Thursday, February 16, 2012

Demystifying Symbols

Article by Marcia Montenegro (Christians Answers For The New Age)
Expanded and Adapted from Marcia’s book, SpellBound: The Paranormal Seduction of Today’s Kids

NOTE: I wrote the following post partly as a reaction to the over-reaction to Madonna's half-time show at the 2012 Super Bowl. Some of the stuff I read went overboard trying to link in all kinds of evil stuff due to her costume, which I'm sure she wore just because she's a diva and wanted to outdo anyone else who's done a half-time show. She probably copied some of it from previous designs and wanted to look outrageous, but that does not mean we should take it seriously. ~Marcia Montenegro

Symbols are sometimes viewed by Christians as evil in and of themselves, but a symbol is just that – a symbol. A symbol represents something and cannot in itself be evil. Also, it is often the case that an occult meaning is read into an innocent design. Without proper context or further information, it is wise not to declare symbols as representative of anything evil or occultic.

Rather, Christians should be prudent and controlled in their approach to symbols; such a posture is more in keeping with a Christlike character than are alarm or panic. The following points on symbols may be helpful.

 Symbols fluctuate in their use and meaning 

The meaning of symbols depends on the culture and time in which they exist, and on the meaning ascribed to them by the group using the symbol. The backgrounds of many symbols are murky and disputed, and often the use of a symbol changes or crosses over from one culture or belief to another.

For example, the pentagram or pentacle, which is widely used by witches/Wiccans today once represented the five wounds of Christ.

The swastika of Nazism comes from many ancient cultures, including Hindu beliefs, and stood for various things—the motion of the sun through the sky, the four directions, the sun’s rays, and so on. No one is sure of its true origins.

Animals have been used as symbols in many ways. The phoenix, stag, and unicorn have all been used as symbols in the occult practice of alchemy, and also became Christian symbols. It is impossible to say, for example, that the unicorn or the phoenix always symbolizes the same thing. Symbols must be taken in context of time, culture, and use.

 There is disagreement on the occultic nature of some symbols as well as their meaning 

For example, the ankh was depicted in Egypt with gods and goddesses and was thought to represent immortal life and the union of male and female. Today it is used by those in the New Age and Witchcraft and in the vampire subculture. Its original meaning may not be known, and even now it might have different meanings depending on the beliefs of those who use it.

 Religious symbols can be used by any culture and are sometimes misinterpreted by those cultures 

The yin-yang black and white symbol comes from the Chinese religion of Taoism and signifies the Taoist views on the two opposing but complementary forces of the universe, from which everything is composed. But this symbol is often misused in the Western culture to represent balance or harmony.

The original meaning of any symbol may or may not be retained. Therefore, it is wise to be careful with any symbol and not assume anything without first looking at the history, cultural context, and present use of that symbol.

 Symbols are used by some in pop culture in order to be provocative 

Many performers wear jewelry with certain symbols or singers may place symbols on their album covers. Sometimes this reflects their true beliefs. But many times, they do this is to be provocative, merely indicating a rebellious attitude toward society, which is typical of many artists and performers. Before we label any of these people, more information is needed about their beliefs and philosophy. It is better to investigate than to over-react without substantiation.

Performers will often use symbols or costume that do not necessarily indicate their true beliefs, but are merely expressing a grandiose and flamboyant persona.

 A symbol by itself is merely a symbol 

What matters is what it signifies and how it is being interpreted in the present culture. A five-pointed star, a pentacle, is merely a geometric shape and is not inherently evil or dangerous. It is one of many geometric shapes created by God. This shape is also used for stars or snowflakes as Christmas decor or even a sheriff’s badge. When it is a snowflake or star or sheriff’s badge, however, it is clearly different from the pentacles worn as jewelry by a Wiccan.

Since most symbols originated in the pagan world, then most symbols will have a history of pagan associations. There are a limited number of possible shapes and geometric figures; therefore, many times innocent logos or designs are unfairly linked with occult or pagan systems or beliefs.

 Being wise about symbols 

In no way am I saying that symbols are meaningless or that it’s okay for a Christian to wear an identifiable non-Christian symbol like a pentagram or Yin-Yang emblem.  On the other hand, let us keep our heads and not misinterpret certain shapes or designs.

What is more significant is how and where a symbol is being used, and if it has a meaning in the present time and culture. Unless it is widely recognized, a symbol does not have much meaning. And if it is a symbol being used now by occult or non-Christian groups, then we need to focus on the message or content of beliefs represented by the symbol.

 Additional Resources 

Myths about Christmas and Easter: A Critique of Alexander Hislop (Marcia Montenegro)

Sola Sisters Facebook discussion re: symbols - Sept 30, 2013

Sola Sisters Facebook discussion re: symbols, freemasonry - Oct 4, 2013

Sola Sisters Facebook discussion re: symbols,conspiracy theories - Dec 2, 2013