What Does an Inverted Triangle Signify? – When an inverted triangle appeared in a recent advertisement for President Trump’s election campaign, it fanned the controversy that frequently surrounds the divisive President.
The symbol’s historical association with Nazi concentration camps outraged President Trump’s detractors and prompted Facebook to remove the ads for “violating its policy against organised hate.” On the other side of the aisle, the President’s campaign leaders and supporters argued that the symbol was simply an emoji-like representation of antifa, the subject of the advertisement.
As the debate continues, many Americans are pondering the symbolism and meaning of the triangle. The answer is not as straightforward as you may have imagined. The triangle has been used as a symbol for a wide variety of things throughout history, with the earliest examples dating back to ancient civilizations. Let’s examine the complicated history of the highly symbolic triangle.
The Strength of Three
Similarly to how simple gestures can sometimes be the most meaningful, simple shapes can sometimes convey the most profound message. The triangle is the perfect illustration because it is both simple and highly symbolic.
An astonishing variety of meanings have been conveyed by a basic triangle throughout history. As a figure with three sides, the triangle has an eternal connection to the number three, which is frequently illustrated by its various symbolic connotations. Mystical teachings, for instance, frequently rely on the power of three to achieve their objectives.
Numerology attributes a great deal of significance to the number three, including the ability to bring good fortune. The belief that three is a fortunate number is the origin of the proverb “third time’s a charm,” and this connection to good fortune is reflected in the three-sided triangle. The spiritual meaning of the number three revolves around magic and intuition.
In most triads, two of the sides represent two aspects that combine to form a third aspect. This is the essence of the triangle’s relationship with creation and creativity. In fact, the number is frequently associated with originality, rewards, and successful endeavours.
It may appear that a geometric triangle has nothing to do with the battle of the sexes, but historically speaking, this was not always the case. In ancient times, a standing triangle with its point at the top represented the “blade,” a symbol for men. In the past patriarchal cultures, the blade was a symbol of male strength, fire, dominance, ambition, and principles. The symbol itself has phallic connotations, as represented by the upright point that is meant to represent male dominance.
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The triangle is also implied in the male gender symbol, which features an arrow that resembles a triangle’s point. This symbol originates from the Roman god Mars, who was revered for his masculine strength and abilities.
Modernly speaking, the United States Army still employs triangle-shaped rank insignia. A sergeant has more stripes (triangles) than a private, a colonel has more stripes than a sergeant, and so on. More triangular stripes indicate greater power and authority.
In contrast, an inverted triangle with the point at the bottom resembles a stemless wine glass and is known as a “chalice.” In the past, the blade was intended to evoke phallic imagery, whereas the chalice’s more open appearance was intended to represent the womb. In addition, water is the element most commonly associated with women and femininity, which could connect to the concept of a feminine chalice.
Ancient cultures associated women with Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Consequently, women were expected to be aesthetically pleasing and warm, hospitable, and compassionate. The connection to the gender symbol for females is less obvious, but the female symbol includes what vaguely resembles four small chalices created by the bottom cross.
In historical religions, geometric figures, including triangles, are prevalent. Numerous triangle-centered symbols existed long before ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians and Greeks utilised them scientifically in various construction projects. Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher and mathematician famous for his theorem, believed that geometry played a much larger role in the universe than simple mathematical applications.
He attributed much deeper meanings to various shapes, and his interpretations heavily influenced the beliefs that developed in western philosophies. The most significant and enduring meanings that emerged over time were typically associated with religious or magical applications.
Numerous ancient civilizations used triangles to represent religious elements. In the Christian religion, the triangle represents the Holy Trinity, which consists of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In Greek and Roman mythology, there were also triangular trinities consisting of Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades (Greek) and Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto (Roman) (Roman). In Egyptian mythology, Osiris, Isis, and Horus comprised another significant religious trinity.
The iconic Star of David is the most widely recognised symbol of the Jewish faith. Separately, the two triangles represent the equilibrium of two opposing forces. Men, with their strength and dominance, and women, with their gentleness and submissiveness, represent these opposing forces. The star formed by combining the two triangles represents a balance between the two forces. This important Jewish symbol is also found in Hinduism and Buddhism, where it also represents balance in those religions.
