Ancient Symbols of Protection From Around the World
The world has always been a place filled with powers that challenge humans in strange and awe-inspiring ways. The basic human need for protection is as old as creation itself. From the ancient Greeks, to Native American tribes; from Celts and Vikings, to Pagans, Wiccans, and Christians, ancient symbols of protection emerged with the same goal in mind – to navigate the unknown, frightening, and perceived evil.
If you feel drawn to ancient symbols of protection, it can be overwhelming to navigate the myriad options available. To explore the many kinds and types, it’s helpful to understand the places and cultures from where the symbols originate. Many of the symbols emerge from earth-bound connections, to mythology, to the darker side of our psyche.
From Animals to Eyes: Ancient, Spiritual Symbols of Protection
Native American cultures relied on their deep connection to the earth and animal spirits for protective symbols and spirits. Some of the most common include:
- Bears represent leadership, physical strength, and personal courage
- Crows embody wisdom and high levels of intelligence
- Eagles are a symbol of courage, wisdom, and strength
- Deer show the way to safety, gentleness, prosperity, and shelter
- Gila monster portrays preservation and survival
- Dragonfly is a sign of happiness, speed, purity
- Lightning is related to the Thunderbird, the rain bird, a legendary powerful spirit.
In addition to spirit animals, Native American tribes believe in other symbols of protection such as:
— Arrows – symbolize defense and protection. An arrow pointing to the left keeps away evil; an arrow pointing to the right also represents protection; an arrow facing downward represents peace. Arrowheads signify alertness and direction.
— Cacti – are the embodiment of warmth, protection, and endurance, as well as maternal love that endures regardless of harsh conditions and circumstances
— Drums – a central part of all Native American ceremonies, are the means to communicate with the Great Spirit.
— Eagle feathers – used during sacred rituals and prayer, represent the truth.
— Medicine bags – usually made out of animal hide, contains items such as a pipe, minerals, tobacco, sage, and other protective items. In ancient times, medicine bags were thought to have the power to protect in times of battle and war.
Egyptian, Celtic, Christian and Greek Symbols of Protection
Not only the protective realm of the Native American culture, ancient Celts also have a deep belief in animal spirits, from the bull, the sign of wealth, status, and fertility, to the salmon, which symbolizes wisdom and the sanctity of life.
While cultures have their unique protective symbols, there are some which reach across traditions, such as the cross, wreaths, hands, and eyes.
— Cross: Usually associated with Christianity and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and a sign of benediction, the cross also has significance in other cultures. The ancient Egyptian ankh is the representation of life, with the rounded top symbolizing a mirror of self-reflection. The Greek cross represents the four directions of the earth, as does the cross in Native American Cultures.
— Eyes are an important protective symbol in ancient Egyptian culture. The Eye of Horus, resembling the right eye of the falcon God Horus, and the Eye of Ra, or the Sun God, represent the universe, masculine/femine energies, and the sun and moon. The Eye of Horus is considered protective and healing and the eye as a universal protective symbol is also seen in the Masonic eye, as well as in the modern pharmaceutical symbol.
— Believed to ward off the “evil eye,” the protective symbol of the hand, or hamsa, is worn around the neck, or hung on the walls. Hamsas can be traced to the Middle East with roots in Arabic, Hebrew, and North African cultures, as well as in ancient Egypt and some Christian sects.
— Wreaths harken back to early Christianity, from the choice of the kind of branches, to the shape itself. When a wreath is displayed on a door, the symbol stands as an invitation for the spirit of Christ to enter the home. Others associate the wreath with Ancient Rome, which was hung on doors after a victorious battle. For most people, wreaths are a symbol of the circle of life, as well as the evergreen, which represents resiliency through harsh conditions.
Beyond Religion: Protective Symbols in Pagan and Occult Cultures
In addition to the protective symbols religious associations, they also stand at the center of many Pagan, Wiccan, and occult beliefs The Wiccan practice of walking labyrinths signifies the full life cycle, as well as a protective path as one cannot get lost in a labyrinth; there is always a way in and a way out. For the Norse tradition, Yggdrasil, the tree of life, is a protective representation of a universal and central connection. Other pagan and pre-Christian symbols include:
- Viking symbols of protection such as the Helm of Awe, whose eight-pronged trident protects against hostile forces, and Thor’s Hammer, the symbol of protection of humans, as well as blessings for marriages.
- Wicca — The pentagram, a five-pointed star is thought to ward off witches and demons, while elevating spirit over matter.
- Mistletoe, while normally thought of as a cute Christmas decoration, it has deep Celtic roots and is considered to be a protective symbol for everything from love, to livestock, and babies.
Protective symbols can also be viewed as stemming from the desire for a more expansive relationship to all the universe has to offer — from the good, to the dark, to the in-between. The importance that protective symbols in ancient and modern cultures have in our lives could be seen as a level of humility toward powers larger than us. When life gets complicated and challenging, accessing our shared protective symbols can serve as the ultimate spiritual lighthouse, helping to guide us through life’s uncertain waters.
