There are four categories of symbols associated with Witchcraft:
I've put together a comprehensive list of things that signify Witches and Wicca, both within the Craft and to outsiders. So we have a motley collection of hokey associations and truly Wiccan items. But at least it's thorough! And I'll let you know which ones are bogus.
There are certain standard articles that are very meaningful in Wicca. Some of these have become so linked with Witch Craft that they've become Wicca symbols even to those outside the religion.
The Pentacle is the most distinctive and basic of Wicca symbols. Other than occasional confusion as a Satanic icon, the Pentacle can't be mistaken as belonging to any other religion or deity.
This is because they are the primary tools of a Witch -- virtually every Witch has one.
But there are many more Wicca symbols, which you'll find in this list of Wicca symbols, below.
The meaning of each Wicca symbol is also given.
WITCH TIP: Find out how to use some of these Wicca symbols in the article on Wiccan Altar Tools.
WITCH TIP: More Wicca symbol items can be found under Wicca Goddess Symbols and Wicca God Symbols. Links to all these are at the bottom of this page .
The Ankh, or Cross of Life, is actually an Egyptian icon rather than a Wicca symbol. In hieroglyphics, the Ankh means "life."
An Ankh is the union of the symbols for the Goddess and the God - the female oval and the male cross or staff. This symbolises the infinite creative Power of the universe.
It "seems to have evolved from an ancient symbol of the Goddess in Libya and Phoenicia: a narrow triangle surmountd by a crossbar and a round or oval head." (Count Goblet D'Alviella, The Migration Of Symbols And The Contemporary Evolution Of Religious Thought.) In the fifth century, the Christians adapted the ankh again for their own use, leaving out any feminine aspect, of course, and keeping only the masculine cross.
The ankh has been widely adopted in neopagan circles for its ancient mystical meaning of eternal life and the Divine Union of the Goddess and the God. Although not strictly a Wicca symbol it is worn by many witches.
Traditionally black-handled, the athame lives in the East, the direction that represents thought, discernment, beginnings, and choice.
The knife represents the ability to separate things, to make distinctions. It also symbolises making choices, because for everything you choose, you let go of other options - essentially "killing" them.
Joseph Campbell, in The Power of Myth, writes about this kind of cutting edge: "It is the sword of discrimination, separating the merely temporal from the eternal." In other words, it kills what is false, to reveal what is True.
The athame is not generally used in Wicca to cut anything on a physical level, but only to direct magickal energy (attention and intention). Some traditions employ a white-handled knife - a "working knife" - for cutting things. But others Witches see no problem in using the athame for actual as well as symbolic work.
Athames hold yang ("male") energy - the power of decision which is necessary for action, that is, the will to create change.
An Aura is an energy field surrounding things, particularly living beings.
All beings, animate and inanimate, have energy fields around them. Being formed of energy, it couldn't be otherwise.
Dr. Leonard Laskow, in his book Healing with Love: A Breakthrough Mind/Body Medical Program for Healing Yourself and Others, describes seven layers of human energy fields. They range from nearly physical to imperceptible energy. Some of this energy is visible, to those practiced at perceiving it.
Some people perceive auras as colours or light like a halo around things. Others interpret it as a sense of near-solidity in an area around a person, like surface tension on water.
Many Witches have developed their ability to sense these energy fields, and so Wicca has some connection with auras. (Starhawk has excellent exercises to help beginner Wiccans develop this skill in The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Goddess: 20th Anniversary Edition.) (See my book review on The Spiral Dance.)
Still, we hardly have a monopoly on them! Lots of people sense and work with auras, without being Wiccan.
In Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power Through the Ways of Animals, bats are a shamanic totem in Native American spirituality. They retreat into the dark womb of Mother Earth, reconnecting with sacred wisdom, and then they fly back into the world.
I think bats have become Wicca symbols because of their affinity for nighttime, and because they maneuver by non-ordinary senses. As well as, perhaps, the underlying shamanic power that bats represent.
Not to mention their flight is totally unpredictable. Just like a Witch- you never know where we're going to pop up next!
A Bell represent the Great Goddess. The sound waves are Her ability to give birth to form through vibration - a process that is invisible, mysterious, and beautiful.
The sound of a sacred Bell purifies all vibrations near it - a room, a person, an emotion, or whatever. This is why bells are used in many cultures to purify and bless things.
They are also reminders of the Goddess' voice, Her call to return Home.
Is blood a Wicca symbol? In some ways, yes. Prejudice often has Witches drinking blood and casting blood spells (which does not happen in Wicca, except with a woman's Moon Blood).
Although blood contains the Essence of life, it's the sacred Moon Blood that is particularly powerful magickally. And since Witches are traditionally seen as women (or in relation to the Divine Feminine), I think this is how blood becomes a Wicca symbol.
Blood is associated with magick, from offerings at the shrine at Delphi to receive oracles, to fertilizing fields with the most potent blood of bulls or menstruating women. (From The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth)
See also Menstruation.
Can the naked body be a Wicca symbol? Oddly, yes. A person standing under the Moon or circling a fire in the nude is definitely going to be suspected of Witchiness.
Of course, we don't call this "going naked." In Wicca, we refer to it as Skyclad.
