Your browser does not support script
TWV Presents...



Articles/Essays From Pagans

[Show all]


Views: 16,471,695


April 13th. 2014 ...

Magick and Consequences: My Experience with Sigils

Don't Talk Yourself Out of Trying Something New!

Being a Worrisome Witch

What to Do When the Spell/Ritual Flops


April 6th. 2014 ...

The Elements and the Quarters

Dark Moon Scry: Aries 2014

13 Keys: The Understanding of Binah

How the Wheel of the Year Works “Down Under”


March 30th. 2014 ...

Manifesting the Dream: On Religious Organizations, Pagan Abbeys and our Order

True Meaning of Community

Thoughts on Unverified Personal Gnosis

My Beautiful Grove- A Matter Of Perspective


March 23rd. 2014 ...

Spirituality and Social Change

The First Step to Anywhere!


March 16th. 2014 ...

From Christian to Pagan (Part I)

Nature And The Celtic Tree Calendar

The Teeth in the Darkness


March 9th. 2014 ...

Healing the Witch Within

Incarcerated Witches

Discovering Wicca as a Young Child

March Pisces Energy: Pre-natal Memories and Standing Upright


March 2nd. 2014 ...

Lessons of Ostara: Six Ways to Move Forward

The Wiccan Priest - The Misunderstood Role

Which is Which? Am I a Warlock or a Witch?

The Secret Teaching: Selected Aspects


February 23rd. 2014 ...

Wicca or Traditional Witchcraft: Some Differences

Everything is Not Under Your Control: Making Sense of the Senseless

The Wonders and Gifts of Paganism and Community

What Makes Us What We Are


February 16th. 2014 ...

The Stones of Fear: Anxiety Relief

Death, Grief, and Psychopomp Work in Shamanic Healing

Spiritual Traveler: Form To Essence

Alternative Medicine – What Is It?


February 9th. 2014 ...

Words of Power!

The Allure of Glamour in the Apocolypse

Lunar Insight Planetary Preponderances: Year of the Horse, Imbolc and Mercury Grazings


February 2nd. 2014 ...

The Magick of Jewelry and Metals

Building a Magick Mirror

The Golden Bough: a Study Guide (Part 2)


January 26th. 2014 ...

Love of Self: The Hardest Thing To Do

The Golden Bough as a Seminal Work in the Neo Pagan Movement (Part 1)

13 Keys: The Mercy of Chesed

Lightworking In The Screen Age: Staying Connected


January 19th. 2014 ...

Open Letter to the Goddess

A Southern Girl's Guide to Hospitality

Social Conventions and the Pagan World

Reclaiming Independence


January 12th. 2014 ...

Never Once Was There a An Athame Near My Chalice: My Very Sheltered Occultist Upbringing

One Wiccan's Journey Through Depression


January 5th. 2014 ...

Religion vs Practice: Defining Witchcraft in a Modern Age

Traditional Apprenticeships: Training in the Modern Pagan Abbey

2014's Magickal Magnificent Manifestations!

Lunar Insight Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances: Wise and Wild


December 29th. 2013 ...

My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 3)

13 Keys: The Might of Geburah

Beyond The Season of Greed


December 22nd. 2013 ...

My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 2)


December 15th. 2013 ...

The Hex Murder of 1928

My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 1)

Lady of the Forest Mist (A Story of the Woods)

Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Hunting, Fires and Parting Shots


December 8th. 2013 ...

Help and Thoughts for Pagans New to the Journey

Using Your Wand in Reverse

The Cry of the Soul

Leaving a Group - Part 2: Leaving, Healing and Moving Forward


December 1st. 2013 ...

The Tarot as a Tool for Raising Consciousness

A Pragmatic Look at Neo Paganism

Leaving a Pagan Group – Part 1: To Leave or to Stay?


November 24th. 2013 ...

The Groovy Aquarian Christ: Jesus From a Pagan Perspective

The Pagan and the Papacy


November 17th. 2013 ...

Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca

For Love of the God

A Threat to Religious Liberties?


November 10th. 2013 ...

Where did Aleister Crowley’s Influence on Wicca Go?

Thoughts on the Threefold Law/Law of Return

The Celtic Tree Calendar

Nine Creeds: A Statement and Explanation of My Beliefs


November 3rd. 2013 ...

The Mundane/Spiritual Mirror: What Does it Say About Your Life?


October 27th. 2013 ...

Thoughts On a Miley-Cyrus/ Robin-Thicke Society

Pagan Religious Communities in your Area: Connecting With and Creating Them


NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.










Article Specs

Article ID: 11721

VoxAcct: 182406

Section: words

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 2,455

Times Read: 2,816

RSS Views: 33,605
Reflections on Sacred Symbols

Author: John Caris
Posted: July 29th. 2007
Times Viewed: 2,816

Symbols, whether sacred or secular, pervade human culture and are frequently found in the arts. They are keys that open the door to higher consciousness, codes that winnow the kernel from the chaff, seeds that contain hidden knowledge.

