Signs, Symbols & Omens: An Illustrated Guide to Magical & Spiritual Symbolism

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As human beings, we live in a world of symbols. From traffic signs to the very letters that comprise these words, symbols are woven into every aspect of daily life. Since prehistoric times humans have used symbolic representation to communicate with each other and with the divine.

In Signs, Symbols & Omens, leading occult authority Ray Buckland describes the form and ...

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Signs, Symbols & Omens: An Illustrated Guide to Magical & Spiritual Symbolism

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As human beings, we live in a world of symbols. From traffic signs to the very letters that comprise these words, symbols are woven into every aspect of daily life. Since prehistoric times humans have used symbolic representation to communicate with each other and with the divine.

In Signs, Symbols & Omens, leading occult authority Ray Buckland describes the form and meaning of over 800 symbols from ancient and modern religions, magical traditions, and indigenous cultures around the world:

• Alchemy
• Ancient Egypt
• Astrology
• Australian Aborigines
• Aztec and Mayan
• Buddhist
• Celtic
• Ceremonial Magic
• Chinese
• Christian
• Freemasonry
• Gnostic
• Greek and Roman
• Hindu
• Islam
• Judaic
• Magical Alphabets
• Native American
• Norse
• Rosicrucian
• Runic
• Shinto
• Sikh
• Travelers
• Voudoun
• Witchcraft
• Omens

Understand the symbols used throughout human history and gain a deeper appreciation for the depth of the human experience and the vast uncharted realm of the collective unconscious.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780738702346
  • Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 5/1/2003
  • Pages: 264
  • Sales rank: 384,115
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.12 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Raymond Buckland has been actively involved in metaphysics and the occult for fifty years and has writing about it for nearly thirty.

He is the author of more than sixty books, including such best-selling titles as Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft, Gypsy Dream Dictionary, Practical Candleburning Rituals, and Witchcraft from the Inside. Ray has lectured and presented workshops across the United States, and has appeared on major television and radio shows nationally and internationally. He has also written screen plays, been a technical advisor for films, and appeared in films and videos.

Ray comes from an English Romany (Gypsy) family and presently resides, with his wife Tara, on a small farm in central Ohio. Beyond writing, Ray's other passion is homebuilt airplanes.

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Read an Excerpt

Some scholars say the name alchemy comes from the Greek
cheo, meaning “I pour” or “I cast,” since much of alchemy has to do with the working of metals. But many believe the word comes from the Egyptian Khem, meaning “the black land” (land with black earth), and see that as indicating Egypt as alchemy’s place of origin. The Arabic article al was added to Khem to give
alchemy. Later, as the science (some call it a pseudoscience) progressed,
the article was again dropped, to become chemistry.
Alchemy certainly is the early history of chemistry.
There was an early Egyptian alchemist whose name was
Chemes. He wrote a book, called Chema, about his experiments trying to turn base metal into gold. Some few believe that the word alchemist comes from his name.
Whatever the origin of the word, it seems certain that the practice of alchemy had its beginnings in the Hellenistic culture of Alexandria, Egypt, which was the center of the world of learning at that time. In fact alchemy is a blending of
Egyptian technology, Greek philosophy, and Middle Eastern mysticism. The first alchemists were the metallurgical workers who prepared precious metals for the nobles but also produced cheap substitutes for the less affluent. These cheaper substitutes were often disguised to look like the more precious metals. It didn’t take long for the idea to develop that it might be possible to actually produce the precious metals themselves. This idea, in fact, was backed by Aristotle’s theory that there was a prime matter that was the basis for all substances. Astrology added the concept that the greater outer world of planets and stars reflected the inner world of humankind: a macrocosm and a microcosm.
It was believed that under the proper astrological influences,
it should be possible to change one metal into another;
for example, lead into gold. In the same way that humankind perfected, going through death and rebirth, so might metals perfect and grow from one base form to another higher form.
The Philosopher’s Stone was the term given to a stone that—if it could be developed—would serve as the catalyst to transform metals and other raw material into gold. Although referred to as a stone, it was not necessarily an actual stone for it was believed that it might be a combination of fire and water, or other unlikely mixtures.
So the original alchemy became an operation of passing substances through a series of chemical processes. The actual workings were noted, but in symbolic form to protect them from the dabblers and the uninitiated, and also to protect the alchemists themselves from charges by the Church that they were involved in heresy. The metals were represented by the astrological sign of the controlling body, and frequently the components and the actions were assimilated with Greek and
Roman myths and mythological beings. The more the individual alchemists tried to hide and protect the results of their experiments,
the more obtuse and confusing became much of what they did and said. In describing necessary actions, they used language such as: “When we marry the crowned king with the red daughter, she will conceive a son in the gentle fire
. . . the dragon shuns the light of the sun, and our dead son shall live. The king comes forth from the fire and rejoices in the marriage.”1
Hermes Trismegistus, also known as “Thrice Great Hermes”
(it is from his name that the term the hermetic art was given to alchemy), has been variously described as an earthly incarnation of the Egyptian god Thoth and as an Egyptian priest, or a pharaoh, who taught the Egyptians all their magic.
He is credited with having written several thousand books, including the Emerald Tablet, or Tabula Smaragdina, which contained all the hermetic teachings—the thirteen precepts—including the fundamental principles for the Grand Arcanum, or
“great secret.” There are many references to the Emerald
Tablet in alchemical writings.
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Table of Contents

Introduction xi
Alchemy 1
Ancient Egypt 19
Astrology 31
Australian Aborigines 39
Aztec and Mayan 43
Buddhist 61
Celtic 67
Ceremonial Magic 73
Chinese 101
Christian 107
Freemasonry 115
Gnostic 125
Greek and Roman 129
Hindu 137
Islam 139
Judaic 143
Magical Alphabets 147
Native American 157
Norse 173
Rosicrucian 177
Runic 183
Shinto 191
Sikh 195
Travelers 197
Voudoun 205
Witchcraft 213
Omens 227
Bibliography 235

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2012

    Highly NOT Recommended

    I don't know if it was just me or what, but I was expecting this book to be about seeing signs, symbols and omens in and around you. Not actual regular signs. Like the street signs of the pagan world. Obviously I jumped the gun with this one by simply going by the title. Its a very quick once over of the dull content it has.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2004

    Good book for a coffee table

    'Signs, Symbols, and Omens: An Illustrated Guide to Magical and Spiritual Symbolism' is an excellent source for those who are in the occult and need to make a quick referance check. Unfortunately, though, this book lacks the depths of a well written occult piece due to the fact that its symbols are widely varied. Instead of giving a look of each culture and its history, it simply details the symbol as main stream or pre-mainstream occultists have viewed it. This book is a good quick and clean referance manual and nothing more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2014

    Graphical issue

    Pictures only render correctly on a web browser

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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