The list of symbols with spiritual significance are endless, but here are 10 commonly used spiritual symbols and their meanings.
OM / AUM
AUM or Om (Sanskrit: ॐ) is a sacred sound and a spiritual icon in Indian Dharmic religions. "Om" (aum) is considered the most sacred Hindu mantra, appearing at the beginning and end of many Sanskrit prayers and texts.
Anyone who's been to a yoga class has probably chanted Om. It's a magical experience to feel the vibrations of the entire room in the middle of your chest.
Made up of the sounds of the letters A-U-M, Om is all about threes. With its roots in Hinduism, the Om symbol is said to represent the one-ness of all creation, including the heavens, earth and underworld. Others say it is the representation of the three Hindu gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Some say the actual shape of the symbol represents the syllables of the word: the ‘three’ being the Sanskrit letter for ‘aahh’, the small ‘s’ is the ‘oooh’ and the half moon at the top is the ‘mmm’ sound. Om is considered one of the most powerful mantras, and the ritual of chanting Om has been done for thousands of years.
The Om is considered by many to be the universal symbol of sound
Hamsa – it’s the Arabic word for “five” and represents the five digits of the hand. Hamsa is the universal sign of protection, and is often combined with the Evil Eye to ward anyone who wants to harm you. According to the history of this symbol, if anyone looks at you with evil intentions while you are carrying this symbol, they will be unable to cause you harm.
FLOWER OF LIFE
One of the main symbols of sacred geometry, the Flower of Life is seen to contain all of the patterns of creation within it. Consisting of 7 or more overlapping symbols, the flower of life dates back to almost every ancient culture and is considered to be one of the sacred formations that creation arose out of.
The Egyptians, Romans, Celtic Christians, and even Leonardo da Vinci all believed there was something very special about this symbol.
SEED OF LIFE
The Seed of Life represents the seven stages, steps, or days of creation. The creation of a vibrating pattern of space (electromagnetic radiation) is the actual process of creation itself which otherwise is symbolized by various concepts such as “days of creation” to make something otherwise almost impossible to explain, much easier to handle.
TREE OF LIFE
Did you know that the tree of life has been represented by a number of cultures and religions across the world? You should also know that the Tree of Life, or also known as the World Tree, is associated with birth, life, death and rebirth the circle of life. In Christianity, the tree is known to be in the garden of Eden where Adam and Eve picked the forbidden fruit from. Generally, the tree of life is seen as a having a connection between the four earth elements (earth, wind, air and fire), and is a representation of the infinite connection of all things in creation.
It looks like—and is—a water lily. The water lily, or lotus flower, has a wealth of meaning and history behind it. The lotus flower blooms on the surface of water with its roots deep in the mud – a symbol of light and emergence from darkness. In Buddhism, the lotus blossom represents the heart opening. Buddhists compare the opening of the lotus flower petals to the unfolding of what is divine within you. It is a perfect reflection of new beginnings, purity and enlightenment. A closed bloom is the heart with its infinite potential for enlightenment, waiting to unfold.
Loosely translated as “circle,” mandalas are said to represent the universe. A mandala is designed to offer a visual balance of elements that symbolize harmony and unity. When used in a spiritual practice, the mandala is said to help absorb the mind in meditation. As you may have noticed, a mandala can come in an innumerable variety of designs, patterns and colors. If you look closely, you’ll see the mandala represented in so many aspects of your own life – the concentric circles in the patterns of nature, and even the circles of life, friends and family.
Buddha is a Sanskrit word that means “the awakened one.” It represents the life of Siddhartha, an Indian prince that gave up his throne, riches and lavish lifestyle to look for true meaning and happiness in life. He studied for years with religious prophets and went on a six-year journey to share what he believed was the way to achieve real peace and fulfillment in life. His teaching is known as the Dharma. Buddha is represented in many different forms, including ones that symbolize protection, serenity or meditation, medicine and teaching.
Used extensively in Chinese teachings, this symbol represents the harmony of the universe. All duality- no matter how dark or light, masculine or feminine- provides needed balance. It’s said that balance between these two opposing forces brings the most harmony to an individual’s life.
The Wheel of Dharma, or the “Wheel of Law”, is the Buddhist symbol for teachings of the path of Nirvana. Each spoke represents a step in Buddha’s Eightfold Path. Interestingly, it’s older than Buddhism itself, dating back to 2500 B.C
The Wheel of Life illustrates in a popular way the essence of the Buddhist teachings, the Four Truths: the existence of earthly suffering, its origin and cause, the ending or prevention of misery and the practice path to liberation from suffering.
The Wheel of Life describes the cause of all evil and its effects, mirrored in earthly phenomena just as it is experienced by everyone from the cradle to the grave. Picture by picture it reminds us that everyone is always his or her own judge and responsible for their own fate, because, according to Karma, causes and their effects are the fruits of one's own deeds.
There are of course many other spiritual symbols that we have not covered in this list - have we left out your favourite?
Tell us which symbol means the most to you!