Circles are so commonplace that most of us fail to recognize how special they truly are. They surround us, from our coffee cups and camera lenses, to the sun, the moon, and the stars. In fact, circles are universal; thus, countless philosophers and spiritual masters have pointed out their simple magnificence.
What makes circles so meaningful? The fact that in and of themselves, they symbolize the Universe and all of existence.
What does a circle symbolize?
The following are the various spiritual ideas that a circle symbolizes:
1. Circle symbolizes the cyclic nature of the universe
To understand the spiritual significance of circles, it helps to first think of birth and death as a circle. Indeed, every living thing on Earth (and even the stars and planets) goes through what we call a “life cycle”. In a cyclical fashion, we are born, we age, and we die; it’s universal.
We can then look even deeper at the atoms that comprise all matter in the universe; particles revolve around an atom’s nucleus circularly. We see this reflected in our solar system and our galaxy. Planets revolve around stars in a circular motion, and in addition, galaxies swirl in a cyclical way.
2. Circle symbolizes potential or creative energy
Following from that point, we can look on a microscopic level and recognize that we’re literally created from a circle. Think of the egg that we came from, and the embryo that first symbolized the creation of our life; both are circular. In this sense, we are made out of a circle.
3. Circle symbolizes self realization
On the other hand, we can see circular symbolism in the non-physical. For example, anyone who has experienced a spiritual awakening or embarked on a personal growth journey eventually realizes that this journey doesn’t occur in a linear fashion. We learn the same lesson many times over, only experiencing deeper levels of truth and unlearning with each re-learning. In this way, self-realization looks not like a line, but like a circle, or a spiral.
4. Circle symbolizes oneness, equality & connection
The center of the circle represents oneness because you can draw an infinite number of circles having the same center. Similarly, every point on the circumference of the circle is equidistance from the center of the circle. Also, irrespective of the size of a circle, the ratio of its circumference to its diameter is always 3.14 (also known as Pi). This is why, you can easily find the circumference of any circle, simply by knowing its diameter.
If you progress far enough along this spiritual awakening journey, you’ll start to glimpse a realization of oneness; this means that you’ll come to an understanding that you are not separate from God, from love, or from any other person, place, or thing in this universe, living or otherwise.
You’ll understand that you are all of it; you are God, and you are love. As such, all things are part of you; when you harm something, you harm yourself, and when you love something, you love yourself.
This is the definition of totality, as well: it means that you are whole and complete, because you are the entire universe (and the love of God/Source) in form.
5. Circle symbolizes the infinite nature of existence
Since the circle has no beginning or ending, we could say that the circle represents our souls’ immortality, as well. Indeed, both birth and death are merely transitions; they are not final or “total” in essence. We move through life cycles of birth and death, but death is not an ending. Like the circle, our existence can never come to an end.
6. Circle represents the power of simplicity
The circle is so simple yet it holds within it a multitude of complex meanings and interpretations. A circle is the best example of the fact that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
7. Circle represents totality and completeness
A circle does not have a beginning or end. It also does not have any corners or sides. Thus a circle is a complete unit on its own. Nothing further can be added to make the circle complete. This is why circles are symbols of wholeness, completeness, perfection, totality and divine symmetry/balance.
Just like the circle, always remind yourself that you are complete as you are and you don’t need to prove anything to anyone to feel complete.
20 Powerful circular spiritual symbols
Humans have recognized, since ancient times, the spiritual significance of the circle; it is, as many philosophers stated, the most perfect shape. Again, it has no corners, no beginning nor ending.
You’ll notice the circle appearing, therefore, in countless spiritual traditions; below are just a few examples.
1. Yin and Yang
Most people recognize the yin-yang symbol when they see it; this symbol, traditionally a Taoist symbol, represents the weaving together of opposite forces. This circular symbol blends black and white, and contains the exact same amount of each of the opposing colors, which exemplifies the co-existence of both unity and duality.
A traditional Japanese symbol, the Enso is essentially an open circle; in fact, Enso, in Japanese, actually means “circle”. Associated with Zen Buddhism, Enso is often used to describe both mandalas and circular spaces. This sacred Japanese calligraphy symbol signifies enlightenment, which is, in essence, a returning to Source consciousness, and almost the same as the death of the physical body.
