Spiritual symbols are everywhere. From the leaf of the Bodhi tree to the dream catcher on your bedside, they all symbolize something. Although we have largely forgotten its significance in the present life, they can still cast a strong psychological impression in our minds.
It’s strange how some symbols can instantly emanate positivity while a few others radiate negativity. Sometimes, the generated aura is so powerful that it can impart a sense of deep understanding and wisdom.
Spiritual Symbols are an imminent part of ancient history!
Well, yes. There’s no denying that. People from different cultures and backgrounds have been vividly using spiritual symbols for communication of ideas, concepts, and values. How these figures require little or no words and still speak so much, is fascinating.
Spiritual Symbols are personal
Apart from being an effective communication medium, symbols are also extremely personal. There might be a certain symbol, at the sight of which you are naturally drawn towards it. This might be because it is trying to communicate with your spiritual being.
In fact, if you understand the significance of each of these symbols, it can also reinforce beliefs, offer strength, and evoke feelings you haven’t experienced before.
Importance of Symbols in Spiritual Journey
Spirituality is a lot about your vision. Symbols concentrate this vision into a graphical image that delivers truth and intrigues various powerful emotions. It motivates you on your spiritual path and acts as your strong-arm throughout.
In fact, if you know how to capitalize on the power of these symbols, it can intensify the whole spiritual experience and help you achieve your spiritual goals sooner.
The 31 Most Common Spiritual Symbols and Meanings
So, come let’s explore the meaning and background of these 31 spiritual symbols.
1. Hamsa and evil eye
– Protection from evil
The Arabic word for five, Hamsa with the evil eye is the sign of protection. This symbol is represented by an open right hand with an eye draw at the center. It’s also known as the Hand of Fatima and the Hand of Miriam in the Middle East and Northern Africa respectively.
It is believed that if the Hamsa is worn as an amulet or hung at your home, people with negative thoughts or vibrations will not be able to harm you. Basically, it prevents you from a malevolent stare and other harmful energies.
2. Flower of Life
– Patterns of Creation
Made up of overlapping geometric circles, the flower of life demonstrates the connection that is deep-seated in the human lives. It is one of the most prolific symbols of sacred geometry and dates back to various cultures in human civilization. Well, some say that it has existed since the time of Sumerians (the first civilization in the world).
When you look at the symbol, you will observe 7 overlapping symbols that represent patterns of creation. All the interlocking rings in the symbol have its own significance and can be linked to various situations defining mathematics, medicine or even music.
3. Yin Yang
– Balance between opposites
This ball of duality is a Taoist symbol that represents the unity of the opposites. The two halves of the ball represent the masculine and feminine energy existing in the world, likewise embodying how everything in the universe has an equally powering energy.
It acts as a reminder of the law of balance and represents the harmonization of duality. Yin Yang says no matter how dark or light, knowledge or ignorance, masculine or feminine – everything needs balance. Used extensively across all the Chinese culture, the teaching via this symbol of duality re-establishes peace and solace in the universe.
4. Dharma Wheel
– Path of enlightenment
The 8 spokes of the Dharma Wheel represent the 8 paths of Enlightenment which can help you achieve Nirvana. It is one of the oldest Buddhist symbols that details wisdom in the Buddhist tradition.
Each spoke of this Dharma Wheel represents exclusive teaching as follows: right livelihood, right speech, right intention, right action, right efforts, right mindfulness, right consciousness, and right view. Also known as the ‘Wheel of Law’, it’s existence dates back to 2500 B.C. which is older than Buddhism itself!
5. Star of David
– The divine connection
A Jewish symbol which was originally known as the Shield of David with two triangles overlapping each other in either direction ultimately forming a star. These two triangles symbolize the connection between God and Man or union between male and female.
Widely used in occult circles and Kabbalistic practices, the Star of David represents the union of opposites like fire and water. There are various studies that defy this significance of divine connection and believe that it instead represents the 6 directions in space: Up, down, east, west, north, south, and center (the space in the center of the star).
– The scared sound
Most of us are aware of this sacred symbol because of its extensive usage across various cultures. It can be rightly called as the “Mother of all Mantras”. This symbol represents the primordial sound of creation which when chanted can help you connect to the divine energy. The power of this symbol is infinite as it can help open your third eye.
It’s the primary force of Hinduism representing the blend of time – past, present, and future. Ardent yoga and meditation practitioners say that it manifests itself in deep meditation. You can find the inscriptions of this symbol in the medieval era Manuscripts, temples, and spiritual retreats of various religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.
