Home Page    |    Flags    |    Logos & Emblems    |    Other Symbols
Mythological Deities    |    Shopping    |    Useful Links    |    Contact Us
0-9 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Gaia / Gaea In Greek mythology, Gaia (also Gaea), is the personification of the Earth and one of the Greek primordial deities born at the dawn of creation.  She is the ancestral mother of all life, the primal Mother Earth goddess.

Hesiod's Theogony tells how in the creation myth Chaos came before everything else.  He was comprised of void, mass and darkness in confusion; then earth in the form of 'wide-bosomed' Gaea came into existence and arose to be the everlasting seat of the immortals who possess Olympus above, and the depths of Tartarus below.  Hesiod then tells us that Gaia brought forth her equal Uranus (the sky) to 'cover her on every side'.

Following her sexual union with Uranus, she bore the Titans (themselves parents of many of the Olympian gods) and the Giants, and from her union with Pontus (the sea), she bore the primordial sea gods.  Her equivalent in the Roman pantheon was Terra.

Galdrastafir See Icelandic Magical Staves.

Gardnerian Pentacle The Gardnerian Pentacle is used for ritual purposes in Gardnerian Wicca.  The point-down triangle on the left of the pentacle represents the 1st degree of initiation/elevation within Wicca.  The point-down pentagram on the right represents the 2nd degree, and the point-up triangle at the top, in conjunction with the central point-up pentagram, represents the 3rd degree.  See also Gardnerian Wicca below.

Gardnerian Wicca Gardnerian Wicca, or Gardnerian witchcraft, is a tradition in the Neopagan religion of Wicca, whose members can trace initiatory descent from Gerald Gardner (1884 - 1964 CE).  The tradition is itself named after Gardner, a British civil servant and amateur scholar of magic.  The term 'Gardnerian' was probably coined by the founder of Cochrane's Craft, Robert Cochrane in the 1950s or 60s, who himself left that tradition to found his own.

Gardner claimed to have learned the beliefs and practises that would later become known as Gardnerian Wicca from the New Forest coven, who allegedly initiated him into their ranks in 1939.  For this reason, Gardnerian Wicca is usually considered to be the earliest created tradition of Wicca, from which most subsequent Wiccan traditions are derived.

From the supposed New Forest coven, Gardner formed his own Bricket Wood coven, and in turn initiated many witches, including a series of High Priestesses, founding further covens and continuing the initiation of more Wiccans into the tradition.  In the UK, Europe and most Commonwealth countries someone self-defined as Wiccan is usually understood to be claiming initiatory descent from Gardner, either through Gardnerian Wicca, or through a derived branch such as Alexandrian Wicca or Algard Wicca.  Elsewhere, these original lineaged traditions are termed 'British Traditional Wicca'.  See also Gardnerian Pentacle above.

Garuda This Vedic solar deity is Garuda (Sanskrit for eagle), a mythological creature who is a half-man, half eagle hybrid.  He is known as the 'King of the Birds' and destroyer of snakes.  Garuda is most probably the personification of the constellation Aquila (which is coincidentally named for the sacred eagle of Zeus, the Greek god of the sky and thunder).

Garuda is the vehicle of the god Vishnu, and sometimes considered to be a manifestation of Vishnu himself.

Geb Geb was the Egyptian god of the Earth and later a member of the Ennead of Heliopolis.  He had a viper around his head and was thus considered to be the father of snakes.  The ancient Egyptians believed that Geb's laughter created earthquakes and that he allowed crops to grow.

In the Heliopolitan Ennead, Geb is the husband of Nut, the sky or visible daytime and nightly firmament, the son of the earlier primordial elements Tefnut (moisture) and Shu (emptiness), and father of the four lesser gods of the system -- Osiris, Set, Isis and Nephthys.

