Interpretive Symbols
By Sally Diane


Since early man first learned to make a mark on the wall of his cave, symbology has become an important part of the human experience. Every day, we are bombarded with symbols that direct, warn and inform but the symbols that communicate directly to our subconscious, the universal symbols, make the greatest impact. These images that mean something more present themselves through dreams, coincidence or psychic impression.


Both Carl Jung1 and Sigmund Freud2 wrote about universal symbols, specifically for use in dream interpretation. Sir Edward Waite3 and Aleister Crowley4 meticulously incorporated symbols in the artwork in their respective Tarot decks. For millennia, mystics have found symbols within the random pictures formed by tea leaves, candle wax, coffee dregs, and flame. In Animal Speak, Ted Andrews provides an extensive directory of animal symbology. There is a plethora of books and articles on universal symbology, each with the author’s own glossary of interpretations. Although such a glossary can be a helpful guide, being able to connect with the esoteric meaning of our own symbols is far more accurate.




The most common way to receive a universal symbol is through dream. Not all of us remember our dreams and very few remember them totally upon waking, but often there are lingering images. Symbols can also come to us by coincidence. This happens during the normal course of our day when an image or concept is presented repeatedly or strikes an unusual emotional cord. Psychic impression is when we openly reach out to receive universal symbols. This can be done consciously by using tools (such as Tarot and tea leaves) to present symbols or subconsciously by opening oneself to receive spiritual messages. The latter can happen through deliberate action (such as trance or channeling) or through happenstance (you get an image you just can’t shake from your mind). If disregarded, symbols will present themselves over and over until they are interpreted or the message is no longer valid.


Interpreting Symbols


What a symbol means can vary greatly from person to person. Our life’s experiences and personal attitudes strongly impact how we relate to a given symbol. Interpreting universal symbols can be simplified by asking three simple questions:


what is it?”


what does it do?”


what does this mean to me?”


To illustrate this, let’s take the example of the symbol “cat”. In answer to the question “what is it?” a cat lover would say “companion” while a veterinarian would say “patient”. The question “what does it do?” would be answered “catch mice in the barn” by the farmer and “dig up flower beds” by the urban gardener. “What does cat mean to me?” when asked of the cat phobic would be danger while the professional breeder would see cat as profit. When interpreting the symbols you receive, your first instinct is usually the most correct. Always keep in mind that the universal symbols you receive are meant for you and are presented in a way that you can understand.



  1. Jung, Carl Gustav, 1875-1961. Pioneer in the field of psychology. Jung's theories of the collective unconscious, archetypes and synchronicity provide insight to how and why universal symbols work.

  2. Freud, Sigmund, 1856-1939. Austrian Psychologist, coined term "psychoanalysis" and developed free association technique. Work briefly with Carl Jung on psychoanalytic theory and practice. Published The Interpretation of Dreams in 1900. 

  3. Waite, Arthur Edward, 1850-1942. Author and mystic, Waite designed the Rider-Waite tarot deck which was illustrated by Pamela Coleman Smith under his guidance. Deck was used to illustrate his book The Key to the Tarot, 1910.

  4. Crowley, Aleister, 1875-1947. Occultist and author. Considered radical by his peers. Designed the Toth tarot deck which was painted by Lady Freda Harris with Crowley's direction. This project started in 1938 and completed in 1943. Crowley published The Book of Toth in 1944 but the Toth deck itself was not published until 1969.


Attached is my glossary of symbol interpretations, intended to offer suggestions of possible meanings, not necessarily cast in stone:


Glossary of Interpretive Symbols


Acorn – Great potential

Adversary – Direct conflict with rival.

Airplane – Speedy resolution. Travel.

Alligator – Use Caution. Hidden enemies and dangers.

Almond – Short term windfall

Altar – Society, conformity.

Amethyst – Temperance, harmony

Amulet – Twist of fate.

Anchor – Grounding force. Stability

Angel –- Spiritual protection. Blessings.

Animal Attack – Defeat at the hands of a powerful adversary.

Ankh – Life, fertility, rejuvenation.

Ant – Labour, teamwork, dedication

Apple – Love, temptation

Apricot – Petty annoyances, hidden obstacles

Arch – Efforts are handsomely rewarded

Arguments – Competitive conflicts.

Arrow – Good advice brings rapid progress

Ashes – Woe and bitter tears

Ax – Involuntary separation

Baby – New life, new opportunities

Backpack – Travel and adventure. Learning through experience.

Baggage – Travel or burdens.

Balcony – Bad news about distant friend or loved one

Banner – Triumph, well fought victory

Bats – Evil forces at work. Use extreme caution

Battle – Disputes and dogma.