7. Lotus Flower
– The flower of light
One of the most celebrated Buddhist symbols, the lotus flower represents enlightenment. The fact that it grows amidst muddy waters and still grows to be such a beautiful flower, relates it to transformation and resurrection.
The beautiful hope that it has to offer is empowering. Present across various spiritual traditions, lotus reminds us that no matter the difficulty, it shall pass. It encourages forgiveness and gratitude and also detachment in the form of the water that slips through its petals.
8. Tree of Life
– Symbol of Unity
The symbolization of the tree of life can be perceived in different forms depending on the different religions. Representing connection, creation, and unity, the tree of life can also be sported in various art and architectures across the globe.
Symbolized by a natural tree, this tree of life honors diversity and celebrates the common origin. While in Christianity it is believed to be a tree from where Adam and Eve picked the forbidden fruit, in a few other cultures, it establishes a connection between the four earth elements (Earth, wind, air, and fire).
– The inspiring leader
Buddha is more of a religious guru and less of a spiritual symbol. He is the founder of the religion ‘Buddhism’ who gave up all the luxuries in life to find the true meaning of life. Born in 563 B.C. in Nepal, Buddha achieved Nirvana under a Bodhi tree and went ahead to guide the world towards the path of enlightenment.
The term Buddha means “the awakened one” and he continues to inspire millions since time immemorial. Buddha is characterized by his own figure: long ears, spiraling curls, manifested in a meditating position. A teacher, philosopher, and leader, Buddha was a living emblem of peace and solace.
– The beautiful universe
A mandala is represented by several geometrical figures enveloped in a circle since the literal meaning of the word Mandala is “Circle”. It represents the universe and patterns of nature. It is also a useful tool for meditation and its epicenter helps you concentrate and intensifies focus.
Mandalas are originally from Tibetan Buddhism where they are used as a means of worship. Several Buddhists draw intricate Mandalas and then destroy it, upon completion. This act of destruction relates to the mortality of human life.
– The traditional greeting
The people in India will greet you with both their hands joined. Traditionally, the word “Namaste” is a combination of two words: Namah and Aste. Namah means “I bow before you” and Aste means “Let there be.”
For the Yogis all across the world, this is a very powerful spiritual practice. It literally translates to the message that says: The divine in me honors the divine in you – which means the person who is exhibiting “Namaste” believes in the divine spark that exists in one and all. You can practice saying Namaste, it develops a strange sense of grace and humility in the individual.
– The breath of life
Originated from the Egyptian Civilisation, this symbol represents the regeneration of life through water. It is also found in many Egyptian tombs since they believe it is a significant part of the afterlife. In fact, even Egyptian Gods are depicted carrying Ankh
The Ankh is represented by a loop at the top with the arms extending on three different sides. It is also known as the crux ansata or a “cross with a handle” because of its graphic representation. Some theories also suggest that it was also used during sexual activities to harness the regeneration of orgasms.
– Star against evil
Pentacle or Pentagram is represented by a star encompassed in a circle. As a natural star, there were 5 peaks in it, the peak pointing upwards representing spirit while the other four symbolize all the other 4 elements: air, water, air, and fire.
Also known as the “satanic”, all the things that a Pentagram is composed of are all the matter that contributes to our lives. It is extensively used in the Wiccan religion that is believed to provide you protection against evil. It is also worn as a protective talisman and is used during evacuation ceremonies to draw energy from it.
14. The eye of Horus
– The magical healer
Originated from the ancient Egyptian civilizations, the existence of the Eye of Horus has a very intriguing story. It goes as follows: The god Horus, the god of the sun and mood who lost his eye in a battle was later restored by Thoth, the God of wisdom.
Egyptians believe that it has healing power since the eye was magically restored. The reason why it is often worn as an amulet in a belief that it grants health, safety, and wisdom to the wearer. However, the strange fact is that it’s not only worn by the living, but also the dead along with various metals like Gold, Lapis Lazuli, and Carnelian.
15. Zen Circle
– Circle of Enlightenment
Zen Circle is a symbol originated in Zen Buddhism that symbolizes effortlessness and enlightenment. The beauty with which is drawn itself is a replica of the message. The effortless brushstroke teaches us to just be.
