Questions tagged [symbolism]

For questions about objects in myths that stand for something else in either the myth or the real world, sometimes for teaching a lesson.

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What bird species is associated with Pallas Athēnē?

The english Wikipedia article about the bird Athene noctua (called little owl in English) claims, without references, that in Greek mythology, the godess Pallas Athēnē was associated with that bird. ...
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4 votes
3 answers
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Are there myths, folklore, tales, or other traditions/tales about monsters regaining their humanity permanently?

Maybe I should have slept on this question for a little bit, but here I go. I am working on a TRPG and a setting that would accompany the TRPG. In my setting all monsters are or were humans, so rather ...
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Are/were there are any culutures where darkness is good and light is bad?

We have an association of light=good and dark=bad, to the point where we even use them as synonyms. There are a lot of pretty obvious historical bases for these metaphors: Sunlight is the ultimate ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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What do the Staff God's staffs and pose represent?

The pre-Incan Andean deity known as the Staff God, assimilated as Viracocha in Incan mythology, is the earliest depiction of a deity in the Americas, and representations have been found from Lake ...
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8 votes
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Is there any folklore in non-European culture that may be an attempt to "explain" similar to changeling myths in Western Europe and Scandinavia?

It has been suggested by some authors that stories of changelings in Scandinavia and western Europe are an attempt by ancient peoples used to try and explain developmental abnormalities in children, ...
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1 vote
1 answer
697 views

Which (real) birds are most strongly associated with fire?

Birds generally are symbols of high power, e.g. the sun. Excluding mythical birds, which real species are most strongly associated with power, magic, and specifically fire in particular?
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Cross-dressing Grecian/Hellenistic priests

Background: I'm reading a book in Hebrew called "The Ten Tribes" by Alter Walner, a collection of essays on a number of topics that relate both to the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel and to other ...
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7 votes
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What is the symbolism of horses in Canaanite sun worship?

In the Book of Kings it says: "He [King Josiah] did away with the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance of the House of the LORD, near the chamber of the ...
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1 answer
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Are there any examples of gods or people boasting of their ability to engage in multiple acts of sex in succession?

Are there any examples in mythologies of gods or people boasting about their ability to engage in multiple acts of sex (multi-orgasmic) in succession? I am looking for examples in which they specify ...
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3 votes
1 answer
203 views

What is the meaning of the green and red Asian dragons?

A member of my family gave me a scroll with a green and red Asian dragon. Is this particular dragon from a myth in Asia? Or does it have a symbolic meaning?
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2 votes
1 answer
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How have ignorance and wisdom been represented in mythology?

Wisdom and Ignorance is a common dichotomy across many religions, and I was wondering if there are any specific examples of personifications or deities of wisdom and/or ignorance in mythological ...
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Why mythical god-like figures share common attributes like wings or lion body parts in different mythologies/cultures

I know some of this mythological depictions are supposed to represent many things like nature forces, and I know Jung's Archetypes theory about symbols founded on the unconscious mind. However I want ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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What do the four living creatures represent?

From Revelation 4 (KJ21): 6 and before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four living beings full of eyes in front ...
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7 votes
2 answers
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Are there any stories or fables in mythology that have an anarchist message?

Most mythologies that I read are used to justify the power structures in society. Are there any that instead preach democracy, anti-authority, pro-education, or free love?
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5 votes
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Are forests and trees considered self sufficient and self reliant? Or is there any lore on caretakers of the forests?

With the significance of trees as representations of life in various cultures, do any of them ever mention caretakers of the forests? Or a defense against impurities and corruption? Or have they ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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What is the origin of the male order and female chaos trope?

Jordan Peterson (in "Maps of Meaning", I think) associates order with masculinity and chaos with femininity but I don't think he is the original author of that trope. What is the origin? I also ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Did the ancient Egyptians worship Cats and Dogs deities at the same period?

Did Egyptians worship feline and canine gods at the same period in history?
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2 votes
2 answers
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A unified understanding and description of a "spirit"?