Wicca, like other Mother Goddess religions, is more free with the human body than is the norm with One-God religions. Since we don't demonize nature, or its offspring - physical form - we don't believe that the body is shameful.
In contrast, we honour it as a true temple of the Divine.
Bonfires, and flame of any kind, represent the element of Fire. Fire is the primary transformative force, and the creative power of passion. Fire also represents the Light of the Divine.
So Fire is invoked at all Wiccan celebrations.
Walker writes, "Many of the old pagan festivals involving bonfires, torches, candles, and other lights were originally dedicated to the Goddess-as-sun, or to the Goddess as controller of the sun and its cycles." (Barbara Walker, The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects, p 354.)
WITCH TIP: In fact, the Sun as Goddess comes down to the modern era in our language. The origin of our sun's name - Sol - is from the Latin, where it is a feminine noun. In German and Gaelic, the name for our sun is also still feminine.
In the form of bonfires, it is we who are being transformed. When we jump the Fire, we dip momentarily into the purifying Flame. We come through cleansed, and new.
Witches will often jump the Fire twice - the first to purge the old, and the second to empower the new. Before jumping, we will think - or declare - what we want to release from our lives. The second time, we set an intention for what we want to bring into our lives.
Witches are often assumed by non-pagans to be cavorting - naked - around bonfires. Well, not without good reason!
We dance to raise Energy, to invoke the Divine, and to celebrate Her. Although in a Canadian winter, I always dress up in many layers before any Yuletide cavorting.
Can we help it if Witches know how to have a good time?
See also Body.
Ideally, everything in your Book of Shadows comes from your own experience. You may not have invented everything in it, but you have tried it out before writing it in.
Thus your grimoire becomes a record of your magickal work as well as a "recipe book" for future magick. Like a gardening journal, it helps you to see what worked and what didn't . . . . It also becomes a reflection of your journey in the Craft.
Yet there are people selling "Books of Shadows" as spellbooks and guides to Witchcraft. In fact, every how-to Wicca book could be considered a book of shadows, of sorts. Cunningham's excellent resource Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner springs to mind. (See my book review on Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner.)
So you may buy guidebooks, even a "Book of Shadows," but it is not really a grimoire until you make it your own.
I remember seeing a book once (and, oh, I so wish I hadn't left it behind!) that explained the potion to make a Witch's broom fly.
Unfortunately, I don't have even its title. But I remember this: It said that Witch's "flew" by means of an hallucinogenic ointment, which, rubbed on the broomstick and mounted by the Witch, would absorb through her labial tissue. Then she would experience a flight of the mind.
I believe that brooms as a phallic symbol also echo Tantric wisdom - the levels of consciousness that can be reached through properly channeled sexual ecstacy.
(Doesn't that make the wedding custom of Jumping The Broom just shine with spiritual potential?)
Nowadays, though, brooms are generally reserved for clearing energy in sacred space, and brushing away negative influences.
This is, in fact, what may have associated Witches with brooms in the first place. According to Walker . . .
"The broom had been associated with female magic ... ever since ancient Rome, where sacred midwives used special broomsticks to sweep the threshold of the house after childbirth, to repel evil influences from mothers and their babes." (Barbara Walker, The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects, p 123.)
See also Wand.
The candle flame symbolises the Light, which is the most highly refined image of the Divine that the human mind can perceive.
Tapered candles are used on a Wicca altar to represent the Light embodied by matter, or form. The wax represents the body, and the flame the spirit that is carried by it.
Large candles, such as pillar candles, may be used on Wiccan altars to represent the Goddess and/or God. These candles represent Divine Light, the essence of Divinity in its purest form.
Candles are often used in spell-crafting as well, to represent the desires we want to manifest, to take the request to the Divine, and to empower the spell to work.
Candles have been associated with Goddess worship far back in history. For instance, "On Candlemas, in early February, a procession of lighted candles or torches welcomed the first signs of spring and the return of the Goddess from the underworld." Elinor Gadon, The Once and Future Goddess: A Sweeping Visual Chronicle of the Sacred Female and Her Reemergence in the Cult, p 72.)
See also Bonfire.
Anyone who's had a cat has seen evidence of this. Watch a cat on Hallowe'en night, or in the house of someone who's recently passed. They are obviously seeing things that we don't see.
Another example is cats' sensitivity to energy. Cats are irresistibly drawn to ritual and sacred space. This is not always a good thing . . . If a Witch's cat is peeved, it's not unusual for it to express its feelings all over her altar or ritual items.
On the plus side, this sensitivity makes the cat a wonderful companion in working magick. Cats can protect a working Witch, and act as a messenger in the spirit realm or energetic level.
This is why cats are common Witches' Familiars.
Black cats are just double the witchiness! A black cat is one of the most common Wicca symbols, to outsiders.
See also Evil Eye.
A Cauldron is the symbolic womb of the Great Mother Goddess. Cauldrons are thus linked to water, and the West.
Cauldrons are associated with Cerridwen, Hecate, and Kali.
The Cauldron bestows wisdom, death, and rebirth. This is the source of the practice of baptism - entering into the womb of the Mother and being reborn anew.
In Loving the Goddess Within: Sex Magick for Women Nan Hawthorne writes, "The magick was released when a sword was placed in the cauldron. It is a clear symbol of intercourse and fertility." (See my book review on Loving the Goddess Within.)
