Almost every religion is associated with protection symbols that guard against evil spirits or negative energies and are believed to bring good fortune. Let us revisit history and get right into it. Here is our detailed list of protection symbols used in various parts of the world during different times.
Magical Protection Symbols
The Witch’s/Witches Knot
Made of four interlocking vesica piscis shapes (a geometric shape formed by two intersecting circles), the Witch’s Knot, or the Witches Knot, has its roots in the ancient witchcraft practice of using knotted cords to tie things together and protect them.
This was a popular practice to create a circle of protection. Today, however, it has become a symbol of protection against bad magic.
The dragon’s eye symbol is represented by a downward-facing equilateral triangle with a Y inside, connecting its three corners.
With roots in ancient German culture, this magic symbol has multiple interpretations, but it is believed that it transforms into an amulet of protection after a specific incantation is recited upon it.
Native American Protection Symbols
The dream catcher is now commonly used as a decorative accessory. However, it was originally meant to offer protection from bad dreams while sleeping. The symbol has its roots in Native American cultures, and they primarily used it to protect children from bad dreams.
Native Americans believed that the air gets filled with all kinds of dreams at night, and a dream catcher can capture the bad dreams, thus, protecting the sleeper from them. The caught dreams get destroyed by the sunlight in the morning.
While this is the most popular notion associated with dream catchers, some people also believe that they can protect themselves from all kinds of evil forces and negative energies.
Those who believe in the greater protective capability of dream catchers wear the symbol around their neck to protect themselves.
An interesting Native American protection symbol that many of you may not have heard about before is the medicine bag. Legend has it that certain Native American tribes used to carry medicine bags because they believed it had the power to offer them spiritual protection.
The belief was rooted in ancient history when healers carried a medicine bag filled with items they used to treat and heal people.
There is also some historical evidence that Native American fighters also carried medicine bags as protective talismans during the war.
Norse Symbols of Protection
Mjolnir – Thor’s Hammer, A Nordic Symbol of Protection
Thor’s hammer is one of the most well-known symbols from Norse mythology. Its popularity as a symbol of protection and power emerged from the historical (mythological) accounts of how Thor used it to protect the realms of both gods and humans from giants.
For centuries, people have been using Mjolnir’s symbol to protect themselves against all negative and destructive forces. Some also believe that the symbol of Thor’s hammer also brings strength and power to the bearer. Some even view it as a symbol of healing.
Aegishjalmur, The Helm of Awe
The mysterious Helm of Awe symbol is known with several names such as Helm of Terror, the Helm of Awe and Terror, Viking Compass, and Aegishjalmur, after Aegir – the jötunn (giant) of the sea.
The mention of the Helm of Awe as a symbol of protection traces back to ancient books of spells, called grimoires. Legend has it that Norse people would draw the Helm of Awe symbol on their forehead, in between the eyes.
The Viking warriors would draw the sign on the inside of their helmets so that it would position in between their eyes. The purpose was to protect themselves from all kinds of physical threats and suppress their fears.
The Helm of Awe symbol was also believed to help the bearers evoke fear in others. Vikings believed that wearing the symbol to the battleground would ensure their victory. However, today, it is most commonly regarded as a symbol of protection against all kinds of rebellions and evil forces.
Celtic Protection Symbols
Celtic Shield Knot
Often regarded as a looped square, the Celtic shield knot symbol is one of the most widely recognized of all the different types of Celtic knot symbols that emerged from Celtic mythology. While it is commonly perceived as a symbol of love and union, it was historically recognized as a protection symbol and was believed to dispel negative forces and energies.
Sumerians believed that the four corners of the Celtic shield knot represented the gods of the four elements of nature. In some cultures, the symbol was also believed to help summon the protective power of God.
There is historical evidence of warriors drawing or engraving this protection symbol on their shields for this very purpose.
Triquetra, Celtic Trinity Knot
Depicted by three interlaced arcs, drawn by a single, unbroken line, the triquetra symbol is interpreted in several ways. Some believed it to be a symbol of protection, while others see it as a sign representing unity.
Some people consider it to be a symbol of everlasting life. The triquetra is also a Celtic symbol of strength. The philosophical interpretation of the symbol is that it represents the three states of the body, whereas Celtic cosmologists considered it a representation of the three realms of the world.
There is also some historical evidence of the triquetra symbol’s use by Christians in Ireland to represent their trinity concept. With this reference, the symbol is also sometimes regarded as the “Trinity Knot”.
Wiccan Protection Symbols
The next item on our list of symbols of protection is perhaps the most widely known Wiccan symbol, namely, the pentacle. Depicted by a 5-pointed star within a circle, the symbol represents the four natural elements and the human spirit rising above matter.
In Wiccan religion and cultural tradition, the pentacle is considered a protective talisman against evils and is commonly used for this purpose during magical evocation ceremonies.
In 2007, Wiccans got the US Department of Veterans Affairs to allow the use of the pentacle symbol on fallen soldiers’ graves.
The crossed spears symbol appears in various cultural traditions in history. However, it was always used for protection, in one way or the other.
In Wiccan tradition, however, it is seen as a protective symbol for shielding oneself from the evil eye. In various other cultures, it was also used as a protective symbol on the battlefields. In witchcraft, the crossed spears symbol is believed to have the power of blocking conflicts.
Another prevalent notion about the crossed spears symbol is that it helps the bearer’s soul fight internal battles with ease while maintaining a calm and composed outlook.
Christian Symbols of Protection
St. Christopher’s image is probably the second most widely used symbol in Christianity, after the Cross. It most commonly appears on necklaces, medals, and bracelets, which travelers wear for protection and safety during their journeys.
For those who do not know, St. Christopher is known by Christians as the patron saint of travellers—carrying his image while travelling is believed to keep you safe from all dangers, including death.
You may know mistletoe from the age-old Christmas time tradition of kissing under the mistletoe plant, but its symbolic meaning in Christian tradition goes far beyond love and romanticism. It is also considered a symbol of protection.
People hang mistletoe sprigs in their homes to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck. The symbol is also believed by many to offer protection from witchcraft. The ancient Celts and Druids also believed that mistletoe has strong healing powers.
Jewish Symbols for Protection
Hexagram, A Jewish Symbol/Sign of Protection
The hexagram symbol appears in various forms in Jewish cultural and religious history. The most significant representation of it is the Star of David. There is also a prevalent notion that the Seal of Solomon symbol was also a hexagram.
Regardless of where and how it appears, the hexagram symbol, made of two overlapping triangles with one facing upwards and the other pointed downwards, is considered a symbol of God. It has multiple interpretations, one of which is that it protects the bearer.
Islamic Symbols of Protection
The final item on our list of symbols of protection is the horseshoe. The symbolic meaning of horseshoe as an emblem of protection and good luck is often associated with Islam. However, research tells that the belief is much older. There is evidence of people using horseshoes to ward off evil spirits and dark magic during the Middle Ages.
It also appeared in Egyptian artwork and iconography. While the traditional use of the horseshoe symbol primarily involved hanging it outside or at the entrance of the house to protect it and its residents from all kinds of evils, it is now being used in jewelry as well.
This wraps up our extensive post on symbols of protection in different cultures, their meanings and origin. If you liked it, you will probably enjoy reading our piece on sacred geometry symbols here.