Witch Craft Basics

Suffolk, learning basics

Signs, Symbols & Sigils:

         In Wicca and in neo-paganism in general signs symbols and sigils play a major role in many of the forms, traditions or branches. Signs symbols or sigils are almost impossible to avoid if you are involved in and perform magical invocations or incantations or indeed any Wiccan ritual action.

          Most if not all magical practises are accompanied by signs symbols or sigils in some form or another. Many are universally accepted, some are limited to one particular tradition or group. It’s also reasonable to say that any sign symbol or sigil that someone may invent and use, and if it works for them is by definition right, and right for them to use, although it may not be right for others to use it.

          When using signs symbols or sigils you need to understand what they mean, what they are symbolic of, and or what they stand for, otherwise you may be using it in the wrong place? I.e. it’s no good scribing a banishing pentagram if you are trying to open a gate; it’s no good placing a blessing symbol on something you want rid of etc!

          It’s also true to say that when you invent a new sign symbol or sigil it has to have a meaning that at the very least is understood by your subconscious, even if you can’t quite describe what it means!

          But it must also be said that most signs symbols or sigils can only be accomplished by actions, whether drawn on air, paper, stone, or metal etc actions are required. It’s also true to say that some can be visualised without actions although this is a lot harder for most of us to do, and most don’t bother. 

          What I have attempted to do here is to put meaning to some of the signs symbols and sigils (seals) that to the best of my knowledge are universally accepted!

          With universally accepted and used signs symbols and sigils, many thousands of people have used and imbued them with power, and that power gives the sign symbol or sigils an accrued power of its own.

This page was researched and written by Rainbird.)O( in 2012

Earth: The Sun & Moon:   Mercury:  The Seven Point Star. The Six Point Star

Venus & Mars: Jupiter & Saturn:  Uranus, Neptune & Pluto: Yin & Yang 

The Pentagram  Blessings Symbol: Spiral Goddess:  Stick Figures  The Maid  The Mother The Crone  The God  The Horned God: Hecates Wheel: Seax Wicca Valknut Chaos Magic: Awen The Spiral: Labyrinth: Earth Mother:

Analyzing the symbol of Earth: 

  The circle, long considered to be the most perfect shape, is an image of pure Spirit and unity.

 

   The crescent is the symbol for the Soul. It can be seen, as  reaching upwards towards Spirit, or, as in the symbol for the Moon reaching 'backwards' towards the past, or both backwards and forwards in the symbol for the planet Uranus.

  The vertical line is the symbol for Mind.

The horizontal line is the symbol for Body.

When Mind and Body are combined, they form the cross of matter.

Back to the top

Earth:

The Earth is the planet on which our lives become manifest, and the cross of matter is placed in the center, surrounded by the circle of Spirit, within which all life is contained.

Back to the top.  

The Sun & Moon:

Sun and Moon The symbol for the Sun is pure Spirit with the dot of consciousness in the centre. The symbol for the Moon is pure Soul, with two - or sometimes three - arcs reaching 'backwards' towards the past. It is symbolically significant that in neither case is the cross of matter present.

Back to the top.

Mercury:

Mercury: Mercury contains all the symbols, signifying the potential integration of spirit, soul and matter and the synthesis of all the other planets, as well as the relationships between them. Soul - the mediating and connecting principle - is in the most elevated position, above the Spirit, with Matter at the base. 

Back to the top.

Venus & Mars:

Venus and Mars  Venus and Mars symbolise the physical manifestations of the male/female polarity in the world. Originally, the symbol for Mars was the cross of matter above the circle of spirit, and the symbols therefore complement each other, with Venus elevating spirit over matter and Mars elevating matter over spirit. In neither case is the symbol for the soul present. 

Back to the top.

Jupiter & Saturn:

Jupiter and Saturn The symbols for the next pair of planets, Jupiter and Saturn, concern the relationship between the soul and body. With Jupiter, the soul is elevated over the cross of matter, signifying the importance of finding a meaningful connection (soul), 'something to live for' in the manifest world. Jupiter frees the soul from the dominance of matter. With Saturn, the cross of matter is elevated over the soul, signifying that the soul's yearnings must be given shape and form within the limitations of existence in time and space. 

 Back to the top.

Uranus, Neptune & Pluto:

Uranus shows the cross of matter bracketed by two vertical arcs of soul facing away from each other, one looking back to the past and one looking towards the future, linked by the cross of matter; these are placed over a small circle of spirit indicating to me at least the power of the mind over matter or the minds latent power to harness natural forces and matter.

          Neptune is the depicted by the crescent of the soul pined or impaled upon the cross of matter. The soul always reaches upwards ever seeking spiritual union with deity but is pined in place or trapped by the body and the laws of the material sphere. The symbol for Neptune, therefore, could be said to portray the soul's yearning to be free while it is encased or entrapped within the body, and it’s longing to return to and be reunited with the spirit.

