Heart Chakra Symbol
By looking at the heart chakra symbol, we can start to better grasp in a symbolic form the meanings carried by the energy of the 4th chakra or Anahata. This symbol, also named “yantra” in some traditions, represents ideas, meanings, and energies in tangible, a graphical form. The symbolic elements and colors associated with the heart chakra can vary from one tradition to another. We’ll focus on the most common symbols. Let’s have a closer look at the philosophy and symbolism behind this chakra symbol.
Anatomy of the heart chakra symbol
The symbol for the heart chakra is composed of the following elements:
- A six-pointed star or hexagram, also referred to as Shaktona;
- Twelve petals positioned in circle, depicted with the a rich color red or vermilion; this part of the symbol is sometimes referred to as a twelve-petaled lotus flower;
- In the Hindu tradition, the deity associated with the heart chakra is Vayu, who sits at the center of the symbol, riding an antelope or deer;
- Inside the main circle, we can find another eight-petaled circle, also refered to as eight-petaled lotus (in the hindu tradition).
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The hexagram or six-pointed star symbolic of the heart chakra qualities
The hexagram is made of two interlaced triangles, one pointing up and one pointing down. They symbolize the power of spirit and the power of matter coming together, the feminine and masculine in harmony.
Symbolism of the twelve petals
On each petal is inscribed a Sanskrit syllable: syllables kam, kham, gam, gham, ngam, cham, chham, jam, jham, nyam, tam and tham. Energy flows in and out of the petals, carried by the syllable sound, in twelve directions. Each petal represents a plexus where the channels of energy also called “nadis” converge. The syllables symbolically represent the vital energy that comes from these points ( “The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs” by Robert Beér). These movements of energy are activated with each inhalation and exhalation and correspond to twelve mental states or “vritties”: fraud, lustfulness, indecision, hope, anxiety, repentance, possessiveness, incompetence, discrimination , impartiality, arrogance, and defiance. The list vary slightly from one tradition to another.
The center of the heart chakra symbol: Deity, seed syllable, and animal
At the center of the heart chakra symbol, we can traditionally find a deity, an accompanying animal, and a seed syllable. The deity presiding the heart chakra has different names, depending on the tradition and translation. It is called Rudra or Ishana Rudra Shiva, and comes together with the goddess Kakini, considered as the doorkeeper of the Anahata chakra. The seed syllable for the heart chakra is “Yam” (sometimes also translated by “Yang”), carrying the meaning of the air or wind element. This sound or “mantra” is connected to the control over the air and the breath.
The deer or antelope is the carrier of the seed sound. This animal symbolizes the heart and its qualities mirror the type of energy or process we go through in the matters of the heart. For example, the antelope might be vigilant at all times and react to the slightest perceived threat. In our spiritual journey, we may be experiencing similar states, jumping or running away when scared. On the other side, the spirit of the deer or antelope is characterized by gentleness, grace, and innocence. These qualities can also be found in a person who’s living from the heart chakra.