Magickal symbolism of spirals

In our exploration of symbolism and how it can be used in magickal practice, the spiral is perhaps something you’ll see in virtually every spiritual path, cultural tradition, or religious system. It can mean very different things, depending on the context and the system in which it is being used, but there are some universal consistencies as well.

Spirals in Mathematics

First of all, if you don’t think math and spirituality and occultism are not just intertwined, but deeply embedded in one another, think again. The spiral is perhaps one of the most universally understood examples of where math and spirit overlap.

The spiral is found throughout not just nature on Earth, but across the universe. You can find them in the horns on animals, hurricanes in the ocean, and the shape of galaxies outside our own. On an even more minute scale, you can find spirals in your fingerprints, the shape of the double helix of our DNA, and even some bacteria, which form in spiral shapes.

And these spirals mostly all conform to a certain logarithmic ratio of each new turn about the center to the others. This is referred to as the golden spiral, and based on the golden ratio (represented by the Greek letter phi, 1.618).

The fact that nature and the cosmos display this ratio so mathematically perfectly is thought to hold significant meaning, both symbolically and spiritually, and many different cultures and spiritual traditions observed this phenomena over time (and without the use of modern calculators, I might add).

Spirals in Spirituality

Which brings me to the next point. Spirals can be interpreted based on whether they appear to open from the center or are closing in on the center. Think ‘expanding’ vs ‘contracting.’

They are the archetypal path of growth and transformation, but also decay and dissolution. They can be both waxing or waning.

Examples of spirals commonly found in spiritual symbolism might include just spiral drawings, but also coiled serpents, spiral staircases (ascending or descending, depending on perspective of the viewer), vines twisting around something, a whirlpool of water, and even smoke plumes rising off a flame.

The double serpents of the caduceus are another example of spirals, actually a double spiral, which generally symbolizes the marriage of the two seemingly opposing symbolic paths.

Spirals are often used to depict a journey, especially a transformative one, or just transformation itself. They can also symbolize the winds, especially the transformative winds of time. And similarly, the destructive, but still transformative, whirlpool currents of the ocean.

They are also symbolic of shamanic journeying in many cultures, but they can be used to depict the psychological journey each of us experiences as our psyche, soul, and inner being experiences the same evolution repeatedly, but each time at an increasingly higher level. Profound, right?

The spiral also represents the cyclical nature of life. All life will attempt to expand in a similar pattern through the path of least resistance, which happens to (mathematically) take on the shape of a spiral, through the aforementioned golden ratio.

And last, the spiral is also a symbol of fertility, as life begins at the center, multiplying and expanding in cycles, such as those of the moon, the seasons, and birth/death.

How can you use spirals in your magickal practice?

I think there are so many options here, but most obviously, fertility spells or spells for bountiful harvests. Even if all you do is grow a few things in your home garden, you still want fertile soil and healthy plants, right?

You could also use a spiral pattern you trace during a ritual or spell for transformation. This would be particularly useful if you are experiencing some harsh and uncomfortable events in life through which you are meant to grow, but through which you need some guidance or simply strength. This may help with understanding that each level of the journey creates a higher ascent.

A spiral could also be used in your ritual or spell work with requests for balance. Because spirals are nature’s way of seeking a balanced growth, this would be an appropriate way to depict that.

And finally, I think spirals could be excellent for shadow work or exploring your shadow side. Using the spiral staircase concept in a descending perspective, journeying to the depths in order to address what may be holding you back, and then returning again is simply powerful.

symbolism of the goat

There are few other creatures of the natural world that have been maligned in spiritual and religious symbolism as much as the goat. Poor goats, right?

Apart from spending way more time than I’d like to admit watching screaming goats videos on Youtube (you’re welcome), goats are quite awesome. They are nature’s tenacious, intelligent, and industrious little cloven-footed buddies.

They keep plant life controlled, they produce an alternative to cow milk (goat milk is delicious, if you haven’t tried it), and they’re super playful and friendly. They also provide meat, fleece, and skin to cultures who raise them and care for them.

Wild mountain goats are able to clamber up nearly sheer rock faces, thousands of feet above the ground, almost effortlessly and without fear. Goats in pastures use creative escape plans to free themselves. Goats seize opportunities.