          Pluto combines all three symbols - the crescent of the soul cupping and protecting the circle of spirit, anchored by the cross of matter (body) below. Our Spirit yearns to dominate matter through the medium of the soul. But is held back by matter (the body).

Back to the top.

Taijitu symbol: (Yin & Yang)

      If we look at the symbol of ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’ we see the dots. According to some, (and I have no reason to disagree) the black side the ‘Yin’ is the female side, and the white side the ‘Yang’ is the male side. Yet each contains a dot of the other colour; the black side contains the essences of maleness (the white dot), while the white side contains the essence of the female (the black dot); this can represent the balance needed in order to become an effective witch. You need to access the unconscious mind and balance the two halves (the male and female) in the unconscious mind (as well as with the conscious mind); as I said before these are usually referred to as the ‘Animus’ and ‘Anima’. The ‘Animus’ is the male part (white dot) and the ‘Anima’ is the female part (black dot). It is symbolism at its easiest and most basic level, one that we can readily understand.

                Yin and yang are actually complementary, not opposing, forces, interacting to form a whole greater than either separate part; in effect, a dynamic system. Everything has both yin and yang aspects, (for instance shadow cannot exist without light). (see chart below)

    

Either of the two major aspects may manifest more strongly in a particular object, depending on the criterion of the observation. The concept of yin and yang is often symbolized by various forms of the Taijitu symbol, for which it is probably best known in Western cultures.

Back to the top.

The Seven Point Star: (The Elven Star.)

     The Seven point unicursal star or ‘The Elven Star’ is found in some branches of the Faerie tradition of Wicca. However, it has different names and can be associated with many other magical traditions.

       According to The Element Encyclopaedia of Secret Signs and Symbols, the Elven Star (or Faerie Star) is also representative of the seven stars called the Pleiades. It is also a reminder that seven is a sacred number in many magical traditions -- it is connected with the seven days of the week, the seven pillars of wisdom, and many other magical theories. In Kabbalah, seven is connected to the sphere of victory. Aleister Crowley used a septagram as the emblem of his Order of the Silver Star.

          In modern Pagan practice, this symbol can be used to keep information hidden from the prying eyes of the outside world. Use it on your Book of Shadows, to keep the contents safe, or on an amulet to prevent others from reading your thoughts.

Back to the top.

The Six Point Star: (The Unicursal Hexagram)

         The Unicursal Hexagram is so-called because it can be drawn unicursally- that is, in one continuous movement. This is significant when forming figures in ritual magic, where a continuous line is preferred to an interrupted movement.

          The symbol was devised by the Golden Dawn, and later adapted by Aleister Crowley as a device of personal significance. It is often worn by Thelemites as a sign of religious identification and recognition. The unicursal hexagram was created for the purpose of drawing the figure in one continuous movement, as the other magical polygons are created- the pentagram is one example. This is significant in ritual magic when invoking and banishing hexagrams must be made. Crowley’s adaptation of the unicursal hexagram placed a five petal rose, symbolizing a pentacle (and the divine feminine), in the centre; the symbol as a whole making eleven (five petals of the rose plus six points of the hexagram), the number of divine union.

Back to the top.

The Pentagram:

 The Pentagram is a unicursal five pointed star used and recognised universally by most pagan/wiccan groups. The points are said to represent the four elements plus spirit.  This sigil is used to summon and banish quarters, gates or towers dependant on your tradition. If it is enclosed within a circle it’s referred to as a ‘Pentacle’. It can be worn as an amulet for protection as a medallion around the neck, or engraved or painted on a disc of wood or metal and used as an altar plate to aid consecrating ritual objects.

Back to the top.

The Blessings Symbol:

  

  This symbol is said to represent the ‘Blessings’ of the Moon Goddess and is seen on many pendants, altar cloths and T shirts etc. I would assume that the three tear drops represent the Maid the Mother and the Crone?

Back to the top

Goddess Figure:

       This is a symbol that many Wiccans use to represent the divine female, the Goddess. It is sometimes shown with a spiral set in the centre of the abdomen and is referred to as the ‘Spiral Goddess’. Her arms are raised to invoke spiral power; it’s a symbol of dynamism, creativity and life force. This I believe is representative of the Goddesses role in creation as the ‘Mother’ of all!

Back to the top:

Goddess & God Stick Figure Symbols:

There are various stick figures which are used by various groups to represent either the Goddess or the God.

       This is called the ‘Crowfoot’ position or sigil and is said to represent the Goddess. First and foremost it is the position the High Priestess adopts during ‘Drawing down the Moon’ and other female witches should use the same position during some parts of initiation; secondly it is a rather crude depiction of the female genitalia. 

Back to the top

 

Maid Stick Symbol:

           

 

This one also represents the Goddess but as the ‘Maiden’, note the waxing moon!

Back to the top.

The Mother Stick Symbol:

             

 

This one is a more detailed representation of the Goddess as the ‘Mother’; note the belly with the suggestion of conception.

Back to the top.

The Crone Stick Symbol:

                

 

This one represents the Goddess as ‘Crone’ hence the waning moon.

