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The Basic Shapes of Symbols


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Triangles and Spirals - What Do They Mean?
The Basic Shapes of Symbols
© Dixie Allan

Triangles - What Do They Mean?

Triangles can be stable when sitting on their base or unstable when not. They represent tension, action and aggression. Triangles have energy and power and their stable/unstable dynamic can suggest either conflict or steady strength.

Triangles can direct movement based upon which way they point. They can be used to suggest familiar themes like pyramids, arrows and, pennants. Spiritually they symbolize the religious trinity, such as:

  • Body, Mind, Spirit
  • Father, Son, Holy Ghost
  • Mother, Father, Child
  • Past, Present, Future

The triangle also represents polar variables in meanings, depending which end is up. It the point of the triangle is pointing down, it represents the female and if the point is pointing up, it represents the male - Up means passive and down represents active.

This among other complexities is where the triangle symbol meaning of creation/creativity is stemmed. Each side and corner sings out a melody, and their combination in form creates a marvelous musical score.

Designations of mother, maiden and crone are commonplace among researchers of Celtic triads. But there is vastly more to the sacred triad than just that reference. The triangle theme is abundantly featured in the Celtic culture. We see it in the form of the triskelion, the triquetra, and various other trinity Celtic knot motifs.

Spirals - What Do They Mean?

Spirals are expressions of creativity. They are often found in the natural growth pattern of many organisms and suggest the process of growth and evolution. Spirals convey ideas of fertility, birth, death, expansion, and transformation. They are cycles of time, life and the seasons and are a common shape in religious and mystical symbolism.

Spirals move in either direction and represent returning to the same point on life's journey with new levels of understanding. They represent trust during change, the release of energy and maintaining flexibility through transformation.

Clockwise spirals represent projection of an intention and counterclockwise spirals the fulfillment of an intention. Double spirals can be used to symbolize opposing forces.

A Few spiral spiral meaning keywords to start our spin around the interpretations of spiral symbolism will include attributes such as: Balance, Progress, Direction, Initiation, Centering, Expanding, Awareness, Connection, Journeying and Development.

Perhaps the most prolific appearance is in Celtic symbology where we see the spirals decorating a myriad of their ancient artifacts.

We should also consider the appearance of spirals in nature, such as:

  • Vines
  • Snails
  • Seashells
  • Tornadoes
  • Curled Up Snake
  • Twisting Tree Trunks
  • Whirlpools in Waters
  • Animal Horns (For instance, Rams horns)

We will continue this discussion in the following articles:

Circle Symbols - What Do They Mean?

Cross Symbols - What Do They Mean?

To learn about color symbology, read Color Symbology.

To learn more about Symbolism, read Symbology - The Study of Signs and Symbols

To find symbol clip art, go to Signs and Symbols.

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