Pagan Symbols And Their Meanings, The Detailed List

In today’s post about pagan symbols and their meanings, I’d like to take you on a fascinating journey back through history, to the world of paganism in ancient times.

Throughout human history, symbols have been an integral element of all religions. They serve to imbue meaning into every system of faith practiced by humankind.

Wiccan Pentacle as Part of Pagan Symbols Collection, A Pentacle with Candles
Wiccan Pentacle by Darksomemoon

Paganism is one of those as it had its ‘golden age’ during the pre-Christian period in history, a time when written accounts were quite uncommon and widespread publishing of books or documents was yet to arrive with the invention of the Gutenberg printing press in 1426. Without widespread written word, symbols were even more critical to practitioners of religious faith.

This makes it all the more necessary to have a solid grasp of symbolism in pagan religion in order to really understand the faith of the people of these times. So let’s dive in with this extensive list of pagan symbols and their meanings.

Ouroboros, the Infinity Symbol Also Known As ‘The Snake Eating Its Own Tail’

Ouroboros, more commonly known as the infinity symbol, is one of the most prominent symbols in the history of humankind that took its place in the accounts of several different cultures.

Ouroboros A Pagan Symbol of Rebirth, Reincarnation and Resurrection Snake Eating Its Own Tail
Ouroboros, The Snake Eating Its Tail by Tatiana Apanasova

The symbol, which has originated in Greece, was adopted by many cultures in all four corners of the world, ranging from China in the Far East to the Aztecs in North America, as well as ancient Egypt, the Middle East and Europe.

One of the first depictions of Ouroboros symbol dates back to the 3rd century B.C. , to the works of Cleopatra the Alchemist (not to be confused with Cleopatra, the Ptolemaic ruler of Egypt).

Just like any famous alchemist in history, Cleopatra also aimed to discover how to produce the philosopher’s stone, the mythical substance believed to transform any base metal into gold. Her illustration regarding this work features the Ouroboros, a snake eating its own tail.

Ouroboros in Native American Style
Ouroboros by Intueri

By many alchemists around the world, the ouroboros symbol has been used to represent the repetitive cycle of life comprising the phases of life, death and rebirth as well as the chemical element of Mercury.

Similar to the yin and yang symbol from the Far East, it also represents the harmony of the two opposites at times.

After being used as an alchemy symbol for centuries, the symbol was later adapted to be used as the mathematical symbol of infinity.

Ouroboros Snake Eating Its Own Tail
Ouroboros, The Serpent Eating Its Own Tail by AGV

Symbolizing the everlasting cycle of life and death, ouroboros is also one of the most prominent symbols of rebirth and reincarnation. If you would like to read more about the rebirth symbols, please check out or article here.

Four Classic Elements As Pagan Symbols

Air

The second item on our list of pagan symbols is air, one of ‘the four classic elements’ in alchemy.

The air element is considered to be the representation of the soul and life-giving forces in general. The symbol has been being used commonly in paganistic rituals and spiritual practices.

The alchemical air is represented by an upward triangle that has a straight line across near the top of the triangle.

Elemental Air, Alchemy Symbol
Alchemical Air Symbol

Water

Water is another classical element that has been invoked during pagan rituals and practices.

The alchemical water is considered to be one of the symbols of ‘the Goddess’ in pagan faith. The symbol, drawn as a downward triangle which resembles the womb, is used to represent femininity and everything that is female.

Water Element as a Pagan Symbol
Alchemical Water Symbol

It is known that, in addition to rituals of love, the water element could be invoked in cleansing and purification rituals in pagan tradition as the flowing water has the power to wash away and clean what one does not want in his/her life.

Fire

Being the exact opposite of the alchemical water, the alchemical fire element is considered to be the representation of masculinity.

The alchemical fire is a destructive force in nature, but can also support life itself depending on the situation such as the fire we use to cook or warm up.

It is also used to represent ‘heated’ emotions like anger, passion and love. The symbol is drawn as a regular triangle.

Fire , Upward Triangle As A Part of Alchemy Symbols
Alchemical Fire, a Pagan Symbol

Earth

Considered a symbol of Mother Earth herself, the classical element of earth has been commonly used to represent nature, abundance, fertility and physical movements.

Drawn as the exact opposite of the alchemical air, the alchemical earth element comprises a downward triangle with a line across near the bottom part.

Alchemical Earth, One of the Main Alchemy Symbols
Alchemical Earth as a Pagan Symbol

The Sacred Spiral/The Spiral Goddess

As another one of the symbols representing the Goddess, the spiral is a symbol used widely by the ancient Celts and pagans.

