In today’s post we will be examining occult symbols, their origins and meanings. But first things first, what does occult mean?
The word occult is derived from the Latin word occultus meaning ‘secret’ or ‘hidden’ and occultism is defined as the study of the unknown and the paranormal, the forces that cannot be observed or measured through the usual means and logic.
Occult arts include practices such as magic rituals, alchemy, astrology and divination and these practices are an important part of some contemporary religions like Wicca.
Needless to say, symbolism and use of symbols is of utmost importance to the practitioners of magic. But what are the most popular occult symbols? Without further ado, here is the list of occult symbols along with their origins, meanings and uses.
The Cross of Nero/The Neronic Cross/The Broken Cross
Also known as the peace sign, the Druid’s foot, the raven’s foot, the Neronic cross among several other names, the cross of Nero is an occult symbol that has been used since the time of Roman Emperor Nero who lived in the 1st century AD.
The symbol is thought to be a variation of the upside-down cross (also known as Saint Peter’s cross) on which Nero crucified Saint Peter.
It is a symbol of anti-Christian sentiments and is believed to represent Nero’s belief that world peace could happen without the existence of Christianity.
The circle around the upside-down cross is believed to represent Nero’s vision for the world. It has been recognized as a universal symbol of peace worldwide since the 1960s.
The Upside-Down Cross Also Known As Saint Peter’s Cross/Petrine Cross
Saint Peter’s cross, also known as the upside-down cross, is originially a Christian symbol that represents Saint Peter’s humility as an exemplary Christian.
According to the belief, Saint Peter did not want to be crucified in the same way that Jesus Christ was crucified as he did not consider himself to be worthy of dying the same way with him.
So he asked to be crucified on an upside-down cross and that is why this symbol is known as Saint Peter’s cross/Petrine cross.
Later on, the symbol became very popular in satanic circles as it was closely associated with anti-Christian sentiments and what Christianity represents as the exact opposite/inverted version of the main symbol of Christianity, the Latin cross.
Carrying on with yet another cross, the next item in our list of occult symbols is the sun cross.
Also known as the pagan cross, the sun cross is a very old symbol used by people from all corners of the world including Persians, Native Americans, Egyptians and Indians.
For both pagan people and ancient Egyptians, it mainly represented the sun. Egyptian kings revered the solar cross symbol as they thought it represented the highest power in the universe which was the sun according to their belief.
In Wicca, the solar cross symbolizes the sun and the four seasons of the year.
The All-seeing Eye Also Known As The Eye of Providence
Also known as the eye of providence, the eye of Satan/Lucifer and the eye of God, the all-seeing eye is an occult symbol that has been used by many cultures across the world throughout history.
While some believe it is the representation of omnipresence and omniscience of God (his ability to be everywhere at once and to know and see everything, respectively), others believe it to be the eye of providence, that is to say, the guidance provided by a divine power.
The symbol is sometimes depicted within a pyramid, more accurately the triangular top part of a pyramid, and some Christians believe that this triangle represents the Holy Trinity in Christianisty, namely, Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.
The symbol has been used for important documents and occasions in history including the Great Seal of the United States, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen published on the eve of French Revolution, the one-dollar bill as well as by many universities throughout the world and organizations like Freemasons.
It is often confused with another eye symbol that has been used in occult practices, the eye of Horus, but these two are different symbols. We will carry on the list with the eye of Horus to clarify better.
The Eye of Horus
Also known as the Wadjet eye, the eye of Horus is an ancient symbol representing the left eye of the Egyptian God Horus.
According to the myth, Horus ripped his left eye out to resurrect his father, Osiris, who was killed by his brother Set, and to protect his family. That is why the eye of Horus is known and used as a symbol of protection and sacrifice.
The symbol is mostly confused with the eye of providence since they are both considered ‘the watchful eye’ symbols associated with a divine power watching over every being in the world and the eye of providence is sometimes featured with an Egyptian pyramid next to it.
Pagan people adopted the eye of Horus and started to use it in their magic rituals as a protection symbol to ward off spirits just as Egyptians did.
If you would like to read more about the eye of Horus, its origins and meaning, please kindly click here to check out our detailed article.
Ankh, The Key of The Nile Also Known As The Egyptian Symbol of Eternal Life
The next item on our list of occult symbols is a familiar one; the ankh, ‘the key of the Nile’. Also known as the Egyptian symbol of eternal life, the ankh is a pagan symbol that was later adopted by Christians during the Christianization of Egypt during the 4th and 5th centuries AD.
The ankh is known as the key of the Nile as it is believed to be the symbol representing the unity of Osiris and Isis during which the river Nile flooded bringing fertility to the lands of Egypt. That is also the reason the ankh is considered a symbol of fertility.
Many Egyptian artworks also feature the ankh. In some of those artworks, the ruler class of Egypt is shown being fed ankhs by other people. This is considered an act of ‘giving life’ to the person being fed.
Being an important symbol for neopaganism and Kemetism/Neterism today, the ankh is mostly used for rituals for fertility and reproduction.
Hexagram is a six-pointed star made by placing two triangles onto each other, one looking upwards and one looking downwards.
Hexagrams have been and are still used to represent different things in various cultures.
Mormons use hexagrams as a symbol denoting the union of mankind and God with God reaching down to mankind and mankind reaching up to God. This is considered a union of the spiritual and the physical worlds.