Beacon – Heed well-timed warning.

Beans – Prosperity and abundance

Bear – Strength and good instincts

Beaver – Favourable home conditions. Hard work rewarded

Bed – Sorrow and worries about others. A period of stillness and reflection

Bees – Cooperation, shared wealth

Beetle – Poverty and ill-will

Beggar – Help the less fortunate. Be generous.

Bell – Joyous message, clarity

Bench – Meetings and reunions

Birds – Colourful birds indicate joy and freedom. Black plumage is deception and ill health

Blood – Beware of treachery from close associates

Boat – Unexpected changes bring bright prospects

Bookcase – Careful thought and research.

Books – Wisdom, new knowledge brings adventure, honour or wealth

Bottles – Good luck in affairs of the heart

Box – Organization, carefully planned endeavours are successful

Bracelet – Gift from a suitor

Bread – A prosperous and happy home

Bricks – Uncertainty in business. Indicates a need to complete what has been started

Bridge – Transformation period. Change in life’s direction

Broom – Need to simplify one’s affairs

Bull – Determination and physical strength.

Butterfly – Happiness and light-heartedness. A pleasant message from far away

Cabbage – Disruption. Damage to reputation

Cage – Domination of others

Camel – Endurance and tenacity

Candle – Prayers answered if lit. Unlit candle is absence of faith

Candy – Recreation and joy.

Carrot – Prosperity and health

Castle – Happy home. Wealth and stability.

Cat – Manipulation and treachery

Caterpillar – Project in early stages – need to build to succeed.

Cathedral – Soul searching. Need to define spiritual values.

Celery – A good start fizzles out. Indicates a lack of real substance.

Cemetery – Clinging to past.

Chain – Bondage, restriction.

Chair – Comfort offered may not be beneficial. Stay active and involved.

Chalice – Divine blessings, spiritual guidance.

Chariot – Control over difficult emotions.

Cheese – Warns against being lured into a bad situation.

Cherries – Short term gains.

Cherubs – Kind words and encouragement.

Chickens – Basic needs are met but prosperity delayed.

Children – New birth, new ideas, naivety.

Choir – Support group

Christmas tree – Festivity, gifts, pleasant surprises

Circle – End of old cycle, beginning of new.

City – Sophistication, fashion.

Clams – Hidden treasures, small gains.

Clergyman – Wise guidance, society, living up to expectations of others. Ethical choices.

Clock – Need to manage time better.

Clouds – Ideas, hopes, fleeting opportunities.

Clover – Luck, prosperity, high hopes.

Club – Business advantage.

Coal – Material potential. Requires great deal of effort.

Coat – Self protection.

Coat-of-arms – Family legacy.

Cocktail – Lack of focus and discipline.

Coffin – Bad omen.

Coins – Earned money, financial improvement.

Comet – Inspiration, unexpected good news.

Compass – Direction, clarity of goals.

Corn – Success, abundance, rewards of labour.

Couch – Laziness, stagnation, dwindling resources.

Cows – Quiet tenacity, ability to multitask.

Crabs – Insecurity, over-reaction to emotions, “lost in love”.

Cradle – Potential for success must be nurtured.

Cricket – Failure due to not thinking big enough.

Crocodile – Powerful friends or enemies.

Cross – Stability, all elements for success present.

Cross roads – Need to make decision.

Crow – Unusual circumstances and events.

Crown – Achievement, victory.

Cucumber – Rapid but short-lived growth.

Curtains – Discretion, privacy, keep you secrets to yourself.

Dance – Joy, rejuvenation, celebration, appreciation.

Dandelion – Happy times and good friends.

Deer – Kindness, rapid resolution of conflicts.

Devil – Manipulation, abuse, current situation detrimental.

Diamonds – Wealth, strength and resilience, beneficial alliances.

Dice – Situation unpredictable, risks must be taken.

Doctor – Healing and recovery. Positive results obtained with professional help.

Dog – Loyal friends, good instincts.

Dolphin – Wise counsel. Friendly advice and assistance.

Donkey – Tenacity and determination. Travel may be needed.

Door – Opportunity, new beginning.

Dove – Peace, truce, mending fences.

Dragon – Unexpected difficulties. Identify and confront enemies.

Drum – Communicate. Rally support for your cause.

Duck – Ability to overcome adversity.

Dynamite – Sudden drastic change. Short term damage can be expected.

Eagle – Daring actions required to create opportunity.

Eclipse – Multiple influences at work. May be difficult to accurately assess situation.

Egg – Fertility, abundance, future potential.