Traditionally cast iron, a cauldron is a like a 3-legged rounded cooking pot. You can get them in sizes from huge to tiny.
Cauldrons as altar tools are handy items for burning things, like incense and herbs. You can put an incense charcoal in the bottom - in a bed of sand- and sprinkle herbs and powders onto it. A pottery cauldron must have a bed of sand or ash in the bottom if burning things, or it can crack.
Caution is required when burning anything, of course. Cast iron cauldrons on legs, if made properly, will keep the heat from the surface it's standing on, but check to make sure. Also be aware of anything flammable nearby or above the cauldron - particularly sleeves and hair!
(See Sacred Scents for more info on smudging and stuff.)
Cauldrons can also be used to create "Witches' brews," that is, magickal spells in liquid form. These range from simple salt-water purifications to complex spells.
The chalice is another Wicca symbol for the Great Goddess, the Mother of the Universe. The chalice is likely a modern version of the cauldron. It represents yin ["female"] energy of water.
Still, the Chalice is less commonly seen as a Wicca symbol since it is sacred in many other religions. It is one of the main symbols of Christianity, ironically enough.
The Holy Grail that was the object of so many quests symbolises the lost Feminine Divine, the Mother of God. The Chalice is the physical form that holds the spirit - the blood of Christ, as they see it. At the last supper, the cup was even referred to as an escuele, or "cauldron." (Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God, Vol. 4: Creative Mythology.)
We share more than we realise, among the world's religions.
The Circle is a primary Wicca symbol, even though it isn't an altar tool, or even a physical object.
The Wheel of the Year, the Circle of Earth, and the Spiral of Life are all based on the importance of the cyclical nature of existence.
In recognition of the primacy and power of the Circle, Witches gather in Circles to do rituals, celebrations, and spells.
Like ritual robes, cloaks cover us gently, but not tightly. There is plenty of open space for the Divine to enter.
Plus, cloaks can hide pockets for all your witchy implements - candles, hankies, frogs, etc.
The Crone is both an aspect of the Triple Goddess, and a stage of women's life.
"Because it was believed that women became very wise when they no longer shed the lunar wise blood but kept it within, the Crone was usually a Goddess of Wisdom." Walker, The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, p 187.)
Crones became linked with Witches during the Witchhunts of the Middle Ages.
As women gain years, they gather knowledge and power . . . and lose the all-important desire to be submissive that was required in the heyday of the domination culture.
Crones thus became smart, self-educated, independent women, and a threat to the status quo.
The word "Crone" was equivalent to a "Wise Woman" or healer. Elder women were often Midwives, which ticked off the dominating culture even more.
Witches still venerate our Crones, for the perception and power their years bestow.
Many Witches celebrate their own Croning with a rite of passage ritual, at the end of menopause.
See also Herb.
Many Witches use crystals for their energetic properties. (So strictly speaking, a page on Wicca symbol is not really the place for this. See Meaning Of Gem Stones & Metals for the properties of quartz crystals.)
On a Wicca altar, crystals can be used to designate the Earth element, in the North. Alternatively, they can be used to represent Spirit in the Centre, due to their profound energy qualities.
Crystals are probably as sentient as a mineral can be. When working with crystals, it helps to think of them as working partners, rather than inanimate tools.
Divination is associated with Witches because every Witch does divination of one sort or another.
But in fact, Witches are always reading messages from the Divine. In coincidences, in life events, in sudden ideas, in feelings . . . .
This is one of the things that makes Wicca such a great opportunity for spiritual evolution.
Witches have a reputation for Dowsing, that is, searching for hidden things by using a stick, crystal, or other tool. Even a coat-hanger bent into 2 L-shapes can be used for dowsing.
The traditional dowsing tool for water, though, is a Y-shaped branch of Willow - a wood with an affinity for water. Willow actively seeks out water underground, which is why it's not a good idea to plant one near your house . . . it can break down your foundations.
Dowsing still is rather commonly used to find water, when wanting to dig a well. Where I live, many people (including myself) found a well site with the aid of a local dowser.
Dowsing can also find oil or minerals, and pretty much anything else the Witch has an affinity and need for.
See also pendulum.
The Earth is a Wicca symbol, because Wicca is a Nature religion. However, Wicca is hardly the only belief system to have Earth as its symbol.
Generally, something symbolizing Earth is used, rather than an image of the planet itself. For instance, quartered circle to designate the Earth and Her 4 directions is used by some First Nations people, as well as ancient Greeks. Many Wiccans also use this as a symbol of Earth.
In fact, the planet Herself is linked with Wicca mainly because so many Witches are environmentalists. This is not a coincidence, of course.
The Earth symbolises the Goddess Manifest, the Immanent Divine. She is the physical form of the Mother Goddess. As such the Earth holds yin energy.
While not visual, energy work is a Wicca symbol.
Energy-working is what Wicca is all about.
To many people shifting energy, raising energy, and directing energy are quintessentially Wiccan.
The Evil Eye was a fear derived from the myth of the ancient Goddess Maat, whose All-Seeing Eye could assess a person's soul at a glance. Over time, this became perceived as dangerous - not merely assessing but cursing.
The Evil Eye was associated with Witches in particular, but all women - under domination by a patriarchy - were considered able to curse with a glance. (Hence the old rules about women keeping their eyes downcast, and especially never looking at the men.)
