Articles/Essays From Pagans
March 9th. 2014 ...
Healing the Witch Within
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 ...
Death, Grief, and Psychopomp Work in Shamanic Healing
The Stones of Fear: Anxiety Relief
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
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
Leaving a Group - Part 2: Leaving, Healing and Moving Forward
The Cry of the Soul
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 Pagan and the Papacy
The Groovy Aquarian Christ: Jesus From a Pagan Perspective
November 17th. 2013 ...
For Love of the God
Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca
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
On Being Wiccan: Some Unsolicited Advice
Pagan Religious Communities in your Area: Connecting With and Creating Them
Banishing, Invocation and the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram
October 20th. 2013 ...
Bottle Spells and Magick in Hoodoo Tradition
Weather Magick: Who is Responsible for the Weather?
Broom Closet: In or Out?
On Coven and Claws
October 13th. 2013 ...
Destroying to Create: A Lesson from the Dead
Consume the Scorpion- Scorpion Energy Revisited
October 6th. 2013 ...
UPG and U: A Breakdown and Building Up of Unverified and Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis
Answering The Call from Spirit
Coping with the Loss of a Familiar
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 2 (The South)
September 29th. 2013 ...
Six Reasons Why Covens are Here to Stay
Priestessing and Titles: What's the Point?
Truth or Convenience? Questioning Motives for Spiritual Advancement
Speaking Up: The Conflict Between the Spiritualist and Our Human Experience
September 22nd. 2013 ...
Death of a Friendship within the Craft
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
What's Behind a Symbol?
Article ID: 11304
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,556
Times Read: 2,454
RSS Views: 78,065
Posted: March 11th. 2007
Times Viewed: 2,454
There has been quite a furor of late over the right for Pagan soldiers to be buried with the symbol of their faith to mark their graves, a cause which all free minded individuals should support, and which has led me to wonder about the importance of symbols in religion in general and as a Pagan.
Would I die for the right to wear a pentagram or triskell?
My answer: probably not -- because the symbol is nothing more then that, a symbol.
We use symbols to represent more complex ideas that we could not otherwise readily express in one quick glimpse. They allow us to identify ourselves with the tribe to which we belong. I know of very few Witches who do not own a piece of pentagram jewelry.
Where these symbols fail us is when they become more important than the idea that lies behind them. Have you ever met a young beginner who thinks that just by wearing the pentagram they have become a witch?
When I was younger I used to know quite a few and they were those who would allow any inkling of faith to fall by the wayside because they didn’t really understand the symbol or the beliefs that give it power.
Lets just look into the origins of the pentacle. In my studies I have come across a lot of different meanings and they varied depending on whether the point was up or down but they all stated that the pentacle originated in the Middle East as a symbol of power, normally to amplify power, and as a ward against evil.
It is also used to represent various goddesses in ancient religions of the middle-east and North Africa. Hermetic magi and Pythagorean philosophers, who may have been responsible for its transmittal to Western Europe, adopted it and it was eventually used by renaissance alchemists.
How and when Witchcraft became synonymous with the Pentacle remains a bit of a mystery to me, though it could be the connection with Astarte/Inanna and Ishtar that came with it from its ancient religious meanings.
More importantly is the meaning we now attribute to the pentagram,
I have heard explanations that it represents the five elements of life or the five steps to enlightenment. It is a sacred symbol to practitioners of magic, its form representing both the complexity and the oneness of the world around us.
As a Celtic Pagan, I find the triskell more poignant, representing the three domains of land, sea and air and connecting directly to the Celtic way of thinking. I wear both the pentagram and the triskell on the same cord on either side of a pendant. This is to show first that I am a Pagan, second that my path is Celtic, and third that I am proud of both.
Why do I feel the need to wear these? To tell the world who and what I am without having to convey it in words.
Humans are visual animals who process more from one glance than might be thought possible. We go through an instant process of analysis when we look at another individual and one of the factors weighed is whether we are from the same pack or tribe. Wearing a symbol allows for an instant recognition that we are in some way connected -- be it football strip, a band logo or a pentagram. They all speak of belonging to a certain mind set or social group that helps to put others at ease, which is why it makes us uneasy to go somewhere where there are a lot of uniform individuals if we ourselves are ‘non-uniform’.
In short, the symbols we wear say ‘I am like you’ and allow us to differentiate between members of our tribe and members of other tribes.
Using symbols is inherent in any magic you would learn because they allow for quick understanding amongst those involved and can of course obfuscate meaning for those who are outside and need not understand.
I do not think a single Pagan would not understand the relevance of casting the circle even if they do not do it themselves, or the importance of the chalice and athame however one might represent them. These symbols also allow a focus for all present to concentrate on. What such ritual and ceremonial symbols might stand for is almost unending.
It has to also be remembered that symbols have been used throughout history to mark out and alienate others and to inspire hatred by saying they are different; they are not like us.
When a symbol is used in such a way it becomes invested with negative connotations that do not easily fade. How many of us experience an uneasy feeling when we see a swastika, another symbol of power from the middle east, despite the fact that it is just a symbol with only as much meaning as we allow it to have?
While we continue to see a symbol of oppression and anger as such, we feed the thoughts that went behind it. Racists still use the swastika because of the connotations that surround it and feed their own beliefs. They use that symbol knowing and enjoying the fact that it will offend others. (One thing to remember if you ever have the misfortune to come across a white supremacist wearing a swastika is that the symbol is backwards meaning weakness, powerlessness and everything but what it was intended to mean.)
We give power to symbols by investing our emotions in them and by doing that we grant those who would use them a degree of power over the way we act and feel.
Should a Wiccan soldier be allowed to have a pentagram gravestone? Yes. When he/she died, he/she did not pray to the god of the Israelites and he/she did not seek solace in Catholic last rites. His/her thoughts and prayers would have been to his or her Gods and Goddesses.
Would he or she want a cross over his/her resting place? I would think not. He or she gave his/her life for the political whims of his/her nation. He/she deserves the respect to have his/her own religious symbol mark his/her grave in the same way that Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists deserve the right for their grave markers to bear the symbols that they see appropriate.
Next time you are performing a ritual or ceremony, think on the symbols you use. Does your athame have to be something spectacular that you found in your local esoteric shop? Does your chalice need to be silver? Might you use an old bread knife and a chipped cup and invest them with the same energies? It is nice to have the bright and shiny trappings but as symbols we can invest our energies into anything and get the same results.
After this essay on the importance of symbols and how they might be used, why wouldn’t I die for a symbol? Because a symbol can be changed or replaced or altered to suit the need of the moment.
What is important is the ideals behind the symbol, the power of the thought that created the symbol and the emotions invested in the symbol.
I would die for those.
And for the right to believe in my own faith unhindered, to think without boundaries and to have passion in a cause.
Location: Science Hill, Kentucky
Author's Profile: To learn more about Crowshadower - Click HERE
Other Articles: Crowshadower has posted 4 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email Crowshadower... (Yes! I have opted to receive invites to Pagan events, groups, and commercial sales)
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, Wrenâ€™s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witchesâ€™ 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.
of The World
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).