Religious symbolism is using symbols, including archetypes, acts, artwork, events, or natural phenomena, by a religion. Religions view religious texts, rituals, and works of art as symbols of compelling ideas or ideals. Symbols help create a resonant mythos expressing the moral values of the society or the teachings of the religion, foster solidarity among adherents and bring adherents closer to their object of worship.

Religious Symbols and their meanings

The study of religious symbolism is either universalist, as a component of comparative religion and mythology, or in localized scope, within the confines of a religion’s limits and boundaries.

Here are some of the most popular religious symbols from our past:

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Bahai Symbol

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Christianity Cross Symbol

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Buddhism Symbol

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Shinto Symbol

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Egyptian Ankh Religious Symbol

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Sikhism Symbol

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Jewish Religious Symbol

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Islamic Religious Symbol

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Upright Pentacle- Upright pentacles and pentagrams are among the most widely used religious symbols. They have been used in many eras and by many cultures and religions of the world: by ancient Pagans, ancient Israelites, Christians, magicians, Wiccans and others.

happyman symbolThe Happy Human

The Happy Man is a secular icon and the official symbol of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), a world body for Humanism, and has been adopted by many Humanist organizations and individuals worldwide. Its origin was a competition organized in 1965 by the British Humanist Association to find a symbol for itself. Denis Barrington created the winning design.

ouroboros symbolThe Ouroboros

often represents self-reflexivity or cyclicality, especially in the sense of something constantly re-creating itself, the eternal return, and other things perceived as cycles that begin anew as soon as they end.

sun crossSun Cross

The sun cross, more commonly known as the sun wheel, a cross inside a circle, is a common symbol in Prehistoric European artifacts, particularly during the Neolithic to Bronze Age periods.


A triskelion or triskele is a motif consisting of three interlocked spirals, or three bent human legs, or any similar symbol with three protrusions and threefold rotational symmetry. A triskelion is the symbol of Brittany, as well as the Isle of Man and Sicily (where it is called Trinacria).

buddha eyesBuddha Eyes

On virtually every stupa (Buddhist shrine) in Nepal, there are giant pairs of eyes staring out from the four sides of the main tower. These are Buddha Eyes (otherwise known as Wisdom Eyes), and they look out in four directions to symbolize the omniscience (all-seeing) of a Buddha.


Here is an image of an upside-down pentagram. The pentagram also appears with the star right side up. A pentagram is the shape of a five-pointed star drawn with five straight strokes. Pentagrams were used symbolically in ancient Greece and Babylonia and today as a symbol of faith by many Wiccans, akin to the use of the cross by Christians and the Star of David by Jews. The pentagram has magical associations, and many people who practice Neopagan faiths wear jewelry incorporating the symbol. Christians once more commonly used the pentagram to represent the five wounds of Jesus. The pentagram is associated with Freemasonry and is also utilized by other belief systems.

hands of godHands of God

A symbol popularly used to represent Slavic Neopaganism, or more specifically the panentheism advocated by the RPK, is “Hands of God.”

The Ankh

ankh egyptian symbol
Frequently appears in Egyptian tomb paintings and other art, often at the fingertips of a god or goddess in images that represent the deities of the afterlife conferring the gift of life on the dead person’s mummy; this is thought to symbolize the act of conception. Additionally, Egyptians often carried an ankh as an amulet, either alone or in connection with two other hieroglyphs that mean “strength” and “health”. Mirrors of beaten metal were also often made in the shape of an ankh, either for decorative reasons or to symbolize a perceived view into another world.

The ankh was almost never drawn in silver; as a sun symbol, the Egyptians almost invariably crafted important examples of it (for tombs or other purposes) from the metal they most associated with the sun, gold. A similar metal, such as copper, burnished to a high sheen, was also sometimes used.

sacred chaoSacred Chao

The Sacred Chao is a symbol used by Discordians to illustrate the interrelatedness of order and disorder. The Sacred Chao symbolizes absolutely everything anyone needs to know about absolutely anything and more! It even symbolizes everything not worth knowing, depicted by the empty space surrounding the Hodge-Podge.

moroniAngel Moroni

The image of the angel Moroni blowing a trumpet is commonly used as an unofficial symbol of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Moroni appears on the cover of some editions of the Book of Mormon, and statues of the angel stand atop many LDS temples, most statues facing eastward.

patriarchal crossPatriarchal Cross

The symbol, often referred to as the patriarchal cross, appeared in the Byzantine Empire in large numbers in the 9th century. In the Byzantine Empire of the 9th century, the double cross was not a religious, but a political symbol used by Byzantine clerks and missionaries. One of the modern interpretations of the double cross is that it represents Slovakia as an heir and guardian of Christian tradition, brought to the region by St. Cyril and St. Methodius, two missionaries from the Byzantine Empire.

the christian crossThe Christian cross

seen as a representation of the instrument of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, is the best-known religious symbol of Christianity. It is related to the crucifix (a cross that includes a usually three-dimensional representation of Jesus’ body) and to the more general family of cross symbols.

