The Om, the Lotus Flower, the Chakras… Chances are, you’ve encountered these symbols at one point or another. These are called spiritual symbols.
Of course, they’re not exclusive to Eastern traditions and cultures. They’ve been around for millennia in most parts of the world, dating back to when our ancestors would carve such symbols in their caves.
Spiritual symbols have been passed down from generation to generation through stories, myths, religious texts, and rituals. Today, their impact on the human psyche is as important as ever.
What Are Spiritual Symbols?
Spiritual symbols are signs and images that hold a specific meaning and represent certain beliefs, ideas, or concepts of spirituality. They help people understand and connect with deeper spiritual concepts.
Since the dawn of our species, we’ve been trying to understand the world around us. We try to interpret it and, equally importantly, we try to give it meaning.
Natural phenomena, death, and life itself, among others, are profound and unsolved mysteries. So we created those symbols to represent the kinds of forces that govern our lives. And this imagery helps us conceptualize these spiritual forces and allows us to connect with them on a higher level.
While they may seem similar, spiritual symbols are different from spiritual alchemy symbols. The latter were used to denote certain elements and compounds, while the former is more about representing ideas.
According to Jungian psychology, there are universal symbols called archetype images. They’re very common in all human cultures as they tap into the collective unconscious, making them resonate with people across different backgrounds. And they can also be used as tools for understanding the human psyche.
Likewise, spiritual symbols have the power to connect with people from all walks of life. And this can help them understand themselves and the cosmos better.
21 Spiritual Symbols and Their Meanings
If you’re diving deeper into the world of meditation, eastern religions, or spirituality, you’ve probably noticed a few recurring symbols yourself: the Yin-Yang, a lotus flower, dreamcatchers—the list is endless.
You may even own one as a piece of jewelry or have it tattooed somewhere on you. But what do they all represent, and how can you use them?
Here are 21 common spiritual symbols and their meanings:
Powerful spiritual symbols
The symbol of Christianity represents the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for the redemption of humankind. Despite its simple geometrical form, it delivers complex meanings such as love, finality, and fulfilled promises.
How to use it: Christians wear the cross, usually in the form of a necklace. It serves as a reminder of their faith and connects them with Christ, his passions, and his ultimate sacrifice.
The Vajr, also known as Dorje, is a sacred symbol in Tibetan Buddhism. It symbolized the properties of a diamond (indestructibility) and a thunderbolt (irresistible force). And so, it represents the indestructible nature of enlightenment and spiritual power.
How to use it: The Dorje is often used in Buddhist rituals and ceremonies. In meditation, this symbol can be held to channel the energy of clarity and wisdom.
The Hamsa symbol can be traced back to a number of religions and traditions. It’s known as the Hand of Fatima in Islam, the Hand of Mary in Christianity, and the Hand of Miriam in Judaism.
However, for Hindus and Buddhists, it represents the five senses and the mudras that affect them.
How to use it: Hamsa is similar to the Evil Eye in that it can be used as a spiritual symbol for protection from negative energy. It’s also often used as a symbol of power and success.
A double-edged khanda (sword) and a chakra in the middle between two single-edged swords are what make up the Khanda symbol. It’s the most important symbol of the Sikhs, a Dharmic religion from the 15th century, and it represents divine power.
How to use it: Besides Sikhs wearing the Khanda as an emblem of their faith, it’s one of the ultimate symbols of power, be it spiritual or material.
5. Lotus flower
The lotus flower, as part of the flora, has the ability to grow in muddy waters. For that reason, it represents the ability of humans to rise above life’s challenges and obstacles and reach spiritual awakening. It’s the symbol of purity and enlightenment.
How to use it: The lotus flower is well-known for inspiring the lotus position, the cross-legged meditation pose. Furthermore, during meditation, you can visualize the lotus flower blooming within the heart and enhance your journey toward your own transformation.
6. The Seal of Melchizedek
With roots in biblical narratives and other ancient texts, the Seal of Melchizedek is depicted as two interlocking squares creating an eight-pointed star. In ancient cultures, stars were believed to be gods. So, in this context, the shape is a direct representation of Jesus Christ.
The symbol is often also associated with a circle, either inside or outside the octagon, which, of course, represents eternity.
How to use it:
It can be used during mindfulness practices to help you find a sense of balance between the spiritual and physical aspects of your life.
7. Yin Yang
Deriving from Taoist philosophy, the Yin Yang symbol represents the balance and harmony of opposites. What’s more, the now universal symbol can help cultivate inner harmony and balance. It serves as a reminder to seek balance in life and understand the interconnectedness of all things.
How to use it: In yoga, it has inspired Yin Yang yoga, a combination of Yin yoga and Yang yoga. In meditation, one can focus on the symbol to bring inner harmony and balance and try to understand the interconnectedness of all things.
