Shared Symbols in Japan and Paganism

I think most Pagans know that many religious and cultural symbols can be found in many cultures all over the world. Japan has plenty of examples. In particular, you’ll find many of the symbols used in kamon (traditional Japanese family crests, similar to European heraldry or Scottish tartan) have significance in paganism. Below, I’ve listed some of the symbols used in Japan that have identical or very similar equivalents in paganism.

Image Gobousei 五芒星 

As most Wiccans know, the pentagram is a universal symbol of magick and spiritual power. Japan is no exception, where the pentagram (gobousei) is associated with the traditional five elements (Water, Wood, Earth, Fire, Metal) and medieval Japanese occultist Abe no Seimei. As a kamon, the pentagram is also called the kikyou or Chinese bellflower, a five-petalled flower used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Image Tomoe (巴)

The tomoe is a combination of two or more magatama, a mysterious comma-shaped jewel considered considered one of the “three treasures” of Shinto. A tomoe with two magatama resembles the taoist yin-yang symbol of darkness and light and may be related, while the three-magatama tomoe (mitsudomoe) pictured here is often associated with Hachiman, the Shinto god of war. It may also represent the cycle of life.
The tomoe resembles the triskelion or “triple spiral,” Image a symbol of neolithic origin, used by some pagans (particularly those following Celtic paths) to represent the Triple Goddess, the Three Realms, and the Sun.

kutsuwa-bit Kutsuwa (轡)

The kutsuwa is simply a representation of the humble horse’s bit stylised for use as a kamon, yet it is identical to the “sun cross,” a symbol dating from prehistory that represents the sun and the four seasons in Paganism.

happonyaguruma-arrow Happonyaguruma (八本矢車)

Happonyaguruma literally means “Wheel of Eight Arrows” and represents a warrior clan as a kamon.
It bears quite a strong resemblance to the Helm of Awe, Helm_of_Awe_white a powerful protective symbol for Asatru followers.
Although it lacks eight spokes, another kamon that resembles the Helm of Awe is the yugao yugao-moonflower or “moonflower” crest .

mitsukanawa-metal-ring Mitsukanawa (三つ金輪)

The Japanese name for this symbol means “three metal rings.” Where the three rings intersect, a triquetra Triquetra-Double emerges, which is also used as a kamon in Japan. The triquetra is significance in many religions, including Celtic paganism, in which has a similar function to the triskelion as representing the triplicates in nature.



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Filed under Shinto / Japanese Religion

One response to “Shared Symbols in Japan and Paganism

  1. Pingback: Samhain 2014 | Trellia's Mirror Book

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