As time progressed, Geb became more associated with the habitable land of Egypt and also as one of its early rulers.  As a chthonic deity he became naturally associated with the Underworld, fresh waters and vegetation, barley being said to grow upon his ribs, and was depicted with plants and other green patches on his body.  His association with vegetation, healing, and sometimes with the Underworld and royalty, raised the occasional interpretation that he was the husband of Renenutet (nursing snake), a minor goddess of the harvest and also mythological caretaker of the young king in the shape of a cobra.

Geb is usually depicted as a man in a supine position below the arched body of his wife and sister, the sky goddess Nut.  He is also depicted as a man with a goose on his head.  When Set and Horus fought for the throne of Egypt, Geb made Horus the ruler of the living.

Gemini In many cultures, it is believed there is a link between the position of the Sun, the Moon and other planets at the time of a person's birth.  This position gives individuals certain personality traits, as well as predicting events which are likely to occur in their life.

Gemini makes up one of the twelve 'houses' or signs of the astrological wheel.  Each of the twelve houses represents the position of the heavens at the time of a person’s birth.  Besides their birth sign, e.g. Aries, an element is attributed to a person at birth, either Earth, Fire, Water or Air:

Symbol: Twins
Dates: 20 May – 20 June
Constellation: Gemini
Zodiac Element: Air
Sign ruler: Mercury
Detriment: Jupiter
Exaltation: None

The two joined lines of the Gemini symbol or glyph represent twins and their dual nature, others however, believe the sign to represent a man and a woman, or lovers.  It is believed that each one of the zodiac signs represents a particular part of the human body -- the zodiac symbol for Gemini relates to the arms and shoulders.

Those born under the symbol of Gemini are considered to have the following personality traits: prone to mood swings; quick witted; intelligent; versatile; anxious nature; can become restless; good communicators; interested in their surroundings.

Germanic Neopaganism The Germanic peoples (also called Teutonic, Suebian1, or Gothic in older literature) are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin.  They are identified by their use of Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.

The term 'Germanic' originated in classical times when groups of tribes living in Lower, Upper, and Greater Germania were referred to using this label by Roman scribes.  The Roman use of the term 'Germanic' was not necessarily based upon language, but referred to the tribal groups and alliances that lived in the regions of modern-day Luxembourg, Belgium, Northern France, Alsace, Poland, Austria, the Netherlands and Germany, and which were considered less civilised and more physically hardened than the Celtic Gauls.  Tribes referred to as 'Germanic' by Roman authors generally lived to the north and east of the Gauls.

The Germanic tribes were chronicled by Rome's historians as having had a critical impact on the course of Europe's history during the Roman-Germanic wars, particularly at the historic Battle of the Teutoburg Forest (a range of low, forested hills in the German states of Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia), where Germanic tribal warriors, under the leadership of the Cherusci chieftain Arminius, routed three Roman legions and all their auxiliaries, which precipitated the Roman Empire's strategic withdrawal from Magna Germania.

Germanic tribes moving during the Migration Period included Goths, Burgundians, Lombards, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Suebi, Alemanni and Gepids among many others.

1 A large group of tribes who lived in Germania in the time of the Roman Empire.

Ghanta Ghanta in Tibetan means 'Bell'.  The Ghanta is a Tibetan Buddhist ritual tool which is always paired in Tantric rituals with the Dorje.  The Ghanta represents feminine power, wisdom, receptiveness, and the voice of the Buddha.  The base of the Ghanta is always round, and the handle is always topped with a closed Vajra (Dorje).  In the handle is a depiction of Prajnaparamita (Perfect Wisdom), a symbolic representation of the collective wisdom of the Buddhas.  A ritual gesture is performed by crossing the Ghanta and Dorje over the chest, representing completeness in the union of the male and female principles.

Ghanta is also a Sanskrit term for a ritual bell used in Hindu religious practices.  Hindu temples generally have one metal bell hanging at the entrance, which devotees ring while entering the temple.  Priests and devotees ring bells during the puja (ceremonial worship ranging from brief daily rites in the home to elaborate temple rituals).  Some bells are specially made to produce the long strains of the sound 'OM'.