See also Goddess Symbols - Eye of Maat.
Animals as Witches' Familiars are certainly a popular Wicca symbol. Some animals are more often thought of as Familiars than others: Bats, Owls, Cats, Black Dogs, Ravens, Snakes.
In fact, any animal can be a Witches' Familiar. But some are more helpful in the Craft than others. (Please see Being A Witch for more on this.)
The Wickedary's canny definition of animals points to the inevitable connection between Witches and animals as Familiars:
Animals n [derived fm. L anima soul—Webster's] : Elementally en-souled beings characterized by rich Diversity; instructors in the arts of Spinning, healing, communication, navigation; Helpers/Guides on the Journey … into the Realms of Elemental Reality.
(From Mary Daly & Jane Caputi, Webster's First New Intergalactic Wickedary Of The English Language)
Feathers are often used to represent Air on Wicca altars.
Before using feathers in Wicca, there is a caution you should be aware of . . . When feathers are dropped willingly in molt, they don't contain negative energy. If they are plucked, or if you have any doubt about their origins, it is important to purify and bless the feathers before using. See Preparing Your Wiccan Ritual Tools for more info and tips on how to do this.
Five is a sacred number, because it contains the whole Earth (as Four ). And it includes Spirit - the fifth element.
In numerology, five stands for the Earth.
See also Pentacle.
Four is a number of completion. The four directions, the four elements, the four phases of life are represented by this number.
See also Wheel.
Frogs are notable for their ability to move between worlds. They live in water and on land.
And not only do they go where most animals can’t, they seem to do the miraculous . . . How do they go from a water-dwelling tadpoles to a 4-legged land creatures?
Witches share these traits, traveling freely in the mundane world and in the spiritual world. And Witches become much more than the animal we were born.
Frogs seem to die and be reborn. They can be frozen in the mud, and thaw out in spring to come magickally back to life. It is inevitable that frogs become sacred symbols.
Frogs are a also symbol of the fetus, and sacred to Hecate. According to Marija Gimbutas, "Hekate of ancient Greece has an epithet 'Baubo,' i.e. Toad." (p 256)
Gimbutas also writes, "The frog or toad [was] both funerary and life symbols at the same time. Their peculiar relationship—even equation—with the uterus of the life-giving, regenerating, and transforming Goddess accounts for their prominent role in Old European symbolism." The Language of the Goddess, p 251)
She goes on: "The names given to the toad link it with the Goddess in many European languages. Hexe in German, fata in Italian dialects, czarownica in Polish, gatalinka in Serbo-Croatian, mantis in Greek. They mean 'witch' or 'prophetess.'" (p 256)
Still, today Frogs are associated as a Wicca symbol more as a fictional spell ingredient than because modern Witches have much to do with frogs.
Ghosts are a symbol of the Hallowe'en season - a time when those who've gone before can visit the world again.
Witches are associated with ghosts partly because we share this seasonal association.
And partly because we do not fear our beloved dead. We do not let a little thing like death sever a relationship!
Many Witches communicate with their beloved dead - as many peoples do. The Samhain season is a particularly easy time to slip the Veil aside and visit with our loved ones.
These symbols may be physical female representations (as in the image here), symbols of the Moon, items representing a certain Deity, or anything that represents the Goddess to that particular Witch.
The Goddess is the Earth; the Earth is the Goddess. As is the Moon, the Ocean, and the very Cycle of Life. As a nature religion, the Goddess is inextricably interwoven with Wicca.
See Wiccan Jewelry for more on these symbols.
See Book of Shadows.
A Grove is small forest. This is a traditional place for Wiccans to worship.
A Grove is, in essence, a Wiccan cathedral. Among the guardian trees, on the Earth, under the stars and Moon, you can feel yourself in the presence of the Divine.
Trees are emissaries and servants of the Divine, in a more direct way than most beings. So a grove is a natural Wicca place of worship.
Forests are definitely associated with Witches. When have you ever heard a tale of an old Witch who lived at the sea side? Many of us do, but if possible, we still like to have trees around us.
I think the Wickedary says it best:
Hag n [derived fm. ME hagge, hegge . . . akin to MD haghetisse Witch, OHG hagzissa, hagazussa harpy, Witch; . . . —Webster's]
: Archaic: a Witch, Fury, Harpy who haunts the Hedges/Boundaries of patriarchy, frightening fools and summoning Weird Wandering Women into the Wild.
- Mary Daly & Jane Caputi, Webster's First New Intergalactic Wickedary Of The English Language
See also Crone.
Hallowe'en, or Samhain, is the high point of the Wiccan year.
The veil between the ordinary world and the spirit world is thinnest then, and you can communicate with your beloved dead. Cultures around the world recognise this with celebrations and feasts for those who've gone before.
This is a time when magick is most easily manifested. So if Witches are to be associated with any time of year, it is naturally Samhain.
See also Ghost.
Wicca has always been associated with natural healing, and a large part of that is the use of herbs. Teas, poultices, etc. were things the Wise Women knew how to use.
Herbalism was one of the reasons Witches were persecuted, as the fledgling medical industry wasn't up to the competition. As only men could be doctors, they naturally won the support of the government and the church in their prohibition against the Crones' magickal healing.
