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Eternity is a concept that has existed for millennia, and one that has enthralled humans forever. It’s a concept that fascinates us. Almost every religion promises eternal life, while lovers constantly promise that they will love each other forever.
With all this obsession over eternity, it’s natural that there are several symbols which are used to represent this concept. This article will outline some of the most popular symbols of eternity and why they’re significant.
The Infinity Symbol
Formed as a sideways figure-eight, the infinity symbol is also called the eternity or the forever symbol. The two circles forming the eight appear to have no identifiable beginning or end. The symbol has its origins in mathematics, when the mathematician John Wallis chose it to represent the concept of infinity. Today, its meanings outside of mathematics are highly popular, and it’s commonly chosen for use in jewelry, fashion, tattoos, and other décor.
Known as the eternal or endless knot, this symbol has its origins in India. The symbol has no beginning or end and is made with a single line that weaves in and out of itself many times. It’s a closed design featuring interwoven, right-angled lines that link and overlap to create a symmetrical design.
This is a fascinating example of sacred geometry. In Feng Shui, it exists as an auspicious symbol of good fortune. It’s commonly used in decorative items, and accessories.
The Ankh is one of the most well-known symbols of life, shaped in the form of a cross with a loop instead of the topmost bar. It’s an Ancient Egyptian symbol and can be found along with many Egyptian representations of royalty and deities.
The Ankh had several meanings, including being a symbol of health, fertility, nourishment, and eternal life. It was also used in various positive expressions and greetings such as:
- May you be healthy/alive
- I wish you long life/health
- Alive, sound and healthy
The symbol has widely been incorporated in modern day accessories and worn by celebrities like Rihanna and Katy Perry.
One of the most well-known symbols of eternity, the ouroboros features a snake (or sometimes a dragon) devouring itself by consuming its tail, thereby forming a circle.
While it held numerous meanings in the past and was used in various schools of thought, today it’s predominantly seen as a symbol of infinity. It also symbolizes eternal love, the cycle of life and death, and the concept of karma (what goes around comes around).
During Victorian times, the ouroboros symbol was often used in mourning jewelry as a symbol of eternal love between the deceased and those left behind.
The Armenian wheel of eternity symbolizes celestial life in the Armenian culture. The wheel features six spokes emanating from a central point, all appearing dynamic in nature as though moving in one direction. The symbol can be left or right facing, based on personal preferences. The Armenian wheel symbolizes the eternal motion of life and infinity.
The Armenian wheel has been found engraved on steles, embossed on church walls, tombstones and many other historical monuments. Even today, the symbol is etched on the cradles of new born children to bless them with endurance and success.
The triskele is an ancient Irish symbol commonly featured in Celtic art. This symbol consists of three interlocked spirals representing popular triads, such as the three forces of nature (earth, water and sky), the three realms (spiritual, celestial, and physical), the three stages of life (birth, life, and death).
Because of the triskele’s dynamism and appearance of movement, it can be viewed as a symbol of the movement of time and eternity, oneness of spirit, and unity.
Greek Key (Meander Pattern)
The Meander pattern is exactly that, a meandering pattern featuring geometric twists and turns. This pattern is commonplace in ancient and modern Greek motifs, and was often used in architecture, pottery, mosaic floors, and sculptures. The pattern signifies the never-ending flow of things, the concept of eternity, and the key of life.
Since the circle has no end, it represents eternity in many cultures. In Western culture, the marriage ring comes from this idea of the eternal connection with the circle.
At first sight, the Shen ring looks like circle with a tangent line at one end. However, what it actually represents is a stylized loop of rope with closed ends, which creates a knot and a closed ring.
The Shen ring symbolized eternity to the ancient Egyptians. Its associations with power like that of the sun make it a mighty symbol.
Tree of Life
An ancient symbol, the tree of life originated in the Middle East, but can be found in a variety of cultures, including that of the Celts. The symbol features a tree, with its branches and roots connected within a circle, signifying connection, family roots, fertility, growth, rebirth, and eternity.
As the tree ages, it continues to live on through new saplings which grow from its seeds, representing infinity and the eternal cycle of life.
Triquetra (Trinity Knot)
One of the most popular Irish symbols, the triquetra has many interpretations and meanings. The symbol features three interconnected arcs, with some depictions containing a circle at the center. It looks complex, but is a simple knot drawn in one continuous motion. It’s one of the most popular types of Celtic knots.
The triquetra has no beginning and no end. As such, it’s the perfect representation of eternity and eternal love. However, in addition to this, it also symbolizes the Holy Trinity, and several other triads, such as the three domains, the three elements, the three stages of a woman’s life, and the triple goddess.
Symbols of eternity encapsulate the concept of forever in their image, making them among the most well-known and much-loved symbols. These can be seen used in architecture, jewelry, fashion, décor, and much more. These symbols have lasted the test of time, and it’s safe to say that they will continue to be popular symbols to infinity and beyond.