Ginkgo Ginkgo (ginkgo biloba), also known as the ginkgo tree or the maidenhair tree, is found in fossils dating back 270 million years.  Native to China, the tree is widely cultivated, and was so early in human history.  It has various uses in traditional medicine and as a source of food.

It is a sacred tree in China and has been grown near temples as a symbol of immortality -- some are over 1,500 years old.  The first record of Europeans encountering it is in 1690 CE in Japanese temple gardens, where the tree was seen by the German botanist Engelbert Kaempfer (1651 - 1715).  Because of its status in Buddhism and Confucianism, the ginkgo is also widely planted in Korea and parts of Japan; in both areas, some naturalisation has occurred, with the trees seeding into natural forests.

Globus Cruciger The Globus Cruciger (Latin for 'cross-bearing orb'), also known as the orb and cross, is literally an orb surmounted by a cross.  It has been a Christian symbol of authority since the Middle Ages, used on coins, in iconography, and with a sceptre as royal regalia.  Its first known use was in 423 CE on the reverse side of the coins of Emperor Theodosius II (402-450) -- see below left.

The cross represents Christ's dominion over the orb of the world, held in the hand of an earthly ruler (sometimes it is held by an angel).  In the iconography of Western art, when Christ himself holds the globe, he is called Salvator Mundi (Latin for 'Saviour of the World').  The 16th century infant 'Jesus of Prague statue' holds a Globus Cruciger in this manner.

Glyph A glyph is a symbol, icon, pictograph, etc., used as a graphic representation of 'something'.  Glyphs are often used for secondary communication devices such as signs and instructional devices.

Gnomes Within the Paracelsian concept, an elemental is a mythic being described in occult and Alchemical works from around the time of the European Renaissance and particularly elaborated upon in the 16th century CE works of Paracelsus.  From the classical Paracelsian perspective there are four elemental categories: Gnomes, Undines, Sylphs, and Salamanders.  These correspond with the Classical elements of antiquity: Earth, Water, Air and FireAether (quintessence) was not assigned an elemental.

The nature spirits who serve at the physical level are called Gnomes.  Billions of Gnomes tend the Earth through the cycles of the four seasons and see to it that all living things are supplied with their daily needs.  On spiritual levels, the Gnomes have an even heavier chore -- they must clean up the imprints of mankind's discord and negativity that remain at energetic levels in the Earth.  See also Earth.

Gnosticism Gnosis refers to knowledge based on personal experience or perception.  In a religious context, gnosis is mystical or esoteric knowledge based on direct participation with the divine.

Gnosticism is a modern name for a variety of ancient religious ideas and systems, originating in Jewish-Christian environments in the first and second century CE.  Based on their readings of the Torah and probably other Biblical writings, these systems led to the belief that the material world is created by an emanation of the highest God, ensnaring the Divine spark within the human body.  This Divine spark could be liberated by gnosis.  See also Kabbalah.

The Gnostic ideas and systems flourished in the Mediterranean world during the second century in conjunction with and influenced by the early Christian movements.  After the second century a decline set in but Gnosticism persisted throughout the centuries as an undercurrent of western culture, re-manifesting with the Renaissance as western esotericism.  In the Persian Empire, Gnosticism spread as far as China with Manicheism, while Mandaeism still thrives in Iraq.

However, a major question in scholarly research is the qualification of Gnosticism, based on the study of its texts, as either an interreligious phenomenon or as an independent religion.  See also Abraxas.

Goat of Mendes The origin of the Goat of Mendes can be traced back to Ancient Egypt -- goats and rams were worshipped in many cities throughout the country thousands of years ago.  The horns represent the Horned Gods/Goddesses.  The goat also symbolises fertility -- fertility in multiplying the life force, vril, which activates and raises the serpent.  The 'Goat of a Thousand Young' is referring to the crown Chakra, Sahasrara, which in Sanskrit which means 'Thousand Petaled Lotus'.

