Last week, I recorded my Pagan Perspective video on the topic of Paganism and Eastern philosophies. I then realized that it was subs week, so I had really done THIS week's video, one week early! I will be posting it later today, for tomorrow (Tuesday). In the video, I am wearing one of my new favorite shirts. I got it on sale at a local store, it's incredibly comfortable, and it depicts a symbol of protection that goes by several names. Since this symbol is commonly associated with Islam and Judaism, and has similar links in other religions, I thought I would post about my shirt, the symbol, and why I choose to wear it.
The symbol is known, as I mentioned, by several names: Hamsa, Khamsa, Chamsa, or Hamesh Hand; the Hand of Fatima; and the Hand of Miriam, to name a few.
"Hamsa" comes from the Semitic root that means "five," and the symbol is a human hand, palm-outward, all five "fingers" held up, flat. I put that word in quotation marks because in most versions of this symbol, there are three central fingers and two balanced thumbs, one on each side, with no little finger. The symbol is neither a left hand nor a right hand, and it is both simultaneously. As such this could be seen as a symbol of Balance.
This is also a symbol of protection, the outward facing palm being a universal symbol of the idea "Stop" or "Come no further." A related symbol, the Jain Hand, uses this idea in several ways. First, as the link provided mentions, it represents the Jain doctrine of nonviolence. Second, this hand position (the Jain Hand does have one thumb and four fingers) is the "no fear" mudra, or hand position, shared between Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Finally, the article notes that there is a word written in the center of the Jain Hand: "Ahimsa," which means "Stop." The short article goes on to discuss this word in combination with the wheel symbol, and how these symbolize the "halting" of reincarnation through practicing nonviolence, or avoidance of harm, or as Wiccans and other Pagans might say, "Harm None."
The upward held, outward facing palm can also be a salutation, however. It can be a symbol of comings and goings, as we hold up our hand to greet someone or to send them on their way. Thus, we could see it as a symbol of travel, and specifically blessed or protected travel. The photo at left was taken in Los Angeles, California, USA, the first time I wore the shirt. I bought it shortly before my trip and due to its comfort and the symbol, I chose to wear it for my flight across the country--my first flight during which I was traveling unaccompanied by family or friends. This was August 2014.
Most of the time this symbol is specified as protection against the "Evil Eye" due to the presence of an eye symbol in the center of the palm. You can see a sort of stylized "eye" in the center of the palm on my shirt.
You'll also notice other symbols within this particular design:
- The eye has a stylized heart (as opposed to an anatomical heart) as its pupil, crossed through the middle by an infinity symbol in the iris. This adds the symbolism of Love, Eternity, perhaps Everlasting Love, or even Universal Love.
- Circles, triangles, and flowers are repeating patterns throughout this design, each with their own symbolism, as well.
- Looking then to the fingers, they are each divided into three sections:
- The upper section of each finger has a flower with six petals and its center each made up of circles.
- The lower sections also sport flowers, this time with triangles and dots in the flowers' centers, seven petals, and either leaves or larger petals behind those.
- Finally, in the middle sections of each finger, there is a circle in the bottom portion surrounded by rays (which can be interpreted either as sun rays or as further being like a flower, though I see them more as the sun), and an upward facing triangle filling out the top portion of the section. Unlike the rest of the sections of the fingers, which are uniform throughout all three, each middle section differs in the design of the circle surrounded by the rays:
- The left circle is a peace sign.
- The central circle is half-filled--part black, part white--like a half moon, with a small black lined heart overlapping one side and extending into the rays.
- The right circle has a white border filled in with black, similar to a "dark moon," and the small black line design overlapping the edge looks like a crescent moon, but isn't as clear as the heart in the central finger.
- And to top it all off, the entire hand sits in front of a white circle, framed by it, yet not contained within it.
Peace, Love, Eternity, Balance, Trinity, Unity, Life, Growth, Light, Cycles... all these and more are meanings I derive from the various symbols used to make up this version of this symbol. Over-analysis? To some, maybe. But someone designed this shirt, with this symbol, in this way, for a reason. This is all the meaning I get from it, and all contribute to why I feel comfortable wearing it, although it is not a symbol that is usually associated with my specific religious and spiritual paths. There are connections to be made everywhere, and lessons to learn. One more thing you may find interesting, which was part of my decision to purchase the shirt--The clothing company label?
"Fifth Sun." *
*To find out why this meant something to me, watch this video and definitely read the pages that are linked in the description!