Spiral Goddess, A Pagan Symbol
Spiral Goddess as a Pagan Symbol

While the symbol is mainly associated with the Goddess, it is also believed to represent the cycle of life comprising life, death and rebirth as well as the eternal nature of things and the movement of planets and stars in the sky.

Pentagram

A pentagram is a five-pointed star representing the four classical elements and the spirit.

Although the symbol has been used by people of different faiths to represent different concepts throughout history, such as the five wounds of Jesus Christ, it is mainly known as a pagan symbol.

Wiccan Pentagram A Pagan Symbol
Wiccan Pentagram

Pentacle

A pentacle is simply a pentagram but with one difference; a circle surrounding the five-pointed star.

Circles represent infinity and power in paganism, so it is believed that the circle around the star in the pentacle symbol strengthens the power of the elements within it.

Wiccan Pentacle a Pagan Symbol
Wiccan Pentacle

The circle also represents the interconnected nature of these five elements (fire, earth, air, water, spirit).

Commonly used in pagan practices, the pentacle is known to be a pagan symbol of protection among other things.

If you would like to learn more about the Wiccan pentacle, click here to check out our detailed post.

Eye of Horus

As Horus was known to be the god of protection and healing, the Eye of Horus symbol was mainly used as a symbol of protection by ancient Egyptians.

Eye of Horus, Ancient Egyptian Pagan Symbol
Eye of Horus, Ancient Egyptian Pagan Symbol by Paul Fleet on Shutterstock

Being one of the most prominent symbols at the time, the Eye of Horus was used widely in ancient Egypt whether it was on a coffin to have Horus to protect the dead loved ones as they passed onto the afterlife or on a fishing boat to protect fishermen from the dangers of the sea.

This tradition was adopted by pagan people and the watchful Eye of Horus became another pagan symbol of protection.

Eye of Horus, Pagan Symbols Collection
Eye of Horus by Intueri

Ankh, The Key of Life

Also known as the key of life, the ankh, the Egyptian symbol of life is just another symbol that made its way into pagan faith from ancient Egyptian culture.

Ankh An Egyptian Pagan Symbol
Ankh, the Key of Nile by Shiva3d on Shutterstock

The ankh symbol, which has also been adopted by Christians after the partial christianization of Egypt during 4th and 5th A.D., is a pagan symbol believed to represent life, rebirth/life after death and eternity.

Ankh As a Pagan Symbol
Ankh, the Egyptian Symbol of Life by Intueri on Shutterstock

Septogram, The Seven-pointed Star

Septogram, the seven-pointed star, also known as septagram, heptagram and the faery star, is another symbol adopted by major religions throughout the world such as Islam and Christianity in addition to paganism.

Pagan symbols and their meanings explained. A heptagram with runes on it
Septogram/Heptagram – Pagan Symbols and Their Meanings by Robin Ph on Shuttersock

While it is used to represent the first seven verses of Quran in Islam, in Christianity it is used to symbolize the seven days during which the world was created.

In paganism, the septogram is used to represent several things that come in sevens such as the seven classical planets believed to exist by the alchemists of the ancient times (Sol, Luna, Saturn, Venus, Mars, Mercury and Jupiter) and Pleiades, the seven stars believed to be the seven daughters of the titan Atlas.

Vegvisir, The Nordic Compass

Also known as the Nordic compass/Viking compass, the Vegvisir is a Norse pagan symbol that is believed to provide guidance to the one bearing the symbol.

Vegvisir, the Runic Norse Compass As a Pagan Symbol
Vegvisir, the Runic Norse Compass a Pagan Symbol by Anne Mathiasz on Shutterstock

Although it is widely used in modern pagan practices, the vegvisir is a relatively new one compared to other pagan symbols.

The symbol was mentioned in two historical sources until today;the Galdrabok, an Icelandic grimoire/book of magic that dates back to the early 17th century andthe Huld Manuscript compiled in the late 19th century.

Vegvisir A Pagan Symbol Explained, The Runic Viking Compass
Vegvisir the Runic Viking Compass by Bourbon-88 on Shutterstock

The word ‘vegvisir’ literally means ‘sign post’ and ‘wayfinder’ in Icelandic language and the symbol, which is sometimes confused with another pagan symbol, aegishjalmur the helm of awe, is popular among people of neo-pagan faith using it as a symbol of guidance.

Read our detailed post on the Norse compass here, if you would like to learn more about the symbol.

Aegishjalmur, The Helm of Awe

Aegishjalmur, also known as the helm of awe, is the next Norse pagan symbol on our list. Comprising eight staves/tridents surrounded by a circle, aegishjalmur is known to be the pagan symbol of protection and power.