A symbol is like a tree with branches extending in many directions or like a neuron with dendrites spreading out. When a musical chord is played, pitches vibrate and produce a cluster of resonating overtones. The listener hears a multiplicity of sounds that have grown from only a few notes.

A symbol has a basic duality, objectivity and subjectivity; simultaneously, it functions as both object and subject. Our minds experience a symbol in both roles. This paradox can be described in another way.

When looking at nature, the artist sees many forms as if they were reflected in a mirror. Moving into the imaginative realm, the artist changes focus and becomes aware that actually a single form is reflected in many mirrors.

Perhaps all symbols are sacred in the sense that they connect us with a level of reality beyond our ordinary five senses. They have more than a literal level of meaning. A symbol can be sacred for one religion but not for another; it can be sacred for several religions although not understood as such by a particular group.

The cross is a sacred symbol for Christians, who might not realize its sacredness for Native Americans. Something is sacred if it can link us to what we consider to be spiritual. For many, especially indigenous people, all creation is spiritual because it contains a divine spark, some aspect of divinity. And so for these people the distinction sacred and secular does not exist.

All is sacred and all secular.

Those with a different set of religious beliefs might answer that the distinction is real and very important to maintain. Otherwise, pantheism would arise, the idea that the deity is in very thing, in all creation. This idea of pantheism seems be a basic principle of goddess religion and so is often challenged by patriarchal religions that separate the creator from the created.

Traditionally, the goddess has many images linked to her: cave, moon, stone, serpent, bird, fish, and tree; spiral, meander, and labyrinth; wild animals such as lion, bull, bison, stag, goat, and horse; rituals of fertility; and journey of the soul to another dimension. Whether the image is presented visually, in words, or sounds—it is sacred and assists seekers on their paths of enlightenment.

Each historical goddess has many of these characteristics and often several different ones. Isis, the greatest goddess of Egypt, was worshipped for over 3000 years. Her attributes are the tree of life, cow, serpent, pig, bird, underworld, Sirius, words of power, and great mother goddess of the universe.

According to the twentieth century scholar Marija Gimbutas, author ofThe Living Goddesses, the serpent crown refers back to the Neolithic snake goddess, who wore such a crown. These snake crowns symbolize wisdom and wealth. Struggling with a huge white snake will gain the seeker a crown. Wearing the crown, the initiate knows all, is able to find hidden treasures, and can communicate with animals.

In alchemy, for many a spiritual path to higher consciousness, Hermes knows that the serpent goddess is the living water, the philosophical mercury, and the white queen. To the alchemist these are sacred symbols, not just metaphors for chemicals and their laboratory processes.

Buildings are practical yet have sacred aspects. Religious structures not only contain art works but are often aligned to specific directions. Major doorways open to the east or west depending on the religious beliefs. Many Christian cathedrals in Europe are aligned on an east-west axis: the main portals face west while the apse with its window face east so the rising sun can shine upon the altar. The duality of sacred-profane is clearly perceived here.

The sun, symbolizing the deity, blesses the altar and also marks the season of the year as the sun moves along the horizon. Perhaps, we should ask, “Is the distinction between sacred and profane necessary? Isn’t the sun’s seasonal markings as spiritual as the symbol of its blessing?”

The sweat lodge of Native Americans is also aligned on an east-west axis with the opening facing east. For Native Americans the placement is sacred, although ‘practical’ information can be gained.

A stone is a rock is a stone. So? The stone has been a sacred symbol for a very long time. The discussion about the stone symbol in Anne Baring and Jules Cashford The Myth of the Goddess is profound. A stone lasts a long time and can symbolize eternity or timelessness.

During the Neolithic, or earlier, it represented the foundation or essence of life, such as the soul or spirit that endured after the death of the body. The stone is, of course, a dominant symbol in alchemy: its goal is to obtain the philosopher’s stone.

Two major symbols of religious ceremony, starting in the Neolithic if not earlier, are the sacred marriage and birth of the child. A union with a divine spirit is inherent in all mystical ceremonies and practices.

Initiation into the great spiritual mysteries has been a human activity for thousands of years, perhaps since the beginning of time. The female signifies the continuous pattern of birth-death-rebirth, which is the principle of regeneration. The male signifies the life of the individual, the short span of temporal life beginning with birth and ending with death.

The neophyte enters the hidden subterranean recesses and dies a first death and only then does rebirth occur. Now the worldly and spiritual realms remain open to each other. The goddess was the portal into the hidden dimension through which the dead passed on their way to rebirth.

The dying god, a religious image originating in antiquity, symbolizes physical life that is constantly changing, and the goddess illumines the principle of life that endures by eternally renewing itself. The goddess represents continuity while the god, sharing in the impermanent essence of the seed, dies annually.

