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Religious Symbolism of Spirit

In its widest sense, all religious symbolism is a representation of spirit, of that essence of the universe which people have variously characterized as gods, goddesses, energies, and voids. In the narrow sense, the religious symbolism of a religion, like Christianity, can distinguish between various aspects of the whole, designating one, like the Holy Ghost, or Holy Spirit, as the spirit aspect. In this analysis, the focus starts with a general look at religious symbolism, spirit in religion, followed by consideration of some ways in which spirit has been characterized in religious symbolism.

Most of our living is communicated through symbols, which includes words and gestures. According to Livingston (1993), the basic characteristic of signs and symbols is that they point to something beyond themselves. They are ways of expressing meaning in the world. For human beings, they are also ways of communicating meaning in order to be understood, and in order for that meaning to be shared.

Sign is the larger category, with symbols a part of that category. While signs are symptoms or natural reminders, according to Langer (1954), signs that are not symptoms of things but abstractions referring to things not in the immediate environment are called symbols. These can be either representational or presentational.

Religious symbols can be either representational or presentational. Presentational symbols are things such as icons, which participate in the life of the thing that they symbolize. Livingston (1993) noted that a map is a secular form of presentational symbol. On the other hand, representational symbols may not have any immediately obvious connection to the things they represent. Instead, the connection is created culturally. Representational symbols emerge from cultural and religious practice. They are dependent on learned associations that people are taught within their religious communities.

The religious ...

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Religious Symbolism of Spirit. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 22:30, July 01, 2022, from