If you’ve studied spirituality, you probably already know that the human body contains seven chakras– which are spinning wheels, or circles, of energy. Yet another way in which the circle appears in spiritual tradition. Each of the seven chakras aligns with both a part of the body and a segment of our mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness. As such, these spinning circles of energy are vital to reaching our highest potential in this life on Earth.
Similar to the Japanese symbol Enso, Mandala in Sanskrit literally translates to “circle”. These intricately-drawn designs actually carry a similar significance to the Japanese Enso; they symbolize the Universe, oneness, and the individual spiritual path. In fact, the act of creating or focusing on a mandala is known to center one’s energy and promote mindfulness and peace.
5. Fu Lu Shou
Fu, Lu, and Shou originate from Chinese mythology; they are deities known as the “three stars”, and they represent happiness/blessings, status/prosperity, and longevity. We can see the circle symbolism yet again in the traditional characters for Fu Lu Shou; they are sometimes seen artistically represented with circular characters, exemplifying once again the universal human recognition of the circle’s spiritual nature.
6. Flower of Life
The flower of life is literally a circle made out of circles. It contains layers of small, overlapping circles; the finished product is a large circle which contains what looks like a repeating pattern of a simple flower within it. This symbol dates back to prehistoric times, when early humans drew the pattern onto granite with ochre. Many claim that meditating upon the flower of life promotes healing and inner peace.
Unlike a simple maze, a labyrinth can only be solved in one way. When you think of mazes, you may picture many dead ends and winding paths; the same is not true within a labyrinth. The labyrinth only contains one winding road, which twists and turns but eventually leads you to an exit without any dead ends. This contains powerful symbolism for the soul’s spiritual journey. These ancient “mazes” are traditionally drawn with winding lines contained inside a circle.
Dharmachakra, otherwise known as the “wheel of dharma”, is a symbol which looks like the wheel of a chariot; its spokes symbolize the eight pillars of Buddhism or the “eightfold path”. Central to Buddhist places of worship, the dharmachakra may even occasionally contain a yin-yang symbol in its center, amplifying the significance of the circle twofold!
9. Tree of Life
The Tree of Life is another sacred geometry symbol which actually originates from the Flower of Life defined above. As opposed to the Flower of Life, though, the Tree of Life contains not overlapping circles, but separate circles connected to each other with lines. Each of the ten Tree of Life circles signifies a spiritual symbol; in Judaism, these are called the Ten Sephiroth.
10. Hecate’s Circle
Hecate’s Circle, also known as the Stropholos of Hecate, or the Hecate Wheel, originates from the Greek triple goddess Hecate, who helped Demeter recover Persephone from the Underworld. Hecate’s Circle actually contains a labyrinth within it. As such, the Circle is a representation– once again– of birth, life, and death.
Traditionally an ancient Egyptian and Greek symbol, the Ouroboros depicts a snake eating its own tail in a perfect circle. Just like so many other circular symbols, this depiction shows us the meaning of immortality; the snake is born from itself just as it devours itself. It means that existence is an eternal transition between living and dying.
12. Shree Chakra (or Shree Yantra)
The Sree, Sri, or Shri Chakra, a form of sacred geometry consisting of interlocking triangles inside of (you guessed it) a circle, symbolizes Universal energy. Practitioners have used this symbol in methods quite similar to mandalas: one can meditate upon the Sree Chakra to gain deeper insight, awareness, and spiritual expansion.
The Sri Chakra has a total of nine triangles with four facing upward that represent the divine masculine and five facing downward that represent the divine feminine. The center of the Shree Yantra created by the merging of these triangles is the source of all creation. It is said that focusing on this point during meditation can help one gain powerful spiritual insights.
13. Seed of Life
Related to both the Tree of Life and Flower of Life, the sacred geometry known as the Seed of Life represents creation. Both the Flower and Seed of life consist of overlapping circles. The Seed, however, consists of fewer circles than the Flower; these circles within the Seed overlap just enough times to create an image of a singular flower in the center, rather than multiple repeating flowers as occurs in the Flower of Life.
The Seed of Life has six intersecting circles along with one circle in the center that surrounds the flower pattern and a circle that encapsulates all other circles. This makes it a total of seven circles within, encapsulated by one circle.
