Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Cemetery Symbolism Part 4

Cemetery Symbolism Part 4
 Every day objects, the things we use to make a living, the things we use to entertain others, or ourselves, sometimes things that we consider our passion, such as guitars or pianos for some people, often find a place on headstones or grave markers, even doorways and arches, arrows and anchors can be seen on Graves, all have a symbolic meaning to the person, whether personal, work related or religious...

Anchor - Early Christians used the anchor as a disguised cross, and as a marker to guide the way to secret meeting places. A Christian symbol of hope, it is found as funerary symbolism in the art of the catacombs. Often set amongst rocks. It can also be an occupational symbol in sea-faring areas or the attribute of Saint Nicholas, patron saint of seamen, symbolised hope and steadfastness. An anchor with a broken chain stands for the cessation of life.
Arch - Victory of life; or victory in death.
Arrow - denotes mortality

Angels - the agent of God, often pointing towards heaven; guardians of the dead, symbolizing spirituality. Angels are shown in all types of poses with different symbolism.
Two angels can be named, and are identified by the objects they carry: Michael, who bears a sword and Gabriel,who is depicted with a horn.
Blowing a trumpet (or even two trumpets) representing the day of judgment, and Call to the Resurrection
Carrying the departed soul as a child in their arms, or as a Guardian embracing the dead. The "messengers of god" are often shown escorting the deceased to heaven.
Flying - Rebirth
Many angels gathered together in the clouds - represents heaven.
Weeping - Grief, or mourning an untimely death.

Baby's chair - small, empty furniture symbolised unfulfilled lives of children; represented the child now gone; with small shoes on chair - connection to childhood, symbolised inability to achieve adulthood
Bible - connotes a religious lay person or a cleric
Book - faith, learning to read and write, a scholar. A prayer, or knowledge or even memory (where it has a dog-eared page). It may represent the Book of Life and is often shown as a bible. A popular form is the book as a double page spread.
Candle, with a flame - Life
Chalice – sacraments
Cherubs - the graves of children
Cherub's Head - the soul.
Children - usually represent the untimely death of the innocent. They may be shown mourning a parent, but if holding a skull that means they are dead themselves.
Sleeping - sleep is the tie between life and death; children are purity, artlessness, innocence

Chrisma - a cross like shape formed by a combination of two Greek letters, chi (X) and rho (P) corresponding to CH and R of the word, Christ, hence a symbol for Jesus Christ.
Circle - perfection or eternity in the after world, life everlasting
Coffin, Sarcophagus, Cemetery monument - mortality.
Column, broken - an early grief, end of life, sorrow. Life cut short too soon. May be girded with flowers. This image represents the decay. It usually represents the loss of the family head.
Columns, with archway -  Heavenly entrance
Cross and Anchor - another early Christian symbol referring to Christ as "hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sincere and steadfast" (Hebrews 6:19).
Crown - immortality, righteousness, victory, triumph, resurrection, symbolic of honor or glory, glory of life after death. May be shown being offered to those on Earth by Angels.
Crown on a cross - sovereignty of the Lord.
Doors and gates - passage into the afterlife. Heavenly entrance
Drapery over anything - sorrow, mourning
Flame - eternity.
Grim Reaper - Death personified.
Harp - Associated with David in the Old Testament; symbol of St. Cecilia, patron saint of musicians. Symbolic of worship in heaven, hope.
Hourglass - Time's inevitable passing, attribute of death and Father Time, represents the passage of time and the shortness of life.
On its side - that time has stopped for the deceased.
Winged - time's swift flight.
Keys - Keys stand for spiritual knowledge or, if held in the hands of an angel or saint, the means to enter heaven.
Knot - The interlaced celtic knot represents reserection and life everlasting.
Labyrinth - The passage of life
Lamp - Knowledge, a love of learning, and the immortality of the Spirit.
Pall, Pick, Spade - Mortality
Pitcher – Jewish symbol - Traditional symbolism for Levites would have been the
pitcher or ewer, representative of washing the hands of the High Priests.
Rod or staff - comfort
Scroll - Symbol of life and time. Both ends rolled up indicates a life that is unfolding like a scroll of uncertain length and the past and future hidden. Often held by a hand representing life being recorded by angels. Can also suggest honor and commemoration.

