14 Ancient Trident Symbols & Their Deeper Symbolism

Golden Trident symbol

The trident is an incredibly powerful symbol. Unmistakable in its forceful majesty, the trident represents the power of three and the divine’s mastery over oceans, seas, and rivers. Some cultures illustrate the three-pronged trident as a double-pronged thunderbolt. In this form, the trident is a weapon that bestows ultimate power and dominion over the sky, heaven, and earth.

Over the years, trident symbolism has grown and changed. We can see some form of it in nearly every culture, from Greek to Chinese. In this article, let’s examine some of these ancient trident symbols. We’ll dive deep into their hidden meanings to discover what the trident represents for different people around the world.

14 Trident Symbols (from Around the World) & Their Deeper Symbolism

1. Trishul: Shiva & Durga’s Trident

Shiva with trident
Shiva with trident

The Trishul is the Hindu trident. It is a powerful divine emblem focused on the clouds, sky, weather, and heavenly events. While many gods may carry or use a Trishul, this trident is especially important for Lord Shiva and Maa Durga. These powerful gods are rarely seen without a Trishul, and it is used to represent the various values, aspects, and abilities that they promote.

Here’s what Shiva’s and Durga’s Trident represent:

Control of Mind, Intellect, & Ego

Lord Shiva carries the Trishul as a weapon. But instead of fighting against outside forces, the Trishul is used to fight inner battles. It helps us gain control over the mind, intellect, and ego. As we grow spiritually, we eventually lose attachment to the meaningless things around us. We separate from the physical world of illusion, we destroy the mental pain of ego, and we settle at last into the spiritual realm of enlightenment.

Three Energy Channels

The Trishul also represents the three energy channels or Nadis that flow through us. The Ida is the passive feminine Nadi, while the Pingala is the active male Nadi. These energetic lines represent the dualities of the universe, personified by Shiva and Shakti. They pass through us from our feet all the way to the throat chakra, where the Sushumna Nadi joins them. Sushumna is more significant than Ida and Pingala, as it represents the conjoined male and female energy. A balanced life begins as Sushumna emerges, and Shiva can help us unlock this energy to live in harmony.

Trinity

Trishul yantra
The three blades of the Trishul represent the Hindu holy trinity. This includes Lord Brahma, the Creator; Lord Vishnu, the Preserver; and Lord Shiva, the Destroyer. Here, the trident represents the balance of creation, preservation, and destruction. In some cases, the trident also represents the Tridevi or female aspect of the Trinity. This includes Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Parvati. Additionally, the Trishul may be an elemental symbol connecting the trinities of the sea, earth, and sky or birth, life, and death.

Three States of Consciousness

The Trishul depicts the three aspects of human consciousness: waking, sleeping, and dreaming. It represents the fact that Lord Shiva is above these conscious states yet upholds and supports them all. He guides humans through and eventually past states of consciousness into the ultimate state of Nirvana.

Past, Present, & Future

The three prongs of the Trishul denote different periods in a person’s life and represent our past, present, and future. Holding the trident, Lord Shiva has ultimate control of the wheel of time. This is a joyous thing for those of faith, as Shiva promotes good deeds and removes problems from our timeline.

Destruction of Suffering

The word Trishul can be directly translated into two parts. “Tri,” meaning three, and “shul,” meaning pain. The three prongs represent the three types of pain: Aadibhautik (physical), Aadhyaatmik (spiritual), and Aadidaivik (ethereal). Lord Shiva uses the Trishul in a spiritual battle to destroy all three types of pain and eliminate other obstacles that get in the way of our happiness.

Three Agnis

The Trishul also represents the three types of Agni so intrinsic to ayurveda. The Agni is an inner fire that helps with the body’s physical processes.

  • The first type is Jatharagni, the fire in our belly that fuels our digestion and metabolism.
  • The second is Bhutagni, the fire in our liver that allows us to take in nutrients.
  • The third is Dhatwagni, which works on a cellular level to utilize outside nutrients.

The balance of the three Agnis invokes the energy of spiritual growth, inner strength, and the ignition of divine fire within yourself.

Three Gunas

The Trishul is a powerful emblem of the three Gunas, or qualities that make up the universe.

  • First is tamas, or stability.
  • The second is rajas, or activity.
  • The third is sattva, or consciousness.

