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10 Symbols And What They Actually Mean

Think the dollar bill is innocent? Think again. You might be surprised to know where these highly recognizable symbols originated. Use your new insights to try your hand at Kobo's new contest - put your knowledge of symbols and codes to the test and you might win a serious chunk of change. #KoboDescent

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1. Obelisk


It's phallic, right? Well, sort of. The Obelisk is the symbol of the Egyptian God Ra, who was pretty much the top dog when it came to Egyptian Gods. Cities like Washington D.C., London City and Vatican City have all erected (grow up) obelisks as a sort of F-YOU to their former host nations. So take that, Mother England, you old crone.

2. Heart


A generic heart doesn't look anything like the thing beating in your chest. We all know this. What would you say if we told you that the original image dates back to ancient Rome, and represented the seedpod of a specific plant used for natural birth control? You'd say DEAR GOD NO as you remember the sappy card you gave your grandmother for her 92nd birthday.

4. Pentacle

epimetheus / Via

Satanism! Seances! Carve it in a tree before you perform an animal sacrifice! Draw it on your carpet and try and talk to your dead dog! You get it. It's not really known as a friendly symbol. But in most major religions, this thing has been used across the board as a symbol of goodness. So next time you're sacrificing a lamb on a makeshift altar in the woods near your uncle's house, keep that in mind.

5. Swastika


Synonymous with the Nazi regime. As a culture we've learned to cringe and gasp audibly when we see a swastika. Fair enough! Makes sense! It's just too bad that this symbol started out as a Hindu religious symbol of good luck. Hitler ruins everything.

6. Pawnbroker's Symbol

Thomas Nugent / Via

If you're not familiar, it looks like this. Three balls suspended by a curved bar. It's from that rich old trading & banking Italian family's coat of arms - the Medici family. Apparently one of the Medicis battled a giant and won by using a sack full of rocks. OK. SURE, MEDICI.

7. Cross


This thing is everywhere. All over the place. It's the symbol of Christianity. But it used to be a Pagan symbol for the Sun God, representing the perfect union of male and female energy. Then Constantine was like NOPE - I like the way this looks, and I also like Jesus. So, here we are.

8. The Illuminated Eye


It's a symbol of the Illuminati, and it's right there on the American dollar bill. President Roosevelt opted to put it on the note, as he was a Shriner - said to be a group directly descended from the Illuminati. Some say the Illuminated Eye was put on the dollar as a sort of back-handed message that the United States is under constant surveillance of the Illuminati. Another thing about the eye? It never sleeps. That's the stuff of nightmares, that is.

9. Star of David


It's the symbol of Judaism, and it rules. It represents the shield of David. But here's a weird and distressing fact - in the ancient Tibetan Book of the Dead, there are many images of swastikas inside the star, said to represent the creative force in the universe. THAT AIN'T RIGHT.

10. The Serpent

carulmare / Via Flickr: 8545333@N07

Before Christianity and the Harry Potter series dragged snake's name through the mud, the serpent was a sacred symbol of wisdom. But between that dickhead snake in the Garden of Eden, and Voldemort's vicious pet, Nagini - snakes these days aren't too popular.