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Title: Shaman Symbols and Meaning 

Shaman Symbols & Meaning

This page was created by a suggestion from Justin, thank you.


the shamanic world requires a particular open mind, the will to learn
about our own world and its secrets in order to be able to understand
the Other Reality. Beyond cultural parameters, shamanism is a
supernatural world, a place where the principles of Nature are
materialized. A place where the shaman can communicate with these

shaman uses symbols to translate and understand these encounters, to
maintain tradition, to call the spirits and receive the needed help
from the extraordinary reality. To reach this state of understanding,
the shaman changes into an animal, a plant, a mineral. By doing so the
shaman incarnates the holy principles, and increases his power by
impersonating these symbolic values. The shaman becomes a symbol

gestures, and sounds are symbolic powers used to call Helpers, to enter
the World of The Other Side. Spirits are symbolized, to be understood
they get the appearance of an animal, a person.

ceremonial clothes, sacred objects have the task to translate the
symbolic value of holy principles. They incarnate the spirits of
Nature, they amplify their power. They point out the intrinsic
particularities of each animal, plant, mineral or spirit The shamanic
world is a world of symbols. The power of the shaman lies in its
ability to understand them.

"Bird on a Pole (or Staff)" - The image has been found in petroglyphs
in Siberia. It is believed to be 13,000 years old. It is also found on
the Lower Pecos. It is the oldest known symbol for the human soul. I
have transformed the bird into a raven because of it's spiritual
significance with more recent American Indian Peoples. I have portrayed
the raven as effected by various human conditions, thus it is bound, in
flight, or at rest.

"Golden Ring of Forever"TM - Represents infinity, non-endingness,
completeness, regeneration, and the cyclic nature of the universe.

The "Magic Stick" - An accoutrement of the shamanistic arts.

The "Atlatl" - A spear thrower. A ridged sling. Used with the spear, the dart, and the flint projectile point.

The "Cape" - A symbol of authority. A symbol of the utilitarian use of the sacred whitetail deer.

"Shields" - Ritualistic, ceremonial, magical, defensive, display devices.

