Sacred symbols are a spiritual way to keep things holy. In many cultures and religions, they are held in the highest regard.
But sacred is a word that is thrown around a lot without a deeper connection by the person using it. In reality, sacred places, objects, or symbols are extremely important to millions of people.
What Does Sacred Mean?
Sacred means something that is holy and often used for worship. These objects or sources are often blessed or directly connected to a higher power.
Sacred objects rarely exist outside of religion, though some cultures have secularized religious traditions. This gave pagan and non-religious people access to what was sacred in their own way.
In order to be sacred, one does not need a priest’s blessing or a direct quote from God. Something can be sacred to one person and not sacred to another. After all, different religions have different views on what is sacred.
There is also a distinct difference between “holy” and “sacred,” although they can be used interchangeably. The word “holy” typically describes something that is eternal, like a person or holy body.
The word “sacred” usually describes an object or place that can be destroyed and must be protected by those connected to said sacred source. Sacred can also describe symbols that one can use to connect to what they consider holy.
Concepts of Sacred Symbolism
Concepts of sacred symbolism date back thousands of years. Symbolism has been around since humans, with the word symbol coming from the Greek word “symbolon, which means contract or insignia.
It is a form of identification. At one point, every symbol was sacred and had its own purpose. Today, the concept of symbolism has been partially lost, with each person having specific symbols that are important to them yet fewer collectively sacred symbols.
One person may get a tattoo of a symbol that others see as meaningless, but for the recipient, it may be sacred. Though hidden meanings are often tied to sacred symbols, the fact is that if a symbol is sacred, it’s important that the meaning is shared, or else it defeats the purpose.
This is especially true for symbols publically venerated and blessed by a member of the clergy.
Personification in sacred symbolism involves giving animals, plants, or objects human traits. This is very common in tribal faiths when Mother Nature takes such precedence.
Example: the sacred Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya
Analogies and metaphors are often used in place of true sacred objects or scripts. They can be used to explain something holy or sacred though the object you’re holding is a stand-in.
Example: the fidget spinner represents the holy trinity.
Parables are common in the Bible as Jesus uses them to explain life lessons. Many people use them today, as most movies, books, and shows are allegories. The hidden meanings are sometimes sacred when describing sensitive material. A parable can also be something as simple as an expression.
Example: Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
Sacred symbols have special meaning to those under the religion connected to them. They symbolize sacred spirituality and how we must see our relationships, bodies, and minds as sacred.
Example: the Om symbol
What Does Sacred Mean in the Bible?
In the Bible, sacred means that something is holy in God’s eyes. When something is sacred to God, it can be compared to the sun. This is something we can see but is too powerful and intense to touch or look at for too long.
We know that our God is sacred, but the definition of sacred in Christianity is “connected to God.” In this sense, we are all sacred as we share one body in Christ.
What are the Sacred Colors?
Black, white, yellow, and red are the sacred colors. These colors are found in the medicine wheel, which is a sacred symbol and object in many cultures. They represent the four directions, seasons, and the sacred path of life.
Sacred Symbol Flowers
- Lotus – a sacred flower in many cultures that represents purity and the ability to move on from hardships
- Mistletoe – this holiday flower is a sacred plant for both Pagan and Christian rituals
- Peyote – this pink flower is sacred to Native American tribes who use it in ceremonies to connect to the spiritual world
What Stones Are Considered Sacred?
- Topaz – mentioned many times as a sacred stone in the Bible
- Sapphire – a holy stone in most cultures
- Lapis Lazuli – the stone of total awareness in Buddhism
Animal Sacred Symbols
- Cow – the most common sacred animal in many religions
- Peacock – this bird was the mount of the Hindu Lord Murugan, who used it to represent glory and protection
- Mouse – another Hindu mount, this one associated with family
- Elephant – a holy Hindu animal associated with the god Ganesha
- Cat – sacred to ancient Egyptians
- Sheep – spiritually pure, especially when young
- Monkey – scared in multiple Asian faiths
- Rooster – another Hindu sacred animal. This one lets us know of the new dawn
Plants that are Sacred Symbols
Banyan trees, marijuana plants, and yew trees are all sacred. The yew tree is an evergreen tree that stands for rebirth.
It is a symbol of the Christian faith. Marijuana is a controversial sacred plant often called “wisdom weed” or “holy herb.” Finally, banyan trees are sacred in the Hindu faith as they stand for protection and strength.
20 Sacred Symbols
The cross is a sacred symbol in Christianity. It symbolizes the sacrifice Christ made and how we can accept his gift of salvation.
The Tripundra is a sacred Hindu symbol. It is composed of three white stripes of holy ash with a red dot of fire burning away our impurities.
3. Triple Goddess
The triple goddess is a gorgeous sacred symbol in many traditions. It consists of the waxing, waning, and full moon, each representing a different section of femininity.
4. Double Happiness
The Double Happiness symbol is sacred. It is a symbol in calligraphy that blesses relationships of all kinds, especially romantic ones.
Faravahar is a sacred symbol of Zoroastrianism. It is named after a guardian spirit with influences from the Egyptian god Ra.
6. Two Hands
Two hands against each other is a universally sacred symbol. It can symbolize prayer, togetherness, or success. In the Hindu faith, it is a greeting called “anjali.”
7. Sivalinga Pedestal
The ancient Sivalinga mark is a symbol of God. It represents Siva’s manifest of Parashakti, one of the three chief goddesses.
8. Star of David
The Star of David is a sacred Jewish symbol. It symbolizes peace, harmony, and the Way of God, the truth and life.
9. Water Hamsa
Water Hamsa is a Hebrew and Muslim symbol of protection. It opposes the evil eye, which is considered a bad omen in these faiths.
10. Dharma Wheel
The Dharma Wheel is a sacred Buddhist symbol of enlightenment. It has eight spokes to represent the paths of life and how they all come together in perfect unison.
11. Tai Symbol of Peace
The Tai symbol of peace is a sacred one in Daoism. It is complete with a hexagram from the Classics of Changes. It signifies peace and harmony.
The Ankh is an old Egyptian symbol with many meanings. It is considered a sacred symbol of immortality in most cases.
The Triskele is an ancient Celtic symbol. It is a scared image of three spirals connected in the center that symbolize many trinities such as the body, mind, and spirit.
The bell is a sacred Hindu symbol. It is used in rituals where it is referred to as “ghanta” and has the ability to summon the gods.
15. Fire Altar
The fire altar is another sacred Hindu symbol. It is called “homakunda” and is a symbol of ancient Vedic rites.
Om is a Hindu symbol of creation. It is a sacred symbol described as the vibration and sound of the universe.
The pentagram is sacred in ancient times and in specific religions. It is considered sacred because it contains five points, the golden ratio.
18. Flower of Life
The Flower of Life is a sacred geometric shape. It contains three symbols together – the egg of life, the seed of life, and the fruit of life.
19. Pasha Noose
The pasha is a tether that represents the soul’s bondage. It is the force by which God brings souls to the truth.
20. Star and Moon
The star inside a crescent moon is a symbol of the Islam religion. However, it is also sacred in some Wiccan and similar practices today.