Mandela Effect: Is a Parallel Universe Changing Our Reality?
The Mandela Effect: Shifts in Reality or False Memories?
The Mandela Effect, sometimes referred to as the Berenstain Bears Conspiracy, is a phenomenon in which people report having the same false memories, leading to a belief that something is changing reality.
We all experience life through our own subjective lenses, interpreting day-to-day happenings differently than everyone else. This contributes to individuality, freewill, and the ability to think for ourselves. But of course, the way that we witness our world often results in lapses of memory or perception. We sometimes seem to remember events happening differently than others or our perception of time is skewed.
And individual memory lapses are easily written off when everyone else’s memory says otherwise. But how does one explain false memories that are held by a significantly large portion of the population?
Confabulation is the psychiatric term for replacing a gap in your memory with a falsification. So, what about mass confabulation? Well, that’s become a conspiracy of sorts, referred to as The Mandela Effect.
The Mandela Effect Examples; a.k.a. The Berenstain Bears Conspiracy
The Mandela Effect was given its name by Fiona Broome, who seemed to remember hearing about the death of Nelson Mandela on the news while he was imprisoned in the 1980s. In “reality,” Mandela survived until late 2013 and did not even become president of South Africa until 1994. But as it turned out, her memory was shared by a deluge of similarly convinced people, resulting in many other instances in which large swaths of the population have claimed to experience the same confabulated memories.
Could this be the result of one person incorrectly remembering a historical event or cultural icon propagating their misinterpretation to be inaccurately remembered by the masses? Or could it be evidence of a multiverse in which waves of events from a parallel universe have washed over into ours, creating subtle nuances in the time-space continuum, where there was once a children’s book called the Berenstein Bears, instead of the Berenstain Bears? It’s more interesting to explore the latter.
While the Berenstain Bears is ostensibly a mundane and inconsequential example of the Mandela Effect, there are other instances that are so uncanny, they’re hard to ignore. For example, when Darth Vader reveals his paternalistic relationship to Luke in Star Wars, most remember him saying, “Luke, I am your father.” In ‘reality,’ he says, “No, I am your father.” While an intransigent Star Wars fan might scoff at someone who misquotes such an important scene, it can’t be ignored that most people remember it in the former. Even James Earl Jones, who voiced Darth Vader, remembers the line incorrectly.
Movie quotes aside, an example of a famous real-life event that has been brought into the mystery of the Mandela Effect regards the famous protester at Tiananmen Square. The ‘Tank Man,’ whose defiant act of rebellion, standing in front of a tank with grocery bags in hand, is remembered by many as resulting in his death from being run over. In fact, he was not run over and there is no evidence of it, but many remember his crushing demise distinctly.
This is nothing new to those familiar with the theory and there are many other examples that support it; so many that there is an entire subreddit devoted to the effect. With topics ranging from movies that never existed to discrepancies in historical events, people vehemently claim to remember very particular things differently, but on a large, collective scale. Some people’s reactions are visceral when they experience new revelations due to the Mandela Effect, to the point of incurring panic attacks or questioning reality.
Mandela Effect Theories and CERN
One pragmatist theory for explaining the Mandela Effect is that it is simply a failure in the collective memory. Our brains are very easily influenced by our own filters, as well as the perception of others. Many common instances of the Mandela Effect are trivial and maybe just went unnoticed in the past, or are the result of conclusions that our brains jump to based on the context of an image or video. But some are substantial, like an entire country hundreds of miles out of place.
One of the more intriguing theories that attempt to explain this phenomenon points a finger at CERN and the large hadron collider in Switzerland. CERN’s experiments are intended to find elusive particles that could potentially show evidence of a multiverse, create tiny black holes, or discover dark matter. While all of this sounds very exciting, it also sounds potentially dangerous. What could possibly go wrong if we opened up a black hole in Europe, or tapped into another dimension with consequences unknown? While the scientists at CERN assure us their experiments are conducted on such a controlled, small scale as to have little, if any, negative consequences, some believe that their meddling in quantum fields has led to some strange effects, resulting in some kind of interdimensional entanglement.
One of the quantum particles that CERN has been searching for is the graviton. These elusive particles correspond with how gravity would react between different dimensions and are still only hypothetical, but the way CERN describes them is intriguing.
“If gravitons exist, it should be possible to create them at the LHC, but they would rapidly disappear into extra dimensions. Collisions in particle accelerators always create balanced events – just like fireworks – with particles flying out in all directions. A graviton might escape our detectors, leaving an empty zone that we notice as an imbalance in momentum and energy in the event. We would need to carefully study the properties of the missing object to work out whether it is a graviton escaping to another dimension or something else.”
Is CERN inducing these gravitons, creating holes to other dimensions, and swapping idiosyncrasies in our world? Or are we just having a collective memory lapse?