Magical Symbols and Their Meanings
Almost all magical traditions and metaphysical schools of thought place a heavy emphasis on symbolism. In these contexts, symbols serve multiple purposes. They were a way for witches to conceal their work and protect themselves from persecution, they served as a handy magical "shorthand" for inscribing candles and making amulets, and some symbols are believed to have a power of their own.
Here are some common symbols and what they mean:
The pentagram (sometimes called a pentacle) is a five-pointed star within a circle commonly used in Wicca. It's used to symbolize the religion itself, but is also considered a protective emblem. The five points correspond to the five elements -- earth, air, fire, water, and spirit, while the star shape roughly corresponds to the human body. The circle around the star represents infinity, the aura field, the totality of being, and the magical circle of protection.
The Eye of Horus
Eye of Horus comes from ancient Egypt. It is found in artwork and protective amulets. The Eye is said to protect anything it gazes upon.
It is often confused with the Eye of Ra. While the symbols look similar, they are very different. The Eye of Horus is tied to the legend of Horus, which is associated with rebirth. Horus' left eye was injured in a battle against Set, and Thoth healed it. The Eye of Ra comes from the legend of Ra removing his eye and sending it to light the primordial darkness. Ra regrew his eye, and his original eye became jealous. To smooth things over, Ra placed his old eye on his forehead as a sign of illumination.
The Eye of Horus is a sign of healing and renewal. The Eye of Ra is a sign of fiery protection, knowledge, and light in the darkness.
Circle of Protection
Circles in general are often seen in protective amulets. The circle is a shield that envelops everything it is set to protect, including up above and down below. Magical practitioners cast circles of protection to contain magical energies and keep evil influences away from their work. These circles are often marked with salt or chalk.
Eihwaz is a letter in the Norse runic alphabet. Runes are regarded as more than just a writing system -- they have their own metaphysical attributes, divinatory meanings, and magical associations. Eihwaz looks like a straight line, with two shorter lines coming off of the top and bottom in different directions, as seen in this
amulet to confuse and defeat enemies.
Eihwaz symbolizes the yew tree, where Odin hung while seeking knowledge. It stands for knowledge and the mysteries of life and death. In a runic divination, it means mental clarity, accountability, honesty, and your life's purpose.
Hexagram of Solomon
Solomon is best known from Biblical legends as a king who was able to bind demons to his will. The Hexagram of Solomon is one of the symbols that he used to lure in and subjugate spirits. It stands for protection from evil, the elements of fire and water, and God's authority.
The triangle is a prominent symbol in magical amulets. The three sides represent the Triple Goddess in Wicca and Wicca-derived religions, and the Holy Trinity in Christianity. It's also the alchemical symbol for fire. As a fire symbol, stands for knowledge, illumination, and protection.
The Hamsa, or Hand of Fatima, is often seen in Africa and the Middle East. This symbol is used in protective jewelry, or made into talismans and hung over windows and entry ways. The Hamsa wards off the evil eye, and symbolizes wisdom, health, love, power, and money. It is often combined with the blue evil eye symbol.
The idea of the "evil eye" -- curses sent through malicious or jealous gazes -- is found all over the world. The popular blue evil eye symbol, or nazar, comes specifically from Turkey. These eyes are supposed to reflect harm back to the sender. They can be found as
hanging talismans for homes or vehicles, necklaces and bracelets, or even woven into rugs and other textiles. Sometimes, they are combined with other symbols of luck and protection, as in this Saint Michael Evil Eye Horseshoe.
For some protective magical symbols, like the evil eye or Hamsa, it is enough simply to display the symbol itself. Others, like the circle of protection, are used in a ritual context. While many magical symbols have similar metaphysical properties, not all of them are interchangeable -- before using one, make sure to do your research into the history, legends, and traditions surrounding it. This will help ensure that you get the most out of your magic.