The Meaning of the Spiral

I was asked over the Thanksgiving holiday by a family member why I wear a spiral symbol on my charm necklace every day.  Despite wearing this symbol for years, I still get asked.  Ah, well, what can you do?

When I took a trip to Greece in 2005 I learned a little bit about the spiral and its meaning.  I liked it so much that I found a nice little jewelry shop on Mykonos and bought a silver spiral charm for my necklace.

The spiral as a symbol is found all over the world and has meanings in many different cultures and belief systems.  For the ancient Minoans of Knossos, Greece, the spiral was a symbol of infinity–it just kept going!  It is a symbol of constant motion, of balance, and of awareness.  The Minoans understood this symbol and found an ancient meaning which they incorporated into their culture.  The Phaestos Disc, a stone tablet with Sorry!  Picture not available!ancient Grecian writing on it found in the Minoan palace of Phaestos, is one huge circle and the writing is in a spiral.  Significant?  Probably.  But it’s also an example of the importance of the spiral.  Have you ever tried writing in a spiral?  Not easy!  It’s not something you want to do unless you have you, and that with us using ballpoint pens and thin paper!  Why would you want to write in a spiral with a chisel?  That just makes it harder!

The most dominant representation of the spiral comes from Celtic cultures.  For the ancient Celts, a spiral was representative of growth, birth, anSorry!  Image not available!d expansion.  It could also have the meaning of energy radiating outward or inward (a spiral can go both ways depending on how you’re looking at it).  The Celts also use a triple spiral called a triskele that is representative of the triple goddess and in later Christian periods came to be associated in some places with the Holy Trinity.

There is an African symbol called the “dwennimmen” that is a series of spirals combined into one symbol to fork something else.  This is called the “ram’s horns” and is a symbol of strength and humility.  Even though the symbol is not strictly that of a spiral, this is clearly showing how the spiral is a pervasive image that can often be co-opted for use in other ways that would change its meaning into something else.

The spiral is a largely positive ancient symbol representing eternity, change/growth, and even the evolution or movement of the universe.  Some say that the spiral is a goddess symbol, and I suppose it can be, though that meaning is usually associated only with the triple spiral and not the single spiral.  I prefer the ancient Minoan tradition for the spiral, myself: infinity and change.

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9 responses to “The Meaning of the Spiral

  1. on and off for some years now I’ve studied pagan and Wicca beliefs tonight I just stumbled upon a spiral pendant. it called out to me and I didn’t realize why until my mom brought me a drawing I made when I was a child of a sort of wizard looking fellow made entirely of spirals mainly formed in threes. I was stunned for a moment. I just wanted to thank you for your knowledge and although I don’t believe much of “signs” this was a lovely bit of information and a sweet thought for me that possibly I’ve been a part of this religion longer than I knew.

  2. Pingback: SPIRALS, SPIRALS, SPIRALS… | Discovering Greece

  3. Pingback: Meaning Of Life Reddit | Song Lyrics

  4. My mother had found this beautiful golden spiral necklace in our house. It’s strange because none of us knew where it came from we asked all three of my sisters and they said they never bought it. Even though I had never seen the necklace before, it spoke to me. I decided to look into the symbol and found this article. I do feel it’s a symbol of a goddess. This necklace means a lot to me and I considered it my good luck charm. I hope to one day figure out where it came from. (there’s no company logo on it or anything)

    • Fascinating. I’m curious….Did you ever find out where the necklace came from? Do you know anything about the previous owners of the home? How long have you lived in that home?

  5. Since early childhood I have made spirals on anything and everything that I could make a mark on. I continued with this little habit into adulthood, doodling the spiral on returned homework or other papers, and in (“spiral bound” 🙂 notebooks. The first time I saw a spiral on ancient rock art, I was surprised and happy. In time, I learned that the spiral “sign” appears in time across many cultures, but I had never heard that the Minoans believed it to be a sign on infinity. One day, while day-dreaming I asked my spirit guide/guardian angel if she would tell me what the spiral meant. A clear answer popped in my head. One word: “Infinity.” I pondered that for a moment and let it pass. I just stumbled upon your blog/site. Thanks for the lovely confirmation of the meaning of the spiral, which also means something special to me.

  6. I pick at least one thing from every article or speech. So the best meaning of spiral symbol is eternity or infinity.

    • No, if you’re talking about Celtic Spyros they mean growth, if you’re talking about Native American petroglyphs it typically means water, I have heard of The “infinity “interpretation but I would say this is the tertiary not primary definition

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