This is something I've been struggling with for a while now, something that I'm hoping someone with a background in mythology, folklore, and/or anthropology might be able to help me with. I come from ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Is it Liberty or Columbia depicted in John Gast's "American Progress"?

In the 1872 painting American Progress, by John Gast, is the gigantic female figure in the center supposed to be Liberty or Columbia? If it is Columbia, were other Columbias of the age dressed so ...
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1 answer
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Did a pagan cult remove the gallbladder of animals before sacrificing them?

Rabbi Gedaliah ibn Yachya in his work Shalshelet ha-Kabbalah (Jerusalem, 1962), p. 223 alleges that when sacrificing animals, some pagans would remove the gallbladder (מרה, marah) from the animal in ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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What is this symbol on my necklace?

I bought this pendant in Italy around 10 years ago, I think from Rome. I’ve always been curious as to what the bird with the sun above it (etched onto the red glossy background) represents. I was a ...
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Trying to find out the meaning of my birthmark

I have a birth mark on the bottom of my right foot. It is a crescent moon reddish in color... it faces the same way a C would. I'm just curious if it has a significant meaning to it because I've ...
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11 votes
2 answers
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How did so many cultures come up with their own swastika?

Before two and a half hours ago, I thought the swastika was only in India and World War II. Then my art teacher put on a video about ancient Greek and Roman mosaics. In this video, I saw what was ...
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0 votes
1 answer
195 views

What does this pendant/symbol mean?

This has been antagonizing me for months. When I asked my mom what this was, she said, apart from a bookmark, it was a Celtic knot. But when I look it up, I get anything but this. What is this? What ...
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8 votes
1 answer
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What is the meaning of this rune/symbol?

I found this rune/symbol on Max Neef's book "Human scale development". What is the meaning? Here on the stone it was found:
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8 votes
4 answers
953 views

What is the significance of the three stars in Ruben's Saturn painting?

What is the significance of the three stars in Peter Paul Ruben's Saturn devouring a Son painting?
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4 votes
1 answer
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Why was Nekhbet depicted as a vulture?

Nekhbet, a predynastic goddess that eventually became the patron of Upper Egypt, was commonly depicted in art as a vulture. Why is that? The vulture seems - at least to me - like an odd choice for ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Anyone know what this symbol means?

Someone drew this symbol on my arm, and said it was an egyptian one and had some meaning, but I can't find it anywhere. The top that is obscured curls to the left.
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What characteristics of the Māori gods explain the shape of their "godsticks"?

According to the Wikipedia article on Māori mythology, the gods Tūmatauenga (god of war), Tāhirimātea (storm god), Tāne (god of forests), Tangaroa (sea god), Rongo (god of cultivated plants and peace),...
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9 votes
2 answers
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Why is the left-hand path in regards to Baphomet associated with the female side?

Why is the left-hand path in regards to Baphomet(the Baphomet of Levi) associated with the female side? I would like to add the left-hand path is often associated with the denial of God and things ...
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Why is Dante using Geryon as a symbol of fraud?

In Greek mythology, Geryon was a three-headed (or three-bodied) giant Hercules slew during one of his labors. Dante places him in the seventh circle of hell and presents him as a manifestation of ...
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8 votes
1 answer
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What culture does this duality symbol belong to?

While browsing today I came upon this symbol tagged as duality, but I am unable to identify it. Does anybody recognize where this symbol comes from? Is it part of a culture/religion or just ...
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14 votes
4 answers
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What is the symbolism behind Psyche's tasks?

The taskmaster in the story of Cupid and Psyche was Cupid's mother, the love goddess Venus or Aphrodite. Venus had never liked Psyche, so the opportunity of putting her to a series of tests gave Venus ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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What is the mythological significance/symbolism of oxen?

There was a question on Lit regarding Thomas Hardy's poem "The Oxen". The poem features heavily Christian symbolism. It is set on Christmas Eve, features a manger (a "strawy pen"), and vocabulary ...
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10 votes
1 answer
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What does Nausicaa symbolize in the Odyssey?