Scythe - Death, the divine harvest
Shell - The use of shell in burials is pre-Christian in practice and pre-dates even Egyptian burial practices. Shell is symbolic of fertility, resurrection and pilgrimage. Shells, coins and small stones are the traditional objects left at grave sites. There are several meanings given to this act. It may be a symbolic referral to the ancient custom of burying the dead under a cairn of rocks to protect the body from scavenging animals, or a reminder that the individual is not forgotten.
Scallop - symbol of the Crusades, pilgrim, pilgrim's journey, resurrection, life everlasting, connotes one's life journey. A symbol of birth and resurrection, a traditional symbol of the Puritans.
Ship - the grave of a seafarer
Sickle - death as the "last harvest"
Skull, skeleton -  Mortality, death
Star - Stars stand for the spirit, piercing the darkness as an expression of their triumph against the overwhelming odds of oblivion. Five pointed stars represent the spirit rising to heaven.
Sun setting - Death
Sun shining/rising - Renewed life
Sword - a military career
Swords, crossed - indicates death in battle
Torch - lit or upright torch represents life, the inverted or extinguished - death.
Trumpets - Victory and Resurrection
Urn - Greek symbol of mourning, the body as a vessel of the soul, originating as a repository for the ashes of the dead in ancient times - a popular symbol of mourning. Most represent an ossuary. In several examples an Angel is looking inside it as if to inspect the contents. A flame is sometimes shown coming from the Urn. They are often draped with a cloth or festooned with a wreath or garland. This fashion of Urn's persisted well into the 1850's at least.
Urn, draped connotes death, often of an older person.
Vessel with flame - the eternal flame or the eternal spirit of man.
Winged face - Effigy of the soul of the deceased.
Winged globe - a symbol of the Egyptian sun god, Re; on Victorian monuments it is symbolic of the power that can recreate and, with the wings, means, "God, Lord over all, creator."

Winged skull - Flight of the soul from mortal man
Winged wheel - symbolised the holy spirit.
Woman with or without Bible pointing upward - faith
Woman hanging onto Cross - faith. Original drawing accompanied Rev. Toplady’s hymn "Rock of Ages." Also seen as woman clinging to pillar or anchor. Common motif on white bronze monuments and Masonic grave memorials.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Cemetery Symbolism Part 3

Cemetery Symbolism Part 3

So far we have seen Animals and humans represent all kinds of positive human attributes, religious meaning and general life purpose, but there is also a great deal of symbolism through geometry, squares, triangles, circles and stars can all hold meaning to different people for different treasons

Geometric forms are commonly found on grave memorials:
Circle - The circle is pre-Christian and its original symbolic meaning has been adopted by Christianity. It is universally known as the symbol of eternity and never-ending existence. Extremely common on grave sites, its usual representation is a cross surrounded by circle. Two circles, one above the other, represent earth and sky. Three interconnected circles represent the Holy Trinity.

