Picture this. It’s nearing the end of spring break. I am stuffed in the back of a car between my fiancé and future brother-in-law. My brother from another mother is driving and my fiancé’s brother from another mother is riding shotgun. We’re on our way back home after going to see John Carter (which was fantastic, go see it!) and eating at a local Mexican restaurant with a girlfriend from high school. Everyone had a great time and we’re blasting the tunes and talking smack to each other. My boys are all chatting and cussing at each other in good fun when we happen to drive by a church, with a cross lit up front and center on the building. For some reason, it struck me and I began thinking about how powerful symbols are. I asked around on Facebook to see what symbols are meaningful to people and why, and the answers I received made me smile.
Christian, Pagan, atheist, I got responses from all three categories and the sentiment behind them was amazing. Whether the symbol served as a reminder of something or as a connection to something we can’t see or touch, the sense of something meaningful came across loud and clear. Even religious symbols not of the same faith bore meaning for one respondent. Because it was from someone she loves, it has great significance, but it is also a way she can feel connected to God. It’s a St. Christopher necklace and she said even though she’s not Catholic, she never takes it off.
My fiancé, Bear, wears a cross around his neck every day. It was a gift for his eighteenth birthday, which in my mind makes it even more special. Like the rest of my circle of friends, Bear went through a period where he questioned his own faith. He was raised Christian and even when he was unsure of his own faith, he felt a connection to something higher than himself. Now that he firmly identifies as Christian, that cross is a symbol of that connection.
Symbols do not always have to be religious. An atheist friend of mine told me that she wears a key to remind herself that she is in charge of her own destiny, to put it lightly. She also said she wore it to remind herself to never again settle for the first guy who comes along, to hold out for someone worthy. A connection or a way to empower ourselves, symbols mean what we want them to. Their significance exists because we give it to them, and it can be a very individual thing. Two people may see the exact same thing, but attach different things to it.
For my Pagan sister, what I call a triquetra, she calls the trinity. What represents the maiden, mother, and crone to me, represents father, mother, child to her. What she wears on her own skin represents family, and how important it is. Examples like that are why I wholeheartedly support tattoos, if you get them for the right reasons. This also goes to show that what a symbol may mean for one person does not necessarily apply across the board.
As for me, I feel naked if I walk out of the house without my triquetra around my neck. On the same chain is my witch’s knot, which a friend told me is a variation of the Celtic cross. To me, it has always represented the four elements, connected and interlocking. It is also a symbol of protection, much like the triquetra is in some respects I’m sure. What I call the triquetra represents the triple Goddess, the three aspects of maiden, mother, crone. That symbol is how I connect with my Goddess, and when I put it on the same chain as my witch’s knot, that connection got stronger for me. Now whenever I feel scared or I need strength, I hold those two symbols in my hand and say a quick prayer to my Goddess and I always feel better. These symbols help me feel like someone is watching over me.
Symbols mean so much to us all, whether or not we’re aware of it. When we drove by that cross lit up in the night, I personally felt a deep respect for it. To me, it seemed like a beacon of faith and light to those who might be lost in the darkness. And it’s all because we give power to what we believe. It’s how we find our own way out of our dark tunnels and back into the light.
It’s all connected babe, it’s all connected.