Elephant – Physical strength, reliability, strong family ties.

Elevator – Rapid advancement, shortcut to success.

Embrace – Happiness in relationships, favourable partnerships, and effective allies.

Emerald – Appearance of wealth, favourable business offers.

Emperor – Discipline, strong ethics, and selfless leadership.

Empress – Assistance from well-respected woman.

Envelope – Message or invitation. Unrevealed truths.

Eye – Ability to see all points of view, divine protection.

Falcon – Represents one’s aggressive emotions.

Fan – Commotion over minor issue will soon die down.

Farm – Current ventures will yield long-term profits if well planned.

Fates – Events are beyond one’s control at present. Go with the flow.

Father – Guidance and discipline

Feather – You will soon receive an important message.

Fence – Defensive nature. Protection of home and status.

Field – Fresh opportunities require commitment and effort.

Figs – Ability to endure and prosper in difficult situations.

File – Sort out current problems methodically.

Fire – Period of increased activity. Rapid responses and decisions will be required.

Fireworks – Grand ideas may be fun to ponder but have little substance.

Fish – Tranquil period, spiritual grounding.

Flag – Pride, self confidence.

Fleas, lice or ticks – Small annoyances.

Flies – Erosion of resources, rid oneself of negative influences.

Flight – Travel, freedom from worry.

Floods – Disaster, security lost, time to rebuild.

Flower – Good news from loved ones.

Flute – Flirtations and simple joys bring happiness.

Fog – Confusion, lack of focus.

Forest – Preserve long-standing traditions and values.

Fork – Important decision.

Fort – Isolation, suspicious nature.

Fountain – New love, hope.

Fox – Beware treacherous associates.

Frog – Assistance and support of a trusted friend. Considered lucky.

Frost – Stagnation, delays.

Fruit – Abundance, the sweet things in life, fertility.

Funeral – End of long-term associations, Promise of new beginning.

Gallows – False accusations. Loss of livelihood.

Garden – Happiness and freedom from worry.

Garlic – Protection from evil. Good reputation.

Gate – Social engagements, invitations or opportunities.

Gazebo – Haven. Place of peace and tranquility.

Ghost – Past issues resurface.

Gift – Pleasant surprise, serendipity.

Gloves – Subtle influences at work. Need to be both firm and tactful.

Goat – Tenacity. Ability to improvise and “make do”.

Gold – Profit through skill and intelligence.

Grain – Prosperity, amassing wealth.

Grapes – Luxury and abundance.

Grass – Comfort, prosperity.

Grasshopper – Damage to property of reputation from outside forces.

Grave – Reopening old wounds and hurts. Living in the past.

Gun – Volatile situation. Proceed with extreme caution.

Hammer – Decisive action needed. Contracts and legal proceedings favourable.

Handcuffs – Restrictions and frustrations.

Hat – Achievement, recognition of talents.

Hawk – Clarity, truth.

Heart – Sentimentality, romance, nostalgia.

Heirloom – Shared experiences with friends and family.

Helmet – Protect ideas and reputation.

Hieroglyphs – Misinterpretation of current situation, rethink responses.

Hills – Minor obstacles

Hoe – Physically demanding situation reaps rewards.

Home – Security, happiness, hope for a brighter future.

Honey – Good luck, fortunate events, wealth.

Hook – Beware hidden agendas.

Hornet – envy, jealousy

Horse – Mutually beneficial partnership.

Horseshoe – Fortunate aspects increase material wealth.

Hyena – Deception, backstabbing, trust no one.

Ice – Insurmountable obstacle. Need to step back and regroup. Patience required.

Instruments – Ability to shape one’s own destiny

Iron – Confront and resolve uncomfortable or volatile situations quickly.

Ivy – Material gains from unexpected sources.

Jackpot – Fortunate turn of events.

Jail – Need to conform and play by the rules or pay the consequences.

Jars, bottles – Options or choices to be made.

Jester – Positive attitude. Making the best of what life has to offer.

Jewels – Luxury. A time in life when one can indulge.

Jockey – Control of situation.

Judge – Truth will be exposed. Legal affairs favourable.

Kangaroo – A unique approach and quick action brings success.

Keg – Fun. Celebrations, social gatherings.

Key – Vital information.

Keyhole – Secret advantage.

King – The favour of a powerful man.

Kite – Lofty ideals need substance to succeed.

Knife – Worry and tears. Separation, gossip.

Knots – Obstacles. Unanticipated turn of events brings delay.

Laboratory – Time to experiment, try something new.

Ladder – Desire to win. Enjoyment of a good challenge.

Lagoon – Fantasy, self-deception.

