Symbols of Evil and What They Mean

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Evil is a broad concept that has many symbols closely associated with it. These can be anything from words, marks, or signs, and even objects, animals, or numbers.
In this article, we will be taking a close look at ten of the most well-known symbols of evil and the meanings behind them.

Raven

Throughout history, the raven has been commonly viewed as a symbol of evil and death, possibly because they are carrion eaters and scavenge the dead. While they have several positive connotations, such as symbolizing fertility, affection, longevity, light, and guidance, in most mythologies they symbolize bad luck, darkness, and evil.

The raven has been considered the bird of death in most cultures. The mere mention of the raven can conjure up images of filth and death, with the bird feeding on the dead and decaying. A lone raven flying above one’s house is often taken as a sign that death is at one’s doorstep.

In the famous biblical story of Noah and the Ark, Noah sent out a raven and a dove, in search of land. The first bird that Noah sent was the raven, which can be interpreted as removing evil from the ark. The raven was unsuccessful at fulfilling its mission, however. Instead, it flew away from the ark and fed on carrion, preoccupied with its hunger. The dove, on the other hand, returned with an olive branch in its beak.

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Serpent

The serpent is a complex, universal symbol that’s known to represent death, evil, poison and destruction. Snakes are associated with fertility, healing, rebirth, and renewal since they shed their skin. In ancient Greece, Egypt and North America, snakes are regarded as symbols of immortality.

While most ancient mythologies looked upon serpents in a positive light, they tend to be seen as symbols of evil in the West, partly due to the influence of Christianity.
In Christian tradition, serpents have both negative and positive implications, but the negative associations are stronger and well-known. It was Satan disguised as a serpent, who tricked Eve into disobeying god and eating the forbidden fruit, which resulted in her downfall in the Garden of Eden. In this case, the serpent represented deceit, temptation and evil.

Serpents play an important role in the eastern religions of Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. People spoke of a mythological semi-divine race known as the naga (Sanskrit for “serpent”), who were half-human and half-cobra. When the naga became too numerous on Earth, the Hindu god Brahma was believed to have banished them to their underground kingdom.

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The Evil Eye Curse

The evil eye curse isn’t a symbol, but a concept. However, several symbols exist to ward off the evil eye and protect the wearer from it. The concept of the evil eye is famous among Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu civilizations and is said to have originated in Greek culture. It has a long history that goes as far back as 3,000 B.C.

The evil eye, also known as the nazar, mauvais oeil, or Greek matiasma, is a curse that is cast by a malicious glance directed at the victim. Receiving the evil eye is believed to bring misfortune, bad luck or injury in many cultures.

There are three varieties of evil eyes, according to legend. The first is the conscious evil eye that unintentionally harms people and objects. The second type seeks to cause harm on purpose and the third is the most terrifying – a hidden evil that remains unseen.

Those who believe in the evil eye find various ways to protect themselves as well as their loved ones from it. Popular talismans include the hamsa hand and the nazar boncugu.

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Inverted Pentagram

The pentagram is an inverted five-pointed star. The five points of the star are said to represent the five elements – air, water, fire, earth, and spirit, with the spirit being at the top. However, when inverted, it signifies a reversal of the natural order of things, resulting in evil and perversion.

In its inverted position, the pentagram is the hieroglyphic sign of Baphomet, known as the black magic goat or the Sabbatic Goat, used in occultism and Satanism. The symbol depicts a goat with its head at the center and the horns (the two points of the star) piercing the heavens. In Christianity, this sign represents the rejection of the dominance of Christianity over society.

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Baphomet

Baphomet is a goat-headed deity often seen in occult and satanic societies. Initially, Baphomet was a deity worshipped by the Knights Templar. Later, Baphomet became associated with the Sabbatic Goat, an image drawn Eliphas Levi the famous occultist.

According to certain sources, early Christians established parallels between the Devil and the Greek God Pan (who resembled a goat) to condemn pre-existing Pagan practices.

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The Number 666

According to the book of Revelation 13:18, the number 666 is known as the ‘Devil’s Number’. It’salso called ‘the number of the beast’ or ‘the number of the Antichrist’ in Christianity. It’s believed that the number is used to invoke Satan. Some people take it so seriously to the extent where they avoid all things related to the number or its digits. However, there is an interesting explanation which posits that the number 666 in the Bible refers to Nero Ceaser. You can check that out here.

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Inverted Cross

The upside-down Latin cross is a symbol closely associated with evil and satanic ideals, often used in popular culture as an anti-Christian sign. It’s also believed to mean that evil (or the devil) is lurking nearby. However, the inverted cross also has certain positive connotations.

According to legend, the Apostle Peter was crucified on an upside-down cross during the Roman Emperor Nero’s rule. Saint Peter did not feel worthy to be crucified in the same way as Jesus, so he chose for himself an inverted cross. In this case, the cross represents humility in faith.

So, while seeing an upside-down cross can be jarring, it started out as a positive symbol. Having said that, before you go turning crosses upside down, note that inverting crucifixes, i.e. a cross with the image of Jesus upon it, is considered disrespectful and offensive whereas a simple inverted cross on its own is not.

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Twisted Swastika

The Swastika is a Sanskrit word meaning “conducive to well-being’’ and has various positive connotations in many Eastern religions. In Buddhism, it symbolizes Buddha’s footsteps whereas in Jainism, it serves as a ceremonial symbol. In Hinduism, a clockwise version of the sign is used.
The Swastika has also been found engraved on coins in Mesopotamia, and in America, the Navajo people often wove a similar symbol into their blankets.

However, the positive symbolism of the Swastika was tainted after it was appropriated by the Nazi party in Germany. Today, it’s viewed as a symbol of hatred and evil, and is banned in many parts of the world.

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Skull

The human skull is commonly recognized as a symbol of many things negative and evil. Some people perceive skulls to be demonic and avoid bringing them into their physical space. The terrifying skull motif is used in popular culture as a symbol of murder and death as well as of black magic.

A skull depicted with crossbones is a symbol of and danger, and is often seen on poison bottles or pirate flags.

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Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th is synonymous with bad luck and superstition and some even associate it with evil. This occurs when the 13th day of the month falls on a Friday.

The exact origin of this superstition is unknown, but it has some roots in biblical tradition. Jesus and his 12 apostles were among the 13 diners who attended the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, after which one of the disciples Judas, betrayed him. The day after was Good Friday, the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. Friday and the number 13 have always had some associations with bad luck, but the two weren’t used together until the 19th century.

According to Norse mythology, evil and conflict first entered the universe when the deceitful and mischievous god Loki appeared at a dinner gathering in Valhalla. He was the 13th visitor, which threw off the balance of the 12 gods who had already arrived.

Many people believe that Friday the 13th brings bad luck, like walking under a ladder, crossing paths with a black cat, or shattering a mirror.

In Brief

Some of the symbols on this list are universally accepted as symbols of evil while others are lesser known. The symbols are generally viewed as evil by certain individuals or communities depending on personal experience or culture. While some people take these symbols seriously and believe that encountering them means death or doom, there are others who prefer to disregard them entirely.