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Symbols of Good vs. Evil and Their Meanings

Symbols of Good vs. Evil and Their Meanings

Good vs. evil is an important dichotomy present in religion, philosophy, and psychology. Within the Abraham faiths, evil is usually depicted as the opposite of good that should ultimately be defeated. Within Buddhist spiritual ideology, both good and evil are two parts of the antagonistic duality of life.

Evil is often described as profound immorality, and if interpreted through the lens of religion, it is often explained as a supernatural force. However, commonly associated characteristics with evil usually include selfishness, ignorance, neglect, or violence. 

The notion of good vs. evil can also be interpreted logically. Both good and evil are dualistic concepts that co-exist. If there was no evil, you could not recognize good nor appreciate it or differentiate it.

The primary difference between good and evil is that one brings pleasure while the other is the cause of disappointment and misery. Therefore one can say that the concept of duality goes hand in hand in life.

Let’s consider the top 7 symbols of good vs. evil below:

1. Yin and Yang

Yin and Yang.
Yin and Yang
Gregory Maxwell, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Within the realm of Chinese philosophy, Yin-yang stands for dark-light or the negative and the positive. Yin and yang is a Chinese concept that explains how opposite forces are complementary to one another and interconnect with each other.

These forces can interrelate in our normal world. Chinese cosmology states that the universe comprises material energy and chaos. These elements are arranged into Yin and Yang. Yin consists of the receptive part, while yang consists of the active part.

This can actively be witnessed in nature, such as summer and winter, order and disorder, or male and female. (1)

2. The Horn Sign

Mano Cornuto / Sign of horns.
Mano Cornuto / Sign of horns
Sign of horns by Symbolon from the Noun Project

The horn sign is a hand gesture that raises the index and little finger while holding the middle and ring finger to the thumb. This hand gesture has many different meanings in different cultures.

In Hatha yoga, this hand gesture is called ‘Apana Mudra’ and is known to revitalize the body. This gesture is also used in many Indian classical dance forms.

In Buddhism, this gesture is known as ‘Karana Mudra’ and is known to expel negative energy. (2)

In many Mediterranean cultures, such as Italy, the horn sign is used to ward off bad luck and evil eyes. In this context, the horned sign is usually performed with the fingers facing downwards or pointing towards the person.

In Wicca, the horned sign is performed during religious ceremonies to reference the horned god. (3)

3. Raven and Dove

Even though the Raven and the Dove are both birds, they signify very different concepts. Ravens are black in color and large in size. They can also sometimes feed on corpses; hence are usually identified as being a bad omen.

The Raven symbol is sometimes used to foretell disaster or even death. Doves are pure white, petite, gentle, and pretty. They are used as a sign of peace and symbolize tranquility of mind. Spiritually doves are used to represent divinity and grace.

4. Elephants

Dario CrespiCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Elephants are often seen as a sign of good luck in India. Within Hindu mythology, the elephant-headed god Ganesha is known to be the god of new beginnings.

It is believed that Ganesha is the remover of obstacles and is actively worshipped in the Maharashtra region of India. In many other cultures of the world, elephants are also considered lucky. People often keep paintings or sculptures of elephants in their homes. They are also often viewed as a sign of fertility. (4)

5. Dragons

Oriental Dragon.
Oriental Dragon
Image Courtesy:

Dragons are often portrayed as dangerous, evil fire-breathing monsters in Western culture. In western story tales, dragons are usually tamed or defeated by the protagonist. They are often depicted as living in caves, having ravenous appetites, and hoarding treasures.

But in Chinese mythology, the dragon is a prominent mythical animal that is hugely significant. The Chinese depict dragons as supportive and helpful. A dragon’s presence in your life represents power, status, good luck, and positive energy. (5)

6. The ‘Om’ Syllable

Om Symbol.
Om Symbol
The Unicode Consortium, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The significance of the ‘Om’ syllable lies within the very foundation of Hinduism. It is considered a very auspicious symbol and the very first sound in the universe.

The ‘Om’ syllable represents all three aspects of being human that are the mind, body, and spirit. It is also a symbol that represents the different stages of consciousness. This includes achieving enlightenment. 

7. Kirtimukha

Sailko, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Kirtimukha is portrayed as a fierce monster with huge fangs and a gaping mouth. Symbolically Kirtimukha is an auspicious symbol, especially in the Southern region of India.

Sculptures of Kirtimukha are often placed in doorways, houses, and temples to attract good luck and remove all evil. In Sanskrit, the ‘Kirti’ refers to glory and fame while ‘mukha’ refers to the face. The name Kirtimukhas translates to the face of glory and fame.  


Symbols of good vs. evil have existed throughout history. The meanings attached to these symbols differ according to ideology, culture, and region.

Which of these Top Symbols of Good vs. Evil were you already aware of? Let us know in the comments below.


  1. Feuchtwang, Stephan (2016). Religions in the Modern World: Traditions and Transformations. New York: Routledge. p. 150
  2. Chakraborty, Shruti (January 4, 2018). “Is Rajinikanth’s party symbol the same as Apana Mudra for ‘detoxification and purification’?”. The Indian Express.
  3. Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham, p. 42.

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