Also known as Enso or the Infinity Circle, the Zen Circle conveys some of the most primary concepts of Zen Buddhism that is, enlightenment, effortlessness, and imperfection. It is drawn with a fluid elegance, which evokes peace and a sense of wholeness among the viewers.
– Symbol of harmony
This is the universal symbol often used to manifest peace among human beings. While there are other signs and symbols that represent peace, this one is the most extensively used. It came into existence in 1958 as a logo of a British campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. It was created by Gerald Holtom, who explains it as a human with hands at their sides standing in front of the Earth.
Since its inception, this spiritual symbol has been used globally under various circumstances: wars, violence or even protests. In fact, it is so extensively in use that it has also been manifested as an emoji in all of the keyboards which are usually white in color on a purple background.
– Power of Jesus
Just by the sight of it, we all know it is directly related to Christianity. It is recognized worldwide and is considered one of the most sacred symbols worldwide. The gesture of “crossing oneself” and the symbol itself represents the power of Jesus.
Christ who is believed to have died to cleanse the sins of mankind was nailed on the cross. People wear the cross as a reminder of this sacrifice which is a well-known narrative in the Bible. This symbol is found in churches as the Christians consider it as a means of worshipping the almighty.
– Strength of the Sikhs
This spiritual symbol is the most sacred in the Sikh community and is made up of four weapons. It comprises of two single-edged swords crossed at the bottom (Kirpan), a chakkar in the center along with a two-edged sword (talwar).
Representing the Sikh doctrine Deg Tegh Fateh, the sword in the symbol represents the divine power. It manifests the destruction of falsehood and re-establishes truth. The two swords at the bottom are known as Piri-Miri (Left-right) that shows the integration of spiritual and materialistic supremacy.
– The Success lender
One of the most admirable gods of Hinduism, Lord Ganesha represents wisdom. It is believed that he is a remover of obstacles and is often worshipped to achieve successes in the new ventures. The symbol is represented by a figure with an elephant head but the human body who prevents you from destruction.
Apart from Hinduism, he is also worshipped in Buddhism and is also inscribed in some Tibetan scriptures. He is known for his kindness and is also known as Vinayaka by some Tibetan scriptures. Some cultures also claim him as the dancing God or Nritta Ganpati.
20. Bodhi Leaf
– Spiritual awakening
As the name suggests, it is a leaf from the Bodhi tree and a celebrated emblem in Buddhism. Lord Buddha who desired spiritual wisdom, in the search of which sacrificed all the princely pleasures finally achieved it und0er the Spiritual Bodhi tree. After 49 days of rigid meditation, he finally achieved enlightenment and in honor to that, the Bodhi leaf represents spiritual awakening.
It also determines how perseverance is of utmost importance in this materialistic world. The bodhi leaf tries to teach the humankind that without patience and dedication, you will never be able to achieve solace as the answers will not come walking to you, you need to find them.
– Primal life energy
This spiritual symbol is represented by two snakes spiraling around a winged figure. Often confused with the symbol Rod of Asclepius (symbol of medicine), Caduceus is the traditional symbol of Hermes. It dates back to both Greek and Egyptian Mythology and represents the planet, Mercury.
Both the snakes in this spiritual symbol represent the masculine and feminine energy in life which when intertwined, the person is filled with life energy and develops the wings of a new life. In this way, it also symbolizes the primal forces of life energy.
– Balance is beautiful
Made of eight trigrams, each with three lines with the Yin-Yang symbol enclosed in the center. The three lines in the trigrams are a representation of Yin Yang energies itself. If they are broken, it symbolizes yin energy, and the unbroken denotes Yang energies. Traditionally, the word Bagua translates to eight symbols but it is extensively used to achieve balance in various aspects of life.
In this Feng Shui symbol, each trigram relates to a specific area of the health of the individual and the home. It is also used to attain balance in Astronomy, Astrology, Geography, Anatomy and the family.
23. Double Happiness
– Symbol of marriage
One of the most recognized Chinese symbols, Double Happy talks about a happy romantic relationship. The word is literally translated to 2 characters of Chinese alphabets spelled as xi which if combined means “Joy”. It is believed to attract a strong and happy relationship and is widely used by jewellery brands.
It is also significantly used in Chinese weddings – from weddings to decorations, in an attempt to attract bliss. Since it represents joy and unity, it is also used as wedding gifts to couples in the forms of jewellery to bestow them with good luck.
24. Earth Medicine Wheel
– Harmony and peace
Originated from the Native Americans, the Earth Medicine Wheel represents harmony. It is also an attempt to establish peaceful interaction amidst the four elements of the Earth. People use it to manifest spiritual energy and strengthen their inner vision.