Lake – Deep emotions. Be guided by logic and reason.

Lantern – Inspiration. Guiding principal.

Leaves – Correspondence and money.

Ledger – Accountability.

Leeches – Allowing others to drain your resources.

Legislature – Seek the advice of superiors.

Lemons – A positive attitude needed to turn situation.

Letter – Communication. Need to voice one’s honest opinion.

Lettuce – A situation with little substance.

Lightening bolt – An epiphany. Sudden change of circumstance.

Lily – Tranquility, quiet grieving. A promise of rebirth.

Lion – Assertive confidence. Confronting problems with courage and dignity.

Liquor – Confusion, distraction.

Lizard – Ability to rebound and heal.

Lock – Progress is blocked, change strategy.

Locket – Nostalgia, pledge of love.

Locust – Unavoidable set-backs. Conserve resources.

Lyre – Temptation and decadence.

Machinery – Hard work and productivity.

Magic – Faith in one’s self. Exceeding previous limitations.

Magnifying glass – Too much attention to detail. Take the long view.

Manuscript – Situation can still be changed.

Map – Wise guidance received, follow directions carefully.

Marketplace – Increased activity in one’s affairs. Many options, choose well.

Mask – Secrets and deceptions.

Matchstick – New beginning has great potential.

Maze – Organization and concentration needed to solve difficult problem.

Mice – Worries. Little problems cause delays. Use scrutiny and attention to detail.

Milk – Kindness and mercy.

Mirror – Self-examination, soul searching.

Mob – Mass confusion. Stay calm and look for advantage.

Monkey – A friendly disposition, agility, and sense of humour win favour.

Moon – Intuition. Overcoming fears.

Mother – Encouragement and nurturing.

Mountains – Depending on point of view, can be insurmountable obstacles or exciting challenges.

Murder – Bad omen of destruction through one’s own actions or decisions.

Mushroom – Warning that small errors can lead to major disasters. Proceed with caution.

Music – Time of balance and harmony.

Musical Instruments – Communication and networking. Messages sent and received.

Nails – Through common sense and hard work, problems are fixed. Stability restored.

Napkin – Formality and appreciation of tradition. Good manners.

Necklace – The gift of gab.

Needle – Skillful work and patience are rewarded.

Nest – Pleasure in the comfort of one’s own home.

Newspaper – Completion of a project, new beginnings. Passing a milestone in life.

Nurse – Assistance offered with unconditional love.

Nuts – Prosperity, a time of plenty.

Obelisk – Spiritual awakening, important news.

Ocean – Overwhelming problems require group effort to solve.

Odor – Reputation

Olives – Peace, longevity. Protection from harm.

Onion – Careful study will expose errors and deceptions

Oranges – Romance, joy and celebration.

Owl – Discretion and stealth.

Palm tree – Recovery, resurrection. Victory over illness and evil.

Parade – Praise and recognition.

Parrot – Favourable communications. Valuable information received.

Party – Happy gathering. Camaraderie.

Pasta – Expenditure of resources required.

Path – Life’s direction. Progress toward goals.

Peach – Loyal friends and faithful partners bring contentment and joy.

Peacock – Appearance chosen over substance.

Pearls – Rewards of effort, skill, and patience.

Peas – Advancement by using traditional methods.

Pelican – Resourcefulness. Ability to carry many responsibilities.

Pen – Formal communications. Write letters.

Pickax – Hard work required to obtain goal.

Pie – Pleasant surprises.

Pig – Endurance. Ability to overcome adversity.

Pillow – Ease, leisure, comfort.

Pipe – Peace and relaxation. A dreamer.

Pitchfork – Malicious mischief. Protect property and reputation.

Plow – Hard work and skill.

Pocket – Unseen difficulties.

Pole – Position of advantage.

Police – Avoid aggravating those in authority.

Politics – Manipulation and persuasion.

Pomegranate – Fertility, prosperity and abundance.

Poppy – Seduction and illusion.

Purse – A valuable asset.

Pyramid – A solid beginning has great potential.

Queen – The favour of a powerful woman.

Quicksand – Overconfidence will lead to disaster. Pay attention.

Quilt – A fortunate combination. Satisfaction with many aspects of life.

Rabbit – Fertility, small distractions and amusement.

Raccoon – Someone close to you is not what they seem.

Raft – Insulation from danger. A risky venture succeeds.

Rainbow – Good omen. Current difficulties resolved with ease.

Ram – Aggression. Strongly assert self.

Ribbon – Valuable relationships, family ties, business connections.

Ride – Time to relax and let situation unfold naturally.

Ring – Everlasting bonds of love and friendship.

