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Vajra

Vajra is a Sanskrit word meaning both 'thunderbolt' and 'diamond'.  It is a weapon won in battle which is used as a ritual object to symbolise the properties of a diamond (indestructibility) and those of a thunderbolt (irresistible force).

The Vajra is essentially a type of club with a ribbed spherical head.  The ribs may meet in a ball-shaped top, or they may be separate and end in sharp points with which to stab.  The Vajra is the weapon of the Vedic rain and thunder deity Indra, and is used symbolically by the Dharma traditions of Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism, often to represent firmness of spirit and spiritual power.

The use of the Vajra as a symbolic and ritual tool spread from India along with Indian religion and culture to other parts of Asia.  See also Dorje.




Valknut The Valknut is also known as 'Hrungnir's heart', 'heart of the slain', 'heart of Vala' and 'Borromean triangles'.  It is best known as the Valknut (knot of the slain) and has been found on stone carvings as a funerary motif, where it probably signified the afterlife.  When found on old Norse stone carvings and funerary Stčles, the emblem is often referred to as 'Hrungnir's heart', after the legendary giant of the Eddas.

The emblem can often be found in art depicting the god Odin, where it may represent his power over death.  Some versions of the Valknut can be drawn unicursally (in one stroke without lifting the pen), making it a popular talisman of protection against spirits.

The Valknut's three interlocking shapes are suggestive of related Celtic symbols of motherhood and rebirth -- it may have been a goddess symbol at some point in history.  The nine points suggest rebirth, pregnancy, and cycles of reincarnation.  The number nine is also suggestive of the Nine Worlds and the nine fates of Norse mythology.  Their interwoven shape suggests the belief of the inter-relatedness of the three realms of Earth, Hel, and the Heavens, and the nine domains they encompass.  The Valknut is also an important symbol to many followers of the Asatru religion, who often wear it as a symbol of their faith.




Vegvisir The Vegvisir or 'runic compass' is a Viking Rune stave, a magical device used as an aid in sea navigation.  According to a number of legends, this protective symbol was inscribed on seagoing vessels to insure their safe return.  The most common depiction of the rune comes from the 17th century CE Galdrabók, an Icelandic grimoire.

Today, it is most commonly paired with the Aegishjalmur, used as a symbol of spiritual guidance and an emblem of identification by Asatru believers.  The most well-known example is worn as a tattoo by the Icelandic pop singer, Bjork.  See also Asatru and Icelandic Magical Staves.




Vel The sharp, triangular lance or Vel, is the sacred weapon of the Hindu war god Murugan (also called Skanda, Karttikeya, Subramanya).  Vel's other attributes are a peacock and a mace.

The Vel in Vedic mythology was a demon-slaying instrument; it symbolises penetrating spiritual knowledge, wisdom, and the cutting away of ignorance.  In an annual procession honouring the god in Southern India, it is common for devotees to pierce their cheeks or other body parts with miniature lances.




Venus Originally a goddess of gardens and vineyards, Venus became the major deity of love and beauty in Rome after the influx of Greek deities.  Venus (her Greek counterpart is Aphrodite) was born in the sea and first came to shore in Cyprus, floating on a scallop shell1.

During a wedding ceremony thrown by Jupiter, the uninvited goddess of discord threw a Golden Apple into the room with 'For the Fairest' written on its side, which Venus, Juno and Minerva all wanted.  Eventually, they decided to let a man, Paris, judge between them, but they were all so beautiful he couldn't make up his mind.

Juno said she would make him powerful, Minerva said she would make him wise, while Venus offered him Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world.  He chose Venus, and therefore Helen.  Unfortunately, Helen was already married to Menelaus, so when Paris carried her off to his home at Troy, Menelaus came with his allies to get her back.  Paris and his entire family were killed and Troy was destroyed.

The symbol for Venus is designated as that for the female symbol, thought to be the stylised representation of the hand mirror of this goddess of love.

In astrology, Venus is the ruler of Libra and Taurus.

1 The renowned Renaissance artist Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, known as Sandro Botticelli (c. 1445 - 1510), used this symbolism to great effect in his famous painting 'The Birth of Venus'.




Venus of Willendorf The Venus of Willendorf is an 11.1 centimetre tall (4.4 in) Venus figurine estimated to have been carved during the European Upper Palaeolithic, or 'Old Stone Age', a period of prehistory starting around 30,000 BCE.  It was found in 1908 by a workman named Johann Veran or Josef Veram during excavations conducted by archaeologists Josef Szombathy, Hugo Obermaier and Josef Bayer at a Palaeolithic site near Willendorf, a village in Lower Austria near the town of Krems.  It is carved from an oolitic limestone that is not local to the area, and tinted with red ochre.  The figurine is now in the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna, Austria.

Similar sculptures, first discovered in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries CE, are traditionally referred to in archaeology as 'Venus figurines', due to the widely-held belief that depictions of nude women with exaggerated sexual features represented an early fertility fetish, perhaps a mother goddess.  The reference to Venus is metaphorical since the figurine predates the mythological figure of Venus by many thousands of years.