Aegishjalmur a Pagan Symbol for Protection
Aegishjalmur, the Helm of Awe and Terror by Bourbon-88 on Shutterstock

Asthe Prose Eddahas it in its section regarding Sigurd’s battle against the dragon Fafnir,  Fafnir had the aegishjalmur symbol on him and owed some of his power to the symbol. Sigurd beat Fafnir and took the helm of awe for himself.

Aegishjalmur was drawn on the foreheads of Viking warriors to protect them from their enemies in battle.

It was also believed to provide mental and physical strength to the person carrying it as well as instilling fear on their enemies.

Aegishjalmur, the Norse Symbol of Strength and Perseverance
Aegishjalmur, the Norse Symbol of Strength and Perseverance by Bourbon-88 on Shutterstock

Mjolnir, Thor’s Hammer

Carrying on with Norse pagan symbols, the next item in our list is Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer.

Mjolnir is the legendary weapon of Thor the god of thunder, one of the most important figures  in Norse mythology.

Mjolnir as a Pagan Symbol
Mjolnir, a Pagan Symbol by Symonenko Viktoriia

According to the belief, the hammer of Thor never missed its target and always came back to the one who wields it. If you are a fan of Marvel Cinematic Universe or Marvel Comics, you are obviously very familiar with this part.

It is considered a Norse symbol of protection in general and Mjolnir necklaces were worn by Viking warriors while going to battle.

Mjolnir as A Pagan Symbol of Protection
Mjolnir as A Pagan Symbol by Bourbon-88

The symbol was used for a long time to represent the Norse culture even after Christianity became widespread in Scandinavian lands. It is a common symbol used by  the people of the Asatru faith which is a neopagan religion officially established in the 20th century.

It is also known that Mjolnir was used to bless marriages according to pagan traditions.

Valknut, The Symbol of Odin

Valknut, also known as the symbol of Odin, is a Norse pagan symbol that was most commonly seen on Viking tombstones or runestones along with a depiction of Odin himself and/or one of the animals that represent him such as wolves or ravens.

Valknut, Odin's Symbol, the Knot of the Slain Warrior
Valknut, Odin’s Symbol, the Knot of the Slain Warrior by Anne Mathiasz on Shutterstock

Although there is some doubt about the actual origin and meaning of this symbol, it is mainly considered a symbol of Odin the Norse god also known as the chief practitioner of Norse magic and shamanism practices known as ‘seiðr’ (pronounced as SAY-der).

Valknut, Odin's Symbol and the Serpent
Valknut, Odin’s Symbol and the Serpent by Mikhail Balashov on Shutterstock

Seidr practitioners were believed to reach a higher state of mind and travel through the Nine Realms (in Norse mythology). Valknut was one of the pagan symbols used by them in rituals.

Check out our detailed article on Valknut also known as the Knot of the Slain Warriors here, if you would like to learn more about the symbol, its meaning and origin.

Valknut the Symbol of Odin, Viking Symbol
Valknut, the Symbol of Odin by Bourbon-88 on Shutterstock

The Triple Horn of Odin

Trinities are an important element of pagan faith and the triple horn of Odin is a fine example of trinities being used in pagan symbolism.

The triple horn of Odin, also known as the horned triskele, is a symbol comprising three interlocking horns which are believed to represent the three times Odin drank the magical mead of poetry and wisdom.

Triple Horn of Odin as a Pagan Symbol
Triple Horn of Odin by Bourbon-88

According to the belief, the magical mead brewed from the blood of the wise god Kvasir, granted wisdom to the ones who drank it. After a series of events and using some trickery to fool Gunnlöd, the giant guarding the mead, Odin was able to drink the mead three times over three nights and run away.

Horns, in general, were commonly used by Vikings in toasting ceremonies and mentioned many times in Norse eddas. That and the fact that it is one of the Norse symbols closely associated with Odin the Allfather, make the triple horn an important pagan symbol.

Triple Horn of Odin Pagan Symbols Collection
Trple Horn of Odin By Anne Mathiasz on Shutterstock

Svefnthorn

Svefnthorn is a symbol which is believed to be used by the Norse practitioners of magic to put someone to deep sleep.

Also known as the ‘sleep thorn’, this symbol, the exact description of which differs from source to source, was mentioned in several Norse sagas as a pagan symbol used to induce sleep.

Triquetra

Although it has been used as a symbol to represent the holy trinity in Christianity, triquetra is a Celtic-pagan symbol that emerged long before Christianity existed.

Triquetra, the Celtic Knot Representing the Trinity
Triquetra, the Celtic Knot Representing the Trinity by 4Luck on Shutterstock

Although the triquetra is mainly considered a Celtic symbol, the earliest examples were found in India about five thousands years ago.

