Sacred Symbols

Exploring the symbols, metaphors and archetypal patterns found in myth, pop culture, nature, literature, oracles, astrology, religion, psychology, Tarot, art and history.

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Discovering Signs and Symbols by Kirsten Riddle

“We are a society built on signs and symbols. Our ancestors recognized their significance, assembling powerful messages around the signs and symbols they noted in their surroundings. They looked to Mother Nature for inspiration, and they then took this to another level, choosing shapes and signs and turning them into physical symbols that they could use in sacred rites and rituals.” – From Discovering Signs and Symbols: Unlock the Secrets and Meanings of These Ancient Figures by Kirsten Riddle (Ryland Peters & Small, 2015)

From the triangle to the clover, the caduceus to the Eye of Horus, signs, shapes and symbols permeate our social, religious, artistic and commercial landscape. Recognizing such symbols and tracing their origins is one thing (the crux of most symbol books), but incorporating them into a meaningful, enriching and personal context is quite another.

Fortunately, Discovering Signs & Symbols introduces readers to 60+ symbols from six cultures: Celtic, Egyptian, Norse, Slavic, Greek/Roman and African—as well as universal symbols such as heart, lemniscate, cross and horseshoe.

Covering sixty-odd symbols may not seem like a lot, but what makes this book different from others is the inclusion of practical rituals for each, so that readers can forge a personal relationship the symbol, harness its power or set an intention for manifestation.

In fact, Riddle offers a quick, nine-question quiz for discerning which group of symbols readers may be most drawn to as a starting point for research and connection. (I found the quiz and its interpretations quite accurate).

Just a few of the symbols included in this book include:

  • Hand of Fatima (Hamsa)
  • Scarab
  • Triskele
  • Sleipnir
  • Mokosh
  • Omphalos
  • Evil Eye
  • Ako Ben
  • Pikorua (Maori Twist)
  • Feather of Maat
  • Yggdrasil
  • Cauldron
  • Acorn
  • Ouroborus

Colorful and full of magical tips, lore and how-tos, this 144-page book is not only an excellent starting point for recognizing, appreciating and utilizing symbols, but also a treasure trove of information on lesser-known signs and motfis. At the end of the book, black-and-white templates allow for tracing or reproduction for creating personal/layered symbols, charms/amulets and altars—as well as for use in meditation or ritual.

Whether you’re beginning your journey into the fascinating and powerful world of symbols—or someone with a long-standing passion for them (and loads of related books, jewelry and oracles to prove it)—Discovering Signs & Symbols is a fine addition to any magical or spiritual library.

Consider this review your “sign” to start paying more attention to symbols—and to get this book if it piques your interest and captures your imagination.

-- Janet

P.S. Speaking of Symbols, would you take a moment to tell me which types you'd like to learn more about here? Animals? Flowers? Numbers? Crystals? I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments section below. Thanks!

The Tarot is rich with symbolism. Would you like to learn the cards? My popular online Tarot Classroom begins June 6, 2016. Click here for the syllabus and to pre-register. Yes, YOU can learn Tarot!

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Janet Boyer is the author of Back in Time Tarot and Tarot in Reverse, as well as the co-creator (with her husband, artist Ron Boyer) of the Snowland Deck and Coffee Tarot. With her teen son, she created the Boyer Charming Oracle and Animal Totems Charm Oracle. Janet's third traditionally-published book, Naked Tarot: Sassy, Stripped Down Advice, releases into the wild September 28, 2018. As a respected, trusted Amazon Hall of Fame/Vine Reviewer, she's penned over 1,200 published reviews that have also been featured in print magazines and other online outlets. Her work with Tarot spans far and wide: teacher, author, radio co-host, deck co-creator, podcaster and professional reader. Her hobbies include cultivating flowers, tending biota, watching British mysteries, trying new recipes (she's an award-winning cook), serving as a Patron of the Arts, photography and reading--but her favorite thing (EVER) is to spend time with her beloved husband and son at her rural home in Pennsylvania.

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