Healing spiritual symbols
This multi-dimensional symbol contains three times the number seven—the seven chakras. The Antahkarana is a sacred symbol in Tibetan Buddhism, representing the bridge between the conscious and unconscious minds. It’s said to ward off negative energy.
How to use it: Meditating on the Antahkarana is believed to enhance self-awareness, healing, and spiritual growth. This yogic practice withdraws the senses, watches the mind, and becomes aware of the witnessing consciousness. You can use it to connect with your higher consciousness and inner wisdom.
9. Tree of Life
The Tree of Life is a powerful symbol deeply rooted in Celtic spirituality and mythology. It depicts a tree with roots that reach into the earth and branches that stretch towards the heavens.
While the symbol has several different meanings across cultures, there are overarching themes as to what it represents. It often signifies the unity of all life, the cycles of nature, and the connection between earth and heaven.
How to use it: In Celtic traditions, this symbol was invoked during ceremonies to honor the passing of the seasons and the wisdom of the natural world. Today, it can be used as a focus point during meditation practices, guiding you to contemplate your own connection with nature and the universe.
10. Eye of Horus
A popular ancient Egyptian symbol, the Eye of Horus represents the eye of the god Horus, the god of the sun and the moon. It’s also known as the eye of the falcon, which is a symbol of protection and health.
According to the legend, Horus lost his eye during his battle with Set, the god of deserts and violence. But the eye was restored by Thoth, the god of wisdom. And for that reason, it’s believed that the symbol has spiritual powers.
How to use it: As an amulet or talisman for protection. Besides safety, it can also offer you health and spiritual well-being.
The infinity symbol, often depicted as a sideways figure-eight, represents the concept of endlessness and the unified nature of all things. On a spiritual and metaphysical level, it can also carry the meaning of regeneration and eternal life.
How to use it: Wearing an infinity symbol as jewelry can act as a reminder of the boundless potential within yourself and the world around you.
12. Spiral Sun
Also known as The First Healer, the Spiral Sun is another Native American symbol that dates back to 1500 BC. For many Native American tribes, the sun was the first shaman and thus the first healer.
How to use it: The Spiral Sun is often used in meditation and especially in visualizations. In visualizations, this spiritual symbol acts as a vacuum that draws away unwanted or unnecessary energy from your body.
13. Sri Yantra
The Sri Yantra is a sacred geometry symbol. It consists of nine interlocking triangles enveloped in a circle.
- The upright triangles represent Shiva, the female energy,
- The five downward triangles represent Shakti, the male energy, and
- At the center, there is Bindu, the point at which all creation came to be.
How to use it: Meditating on the Sri Yantra is said to promote healing and balance on all levels—physical, emotional, and spiritual.
14. The 5 Reiki Symbols
The five symbols are sacred symbols used in Reiki healing, the Japanese energy healing technique. Each one holds a specific purpose and intention to channel healing energy.
- Cho Ku Rei: Enhances the flow of Reiki energy
- Sei He Ki: Aids in healing emotional and mental imbalances
- Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen: Enables Reiki to transcend time and space for distant healing
- Dai Ko Myo: Represents enlightenment, oneness, and the highest level of healing energy
- Raku: Helps to ground and seal the energy after a Reiki session
How to use it: During a Reiki session, practitioners draw through these symbols the power they need to enhance the healing process.
Spiritual protection symbols
Also known as “the breath of life”, the Ankh is one of the oldest symbols of eternal life and rebirth. This ancient Egyptian symbol is made of a cross and a hoop; the cross represents the physical plane of existence, and the hoop symbolizes eternity.
How to use it: The Ankh is mostly used as a reminder of our spiritual transcendence and for conceptualizing the continuity of the soul beyond this life.
16. Bagua Map
The Bagua Map is a fundamental tool in Feng Shui that promotes balance and positive energy flow. It’s an octagonal grid that divides a space into eight sections, each corresponding to a different aspect of your life, such as wealth, relationships, and career.
How to use it: To use the Bagua Map, you overlay it onto the layout of a room, aligning one of its sides with the entrance. Each section of the Bagua corresponds to a different area of life, and you can apply Feng Shui principles to enhance those areas.
For example, if you’re looking to improve your career, you might focus on the “career” section and use symbols, colors, and elements associated with career growth within that part of the space.
The dreamcatcher has been used by Native Americans for many centuries. When hanging on the cradle of children or even the bed of adults, it’s believed to protect the sleeper by filtering out nightmares and allowing only good dreams.
Traditionally, they are made from a hoop, net, or web and are adorned with feathers and beads.
How to use it: You can hang a dreamcatcher from your bed for peaceful sleep.
18. Evil Eye
It usually takes the form of an eye with a blue or black pupil on a white background.