(Which is ironic, considering even the Bible supports herbal healing - "... and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of nations...." - Revelations 22:2)
Herbs are also used for spell-craft. And there is often little difference between herbs as healing agents and magickal agents.
To find a list of herbs and their uses, consult a good herbal. Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs (Llewellyn's Sourcebook Series), and Beyerl's The Master Book of Herbalism are excellent resources for Witches The Healing Power of Herbs by Lemerond, has extensive information on the medicinal properties of herbs.
See also Midwife.
This is not a common Wicca symbol, but you might come across it.
Most hexagrams are drawn as the Star of David, with two interlocking triangles, symbols of the Goddess and the God. This symbolises a balance between the earth - that is, the human - and the divine.
The Unicursal Hexagram is drawn in one unbroken line - the pen never leaves the paper. Symbolically, a Wicca symbol drawn this way contains power.
Incense is not quite a Wicca symbol, but a ritual tool that has symbolic meaning.
Smoke represents our prayers and intentions rising up to the Divine and merging with higher reality. And scents have the ability to shift human consciousness to the energy of the plant.
Incense often goes in the East on Wicca altars, to represent Air.
See Sacred Scents for more on incense in Wicca.
Menstruation is sacred from a Witch's perspective . . . The voluntary and magickal shedding of blood - the essence of life - without harm or wound.
The ability to honour the Moon each month with this mysterious gift, which is also intimately connected with a woman's ability to create life, is one of the greatest Mysteries and Powers.
The word "menstruation" derives from "moon." It is the sacred expression of the Moon Mother's power to create life.
Menstruation - the Moon Blood - brings many gifts that are maligned in a patriarchal-domination style culture. It is a time when creativity reaches a peak - when women are most open to inspiration from the Goddess. If you ever want a creative flow, the days before and after your Bleed starts are naturally creatively juicy.
Menstruation is also a time of soul-truth, when injuries require action. Nowadays, it's called PMS, or bitchiness. (Oooo, please see Bitch!)
But what's actually going on is that the soul, which has been hurting - and silenced - all month, finally speaks its piece. It attempts to realign you with your heart and your Purpose every month, fine-tuning your life compass. If you listen to what your Moon Bleed is telling you, you will never lose yourself.
(Men, unfortunately, don't get this monthly re-setting of their compass, and do it all in one big blow-out at their mid-life crisis.)
Thanks to persistent brainwashing, though, menstruation has come to be seen as a nuisance, a curse, and a pain - which it certainly is, to the status quo.
Honouring the Bleed and the cycles of the Moon is a cure for any menstrual suffering a woman may experience. What is called PMS or menstrual dysfunction is merely resistance to the Power of menstruation.
Blessings of the Blood: A Book of Menstrual Rituals for Women by Celu Amberston, and The Wise Wound: Myths, Realities, and Meanings of Menstruation by Shuttle and Redgrove, are excellent guides to the forgotten Power of women's sacred blood.
Midwives have been associated with Witchcraft since, well, "Witchcraft" was invented.
Part of this is due to their skill with herbs and healing, both of which are magickal things.
But I suspect a deeper reason exists in the underlying meaning of birth . . . and death, a common attendant to the birthing room.
Birth is the gateway from the spirit realm to the physical world. Midwives stand boldly at this gateway of power, and have the ability to change outcomes.
Of course, there may also be the patriarchal-domination reason of midwives' knowledge in unapproved areas, like contraception and abortion. If anything was going to be blasted as Witchcraft in patriarchal culture, where knowing a child's father is of greatest importance, it would be this!
Add in the twisted power plays of the Christian church of the Middle Ages, and we can really see how Midwifery and Witchcraft became linked in public perception.
In The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth, Sjöö and Mor write, "Healthcare and healing were publicly discouraged by the Christian church, which officially believed that life was supposed to be diseased, wretched, and painful—this was God's will, as punishment for human sin."
She adds that "One 'witch' was burned alive in Scotland for the sole crime of bathing some neighborhood children, for hygienic reasons, in the midst of an epidemic." (p 204)
Mirrors are believed to reflect the soul. (Which is why vampires and such, being soulless, can't be seen in a mirror.)
The mirror represents the Divine, reflected in worldly form. When we look into a ritual mirror, we can see the Goddess within us.
This is an acknowledgement that everything is, in actuality, the Divine.
As reflections of other realms, mirrors can also be used for Divination, particularly divining the future.
The Moon is more than just a Wicca symbol. She is a primary Wiccan Goddess.
The Moon represents the Feminine Aspect of the Divine. The Yin which balances the Male God's Yang.
The Moon is the Mother of all life on Earth. She is associated with the Spiral of Life - birth, death, and rebirth. She grants our wishes. She guides our dreams.
The Moon is perhaps the most universal Wicca symbol. She is depicted in Pagan jewelry, on ritual robes, and on altar tools.
"Moon phases are a part of the great cosmic dance in which everything participates: the movement of the celestial bodies, the pusle of tides, the circulation of blood and sap in animals and plants. Observation of the night sky, of the stars, and especially of the moon, was the beginning of mathematics and science." (The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth, p 139.)
Night time is a classic Wicca symbol. Night is the time of Mystery and Magick, when the ordinary rules of physics cease to apply.