Throughout history, the triangle has also been used to symbolise various types of spiritual and metaphysical trinities, such as mind, body, and spirit; past, present, and future; life, death, and rebirth; waxing, waning, and full (moon); love, truth, and wisdom; and maiden, mother, and crone.
Mahayana Buddhism focuses on three distinct bodies: Dharmakaya or “body of essence,” which is the unmanifested mode (the supreme state of absolute knowledge); Sambhogakaya or “body of enjoyment,” which is the heavenly mode; and Nirmanakaya or “body of transformation,” which is the earthly mode (Buddha on Earth).
Those who studied the occult and performed occult rituals employed triangles as summoning symbols. While the practitioner relied on performing rituals from within the safety of a circle, he or she expected the summoned entity to appear within a triangle drawn on the floor.
After so many years of math classes, many individuals have learned to view triangles solely in mathematical terms. The shape plays an essential role in science, particularly in engineering. In the past, triangles were frequently used to represent mystical and magical qualities that transcend empirical science. They are common in mysticism-related historical texts and artwork.
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The origins of the concept of strength within the triangle can be traced to physical science. Triangles are literally the most durable geometric shape. The natural distribution of weight across all three sides of a triangle makes it much less susceptible to collapse.
In mystical terms, the triangle frequently represents emotional strength and character, though it could also represent physical strength.
Depending on its application, the triangle’s versatility reveals themes of magic, awe, and originality. None of the other shapes accomplish this. A square has the same meaning regardless of its orientation, whereas a circle offers no variation for creating a different meaning. Inverted, the triangle signifies something entirely different.
Influences of the Elements
Aristotle and the ancient Greeks identified four physical elements — fire, air, water, and earth — and one nonphysical element — spirit or aether. Alchemists assigned these elements triangle-based symbols. Water, the element opposite of fire, is represented by an inverted triangle.
Air is represented by a triangle with a horizontal line crossing it near its apex. The Earth inverts this triangle so that the horizontal line intersects it near its base. The opposing, overlapping triangles of the Star of David symbolise the non-physical spirit element.
In many instances, the orientation of a triangle affects its meaning. Straight triangles with the point at the top rest on a solid base. As masculine energy, strength is associated with the fire and air elements and can be seen in the symbols created by alchemists. In contrast, an inverted triangle represents female energy and is utilised in the symbols for water and earth, the two feminine elements.
When the two triangles overlap in opposing positions, they form the hexagram more commonly known as the Star of David. The combination symbolises both unity and harmony as well as diversity.
The triangle element symbols appeared frequently in written magic and spells. Using specific elemental characteristics, astrologers also use the elements to characterise different zodiac signs. Those with fire element signs are believed to be courageous, strong, and passionate, whereas those with water element signs are believed to have healing abilities and pure, peaceful demeanors.
Air zodiac signs are believed to be excellent communicators with a wealth of intelligence and imagination. It is believed that signs with the earth element represent both grounded stability and fertility.
Numerous of history’s most influential civilizations incorporated triangles as symbols with profound meanings. Notable examples include the Celtic civilization with its intricate knots, the Egyptian civilization with its pyramids, and the Freemasons with their Eye of Providence, also known as the all-seeing eye enclosed in a triangle.
Particularly prevalent in Celtic culture are references to the number three. It is evident in the triskelion, which resembles three interlocking spirals, the triquetra, which resembles a knot of rounded triangles, and numerous other Celtic knot motifs. The frequent use of the number three in Celtic culture includes the classification of worlds as other world, mortal world, and celestial world.
Pyramids are essentially three-dimensional triangles with a four-sided base and four triangular sides, although the number of sides can vary depending on the shape of the base.
The Egyptian pyramids are the most well-known historical example of the use of triangles, but pyramids have also been fundamental components in magic and meditation throughout history. Numerous historical records mention the shape, particularly in relation to the use of crystals for purposes ranging from attracting mates to healing.
