The Symbolism and Meaning of Shapes

The Symbolism and Meaning of Shapes

Jewels of the NomadShapes are powerful as talismans and when building from your heart.

Which shapes are you frequently drawn to?

Geometric shapes such as triangles, circles, squares, stars and rectangles have been part of human religious symbolism for thousands of years. The simplest shapes are found in nature and are used by many different cultures around the world.

Here are the powerful qualities of each shape:


Circles are among the oldest of geometric symbols, and commonly represent unity, wholeness, and infinity. Pythagoras called the circle "monad," the most perfect of creative forms, without beginning or end, without sides or corners. He associated the circle with the number 1 and the practice of monotheism. Circles represent perfection and ideals.


A variation on the circle shape, the spiral, is a curve that starts as a point in the center, and curls around to a large circle. A spiral can also be shown as concentric circles, consisting of a set of nested circles. Found in nature, such as in nautilus shells, spirals are some of the oldest geometric shapes, found carved into Neolithic passage tombs in the United Kingdom. Anthropologists and spiritualists typically associate spirals with shamanism and the achievement of altered states of consciousness and also with endless life.


Point-up triangles represent a strong foundation or stability. Earth and water symbols are formed from point-up triangles. Pointing upward stands for the ascent to heaven.


Triangles pointing downward can be a symbol for movement, strength and power, as in an arrowhead. They can be powerful talismans, creating motion and movement forward. Symbols for air and fire are formed from point-down triangles;
point-down triangles can represent the descent into the physical world.


The cross commonly represents the earth and the physical universe, particularly in Western culture, encompassing the four physical elements (earth, water, air, and fire) and the four cardinal directions (north, south, east, and west). The astrological symbol for Earth is a cross inside a circle. This symbol, also known as a sun cross or solar wheel, has been associated with the sun and its four seasons. The cross is best known in its Christian context as a symbol of sacrifice and salvation.


The square represents solidity, a perfection that is static, dependable, earthly and material and the balance of the number 4. In Hinduism, the square represents cosmic order and the balance of opposites; in Native American religions, the square represents permanence, a safe place. In Chinese symbolism, the square represents the earth. In many, many cultures, a square is a meeting place, a plaza at the heart of a city.


To Pythagoras, a five-pointed star represented the five elements that make up humans: fire, water, air, earth, and spirit. The five-pointed star, called a pentagram, has been used for millennia by a variety of cultures. Five-pointed stars are found in Mesopotamia from the 4th millennium BCE. Stars are used in conjunction with a crescent to represent Islam. Muhammad said that the star represented "our smiling hope, the beauty of aim and object, and the light of our belief in God." Most uses of the pentagram in Western society descend from occult traditions, and in Wicca, it’s a symbol of protection.


Excerpt from the book Intentional Metalsmithing.

Back to blog