Symbols are a quick way to communicate often complex ideas. Religions, particularly esoteric ones, commonly employ a great amount of symbolism to represent their beliefs. Click on a subgroup name to view associated symbol galleries.
Alchemy wasn't just a quest to transform lead into gold: it was a quest to transform base things into greater, more spiritual things, including the elevation of the soul. Alchemists coded their notes in a variety of personalized symbols. Here is a collection of common ones.
A collection of Egyptian symbols still in use today, including the symbols of Coptic Christianity, which drew from the iconography of ancient Egypt.
The Greeks proposed the existence of five basic elements. Of these, four were the physical elements – fire, air, water and earth – of which the entire world is composed. Alchemists eventually associated four triangular symbols to represent these elements. In traditional Western occult theory, the elements are hierarchical - spirit, fire, air, water and earth – with the first elements being more spiritual and perfect and the last elements being more material and base.
Because basic geometric shapes are so simplistic in construction, they are found all over the world with a wide variety of uses and meanings. However, there are a variety of meanings that are more commonly ascribed to these shapes, particular when used in a religious or magical context.
follow a largely personalized religion. As such, there are no widely accepted symbols for the religion as a whole. However, some organizations within the movement adopt symbols that represent some of the basic tenets of their faith.
Naziism, of course, is not a religion. However, some of the symbols used by the Nazis have origins in pagan symbols and might have had occult significance. Some of these symbols are even still in use today by a variety of pagan groups that have absolutely nothing to do with Nazi ideology.
Occult principles are almost by definition impossible to directly explain with words. As such, occultists
regularly employ graphic symbols as well as allegory to communicate beliefs to others.
Occultists associate a number of symbols with the planets. These include astrological symbols, which are still in common use today. They also include numerological magic squares, complex seals constructed for those squares, and sigils of the spirits and intelligences associated with each planet.
To see information organized by individual planets, please see: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, the Moon.
Uraltes Chymisches Werk von Abraham Eleazar, 18th century
The ouroboros is a snake or dragon (often described as a "serpent") eating it's own tail. It is present in a variety of different cultures, going back as far as the ancient Egyptians. Today, it is most associated with Gnosticism, alchemy and hermeticism.