Back to the top.

The God Stick Symbol:

                   

This is the ‘God’ position adopted by the High Priest when on the rare occasions the ‘Drawing Down of the Sun’ is enacted; it is also the position that male witches should use in some places during initiation.

Back to the top

The Horned God Stick Symbol:

                

 

This one is sometimes used to represent the ‘Horned God’

Back to the top.

Hecate's Wheel:

       Hecate's Wheel is a symbol used by some traditions of Wicca. It seems to be most popular among feminist traditions, and represents the three aspects of the Goddess -- Maiden, Mother and Crone. This labyrinth-like symbol has origins in Greek legend, where Hecate was known as a guardian of the crossroads before she evolved into a goddess of magic and sorcery.

 Back to the top

Seax Wica:

This is the symbol of Seax-Wica. It is a tradition, or denomination, of the neo-pagan religion of Wicca which is largely inspired by the iconography of the historical Anglo-Saxon paganism, though, unlike Theodism, it is not a reconstruction of the early mediaeval religion itself.

          The tradition was founded in 1973 by Raymond Buckland, an English-born High Priest of Gardnerian Wicca who moved to the United States in the 1970

Back to the top

Valknut: Nothern Tradition:

The Valknut's three interlocking shapes and nine points suggest rebirth, pregnancy, and cycles of reincarnation. The nine points are also suggestive of the Nine Worlds (and the nine fates) of Norse mythology. Their interwoven shape suggests the belief of the interrelatedness of the three realms of earth, hel, and the heavens, and the nine domains they encompass. The Valknut is also an important symbol to many followers of the Odinist faith, who often wear it as a symbol of the faith.

Back to the top

Chaos Magic:

This is the symbol for Chaos Magic:

Chaos magic, sometimes spelled Chaos Magick, is a school of the modern magical tradition which emphasizes the pragmatic use of belief systems and the creation of new and unorthodox methods. Although there are a few techniques unique to chaos magic (such as some forms of sigil magic), chaos magic is often highly individualistic and borrows liberally from other belief systems, due to chaos magic having a central belief that belief is a tool.

Back to the top:

Awen:

This is the Awen symbol:

Awen is a Welsh word for "(poetic) inspiration". In the Welsh tradition, awen is the inspiration of the poet bards; or, in its personification, Awen is the inspirational muse of creative artists in general: the inspired individual (often, but not limited to being, a poet or a soothsayer) is described as an awenydd. Emma Restall Orr, founder and former head of The Druid Network, defines awen as `flowing spirit' and says that `Spirit energy in flow is the essence of life'. Awen derives from the Indo-European root *-uel, meaning 'to blow', and has the same root as the Welsh word awel meaning 'breeze'. There is a parallel word to 'awen' in Irish, ai, also meaning "poetic inspiration" which derives from the same ancient root.

Back to the top: 

The Spiral:

The spiral is a very ancient symbol associated with dance energy in the magical world. If drawn deosil (see picture) or clock-wise it serves to bring things or magical energy,  (power) to you or into being?

If drawn widdershin or anti-clockwise the spiral helps to banish or send away any negative energy etc. The deosil spiral also symbolises our spiritual path and growth as we descend into ourselves or spiral into the centre of our being.

Back to the top

The Labyrinth:

          The labyrinth has long been considered a place of magic and introspection. Labyrinth designs have been found in nearly every major religion, and are an integral part of many ancient cultures. They are, in essence, a magical shape. A labyrinth is not the same as a maze, there is only one path in, and one path out, it’s known as a unicursal seven-course "Classical labyrinth" (see picture).

It is believed by some that prehistoric labyrinths served as traps for malevolent spirits or as a defined path for ritual dances. In medieval times, the labyrinth symbolized a path to the divine with a clearly defined centre (Goddess/God) and one entrance (birth).

One can think of labyrinths as symbolic of a pilgrimage; people can walk the labyrinth, perhaps moving towards the divine or enlightenment. In times past, many people couldn’t afford to travel to sacred sites etc, so labyrinths and invocations substituted for such travel. Later, the religious significance of labyrinths faded, and they served primarily for entertainment, though recently their spiritual aspect has seen resurgence.

Back to the top:

Neolithic Earth Mother:

Archaeological evidence from around the prehistoric world suggests that the Earth may have once been viewed/worshipped as a living, female being. Ancient texts and mythologies support the idea that the primary goddess was intimately associated with the earth, fertility and agriculture, as epitomised by Cybele, the Phrygian Earth mother, who represented the fertile earth and was the Goddess of caverns, mountains and all nature.

        The worship of the Earth-mother was a common belief before the more recent development of the patriarchal society (c.3000 BC), coinciding with a shift in focus from Lunar to Solar worship across Neolithic Europe. Traces of a matriarchal society can be seen reaching back into the Palaeolithic period through the numerous Venus figures discovered in Europe. The early mother-earth belief system also had close connections to the beliefs in the afterlife, as seen in the use of red-ochre in funerary rights.

Back to the top: