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The power of a symbol or an icon bears more
weight than its equivalent in words or text.

A well designed symbol or logo can speak volumes
about, for example, a company's values,

heritage, and objectives.
All throughout history mankind has been exposed
and has been creating symbols and iconography

for over millennia.
From prehistoric cave paintings that tell
stories to emojis used to convey thought instrad

of using words, they all have been an integral
part of our development as a species as well

as our civilizations.
And like our species, symbols and icons have
evolved and – unfortunately for many of

them – have lost their true meaning and
what they truly stand for.

In today's video, we are exploring 10 iconic
and popular symbols in history that have now

lost their true meaning.
10.
THE CADUCEUS
Often seen in medical facilities or as part
of a logo of a medical organization, the Caduceus

has been synonymous with doctors and health
workers around the world.

Known also as the Staff of the Greek God Hermes,
it is often depicted as a winged rod entwined

by two serpents.
Unfortunately for Hermes' staff, it has
been employed in the wrong context since Hermes

has no association with health or healing.
It was the Greek God Asclepius who is the
deity for medicine and healing.

He also bore a staff that only had one coiled
snake and no wings.

The confusion came from the honest mistake
of a US Army Medical Corps officer who mixed

the two symbols up.
Because of this, the Caduceus has been interpreted
as the symbol for healing and medicine in

the United States where, in other parts of
the world, it is a symbol of commerce since

Hermes was the patron of merchants and tradespeople.
9.
FLEUR DE LIS
One of the most recognizable symbols in history
and popular culture, the Fleur de Lis has

been part of almost every visual medium you
can think of.

From architecture to interior design, to letter
envelopes, it is certainly one that has endured

the ravages of time and history.
In its original form, the Fleur de Lis was
a modification of the Gaulish lily that represented

the Virgin Juno and was used widely by goddess
worshippers in the ancient times.

Today, however, the stylized motif – the
one we are most familiar with – is used

to represent French Royalty as well as the
nobility.

It has also been employed in fashion and modern
art as well as popular culture; avenues that

have, unfortunately, drastically diluted the
true symbolic representation of the icon.

8.
THE BLUETOOTH ICON
You would think that something as ubiquitous
as the Bluetooth icon on your phone has no

ancient origin but that's where we are greatly
mistaken.

The technology was first invented and introduced
to the public by the Swedish telecom company

Ericsson.
Since then, it has been a great part of our
digitally connected lives.

The symbol itself was composed of two parts:
the H rune called Hagall and the B rune called

Bjarkan, letters that echo back to the country's
Viking past.

Incidentally, it was also the symbol of Denmark's
first Viking king, Harald Blatand.

And, in a not-so-peculiar-twist-of-coincidence,
“Blatand” roughly translated from Swedish

as “Bluetooth”.
The Bluetooth symbol is, perhaps, one of the
ancient icons that have retained a large part

of its meaning despite the fact that many
of us take the technology for granted.

During the lifetime of Harald Blatand during
the 10th Century AD, he was exalted as the

king who managed to unite – or, in terms
of the technology, “connect” – all the

Danish tribes and take over Norway, where
he ruled as King until his death.

If you really think about it, how Bluetooth
technology connects people is not at all far-fetched

from the origin of the symbol and why the
Swedes made the right choice to represent

the technology.
7.
THE ALL SEEING EYE
The symbol of the All Seeing Eye is used throughout

different beliefs and religions but is most
strongly associated with the Christian Faith

as a representation of the all-seeing eye
of God.

In other customs, it is used as a symbol of
spiritual sight, higher knowledge, inner vision,

and insight into the occult.
Depending on the custom that adopts it, the
symbol usually embraces the supernatural and

religious aspect of its iconography.
These days, however, it has been used mostly
as a symbol of surveillance and control; a

far cry from its religious symbolism.
6.
SKULL AND CROSSBONES
This symbol has two established and widely-accepted
meanings in this modern age.

One appears as a graphic warning on poison
labels and the other – thanks to popular

culture – appears as the universally known
symbol for pirates despite the fact that pirate

colours or symbols vary from one person or
group to another.

In Spain in the earlier centuries of the world,
the symbol of the Skull and Crossbones is

used as a means to mark cemeteries and graveyards.
To this day, many early century graveyards
and even old churches have traces of the skull

and crossbones where they once had – or
still have – catacombs and crypts.

5.
THE BARBER'S POLE
It is not a surprise to find a red and white
striped pole outside a barber shop.

The symbol has been used for centuries and
is, unlike many symbols on this list, still

directly associated with the profession it
represents.