The cross-shaped sign, represented in its simplest form by a crossing of two lines at right angles, greatly antedates the introduction of Christianity in both East and West. It goes back to a very remote period of human civilization. It is supposed to have been used not just for its ornamental value but also for its religious significance.
The Christian Cross comes in many different forms.

fleur de lysFleur de Lys

While the fleur-de-lis has appeared on countless European coats of arms and flags over the centuries, it is particularly associated with the French monarchy in a historical context and continues to appear in the arms of the King of Spain and the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, members of the House of Bourbon. It remains an enduring symbol of France that appears on French postage stamps, although it has never been adopted officially by any French republic. According to French historian Georges Duby, the three leaves represent the medieval social classes: those who worked, those who fought and those who prayed.

lotus flowerLotus Flower

From ancient times, the lotus has been a divine symbol in Asian traditions, representing the virtues of sexual purity and non-attachment.

Hindus revere it with the divinities Vishnu and Lakshmi, often portrayed on a pink lotus in iconography. In the representation of Vishnu as Padmanabha, a lotus issues from his navel with Brahma on it.

Goddess Sarasvati is portrayed on a white-coloured lotus. Often used as an example of divine beauty, Vishnu is often described as the Lotus-Eyed One. Its unfolding petals suggest the expansion of the soul.

nine pointed starNine Pointed Star

The most commonly used symbol connected to the number 9 is the nine-pointed star; there is no particular design of the nine-pointed star that is used more often than others.

lotus carrying namamLotus Carrying Namam

The symbol of the Ayyavazhi is a lotus carrying a flame-shaped white ‘Namam.’ The lotus represents the 1,008-petalled Sahasrara and the Namam represents the Aanma Jyothi or atman, sometimes translated as “soul” or “self”.

the winged heartThe Winged Heart or Tughra Inayati

The symbol of Universal Sufism is the Tughra Inayati or the “Winged Heart.”The winged heart is an old Sufi symbol and was chosen by Inayat Khan as the seal of the ‘Sufi Order of the West’ at its founding in 1910. The original rendering of this winged heart calligraphy was presented to Vilayat Inayat Khan on his 73rd birthday.

The shape of the tughra symbolizes that the heart desires heaven. The crescent in the heart suggests the responsiveness and potential of the heart.

unicursal hexagramUnicursal Hexagram

The unicursal hexagram is a hexagram or six-pointed star that can be traced or drawn unicursally in one continuous line rather than by two overlaid triangles. The hexagram can also be depicted inside a circle with the points touching it. It is used in the Greek and Hindu mythologies to symbolize dedication to the divine rulers.

ying yangYing Yang Symbol

In Chinese philosophy, the concept of yin yang, normally referred to in the West as (yin and yang) is used to describe how polar or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world and how they give rise to each other in turn. Opposites thus only exist in relation to each other. The concept lies at the origins of many branches of classical Chinese science and philosophy, as well as being a primary guideline of traditional Chinese medicine and a central principle of different forms of Chinese martial arts and exercise, such as baguazhang, taijiquan (tai chi), and qigong (Chi Kung) and of I Ching divination. Many natural dualities – e.g., dark and light, female and male, low and high, cold and hot – are thought of as manifestations of yin and yang (respectively).

torii symbolTorii Symbol

A torii is a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance of or within a Shinto shrine, where it symbolically marks the transition from the profane to the sacred.

khanda symbolKhanda Symbol

In the symbol, the sword to the left represents truth, and the sword to the right represents the willingness to fight for what is right- dharma (religion). The circle in the middle means there is only one God, never beginning and never-ending. The Khanda represents knowledge of God, the Chakkar represents the eternal nature of God and oneness of humanity, the two swords represent Miri (political sovereignty) and Piri (spiritual sovereignty).

Rub el HizbRub el Hizb

An eight-pointed star was used as a symbol of Tartessos, an ancient civilization based in Andalusia. As Islamic dynasties ruled the region for eight centuries, this may suggest a possible origin of the Rub el Hizb. The symbol is used as a marker for the end of a chapter in Arabic calligraphy.

star and crescentStar and Crescent

The star and crescent appear in combination in finds from in and around ancient Israel. It has been associated with the Moabites (14th or early 13th – 6th century BC), as the symbol or symbols appear on what are thought to be Moabite name seals. During the 19th century, it represented the Ottoman Empire, figuring on the Ottoman flag from 1793. The Ottoman flag of 1844 continues to be in use as the flag of the Republic of Turkey.

Om AumAum or Om

Aum (Om) is the most sacred Hindu symbol and represents the manifest and hidden aspects of the omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent God. It is symbolic of several significant triads – the three worlds (earth, heaven and atmosphere); the three holy Vedic scriptures (Yajur, Sama and Rig); the three main Hindu Gods (Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh or Shiva). Om is also considered to be the most sacred of sounds, the root from which the universe and entire existence arose, and that holds everything together. It is a mystical mantra that is chanted at the start and end of all Hindu prayers, meditations and rituals.

Alpha and OmegaAlpha and Omega

The combination of two Greek letters, Alpha and Omega, makes a powerful Christian symbol that represents the eternal existence of God. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, while omega is the last one. Therefore, together, they symbolize that God is the beginning and the end. The use of the Alpha and Omega symbols of eternity has been traced to early Christianity, and the symbol has been found in the ancient Roman catacombs.
The Alpha and Omega are sometimes combined with other Christian symbols, such as the Cross and Chi-rho.