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Spring 2009, vol 7 no 1

Notes to the Icon Symbols
by Richard Gilbert


1) Usage. All symbol icons are found at the Wikimedia Commons website, and are in the public domain.

2) Nomenclature. The titles below for each symbol are those given to each image at the Wikimedia Commons website (

a) “Spiral” (Transformation):
An ancient symbol found on every continent—as the spiral has been found in many burial sites, scholars consider it to reflect the transformative cycle of life-death-rebirth.

b) “Otogakure” (Dialect):
Taken from the ongoing Naruto anime (1999-present), written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto. "Otogakure" is a shorted form of "Otogakure no Sato" ("village hidden in sound").

c) “Schottky diode” (Techne):
"Known as a hot carrier diode, [the Schottky diode] is a semiconductor diode with a low forward voltage drop and a very fast switching action. The cat's-whisker detectors used in the early days of wireless can be considered as primitive Schottky diodes" (Wikipedia).

d) “Compass rose” (Direction):
The compass rose has appeared on charts and navigation maps since the 1300s. It was originally used to indicate the direction of winds. "In the Middle Ages, the names of the winds were commonly known throughout the Mediterranean countries as tramontana (N), greco (NE), levante (E), siroco (SE), ostro (S), libeccio (SW), ponente (W) and maestro (NW)" (

e) "’Heroes’ helix” (Distinction):
An adaptation of a symbol first appearing on the "Heroes" TV series, it resembles a segment of the DNA helix, and is "a combination of two Japanese characters which writer and co-producer Aron Coleite has translated as 'God sending great ability'" (

f) “Solar symbol” (Place):
The astronomical and astrological symbol for the sun, this symbol has significance in many fields, including psychoanalysis, semiotics, religion, and mythology.

g) “Diamond” (Mythos):
Among its varied symbolic references, the diagonals of the diamond represent the interchange of energies between the divine and mundane worlds, as well,  an image of indestructible awareness (adamantine, vajra). "Daimond" was reportedly the name of Sir Issac Newton's favorite dog, who, having knocked over a candle, set fire to some twenty years-worth of manuscripts. "In another tale, Newton is said to have claimed that the dog discovered two theorems in a single morning. He added, however, that 'one had a mistake and the other had a pathological exception'" (

h) “Dyad” (Dyad):
"The Greek Pythagoreans called the principle of 'twoness' or 'otherness': Dyad" (Wikipedia). Numenius of Apamea (2nd cen. CE), a Neopythagorean and forerunner of the Neoplatonists wrote that Pythagoras named the divinity "Monad," and gave the name "Dyad" to matter.

i)  "Pallas" (Literary Society):
The astronomical symbol for the asteroid Pallas (one of the largest, and the second asteroid to be discovered, in 1802), "Pallas" is taken from "Pallas Athena," the virgin (parthenos) goddess of Athens, once worshipped in the Parthenon. As a helper of numerous heroes, she is the inspiratrix of democratic citizenship (the Athenian demos).

j) The Czech and Slovak Píča symbol (Tensity):
The píča is one of a series of yonic symbols (symbols of the vulva), likened to the ancient Mesopotamian rhomb of the goddess Ishtar-- a goddess of fertility, love, and war. The divine personification the planet Venus (in the Babylonian pantheon), one of the most celebrated myths of Ishtar concerns her descent into the underworld. "Joseph Campbell ... equates Ishtar, Inanna, and Aphrodite, and he draws a parallel between the violent yet loving Hindu goddess Kali, the Egyptian goddess Isis who nurses Horus, and the Babylonian goddess Ishtar who nurses the god Tammuz" (Wikipedia). (Cf. Campbell, Masks of God, p. 70.)

k) "White moon" (Season):
The upward-facing crescent is a symbol found in Summeria (arguably representing the crescent Venus rather than the moon), seen joined atop the head of a sacred bull in Knossos, and elsewhere. The Egyptian Isis wears the horns of a cow, the cow being sacred to her. "Annually, the planet Venus disappears from one horizon and, after an interval reappears on the opposite. The connection with 'Horned Ishtar' is inescapable. In the astral-theological system, Ishtar becomes the planet Venus, and the double aspect of the goddess is made to correspond to the strikingly different phases of Venus in the summer and winter seasons" (