A lotus is a beautiful flower, and it is spiritually representative of enlightenment. Since Lotus grows only in the sludge of muddy waters, it reinforces the concept of resurrection, i.e., life originates from death.Therefore, this forms the ultimate trajectory of humanity and shows that any trial can be overcome through determination and perseverance.It is also the throne of Hindu Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of enlightenment and knowledge.
The flower of life
The flower of life symbolises the cycle of creation and depicts how all forms of life come from a single source represented by the circle in the middle of the pattern. The flower of life is a sacred symbol and is set to hold the most significant and sacred patterns of this universe within it; hence, it represents the blueprint of all life.
The fish is a universal symbol. The native Americans associated fish with prosperity and fortune. Fish was also a symbol of fertility. A few native American tribes attributed fish with knowledge and mysteries. In China, koi fish were a symbol of Happy marriage, wealth and abundance, and their ability to swim upstream also made them a symbol of determination and grit. In the Hindu religion, fish were connected to creation and transformation as God Vishnu turned into a fish to save the world from the flood. For Christians, the fish symbol was a mark of Christian gathering places and tombs.
One of the most majestic bird, the eagle, is considered the chief of birds; hence the native Americans linked the eagle to Sky Gods. The eagle was a spiritual symbol of victory, might and royalty. It was also a symbol of strength, wisdom, and courage. It was considered a messenger to gods; hence eagle feather was part of every prayer of native Americans.In Celtic mythology, eagles implied authority, leadership, dexterity, security,strength, and focus.
Although considered to be a spiritual symbol of Buddhism, the wheel of law can be traced back to 2500 BC. Dharma wheel consists of 8 spokes which represent the 8 parts of enlightenment to attain Nirvana. However, this symbol is used in different religions, as in Hinduism is a symbol of orders and religious routines. Whether in Tibetan culture, this symbol is used to remind Buddhism that Buddha valued all life, not just human beings.
One of the most commonly known spiritual symbols of ancient Egyptian civilisation, this symbol represented the regeneration of light through water. This symbol is also considered one of the popular hieroglyphic symbols in ancient Egypt. The symbol can be found in many ancient tombs and Pyramids since Egyptians believed in the afterlife. The murals on the walls of ancient Egyptian architecture depict Gods carrying the ankh. It is believed that the loop of this symbol signifies femininity, whereas the cross masculine and putting together forms life. Many others also believe that this is the symbol of air and water as the primary life source.
One of the most frequently used symbols in horror movies, the Pentagram or the pentacle, can be traced to the Wiccan religion of ancient British witchcraft.
Although considered as having satanic connotations, a pentagram was worn as a protective talisman to protect against evil.
Peace is a spiritual symbol that signifies wholeness, as a blessing to “live well”. It is also believed that without the granting of peace by god, there would be no harmony. According to many spiritualists, peace is an inner state of well-being and calmness. This symbol is one of the newest symbols, and its origin can be traced to the British campaign for nuclear disarmament in 1958. Soon this became a universal symbol for peace among human beings and is even available as an emoji on social media.
Jesus Christ was hung on a cross, and he chose to die to cleanse the sins of mankind. Since then, the Cross has become symbolic of sacrifice, and it is the most common symbol of Christianity.It is believed that the Cross is symbolised as a point of communication between earth and heaven. It is believed in the Christian religion that the vertical axis symbolises spiritual, positive, celestial and male, whereas the horizontal axis is for negative, rational, earthy and female.
Khanda is to Sikhism what Cross is to Christianity. It symbolises the fundamental tenets of the Sikh faith. It is, in fact, made of three symbols that represent the pillars of Sikhism. The double swords in the centre represent the divine power that controls life and death and dictates the destiny of all creation. In totality, the swords symbolise the cleaving of the truth from all falsehood. The circle or the chakra surrounding the Khanda is a metaphor for the eternal god. The two swords that flank the chakra symbolise the two concepts of spiritual and temporal authority given by the sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind. The left sword Piri represents spiritual sovereignty, and the right Miri symbolises political sovereignty.
It is well known that Buddha attained enlightenment while meditating under a Bodhi tree; hence Bodhi leaves became a symbolic representation of spiritual awakening. It is associated with the Life lesson that without patience and dedication, one cannot achieve solace. This is also symbolised to bring good, spiritual vision, bright energy as well as thoughtfulness. This symbol also means perfection of wisdom and the highest state of a human being achieved through diligence and meditation.
The staff of Hermes or Mercury. Hermes is the protector of human heralds, travellers, thieves, liars,merchants, and orators in Greek and Roman mythology. Hence his staff carried both positive and negative connotation. Positively it became a symbol of commerce. It has become a symbol of medicine due to an inadvertent error by the US medical corps.
Rod of Asclepius
The staff of Greek God Asclepius, the symbol, is associated with healing and medicine. The World health organisation still carries the symbol on its logo. Still, Rod of Asclepius is often confused with the Staff of Hermes, with the latter becoming more synonymous with the medical profession.