Night is the realm of the Great Goddess - The Star Goddess, the chaos/void of all potentiality, from which everything in the material world arises.
And Night is also when secret wisdom shines forth in stars and Moon, tantalizing us with Mystery we may seek.
Thus Night is the natural time for Witches . . . and any other mystic or shamanic spiritual seeker.
"Night, to ancient people, was not an "absence of light" or a negative darkness, but a powerful source of energy and inspiration. At night cosmos reveals herself in her vastness, the earth opens to moisture and germination under moonlight, and the magnetic serpentine current stirs itself in the underground waters—just as the thick, snakey spray of stars, the Milky Way, winds across the night sky." (The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth, p 139.)
See also Goddess Symbols - Darkness.
See also Star.
Owls, with their vaunted wisdom, have long been seen as a Wicca symbol, since Witches also seek to understand the Mysteries.
Owls' perception pierces the veil of darkness. On a symbolic level, this means that they can see what is hidden to others with only ordinary sight. According to Gimbutas, "It is credited with profound wisdom, oracular powers, and the ability to avert evil." (The Language of the Goddess, p 190.)
Owls share the gift of vision with Witches who honour them. Witches also can see what is imperceptible to others.
The Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power Through the Ways of Animals explains the Owl's connection with the Goddess Athena - a Goddess much revered among Witches: "Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, had a companion Owl on her shoulder which revealed unseen truths to her. Owl had the ability to light up Athena's blind side, enabling her to speak the whole truth, as opposed to only a half truth." (p 121.)
As Wiccans, Truth is vital . . . both knowing it and speaking it.
So where do Owls get this wisdom? My pet theory: What makes Owl so wise is that she's not distracted by questions of What, Where, When, Why, or How. She knows the only real question is ever and always, "WHO??"
See also Familiars.
Palm-reading is so wonderfully witchy. It's like reading the Divine plan made manifest in a human body.
Historically, it has been associated with Gysies, or Roma. But the ability to know more than is said, seems uncanny. Witches have always been associated with paranormal insight.
A Pendulums is perhaps less a Wicca symbol than a New Age-y symbol. But Pendulums are often used by Witches to dowsing, or to receive guidance.
Pendulums can also be used to sense an aura. There's an exercise in Starhawk's excellent beginner's book for Wiccans, The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Goddess that describes how to do this. (See my book review on The Spiral Dance.)
All sorts of things can be used as pendulums. As long as it swings freely from the end of a chain, it can be used. At least, in theory.
In practice, I find that purified crystals give me the best results. I suspect that someone who is very psychic can use anything, but those of us who are still working at it might best be served by the very best tools available. As far as pendulums go, that is a crystal that has been purified.
(See Preparing Your Ritual Tools for information on how to purify a crystal.)
A Pentacle is a 5-pointed Star contained within a circle. It is drawn in a continuous line, without breaks or lifting the pen (or whatever) from the writing surface.
It is no coincidence that a human standing with all limbs outstretched forms a rudimentary star shape. This human star inside the circle of the aura creates a living Pentacle.
The Pentacle is the prime energy-containing Wicca symbol. It contains, in essence, the Universe within it.
According to Walker, the Pentacle was based on the symbol of the Goddess Kore that is hidden in the heart of an apple. She writes,
"…the pentacle or pentagram was worshipped by Pythagorean mystics who called it Pentalpha: the birth-letter interlaced five times. Its meaning was given as 'life' or 'health.' Some called it the star of Ishtar or of Isis, or of Isis's underworld twin, Nephthys. In Egypt the five-pointed star represented the underground womb." (Barbara Walker, The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, p 782)
Part of the Pentacle's power of protection relies on the fact that it is drawn with a single unbroken line. This leaves no gateways for unwanted energies to enter, or for Power to dissipate.
Another fascinating Pentacle fact is that the planet Venus inscribes a Pentacle in the sky, over the course of the year!
The downward-pointing Pentacle is commonly associated with Satanism, although it is not a Satanic symbol.
The Inverted Pentacle is simply a Pentacle of releasing, undoing, giving back to the Earth. It can also be used for grounding.
In some traditions, the Inverted Pentacle also stands for a Witch who has taken a 2nd degree initiation.
Psychic powers are one of the most commonly assumed traits of Witchcraft. And for a good reason.
Witches may not all start out psychic, but over time, these skills naturally develop.
How does this happen? The short answer is, Wicca is a practice of awareness ...
Amber Wolfe, in a very useful beginners book (and ongoing reference) called In the Shadow of the Shaman: Connecting with Self, Nature & Spirit offers lots of practices that help develop psychic powers, which she calls shamanic sensing. These show that with focused intention and practice, everyone has the ability to use psychic skills.
Ravens, and to a lesser degree Crows, are very magickal creatures.
Raven with her plumage as dark as the void between the stars, is a citizen of the afterworld. She travels between the worlds of the living and the dead.
Being native to both worlds, Raven naturally has great knowledge and Power to effect transformations.
Raven is associated as a Wicca symbol because of this power to move between the worlds, and create new realities as she chooses.
According to the Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power Through the Ways of Animals, "If Raven appears . . . you are about to experience a change in consciousness. ... Raven is the messenger that carries all energy flows of ceremonial magic between the ceremony itself and the intended destination." (p 102.)