14. Fruit of Life
Yet another sacred geometry symbol, the Fruit of Life is actually contained within the Flower of Life. Think back to the Flower’s overlapping circles; the Fruit of Life contains 13 of the Flower’s circles, arranged in a star-like shape. However, similarly to the Tree of Life, none of the Fruit of Life’s circles overlap each other; they only touch on the circles’ edges. The Fruit of Life, said to be the blueprint of molecular structure in the physical world, is also the basis of our next circular symbol: Metatron’s Cube.
15. Metatron’s Cube
Beginning with the Fruit of Life, if you draw a straight line from the center of one circle extending to the center to each of the other 12 circles, repeating that step with every circle in the Fruit, you’ll have created Metatron’s Cube. This shape signifies Archangel Metatron, who is said to watch over the ebb and flow of the entire Universe.
16. Kongo Cosmogram
The Kongo cosmogram is an ancient cosmic symbol that explains the nature of reality based on the movement of the sun. This circular cosmogram is divided into 4 segments each representing a phase of life/existence. These include – birth, maturity, old age/death, and rebirth. The cosmogram also depicts the connection that exists between the spirit and material world and how one can access ancestral wisdom by getting in touch with the spiritual world.
17. African American Medicine Wheel
Similar to the Kongo cosmogram is another circular symbol – The African American Medicine Wheel. Also known as the – Sacred Hoop, this circular symbol is divided into four quadrants each representing a phase of life/existence. These include the four directions (East, West, North, South), the four elements (Fire, Earth, Air, Water), the four seasons (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter), the four elements of wellbeing (physical, mental, spiritual, emotional), the four stages of life (birth, youth, adult, death) and the four times of the day (Morning, Noon, Evening, Night).
17. Triquetra (Trinity Knot)
The Triquetra (meaning 3 cornered) is a Norse symbol that looks like a triangle made of interlaced arcs. Not many are aware of this but the Triquetra is in reality a circular symbol as it has been derived from three intersecting circles as shown in the image above. In fact, the Triquetra is similar to the ‘Seed of life’ as the Seed of Life is made by six intersecting circles, whereas, Triquetra is made by three. Similar to the ‘Seed of life’, the circles intersect in such a way that the circumference of each circle runs through the center of the other circles.
The Triquetra represents the interconnectedness of life and natural cycles. It also represents the Trinity and all important aspects of life that appear in sets of three which include – Mind, Body, and Spirit, Creation, Preservation and Destruction, and so on. The central dot in the Triquetra represents oneness of all things.
18. Vesica Piscis
The Vesica Piscis is similar to the Triquetra except that it is formed by the intersection of two circles instead of three (as in the case of the Triquetra). Similar to the Triquetra, the intersection of the circles happens in such a way that the circumference (boundary) of each circle passes through the center of the other.
In general, the Vesica Piscis symbolizes the union of dualities which is the basis of all existence like the union of male/female, spiritual/material, heaven/earth, yin/yang, etc.
Also, when the intersecting circles are lying side by side to each other they form a vertical lens shape which is said to represent the cosmic womb that is formed by the merging of spiritual and material worlds.
When the circles are lying on top of each other (as shown in the image above), the horizontal lens is said to represent the cosmic eye.
19. Satkona or Star of David
The Satkona (meaning six cornered in Sanskrit) is a sacred Hindu symbol that depicts two intersecting equilateral triangles, one facing upward and one facing downward. The upward-facing triangle represents the divine masculine (material) whereas the downward-facing triangle represents the divine feminine (spirit). Their intersection is the basis of all creation. The Satkona even though it looks like a triangular symbol is, in reality, a circular symbol as it has been derived from the fruit of life as shown in the image above.
20. Torus Yantra
The Torus Yantra, also known as the ‘Hypnotic Eye’ is a fascinating pattern arrived by creating more circles within the ‘Seed of Life’. The Torus consists of a main circle and repeating circles within the main circle. The circumference of all circles passes through the center of the main circle.
The Torus Yantra represents the intricate balance and the cyclic flow of energy that exists between the spiritual world (represented by the vortex) and the material world.
Summing it Up
Now that you know how spiritually powerful the circle can be, challenge yourself to look for circles wherever you go, especially in nature. As you observe something so simple, yet so magnificent, allow it to remind you of oneness: we may perceive ourselves as separate people, and yet, we are one with all things.