I have never been able to separate the sacred from the everyday. From grade school all the way through college I remember the feeling that I was holding Jesus’ hand while walking to class. In nature I feel the presence of God. I’m always seeing angels in patterns made by the clouds, and when I dance I can feel Spirit move through me. So when it comes to decorating my home, I love to surround myself with art that feels sacred to me.
Last October we moved into a new home that has a large open space where I can host gatherings. Sometimes people dance in the space, sometimes they create collages while sitting at long tables, and other times they sit theatre-style to listen to presentations. When the space is not in use, it is empty. So I asked my dad if he would build a wooden screen to close off the empty space when it is not in use.
As we talked about the design of the screens we thought it would be great to include sacred symbols from all over the world. Together we researched and chose the following symbols. Then my dad built the most beautiful screens made of Spanish Cedar with inlaid Maple. He cut each symbol out of Oak and my mom stained each one. The result: a breathtaking labor of love! In fact, so breathtaking I just had to share it with you.
Taoist symbol of the interplay of forces in the universe. This represents the unity between all opposites – the masculine and the feminine; the darkness and light. Yin and Yang symbolize the primal cosmic forces. Yin is receptive, passive, cold, feminine energy. Yang is masculine, movement, force and heat. The dark and light represent knowledge and ignorance. In a spiritual practice, use the Yin Yang to help maintain a balance between opposites and instill unity personally and globally. In seeing the opposites, it is noted that each has a little of the other, which is often overlooked in life. Instead of seeing absolute, learn to see an all inclusive form of diversity. This symbol has been a universal symbol of balanced consciousness for thousands of years and brings inner radiance to all who view it. In using this symbol on water, all elements will become balanced, all molecules will pass this balance to all beings.
The Mother of All Mantras is the primordial sound by which the earth was created. The past, present and future are all blended in this one all-inclusive sound. By using this symbolic image, the concept of infinite love and infinite creation is conveyed beyond the limitation of words or ideas.
symbol of wisdom, creativity and the complexities of life
Ananse, the spider, is a well-known character in African folktales.
“return and get it”
symbol of importance of learning from the past
Osram Ne Nsoromma
“The Moon and the Star”
symbol of love, faithfulness, harmony
This symbol reflects the harmony that exists in the bonding between a man and a woman.
Proverb: “Kyekye pe aware.” (The North Star has a deep love for marriage. She is always in the sky waiting for the return of the moon, her husband.)
The word ‘angel’ derives from the Greek and translates to the phrase “messenger of God.”
Asase Ye Duru
“the Earth has weight”
symbol of providence and the divinity of Mother Earth
This symbol represents the importance of the Earth in sustaining life.
The Fleur-de-Lis Cross
In heraldry, the three petals represent faith, wisdom and chivalry. The four arms spread these to the four corners of the world.
As a Christian Cross, the three petals represent the Trinity and the total twelve petals represent the Apostles.
The Triade, Triskele, or Triple Spiral, is an ancient Celtic symbol related to earthly life, the afterlife and reincarnation. It is drawn in one continuous line, suggesting a fluid movement of time. Triades are one of the most common elements of Celtic art. They are found in a variety of styles in both ancient and contemporary uses, especially in relation to depictions of the Mother Goddess. They also evoke the universal concept of the domains of material existence- earth, water, and sky; body, mind and spirit; and the eternally spiraling cycles of time. Used in a personal spiritual practice, this symbol reinforces the movement and interconnection between the dimensions or realms of consciousness – ordinary reality, the underworld, the overworld, all integral to a complete earth experience. In larger context, the Triade radiates the potential of complete experience and wisdom for all. In water, the harmonic convergence of all truths bring a quality to water that nourishes all cells with expansive potential for greater creation.
The Triple Spiral also represents the Maiden, Mother, and Crone.
The Maiden represents enchantment, inception, expansion, the female principle, the promise of new beginnings, youth, excitement, and a carefree erotic aura. The Maiden in Greek Mythology is Persephone – purity – and a representation of new beginnings. Other maiden goddesses include: Brigid, Nimue, among others.