Ptah the Egyptian god of magic, knowledge and wisdom (an alias of Satan) 'became' the goat, and sometimes a ram in the city of Mendes where he was worshipped as such.  The Goat/Ram of Mendes represented the Ba which was the Egyptian word for the 'soul'.  Ptah was considered to be a great magician and 'Lord of the Serpents'.

The Goat is synonymous with Satanism.  The symbol pictured to the right above, often referred to (completely incorrectly) as the Baphomet, is used by the Church of Satan.  Featuring a demonic deity with the head of a goat (originally a ram) enclosed within an Inverted Pentagram, it is supposed to be symbolic of Satan himself.  It is known as 'The Mendes Pentacle', but most often called 'The Goat of Mendes', 'The Goat Head', 'The Great God Pan', 'Thanateros', Abraxas, and the Horned God.

It is sometimes referred to as the 'Judas Goat' by modern Satanists, and can often be seen worn as a fashion item, particularly as a piece of jewellery normally in the form of a pendant, or even as a tattoo.

Goddess Religions One can regard a goddess (in this sense) as an aspect of the Great goddess as well as a specific goddess with a particular role within a pantheon.  The Hindu goddess, Durga, is a case in point.  The name Durga can refer to a specific aspect of the goddess but in the Shakti forms of Hinduism it generally refers to the Great goddess as AdyaShakti: the primordial Shakti who incorporates all aspects.  Anthropologists in their studies of goddesses have noted that adherents of goddesses often view their own goddess as a personal guardian or teacher.

The goddess movement includes spiritual beliefs or practices (chiefly Neopagan) which emerged predominantly in North America, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand in the 1970s CE.  The movement grew as a reaction to perceptions of predominant organised religion being male-dominated, and makes use of goddess worship and a focus on gender and femininity.

The are no centralised tenets of belief.  Practices vary widely from the name and number of goddesses worshipped to the specific rituals and rites used to do so.  Some, such as Dianic Wicca, exclusively worship female deities, while others do not.  Belief systems range from monotheistic to polytheism to pantheistic, encompassing a range of theological variety similar to that in the broader Neopagan community.  Common pluralistic belief means that a self-identified goddess worshipper could theoretically worship any number of different goddesses from cultures all over the world.

Gold Gold is the most precious of all metals and a symbol of perfection, symbolically divine through its association with the sun in the ancient world, and its natural lustre.  It is a valuable chemical element with the symbol Au and the atomic number 79.  In its purest form, it is a bright, slightly reddish-yellow, dense, soft, malleable, and ductile metal.

Gold is one of the seven metals of Alchemy (gold, silver, mercury, copper, lead, iron and tin).  For the alchemist, it represented the perfection of all matter on any level, including that of the mind, spirit, and soul.  The symbol for gold could also be used to represent the Sun in astrology.

Winners are presented with gold medals, brides and grooms exchange gold rings with each other on their wedding day, while a good time or period in a person's life is referred to as 'a golden era'.

Golden Dawn See Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

Golden Fishes The Golden Fishes are one of the eight Auspicious Symbols in Buddhist iconography, wherein they represent joy, freedom, and fearlessness.  In Vedic (Hindu) tradition, the fish is the first incarnation of the god Vishnu; two fishes together symbolised the sacred Ganges and Yamuna rivers, and later, the twin channels of Ida and Pingala, through which pranic2 energy moves through the body.  In Chinese folk belief, a pair of fishes is considered a lucky gift for married couples.

2 A claimed energy healing system founded and promoted by Choa Kok Sui (1952–2007), a Filipino entrepreneur and philanthropist of Chinese descent.

Gonakadet See Wasgo.

Gordian Knot This mystical knot traces its roots way back to ancient times.  Legend has it that an oracle predicted that the next man driving an ox cart into the city of Phrygia would be its king.  Gordia, then just a poor peasant, drove into the city and priests declared him king.  In gratitude and thanks to Zeus, he then tied his ox cart to a column using an intricate knot.  Another oracle predicted that whoever could untie the “Gordian knot” would rule all of Asia.  But while everyone else did not succeed in untying the complicated knot, Alexander the Great, using his wit and cunning, cut the knot in half using his sword in 333 BCE.

