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The Lore of Symbols



This page lists many kinds of symbols suitable for a magic wand.  The catalog is not intended to be comprehensive and you need to think about what symbols are alive in your imagination.  A symbol is not simply a sign.  An alphabetic letter is a sign.  It stands for a particular sound in a given language. A stop sign is a sign -- one meaning intended and pretty clear.  

Symbols on the other hand cannot be easily defined.  They have multiple meanings that sometimes cannot be expressed in language at all.  Religious symbols are like this.  For example a cross can symbolize many ideas.  It can be a symbol of the Sun if it is inside a circle.  Or a symbol of the Earth and the four cardinal directions.  Or it may be a Christian symbol signifying sacrifice, Jesus Christ, the power of faith, a whole narrative from the Bible, eternal life.  It can symbolize all these things at the same time.  If you do not have any associations with a symbol you may find it evocative but not have any idea what it is meant to convey.  Don't use symbols on your wand if you do not understand them deeply!

Although letters are not usually symbols , if they are mysterious, a magical alphabet, or system of hieroglyphs, they can act as symbols, expressing more than their surface meaning.  The use of various runic systems, the bardic oghams, the Theban letters, Enochian letters, and Hebrew letters have all been developed for their quality of mystery or sacredness.  

In the case of Hebrew letters or Norse runes, they have been developed into a symbol system that conveys deeper and hidden meanings to Kabbalists or Runemasters who are adept in their understanding.  When it comes to inscriptions it is usually best not to put them into your native language, as that reduces them at once to the mundane and they put a drag on any magic you would do with the wand.  It should not be easy for just anyone to read them.

Following are examples of MAGICAL ALPHABETS, ALCHEMICAL SYMBOLS, WITCH SYMBOLS, and MORE GENERAL SYMBOLS that include such things as spirals and paleoglyphs.



THE ABOVE photo shows two kinds of symbols.  On the right is an inscription in the Bardic ogham signary (pronounced oh-um).  A series of lines along a  centerline look like branches growing from the trunk of a tree.  They look like tally marks and do not draw attention to themselves.  For bards, each sign is also a symbol of a tree, a stone, a bird, an herb, a season, a quality, and whole stories in fact.  On the left you see the golden circle of the Sun held within the horns of a cow.  This is one of the headdresses of the goddess Isis in the ancient Khemetic religion (ancient Egypt).  It can also be a symbol of the goddess Hathor, so it actually can refer to two whole mythologies.  It also combines, at its basic level the power of the Sun's orb and the Cow's fertility and nurturance, the provider of milk, which on a cosmic scale may symbolize the Milky Way in the starry sky.  

Gold is symbolic and so is blue, the color of the "bead" in the center of the wand's shaft.  Blue often symbolizes heaven, the realm of the gods or divinity itself.  It may also symbolize emotions and healing, or the power of a sky-god.  Gold hardly needs explaining but for the alchemists it pointed to perfection of purity, the incorruptable metal that never tarnished and shone like the Sun.  For the ancient Egyptians, gold was one of the most valued metals for jewelry for this very reason, the Sun being the very center of the Divine in their religious thought.

SIGNARIES OR ALPHABETS - Click on the images for More

Bardic Ogham Fews


The Ogham alphabet is the signary of the Bards of Britain and Ireland. There are actually many forms of the characters (called fews) and many layers of meaning that can be attached to each. Generally they are referred to by the name of the tree associated with the few - Birch, Rowan, Alder, Willow, etc.  Inscriptions can be carved or burned into a wand, most often a single word.


Theban Letters


Theban letters can also be used for inscriptions.  Also called the alphabet of Honorius and the Witch's Alphabet, this signary can be tracked back historically to  Johannes Trithemius's Polygraphia (1518), where the author attributes its invention to Honorius of Thebes, the purported author of The Sworn Book of Honorius. Agrippa makes the same attribution of the letters.  Whatever the case, this is a secret, magical alphabet that can veil inscriptions from the idle curious eye and endow them with more power.


Hebrew Letters


Hebrew has been considered a primary language for magic for who knows how long. Supposed to be the language of god's commandments . Also the language used by King Solomon, considered by many to be one of the greatest mages of all time. Perhaps most significantly, used in Kabbalah and the art of gematria or encoding meaning through numbers.  Eachletter is also a number and has a name that not only tells you what sound the letter represents but also gives a broader concept that can be used symbolically. 


Solomonic Sigils


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Norse Runes

The Norse runes are a very popular and well-developed magical signary.  Some wonderful books have been written interpreting them for magical purposes.  Each letter has a name and a quality as well as a sound.


Elvish Script


J.R.R. Tolkien is well known and the Elvish lettering systems he discovered in his dealings with the Fair Folk make beautiful inscriptions. There are also esoteric qualities in these letters.


Alchemical Glyphs and Witch Sigils &c.

Alchemical Glyphs


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Witch Sigils


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Other Sacred Symbols


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Motifs for Carving


There are many other motifs in carving that symbolize fundamental magical qualities. For example, in the photo above there are four rings carved around the handle of the wand to symbolize the four elements, Earth, Water, Air and Fire. The same motif could represent the four winds, four directions, the spirit powers attributed to those directions in a particular tradition. In Druidry, for instance, the four cardinal directions are associated with animals. East is the Hawk of Dawn, South is the Stag of Summer, West is the Salmon of Wisdom, and North is the Great Bear of the Winter Sky, the constellation Ursa Major.  



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