The circle is one of the oldest geometric symbols. It is a worldwide symbol, revered as sacred by practically all cultures, and denotes endless possibilities, such as eternity, oneness, monotheism, etc.
With the circle’s powerful symbolism, it’s no surprise that some symbols and artifacts resemble circles and their shapes. In this article, I’ll try to discuss circle symbolism and everything related to it.
Do you have a specific interest in circle symbolism? Then use the table of contents below to jump to the most relevant section. And you can always go back by clicking on the black arrow in the right bottom corner of the page. Also, please note that some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. For more details, check the Disclosure section at the bottom of the page.
Here's what we'll cover:
- Overview of circle symbolism
- Circle’s evolution
- What do circles represent?
- Some common circle symbols
Overview of circle symbolism
The circle is a worldwide symbol with a wide range of meanings. It symbolizes totality, wholeness, original perfection, the Self, the infinite, eternity, timelessness, all cyclic movement, and God (‘God is a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere (Hermes Trismegistus)). It is manly power, like the sun. It is the feminine mother essence as the soul and as enclosing seas.
It signifies movement and represents the cycle of time, the perpetual motion of all that moves, the trip of the planets around the sun (the zodiac circle), and the grand rhythm of the Universe. The circle is also zero in our numbering system and represents a potential or the embryo. It has magical properties as a protecting agent. It represents the completion of the process of individuation, of striving for psychic completeness and self-realization (Julien, 71).
The number 10 represents heaven and perfection, as well as eternity. In Jung’s theory, the octagon stands for the ultimate state of Oneness. In contrast, the square represents the lowest state of the man who has not achieved inner perfection. The Circle of Necessity Birth, development, decline, and death Protection against chaos and formlessness. Associated with YIN YANG.
The circle has been known to man from the beginning of time. Even the most basic cavemen would have recognized it by looking up into the sky and seeing the sun or moon.
Furthermore, circles can appear in nature, for example, when a blade of grass is whirled around in the sand.
Circles undoubtedly have a mystical quality, and they have captivated humans since the dawn of time.
Circles can be seen in the artwork of the ancient Assyrians, the Ancient Egyptians, the Indus Valley civilization, the ancient people of the Yangtze River region, and the Ancient Greeks and Romans.
Furthermore, they were significant in early sciences such as mathematics, astrology, and astronomy. At the time, science and the concept of the divine were seen to be inextricably intertwined, and the circle was associated with both.
What do circles represent?
Here is a list of some of the traditional meanings of circles.
Circles symbolize eternity because they have no beginning and no conclusion but instead continue indefinitely.
Potential or creative force
Following that, we may study at a microscopic level and see that we are literally made of a circle. Consider the egg from which we arose and the embryo that first represented the creation of our life. Both are in a circle. In this sense, we are formed by a circle.
Circles represent totality or oneness since they can be perceived as encircling everything within their bounds. They have this meaning since the beginning meets the end in a circle, and nothing is lost in between.
As we have seen, many early thinkers considered the circle as the perfect shape. Hence circles came to symbolize perfection. They are made out of a single line with no beginning or end, and they are flawlessly symmetrical in all directions.
For early medieval thinkers, circles were simply naturally perfect, and this is something you may experience by merely contemplating or meditating on one.
In Buddhism, circles are also seen to signify perfection, embodying perfect unity and basic truths.
The passage of time
Circles can reflect the passage of time in the same way as seasons spin cyclically. Days pass, weeks morph into months, and ultimately, everything starts over at the end of the year.
Our days, weeks, months, and years track our planet’s orbit around the sun, with one full circuit completed each year before the cycle begins again.
Cosmos and cosmic unity
Astrology and astronomy were essentially the same study to early scientists, and the circle represented the entire cosmos to them.
The numerous celestial bodies are all circles (or, as we now know, properly spheres), and planets and moons move in circular orbits (albeit many orbits do not depict anything resembling a perfect circle).
When we think of the zodiac, we envision a circle divided into 12 sectors containing one of the 12 astral signs.
This is no accident because the evolution from one sign to the next is cyclical rather than linear. When you reach the finish, you simply begin again. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that there is no beginning or end and that they simply repeat in perpetuity.
The sun is a circle that mankind has known since the beginning of time.
Even before contemporary people appeared, our forefathers would have seen the sun in the sky, offering warmth during the day before departing at night to reappear the next morning.
The sun can be found in the art of many nations and civilizations, and it is frequently shown as a disc.
For example, the Ancient Egyptians worshiped the sun as the God Ra, who was frequently represented as a man with a falcon’s head and a sun disc or circle over his head.
Nature of the Universe
To comprehend the spiritual importance of circles, consider birth and death as circles. Every living thing on Earth (including stars and planets) passes through what is known as a life cycle. We are born, age, and die in a cyclical pattern. It applies to everyone.