River – Flow of creativity and emotion. Metaphor for life.

Roof – Shelter from harm, security.

Rooster – Grand boasts have little substance.

Ropes – Strong family and ancestral ties. Right of birth.

Ruby – Fortunate circumstance may cause envy.

Saddle – Leadership. Mastering a skill.

Safe – Secrets kept. Privacy protected.

Sailboat – Quick easy progress. Freedom from worry.

Salt – Wisdom. Protection from evil.

Sapphire – Intuition, premonition.

Saw – Drastic action required to eliminate negative influences.

Scales – Balance, fairness. Legal affairs go well.

Scavenger – Benefit from the misfortune of others.

School – Need to get back to basics. Essential knowledge.

Scissors – Ability to shape or destroy. Consider actions carefully.

Scorpion – Deception by trusted associate.

Scroll – Divine truths and mystic secrets revealed.

Seashells – Prosperity and unexpected rewards.

Servant – Advancement with the help of others. Show appreciation.

Sewing – Current problems can be solved with work and compromise.

Shark – Defeat. Avoid risky ventures.

Sheep – Conformity advised. Lie low and be humble. Satisfaction found in the company of family and friends.

Ship – Journeys. Business offers or career opportunities.

Shoes – Reflects one’s goals and lifestyle.

Silk – Well-earned luxury.

Silver – Profit through a labour of love.

Skate – Speedy action smoothly executed.

Sleep – Stagnation. Illness, period of rest.

Snake – Adaptability, confidence. Successful defense of home, family, or livelihood.

Snapshot – Carefully executed plan.

Snow – Introspection, tranquility, self-expression.

Soap – Cleansing, redemption and forgiveness.

Soldier – Blind allegiance, fierce loyalty, devotion to duty.

Soot – Damage to reputation. Vicious gossip.

Spear – Savage competition, brutal tactics used.

Sphere – Wholeness, completion. Achievement of goals and desires. Gaining authority and respect.

Spice – Riches, fortunate opportunities.

Spider – Creative endeavours. Careful attention to detail.

Sponges – Resources drained the exploitation of others.

Stag – Aggression. Strong male influence.

Statues – Unrealistic expectations, illusions.

Steering wheel – Leadership by example.

Storm – Difficult situation with much confusion also brings chance to resolve old issues.

Stove – Productivity. Enjoy the fruits of one’s labour.

Stumble – Setback to overcome. Don’t quit.

Sun – Clarity, joy. Prosperous period in one’s life.

Swamp – Frustration situation with no quick fix.

Swan – Beauty and elegance. Strong defense of family and home.

Swiss cheese – More preparation and planning needed.

Sword – Difficult emotional issues. Face hard truths.

Symphony – Support of coworkers and those in authority.

Table – Preparation and planning for new venture. Offers and negations.

Tapestry – Opulence. Financial gains.

Tattoo – Opinionated nature. Strong values and beliefs.

Teacup – Social position. Good fortune.

Telegram – Official correspondence.

Telephone – News from distant friends or family.

Telescope – Long term planning and goals.

Theft – Loss of possessions or position. Financial setbacks.

Thimble – Tidy surroundings. Putting one’s affairs in order.

Tiger – Vigilance, stealth. Quick aggressive action used to achieve goals.

Tools – Labour and skill.

Toys – Recreation and celebration. Reunion with childhood friends.

Train – Well planned course of action leads to speedy resolution.

Trees – Strong constitution, stability, and good health.

Trumpet – Prayers answered.

Turtle – Determination, strong work ethic and endurance. Long-term success.

Umbrella – Protection from harm.

Vegetables – Good health and material well-being.

Village – Community service build status and character.

Vine – Ability to grow and adapt brings wealth and status.

Vineyard – A labour of love yields lasting results.

Volcano – Disaster befalls superiors.

Wafer – Blessings accepted.

Wagon – Business trip. Offers from distant places.

Wasp – Warns of malicious actions by adversaries.

Weaving – Building one’s future.

Web – Detailed and clever strategy succeeds.

Wedding – Commitment. Promises kept, pledges honoured.

Well – Good fortune comes from unexpected sources.

Whale – Small setbacks seem like insurmountable obstacles. Go forward with confidence and determination.

Wheel – Change of fortune.

Wheelchair – Show disadvantage, need to seek and accept assistance.

Whispers – Intimate secrets.

Wine – Ceremony and celebration. Material well-being.

Wizard – Use unorthodox methods to resolve issues.

Wolf – Primitive emotions surface.

Worms – Quality of life destroyed by carelessness and bad habits. Need to reform and rebuild.