The Gunas have distinct qualities, both positive and negative. Each Guna corresponds to how we comport ourselves and respond to a given situation. In the hands of Lord Shiva or Maa Durga, the Trishul represents the most positive aspects of the Gunas. These aspects represent a roadmap to our most ideal selves.

Three Powers

The Hindu trident represents the perfect coupling of the three humanistic powers—knowledge, will, and action. We can manipulate these powers when we know how to work with them. We can balance knowledge, will, and power by channeling Lord Shiva. In this sense, we use the metaphorical trident to achieve our goals.

Spiritual Protection

Durga with trident
Durga with trident

The Trishul protects us from spiritual evils on our journey to enlightenment. It represents our best qualities in each of its arms, helping us become better people by resisting temptation and thwarting negative influences. The Trishul removes the obstacles of our bad qualities, so we can get out of our own way and connect with the divine. Once connected, we can access the universe’s unlimited and positive power.

Triumph of Good Over Evil

The Trishul represents a metaphorical battle we fight daily against our bad qualities and the world’s injustices. It symbolizes our ability to triumph over evil in all forms, emerging from the fight victorious. It also reminds us that when we act with positive intentions, the world will become a better place overall.

2. Trishul with Damru

Trishula with damru symbol
The Damru is a drum representing the power of sound waves, mantras, and vibrational energy. Often, the Trishul is depicted with a Damru attached to it. This symbolizes how much power our words, prayers, and mantras have. With sound, we create and connect to universal vibrations. We can summon the divine, raise our consciousness, and move forward with clarity and connection on the spiritual path.

3. Trishakti

Trishakti symbol
This symbol combines the Trishul with the Om symbol and the Hindu swastika. These are three of the most powerful signs in Hindu practice, and putting them all together symbolizes the absolute power of god and the universe. When hung or drawn, the Trishakti can purify the air around it. It removes inauspicious thoughts and feelings to help you connect with the divine.

4. Trishul Bisa Yantra

Trishul bisa yantra symbol
Trishul Bisa Yantra

The Trishul Bisa Yantra is a powerful symbol attributed to Maa Durga. As a protective deity, Maa Durga shields her followers from disease, pain, and suffering. Those who hang the Trishul Bisa Yantra around their home will be blessed by Maa Durga and protected from evils. They may also achieve a higher consciousness, improved relationships, and increased financial wealth.

5. Taoist Trident

Trident bell
Trident bell

The Taoist trident symbolizes the holy trinity of deities in the Taoist religion: Yuanshi Tianzun, Lingbao Tianzun, and Daode Tianzun. These gods are the Sanquing, or the three Pure Ones. They represent essence, energy, and vitality. Similar to the holy trinities of Christianity or Buddhism, the three Pure Ones are different aspects of the same divine. Practitioners ring the Trident Bell in Taoist religious ceremonies to summon these divinities for worship and prayer.

6. Triratna

Triratna symbol
Buddhist Triratna symbol

In Buddhism, the trident takes the form of the Triratna. This symbol represents the holy flame and three jewels of Buddhism—the Dharma, or teachings, the Sangha, or community of practitioners, and the Buddha himself. Using the three jewels along with the strength of the flame, we can defeat the poisons of greed, hatred, and delusion. In this way, we use the Triratna to live an upstanding and harmonious life.

7. Poseidon and Neptune’s Trident

Poseidon with trident
Poseidon with trident

We often associate the trident with seas, oceans, and water. This is partly because it was used to symbolize the Roman sea-God Poseidon and his Greek counterpart Neptune. Its watery origins likely began with the classic fishing spear, a three-pronged instrument closely resembling the trident.

Neptune with trident
Neptune with trident

The spear provided sustenance and was vital to daily life. As it morphed into a godly weapon, it took on even more power and was said to control the seas, pierce the sky, and lead men to victory in naval battles.

Here’s what Poseidon’s and Neptune’s trident symbolizes:

Holy Trinity

With its three prongs, Poseidon’s trident represents the trinity of earth, sky, and water. These elements make up the very fabric of reality and impact us every day. It also denotes the three human stages of birth, life, and death. As the three prongs stem from one original line, the trident symbolizes how each stage is connected and reliant upon the others.

Higher Purpose

Neptune trident symbol
Neptune trident symbol

Neptune’s trident is astrologically connected to the planet Neptune and represents how humanity strives for a higher purpose. It rests on the cross of matter, yet its three spears reach upwards toward the spiritual plane. This trident is a receptive crescent, symbolic of our open-minded search for meaning, understanding, and enlightenment.