Then we can delve much deeper into the atoms that make up all stuff in the cosmos. Particles revolve in a circle around the nucleus of an atom. This is mirrored in our solar system and galaxy. Planets spin in a circular motion around stars, and galaxies swirl cyclically.
Oneness and connection
If you travel far enough along this spiritual awakening path, you will begin to get glimpses of oneness. This means you’ll realize you’re not distinct from God, love, or any other living or nonliving person, place, or object in the cosmos.
You’ll realize you’re everything. You are both God and love. As a result, everything is a part of you. When you injure anything, you also harm yourself; when you love something, you also love yourself.
This is also the definition of totality.
It means you are complete since you are the entire universe (and God’s/love) Source’s in form.
The circle denotes divinity and holiness in various cultures, most notably Christianity. We are accustomed to seeing divine beings, saints, and angels shown with a halo indicating their holy position in Christian art.
The circle’s flawless symmetry has also been associated with the divine and has been seen numerous times throughout history.
For example, although the precise meaning has never been proven, the megaliths at Stonehenge in England were purposefully constructed in a circle and were most likely associated with the passage of the seasons and the divine.
The seasons and the divine were most likely considered synonymous by the people who built Stonehenge.
Circles in the form of rings have traditionally signified the unity of man and woman, as rings are exchanged during wedding rituals in many Western countries, along with marriage vows.
This custom can be traced back to Ancient Greece and Rome, when precious rings were initially offered as dowry. They later came to symbolize the pledge of fidelity, and this practice is still carried on today.
The circle represents the concept of monotheism in both Christianity and Islam.
In Christianity, God is considered the beginning and end of all things, the alpha, and omega, which are perfectly represented by the circle.
The circle depicts monotheism in Islam, with God at the circle’s center.
In many civilizations, circles have also represented royalty, particularly in the shape of a crown, which is customarily put on the monarch’s head.
Circles, like the concept of togetherness, can symbolize democracy. When everyone sits at a round table, everyone is treated equally, everyone has the opportunity to share their opinions, and everyone is included.
Circles signify protection in some cultures or customs. Standing inside a circle, for example, is thought to protect you from bad spirits in certain occult beliefs.
A protective circle known as a caim is created around the husband and wife in traditional Celtic wedding ceremonies to protect them from outside influences.
Circles can also reflect our personal spiritual journeys because our spiritual journey has no end and continues in never-ending cycles even after we die.
Infinite nature of existence
Because the circle has no beginning or end, we could claim that it depicts the immortality of our souls as well. Both birth and death are simply transitions. In essence, they are not finished or complete. We go through birth and death cycles, but death is not the end. Our existence, like the circle, will never come to an end.
Some common circle symbols
Circles have been used in various visual symbols in numerous cultures worldwide. Here are a few of the most significant and well-known.
The Ens is a Japanese symbol consisting of a circle created with a single brush stroke. It is a Zen Buddhist emblem of enlightenment, strength, elegance, the Universe, and nothingness.
The Maasai are well-known for their use of circular motifs in general. The Maasai people of Southern Kenya have been making beaded jewelry for millennia. In fact, every woman in this tribe must master the art. Did you know that unmarried Maasai girls frequently dance with big flat beaded circular discs around their necks? Furthermore, the traditional Maasai wedding necklace is a circular collar made of metal rings embellished with tiny, multicolored glass beads.
Yin and yang
Most people are familiar with the yin yang symbol. It is made up of a larger circle with the same amount of black and white on each side and two smaller circles in the middle at the top and bottom.
It is a Taoist symbol that signifies oneness, dualism, and the coexistence of conflicting forces in the Universe, generating harmony and balance.
Fu Lu Shou
The terms Fu, Lu, and Shou are derived from Chinese mythology. They are the three stars, deities who symbolize happiness/blessings, status/prosperity, and longevity. The circular motif can be seen again in the traditional characters for Fu Lu Shou. In addition, they are occasionally depicted artistically with circular symbols, demonstrating once again the universal human knowledge of the circle’s spiritual origin.
The ouroboros, a picture of a serpent or dragon eating its own tail, is an old and occult emblem from Ancient Egypt and Greece.
It has been assigned many different interpretations over time. Still, it can be seen as signifying eternity, immortality, and the cyclical nature of the Universe.
The earliest recorded image of a snake swallowing its tail dates back to roughly 5000 7000 years ago in the Yellow River region of China. However, it is uncertain what it meant to the persons who drew it.
The Hecate’s Circle, also known as the Stropholos of Hecate or the Hecate Wheel, is named after the Greek triple goddess Hecate. She assisted Demeter in retrieving Persephone from the Underworld. Within Hecate’s Circle, there is a labyrinth. As so, the Circle represents birth, life, and death once more.
