Table of Contents
Magic comes in many different shapes and forms depending on which ancient religion or culture choose to look at. However, magic is always enchanting, beautiful, powerful, and potentially horrible too. It also involves various complex systems of symbols, runes, and sigils, each requiring writing or reading in one manner or another.
The end result of all those magical traditions is a rich collection of magical symbols from all over the world that fantasy authors today can work and have fun with. There are literally thousands of such symbols across all ancient cultures and religions so covering all of them in a single article is impossible. However, we can go over some of the most famous symbols of magic and their meanings.
What Do Magic Symbols Do?
Without going into whether magic is real or not, what are magic symbols supposed to do? There are various types of magic symbols based not only on the culture and religion they come from but also on their intended purposes.
Generally speaking, we can group most magic symbols into three groups:
- Magic symbols for reading. One such example are most Nordic runes as well as runes from other cultures. Such magic symbols are meant to function as a magical code that allows for the magic user to not only communicate with others like them, but with various powers and forces in the universe too. Runic magic symbols can help the magic user find out the future, commune with the dead, learn of events that have happened thousands of years ago, or talk to the gods themselves.
- Magic symbols for protection. Many other magic symbols are used to manifest protection spells around the caster. This is arguably the largest of the three groups as here we can even add the countless protective symbols and trinkets such as a pouch of herbs and garlic, good luck charms like the rabbit’s foot, and other such symbols that people of all cultures and societies have used for millennia.
- Magic symbols for “active” magic. Last but not least are the magic symbols that the user can use to cast an “active” spell into the world. A popular example are the various demonic sigils that a magic user can cast to summon demons into the material world. An even more common group are the various symbols for casting curses onto others. Not all such symbols are “evil” of course – there are plenty of symbols that even members of the major world religions still use to this day to cast blessings onto others.
The 15 Most Popular Magic Symbols and Their Meaning
1. The Pentagram
The major symbol of the Wiccan faith, the pentagram has had various other meanings over the years. It was used to represent the five wounds of Jesus in Christianity and it has even older origins in ancient Greece and Babylonia.
As a magic symbol, the pentagram has been attributed a connection to the five Neoplatonic elements, it’s been used as a dark magic symbol as a representation of the goat, and it’s also been used by Éliphas Lévi as an occult symbol of the microcosm of humanity.
2. The Eye of Horus
As one of the most popular symbols in ancient Egyptian religion and culture, the Eye of Horus is also a common magical symbol. It is said to grant protective powers over those it has been blessed upon. It also has reviving powers and was even given to the deceased Osiris by Horus to help sustain the fallen god in the afterlife.
3. The Eye of Ra
A common symbol in Alchemy as well as in ancient Egypt, the eye of Ra is said to be an entirely separate entity from the god Ra. The symbol was Ra’s greatest weapon as it encompassed the power of the sun, and it could be used to strike down all of Ra’s enemies. The symbol was also said to be a goddess in and of itself. Depending on the source it was either Wadjet, Mut, Bastet, Hathor, or Sekhmet.
4. The Horned God
This symbol is drawn as a circle with a crescent moon or a pair of horns on top of it. One of the biggest symbols of masculine energy, the Horned God could be used to bestow incredible strength and courage into the target of the spell. At the same time, it’s also used as a symbol of fertility or a spell cast to ensure a successful hunt.
5. The Hexagram
Hexagram is rich in religious meaning and symbolism and can be found in religious symbols such as the Seal of Solomon and the Star of David, the. As a magic symbol, however, it’s actually viewed as two separate but combined symbols – the upright triangle is the female symbol of water, and the reversed triangle is the male symbol of fire.
As both of these elements are common in nature and in spell casting, the Hexagram is a popular and potent magic symbol. In Christianity, the Hexagram symbolizes the Heaven and the Earth, and is common in churches’ stained glass windows.
6. Celtic Shield Knot
The Celtic Shield knot symbol is a popular Irish symbol that’s often used for amulets and pendants. It has a complex design that resembles four interconnected axe blades around a small round shield. It’s viewed as both a symbol of eternity – due to its flowing and never-ending design – as well as a defensive rune that can grant protection to the wearer of the amulet or the subject of the spell.