But let’s walk it back a bit to what the goat symbolizes from a magickal or spiritual perspective.

History of Goat Symbolism

Goat legends abound in Pagan religions, which is likely part of the reason why they were later to be associated with ‘the devil’ in Judeo-Christian symbology.

Zeus was suckled by the goat Amalthea. Thor’s chariot is drawn by two goats (who can be cooked and eaten, and then rise again the next morning anew).

Goats were traditionally associated with fertility and virility, thanks to the impassioned and persistent nature of a rutting billy goat. This might also be why their image was darkened by the church, because sexy sexy goats might spread the wrong message?

Anyway, the Greek god Pan was a well-known goat-god, half man/half goat and connected to fertility, sensuality, sexual pleasure, and lust. At some point after the establishment of the Catholic church, the image of Pan was given red skin, menacing black horns, and glowing red eyes and became the symbol of evil.

Aphrodite was also shown riding a goat as her favorite mount.

Satyrs were half man/half goat figures who played music and enjoyed revelry and pleasure. Goats were associated with Dionysus, to whom they were traditionally sacrificed.

The practice of ‘scapegoating’ in Judaic lore (and this appears to perhaps also have been practiced in some other early Middle Eastern sects that were not specifically Jewish, but I can’t find good sources to confirm) involved a village or family group designating one goat each year to bear the sins, shame, negative thoughts, and so forth of each individual.

The people of the village or group would each walk up and touch the goat, symbolically transferring their sins and bad deeds/thoughts to the goat. Once the goat was full of their negativity and sins, it would be set free to wander off into the desert, carrying their sins and misdeeds away with it. In other words, being their scapegoat, and accepting whatever punishment or judgment would be issued for those sins.

And then we get to the point in which the goat literally became associated with the biblical Satan.

The goat head is now used to symbolize the reversed pentagram, such as on the seal of The Satanic Temple (they’re a rad group, I highly recommend you read their tenets), and is also part of the symbolism of Baphomet, who the Templars were accused of praying to or worshipping after they confessed during torture, and who was then subsequently established as a heathen or pagan idol.

However, scholars now largely agree that the name Baphomet was an Old French bastardization of the name Muhammad (Mahomet) and that there was not a separate entity named Baphomet associated with the Christian devil.

Otherwise, prior to those recorded confessions in the early 1300s, the name did not appear in any records, and was certainly not associated with goats.

Duality of Goats vs Sheep

From an organized Judeo-Christian religion perspective, sheep were the good followers, who stayed in the pasture and didn’t stray. They didn’t attempt to escape or find excitement. They did as they were told and just ate their pasture grass and were happy being told by the shepherd and sheepdog that this was their life and it would always be this way.

How many religious passages, songs, and hymns refer to ‘the flock,’ ‘pastures/pastoral,’ ‘fleece,’ and so forth? Sheep were divine, or associated with following the divine and being ‘good.’

The goat on the other hand, questioned. The goat knew that just outside that fence there was excitement, adventure, and juicy she-goats to get feisty with. The world is the goat’s oyster. The goat is down for a challenge and whatever pleasures it can find.

The goat pursued its urges, never regretted, and achieved heightened experiences.

And this, my friends, is where a large amount of the ruining of the goat’s reputation and image came from by the church as it systematically wiped out or suppressed Pagan traditions and belief systems.

The message was pretty clear: don’t think for yourself, don’t question, and don’t even think about kinky mating!

What Messages Does the Goat Bring Us?

If you feel particularly connected to the imagery, character, or spirit of the goat, or are seeing a lot of goat imagery popping up lately, here are some things to consider:

  • What barriers hold you in? Are they really there, or are they self-created? Is it time to leap the fence and explore?
  • You may need to explore sexuality and pleasure, but conversely, just like a reversed tarot card, if you’re already doing a lot of sexual exploration, this symbol might signal unconsciously compelled sexual compulsions or an unhealthy lust for power
  • Are you following blindly without questioning? Perhaps its time to re-assess something in your life and take ownership of your trajectory
  • Goats can also symbolize energetic pursuit of a want or need. Is there something lacking that you can apply more energy to in order to manifest it?

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