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Labarum The labarum is a military standard which displays the Chi Rho symbol, a Christian symbol consisting of the intersection of the capital Greek letters Chi (X) and Rho (P), which are the first two letters of 'Christ' in Greek (XPIΣTOΣ, Christos).  It was first used by Constantine the Great (272 - 337 CE), a Roman Emperor of Illyrian-Greek origin.  Since the vexillum consisted of a flag suspended from the crossbar of a cross, it was ideally suited to symbolise the crucifixion of Christ.

Ancient sources draw an unambiguous distinction between the two terms 'labarum' and 'Chi-Rho', even though later usage sometimes regards the two as synonyms.  The name labarum was applied both to the original standard used by Constantine the Great and to the many standards produced in imitation of it within the antique world, and subsequently.

Labrys The word 'Labrys' is Minoan in origin and stems from the same root as the Latin Labus, or lips.  The Labrys is a double headed ritual axe found in ancient Minoan depictions of the Mother Goddess, where its symbolism is related to the Labyrinth.

Similar symbols appear on Norse, African, and Greek religious objects, where it is most often a feminine symbol, probably of lunar origin.  Use of the Labrys has been documented on mediaeval charms designed to attract women.  Today, it is often used as a sign of identity and solidarity among lesbians.

Labyrinth The labyrinth is a structure or pattern as enigmatic as its symbolism, capable of many twists of meaning.  Labyrinths are found in many ancient cultures, and almost always have spiritual significance.  Nearly identical labyrinth patterns are found in Neolithic art, on native American petroglyphs, and even in ancient Vedic sites.  Ancient Minoan labyrinths were associated with the cult of the Mother Goddess, and were possibly used in initiatory rituals.

Labyrinths survived into mediaeval times, where they were often laid on the floors of cathedrals where they were used as a sort of miniature pilgrimage -- often, these 'pilgrims' travelled the path on their knees while praying continuously.  Labyrinths have seen a mini revival and are common today in churches and Neopagan sanctuaries.

Lalibela Cross See Coptic Cross.

Lamb A lamb is a young sheep and is defenceless against any enemy.  When taken from the flock, a lamb has a very low survival rate. It will either be attacked by a predator or get stuck somewhere and die.  In Christianity, the lamb represents Christ as both suffering and triumphant; it is typically a sacrificial animal, and may also symbolise gentleness, innocence, and purity.  When depicted with the lion, the pair can mean a state of paradise -- in addition, the lamb symbolises sweetness, forgiveness and meekness.  Why, then, has a lamb become the ultimate symbol of Christ?

In the Book of Genesis God asked Abraham to sacrifice his own son, and on the way to the altar Abraham said to Isaac, “God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:8), and ended up sacrificing a ram.  This passage introduced the notion of the lamb provided by God as the perfect sacrificial offering.

The life-saving significance of the sacrificial lamb was underlined in Exodus when God instructed the Israelites to sacrifice a lamb at the Passover, and to repeat that sacrifice as a yearly tradition.

The prophet Isaiah declared that God’s servant would be, “oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

All of these incidents and references prepared God’s people for the coming of the true Lamb.

Now fast forward to John the Baptist who proclaims, when he sees Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

Jesus goes on to fulfil the role of the “Lamb of God”, defenceless before the people, and is led to his death freely, without any hesitation.  His sacrifice as the true lamb that Abraham was referring to opens up the gates of Heaven and showers down upon the world a flood of grace.  He is the Paschal Lamb whose sacrifice frees us from bondage to the slavery of sin and death.

The Lamb shows up again in the Book of Revelation as a symbol of strength, “standing, as though it had been slain” and the focus of all heavenly worship (see Revelation 5).

Not surprisingly the lamb was a popular image of the early Church, frequently evoked as a symbol of Christ and the crucifixion.  The lamb was also used as a symbol of the Christian people, who are frequently referred to as sheep, under the guidance of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

Today, the lamb remains a powerful image that contradicts its weak nature, highlighting the fact that “the weakness of God is stronger than men” and how God often works in our weaknesses to bring about the greatest good.

Lamia / Lamina Lamia was a goddess with the body of a serpent and the head of a woman.  Lamia was the Greek name for the Libyan based serpent goddess referred to as Medusa.  Lamina was probably a variation on the Mother Goddess.  Lamia have appeared in different cultures during different eras throughout the world, and are generally portrayed as a woman with breasts and the tail of a serpent.

In Ancient Greece, Lamia was believed to be a beautiful human with whom Zeus fell in love and had children.  Zeus’ wife Hera found out about Lamia and killed all of her children.  It was believed that Lamia lived in a cave and hunted, stole, and ate other mother’s children out of jealousy.  Because Lamina could not sleep, Zeus created a way for her to remove her eyes -- the only way Lamina could sleep was if she had one eye out or was drunk.