Its origins can be traced to ancient Mesopotamia. And to this day, it’s believed that it can ward off curses through its protective force.
How to use it: Wear it as jewelry or display it in your home or business to repulse jealousy, deflect harmful thoughts, and protect yourself from negative energy.
19. Helm of Awe
The Helm of Awe, also called Aegishjalmur, is associated with protection and courage in Norse mythology. It consists of eight arms radiating from a central point, positioned as if they will defend it from anything and everything that attempts to attack.
Such power was apparently what this spiritual symbol was intended to invoke. In fact, one of the poems in the Poetic Edda, the Fáfnismál, mentions the havoc-wreaking dragon Fafnir giving credit to the Helm of Awe for much of his invincibility.
How to use it: The Helm of Awe can be used in modern practices, usually through visualization or meditation, for protection and empowerment and to signify strength and bravery. It can also be worn as jewelry to symbolize inner strength and courage.
Mjolnir is the enchanted hammer of the god Thor, representing strength and protection. It’s associated with divine power and valor in Norse mythology.
How to use it: Mjolnir pendants or jewelry are worn as symbols of strength and protection, particularly in modern Norse pagan and Heathen practices. You can wear it as a symbol for the same reasons as well.
Similar to the pentagram, this five-pointed star is enclosed in a circle. The pentacle is also found in pagan traditions and is a symbol of protection, balance, and the elements.
How to use it: The Pentacle can be worn as jewelry or used on altars during rituals to invoke the elements and spiritual energies.
How to Work With Spiritual Symbols
Working with spiritual symbols can be a meaningful and powerful practice. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you start working with such symbols.
1. Set intentions
Without an end goal, there’s no motivation. According to research, intentions direct your behaviors and help you achieve your goals.
So, prior to beginning your practice, set an intention for what you want to achieve.
Some people are looking for protection, healing, or guidance through spiritual symbols. What are you hoping to get out of it? Your chosen symbol can help you visualize your intention.
For example, if you want to connect with your inner strength, you could choose the Tree of Life symbol, with its deep roots and solid trunk, to portray that strength.The mighty oak was once a little nut that stood its ground. — @judithwosi Click To Tweet
Picture yourself as powerful and grounded as a tree, and let that image guide your intention for your ritual.
2. Create a special space
Your altar is a spiritual sanctuary, no matter how big or small.
Adorn it with items that bring you a sense of tranquility. The sky’s the limit here—you can include candles, crystals, or anything else that resonates with you, including your symbols.When we trust our vibes, we restore our balance and experience within—which, ultimately, leads to peace without. — @ChoquetteSonia Click To Tweet
This will be your sacred place, where you can focus and connect with their energy.
Visualizing doesn’t only deepen your connection with your spiritual symbol, it also helps you embody the qualities it represents. In fact, research suggests that when you mentally exercise an idea over and over, your brain begins to respond as though the idea were something real.
To revisit the Tree of Life metaphor one more time, you could imagine yourself being as rooted as a tree.If you stop thinking about what you should see, you will be amazed at what you see. — @iamjeffreyallen Click To Tweet
Close your eyes and picture your roots spreading deep into the earth, anchoring you in place, while your branches grow tall and strong towards the sky.
Alternatively, you can learn how to draw spiritual symbols and try to maintain your focus on the procedure and the drawing per se during your drawing session.
Spiritual Symbols: Sacred Secrets Unveiled
Symbols are everywhere. And they can be used to enhance your spiritual journey.
If you are looking for more guidance on how to embrace that side of you, Mindvalley is an excellent place to start. Here, you’ll find a number of quests that can help you come into your spiritual progress, such as:
- Duality with Jeffrey Allen to unlock your energy body, awaken self-mastery, spiritual awareness, and emotional bliss.
- Unlocking Transcendence with Jeffrey Allen to move beyond meditation and prayer, mastering advanced spiritual skills to align with your highest purpose.
- Sixth Sense Superpower with Sonia Choquette to unleash your intuition, infuse life with endless inspiration, and gain clarity and confidence.
- Chakra Healing with Anodea Judith to gain practical mastery of your internal energy systems for lifelong healing, empowerment, and reaching your fullest potential.
When you sign up for a free Mindvalley account, you have access to the first few lessons of the quests. They’ll give you a taste of how powerful getting in tune with your spiritual side can be.
And on top of that, you can use the free daily meditations to bolster your spirituality. These include guided ones, so you can close your eyes and drift off to your spiritual safe space.
As Jeffrey Allen says in his Duality Quest, “Tuning into this higher awareness gives us fantastic guidance, but also a sense of peace and ease—that everything is happening just perfectly, that there’s a bigger plan which is playing out beautifully.” And that includes the spiritual you.
Images generated on Midjourney.