Tree of Life
The Tree of Life is a sacred geometry symbol that evolved from the Flower of Life described above. In contrast to the Flower of Life, the Tree of Life features individual circles connected by lines rather than overlapping circles. Each of the ten Tree of Life circles represents a different spiritual symbol. These are known as the Ten Sephiroth in Judaism.
Flower of Life
A grid of overlapping circles can form beautiful patterns, and some variations are known as the Flower of Life. The Flower of Life appears to have a flower design at first glance. Still, it is simply a repetitive pattern of circles upon closer inspection.
It is an old symbol, and many people utilize it to aid in meditation in the same way as traditional mandalas do.
Seed of Life
The sacred geometry known as the Seed of Life depicts the creation related to both the Tree of Life and the Flower of Life. Both the Flower and the Seed of Life are made of overlapping circles. On the other hand, the Seed has fewer circles than the Flower. These circles within the Seed overlap just enough times to provide the impression of a single bloom in the center, rather than several repeating blossoms as in the Flower of Life.
One of the most potent symbolic pictures, the Evil Eye, originated in ancient Greece and Rome but has since been borrowed by practically every religion. The almond-shaped eye with a blue circle in the middle is a powerful protector, thought to be a protective amulet against evil. As a result, it is frequently worn as jewelry and has become a fashion fad among fashionistas. The eye, with ‘pupil,’ generally appears in cobalt blue and is occasionally embellished with eyelashes, has been a reoccurring symbol in design throughout the years, wrote fashion journalist Leah Harper in early 2019. However, the tendency has recently accelerated.
Fruit of Life
Yet another sacred geometry symbol, the Fruit of Life, is included in the Flower of Life. Consider the Flower’s overlapping circles. The Fruit of Life consists of 13 of the Flower’s circles arranged in a star pattern. However, unlike the Tree of Life, none of the Fruit of Life’s circles overlap. They only make contact within the circle’s boundaries. Our final circular symbol is based on the Fruit of Life, which is thought to be the pattern of molecular structure in the physical Universe. The Metatron’s Cube
Beginning with the Fruit of Life, draw a straight line from the center of one circle to each of the other 12 circles, then continue with each circle in the Fruit to build Metatron’s Cube. This form represents Archangel Metatron, who is thought to keep an eye on the ebb and flow of the Universe.
Now that you understand how spiritually potent the circle can be challenge yourself to look for circles wherever you go, particularly in nature. Allow yourself to be reminded of oneness as you see something simple yet unique. We may consider ourselves as distinct individuals, but we are in fact, one with everything.
Many people in Celtic culture revere the ancient triskele symbol, often known as the triple spiral or triskelion. As a result, the theme can be seen in various traditional jewelry designs. The term comes from the Greek word Triskeles, which means “three legs.” The symbol consists of three circular spiral arms extending out from the center. It is frequently enclosed in a circle. People who study symbols aren’t sure what the triskele means, but they have some ideas. The movement of the spirals, for example, could signify action or advancement. Furthermore, the three arms may represent three interwoven values or entities, such as spirit, mind, and body.
Dharmachakra, often known as the wheel of dharma, is a symbol that resembles a chariot wheel. Its spokes represent the eight Buddhist pillars or the eightfold path. The dharmachakra, which is central to Buddhist temples, may occasionally include a yin yang symbol in its center, doubling the circle’s significance!
Chakras are seven circular energy centers located throughout our bodies. Each chakra corresponds to different portions of our bodies and distinct aspects of our spiritual development and is critical to realizing our full potential and ascending to higher realms of consciousness.
A powerful, faultless shape
As we’ve seen, circles have attracted people all around the world for millennia, and it’s easy to see why just by looking at one.
They represent perfection, eternity, and the cyclical nature of the Universe. They can be found in the art of many different cultures throughout history.
The vesica piscis is the shape generated in the center when two circles are laid over each other, with the circumference of each touching the center of the other.
It has been used to represent various things, including divine splendor, femininity, feminine fecundity, and the interface between the spiritual and physical realms, due to its appearance at the center of two overlapping circles.
The Sree, Sri, or Shri Chakra, a sacred geometry symbol comprised of interlocking triangles within (you guessed it) a circle, represents Universal energy. This symbol has been employed like mandalas by practitioners. To obtain a deeper understanding, consciousness, and spiritual expansion, one might meditate on the Sree Chakra.
Unlike a simple maze, a labyrinth can only be solved in one method. When you think about mazes, you might imagine a lot of dead ends and winding paths. The same cannot be said of a labyrinth. There is just one meandering road in the labyrinth, which twists and turns but eventually leads to an exit with no dead ends. This includes strong symbolism for the spiritual path of the soul. Traditionally, these ancient mazes are made with twisting lines confined within a circle.
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