Very little is known about the Venus' origin, method of creation, or cultural significance.  However, it is one of numerous 'Venus figurines' surviving from Palaeolithic Europe.  The purpose of the carving is the subject of much speculation.  Like other similar sculptures, it probably never had feet, and would not have stood on its own, although it might have been pegged into soft ground.  Parts of the body associated with fertility and childbearing have been emphasised, leading researchers to believe that the Venus of Willendorf may have been used as a fertility fetish.  The figure has no visible face, her head being covered with circular horizontal bands of what might be rows of plaited hair, or perhaps a type of headdress.




Vergina Sun The Sun of Vergina (Macedonian Sun, Argead Star) is a distinct eight, twelve, or sixteen-rayed figure, so named after a stunning example found on a larnax (coffin) in the tomb of Philip II of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great and a notable member of the Argead Dynasty.  The motif itself is ubiquitous in Greek and Macedonian art.  It is most likely a solar symbol, being found in temple art depicting the Sun god Helios.

Since the discovery of the tomb in Vergina (a small town in northern Greece), the Sun emblem has made its way onto a number of Greek and Macedonian coins, flags, and other objects as a symbol of cultural identity.  Other notable examples of the motif have been found at Eleusis and the Temple of Nemesis.




Vermilion Bird One of the Four Symbols representing four mythological creatures in the Chinese constellations.  They are: the Azure Dragon of the East; the Vermilion Bird of the South; the White Tiger of the West; and the Black Turtle of the North.  Each one of them represents a direction and a season, and each has its own individual characteristics and origins.  Symbolically and as part of spiritual and religious belief they have been culturally important in China, Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.

The mythological creature in the South is the Vermilion Bird, and its seven mansions are the Well, Ghosts, Willow, Star, Extended Net, Wings and Chariot.  The Vermilion Bird signifies the season of summer.  Interestingly, the Vermilion Bird has been considered to be identical to the Phoenix, which is traditionally associated with Fire, which is also the case with the Vermilion Bird.




Vesica Piscis See Trinity and Triquetra.



Vesta Vesta was the goddess of the hearth, the centre of the Roman home.  She was the protector of the sacred flame, which was supposed to have been brought from Troy to Rome by the hero Aeneus.  This flame had to be kept burning all year, for if it were ever to go out, disaster would strike Rome.  The flame was kept alive by the Vestal Virgins, priestesses who were chosen when they were as young as six.  They had to remain priestesses for thirty years, and were not allowed to marry.

In Roman homes, every day during a meal a small cake was thrown on the fire for Vesta -- it was supposed to be good luck if it burnt with a crackle.




Virgo In many cultures, it is believed there is a link between the position of the Sun, the Moon and other planets at the time of a person's birth.  This position gives individuals certain personality traits, as well as predicting events which are likely to occur in their life.

Virgo makes up one of the twelve 'houses' or signs of the astrological wheel.  Each of the twelve houses represents the position of the heavens at the time of a person’s birth.  Besides their birth sign, e.g. Virgo, an element is attributed to a person at birth, either Earth, Fire, Water or Air:

Symbol: Virgin Maiden
Dates: 22 August – 22 September
Constellation: Virgo
Zodiac Element: Earth
Sign ruler: Mercury
Detriment: Jupiter
Exaltation: Mercury

The Virgo symbol or glyph has several interpretations; some feel it is the celestial wings while others believe it to represent a woman holding a snake.  It is believed that each one of the zodiac signs represents a particular part of the human body -- the zodiac symbol for Virgo relates to the spleen and intestine.

Those born under the zodiac symbol of Virgo are considered to have the following personality traits: practical; likes to be prepared for every situation; interested in their diet and well-being; cautious; calm; precise; pedantic; private people.




Vishuddha (Throat) Chakra The Vishuddha or Throat Chakra is the fifth primary Chakra according to the Hindu tradition of tantra.  Vishuddha is positioned at the throat region, near the spine, with its kshetram or superficial activation point in the pit of the throat.

According to Hindu tradition, this chakra is described as having a 'white colour' with sixteen 'purple' or 'smoke-coloured petals'.  Within the pericarp is a sky-blue downward pointing triangle containing a circular white region like the full Moon, which represents the element of akashi or Aether.  This region is represented by the deity Ambara who is also white in colour and is depicted with four arms holding a noose and a goad.  He makes the gestures of granting boons and dispelling fear while seated upon a white elephant.  The silver crescent is the lunar symbol of nada, pure cosmic sound.  The crescent is symbolic of purity, and purification is a vital aspect of the Vishuddha Chakra page text.




Vulcan Vulcan is the Roman god of Fire and the forge and the son of Juno and Jupiter.  He was the smith and craftsman of the Roman gods, and manufactured Jupiter's thunderbolts in his smithy within the volcano Etna, in Sicily.  He was one of the top 12 gods in the pantheon of ancient Rome according to Dei Consentes (a list of twelve major deities -- six gods and six goddesses). His Greek counterpart was Hephaestus.

Once, he made Jupiter so angry that Jupiter threw him out of Heaven.  It is said he fell to Earth so heavily he broke both legs, which made him lame (some say he had been born with a limp).

He reputedly made women of gold to help him in his smithy.  One day, Jupiter ordered Vulcan to create the first mortal woman out of earth as part of the punishment of humanity for Prometheus' theft of the secret of fire.  The first woman he created was the beautiful Pandora.

Vulcan was married to and deeply loved by Venus, the goddess of love and beauty.  An annual festival known as the Vulcanalia was held on 23 August in his honour.




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