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Truth and lies are facts of life. Where there are humans, there are truth and lies. Like all concepts, humans use symbols to represent these concepts. Here we’ve rounded up the most widely accepted symbols of truth and lies. For a quick look, go here to check out the graphic on symbols of truth and lies.
Symbols of Truth
From symbolic objects to religious emblems, here are the most popular symbols of truth around the world:
From ancient tales to modern art, mirrors have been used to symbolize complex truths. The mirror does not to lie, but instead it reflects the truth. In literature, it’s commonly used as a powerful reflection tool of one’s own truth. The poem Mirror by Sylvia Plath narrates the life journey of a woman who has a quest for self-discovery and truth. She witnesses herself growing older through her own reflection in the mirror.
As the name implies, sweet peas are sweet-smelling flowers that are associated with truth and strength, due to folklore and superstitions. In some regions, it’s thought to attract new friendships and carrying the bloom will cause you to tell the truth. The mystics even use the flower to deepen their connection with their spirit and access ancient wisdoms.
In ancient Egypt, the ostrich feather symbolized truth, order and justice, and was closely associated with goddess Ma’at. It was an integral part of the soul ceremony in the afterlife, where the heart of the deceased was weighed on a scale of justice against the Ma’at’s feather of truth. It stemmed from the belief that the heart recorded all the good and bad deeds of a person’s life. If the heart was as light as the feather, it meant that the person had led a decent life and was worthy of continuing his or her journey to the Afterlife.
The word swastika is derived from the Sanskrit svastika, which means it is good or that which is associated with well-being. This symbol only gained negative associations because of Nazi Party, but it’s actually an ancient symbol used by different civilizations around the world. In Hinduism, it represents the truth, spirituality, divinity and purity of the soul.
A variation of the swastika, the kolovrat symbol has eight bent arms facing an anti-clockwise direction. To the Slavic people, it’s a representation of the Sun and the circle of life. It’s also used to represent the truth, and the battle between good and evil. It’s thought that the eight-pointed symbol holds more power than the four-pointed swastika.
Unfortunately, the kolovrat was also adopted by the extremist groups and even the Russian National Unity, which is a neo-Nazi political party and paramilitary organization. Many scholars say that it’s because the organization is trying to give the impression of Russian origin through the use of Slavic symbolism and orthodoxy.
The Maltese Cross
An important part of Malta’s culture and heritage, the Maltese cross was originally associated with the Knights Hospitallers during the Crusades. It’s similar to a star shape with four V-shaped arms, with its eight points stand for the eight obligations of the knight. Of these eight obligations, on is to live truthfully.
Nowadays, the Maltese cross remains a symbol of truth, honor, courage and bravery due to its associations with the Knights. It’s also a symbol widely used on coat of arms, medals of honor, and family crests.
The Dharma Wheel
The Sanskrit word dharma means truth, and the dharma wheel represents an aspect of truth in Buddhist philosophy. It’s said to symbolize the teachings and morality of the Buddha, as well as the rules he followed to achieve enlightenment. While the number of spokes on the dharma wheel represents different aspects in different Indian religions, four spokes stand for the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism.
While this symbol itself is associated with Unitarian Universalism, it has no orthodox interpretation and can be used to symbolize the truth, freedom, hope and commitment. It’s likely because the community is composed of individuals with different traditions and beliefs, and they light chalices in gatherings to honor diversity. As such, the flaming chalice is also used to represent the quest for truth.
The Symbols of Lies
From Biblical accounts to fictional stories, cultural gestures and flowers, here are the symbols of lies that have been developed over time.
In Christian tradition, serpents have been associated with lies, deception and temptation. This associations stems from the role the creature played in the garden of Eden, luring Eve to eat the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. Despite the warning from God not to eat the forbidden fruit, the serpent lied and sowed doubts in Eve’s mind, convincing her to eventually eat the fruit. As a result, Adam and Eve disobeyed God and were expelled from the paradisiac garden.
Also known as calf’s snout or lion’s mouth, snapdragons symbolize lies, deception and indiscretion. The irony is that the flower is used to avoid deception, break hexes and protect someone from negativities. They’re native to the Mediterranean and most children play with them by pinching their tiny individual blossoms that make the flower’s mouth open and close.
In some regions, snapdragon seeds are placed under pillows to banish nightmares and ensure a good night’s sleep. It’s also thought that placing snapdragons in front of the mirror could send those negative energies and curses back to the sender. To protect yourself from deception and being bewitched, carry any part of the flower. You may also hold the flower in your hand to protect you from evil.
The invention of the Italian author Carlo Collodi, Pinocchio is a cautionary tale about lying. Pinocchio is a wooden puppet whose nose continues to grow as he lies. The story serves as a warning to people who try to lure others with their lies and deceptive behavior.
An interesting piece of trivia:
Pinocchio’s nose doubles in length in each lie, which could have been fatal for the puppet. According to a study done on this important topic, Pinocchio’s neck would likely have snapped off with the weight of his nose by the thirteenth lie.
Interestingly, science proves that when we lie our nose actually heats up, a condition called the Pinocchio effect. Researchers captured this phenomenon by using thermal cameras, and the results show that the fairytale isn’t all that far off.
The gesture of crossing our fingers has double meanings. It can represent a wish that all goes well. However, if you discreetly cross your index and middle fingers behind your back, it means that you have just told a lie. This shouldn’t be confused with the similar gesture used to show hope or ask for luck. In Vietnam, this is regarded as an obscene gesture, so never ask a stranger to cross fingers with you.
Nowadays, the line between truth and lies is becoming murkier, as lying can sometimes help someone to paint a better picture than the truth. Unfortunately, lies and deception often end in disaster, hurting the people we really care for. When someone finds out you’ve lied, it affects how he or she deals with you forever. Let these symbols serve as inspiration to live our lives truthfully while preserving social harmony.