There are theories suggesting the triquetra symbol represented in Celtic culture the Triple Goddess and her three aspects; Mother, Maiden and Crone but there is no solid proof about this.

Triquetra, the Celtic Trinity Knot, Celtic Symbols Explained
Triquetra, the Celtic Trinity Knot by Intueri on Shutterstock

Triquetra has been used by Celtic and Norse pagan people on artwork, coins and runestones.

Triquetra, the Celtic Trinity Knot by Novart on Creative Fabrica

You can read more on Triquetra, its origin and meanings by clicking here.

Triskele/Triskelion

Just like Triquetra, the Triskele, also known as the Triskelion, is a prominent Celtic symbol that might have come into existence in the Far East. The first examples of the Triskele symbol were first seen in Buddhist writings written in ancient times.

Triskele in Celtic Symbols Collection
Triskele, the Celtic Triple Spiral Knot by Biljanacvetanovic on Creative Fabrica

The symbol was used by Celts to represent motion, energy and progress. It is also considered by some people as a symbol representing the three stages of the cycle of life; life, death and rebirth.

The Horned God

The Horned God is one of the two main deities in Wiccan faith, the male counterpart and the consort of the Triple Goddess.

He is associated with masculinity, virility, sexuality hunting, nature and wilderness.

The Horned God symbol comprising a crescent moon on its side on top of a circle, kind of looking like a face with horns, is used to invoke god in Wiccan rituals especially the ones that are about fertility.

The Triple Moon/The Triple Goddess

The Triple Moon symbol, also known as the Triple Goddess, comprising a circle with two crescent moons on each side, is a symbol that represents the three stages of the moon.

Triple Moon Goddess Symbol with a Full Moonin the Middle and Crescent Moons on Both Sides
Triple Moon Goddess Symbol, A Full Moon with Two Crescent Moons on the Sides

The crescent on the left side is the waxing moon that represents rejuvenation, renewal and new beginnings. The circle in the middle is the full moon that represents the time when magic is believed to be at its full power. The crescent on the right side is the waning stage of the moon that represents the end of things, a finality in a sense. This is also considered the most ideal time to do banishing magic, end things and let them go.

Triple Goddess Symbol Triple Moon Symbol Meaning and Origins Explained Maiden Mother Crone
Triple Goddess Symbol/Triple Moon Symbol – Maiden Mother and Crone by Paws on Shutterstock

Similar to the Triquetra, the Triple Moon symbol is also considered to represent the three aspects of the Triple Goddess; Mother, Maiden and Crone.

The Sun Wheel/The Sun Cross

The Sun Wheel, also known as the Sun Cross, is a pagan symbol that represents the sun, its life-giving force, life, fertility and immortality.

It also represents the four seasons of the year in Wiccan faith as well as 8 Wiccan sabbats.

On an unfortunate side note, a version of the sun wheel symbol was adopted by the Nazis and used under the name ‘Schwarze Sonne’ (the Black Sun). It is still being used today to represent the neo-Nazi movement.

Hecate’s Wheel

Hecate’s Wheel is the symbol of Hecate, the Greek goddess of the moon, night, magic, witchcraft and necromancy.

The symbol is mostly associated with the three stages of a woman’s life (also known as the three aspects of the Triple Goddess); Mother, Maiden and Crone, and the relevant Wiccan practices.

Hecate's Wheel Strophalos As Parts of Pagan Symbols Collection
Hecate’s Wheel Strophalos by Croisy

That being said, as Hecate is believed to grant prosperity, it can also be considered a symbol of prosperity.

On a side note, it is also considered a symbol of rebirth/renewal as a labyrinth represents rebirth.

The Tree Of Life

The tree of life is a very common archetype mentioned in the accounts of many prehistoric civilizations including the Celts and pagans of the early ages.

In Norse pagan faith, Yggdrasil, the tree of life, is a giant ash tree that connects the Nine Realms in Norse mythology.

Yggdrasil Norse Tree of Life
Yggdrasil Norse Tree of Life by Josef Klopacka

The Celts revered nature in general and the trees played a specific role in their culture. When a Celtic tribe needed to find a new place to establish a settlement, they would choose a spot near a strong tree.

This tree, under which important meetings were held, would become the center of the settlement and namedCrann Bethadh,‘the tree of life’ in Gaelic language.

Celtic Tree of Life Knot Meaning Explained
Celtic Tree of Life Knot by Artdock on Shutterstock

In Wiccan tradition, the Tree of Life is believed to be the bridge between the divine beings and everything on Earth.

Pagan Symbols and Their Meanings

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