Chapter 7. Religious symbols


A stack of stones acts in the capacity of a human at important places.


If you walk under a torii, you transition from the mundane into a sacred space. It’s a reminder. If the torii is in the water, like the Itsukushima torii at high tide, it’s still a reminder.


The mezusah contains verses from Deuteronomy fulfilling the commandment to write the words of God on the gates and doorposts of your house. It seems a little difficult to say whether Moses meant it literally, but posting the mezusah is a sign of your devotion.


The sacred dung beetle rolls its balls of dung and lays its eggs in them. Ra, the giver of life, rolls the sun across the sky. People wear amulets shaped like scarabs to carry their names across eternity.

𓂀 (Eye of Horus)

Set tore out his brother’s eye but Thoth restored it. It is the right eye of the falcon; It heals; it protects. Horus gave the eye to his father Osiris; this was his power over the underworld.

חי (Chai)

The Hebrew word for “alive” is a talisman for what it means. Living is the lowest emanation of God. If you love God and walk in his way then you, too, are alive. Besides, the letters of the word add up to a lucky 18.

الله (Allah)

Islam condemns image-makers but “Allah” has become an icon.


ΙΧΘΥΣ, “fish,” secretly signified Xtian meeting places, standing for the initial letters, in Greek, Ιησους Χριστος Θεου Υιος Σωτηρ meaning “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior,” fisher of men.

Flames of the Holy Spirit

When the Holy Ghost filled the apostles, cloven tongues of flame appeared above their heads.

Cross of resurrection

Christ is not nailed to this cross for he has risen. He is a god of salvation, not a god of punishment.

Headstone emblems

The cross that Jesus was crucified on. The wheel of righteousness that the Buddha exemplified. The star or shield of David referring to God’s protection. The circle of eternal life over the cross of resurrection. The cross with nameplate and slanted footrest. The cross and circle containing a cross on a heart. A circle at the center of four arms of the cross. A flaming chalice shaped like a cross in a double circle. The red flame of the Holy Spirit rising from the empty cross. A cross like a sword with crosses at the head and arms. An angel in an oval blowing a horn. Three feathers from the top vent of a tipi. A cross with four crosses at its rounded ends. A cross with four equal rectangular ends. A nine-pointed star signifying splendor. An ‘A’ at the center of a lithium atom. A star inside the arc of a crescent symbolizing the moon or sun. The Hindi Om character representing Brahman and Atman. The Japanese word ‘gold’ in an eight-petal blossom. Silhouettes of a human between a lion and a lamb. An ‘I’ for Islam on a heart with wings. Five circles connected to a smaller central circle. An eight-pointed star ratcheted in a sun-like gear. A wheel with alternating thin and thick spokes. A circle with two horizontal bars bracing the letter ‘v.’ A cross over a triangle. A lamb with a halo prancing before the flag of victory. The letters epsilon and kappa curved to form a circle. The silhouettes of a downed cross over a chalice. Pitcher, crown, and wineglass before a cross. A crown balanced on a cross balanced on the diameter of a circle. An abstract human shape holding its arms up like the letter ‘h.’ A descending dove where a head would be above a robe, two flames under its arms. The Japanese word ‘big’ in a thick hexagon. Three overlapping trefoils drawn with thin lines. A circle defended by three swords crossed at the hilts. A five-pointed self-intersecting star inscribed in a circle. A three-dimensional cross formed by two bent triple ribbons. A cross rising from the center of the sun setting in a sea. Two triple-ribbon flames over a book silhouetting a small cross. A cross like a hooded robe before a circle. A cross with its eight corners ending in trefoils. An angel with a hat and beard. A cross surrounded by overlapping triangles. Two hands, each making the priestly blessing. A tilted cross stuck through a crown. A medicine wheel with four eagle feathers. The infinity symbol. A cross in a heart in a rose. A landing eagle. A medicine wheel with two feathers representing the four directions. A dove descending from a flame to land on a book. The hammer of Thor. A sun in a square in a circle with four rays extending past the circle. A sandhill crane dancing in a pool of water. A cross with a long, loopy flame forming a circle. Three pomegranates on one stem in a circle. A menorah. A torii gateway. A burning heart, bound by thorns, with a small cross in the flame. A distorted shape of a human in a scalloped circle. Four arrowheads forming a pointy cross. Three triangles with dots at their tips. Three concentric circles behind a cross. A tilted cross and sun setting behind a book. A kneeling angle with upright wings. A heart. A German shepherd before a U.S. flag. An anvil and a cross. A cross representing the equator and prime meridian of a stylized globe. A small cross inside the lower left quadrant of a circle. Two hands in prayer before a book with a cross on its cover. A five-pointed star.