Circle Symbolism and Meaning
I can't hope to quench the inexhaustible implications of the circle symbol meaning in this page. It's meanings are just too far reaching and profound. However, I'll try to cover a few highlights in human culture about the circle as a symbol.
Stand behind the eyes of the first hominin. Look out into the skies through these primitive eyes. With not-so-primitive understanding, you will see your first circles - the moon, the sun, the dots in the skies as planets, stars, and realize a grandeur that can be spoken in a circular language. Indeed, you can put stick to earth and make your own circle in the ground to communicate that concept of all-inclusive, cosmic unity.
Every other (human-based) understanding of the circle symbol meaning stems from that one moment of looking out from the eyes of the first human. From the life-giving solar orb, to its emotionally charged moon mate who sees to the flow of spiritual life, the influence of circles is literally stellar, as it is cosmic and celestial.
I love how the irises and pupils of humankind's eyes are a microcosm of the circular nature of these grand kahuna's of life (sun/moon/earth, etc). It's like we open our awareness (our eyes) to take in the expansiveness of the cycles in time, life and nature itself. A mirroring of perception, if you will.
The circle symbol meaning is universal, sacred and divine. It represents the infinite nature of energy, and the inclusivity of the universe.
Our ancient kin observed a circular aspect to the cycles of time, specifically in the movements of the seasons. In waltzing rhythms of time, and with the revolutions of the earth 'round the sun, we can feel the same kind of evolution in annual time and seasons - just as our forefathers and mothers did.
In alchemical symbolism the circle is a center point of focus. Circles are a prolific feature in esoteric alchemical art. Circles are an emphasis on the featured work within its contoured border. It's like alchemists were underscoring the function of the element. If fire is a feature in the work, a circle around it will illuminate the focus of fire.
To the northern Native American mind, the circle is the sun, the moon and her children (in terms of gender), man and woman. But, we should not get too literal with these definitions. The Native perspective is vastly deep. And so, the circle also embodies a spiritual energy (as all things - sun, moon, etc holds spiritual connotations - and so too would their symbolic expression). Consider the circle symbol meaning in conjunction with the Native medicine wheels. Here we get the sense of the integration of energy and matter - spirit and man, combining for the purpose of greater spiritual understanding and evolution.
Circles were protective emblems to the Celtic mind. Circles were often drawn as protective boundaries, not to be crossed by enemy or evil. Circles were also Celtic symbols of the cosmos - noting in symbol the intangible procession of time.
In Chinese macrocosmic symbology, the circle expresses the shape of heaven, with earth signified by a square. When we see a square inside a circle in Chinese art, it represents the union between heaven and earth. The deeply significant yin yang symbol is circular, and thus speaks to us of encompassing the whole of duality with intent for unified balance.
This juxtaposition is mirrored in microcosmic symbology expressed by Dr. Jung. Naturally, as a symbolphile, I love learning about Dr. Carl Jung's thoughts on symbolism, and I particularly admire his perspective on the circle symbol meaning. He viewed the circle as an geometric archetype of the psyche. When combined with a square (archetypal of the body) it explains the relationship or balance between psyche and body.
What's even better, is that the circle includes us in the grand scheme. In fact, when a symbol, (any symbol) is shown with a circle around it - that's our intuitive cue; the symbol beckons the viewer to be drawn in, and included in the experience of whatever symbolic message the center may hold.
For example, if a cross is depicted with a circle around it signals an enhanced meaning of inclusion, unification and wholeness. The circle invites the observer to step inside the sacredness the cross represents, while at the same time it holds in the holiness - like a capsule of honor.
Consider some objects within our experience that are circles. Let your awareness touch some of these objects and free-associate about them in relation to your own consciousness...
In a broader sense, these random circular objects can be assembled like puzzle pieces to provide a big picture of our transcendental view of nature. Just play with these, or other circular objects that appeal to you. Take time to just sit within the circles of time, space and matter. I'm willing to bet you will be met with some expansive understanding in the process.
This is a brief page on some thoughts about the circle symbol meaning. I invite you to launch on your own personal study and contemplation about the circle. Explore its meaning and come full circle in your own awareness of its symbolic importance.
An Important Note About Signs, Symbols and Their Meanings
Signs and symbols cultivate their meanings according to culture, context, passage of time in society as well as mass societal opinion. What's cool and highly important is that signs and symbols earn their most powerful meanings from our own personal perspectives.
This website strives to provide you with the best, time-honored information when defining signs and symbols. However, in the final analysis, "Beauty (and symbolism) is in the eye of the beholder."
Having said that, it's in our best interest to invest the time to do personal research on symbolic events happening to us. This website is just one perspective in an ocean of variety and diversity in the realm of symbolism. So dive in! There is a whole universe of deeper meanings to explore! You can start your research by clicking on the links at the end or to the side of this page. Odds are good I've got a follow-up article about this symbolic topic. ;)
As always, thanks for your willingness to learn more about the language of symbolism. It's a language that is universal and everywhere. It's super-groovy to travel with you on your symbolic path, and maybe offer a little translation along the way. Thanks for reading and exploring!