1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Is there a name for this?

Discussion in 'Research' started by Androxine Vortex, Jan 24, 2013.

  1. Androxine Vortex

    Androxine Vortex Archmage

    I enjoy symbols. I don't know why but I love them. A picture is worth a thousand words. Symbols can represent entire nations and be very powerful icons. I really like symbols that are involved with geometric shapes like triangles or stars. I also like alchemical symbols.

    Stuff like this

    But is there a specific term that could describe these kinds of symbols I like? I know a lot of words that come to mind are associated with occultism but is there a generalized term that matches these kinds of symbols? Thanks and I know this is kind of an odd question.:p
  2. gethinmorgan

    gethinmorgan Scribe

    The top ones resemble enneagrams - but could be star-charts or 'magic circle' thingees.

    The bottom ones look like sigils. Not sure which alphabet, but look up Angelic Script on Google Images and you'll get the idea.

    Yes, they are very evocative, pleasing to look at,and I don't now why. Carefull! :devil: :eek2: :help::mad2:
  3. Kit

    Kit Maester

  4. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

  5. psychotick

    psychotick Auror


    I agree the top ones look like variations on Stars of David, which seem mostly to be used in the occult. I don't see them forming any part of a script as such.

    The bottom stuff does look a little like angelic script Angelic/Celestial alphabet or the alphabet of the magi Alphabet of the Magi

    Cheers, Greg.
  6. Androxine Vortex

    Androxine Vortex Archmage

    Thanks everyone for your responses! I appreciate it :)
  7. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

    Not "enneagram": those are specifically nine-pointed (or whatever) symbols. (I do agree about the resemblance.)

    The top series would generally be called circles, whether magical, conjuring, protecting, warding, or what have you. In this case, most do not have sufficient room to stand or to contain another being within, so these would more likely be inscribed as "seals"—another good word. If you aren't using pictures, you'll have to describe them anyway—a circle enclosing a star or other symbol of so many points, etc.—but it never hurts to give a classy, or at least catchy, name to go with the description… a la "Seal of Solomon."

    The bottom series could, as others mentioned, be sigils or glyphs; also plausible are hieroglyphs or runes, both of which I've commonly seen extended beyond their strict real-world meanings. Or, more simply, letters, symbols, signs, or script. Especially if the character encountering them is not familiar with their function: such a character would either mentally assign a "generic" name ("strange symbols/writing/alphabet"—and note that this categorization on the character's part might be linguistically incorrect, i.e. it might be a syllabic or logographic system rather than an alphabet, which would really ruin his chances of making sense of it… ;) ). Or he might overcompensate and assign an inappropriate and exotic term he thinks might apply to these arcane, eldritch scribblings ("the thaumaturgic sigils utterly baffled Cronan…").

    You can also make up your own names, for instance by tacking some Greek root onto -graph, -gram or -glyph. ("Petroglyph" is a real-world term for symbols carved in rock, for example.) It wouldn't be too hard for a reader to understand what an "astrogram" might be. Or, since most of the combinations are already taken by, or at least will be evocative of, scientific fields—I didn't use "astrograph," though it would be perfectly acceptable, because it sounds like it should be a star chart; likewise, "geograph" doesn't sound so much like a magical symbol for earth as it does a map—you might try Latin roots; a few of these differ sufficiently from Greek that they may come off as more exotic.

    P.S. To be purely technical, a "-glyph" is something that is carved—the early examples of hieroglyphs we had were carvings on really obvious, easy to notice structures, as opposed to on the rare well-preserved papyrus scroll—while "-gram" and "-graph" both refer to writing (they are ultimately derived from the same root). But of course common usage has progressed well beyond the technically correct, so probably no one other than a linguist or anthropologist is going to wince if you refer to a symbol on a page as a "glyph." Most likely, not even them—I'm a linguist and I wouldn't give it a passing thought.

    If you want more detailed information on what "counts" formally as a letter, logograph, pictograph, etc., look up "List of writing systems" in Wikipedia and start following links. As usual, it's a good starting place to work from, even if it should not be taken as the final word on anything (and it shouldn't).
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2013
    Androxine Vortex likes this.
  8. David Ivanov

    David Ivanov Minstrel

    That's a toughie, Vortex. I poked around online and the only things I found that were even remotely close were "magic circles" (for which I could find no other 'technical' name), but the resemblance was limited to the circle because the interior designs were very different. Glpyhs look more like letters, and neither they nor sigils seem to include circles. However, these make me think that the correct term should be in the "(number)gram" format, such as pentagram, enneagram, septagram, etc. based on the number of points touching the circle.
  9. Xaysai

    Xaysai Inkling

    I think Sam and Dean Winchester paint some of those on floors and ceilings to catch demons in Supernatural.

Share This Page