According to the Ancient Greek Historian Diodorus, Lamina was invoked by mothers as a bogeyman to scare their children.|  Horace, the Ancient Roman poet, also mentions Lamina as a devourer of children.

Around 1 CE, a lamia was mentioned in the book Life of Apollonius of Tyana where he states that a Lamina was fattening up a member of Apollonius’ crew in order to eat him.

In the Latin Vulgate Bible Lamia was changed to Lilith, who was the obstinate first wife of Adam.  In the Revised Version of the Bible, Lilith is referred to as a night monster.  In the book of Job, lamina symbolise hypocrisy.

In Germanic culture, a lamia was said to lead the nixies which were water spirits bearing the tail of a fish.  In Greece, Lamia were also she-monsters who hunted people to drink their blood and satisfy sexual desires, similar to vampires.

Lamina in the Early Middle Ages referred to monsters who stole children and tore them apart.  In the 9th century CE, lamina were female seductive spirits who threatened marriages according to Christian writers at the time.  Mediaeval Christians referred to Lamina as a succumbs, a spirit who sucks the life (or semen) out of a man.

During the 15th and 16th centuries, Lamia symbolised witches.  Many poems were written about Lamia including one by John Keats.  In 2019, a 1920s tone poem written by Dorothy Howell called “Lamia” was recorded and released within a British tone poem recording; there is a football club in Greece called Lamia, and bands in Kazakhstan and Argentina with the name “Lamina.”

Lamp A lamp represents spirit, truth, intelligence and life itself, which are all symbolic qualities associated with light.

In magic, a magical weapon is any instrument used to bring about intentional change.  In practice, magical weapons are usually specific, consecrated items used within ceremonial ritual.  There is no hard and fast rule as to what constitutes or does not constitute a magical weapon -- if a magician considers it to be a weapon, then a weapon it is.

However, there does exist a set of magical weapons with particular uses and symbolic meanings.  Some such common weapons/tools include the Dagger/Sword, Wand/Baton, Cup/Chalice, Paten/Pentacle/Disc, Holy Oil, Lamp and Bell.

Latin Cross / Christian Cross The Latin Cross or Christian Cross was a later symbol of the faith, replacing the lamb and fish as emblems.  However, several early church fathers objected to its use as a Christian symbol -- after all, it had been a Pagan symbol long before the foundation of the Christian Church.

Christianity is the world's largest religion -- more than 2.4 billion followers or 33% of the global population are known to be Christians -- and as a result the most well-known of crosses is probably the Latin Cross, which to Christians represents the cross of Christ's crucifixion.  If the cross has a figure of Christ affixed to it, it is termed a 'Crucifix' and the figure is often referred to as the corpus (Latin for 'body').

Latvian Mythology Latvian mythology is a set of Pagan beliefs of the Latvian people reconstructed from written evidence and folklore materials.  Christianity only arrived in Latvia in 11th Century CE -- it was enforced completely by crusaders in the 13th century.  Latvians, therefore, were one of the last peoples in Europe to convert to Christianity, but even after it became the official religion in Latvia, the elements of Paganism remained active even until the 18th century.

Latvians managed to retain their Pagan practices and myths which are very well known to this day.  Many grand Latvian intellectuals like Krišijanis Barons (1825 - 1923) recorded the old Latvian folk songs and sayings.  Today Latvian mythic folklore is studied by such famous people as Doc Janina Kursite, now a deputy of Saeima and ex-president of Latvia Vaira-Vike Freiberga.  Latvian mythology is a complex matter to discuss.

Lauburu The Lauburu or Basque Cross is a traditional Basque Swastika with four comma-shaped heads.  Today, it is a symbol of the Basque Country of Northern Spain and the unity of the Basque people.  It is also associated with Celtic peoples, most notably Galicians and Asturians.  It can be constructed using a pair of compasses and a straightedge, beginning with the formation of a square template; each head can be drawn from a neighbouring vertex of this template with two compass settings, with one radius half the length of the other.

Historians and authorities have attempted to apply allegorical meaning to the ancient symbol.  Some say it signifies the 'four heads or regions' of the Basque Country, although the Lauburu does not appear in any of the seven coats of arms that have been combined in the arms of that region: Higher and Lower Navarre, Gipuzkoa, Biscay, Álava, Labourd, and Soule.

The Basque intellectual Imanol Mujica liked to say that the heads signify spirit, life, consciousness, and form, but it is generally used as a symbol of prosperity.

Laurel A laurel wreath is a symbol of victory and honour.  It is a circular wreath made of interlocking branches and leaves of the bay laurel, an aromatic broadleaf evergreen, or later from spineless butcher's broom or cherry laurel.  Whereas ancient laurel wreaths are most often depicted as a horseshoe shape, modern versions are usually complete rings.

