• Svetlana Bornayová

Symbolism and History of Plants

Symbol and Symbolism

Written by: Svetlana Bornayová, Slovakia


Many professional and lay works deal with this topic and the meaning of the word symbol has been described and perfectly explained in many dictionaries or encyclopedias. So, if we don't want to "discover America", just use the ready-made characteristic from one of them:

"It is a representation representing a certain spiritual reality or a visible sign of a hidden reality. As a means of obvious, confidential or secret agreement, it represents a concrete and abstract sign of meaning. A symbol can be an imaginary or real phenomenon with allegorical content, or just a concept, replacing the essence of other specific phenomena or concepts. By convention, basically anything can become a symbol: phenomena of living and inanimate nature, man and his life manifestations, numbers, colors, unknown phenomena, supernatural beings and phenomena and the like. The symbol may be the phenomenon itself or its verbal or graphic expression, which replaces this phenomenon and evokes its image in persons familiar with the content of the symbol. "


Symbols have already become part of thinking and a means of communication between people, products and objects of real and irrational human action on the threshold of the development of human society. They entered into faith, magic, cults, and thus into the apparatus of organized religions, which are largely based on symbolic expression (the world of supernatural beings, demons, deities). The symbol, due to its organizing potential, can be a means of bringing people together according to their worldview, religion and political feelings, nationality, social and professional integration and the like. With the help of the symbol, it is also possible to express taboo facts - to communicate only between the chosen ones with the help of secret signs. The symbol can become a sign similar to an external phenomenon (wavy line, water), directly or indirectly related to an act, event (wagon wheel - instrument of torture), palm - (symbol of martyrdom) or corresponding to the characteristics (bear - power, red - blood , life). Some symbols were derived by a strong abstraction of phenomena (sun - life, alpha, omega - the beginning and end of the universe). Many symbols have interethnic, transnational and timeless intelligibility and validity.


They are mainly movement, sound, graphic, i.e. non-language symbols. Some have remained unchanged in form and content for millennia, others change only their content (fish - a symbol of Christ, water, life, fertility, sensuality). Some of the symbols change not only the form, but also the content according to the purposes for which they are used (eg swastika). Many graphic symbols from prehistoric and ancient cultures as well as cultures of recent ethnic communities at a lower stage of development entered the folk art culture of more advanced ethnic groups and remained in them until the advent of technical civilization. The prehistoric and ancient symbolism was followed by organized religions, of which Christianity in particular brought trinitarian symbols (Holy Trinity), Christological, Mariological and Hagiographic symbols (the life of saints). It transformed the older symbols of the deities and enriched them with New Testament symbols, especially martyrological symbols.


Symbols are among the basic means of expression in all kinds of ceremonies and arts. Older generations were aware of their power and used them extensively. Even today, especially used symbols are consciously and deliberately used in advertising, they appear on business posters, but also on political billboards. The symbol is used as a phenomenon, forming and emerging from the unconscious as an expression of a deep inner force that we are aware of but cannot express in words and thus becomes a constant challenge to our thoughts and feelings. That is why it stimulates symbolism and that is why it still captivates people. Humanity has always expressed creative power through symbols since time immemorial.