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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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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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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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1answer
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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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1answer
112 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 ...
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1answer
115 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 ...
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0answers
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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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1answer
71 views

What does this pendant/symbol mean?

This has been antiaganizing 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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1answer
86 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:
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1answer
529 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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1answer
73 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 ...
3
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1answer
158 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.
8
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1answer
221 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),...
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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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2answers
884 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 ...
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1answer
351 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 ...
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2answers
4k 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 ...
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1answer
92 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 ...
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0answers
298 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 ...
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0answers
90 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.
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1answer
253 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 ...
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4answers
2k 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. ...
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2answers
313 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 ...
10
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1answer
458 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 ...
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1answer
318 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 ...
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2answers
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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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3answers
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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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1answer
310 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. ...
3
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1answer
647 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 ...
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2answers
197 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?
2
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1answer
263 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 ...
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2answers
656 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 ...
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6answers
2k views

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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3answers
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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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4answers
3k views

Why were there exactly 12 main Olympian Gods?

Did the ancient Greeks believe that the number 12 symbolized everything? Was it random that there were 12 Olympian gods and no more (or less)?
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2answers
435 views

What is the meaning of not giving clothes to supernatural helpers?

There is a theme that I found in several folk tales from Ireland to Russia - although mostly in Irish/Celtic stories. It is where a house has supernatural helpers, who do work overnight. However, the ...