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Symbols in European myth

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  1. Introduction
  2. Symbols
    1. The pentagram or pentacle
  3. The eight-pointed star
  4. Triangles
  5. The hexagram
  6. The rose
  7. The fleur-de-lis
  8. The equal-armed cross
  9. Symbols in context
  10. Conclusion
  11. Bibliography

Pentagrams, or five-pointed stars, are ancient symbols and have been found on broken fragments of pottery in Palestine from around 4000 BCE and in Sumerian excavations from around 2700 BCE. A vase, spindle whorl, and clay tablet with the pentagram dated around 4500?3100 BCE have been found in Mesopotamia. A flint scraper with a pentagram of a similar date was found in the Israeli Negev Desert. We have no clear information on what these symbols stood for in ancient times. Some scholars argue that the Sumerian symbol stood for the four corners of the Earth plus the vault of Heaven.

The pentagram symbol reappeared again around 400 BCE as the symbol for the Pythagorean school of mysticism in Greece. It represented the human figure in that school.

[...] Symbols in Context Symbols often persist through changes in cultures, sometimes taking on new meanings in new situations. It is sometimes difficult to tell when the meaning of a symbol has changed. For example, many Christian churches or cathedrals contain what were originally pagan symbols. Commentators debate whether the symbols were used because they had been given new meanings or if the old symbols show that some old beliefs persisted. The cathedral at Chartres is a good example of the use of what many call pagan symbols. [...]


[...] In Freemasonry the pentagram is one of several symbols for Deity, and has been for centuries. B. The Eight-Pointed Star The number eight was also associated with the planet Venus. This was because Venus remains as the Morning or Evening Star for eight lunar cycles and both the Morning and Evening Stars return to a given point in the sky every eight years. As a result, both the eight-pointed star and the eight- petaled flower were frequently used to symbolize the planet and various Goddesses connected to the planet, including the Goddesses Venus and Aphrodite, as the Evening Star. [...]


[...] The rose was widely used as a symbol within Christianity and was even the symbol of the pope in the Middle Ages.[6] It was combined with the cross in the seventeenth century to form a symbol that was associated with a German group called the Rosicrucians. The rose, like the lotus in the East, has been the symbol of spiritual enlightenment or spiritual wisdom. This theme appears in a medieval alchemical work by Arnold of Villanova called the Rosarium philosophorum, ?Rose Garden of the Philosophers.? A seventeenth-century Christian mystic, Angelus Silesius, used the rose to symbolize the soul of Christ. [...]

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