A Chinese spiritual symbol can be considered an extrapolation of Yin Yang as it contains it in the centre. It is a feng shui symbol that denotes balance. If the lines are broken, it symbolises Yin energy, but it indicates Yang energy if the lines are broken. The unbroken line of this structure (yang line) is signified as a protective symbol. It is also believed that this symbol can deflect the negative power associated with the corners in the buildings.
The conch shell is commonly associated with the Hindu religion, and it is still used in the Hindu temples of worship. Conch is used to call individuals to prayer; hence the symbol became a representation of prayer to gods and also of inference of Dharma and its ability to awaken us from Ignorance. It is used as a symbol of free speech and the civil process. It is also symbolised as a symbol of power, vulnerability.
The simple Rock formation was used as a landmark to guide travellers along the right path, but they have also become symbolic of a sacred place. The Cairns also symbolise friendship, safety, and direction. To stumble upon one is symbolic of the fact that you are not alone, and it reminds us never to give up and continue with our journey.
In Japanese Mahayana Buddhism, Jizo is a Bodhisattva. Jizo is regarded for his selfless self-sacrifice. Hence, the symbol has become an icon for sacrifice and a talisman to protect children. The Jizo statue is also believed as a protector of firefighters and travellers; therefore, this statue can be seen along roadsides.
Eyes of Buddha
This is a spiritual symbol that represents the ultimate knowledge and power. Wisdom eyes or the Gaze of Wisdom. Commonly found in the temples of Nepal, it symbolises the wonders of the universe and denotes the one path towards enlightenment. The mark is also called the Buddhist third eye, a symbol of wisdom and infinite perception. It is believed that the material eyes look at the external world.
Om Mani Padme Hum
It is a Mantra of benevolence and is often recited to inspire compassion. Common in the hills of Ladakh and Nepal, Om Mani Padme Hum has become an item of decoration, especially in vehicles and the front door of the house. Om Mani Padme Hum represents the body spirit and the speech of Buddha, the part of his teaching, the wisdom of his path and the union of wisdom and path incorrect order.
A Chinese symbol very commonly used in Chinese jewellery, textiles,furniture, and architecture.It is actually symbolic of longevity. Shou is one of the five blessings that form the foundation of a good life.This has been found on various artefacts as an extremely popular symbol in the Asian continent. This symbol is also very popularly used as a print on wedding gift to give well-wishes to a newlywed couple. This symbol mainly demonstrates the five pillars of philosophy: responsibility, nobility, awareness, strength, and wisdom.
It is a combination of two powerful symbols, thediamond and the lightning Bolt.The diamond is a substance that can cut but cannot be cut hence symbolic of resolute spirit. At the same time, the lightning bolt represents great power and the ability to fight Ignorance and darkness. Together, they form the Vajra, which represents compassion, the world’s most powerful force, and the ultimate path to enlightenment.
Vajra is also a symbol of the weapon of Indra, the Hindu god of thunder. Made from the bones of Sage Dadhichi, who sacrificed his life and gifted his bones for the construction of this weapon, Vajra is also symbolic of supreme sacrifice.
Shield of Trinity
Shield of Trinity, also known as scutum fidei, is a Christian symbol that depicts the holy trinity concept: The Father,The Son and The Holy Spirit. It is also believed that this symbol represents the everlasting nature of god and her activities in the world. The shield represents different aspects of the Trinity doctrine.
The Holy Grail
One of the most prominent and sacred symbols of Christianity,The Holy Grail, is a chalice or cup that Jesus Christ used at the last supper. It is also believed to have been used at the crucifixion of Jesus to catch his blood. As a symbol, the holy grail signifies the forgiveness of sin and the attainment of immortality and is believed to contain immeasurable power.
Borromean rings aka Valknut
Founded in Buddhist, Viking and Roman civilisation, the Borromean ring consists of three rings interlocked with each other so that cutting one away result in the fall out of the other two. Hence Borromean rings became the symbol of strength in unity.
Christians have used them to symbolise the Holy Trinity; that is why they are also known as Trinity rings.
This is a spiritual symbol of ancient Egypt. Scarab was associated with God Khepri, the god of rebirth, creation, and sun; hence scarab became a symbol of wealth, rebirth, and protection. This symbol is used in jewellery as the symbol of protection against dangers and the afterlife. Greek and Egyptians used this symbol in the ancient ages, and however, now this can be seen in every country. The body of this beetle is symbolic of protection, and the wings are symbolic of rebirth. A Dung beetle found in Egypt, scarab motifs and illustrations can be found in ancient Egyptian architecture.
Conclusion on spiritual symbols
There are a lot of spiritual symbols worldwide and in different cultural aspects. Most of these symbols are being used from the ancient age to bring good luck to human life. However, some symbols carry negativity too. Therefore, these spiritual symbols will bring good luck in your life when the intent and thoughts are positive. These symbols help us keep all the negativity behind us and believe in goodness to succeed and have good luck in life.