The Gordian Knot also takes on a very mystical meaning in sacred geometry.  This knot can actually be made from a Torus Tube (which resembles a doughnut shape), known in physics as the perfect shape.  The Torus Tube was used as a symbol for the unity of the consciousness with the universe.  Although the Gordian Knot goes on for eternity, with no beginning and no end, there are three clear ovals shaped by this continuous line.  These three shapes represent the Holy Trinity and its union, as well as the three forces (positive, negative and neutral) that comprise the universe.  It is said that the Gordian Knot can help enlighten one’s mind to see problems and difficult situations more clearly and with renewed hope and energy.

Gorgon In Greek mythology, a Gorgon is a hideous female creature whose name derives from the ancient Greek word gorgós, meaning 'dreadful', and seems to stem from the same root as the Sanskrit word 'garg' which is defined as a guttural sound, similar to the growling of a beast, thus possibly originating as an onomatopoeia.

While descriptions of Gorgons vary across Greek literature and occur in the earliest examples of such, the term commonly refers to any of three sisters who had hair made of living, venomous snakes, as well as a horrifying visage that turned those who beheld her to stone.  Traditionally, while two of the Gorgons (Stheno and Euryale) were immortal, their sister Medusa was not.

Medusa was slain by the hero Perseus, who beheaded her by using her reflection in Athena's shield to avoid looking at her directly.  Afterwards, her head adorned the shield (Aegis) of the goddess Athena.  Some scholars believe that the Gorgon was once a facet of the goddess Athena herself, in her destructive solar aspect.  The Gorgon's head is seen in use as a protective device on ancient shields and talismans.

Gourd The gourd is an ancient Taoist symbol of longevity and good health, but also a symbol of release.  It is the emblem of Li Tie Guai, one of eight immortals of Taoist mythology.  Li Tie Guai was a powerful magician who possessed not only the secret to immortality, but the ability to travel outside his body.  He carried the elixr of immortality in a gourd, which is an allegory for the body as the container of the soul.  The gourd is known as the “precious gourd” in Feng Shui, and considered a receptacle of good fortune.

Curiously, the gourd also symbolises resurrection and life in Christian theology.  The gourd sheltered the unfortunate Jonah, and is viewed as an allegorical symbol of the resurrection of Christ.

Grail See Holy Grail.

Gran-bwa See Veves.

Great White Brotherhood The Great White Brotherhood, in belief systems akin to Theosophy and New Age, are said to be perfected beings of great power who spread spiritual teachings through selected humans.  The members of the Brotherhood may be known as the Masters of the Ancient Wisdom or the Ascended Masters.  The first person to talk about them in the West was Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (Theosophical Society), after she and other people claimed to have received messages from them.  These included Helena Roerich, Aleister Crowley, Alice A. Bailey, Guy Ballard, Geraldine Innocente, Elizabeth Clare Prophet and Benjamin Creme.

The idea of a secret organisation of enlightened mystics, guiding the spiritual development of the human race, was pioneered in the late 18th century CE by Karl von Eckartshausen (1752 - 1803) in his book The Cloud upon the Sanctuary.  Eckartshausen called this body of mystics, who remained active after their physical deaths on earth, the Council of Light.  Eckartshausen's proposed communion of living and dead mystics, in turn, drew partially on Christian ideas such as the Communion of the Saints, and partially on previously circulating European ideas about secret societies of enlightened, mystical, or magic adepts typified by the Rosicrucians and the Illuminati.

Greek Cross Often found in conjunction with the Ankh, the Greek Cross predates the Latin Cross / Christian Cross although it was not intended to represent the cross of the crucifixion, but instead the four directions of the Earth, the spread of the gospel through the four evangelists, and the four platonic elements.

At one time, the Greek Cross was a popular floor plan for eastern churches.

