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Author Topic: Symbols and Meanings
pH
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I always think it's interesting how easily the meanings behind symbols can be changed. Of course, a prime example of that is the swastika. Another, off the top of my head, is wearing blue jeans. There are many from older generations who believe that wearing blue denim indicates that you are low class.

Here's one I've been pondering. A lot of Wiccan things are associated with a pentagram. And I don't know where I picked it up, but for some reason I've always thought that an upside-down pentagram meant evil. But was it always this way? There's this group called the Order of the Eastern Star that has something resembling a pentagram as their symbol. I'm kind of wondering if that was the original usage, and then people (read: the church) decided that they needed to prove to everyone that it was bad, like how many Christians think that Masons are a part of some crazy cult.

Anyone know if that's the case?

Any other symbols whose meanings have shifted dramatically from their original interpretations?

-pH

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Farmgirl
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quote:
Originally posted by pH:
I always think it's interesting how easily the meanings behind symbols can be changed. Of course, a prime example of that is the swastika.

LOL - yeah - it freaked me out when I was a kid (probably pre-teen) and was going through some of great-grandmother's old letters and postcards and there were these "Good Luck!" greeting cards that had swastikas on them, all bright and cheery. I was really puzzled for awhile (until someone in my family informed me these were all pre-war; and it wasn't always associated with the Nazi movement).
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Jhai
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I wouldn't exactly say that the meaning of the swastika has changed - certainly not in the country of its origin, India. If you talk to any one who was born & brought up in India, they'll tell that they first associate it with its Hindu meaning, not the Nazi one. In fact, a lot of older people don't even realize what it means to Westerners. I received a pair of lovely golden swastika earrings as a wedding gift, for instance.
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MrSquicky
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The pentagon and its mystic associations comes initially from the behavior of Venus. I don't remember the exact time, but over a set period of time it describes a close to perfect pentagram through the sky.

This was a big deal back when astronomy was of great religious significance and the pentagram became a revered mystic symbol.

Much like other symbols of religious other than Christianity, it became regarded as a satantic symbol, which is where the evil associate came from.

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Artemisia Tridentata
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The "old" post office building in Reno Nevada (most of you saw it as the federal building in Sister Act) has swastikas featured in several architecular fixtures, most notably a frieze just under the cornice on the exterior and some ironwork decoration in the lobbey. The building is pri WWII and the architect considered it to be an American Indian symbol of good fortune. I suspect that it would be common in any society that had a weaving tradition. It seems like a natural figure to weave.
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King of Men
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The pentagram represents (in some tradition or other, I don't recall) the five points of a human - head and four limbs. When it is inverted, the head is oriented towards Hell rather than Heaven. Hence the association with evil.
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scholarette
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My door has a big star on it. Since we are in Texas, very few people think of anything but the Texan star. My Wiccan friend saw it and commented on our enlightened state and how such a door will protect our house well. The people who had out house before and put in the door probably would have been horrified to connect it with anything Wiccan (they moved into the same neighborhood just nicer house so we knew them a bit and had lots of overlapping friends eventually).
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Xann.
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quote:
Originally posted by Jhai:
I wouldn't exactly say that the meaning of the swastika has changed - certainly not in the country of its origin, India. If you talk to any one who was born & brought up in India, they'll tell that they first associate it with its Hindu meaning, not the Nazi one. In fact, a lot of older people don't even realize what it means to Westerners. I received a pair of lovely golden swastika earrings as a wedding gift, for instance.

I'm having trouble finding the swastikas in those earrings.
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Mucus
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I don't think there is a connection with the Christian spin (and it hasn't changed), but 666 is a lucky number in China. For example, people went out of their way to get married on June 6th, 2006.

Thats one opposite kinda thing off the top of my head.

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Earendil18
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Off the top of my head, I'm not sure any pagan symbols like the pentagram were inherently evil, or were just made out to be by several hundred years of Catholic dictatorship.
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Threads
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The meaning of this song has certainly changed.
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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by Earendil18:
Off the top of my head, I'm not sure any pagan symbols like the pentagram were inherently evil, or were just made out to be by several hundred years of Catholic dictatorship.

I defy you to find any symbol that's "inherently evil". What you probably meant was either "seen as evil by the people who first used it" or "used by people we would generally disapprove of".
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Jhai
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quote:
Originally posted by Xann.:
quote:
Originally posted by Jhai:
I wouldn't exactly say that the meaning of the swastika has changed - certainly not in the country of its origin, India. If you talk to any one who was born & brought up in India, they'll tell that they first associate it with its Hindu meaning, not the Nazi one. In fact, a lot of older people don't even realize what it means to Westerners. I received a pair of lovely golden swastika earrings as a wedding gift, for instance.

I'm having trouble finding the swastikas in those earrings.
Yeah, that's just me discussing the surreal experience of my getting the swastika earrings - unfortunately, I didn't take photo of them before I gave them back to my MIL to regift to someone in India who could actually wear them around town.
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Cashew
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Originally posted by Jhai:
I wouldn't exactly say that the meaning of the swastika has changed - certainly not in the country of its origin, India. If you talk to any one who was born & brought up in India, they'll tell that they first associate it with its Hindu meaning, not the Nazi one. In fact, a lot of older people don't even realize what it means to Westerners. I received a pair of lovely golden swastika earrings as a wedding gift, for instance


We had an Indian guy here a couple of months ago paint a big swastika on his roof. There was a big stink, made the local newspaper, etc. He had no idea it was objectionable to most people here and why. He painted it out when he realised.

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Kwea
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I will have Jenni post tomorrow, as she is a member of Eastern Star. I am sure she would be able to tell you what it represents to them.

hereis a decent explanation of some of the symbolism regarding it. IIRC, it is a mystical symbol, but according to a lot of conservative Christians that means it represents the Devil, because he is behind all mysticism as a means to trick followers away from Christ. Even if people involved in using it aren't bad people, or evil, they are being led to evil by it's use....according to that world view.


Needless to say I don't agree with that, although growing up I might have.

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Kwea
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Here is the page on Eastern Star.


I can't vouch for the info, as I am not a member myself. I will tell Jenni about this though, as mentioned above.

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ladyday
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I remember wearing a peace sign over to a friend's house when I was a kid. The mom asked me, in a not all that nice tone, why I was wearing a broken cross in her home.

I just thought she didn't like me (and I was right), but I guess it's possible that her perception of the peace sign was a common one.

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