It is also known as the Sacred Hoop or Sacred Circle used among Native Americans since so many generations for healing and teaching, both simultaneously. There are many interpretations about the medicine wheel but each of them establishes a connection with the cosmic things.
25. Gayatri Yantra
– Illumination and wisdom
Gayatri Yantra is derived from the Goddess Gayatri of Hinduism. It represents an illumined mind & far-sighted wisdom. The well-narrated Gayatri Mantra among the Hindus radiates sacred sounds and powerful Vedic affirmations.
This is believed to bring wealth and prosperity to homes. The presence of Gayatri yantras removes all the possibility of making the wrong choices and establishes an understanding of the whole life creation. It also empowers the truth and focalizes cosmic wisdom for mutual benefit.
26. Sri Yantra
– The map of energies and creation
The king of all the yantras and mystical diagrams, Sri Yantra consists of nine interlocking triangles enveloped in a circle. Exactly in the center, there’s a dot (Bindu) which symbolizes the place where all the creative energies emerged.
The symbol also represents the male and female energies via the four upright triangles (Shiva) and five downward triangles (shakti), respectively. When combined, all of these embody the inherent power of the cosmic forces and the oath of enlightenment. Its geometrical interpretation also intensifies an individual meditation experience.
– Geometrical womb
This symbol represents the female womb, fertility, and life energy. One of the oldest sacred symbols, Spiral is observed in various life forms and energies: plants, minerals, weather, death, and growth. It reflects the pattern of new growth and the evolution of life’s journey.
It is often used as a charm and it helps the wearer to accept the spiral changes and turnings in life. Since this spiritual symbol is believed to connect us to the source of life it also represents the divine power of creation.
28. The triple Spiral
– Movement of time
Triple Spiral also is known as The Tirade or Triskele, represented by three spirals connected by one line representing the flow of time. Each spiral symbolizes earthly life, the afterlife and finally reincarnation.
The triple spiral that relates to the elements of Earth, Water, Sky, Body, Mind, and spirit, is found in Celtic arts and architecture. While it’s inception dates back to the Neolithic era since it is found at the entrance of Newgrange, Ireland.
– The Chinese Beast
Dragons have a special place in spirituality and have been a significant part of Chinese history. It is also manifested in the famous narrative of St. George’s battle in the bible. It is interpreted differently in different directions – In the east, they are represented as monsters, while in the west as auspicious creatures.
Chinese, Japanese and Korean civilizations believe that they are the guardians of all the water bodies: rivers, oceans, and rain. However, they are depicted as mythical poisonous beings also known as Nagas in Hinduism and Buddhism.
30. Dream Catchers
– Nightmare vigilante
Most of you must be aware of this symbol, especially in this generation when it is massively gaining popularity. It is represented by a wooden hope crafted with a specific form of net in the center, embellished with charms and other beads. It is believed to prevent nightmares and bring good luck.
They are widely used by Native Americans to hang on the cradles of children in an attempt to prevent them from bad dreams and channel good dreams. People are also found wearing it as a piece of jewellery, to shrug off negative energy and vibrations.
31. Endless knot
– No beginning, no end
When you first look at it, you will not be able to spot the beginning or the end of this infinite knot. It is crafted to represent that the entire world is interconnected and radiates calm and movement. Apart from this, the knot also acts as a reminder of how time is an illusion and Dharma is eternal.
It is also an embodiment of Buddha’s infinite compassion in Buddhism and symbolizes the fact that earthly life and religious thought are intertwined. Contrary to the popular belief it shows people that enlightenment need not necessarily mean that you need to give up on worldly matters.
Before wrapping up this think-piece, here’s a reminder from all of us at TheMindfool: these spiritual symbols only make sense when your intent and thoughts are positive.
So, if you wish to make the most of these graphical representations, don’t let the negatives cloud your mind and believe in the goodness of one and all.
Surabhi has a deep passion for words. She puts her heart and mind into whatever she pursues and craves for creative ventures. She has always been keen on creating original content that can make a difference. In her experience as a content writer, she has had the opportunity to work on several fields with Psychology being her favourite. Surabhi says, words have the power to transform the world, better than a sword. So she hopes to contribute her bit to this revolution. At TheMindFool, she feels lucky to have the opportunity to share content capable of bringing about a change in the lives of the readers.