In Foundation for a New Consciousness I detail and illustrate the vesica piscis, vessel of the fish, an ancient symbol for the sacred marriage. It was used in the construction of churches. Very simply, to construct the vesica piscis, draw a circle and its diameter. Then using the diameter as a measuring unit, draw two circles whose center is at the point where the diameter and circumference of the first circle touch. A straightedge and compass are all that are needed to do these experiments.

The signs of the zodiac—those of the twelve constellations and the nine planets—are used in many disciplines besides astrology. Perhaps, the second best known is alchemy. They are also used in palmistry.

A basic idea underlying symbols and their power is the micro-macrocosm relationship. What is above is reflected in what is below, and so too what is below is like what is above. A commonality and unity, whether physical or spiritual, exist between the two. The Hindu system of chakras illustrates this bond.

A chakra, literally meaning wheel, is a rotating energy field. Every human being has seven major chakras and several minor ones. Each physical chakra symbolizes a spiritual dimension and at the same time allows seekers to enter the sacred. The physical and spiritual energy that flows up the spinal column, in Western tradition Hermes’ caduceus, upon reaching the final chakra, the mystical seventh, positioned on the top of the head, becomes the thousand petalled lotus, a sacred image of the perfection of all faculties.

The great serpent spirit being is the oldest, continuously used religious symbol in the world. For Australian Aborigines this spirit being is the rainbow serpent; and it is associated with power, vibrations, water, blood, and red ochre. The serpent stands on its tail so that the shaman can travel to the sky world or underworld.

In ancient Mesoamerica this spirit being was called the feathered serpent. A great python guarded the oracular shrine at Delphi, Greece, until Apollo, who then appropriated the oracle for his own, defeated it. Apollo, however, still had to share the shrine with its previous patron Dionysus.

In Jewish and Christian tradition, as evinced in the Old Testament (Isaiah 6:2), seraphim, the highest order of angels, stand above God’s throne. Few today realize that the Hebrew word for seraphim means fiery serpents! Yet in the Garden of Eden story the serpent acts as tempter, but it is not actual evil. For many cultures the serpent symbolizes birth, death, and rejuvenation.

The sleeping serpent at the spinal base is awakened, and energy slowly moves up the spinal column. When all the chakras are vitalized by this energy--and their sequence of vitalization differs according to the individual--the thousand petalled lotus unfolds and the child of light is born.

Why we allow ourselves to be bound in ignorance, forsaking our heavenly gift of freedom, is the Great Cosmic Mystery.




Copyright: © 2007 by John Caris



ABOUT...

John Caris


Location: San Francisco, California

Website: http://westgatehouse.com

Author's Profile: To learn more about John Caris - Click HERE




Other Articles: John Caris has posted 5 additional articles- View them?

Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE




Email John Caris... (No, I have NOT opted to receive Pagan Invites! Please do NOT send me anonymous invites to groups, sales and events.)

To send a private message to John Caris ...



Pagan Essays
1996-2014





Pagan Web
8,000 Links





Pagan Groups
Local Covens etc.





Pagan/Witch
80,000 Profiles














Home - TWV Logos - Email US - Privacy
News and Information

Chapters: Pagan/Heathen Basics - Pagan BOOKS - Traditions, Paths & Religions - Popular Pagan Holidays - TV & Movies - Cats of the Craft - Festival Reviews - Festival Tips - White Pages (Resources) - Issues/Concerns - West Memphis 3 - Witch Hunts - Pagan Protection Tips - Healing Planet Earth

Your Voices: Adult Essays - Young Pagan Essays - Pagan Perspectives (On Hold) - WitchWars: Fire in the Craft - Gay Pagan - Pagan Parenting - Military - Pagan Passages

Pagan Music: Pagan Musicians - Bardic Circle at WitchVox - Free Music from TWV

Vox Central: About TWV - Wren: Words, Wrants and Wramblings - Guest Rants - Past Surveys - A Quest for Unity

Weekly Updates: Click HERE for an index of our weekly updates for the past 6 years

W.O.T.W. - World-Wide Networking

Your Town: A Link to YOUR Area Page (The largest listing of Witches, Pagans, Heathens and Wiccans on the Planet)

VoxLinks: The Pagan Web: 8,000 Listings

Your Witchvox Account: Log in Now - Create New Account - Request New Password - Log in Problems

Personal Listings: Pagan Clergy in Your Town - Adult Pagans - Young Pagans - Military Pagans

Events: Circles, Gatherings, Workshops & Festivals

Covens/Groups/Orgs: Local Groups Main Page

Other LOCAL Resources: Local Shops - Regional Sites - Local Notices - Global/National Notices - Local Skills & Services - Local Egroups - Political Freedom Fighters

Pagan Shopping: Online Shops Index - Original Crafters Sites - Auction Sites - Pagan Wholesalers - Pagan Local Shops



Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2014 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.

Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wren’s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witches’ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.

Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.

Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
Witches, Pagans
of The World




Search Articles
1996-2014










 Current Topic
 Editorial Guide


NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.

The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.

All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).