See also Familiars.
Salt lives in the Ocean - the Womb of the Goddess. It is the taste of Earth in the waters of life.
Salt is symbolic of the blood of the Mother. To share Salt is to create a bond of kinship - sharing the "blood" of one Mother.
It seems to have always been used as a purifying agent. With its ability to preserve food and bodies, Salt would seem to purify them, freeing them from contamination and decay.
In this capacity, Salt was used to bless altars, sacrificial animals, church bells, and babies at baptism. Salt was an alternative to sanctifying by blood.
Apparently the superstition about spilling salt arises from this connection with blood. Throwing a pinch over your shoulder symbolises putting this spilling of blood behind you. (Barbara Walker, The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, p 887.)
The most miraculous part of any being is its seed. With the magick of creation dwelling within, the entire flower or tree or elephant or whale pre-exists in a tiny embryonic form.
Seeds represent reincarnation, or eternal life. As the flower and fruit die, the seeds live on, and soon they begin life anew.
Pomegranate seeds were particularly potent symbols of regeneration. Eaten by souls in the underworld, the pomegranate seeds would give them new life.
This connection continues on in the tradition of nuts baked into Hanukkah bread and Christmas fruit cake, promising new life in the year's death.
The spider with her wondrous weaving skills is an aspect of Athene, the spinner of Fate, creatrix of destiny.
It was believed that the future could thus be read in a spider's web, if you knew how to read it.
According to First Nations' mythology, Grandmother Spider created the world. So Spider is a multicultural symbol of Creation.
This magickal knowing and weaving of the world and destiny is associated with Witches, who also reweave reality.
I wonder if Spider is also seen as a Wicca symbol because when cobwebs gather, it means worldly action is absent. And as Witches, we specialize in Other-worldly action!
As Starhawk & Valentine write, "We are all weavers of soul." (The Twelve Wild Swans: A Journey to the Realm of Magic, Healing, and Action, p 208.)
See also Web.
Stars are pentagrams, and hold much of the symbolism of Pentacles.
Plus, they are associated with Night.
Stars are a Wicca symbol because they signify the unattainable wisdom of the Creatrix, which is attainable to those who study the esoteric arts.
Stars symbolize the potential of every being to reach Divinity, with all the wisdom and magickal Power that entails.
Stones are often used on a Wicca altar, for the Earth element in the North, or for their Powers. (For the magickal properties of stones, see The Meaning Of Gem Stones & Metals.
Stones hold yin energy, but crystals - I'm not sure. They feel like yang to me, or at least less yin than common rocks.
Tarot is a means of communication with the Divine . . . which makes it very popular with Witches throughout the ages. And this fact was not lost on non-Witches, who quickly assigned the Tarot as an indisputable Wicca symbol.
Today, there is a connection between Tarot and Witchcraft, not only because so many Witches read Tarot, but because the philosophy contained in the Tarot is very similar to Wiccan philosophy.
As the cards are evolving more to spiritual and partnership rather than domination perspectives, they are becoming ever more aligned with Wicca spirituality.
But Tarot's only historical associations of Tarot with Witches are two -
The Tarot reflects a profound philosophy, and originally was probably an unbound book, to help teach spiritual insights.
To those familiar with it, Tarot certainly does that. And the most radical spiritual insight is always into yourself. This is what makes Tarot such as powerful spiritual tool today.
Reading tea leaves is a form of divination, so natural for witchy-type people - psychics and sensitives, as well as Wiccans.
Plus, tea made with the leaves of Herbs are something Witches have been making for centuries, if not millennia. And we hate to let things go to waste.
So reading Tea Leaves seems inevitable.
See also Divination.
The number thirteen is definitely a well-known Wicca symbol.
The number thirteen is sacred to Witches because we honour the Moon, and the Moon cycles around 13 times in one year.
And the menstrual cycle, following the Moon, also comes around 13 times a year. Because we worship life and the Great Mother, this creative blood cycle of women is sacred.
Pet Theory - I think the number 13 also shows Christian's ancient matriarchal roots. Why 12 apostles? There's nothing inherently sacred about the number 12. But with Jesus, the number is complete, at 13.
Three is sacred to Witches because the Goddess manifests in triple aspects - Mother, Maiden, and Crone. See also Triple Goddess.
In fact, I believe that this is changing, and the Goddess is becoming manifest in a Four aspects.
It may be from the ancient Celtic system that worked with 3 elements of the Earth instead of four - land, sea, and sky (which encompasses both fire and air).
Three is also a standard understanding of the levels of being - body, mind, and spirit or soul.
See also Triquetra.
Just to be clear, toads are actually frogs. . . "toad" is just a name for a frog that's designed to live in a dry area.
Nonetheless, the toad is perceived as a Wicca symbol for mostly spurious reasons. While the frog has mystical associations with Wicca, as a symbol the toad has been associated more because of its unpopularity.
The bumpy "warts," the leathery skin, and perhaps in particular the poison glands found in many toads have encouraged the imaginations of generations of Witch-haters. Their lurking in damp shadows would certainly add to their detestable image, in the view of worshippers of a sun-like God.
It is true that the poison of some toads are known for psychotropic properties. Perhaps that also has something to do with it, although I don't think such toads live in Western Europe, where Witchcraft originated.
See also Frog.
