Symbols have this interesting power in magical life. We often use it in different ways by cutting puppets in the shapes we want them to give help in or paint the symbols on candles. Even runes and letters are nothing more then symbols representing certain ideas or beliefs.
Lately I’ve gone around with open eyes for all the symbols that surround us. We were talking with sis few nights back and she told me how sad it was that our ancestor symbolic language is pretty much gone. Everybody around here knows the lessons in school telling us how rich was the symbolic representation in our history, but not one of the teacher had the time to introduce them to us. Probably, because they don’t know much more of it either. It’s indeed sad.
So lately I’ve been ransacking books that talk of symbol language that was used in daily life in the folk history. That is, for example, patterns used in knits and carvings made in wood or patterns pressed in cookies. Our history on it might have huge moth holes in it, but when you look at how folklore works, the way the symbols and traditions travel, if I can find that info from other sources, it might hold water that they might of had the same meanings for the symbols? Why not try them out or add in the practice?
With that another question started bugging me. There are tons of symbols on the internet that say “for protection”. As fun and lovely as it is, I would like more info, like what exactly does it protect from or bring prosperity for? Because symbol to protect your sheep doesn’t really do the trick to protect your house…
For example I like symbolic shapes related with hexagons and pentagons and circles. But I can’t say I use them at all the same way. They all have protective abilities and thus hold good power in them, but when I work with them, I discovered I don’t sense them working the same way to everything. Circles I tend to bring up, when I need to enhance energies. Like when I make an altar, I prefer setting it up on circular space. Although I like altars in the house, I kinda like them not to overpower my life. With this I mean that to me there is sacred space and not so sacred space. Doesn’t mean I don’t tend the whole place sacred, but different areas have different energies and different needs. So I use circles to control energies, especially when I work on something. It focuses the energies better and helps to control what you’re doing.
Pentagon related symbols (pentagrams, pentacle, etc) I prefer as sort of personal protection. For example I’m not fond of pentagrams on every non-perishable item I own, but I do like to wear it on my body. It protects the body and I feel it sort of collects the energies that attack you. Like support for your energetic immune system. My wall between me and the evil of the world. By non-perishable I mean that I also use it on food. I don’t press it in finished bread, though if I’d be making bread probably I would be, but I make it over the dough and pastes and drinks that need to sit on the counter for a while so nothing could go into it. Illogical as this might seem, I do feel better if I make the mark on them. So pentagram to me is for personal protection.
Hexagons for me relate with house protection. I am very fond of them because of their relation with bees, with their work and their love for their home. To me hexagons are the symbol I would pull over me while I sleep to cover myself with grid that keeps me and my space calm. I guess you could say it pretty much relates with keeping peace inside the house and the working spirit up. It’s the one for me that protects the property and adds sturdiness to survive in the harsh reality of life.
Stripes protect. I am guessing that is as basic to animal instincts as we can get. Think of zebras and all of that world and you relate with the need to have striped socks, striped skirts and all that fancy world.
Another one that is opulently used in our society and that is actually a fantastic symbol that is put on things for luck and prosperity. It is widely used on clothes in Estonian knitting and much loved. Yet it is again one of those symbols that I feel I wouldn’t use just everywhere, but on clothes mostly. It’s one of those symbols that relate to me with the feeling that I don’t want it on my body all the time. So it has to be removable. Yet I love it to bits! Those are the variations common to us:
So it isn’t always related with traditions at all. Because mostly it’s related with how we perceive the symbol personally and then the meanings it actually has. Differently from the non-witchy world, one thing you learn on our path is that you go by your instincts. This means directly that you can play around with them. As with everything, there are things that have specific meaning and things that you can tweet to your liking. Like… to draw luck on personal level I would use the eight heel that is third on the first line. To bring general luck in the household I would make sun catcher in the shape of fourth or the last one in the first line. At the same time to protect my personal luck “the protection against the evil eye”, I would knit the third on the below line in my mittens. So the way we perceive them is directly related of how well and familiar you are with the specific symbol and how well you relate with them. The eight heel is the same, but the meanings variate to your needs.
It doesn’t mean I couldn’t draw them down on anything else if the need rises, but that’s just how I see them. And if I find a good symbol that can be lovely thing to remember, why not? What is lost is how our ancestors perceived symbols around them, but if you look through cultures and compare them – understanding those symbols is universal. So instead of searching iron glad meaning, think instead, how would you see it and then see if there is similarities around you. The way we understand our universe comes from home and is planted into us from home. You’d be surprised what you find. Especially if you look around :). Many use symbols in their lives without thinking on it much. Often you feel like falling in love with something. Probably that’s the symbol you need.
Medieval archaic plant pattern is a cool way to add that “something” in daily life. The image next to this is hip scarf from Halliste, Estonia. If you know what Zentangle is, you might recognize the logic here. I put the image here to show how not everything is lost if you give it a bit logical thought :). Most symbols you see here are related with plants and crosses, trees and leaves. But at the same time they are meant to protect different aspects of yourself and the life you live. Just imagine a blanket cover with edge like this or your next coat with that sort of lining! And that embroidery art is very much still alive :). It’s called arhailine mulgi tikand – check it out. It is fun way to draw symbols on stuff and to add extra hidden symbolic zing if you don’t want to be public about it. Plus it looks utterly cool! 😀