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Symbolism in witchcraft

Updated on May 2, 2017

What is symbolism?

While I hope most have an understanding of what symbolism is, and what it means to their day to day life. I want to ensure that all readers go in prepared, so in short symbolism is often considered attributing specific meanings to a specific mantra, shape, painting, or design. Of course, like many things it's also held to personal meanings, meaning it can differ from person to person.

With a wide array of religions, there's an even larger pool of religious symbols, or if you prefer symbols of power.
With a wide array of religions, there's an even larger pool of religious symbols, or if you prefer symbols of power.

Pre-existing vs. Created

In witchcraft, there are of course pre-existing symbols, such as the well known pentacle. Among others. Now with witchcraft, magical power is something with different meanings between practitioners, to some older symbols could represent something holding old and ancient powers. To another it represents something old and fallen, something to acknowledge but use as a template.

With such differing realities to what is possible, it becomes confusing to find whats true and not, whats subjective versus fact. With the arcane arts the power of an individual is held wholly within the faith of them. Put simply among your spiritual journey you'll find reference to a need of believe that what your trying to accomplish will succeed. The same applies to the use of symbols, without the understanding of what they mean, and the dedication of faith to it, then it won't work for you.

That being said, it's why in recent years there's been a rise in personal symbols, not to imply that it wasn't a practice before. Rather in earlier years of the reestablishment of pagan practices, individuals had gravitated towards the older, well known and practiced symbols through history. With good reason mind you. But with the regrowth of these practices, it's important to actually expand it. Similar to a tree, if it just grows in girth, instead of new branches and new leaves, then it's doomed to die. It wont be able to sustain all it's need without new faucets of incoming nutrients. Spirituality is like a tree and it needs it's branches.

The prevalence of personal symbols is important, and largely necessary to specific spells and rituals. Similar to none spiritual practices of people choosing tattoos that they have a personal connection to. The old symbols are limited in number, since a lot of these ancient practices have either been lost, or scrubbed from history. Hence the importance of designing new ones, with personal, specific meaning.

An example, or rather many, of older symbols. Of course there are more.
An example, or rather many, of older symbols. Of course there are more. | Source
An example of a more personalized and recent symbol, and of course for a personal one the possibilities are endless.
An example of a more personalized and recent symbol, and of course for a personal one the possibilities are endless. | Source

Creating a personal symbol.

When it come to making a symbol, or a sigil, it's all in the hands of the creator. What it's purposed for it up to you, what it's used for is up to you, what it looks like is up to you. That being said, in my own practices of making my own symbols I try to make it sophisticated, to match what it will be used for. Since working with the arcane is inherently difficult.

Firstly, I'd recommend sitting down and getting comfortable, get some tea or drink of you choice, light a few candles, set a relaxed mood where your working. And write, write what you want it to be used for, the more detailed the better, and the more eloquent the better as well. Then, sketch some ideas, perhaps you'll want something basic, and solid. Perhaps something that tells a story, and has great detail to it. At least, I prefer the latter, it makes it more personal, put more power behind it. Making it all the stronger.

Secondly, Finish up the symbol, it may only be two steps, and they may seem simple, but successful practitioners should be able to able to understand this, to make something, and to make something so pure and natural requires a great strength of will, determination, and faith or else it will not succeed the way you'd wish it. It doesn't matter how good at drawing you are, it matters how sincere you are to yourself. That's what makes it a symbol, instead of sketch, a drawing, or a doodle.

My own personal symbol, for my book of shadows.
My own personal symbol, for my book of shadows.

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