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 is the meaning of this wooden symbol found in a basement?

I have no idea if this is the right place to ask this, but it felt like the best bet. I discovered this crudely carved wooden symbol/cross in a basement (see picture below). Any idea what it might ...
40EridaniB's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
85 views

What is a reptile with many heads meant to symbolize?

I'm from Romania, a country where you fill like you are in a trash can in urban zones, but feels like a fairy tale in rural zones. In school we learn about fairy tales (which is a species of very ...
Bogdan Floareș's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
177 views

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. ...
b_jonas's user avatar
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4 votes
3 answers
145 views

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 ...
ghost's user avatar
  • 41
2 votes
2 answers
144 views

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 ...
Alexander's user avatar
  • 121
3 votes
1 answer
531 views

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 ...
rek's user avatar
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8 votes
0 answers
354 views

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, ...
user2352714's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
1k 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?
spraff's user avatar
  • 111
1 vote
0 answers
58 views

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 ...
Harel13's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
492 views

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 ...
Harel13's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
130 views

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 ...
Reb Chaim HaQoton's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
464 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?
TeachMe's user avatar
  • 443
2 votes
1 answer
429 views

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 ...
Koios's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
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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 ...
Santi Tinjacá Rivera's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
400 views

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 ...
Girsan Virlee's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
180 views

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?
callu allawa's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
209 views

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 ...
nuckingfutz 's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
2k views

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 ...
amphibient's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
187 views

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?
drago mothra's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
260 views

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 ...
bsideswiped's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
5k views

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 ...
Peter's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
129 views

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 ...
Reb Chaim HaQoton's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
155 views

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 ...
P...'s user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
716 views

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 ...
Kendall Sullivan's user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
238 views

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 ...
Andrew Johnson's user avatar
-1 votes
1 answer
202 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 ...
Andrew Johnson's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
196 views

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:
manuelBetancurt's user avatar
8 votes
4 answers
1k 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?
Peter Paul Rubens's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
312 views

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 ...
yannis's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
231 views

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.
RobKohr's user avatar
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8 votes
1 answer
2k views

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),...
yannis's user avatar
  • 17k
9 votes
1 answer
560 views

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 ...
William's user avatar
  • 763
4 votes
2 answers
4k views

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 ...
Girsan Virlee's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
1k views

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 ...
Miha Šušteršič's user avatar
14 votes
4 answers
30k views

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 ...
Hanilucas's user avatar
  • 429
5 votes
1 answer
392 views

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 ...
DukeZhou's user avatar
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10 votes
1 answer
1k views

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 ...
DukeZhou's user avatar
  • 14.1k
5 votes
0 answers
313 views

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.
Micheál Ó Coisdealbha's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
1k views

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 ...
01AutoMonkey's user avatar
16 votes
4 answers
9k views

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. ...
Girsan Virlee's user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
524 views

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 ...
Armfoot's user avatar
  • 209
10 votes
4 answers
2k views

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 ...
Roman's user avatar
  • 283
7 votes
1 answer
547 views

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 ...
yannis's user avatar
  • 17k
6 votes
2 answers
2k views

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.
nasastromaster's user avatar
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...
Reb Chaim HaQoton's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
831 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. ...
bleh's user avatar
  • 6,719
3 votes
1 answer
2k views

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 ...
yannis's user avatar
  • 17k
5 votes
2 answers
311 views

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?
bleh's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
423 views

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 ...
bleh's user avatar
  • 6,719
9 votes
2 answers
2k views

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 ...
hellyale's user avatar
  • 201