There was an interesting question in Lit regarding the meaning of her name, and in my research, I came across some interesting speculation on Nausikaa's distinctness. For instance, she is the one ...
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5 votes
0 answers
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Are there any good Jungian studies of Irish myth ( not generic 'Celtic')?

This kind of stuff is what I am interested in: Myths of Irishness: The Fomorian Connection. Articles would be ideally the best.
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5 votes
1 answer
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What deities/creatures personify the universe in the aspect that it manifests as varied duplexity (that serve the same symbolic function as Yin/Yang)?

I'm looking for deities or mythological creatures that symbolize the universe in the aspect that it manifests as a duality (which is for example symbolized by the Yin/Yang), but as a fictional ...
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16 votes
4 answers
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Why is Lucifer three-faced?

In Canto XXXIV Lucifer is presented as a winged giant with three faces: Oh, what a wonder it appeared to me when I perceived three faces on his head. The first, in front, was red in color. ...
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9 votes
2 answers
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Does Hercules have a tail?

I was astonished when I saw these two tapestries in a museum: Hercules fighting Centaurs Hercules fighting a multi-headed dog In both of them Hercules/Heracles seems to have a well defined tail ...
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1 answer
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Why do snake (serpent) and bull often come together as symbols of deities?

The Celtic Cernunnos, the Greek Dionysus, the Slavic Veles and Vedic Shiva have snake and bull among their symbols. Why do these two symbols tend to come together? It looks to me as though these ...
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7 votes
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What are some examples of snakes as a source of knowledge in Greek mythology?

Wikipedia claims: A snake as a source of knowledge is a recurring theme in Greek mythology, though sometimes the snake brings understanding of the language of animals rather than an ability to know ...
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6 votes
2 answers
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Why is the staff of medicine symbolised by Hermes's staff, Caduceus?

The staff of medicine should be Asclepius's staff. So why is it Hermes's staff used? Example: The sign of the World Health Organization.
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12 votes
3 answers
2k views

Which god holds a shepherd's crook?

Which, if any, god(s) in the ancient world is depicted as holding a shepherd's crook? I am looking for gods depicted in such ways in statues, idols, drawings, etc...
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6 votes
1 answer
723 views

What was the symbolism behind Tantalus's punishment?

Tantalus, who was a bad person, was sent to the fields of punishment. He stood in a pool, with a fruit tree above him, but the food and drink would always go away from him when he tried to eat it. ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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How is the Borjgali related to Mesopotamian symbols of eternity?

The Borjgali is a Georgian solar symbol: Borjgali (Georgian: ბორჯღალი; also Borjgala or Borjgalo) is a Georgian symbol of the Sun with seven rotating wings over the Christian Tree of Life and is ...
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5 votes
2 answers
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What is the symbolism of the name of the Parcae?

According to theoi.com, Parcae/Moirai means "parts": Their name means "Parts." "Shares" or "Alottted Portions." Is there a symbolism behind this? Is it because Fate was split into 3?
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2 votes
1 answer
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Why did Hera have so many sacred things?

Theoi has quite the list. SYMBOLS Crown, Lotus-staff, Cuckoo ATTRIBUTES Lotus-staff; Crown; Cuckoo; Peacock; Pomegranate CHARIOTS Who cares? SACRED PLANTS Pomegranate, Lotus/Waterlily, Willow ...
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9 votes
2 answers
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Are there any negative connotations associated with the Caduceus?

The staff carried by Hermes/Mercury, which known as the Caduceus, is one of my favorite symbols. For those that are visual thinkers I have pictured it below: I am planning on getting a tattoo of the ...
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21 votes
7 answers
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What is the meaning of the star symbols appearing on seal VA 243?

Here is the picture of cylinder seal VA/243. Image credits: Z. Sitchin This seal was named like that because it is number 243 in the collection of the Vorderasiatische Museum in Berlin. What is the ...
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15 votes
3 answers
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Why is the Serpent the most common motif as the creator in indigenous Australian cultures?

Related to the question How long ago was the Dreaming?, according to the Wikipedia Rainbow Serpent page, the Rainbow Serpent is an integral part of many indigenous Australian cultures, and ...
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