Latin Cross surrounded by circle or oval - representing eternity or never-ending existence.
Cross - The ties between all religious beliefs and symbolism have always been strong. To the Christians the greatest symbolic message is in the crucifix. The crucifix or cross can generate many symbolic messages ranging from love, faith and goodness to terror and fear (e.g. the Ku-Klux-Klan’s use of the burning cross). There are many different types of Christian crosses worldwide, but only a handful are common in North America.
Botonee Cross - So named because of its modified trefoil (three-lobed) ends, represents the trinity.
Calvary Cross - A Latin cross standing on three steps or blocks, it signifies faith, hope and love. Love is sometimes replaced by charity.
Celtic Cross - The circle around the crosspiece symbolises eternity. It's origin can be traced to the Celtic cultures of the British Isles. There is a legend of how St. Patrick when preaching to some soon to be converted heathens was shown a sacred standing stone that was marked with a circle that was symbolic of the moon goddess. Patrick made the mark of a Latin cross through the circle and blessed the stone making the first Celtic Cross.
Eastern Cross - Used in Orthodox (Russian/Greek) Christian Religions, this cross upper horizontal shoulder representing the inscription over the head of Jesus. The lower slanting shoulder represents the footrest of the crucified Jesus.
Fleuree Cross/Gothic Cross - This flowered cross symbolises the adult Christian by its more opened flared out ends
Greek Cross - It has four arms equal in length and is the traditional symbol of Christian faith. The equal length drawings of the cross is pre-Christian, and in paganism, represented the four elements—earth, air, fire and water.
Ionic Cross - Similar to the Celtic Cross, it's ends flair outward. The ionic cross signifies everlasting salvation, love and glory. The circle around the crosspiece symbolises eternity.
Latin Cross - One of the oldest symbols of Christianity and the most commonly used form, it is also the simplest in design. In early times, it was called god's mark
Triangle/Trefoil/Triquetra - In Christianity, the equilateral triangle is the symbol of the Trinity. Other geometric shapes representing the Holy Trinity are the trefoil, the triquetra, the circle within the triangle, the triangle in circle and the triquetra and circle. To the ancient Egyptians, the triangle was an emblem of Godhead; to the Pythagoreans, it symbolised wisdom. Another use of the triangle is in the symbol of the eye (eye of God) surrounded by a triangle.
Square - It represents the earth and earthly existence. Some monuments have a cube or square inverted to point the corners downward and upward. This illustrates earthly existence and the directions of earth and heaven.
The Eye of God surrounded by a triangle and a circle - symbolic of the eternity of the Holy Trinity.
Pentagram - This is a five-pointed, star-shaped figure made by extending the sides of a regular pentagon until they meet. This figure pre-dates Christianity and was first known to be used by Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher. Later in the Middle Ages, the pentagram was used by magicians and sorcerers. It was believed that the pentagram offered protection against evil. Christianity adopted the figure and the symbolism to suggest the five wounds suffered by Christ on the cross. It is interesting to note that the pentagram is used by both Christianity and Wicca (witchcraft).
Pyramid - Eternity. It was supposed that a pyramid-shaped tombstone prevented the devil from reclining on a grave.
Star - A five-pointed star is symbolic of the life of Christ and may also represent the five wounds of Christ.
Five-pointed pentagram star - This star is drawn with one stroke of the pen. Its exact origin is unknown, and its meaning has changed throughout the ages. The pre-Christian Celtic priests called it the witch's foot. It is also called Solomon's Seal and was known in the Middle Ages as the goblin's cross. Today the symbol is a favourite among graffiti artists and so-called demonology practitioners. Like the pentagon, it is believed to have protective powers against evil. In Wicca beliefs, it represents protection against demons and a symbol of safety. The ancient Babylonians used the symbol as a magic charm. The five-pointed pentagram star represents the five senses. To the Jews, it represents the five mosaic books. This symbol has also been adopted by Masonic organisations (e.g., the Eastern Star).
The Star of David - Six-pointed star or Star of David, also known as Magen David (Hebrew for shield of David), it is typically used as a
symbol of Judaism. The star is actually made of two triangles. It signifies divine protection as epitomised by the alchemistic signs for fire and water which are an upward and downward apexed triangle. The star is a very ancient symbol, used by several Asia Minor cultures, as well as some Greek city states. For Judaism, the Star of David came into widespread use at the beginning of the 20th century. Theodore Hertzel, a Jewish activist, adopted the symbol in his writings promoting Palestine as a Jewish homeland.
Menorah or seven-branched candlestick - Jewish symbol for divine presence of God. The seven branches of the candlestick represents the seven days for the creation of the world by God.
Swastika - Exact origin is unknown but it is considered one of the oldest and widespread symbols used. Commonly found on Buddhist memorials, it represents the seal of the Buddha’s heart; the doctrine of Buddha; the round of existence. To the Chinese, the swastika had two forms symbolising the male and female; clockwise and anti-clockwise. Also used by the Romans and later by the Nazi party in Germany during the Second World War.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Cemetery Symbolism Part 2

Cemetery Symbolism Part 2
It's not just animals that are used to represent the positive aspects of humanity, but human body parts too, some represent the bond between lovers, other represent the place one holds in the family line, other's represent the Angles and God himself.

Arms outstretched - the plea for mercy
Eye of God/All-Seeing Eye - The Eye of God or the All-Seeing Eye symbolises the all-knowing and ever-present God. During the Renaissance period in Europe, it was common to illustrate the Eye of God surrounded by a triangle (the Holy Trinity). The eye within the triangle, surrounded by a circle and radiating rays of light is used to symbolise the holiness of the true God.
Hands -  The use of hands in some form is very common on grave memorials.
Symbol of leaving. Hands, clasped - At first glance, these hands all seem to be in the same fashion but a number of interesting characteristics stand out. First, most of the hands illustrate the right hand in a grasp with fingers overlapping the other hand while the left hand is open. This could be the depiction of a man holding a woman's hand and indicate marriage or a close bond between individuals, unity and affection even after death. Clasped hands are also symbolic of a farewell or last good-bye. Look at the cuff to distinguish between a man's or woman's hand (woman would have a frilly cuff.)
The person who died first holds the other's hand, guiding the spouse to heaven.
Hand of God plucking a link of a chain represents God bringing a soul unto himself.