In Greek mythology, Apollo is represented wearing a laurel wreath on his head.  In ancient Greece wreaths were awarded to victors, both in athletic competitions, including the ancient Olympics, and in poetic meets.  In Rome they were symbols of martial victory crowning a successful commander during his triumph.

In Christianity, a laurel wreath can symbolise the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the triumph of humanity.  In some cultures, laurel branches are substituted with palm branches to remember the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  The laurel is also seen as a symbol of peace: a victory that signals the end to a conflict or competition.

The expression ‘resting on one's laurels’ refers to someone relying entirely on long-past successes for continued fame or recognition, whereas to ‘look to one's laurels’ means to be careful of losing rank to competition.

LDS Church See Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).

Lead Lead is the first and oldest of the seven metals of Alchemy (gold, silver, mercury, copper, lead, iron and tin), i.e. the base metal and thus a metaphor for humanity at its most primitive level of spiritual development.  The alchemical symbol for lead is also used to represent the planet Saturn in astrology.

Lead is a chemical element that is assigned the symbol Pb (from the Latin plumbum) and the atomic number 82.  It is a heavy metal that is denser than most common materials.  It is also soft and malleable, and has a relatively low melting point.

When freshly cut, lead is bluish-white, which tarnishes to a dull grey colour when exposed to air.  Lead's atomic number of 82 is the highest of any stable element and concludes three major decay chains of heavier elements.

Leb This symbol represents a heart.  The Egyptians believed the heart was the centre of all consciousness, even the centre of life itself.  When someone died, it was said that their “heart has departed".  It was the only organ that was not removed from the body during mummification.  In the Book of the dead, it was the heart that was weighed against the feather of Ma'at to see if an individual was worthy of joining Osiris in the afterlife.

Legba See Veves.

Lemniscate See Infinity.

Lenglensou See Veves.

Leo 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.

Leo 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. Leo, an element is attributed to a person at birth, either Earth, Fire, Water or Air:

Symbol: Lion
Dates: 22 July – 22 August
Constellation: Leo
Zodiac Element: Fire
Sign ruler: Sun
Detriment: Saturn
Exaltation: None

The Leo symbol or glyph represents the mane of a lion, but some believe the symbol represents the energy of a snake.  It is believed that each one of the zodiac signs represents a particular part of the human body -- the zodiac symbol for Leo relates to the heart.

Those born under the symbol of Leo are considered to have the following personality traits: strong personality; dramatic; loyal; warm; friendly; generous; good leaders.

Leviathan Cross See Satanic Cross.

Libra 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.

Libra 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. Libra, an element is attributed to a person at birth, either Earth, Fire, Water or Air:

Symbol: Scales
Dates: 22 September – 23 October
Constellation: Libra
Zodiac Element: Air
Sign ruler: Venus
Detriment: Mars
Exaltation: Saturn

The Libra symbol or glyph represents an equal sign and a setting Sun.  It is believed that each one of the zodiac signs represents a particular part of the human body -- the zodiac symbol for Libra relates to the kidneys and liver.

Those born under the symbol of Libra are considered to have the following personality traits: diplomatic; charming; fearless; artistic; peacemakers; excellent judgement; do not like arguments, thrive on harmony; justice and fairness are important.

Lion of Judah In the Rastafarian religion, the Lion of Judah is an emblem of Ras Tafari, otherwise known as former Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie.  According to Rastafarian belief, Selassie was the Messiah, the second coming of Christ referenced in the Book of Revelation:

"the hair of whose head was like wool whose feet were like unto burning brass".

Taken from the heraldic symbol of the biblical Tribe of Judah (from which it is believed Selassie is descended), the lion represents the emperor as the 'King of Kings', to Rastafarians as the lion is King; representing the lineage of the King from the Tribes of Israel.  The emblem was once worn by the Emperor as a signet.

The standard carried in the lion's mouth is the flag of Ethiopia, the crown of the Emperor.

Lithuanian Religion / Romuva Romuva is a contemporary continuation of the traditional ethnic religion of the Baltic peoples, reviving the ancient religious practices of the Lithuanians before their Christianisation in 1387 CE.  Romuva claims to continue the living Baltic Pagan traditions which survived in folklore and customs.  It is a polytheistic Pagan faith which asserts the sanctity of nature and has elements of ancestor worship.

Practising the Romuva faith is seen by many adherents as a form of cultural pride, along with celebrating traditional forms of art, retelling Baltic folklore, practicing traditional holidays, playing traditional Baltic music, singing traditional dainas or hymns and songs as well as ecological activism and stewarding sacred places.  The community was organised and led by the kriviu krivaitis (high priest) Jonas Trinkunas (1939 - 2014) until his death in 2014.