The Mother represents ripeness, fertility, fulfillment, stability, and power. The Mother Goddess in Greek mythology is Demeter, represtning wellspring of life, giving and compassionate. Other mother goddesses include: Aa, Ambika, Ceres, Astarte, Lakshmi.
The Crone represents wisdom, repose, and compassion. The Crone in Greek mythology is Hecate – wise, knowing, a culmination of a lifetime of experience. Crone goddesses include: Hel, Maman Brigitte, Oya, Sedna, Skuld, and others.
“tree of god” – altar
symbol of God’s presence and protection
The symbolic meaning of labyrinth is also associated with the various symbolic meanings of the spiral in that we can trace our footsteps (both metaphorical and literal) back to and from the Source (center or core). In walking the Chartres style labyrinth the walker meanders through each of the four quadrants several times before reaching the goal. An expectancy is created as to when the center will be reached. At the center is a rosette design which has a rich symbolic value including that of enlightenment. The four arms of the cross are readily visible and provide significant Christian symbolism.
Labyrinths have been used for ages. Native Americans used the labyrinth as a symbol that represents birth, rebirth and/or transition from one world to the next. On a philosophical level, the symbolic meaning of labyrinth is as complex as the symbol itself. With many twists and turns, the labyrinth does not share its secrets easily.
On the surface the symbolic meaning of the labyrinth deals with:
- passage of time
- spiritual growth
- connection to source
- spiritual path
The labyrinth can be a powerful tool for inner enhancement and development. It is designed specifically for this purpose. When walking the labyrinth, we find our perspective constantly changing. Our vision and physical bodies are never facing the same direction for long. This is a technique to coax our inner knowing out from within.
Further, the spiraling inward motion is a physical replication of our spiritual tendency to seek within the highest truths in order to find eternal freedom. When we are moving outward from the source, it is an action that we have made the divine connection and now we are expressing our completeness outwardly – essentially sharing our highest good with all around us.
It is important to note that walking the labyrinth (mentally or physically) is not intended to be overly challenging. There are no dead-ends with the labyrinth, only meandering waves of smooth lines designed to gently nudge us back to our destination.
This is where labyrinths are often confused with mazes. Big difference. Mazes are designed to challenge intellect and strategic skills. Whereas the labyrinth is an exercise in soul development.
The lotus flower symbol has deep, mythic meaning for many cultures. The lotus blossom has been revered, attributed to deities, and meditated on for thousands of years.
The mystical lotus bloom appears in poetry, the writings of saints and sages, on temple walls, and as a central concept in several world religions.
This powerful and ancient image symbolizes harmony, spiritual illumination and unlimited potential. The lotus is a type of water lily which rises from the sludge of muddy waters and opens into a beautiful flower. It is often used as a mandala, or circular symbol, but any way you use the Lotus in a spiritual practice, it will provide a resonant field that reinforces the concept of resurrection. Human mistakes and challenges are the fertilizer for brilliance and awakened creation as the Lotus shows us. Borne in the murkiest of ponds, Lotus still emerges pure. Use the Lotus as a reminder that “this, too, shall pass.” Be assured that all fertilizer nurtures a beautiful new life. In the greater world, Lotus is a peaceful cosmic beacon for forgiveness, gratitude and compassion to prevail where the sludge of conflict has resided. Using this symbol on water invites a balance between humility and pride.
Symbolic of the regenerative, life-giving forces of the cosmos, Luna Goddess represents the Moon as a keeper of wisdom and magical power. Her hands connect above her head creating a halo of sacred knowledge. Her belly contains the genesis of light within the darkness of the womb. She holds the frequency of all life honoring the Great Cosmic Mystery in balance with the manifestation of earthly creation. Using this symbol enhances sacred creativity within the consciousness of the individual, and on a larger scale, helps to maintain a sacred reverence for the darkness that is in the process of giving birth to light. Where darkness prevails on earth, within individuals or populations, Luna Goddess silently resonates a remembrance and a return to reason and balance.
Love and Peace
symbol of endurance and resourcefulness
The fern is a hardy plant that can grow in difficult places. “An individual who wears this symbol suggests that he has endured many adversities and outlasted much difficulty.” (Willis, The Adinkra Dictionary)