Green Man The Green Man is a mysterious, eerie figure depicted mainly in mediaeval European stonework, and believed to represent an ancient vegetation deity.  The Green Man is nearly always portrayed as a 'foliate head', that is, a face/head made of leaves and vines.  Sometimes it appears as a human face peering out from amongst the leaves -- at others, with animal features.

The image of the Green Man may have been adapted from Roman decorative stonework, or from Celtic interlace figures.  Older versions bear a very close resemblance to Celtic and Norse interlace figures, and often combine plant and animal features.  One of the oldest examples was discovered on an Irish obelisk that dates to the third century BCE, and may be the 'Derg Corra' of Celtic myth, the 'man in the tree', a trickster-like character always accompanied by three elemental animals: a raven, a stag and a trout.

Greenpeace Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organisation with offices in more than 39 countries and an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  Greenpeace was founded by Irving and Dorothy Stowe, Canadian and US ex-patriot environmental activists, in 1971.  It states its goal is to "ensure the ability of the Earth to nurture life in all its diversity" and focuses its campaigning on worldwide issues such as climate change, deforestation, overfishing, commercial whaling, genetic engineering, and anti-nuclear issues, using direct action, lobbying, research, and ecotage to achieve its goals.  The global organisation does not accept funding from governments, corporations, or political parties, relying on 2.9 million individual supporters and foundation grants.  It has a general consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and is a founding member of the INGO Accountability Charter -- an international non-governmental organisation that intends to foster accountability and transparency of non-governmental organisations.

Greenpeace is known for its direct actions and has been described as the most visible environmental organisation in the world.  It has raised many environmental issues to public knowledge and influenced both the private and the public sector.  Greenpeace has also been a source of controversy; its motives and methods (some of the latter being illegal) have received criticism, including an open letter from more than 100 Nobel laureates urging the organisation to end its campaign against genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  Greenpeace's direct actions have sparked legal actions against its activists resulting in fines and suspended sentences, e.g. for destroying a test plot of genetically modified wheat and damaging the Nazca Lines, a UN World Heritage site in Peru.

Griffin The griffin, griffon, or gryphon is a legendary creature with the body, tail, and back legs of a lion, the head and wings of an eagle, and an eagle's talons as its front feet.  As the lion was traditionally considered the king of the beasts and the eagle was the king of the birds, the griffin was thought to be an especially powerful and majestic creature, and was considered to be the king of the creatures.

Griffins are known for guarding treasure and priceless possessions.  Adrienne Mayor (born 1946 CE), a classical folklorist, proposes that the griffin was an ancient misconception derived from the fossilised remains of the Protoceratops, a genus of sheep-sized herbivorous ceratopsian dinosaur from the Upper Cretaceous Period of what is now Mongolia.  The remains were found in gold mines in the Altai mountains of Scythia, in present day south-eastern Kazakhstan, or Mongolia.  In antiquity it was a symbol of divine power and a guardian of the divine.

Grim Reaper Death, also known as the Grim Reaper, is frequently imagined as a personified force due to its prominent place in human culture.  In some mythologies, the Grim Reaper causes the victim's death by coming to collect them.  In turn, people in some stories try to hold on to life by avoiding Death's visit, or by fending off Death with bribery or tricks.

Other beliefs hold that the Spectre of Death is only a Psychopomp, serving to sever the last ties between the soul and the body, and to guide the deceased to the afterlife without having any control over when or how the victim dies.  Death is most often personified in male form, although in certain cultures Death is perceived as female (for instance, Marzanna in Slavic mythology).

Gungnir Gungnir is the spear of the Norse god, Odin.  Like Mjölnir, the hammer of Thor, it returns to his hand after he has thrown it.  According to one myth, dwarves forged the spear from sunlight as a gift to Odin.  Another story states it was among several objects forged by the Sons of Ivalid as part of a contest arranged by Loki.

According to yet another story, Gungnir is from a previous Asgard that was destroyed by Ragnarok.  The spear unified the nine surviving gods to create a new Odin who claimed Gungnir as his own.  How true any of these stories are is unknown (well ... they are myths after all).

Return to top of page.

© signsandsymbols.co.uk