Hands holding:
  A chain with a broken link symbolises the death of a family member.
  A heart - symbolic of charity and is common on 19th century memorials. It is typically seen on memorials of members of the Independent Order of Odd fellows. Charity
   An open book - the embodiment of Faith

Hand pointing:
Downward - mortality or sudden death. (Possibly a depiction of a secret Masonic handshake.)
Upward - the reward of the righteous, confirmation of life after death. Heavenly reward, ascension to heaven.
Hands praying connote devotion
Two hands touching at thumbs - The hands are making the "Live long and prosper" gesture that Mr. Spock used on Star Trek (Leonard Nimoy is Jewish, and that's where he got it).
The Cohen was the priestly caste. They perform a few specific functions in Orthodox Judaism, and have a few unique restrictions: they are not supposed to remarry or touch a dead body, for example. People who are Cohen often have Cohen as their last name, This is the hand gesture made by Cohen
at the end of services in Orthodox synagogues, it's a benediction, and had come to universally represent Cohens.
Heart - Love, mortality, love of God, courage and intelligence.
Bleeding - Christ's suffering for our sins.
Encircled with thorns - the suffering of Christ.
Flaming - signifies extreme religious fervour
Pierced by a sword - the Virgin Mary, hearkening to Simeon's prophecy to Mary at the birth of Christ, "Yea, a sword shall pierce through thine own soul." It can also be used to represent charity.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Cemetery Symbolism Part 1

Cemetery Symbolism Part 1

As a paranormal investigator, the majority of us frequent local cemeteries on a regular basis. A good investigator
will hear the rumours associated with the cemetery, and begin their investigation by researching the history of people buried
within the grounds and maybe, the history, of the cemetery.
 Most will take hundreds of photo's of the tombstones that represent the lives of those buried there
spending hours looking for the slightest bit of paranormal activity between the headstones...but, have you ever wondered what
all those symbols, the hands shaking, the anchors actually mean?

 In Australia we have a diverse cultural background, pioneers from many countries across the globe, plus a vast amount of immigrants over the past 200 years. Our cemeteries represent not only the original pioneers from Europe, but now also those from every corner of the globe,and our tombstones and mausoleums reflect this

below is a small list of what some of the symbols represent.

 Animals representing the deceased is a very old tradition going back to the Egyptians. It was also common in Europe.

Birds in Flight - These are symbolic of the "winged soul." The representation of the soul by a bird goes back to ancient Egypt.
 Some older burial art features only wings to convey the symbol of divine mission. Often denote the graves of children, eternal life.
Dove - An important symbolic animal in Christianity representing the Holy Spirit.
 The white dove is referred to in the story of baptism of Christ.
"And John bore record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him" (Bible, John 1:32).
The descending dove is a very common motif on grave memorials.
 Seven doves are representative of the seven spirits of God or the Holy Spirit in its sevenfold gifts of grace.
Purity, devotion, Divine Spirit. When shown with an Olive Sprig it means Hope or Promise.
Eagle - suggests courage and possibly a military career, also the symbol for Saint John.
Owl - represents wisdom
Rooster - Awakening, the Resurrection
Swallow - indicates a child or motherhood
Butterfly - The soul, Although quite rare, it is occasionally seen on graves (most often of children).
 It is symbolic of the resurrection of Christ. The meaning is derived from the three stages of the life of the butterfly—the caterpillar, the chrysalis, and the butterfly. The three stages are symbols of life, death and resurrection. Short-life.
Dog - Signifying the loyalty and that the master was worth loving.
Dolphin - portrays the idea of resurrection
Dragon - being defeated by St. George depicts triumph over sin
Fish - indicates faith
Frog - depicts sin and worldly pleasures, or may represent resurrection.
Hart (male deer) - represented either faithfulness, thirsting for God, or Christ slaying Satan.
Horse - Courage or generosity. An attribute of St. George, St. Martin, St. Maurice and St. Victor, all of whom are represented in Christian art on horseback.
Lamb - This is the most common animal symbol found on a child's grave - representing Innocence in life
The lamb appears throughout the ages with great regularity in Christian art and because it is a symbol of Christ:
"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!" (Bible, John 1:29).
 The use of the lamb in religious art pre-dates Christianity and appears to have been used first by the Egyptians.
 It signifies purity and innocence. Christ in his sacrificial role and personifies: innocence, meekness, gentleness and humility.

Lion - Symbolises the power of God and guards the tomb against evil spirits.
 Like other guardians, the lion's watch is as eternal as the stone of which it is depicted.
The lion also recalls the courage and determination of the souls which they guard, they manifest the spirit of the departed.

Peacock - symbolized the incorruptibility of flesh, resurrection, beauty of soul, immortality
Phoenix -  symbolized the incorruptibility of flesh, resurrection, beauty of soul, immortality
Serpent- shown swallowing its own tail it represents Eternity.
Squirrel with a nut - religious meditation or spiritual striving