Universal Interpretations of Symbols

Antler: Symbol of personal defense.
The flight of the arrow, its direction to a target and from which it
comes will tell of it’s focus and perspective. A straight arrow has
focus. Crooked arrows represent deception or difficulty. Broken they
are the symbol of an ending. Crossed is union. Grouped they are many
things joined. Fire-tipped symbolizes the passion of the issue. One
that pierces is the dedication to "hit the target" or goal. Arrowhead
is a symbol of the beginning of a plan of action.
Bells: They clear the air signaling the consciousness of change. Bells are used in ceremony to maintain rhythm or shift focus.
Generally represent shamanic flight, rebirth or healing. Each bird
having its own message. For more information a course is available
covering animals as totems, guides, and teachers.
Black: Symbol of mystery, negative energy, chaos, creation, or death depending on how it is used.
Blue: Represents the separation of the dimensions and the worlds traversed by the shaman; spirituality or one’s pathwalk.
Represent the shaman as a "hollow bone" or channel for Spirit. They are
symbols of death and rebirth. Some use bones of different animals for
purposes of scrying (usually chicken bones).
Cave/Cavern: Symbol Mother Earth’s womb. Internal knowledge. Sacred space. A cavern is an extension of these realities.
Circle: See Medicine Wheel.
Represent the power and nature of the creature. Again an animal
interpretation needs to be addressed and falls under the course on
totems, guides, and teachers.
Corn Meal: Used to define sacred
space by Native Americans. It warns others not to enter and will seal a
door from an intrusive knock by a line drawn with it signifying a
spiritual session taking place on the other side. Holds negative energy
or entities at bay.
Cross: Center of balance between the four
quadrants of the elemental forces: Air, Fire, Water, Earth. Represents
the four roads of the shaman leading to the center and Spirit.
Symbols of veils between the dimensions. May represent the element or
entities of Air. May represent the presence of spiritual entities that
reside at a location or can be approached from it.
Drum: The
rhythm of the drum is the heartbeat of Mother Earth. It is between the
beats that Spirit resides. It is the symbolic shamanic steed that
carries the Medicine Man or Woman into their shamanic journey to
explore other dimensions.
Eye: Represents the trance state, the spiritual eye often called the Third Eye, or spirits watching over a locale.
Sacred symbols of the essence of the creature from which they come and
the attributes are applied to the use of the feather respectively.
Flying Buck: Symbol of shamanic flight.
In shamanic terms it is a spirit helper or representation of spiritual
protection. It may address a guide or teacher as well as a spiritual
healer from another dimension. The face of a ghost may address the
relationship of rebirth in some form depending upon its use.
Gold: Reflects the good, purity, positive aspects of the way it is used. Symbolic of the Sun.
Green: Represents growth and good health or healing.
Symbol of the Void of Spirit. The physical and spiritual center where
positive and negative energies are balanced or held at bay.
Represent veils between the dimensions. If found at a sacred site they
are a sign of that place being a portal to another realm. Other symbols
present would speak of what that realm holds.
Hand: Service to others.
Wheel: Symbol of the universe in all its dimensions. The outer circle
is the presence of Spirit that surrounds everything. The quarters are
the four elements of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. The lines between
them define the roads of the quarters. Each of the 36 stones represent
an aspect of the powers, seasons, moons, clans, and teachings they
possess. It is the symbol of infinity that penetrates all dimensions.
Reflect the presence of those who may be outside a ceremony and still a
part of it. They reflect the inner self, a scrying tool, or the
shedding of Spirit’s light into the darkness.
Orange: Symbol of courage, facing challenges, the energy of the mind.
Purple: Represents the enlightenment and attainment of wisdom received from Spirit.
Rainbow: Represents promise, the coming together of All Our Relations and races to share wisdom and knowledge in harmony.
Symbol of passion, anger, or danger dependent upon how it is used.
Symbol of blood and if it is red earth it is seen as sacred to Mother
Earth. Can also represent sacrifice.
Represent the pathways upon which the shaman travels to Otherworlds.
They are attached to a pole or tree representing the shamanic tree or
true center of all worlds and then to the shaman. This allows the
shaman’s spirit to travel back and forth.
Sacred Pipe: Symbol of
Mother Earth, Father Sky, the seven sacred directions, and its
adornments speak of the powers it holds. Sacred Pipes represent proper
prayer, truth and harmony achieved through entering oneness with
Spirit. Its shape and style will signify its use.
Shield: The
shield has many symbolic uses. They can depict the powers or gifts of
an individual; the activity within a sacred place; expressing the
Medicine of an individual. There are many uses for a shield but it will
always tell a tale.
Silver: Represents the spiritual aspects of a given situation or use.
Symbol of life, the eyes and ears of the spiritual essence from which
it is derived. Painted they speak of energies they contain as well as
the intention for their use.
Smoke: Symbol of making the unseen
seen. Carries the prayers spoken into it to Spirit as it rises. It
comes from the elemental Fire and thus maintains its qualities of
purification. It also contains the attributes of the wood used to
create the fire that produces it.
Spiral: Can represent the cycles
and flow of energy or nature. May symbolize interrelationships or two
paths that parallel one and other through opposites.
Staff: Symbol of the power held by the one who fashioned it or carries it. These are usually marked significantly.
With all the crystals and stones there are too many meanings to list
here. These range from healing, warding, sending, and receptive
qualities depending upon the stone itself.
Tree: Represents the
shamanic tree, the path of the three worlds: Above, Below, and Middle
through the branches, roots, and trunk.
Tunnel: Symbol of transformation or self-discovery. A new route of discovery, a passage to Otherworlds.
Vine: Represents a situation that continues to grow and may reach a great distance before it is complete.
Web: The symbolic Web of Life linking all to Spirit. The webs we weave as we create the lives we lead.
White: Symbol of purity, Spirit, that which is good.
Yellow: Symbol of courage, strength, peace, contentment, or challenge depending on how it is used.


Symbols and Charms

magical practice was to etch various symbols into wood, bone, or stone
which served as amulets and charms (they were also used to decorate the
shaman's ritual drum).

This site incorporates several of the symbols that were used, and below you will find a brief meaning for each.

 Preventive: This charm was believed to prevent someone from putting an evil spell on you.

 Protection: This charm was believed to ward off negative energy and protect from enemies.

 Love: Wearing this charm would guarantee that you would find love.

This amulet was used as a healing tool. It was given to the ill person
by the shaman who would have also given his patient herbal medicine(s)
and recited spells.

 Wishing: This amulet was placed under the users pillow to make dreams come true.

Unseen: This amulet was used to protect the wearer from ghosts and evil
spirts. Since the Finnish magic religion believed that everything --
animate or inanimate -- possessed a soul, this charm could come in very

Another protective charm. It has been adopted as a national symbol, and
can often be seen on road signs and architecture.

Autumn_Heather posted on 02/09/2009 21:31 PM

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