Do you ever find a really pretty piece of jewelry online (or maybe you already have some pieces) and wonder what the symbols on the charms or other dangles mean? Trust me, you're not the only one confused about some of the symbols out there! I know I use to wonder about them for the longest time until I decided to find out for myself. So, in an effort to save you some time and multiple searches to see if you get the same explanation for a symbol, I've compiled a list of a few symbols, I've been noticing in pieces of jewelry--and clothing for that matter.
One of the first symbols I see most often is the Hamsa. It was first seen in ancient Mesopotamia, so--as we all learned in school--it's been around a while. You will usually end up seeing two different types of hamsas: (1) a regular hand and (2) a hand with two symmetrical thumbs. The most popular of the two is the second one, which in my opinion is because of the balance the second thumb provides. In fact, I don't know that I've really seen the other style anywhere..hmmm....I'll have to search my mind palace on that one.
The hamsa is a protective amulet in all faiths; it doesn't strictly belong to one faith or the other, which is something I feel people get a little confused about when it comes to symbols. (I know some might not wear it because it's not Christian, but if you look throughout history, I'm sure you'll find some sort of take on it somewhere, so before you skip over it, think about that for just a minute). From a protection standpoint, it is suppose to protect one from what is called the "evil eye." The evil eye is technically a glance or stare that is believed to cause illness, unluckiness, or even death. It's usually done when one is unaware, so the hamsa is protection against another's evil wishing. I'm sure you've heard of someone giving you the evil eye--wishing something to befall you. Anthropologists have found evidence for it dating back to Plato's time. Besides protection, the hamsa is also associated with luck, health, and good fortune.
Now, I'm sure you're wondering why I'm included an evil eye charm on here since the hamsa is a protective talisman for it. Like I said earlier, the evil eye is actually a glance or stare. This symbol also counteracts the evil eye. You'll sometimes see it in the center of the hamsa. The indigo blue color was chosen as it was believed to hold power.
This is definitely one symbol I've been seeing a lot of recently. The tree of life is present in various religions, mythologies, and philosophies--each with a slightly different take but still the same concept. There are two common meanings behind this. The first meaning is that it represents the connection of three worlds: Heaven, Earth, and Underworld. The tree is planted on the Earth; the branches reach toward the Heavens; and the roots grow down to the underworld. So in addition to three worlds being connected, you also have the interconnectedness of all life. The second meaning is more philosophical in nature. The tree is said to represent a rooting in the here and now (the present) or a grounding of sorts for an individual, while the branches allow for the person to "branch" out to learn and grow. As a human being you need to know and understand who you are as well as develop the self by learning and growing, accepting things that might not match your own beliefs and ideals.
The Om symbol originated in India and is often practiced in yoga as it has a relaxing connotation. If you've ever practiced meditation, you probably repeat "om" as your mantra. It produces a vibrational sound that is in all life and runs through the breath. It really is quite relaxing--I'm not crazy. Try it! Go somewhere quiet and calm yourself with a few deep inhalations and exhalations. Now say, "om." Don't just say om really quick...haha...you have to draw the word out, let it resonate. Feel that funny stirring/vibration? Do it a couple of times and you'll notice a sense of peace and harmony. This basic noise is said to be the cosmic beginning of creation and holds it all together because nothing is ever solid or still.
We're all familiar with the infinity symbol, right? If nothing else, we know it from math. Now, in math this concept was discovered in 1655. Its origins are in Arabic numerals, and its design came from India. I bet you didn't realize Mathematics involved so much multiculturalism! It can be said that it is a balance of opposites (ex; in math, positive and negative integers) or wholeness/completion. Infinity is also associated with eternity as life and death are opposites.
The old Yin/Yang. We all remember this...well maybe those of us in junior hIgh and high school in the 90s and 00s. Wow, I feel old. I remember calling this ying-yang instead of Yin/Yang, but its actual name is Taijitu and is associated with Taoism. The Yin/Yang represents harmony and unity between opposites. Yin includes dark, passive, negative, and feminine. (*Side note: Feminine isn't associated with something dark, passive, or negative. Yin is just the side that particular concept is on. There was a long discussion between myself, my boyfriend, and roommate on this one. I just find it interesting that feminine is placed with those concepts. Anyway, I guess it had to be assigned to one side or the other.) Yang includes light, active, positive, and masculine. It's meant to be like this: Dark-Light, Passive-Active, Negative-Positive, Feminine-Masculine. it's important that this is not 100% Yin or 100% Yang because the balance is thrown off. You have to have that balance of opposites because without it you're only getting part of an idea not the complete one. "The whole is greater than its parts." For perspective, in life you don't want completely negative experiences, but you don't want completely positive experiences--If everything is positive, how do you learn to reassess an idea or situation? You don't. If it's all negative, how do you know to reassess an idea or situation to get a positive outcome? You don't. Each side is essential to the other because without one there is no other.
Ah, the celtic knot. This is just one variety of knot that can be found...interesting, huh? This symbol appeared as early as 600 BC. These knots have no beginning or end (much like the infinity symbol) and are related to the unending cycle of life. There is interdependence and interconnectedness between the physical and spiritual aspects of our being. You can also see this concept in wedding bands--a circle with no beginning or end--an connection between people.
Hopefully, this quick run through of common symbols has helped explain the meaning behind each of them. I love how interconnected cultures are, and most people don't realize it because they haven't looked or don't want to acknowledge it! We have so much in common with others without even having to speak that it's incredible!
That's all for now! Signing off :)
*information was obtained from Wikipedia, FireMountainGems.com, Bonjuli.com, JewelryInfoPlace, GaelicMatters. (I'm not being paid to use these sources. They are just the ones I found randomly in my research.)
Hi! I’m Meagan, designer for The Prickly Pear. I’ve created this blog to not only showcase my work and other crafty information, but also to give you an inside look into my life.