Triangle Meaning and Symbolism
Symbolic Triangle Meaning
I wear a lot of rings, and one of my favorites features a bunch of triangles along the band. It's crude and cheap (doubtlessly picked up for a few bucks at the state fair if memory serves), but I love the ability to switch its meaning in a certain wearing of it.
When I wear the ring right side up, the triangles stand erect, and I'm affirming my masculine energies. When inverted, tips pointed down, I'm hailing my feminine wiles. Few objects can match the duplicity of my moods, so I appreciate this versatility.
Some keywords associated with triangle meaning include...
Triangle Symbol Meanings
This sort of versatility is what captures themes of magic, wonder and creativity in the triangle meaning.
None of the other basic shapes offer this kind of inherent duplicity. When we turn a square on its side, the symbol meaning remains the same. Same with the circle - rolling it around, it's still a circle.
But the triangle proposes mammoth (polar even) variables in meanings when tipped top from bottom. To wit:
Properties of Inverted Triangle
Female, Lunar, Yoni, Shakti, Passive, Cave, Down, Mother
Properties of Erect Triangle
Male, Solar, Lingam, Shakta, Assertive, Mountain, Up, Father
These are just a few examples of how a simple shift of this symbol can offer huge variations in meaning. I invite you to contemplate these and other similarities, as I believe pondering these solidifies the symbolic experience the triangle symbol has to share.
Any discussion about triangle meaning cannot continue without connecting it with the number three. Indeed, the triangle meaning is inseparable from the number three.
All the mystic teachings incorporate the power of three within their folds. Three represents the union of the numbers prior to it (One and Two). Numerologically speaking, if One represents force, and Two represents an opening, then Three is the birthing of true wisdom.
Consider just a few time-honored triads proposed by esoteric triangles...
Historical and Cultural Trinities Represented by the Triangle
- Waxing, Waning, Full
- Spirit, Mind, Body
- Father, Son, Holy Ghost
- Mother, Father, Child
- Past, Present, Future
- Power, Intellect, Love
- Thought, Feeling, Emotion
- Mother, Maiden, Crone
- Love, Truth, Wisdom
- Creator, Destroyer, Sustainer
- Creation, Preservation, Destruction
The symbolic idea here, is that the vertical side represents one aspect, the horizontal side another aspect and the hypotenuse is offspring of the combining sides. The combination of one and another produces a new form of being altogether (a child, as it were).
This, among other complexities is where the triangle symbol meaning of creation/creativity is stemmed. Each side and corner sings out a melody, and their combination in form creates a marvelous harmonic orchestration.
Designations of "mother, maiden, crone" are commonplace among researchers of Celtic triads. The concept was first proposed in modern literature by Robert Graves who observed the triple aspect of the divine feminine in his book, The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth. The observation is valid, but potentially overrated. There is vastly more to the sacred triad than just this oversimplified reference.
Rather, I prefer the seasonal or cyclical inference of Celtic life: Birth (renewal), Death (closure), Life (transcendence). The prevalence of trinities in Celtic era may also imply their classification of worlds: Other world, Mortal world, Celestial world. But, to be sure, I am in no way discounting the triple aspect of the Goddess, and find Graves' observation valuable.
To the Greeks, the triangle is seen as the delta glyph and is symbolic of a doorway.
This really appeals to me because it revisits the combination of polarities to push out a new opening.
For example, balancing thought and emotion would provide a doorway to higher wisdom (the hypotenuse).
Triangles are featured in Aristotle's conception of the five elements too (shown below). Why did he assign triangles to each of the elements? Why not circles or squares?
I contend that there is a deeper activity of creation inherent within each individual element. Certainly, combined these elements are the sum of infinite potential and Divine creativity. But individually they flicker their own creative sparks too.
Lastly, I propose these questions on my Tarot site as an exercise to personalize the triangle meaning. I'm including them here as I find them equally pertinent in our exploration of the triangle:
- What does it feel like to be in-between?
- How can I find strength through the sacred trinity?
- Are the sum of my parts working together towards unified glory?
- If I had to assign philosophical meanings to each side of a triangle, what would they be?
- How can I utilize this philosophical triangle to propel me into a higher existence?
- What kind of structure do I have in place that secures my spiritual evolution?
By asking ourselves these questions, we begin to personalize what is potentially an overwhelming subject of triangle meaning.
In closing, thanks for allowing me to wax on about the seemingly infinite ramifications of the triangle meaning. I hope you enjoyed these perspectives. But don't stop at this page. Find triangles in your life, in nature, in books at your library...learn more about them and incorporate them into your experience.
Our lives are like giant lab experiments. We can introduce triangles and other symbols in our daily practices record the results of our findings; ultimately leading to development and growth.
As always, thanks for reading!
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An Important Note About Signs, Symbols and Their Meanings
Signs and symbols cultivate their meanings according to culture, context, passage of time, and 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!