Today we see it as a harmless means to advertise
the establishment.

However, the origin of the pole dates back
to earlier centuries where barbers were expected

to do more than just shave and cut hair.
As far back as the Roman times and as late
as the Victorian age, barbers were skilled

surgeons whose most popular procedure was
bloodletting.

In some regions, they were also skilled dentists
who could offer you to get rid of a toothache

after a nice trim.
The red stripe on the pole was originally
a white rag that barbers would use to wipe

up blood after a procedure.
They would then hang it outside of their shops
– where the wind would sometimes blow hard

to wrap the rag around the pole where it hung
– to advertise their profession.

4.
THE ICHTHYS FISH (OR THE ICHTHUS FISH)
The pronunciation of the word is a bit tricky
because there seems to be two ways to say

it but however you choose to say it, there
is no doubt that you have come across this

symbol at least once in your life – most
probably on the rear end of a car while you're

stuck in traffic.
The Ichthys Fish is strongly associated with
Christianity and with Jesus Christ himself.

At the height of the Roman Empire, after the
death of Christ, the members of the newly

formed secret sect called “Christians”
would identify each other by the use of the

Ichthys.
When two supposedly Christians meet in public,
one of them would draw the first arc of the

symbol and the other, to confirm his Christian
identity, would complete the drawing with

the other arc of the Ichthys.
While Christians made the symbol more iconic
and popular, the Ichthys Fish predates Christianity

and was used by Pagans as a symbol they associate
with the “Great Mother”, a deity known

for fertility.
After the rise of the early church, Christians
fell out of love with the Ichthys and preferring

the crucifix much more.
However, in some Christian sects, the symbol
is still very much alive.

3.
THE PEACE SYMBOL
Unlike the symbols on this list, the Peace
Symbol has no ancient origin and is one of

the youngest iconographies created.
Mostly associated with the Hippie movement
of the 60's, the Peace Symbol is universally

known and used as a means to show pacifism,
restraint, understanding, and tolerance.

While the meanings tacked onto the symbol
were well-intended, the real message it delivers

seems to have been forgotten.
Designed by Gerald Holtom, the symbol bore
one simple message: British Nuclear Disarmament.

The symbol, according to Holtom, is of a man
standing with his arms stretched outward and

downward as if facing a firing squad.
Unable to copyright the image, Holtom's
symbol then became a popular way to symbolize

freedom and, as we now know it, peace.
It's not a bad trade-off after all.
2.
THE PENTAGRAM
Seen as the symbol for Satanism and Demonic
worship, the Pentagram is perhaps one of the

most maligned and misunderstood symbols to
have existed.

As a matter of fact, the Pentagram predates
Satanism and Masonry because of records that

trace its use in much more ancient times.
The five-pointed star has been discovered
scratched on the walls of caves in Babylonia

and several historical records show the ancient
Greeks believing it to have mystical and magical

properties.
In ancient astronomy, the pentagram is believed
to have originated from the path that the

planet Venus takes at night in relation to
the earth's position in an 8-year cycle.

It would even surprise you to know that the
pentagram, for a short time, stood as a symbol

that represents the five wounds that Jesus
Christ received during his crucifixion.

In art, the Pentagram was seen as a representation
of the proportions of the human body.

1.
THE SWASTIKA
Since the Second World War and the rise of
Nazi totalitarianism in Germany, the swastika

has become a representation of hate and bigotry.
The symbol has been associated so much with
the Nazi movement and the horrors that it

brought that many European countries have
shunned its image.

But before Hitler and his henchmen got their
hands on this otherwise geometrically pleasing

symbol, the Swastika was a symbol that represented
life and creation in the Hindu faith and harmony

in Buddhism.
The swastika was used by ancient civilizations.
A fact that points out that it absolutely
predates Nazism.

Civilizations such as the Romans, Egyptians,
and Celts have used different versions of

the swastika in architecture and art.
In the modern times, before the outbreak of
the Second World War, the swastika enjoyed

a brief moment of wholesome use such as appearing
as symbols in the Finnish and Latvian Air

Forces, as well as part of the logo of the
Danish brewing company Carlsberg.

Tragically for the swastika, it may never
recover from the dark shroud it was given

due to the atrocities of the Nazi movement.
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10 Popular SYMBOLS Throughout History That Have LOST Their True Meaning

1370 Folder Collection
Keira Wang published on February 12, 2018
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