Symbolism Thesaurus Entry: Religion

Every day we interact with objects, places and sensations that affect the way we think and feel. This can be used to the writer's advantage by planting symbols in the reader's path to reinforce a specific message, feeling or idea.

Look at the setting and the character's state of mind, and then think about what you want the reader to see. Is there a descriptive symbol or two that works naturally within the scene to help foreshadow an event or theme, or create insight into the character's emotional plight?

Disclaimer: Once again, this is a subjective topic that people tend to feel strongly about. Please note that I've listed symbols that are commonly identified with religion. Not all religions have been represented here because in order for a symbol in writing to be effective, it needs to be one that the majority of people will understand.

In Nature:
Nature
Mother Earth
Blood
Water (viewed as life-giving)
Crystals
Stonehenge
Beauty in nature
Sacred places (mountains, groves, etc)
Sunlight

In Society:
Cross
Rosary
Star of David
Crescent and Star
Yin Yang
Pentacle
Altar
Chalice
Church/Synagogue
Steeple
Stained glass
Communion wine
Prayer
Candles
Priest's collar
Bible/Scrolls/Koran
Angels
Gods/Goddesses
Jesus Christ
Mary
Buddha
Allah
Confucius
The Pope
Heaven/Hell
The Number Three
Rules
Rituals
The Golden Rule
The Ten Commandments
Church bells ringing
Chanting, singing
Hymns
Dinner blessing
Hands steepled together in prayer
Fish symbol on cars
Religious sayings on bumper stickers
Crossing oneself
A cross hanging from a necklace
A picture of The Last Supper
Evangelism
Organ music
Halos
Angel wings

These are just a few examples of things one might associate with religion. Some are more powerful than others. A cross is a strong symbol, and likely will not require reinforcement. However, a grove of rowan trees could stand for a number of different things and not foreshadow religion on its own. Let the story's tone decide if one strong symbol or several smaller ones work the best.

6 comments:

Beth said...

I gave you the irresistibly sweet blog award today.
bethfred.com

Lisa Gail Green said...

I notice you've had Stonehenge on a couple of these listings lately... Hmm. :D Great list as usual. I would add allusions to biblical stories, but maybe that's too specific.

Becca Puglisi said...

Thank you, Beth! And yeah, Stonehenge popped up last week in the 'mysterious' entry. If it makes an appearance next week, I might have to admit that I have a problem...

Laura Drake said...

I found you about a month ago, and I'm hooked! Amazingly wonderful stuff here - keep up the great work!

Becca Puglisi said...

Welcome, Laura!

Karen Lange said...

I like your suggestion of allowing the story's tone to help dictate symbol choice. Great list, thanks.

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