Hexagrams also represent the Hermetic principle of “As above, so below” suggesting everything that happens in the microcosm has reflections in the macrocosm.
The two triangles forming a hexagram represent the two elements in alchemy; water and fire. The six corners made by these triangles and the central point of the shape is believed to represent the seven metals in alchemy; copper, silver, iron, gold, tin, mercury and lead.
Hexagrams are also used to represent the seven ancient planets in astrology, that is to say, Moon, Sun, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury. That is why they are known to be used in planetary magic associated with these planets. They are also used to conjure spirits in occult practices.
Unicursal Hexagram As An Occult Symbol
The word ‘unicursal’ means ‘to draw/trace using a single continuous line’ and since it can be drawn in such a way, the symbol below is called a unicursal hexagram.
Being a variation of the hexagram, unicursal hexagram symbol has been used in occult practices for a long time. It is mainly used to invoke and banish elemental forces.
It is suggested that the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn used the symbol in banishing and invoking spells associated with planets.
On a side note, it has also become a very important symbol for Thelemites, the follower of the Theleme religion founded by Aleister Crowley as he used the unicursal hexagram as the main symbol of the faith by adding a five-petal rose in the middle of it.
To read more about the unicursal hexagram symbol, its origins, meaning and uses, please check out our detailed post on the subject here.
The Seal of Solomon
Also known as the ring of Solomon, the seal of Solomon is basically a hexagram with dots and a circle around it.
The symbol represents the union of female and male in ritual magic. One triangle represents the element of water, the female while the other represents the element of fire, the male.
According to one of the legends about the origin of the symbol, the seal of Solomon was inscribed on a ring with magical powers which Solomon later used to control spirits and demons to build his temple. It was also believed that the seal gave Solomon the ability to talk to animals.
The seal of Solomon has been used as a symbol of protection by Jewish and Christian people throughout history but Muslims also revered the symbol since they believe Solomon to be a prophet and everything related to prophets are respected by Muslim people. In fact it is heavily featured in Ottoman and Seljuk artworks.
Today, a variation of the symbol known as the star of David is the main symbol of Jewis people and can be seen on the national flag of Israel. Other than that, the seal of Solomon is used in Western occultism as a symbol for magic rituals.
Pentagrams And Pentacles
A pentagram is a five-pointed star symbol that has been and still is used in pagan and Wicca practices as a symbol representing the four elements of nature and spirit.
A pentacle is basically a pentagram with a circle around it. As circles represent power and infinity, the circle in the pentacle symbol can be interpreted to strengthen the power of the elements.
Pentagrams and pentacles are both used in magic rituals as symbols of protection and to cast spells related to the elements. It is believed that the pentacles can be used to summon and control demons and spirits as well.
Inverted pentagram is a pentagram looking downwards with its two tips pointing upwards. It is a very common Satanic symbol that also provides the base for another symbol of satanism called the sigil of Baphomet.
Inverted pentagram symbol is believed to be the symbol representing the rejection of traditional values and is used for black magic specifically to conjure evil spirits.
Satanic Occult Symbols
Although we have written a separate post on satanic symbols here, we believe it is vital to shortly mention them in this article as they are also occult symbols.
The Sigil of Baphomet
The sigil of Baphomet is an inverted pentagram with the head of Baphomet (a demon/deity associated closely with Satan himself) on it alongside the Hebrew letters for the word ‘Leviathan’.
An earlier version of the symbol had the words ‘Samael’ and ‘Lilith’ on it, too.
The symbol is the official insignia of the Church of Satan founded by Anton LaVey. But who is Baphomet exactly?
Baphomet is a goat-headed pagan deity (or demon according to some people) that was closely associated with Satan.
He became an important figure for satanists after Eliphas Levi depicted him in his book Dogme et Rituel in 1854. Theological satanists believe him to be a god or deity while atheist satanists consider him a metaphor.
The Sigil of Lucifer
The sigil of Lucifer, also known as the seal of Satan, is a symbol that is believed to date back to the 1400s.
This symbol representing Lucifer is believed to be used to communicate with him and call him forth during rituals of magic.
To read more about the sigil of Lucifer, its meaning and origins, please check out our detailed post here.
The Black Sun
The next item in our list of occult symbols is the black sun, a Nazi symbol. Made of 12 sig runes, this symbol was first used on the floor of Wewelsburg Castle in Germany on the order of Heimlich Himmler.
It was used by Nazi occultists at the time and it is currrently used by neo-Nazis and satanists in occult practices.
The Leviathan Cross
The leviathan cross, also known as the satanic cross, is a symbol comprising a cross of Lorraine (basically a cross with double horizontal bars) on top of an infinity symbol.
It has become a popular satanist symbol after Anton LaVey used it above the 9 satanic statements he published in the Satanic Bible in 1969.
The leviathan cross represents the belief that human beings are at the center of the universe, we are all gods individually and do not need a mythical deity as a god.
If you would like to read our extensive post on the leviathan cross, its meaning and origin, please click here.
Demonic Symbols/Demon Sigils
It is only appropriate to finish our list of occult symbols with the demonic symbols/demon sigils as these have been and are still used in occult magic to invoke demons.
However, we will simply have to refer you to the extensive article on the 72 demons in Ars Goetia and their sigils here to read up on them.
For other demonic symbols please kindly check out this section of our site.