Transcendence

Neptune’s trident represents a connection between the physical and spiritual worlds. It embodies our quest for transcendence to the spiritual world and represents our ability to find meaning within our own world. It is a symbol of hope for those on a spiritual journey, illustrating that the prize of transcendence is within our grasp.

8. Algiz Rune

Algiz rune
The Algiz rune is the ancient Norse rune of divine connection resembling a person with arms outstretched toward heaven. An esoteric symbol, the Algiz is used in divination, dreamwork, and protective magic. The Algiz rune represents our quest for understanding and gives protection as we fight our way through the physical world. It helps us learn without fear or prejudice and carries us safely to the afterlife when we die.

9. Helm of Awe

Helm of awe
The Helm of Awe is a fearsome symbol consisting of eight arms radiating from a single circle. Each arm is a trident with three prongs. Some say that the arms are actually Algiz runes, which would make sense. The symbol itself resembles a protective barrier around the circle and was worn to defend and protect warriors in Viking battles.

10. Awen Symbol

Awen symbol
The Awen is a Celtic symbol featuring three rays of light extending from three points. It looks different from the traditional trident but still carries the motif. The Awen is an artistic symbol representing our abilities to inspire and be inspired. It nurtures our minds and fosters creativity in all of us.

The three prongs of the Awen symbol may stand for man, woman, and child. They may also stand for the three elements of earth, sea, and sky. These rays of light grow closer at the top to symbolize the connection between all three aspects, depicting how each one is intricately woven into the others.

11. Psi

PSI symbol
PSI symbol

The Psi is a Greek letter used to represent the psyche and the heart, mind, and soul that make us human. It is the symbol for the study of psychology and illustrates the interconnected nature of rational thought, physical desires, and spiritual aspects of humanity. It can also represent other fields of science, like physics or astronomy.

12. Trishul Mudra

Trishul mudra
Trishul mudra

The Trishul Mudra is a sacred hand symbol in Hinduism that involves joining the thumb and the little finger, with the thumb resting on top of the little finger’s nail. The other three fingers are extended outward, creating the shape of a trident.

This mudra holds significance as it is believed to alleviate fear, anxiety, and nervousness by balancing the fire and water elements within the body.

When practiced during meditation, the Trishul Mudra acts as a purifying force, helping to dissolve and release old beliefs and stagnant energies that hinder personal growth. To enhance its effects, perform this mudra with both hands while focusing on anything that obstructs your true potential. Allow the power of the mudra to clear your mind and pave the way for a more liberated path ahead.

13. Khanda

Khanda
Sikh khanda symbol

The Khanda is a sacred Sikh symbol that bears a resemblance to a trident. It comprises a central double-edged sword, representing divine knowledge, spiritual power, and righteousness.

Surrounding the central sword are two curved single-edged swords called “Kirpans.” These kirpans symbolize the concept of Miri and Piri, which represent the material and spiritual realms respectively. Miri signifies being grounded in the material world while striving to reach one’s true potential, while Piri represents the pursuit of spirituality while living in a material world. The two kirpans symbolize the need for balance between worldly and spiritual responsibilities.

At the center of the symbol is a circle known as the Chakkar, symbolizing the eternal nature of God and life.

14. Palmist Tridents

Trident symbols on the palm
Trident symbols on the palm

Palm readers may be able to spot a trident on your palm. The trident is simply three lines that stem from a single point. It can be located anywhere on your hand or even in multiple places. The palm trident represents good luck in its palm line. For example, if you have a trident over your heart line, you will experience trials and tribulations in love and family life. However, the trident also means you will overcome them to have a happy love life and healthy family relationships.

Conclusion

The trident is a symbol of strength, power, and compassion. It gives protection, nurtures goodness, and represents our quest for higher learning and understanding. A divine symbol, the trident connects us to the world beneath our feet and the universe around us. If you need to reclaim your power or spark passion, bring some of these trident symbols into your home today.


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About the Author
Lyza is a certified yoga instructor and advanced practitioner, dedicating time and space each day for spiritual process and immersion in the mystical. She’s a professional wordsmith by day and an avid nature enthusiast by night, exploring all the spectacular spots and hidden gems of her native Ozark Mountain region. Get in touch with Lyza at her website, or follow her on Instagram to see her point...  visit author page.
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