According to Walker, "Anatolian villages in the 7th millennium B.C. worshipped a Goddess in three aspects—as a young woman, a birth-giving matron, and an old woman." (Barbara Walker, The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, p 1018)
This Feminine Trinity can be found in cultures throughout history.
The Triple Goddess is often depicted as the Goddess Symbols - Triple Moon.
This is a Celtic symbol, but is currently becoming more popular among Witches - maybe because it's used on "Charmed," Hollywood's fantasy of modern Witches.
Still it is a likely candidate for a Wicca symbol - Three petals, each of which is a Vesica Piscis - an ancient yonic symbol for the Goddess.
The Triquetra is often found in Celtic designs within drawings of Triple Spirals, which indicates it was likely an important spiritual symbol to the Celts. (See also Goddess Symbols -Triple Spiral.)
When used as a Wicca symbol it generally connotes the Triple Goddess, or the three levels of being - body, mind, and spirit / soul.
The wand is like a portable, handy version of a broom. There is a theory that originally one instrument performed all the purposes served by the two today.
Wands can be used for divination and channeling magickal energy.
Wands symbolise Divine wisdom. Where the athame represents the ability of the mind to understand, the wand represents the ability to access other levels of knowledge that are not created by the mind.
Wands are associated with yang energy: the power to create change.
The magickal wand goes in the South, for the power of will, magick, and transformation.
The Web is a Wicca symbol, as is the Spider who weaves it. The Spider is the Goddess Creatrix, and the Web is the world and destinies She weaves.
The Web also symbolises the interconnection and interdependence of all life. Destroy one strand, and much of the web collapses.
Witches often do weaving spells, to re-create their lives. And often, now, to heal the Earth.
And the symbolism of the Spider's Web is closely related to that of the Wheel Of Life.
The Wheel of the Year is not as commonly visible as a Pentacle or Moon, but it is a basic Wicca symbol.
The Wheel contains much of the key for the practice of Wicca: the four directions, the four elements, the cycle of life, and the Wiccan calendar of holy days.
(There is no established image of this Wheel - the graphic here is my own representation.)
This may be the most typical Wicca symbol. But there is a good reason.
This pointed hat, or Apex, was designed to funnel Divine energies into one. Or, at least to suggest that this power was coming from Heaven, in the case of religious leaders.
The Witches' Hat supposedly has the power to increase intelligence. (Which is why, as a "dunce cap," it came to be worn by people who were judged lacking in the brain department.)
Although it seems trivial nowadays, the Apex can be found on priests and Gods and fey folk for millennia.
"The wiccan nature, or witchcraft, is the original nature of all women, deriving from our primary biological experience, our psychic relationship with the earth and cosmos." (The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth, p 207.)
As representatives of the Great Mother Goddess, women have held places of respect and power . . .
Except, of course, in dominator cultures such as have afflicted the planet for a couple millennia.
All women are representatives of the Goddess, as all men are representatives of the God.
When the Goddess became a demon in men's eyes, women naturally became "Witches."
All of them.
So any figure of a woman can be a Wicca symbol.
Okay, this is not really a Wicca symbol. But it is a good indication of a Witch: that zest for life which all well-balanced and empowered people display.
Plus, I needed a "Z" to end this list.
WITCH TIP: The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets and The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects by Barbara Walker, are the definitive resources on symbolism from a pagan perspective.
You'd be hard-pressed to think of a Wicca symbol that isn't in these books - although there are a few. They are both must-have reference books in any Witchcraft library.
Listed in this collection are the basic items that may be ordinarily seen as a Wicca symbol.
Some of these "Wicca symbols" are things that are popularly associated with Witches and Witch craft -- several with the most tenuous of connections with the real Craft. Some of them come from the fears and prejudices of those who are not Witches.
Some of these are now used as a symbol of Wicca, because modern Witches are attracted to their meaning or function.
I have gathered all together in this one collection of Wicca symbols, not discriminating between the bogus and the silly and the sublime.
One area of Wicca symbol I have excluded are those that are identified particularly with a deity.
Almost any symbol for the Goddess or God can be used as a Wicca symbol, since Witches are notoriously open-minded when it comes to other religions.
But because they are not primarily Wicca symbols (and because there are so many of them) the symbols for Wicca Goddesses and Wicca Gods have their own pages. Links to these pages can be found below.
(And by the same token, Wicca itself is a symbol of the Goddess and God.)
If it is more specifically a Witchcraft or Wicca symbol, it will be here on this page.
This is a rather arbitrary line, though . . . There is no clear separation. So if you're interested in Wicca symbols, you'll want to see all of these pages.
For your convenience, you will find each Wicca symbol on the Goddess symbol and God symbol pages listed below . . .
WITCH TIP: Can't find the Wicca symbol you're looking for? Email me here if I've missed your favourite Wicca symbol and I'll add it to the list.
If you liked this article, please subscribe for free to my RSS feed or give it a thumbs-up in Stumbleupon. It only takes a second to share the good stuff with other seekers. Thanks a lot!
If You Liked Wicca Symbols, You May Also Enjoy
These Related Articles . . .
New material is always added; please subscribe to our RSS / Blog or The Silver Chalice E-zine to receive updates and unique articles.
Return from Basic Wicca Symbols to Wicca Altar