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HomeExpanded ConsciousnessThe Spiral: An Intuitive Symbol of Spiritual Development and Universal Identity

The Spiral: An Intuitive Symbol of Spiritual Development and Universal Identity


The spiral, an ancient and intrinsic symbol, has been an essential emblem representing spiritual development and our intrinsic connectivity with the universe. This fundamental form transcends geographical, cultural, and temporal boundaries, hinting at a universal, intuitive understanding of its symbolic value. Its recurrence across different civilizations and historical periods reflects a profound sense of commonality and shared narrative. This essay delves into the implications of spiral symbolism as viewed through the lens of shamanism, serpent cults, dragon lore, geomancy, magic, mysticism, and ritual art and dance (Chevalier & Gheerbrant, 1996).

The Sacred Spiral in Shamanic Practices

Shamanism, an archaic spiritual practice embedded in various indigenous cultures worldwide, often attributes profound meaning to the spiral. In shamanic contexts, the spiral is viewed as a symbol of a journey between various realms of existence – the visible and the hidden, the tangible and the ethereal. It stands as a metaphor for the transformative process of healing, where individuals shed their old selves and emerge renewed. This symbolism also ties into the cyclical nature of existence, emphasizing the continuous cycle of birth, death, and rebirth (Eliade, 2004).

Shamans have traditionally integrated the spiral in their sacred arts, illustrating it on their bodies, drum skins, or ceremonial tools to deepen their spiritual connection (Vitebsky, 2001). The rhythmic pulsation of the shaman’s drum, often paralleled to the spiral’s hypnotic movement, facilitates a trance state, enabling the practitioner to spiral into an alternate level of consciousness, linking the mortal realm with the spiritual.

Spiral Motifs in Serpent Cults and Dragon Lore

Serpents and dragons, frequently represented in a coiled, spiral-like form, hold sacred positions in various cultures. In serpent cults, the spiral embodies the rhythm of nature, suggesting transformation, rebirth, and immortality. This symbolism mirrors the cyclicality of life and seasons, the eternal rotation of day and night, and the relentless flow of rivers towards the sea (Linden, 2003).

Dragon lore, particularly in Eastern traditions, holds a parallel association with the spiral’s symbolism, signifying spiritual growth, the convergence of cosmic energy, and the cyclicality of the universe (Girardot, 1983). The portrayal of dragons spiralling around mountains in oriental art represents the unification of earthly and heavenly energies and the continuous evolution of the spirit (Yang & An, 2005).

Geomancy and the Power of the Spiral

Geomancy, an ancient divination practice and a form of earth magic, views the spiral as a conduit for the earth’s latent energy. This symbolic pathway often represents a journey towards the center of oneself or the universe, denoting introspection and spiritual illumination (Pennick, 1995). The practice of tracing spiral paths, commonly seen in labyrinth rituals, underscores an inward journey of personal metamorphosis and the subsequent outward journey of incorporating these transformations into one’s lived reality (Artress, 2006).

Spiral: The Mystical Path in Magic and Mysticism

In the realms of magic and mysticism, the spiral takes on a more profound meaning. It often represents the soul’s journey through life and beyond, the evolution of spiritual understanding, and the intimate connection with the cosmos. The Hermetic axiom, “As above, so below,” resonates deeply with the symbolism of the spiral, signifying the inherent interconnectedness of microcosm and macrocosm (Linden, 2003).

Alchemical illustrations frequently feature the spiral, symbolizing the process of transformation and purification necessary to achieve spiritual perfection (Jung, 1968). The spiral path traced by a magus during rituals represents the transformative journey towards attaining higher knowledge and wisdom, ascending from the earthly to the divine (Grimassi, 2003).

Spiral Symbolism in Ritual Art and Dance

In the domain of ritual art and dance, the spiral stands as a sacred pattern, an artistic and kinesthetic symbol of life’s interconnectedness and spiritual progression. Indigenous cultures worldwide, such as the Aboriginal tribes, have long used spirals in their artworks and dances as symbols of spiritual bonds and storytelling (Morphy, 1998).

Sufi Whirling Dervishes, for instance, utilize the spiral form through their sacred dances. Their ecstatic twirling is a vivid representation of the spiral, mirroring the cosmic dance of celestial bodies around their axes and orbits. It is also a metaphor for the soul’s journey towards divine love and enlightenment (Friedlander, 1992).


The spiral, an intuitive symbol, reverberates throughout cultures, epochs, and spiritual practices, consistently symbolizing spiritual development and a profound connection to the universe. Its ubiquitous presence in shamanism, serpent cults, dragon lore, geomancy, magic, mysticism, and ritual art and dance underscores the spiral’s foundational role in shaping shared spiritual narratives. It remains a universal emblem that encapsulates our spiritual essence and cosmic interconnectivity.


Artress, L. (2006). Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Practice. Riverhead Books.

Chevalier, J., & Gheerbrant, A. (1996). The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Penguin Books.

Eliade, M. (2004). Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy. Princeton University Press.

Friedlander, S. (1992). The Whirling Dervishes. SUNY Press.

Girardot, N. J. (1983). Myth and Meaning in Early Taoism: The Theme of Chaos. University of California Press.

Grimassi, R. (2003). The Witches’ Craft: The Roots of Witchcraft & Magical Transformation. Llewellyn Publications.

Jung, C.G. (1968). Psychology and Alchemy. Princeton University Press.

Linden, K. V. D. (2003). Mysteries of the Snake Goddess: Art, Desire, and the Forging of History. Da Capo Press.

Morphy, H. (1998). Aboriginal Art. Phaidon Press.

Pennick, N. (1995). The Sacred World of the Celts. Thorsons.

Vitebsky, P. (2001). Shamanism. University of Oklahoma Press.

Yang, L., & An, D. (2005). Handbook of Chinese Mythology. Oxford University Press.

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