Ankh Symbolism & Meanings
The Ankh is an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic. Commonly known by a variety of names, including “breath of life”, “the key of the Nile“, and the Latin crux ansata, meaning “cross with a handle”, the ankh simply read as “life” in the ancient Egyptian language. This symbol symbolizes many things. But its original purpose was to illustrate the concept of life being eternal. It was in this way a holy and divine symbol.
In fact, the Egyptian gods are often portrayed with the ankh to this day, carrying it by its loop. Other variations depict the deities holding one in each hand with arms crossed over the chest. Considering this, it’s clear that the ankh was a religious symbol that reflected and encouraged pluralism. All religious sects unite together under the common belief of a cyclical and eternal life.
The ankh symbolic meaning represents tolerance and acceptance. This is why it was adopted into much broader use in modern day. It reminded twentieth century people that the same common courtesy ethics of ancient Egypt should still apply thousands of years later.
Ankh Symbol – History
The exact history of the ankh is unknown, but has been a frequent topic of discussion among historians and Egyptologists for a long time. This Egyptian symbol has been frequently found in tomb paintings and other ancient art forms found in excavations. In these works of art, the ankh often lies at the fingertips of the gods and goddesses who represent the afterlife.
Through research, this has been interpreted as a confirmation of the gift of life being presented to the dead person’s mummy by the deities of the afterlife. Because of this obsession with the afterlife, the ankh was a frequent symbol used in funerals.
Pharaohs, who often thought of themselves as nearly equal to the gods (divine right) were also in possession of this symbol in art work. Although this leads us to believe that it was somewhat of a powerful symbol, limited to those who rose above a certain social status, that is not the case.
Ankhs were also carried by Egyptians as amulets due to the belief that it would bring them good luck in the areas of personal strength and health. Mirrors in the shape of an ankh have also been found in old dwellings, as well. It is unclear as to whether they were used merely for decorative purposes or if people believed that it provided them with a perception into another world.
Ankh & Tarot Symbolic Meanings
The historical popularity of the ankh symbol throughout the ages allowed it to integrate seamlessly into the wisdom of the Tarot. In this mystical belief system, the ankh represents seeing via a new view. This view could be focused on a variety of subjects, both larger and smaller picture in regards to life. It could incorporate the large theme of a constantly moving life or refer to taking a step onto a new pathway.
These ideas stemmed from the physical composition of the ankh symbolism. The loop on the top of the symbol represents the orb that is the sun, while the horizontal line descending from it signifies its horizon on the Earth. It is this contact that sustains our lives and ensures that our sustenance will continue.
Like the mirrors found in Egyptian dwellings, that Tarot interpretation of the ankh addresses the idea of the loop representing a portal to other dimensions – a link to other “worlds”. In this way, it can be deemed a type of key that unlocks other realms, particularly that of the dead. This seems contradictory, as its literal translation means “life”.
However, groups that use this symbol undoubtedly recognize the duality and interconnectedness of life and death. Besides, the above-mentioned themes certainly represent the status quo of ankh symbolism schools of thought. But this sign can also represent other spiritual themes, including protection, honor, a sacred covenant, and the obtainment of higher-level wisdom. Like all symbols, the ankh has many historical implications. However, this does not mean that the symbol cannot have unique and person symbolism for you and you only.