7. The Ankh
Another popular sign from ancient Egypt, the Ankh is the symbol of life, both male and female fertility, eternity, and much more. As a magical symbol, the Ankh can be used to bring good health, protect people from diseases, extend a person’s life and stop them from aging, as well as keep them safe from the various evil forces in the world.
The Besom symbol, or the Broom symbol, is a simple but popular and powerful symbol. One of its meanings is the union between the male and female as the handle is meant to represent the man while the bristles stand for the woman.
As a magic symbol, the Besom can be used in various ways:
- When used in sweeping motions it can remove negative spirits and forces from your home.
- When placed under someone’s bed, this symbol can grant them a sound sleep and good dreams.
- It can also be placed on the front door of a home to keep evil forces at bay.
9. Witch’s Knot
A female magic symbol with an intertwined design, the Witch’s Knot is typically used as a rune of protection. It’s especially potent if it’s drawn against male witchcraft/wizardry. According to various sources, the Witch’s Knot has also been used for weather spells to create magic circles, as well as for love spells. The symbol has also been found carved into doors to ward off against evildoers and evil spells.
10. Earth, Wind, Earth, and Fire
The four symbols of the elements are popular in alchemy as well in various cultures and mythic traditions. They are typically drawn as triangles: Upright and stricken-through triangle for Air, Reversed triangle for Water, Upright triangle for Fire, and Reversed and stricken-through triangle for Earth.
These four symbols can be used separately or together for all types of spells whether it’s spells that affect/use any of the four elements or spells that target various emotional and personality traits associated with these elements.
The Spiral symbolizes the life cycle, centering, self-development, and – obviously – fertility. It’s one of the oldest magical symbols and can be found in writings as old as 10,000 BCE Mesopotamia. Talismans and trinkets cast with the Spiral symbol are said to help people to continue growing and living healthy and peaceful lives.
12. The Harp
The Harp symbolizes healing, love, peace, joy, and devotion. The musical instrument itself was created by Pythagoras on the Island of Crete. The Harp’s very creator believed that its tones and music can heal people.
Since then, the Harp has been associated with various deities in the Greek, Egyptian, Roman, Celtic pantheons as well as other religions. The symbol is also prominently featured in the Bible. As a magic symbol, the Harp has been used in spells aimed to bring love, peace, and devotion to their recipients.
13. Witch’s Foot
An interesting symbol of power, the Witch’s Foot looks like a snowflake made out of three straight lines, although it has a couple of other designs too. The middle line is supposed to represent the upper and the lower worlds while the other two lines are meant to represent the four directions of the world.
The symbol is called Witch’s Foot as it’s believed that when witches met, the witches walked barefoot and left this symbol on the ground with each step. As a magic symbol, the Witch’s Foot is used in spells that are meant to grant the recipient magical and physical power.
14. The Chalice
The Chalice is a symbol of fertility, unity, and divinity. This symbol is frequently used in various Wiccan rituals, and it also represents the female goddess of the Wiccan faith. It’s used to drink to the spirits and symbolizes the womb of the goddess.
The Chalice is usually made of silver or wood, but it can also be made of any other naturally occurring metal. Its base represents the material world while its stem symbolizes the connection between humans and spirits.
15. Owl of Wisdom
This is a symbol of knowledge, wisdom, and the unmasking of truth. Originally, the Owl of Wisdom was associated with the goddess Athena from the ancient Greek mythology. Celts and various West African tribes also used similar symbols and revered the owl as a wise animal.
As a magic symbol, the Owl of Wisdom is used to grant one the ability to look inside the human soul, to see some otherwise unseeable truths, or to peek into the future. It can also be used as a symbol of healing and comfort.
Many symbols of magic also hold other meanings, and some have evolved over time to acquire new meanings. These symbols continue to be viewed as protection symbols and are kept close to keep harm and evil at bay.