Many archaeologists believe that the ancient Egyptians chose the pyramid shape for their tombs because of Ra, the Egyptian sun god. According to legend, the god sat on a pyramid-shaped mound of earth that rose from the primordial sea. Also consistent with this theory, the shape resembles the dispersion pattern of the sun’s rays.
Valknut the Viking
The valknut tattoo symbol consists of three interlocked triangles. The name derives from Old Norse and means “knot of the fallen in battle.” Unresolved debate surrounds the actual significance of the symbol. Archaeologists are uncertain as to why ancient Germanic tribes inscribed the symbol on artefacts, but they believe it is related to Norse mythology and the god Odin.
The valknut symbol has appeared on significant artefacts throughout history, such as a golden ring from the late eighth or early ninth century and a Viking ship discovered in Norway around the year 800. The Swedish image stones Stora Hammars I and Tangelgarda both contain valknut symbols.
Modern usage of the symbol is typically associated with paganism and heathenism, though these are not the only interpretations. The connection to Odin and the presence of the symbol on numerous artefacts associated with memorials or burials indicate a probable association with death in ancient cultures. Some white nationalist groups have utilised the valknut as organisational symbols, which is a controversial practise.
The Sri Yantra
In Hinduism, the Sri Yantra is a sacred geometrical symbol. It consists of nine interlocking triangles that radiate from a central point to form a total of 43 smaller triangles with a centre that represents the boundary between the physical and spiritual worlds.
The nine principal triangles point both upward and downward, symbolising the union of masculinity and femininity. Consequently, many people wear the symbol as a talisman for strong relationships.
Modern gamers and fans of the iconic The Legend of Zelda video games recognise the Triforce symbol as a source of “ultimate power,” which is consistent with many of the cultural triangle interpretations throughout history. In the game’s ancient literature, it relates to the Golden Goddesses: Din, Goddess of Power; Nayru, Goddess of Wisdom; and Farore, Goddess of Bravery.
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The Triforce is comprised of three triangles, each with its own significance. The Triforce of Wisdom rests on the left, with its right base point touching the left base point of the Triforce of Courage on the right.
The Triforce of Power rests atop their highest points. Together, the three triangles form a larger triangle with an inverted triangle-shaped hole in the middle. In the game, the royal family crest features the Triforce symbol, and acquiring all three Triforces creates perfect balance and providence.
Darker Contemporary Usage
In the past, triangles frequently represented strength and power in a positive light, but modern triangles can have negative connotations. For instance, ancient inverted triangles were frequently associated with softer feminine traits, but this was not the case in Nazi Germany.
The Nazis used inverted triangles on prisoners’ clothing to indicate their classification. For example, red inverted triangles indicated political prisoners, while pink inverted triangles identified gay men. In recent years, the LGBTQ community has redesigned the pink triangle as a memorial to the atrocities they have endured. The double yellow triangles arranged to form the Star of David identified Jewish prisoners.
In daily life, triangles on roadways convey a message of impending danger or caution. The most prominent triangular sign in the United States is the Yield sign, which warns drivers to yield to vehicles approaching from other directions.
If drivers disregard the warning, the results could be catastrophic. In other countries and occasionally in the United States, triangular warning signs display a variety of additional warnings, including the vital biohazard warning. Additionally, safety reflectors in vehicle emergency kits are frequently triangles.
Beyond the realm of symbolism, a few geographical triangles send shivers down the spines of superstitious individuals on opposite sides of the globe. The infamous Bermuda Triangle comprises the triangular stretch of ocean between Miami, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico. Many ships and aircraft have mysteriously vanished over the course of decades in the area known as the Devil’s Triangle. Their disappearances remain unexplained to this day.
On the opposite side of the globe, the equally infamous Dragon’s Triangle spans the ocean between the Philippines, Guam, and Miyake, Japan, and has its own eerie history. The area, also known as the Devil’s Sea, is the subject of legends involving a dragon that drags ships and sailors into the murky depths. The stories themselves may be straight from a fantasy novel, but the unexplained disappearances are a cold, hard fact.