Saturday, February 27, 2016

Symbols: behind their meanings

By Jennifer Furgerson
In the paranormal world we deal with symbols painted on buildings, tattooed on people, and just showing up where we least expect them. How do we decide their meaning, or even what they are? We research. A lot of people who see pentagrams, or upside down crosses tend to immediately think that these symbols are evil. No second thought of why they are there, no second thought of other possible meanings. Lets see if I can shed some light on three misunderstood symbols.

The Pentacle

 Lets start with the Pentacle. Most commonly known as a star placed in an upright or inverted position. Some people see it as just a star and nothing  more. Others see it as a very positive symbol, yet even a larger majority see it as one hundred percent evil. Where did this negativity come from? Lets start with the history or the closest time in history of when the Pentacle was first used.

Its first known use as an English word was in 1561. Over time it was used as a talisman, representative of the five elements, goddess worship, and devil worship. How did a simple five pointed star go from being just a star to have multiple meanings? The answer is simple. The people and/or religious leaders dictate what is good and what is bad.  In the pagan belief system the Pentacle represents the five elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit). Right side up meaning the goddess and inverted meaning the male god. Over time when Christianity began to grow and spread, the symbol began to take on new meaning to represent the sign of the devil. The Pentacle in this manner is represented by the inverted star.

Some have come to believe that it is supposed to represent the goat head of the devil. Today the Pentacle still has both positive and negative feeling surrounding it. Where some still use it in their pagan practices, others just wear it as nothing more than a fashion statement. The symbol its self is neither good or bad. 

When seen in an abandoned building or a place that is said to be haunted, it is unfortunate that most  people will place it as an evil symbol and give no second thought to why the Pentacle was placed there. Most will jump to the conclusion it was placed there to call the devil or other evil spirits. Its just as likely it could have be placed there as a symbol of protection against the evil that may lurk within. 

Alchemy Symbols

What happens when its more than one symbol used like in Alchemy? These symbols are seen alone or with others. Alchemy symbols were first used before the 17th century. These symbols were used to denote the elements, planets, compounds, etc. During the 16th century superstition ruled many people's minds. It was thought that these symbols had some sort of a connection to magic.

With that kind of knowledge the people of the 16th century thought that these symbols could do many things from protection, causing harm, calling up angles or devils, to possibly bring someone back from the world of the dead. Sometimes the symbols would be used in conjunction with the Pentacle. The symbols would be placed either around the star in a circle or placed at the star's points. This would be drawn on the walls, floors, or ceilings of peoples homes, businesses, and places of worship.

Over time these symbols were thought to be in decline and no longer used. Today Alchemy symbols are seen graffiti-ed in cemeteries, old abandoned churches, and sometimes abandoned asylums. It does not matter if  those symbols where placed there to call forth the devil, or bring forth protection, unfortunately it gives most people the sense that evil was conjured there.

The Cross

Now the cross in today's world is seen by many as a very good symbol to have around, but what if I told you that was not always the case. One of the earliest known uses of  the cross was in Egyptian hieroglyphs over a thousand years ago. When placed on the walls of their temples and tombs its meaning was 'to protect, guard and/or avenge'. Later they would use a similar symbol that meant 'beauty and perfect'. The symbol of the Cross was seen in many cultures, yet in the early infancy of Christianity the Cross was depicted as a gruesome way to  publicly execute of people. The Christian were very reluctant to use it as a holy symbol of their faith. It is in debate with scholars of when the Cross started to have a positive light to be used in  a positive manner.

Now the Cross seen in an upright position is normally seen as a symbol of faith of God in the Christian world. The upside-down Cross however has received an evil connotation over the last  few hundred years. Not many people realize that the the upside-down Cross
originated during the times of the ongoing crucifixions by the Romans  In fact it comes from the Catholic tradition of the crucifixion of Peter. It was written some time after 200 A.D., that Peter requested to be crucified upside-down as he felt he was unworthy to die in the same manner as Jesus had. In later years some Christians came to know this Cross as a symbol of humility. Even the Catholics Pope's symbol has an upside-down Cross with keys crossing over it. Unfortunately in today's society there are people that choose to use the upside-down cross as a satanic icon.

Even though there are many symbols in the world that have multiple meanings, most are greeted with ill will and thought only as being evil and never having the chance to be anything else. These symbols have been seen in countless graveyards, old churches, and other places that have been abandoned. Most people will not take  the time to know learn the back history of a symbol, but would rather let their imaginations run wild. Perhaps the next time you are lurking about in a place that may seem or look sinister, keep in mind that what you see may have more than one meaning. In some cases we may never know the actual intent of why the symbols were drawn in these places.

For more information on the symbols and their meanings please check out these websites.