Romuva primarily exists in Lithuania but there are also congregations of adherents in Australia, Canada, the United States, and England.  There are also followers in Norway, for whom a formal congregation is being organised.  Baltic Pagan faiths have believers in other nations, including Dievturiba in Latvia.  According to the 2001 census, there were 1,270 people of Baltic faith in Lithuania -- that number jumped to 5,118 in the 2011 census.

Loa Loa are the spirits of Haitian Vodou and Louisiana Voodoo, but unlike saints or angels they are not simply prayed to -- they are served.  They are distinct beings with their own personal likes and dislikes, distinct sacred rhythms, songs, dances, ritual symbols (Veves), and special modes of service.  Contrary to popular belief, Loa are not deities in and of themselves; they are intermediaries for, and dependent upon, a distant Bondye (good god).  See also Veves.

Loco See Veves.

Loki In Norse mythology, Loki was a cunning trickster who had the ability to change his shape and sex.  Although his father was the giant Fárbauti, he was included among the Aesir (a tribe of gods).  Loki was represented as the companion of the great gods Odin and Thor, helping them with his clever plans but sometimes causing embarrassment and difficulty for them and himself.  He also appeared as the enemy of the gods, entering their banquet uninvited and demanding their drink.

He was the principal cause of the death of the god Balder, so as a punishment, Loki was bound to a rock (by the entrails of one or more of his sons, according to some sources), thus in many ways resembling the Greek figures Prometheus and Tantalus.  Also, like Prometheus, Loki is considered a god of Fire.

With the female giant Angerboda, Loki produced the progeny Hel, the goddess of death; Jormungandr, the serpent that surrounds the world; and Fenrir, the wolf.  Loki is also credited with giving birth to Sleipnir, Odin's eight-legged horse.

Loki's status in pre-Christian Scandinavia remains somewhat obscure.  The mediaeval sources from which much of what is known of Loki came provide no evidence of a cult, unlike for other Norse deities, and the name Loki does not appear in place names.

Lotus Padme The Lotus is one of the eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism.  An eight petaled lotus used in Buddhist mandalas represents cosmic harmony, a thousand petaled lotus, spiritual illumination.  A bud symbolises potential.  The well-known Buddhist mantra, 'Om Mane Padme', refers to 'the jewel in the lotus', the spark of enlightenment present in every living being.

The lotus symbol in Buddhism is of course drawn from thousands of years of use in Vedic religion, where it symbolises purity, illumination, and unfolding potential.  As in Egyptian symbolism, the lotus is seen to rise from a tiny seed in the mud to unfold into a beautiful bloom as it reaches the sunlit surface, making it a natural emblem of growth and transformation.  The Thousand Petaled Lotus is the emblem of the highest spiritual attainment, the opening of the crown Chakra at the top of the head that occurs when Kundalini energy moves through the purified chakras.

The lotus in both Hinduism and Buddhism serves as the seat of wisdom for gods and illuminated beings.  The lotus in Buddhism has numerous aspects according to its colour and the number of its petals.  An eight petaled lotus represents the Ashtamangala, or the eight Auspicious Symbols which embody the eight principles of the Dharma(sacred law).  A white lotus symbolises purity and spiritual perfection, a red lotus, passion and love.  A blue lotus bud is an emblem of intelligence and communication, while a pink lotus is the emblem of transcendence.  The earliest prayer beads were made from the dried seeds of the lotus.  See also Nile Lotus.

Lutheranism Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Martin Luther, a 16th-century German reformer.  Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation.  The reaction of the government and church authorities to the international spread of his writings, beginning with the 95 Theses, divided Western Christianity.

The split between the Lutherans and the Catholics was made public and clear with the 1521 Edict of Worms: the edicts of the Diet condemned Luther and officially banned citizens of the Holy Roman Empire from defending or propagating his ideas, subjecting advocates of Lutheranism to forfeiture of all property, half of the seized property to be forfeit to the imperial government and the remaining half forfeit to the party who brought the accusation.

The divide centred primarily on two points: the proper source of authority in the church, often called the formal principle of the Reformation, and the doctrine of justification, often called the material principle of Lutheran theology.  Lutheranism advocates a doctrine of justification "by grace alone through faith alone on the basis of Scripture alone", the doctrine that scripture is the final authority on all matters of faith.  This is in contrast to the belief of the Roman Catholic Church, defined at the Council of Trent, concerning authority coming from both the Scriptures and Tradition.

Unlike Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith), a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice set down by John Calvin and other Reformation-era theologian, Lutherans retain many of the liturgical practices and sacramental teachings of the pre-Reformation Church, with a particular emphasis on the Eucharist, or Lord's Supper.  Lutheran theology differs from Reformed theology in Christology, divine grace, the purpose of God's Law, the concept of perseverance of the saints, and predestination.

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