If we’re being particular, magical symbolism is highly individualized for each practitioner. Understanding the personal link between an object and the concept(s) that object represents is an introspective process that takes time. Being able to leverage that symbolic meaning to effect powerful changes is an even more complex process and could perhaps be considered an art in its own right - the art of understanding your connections to reality as you perceive it, and then consciously using those connections to make changes to the perceived reality. Despite this subjective, personal relationship with meaning, there are some widely agreed upon symbols that have taken root in the magic community and are a useful tool as you work towards establishing a better understanding of magic for yourself. Symbolic meaning is shaped by physical reality, culture, personal ideology, and other such forces, so it’s not terribly surprising that some common things (colors, elements, glyphs, natural objects) have taken on a relatively cohesive symbolic meaning that has clear links with more well-documented phenomena and mythologies. Color associations, for example, are heavily structured off of color psychology. Color associations have heavily influenced the Westernized interpretation of the chakra system as well as many uses for crystals. Some associations are more obscure, often taking root as folk traditions or healing methods. Certainly, many of these associations have persisted due to their effectiveness for practitioners at large. However, it’s crucial to recognize these well-known associations for what they are - generalizations across many cultures, some of which were adopted or appropriated irresponsibly. I don’t say this to necessarily discredit popularized associations, but rather to remind you that these associations should be seen as merely a starting point and that much of this information has been passed through Western lenses of interpretation. With that caveat, I present some common associations for colors, elements, herbs, and crystals/minerals.
Black - protection, control, absorption of ambient energy
Blue - soothing, relaxation, clarification
Brown - grounding, stability, abundance, connection with nature & the home
Green - physical concerns like money, school, careers, and general success
Purple - power, especially mental or psychic in nature
Red - power, especially of a physical nature
White - new beginnings, stimulation of creativity
Yellow - joy, passion, romance
Earth - grounding and stabilizing. provides strength, security, and energy. can be slow/unwilling to adapt to change.
Air - causes things to spread, facilitates transmission of intentions and information. can be difficult to pin down, overly honest.
Water - governs emotion, intuition, soothes and heals. can be reactionary or particularly susceptible to illusion.
Fire - transformation, vitality, independence, power. can be difficult to control, unpredictable and has potential to cause injury.
“The octagonal shape has a particular significance. In Islamic architecture, this shape is a symbol of ascent to heaven by the Prophet and by man. The octagonal structure is a step in the mathematical series going from a square (symbolizing fixity of the earthly manifestation) to a circle (symbolizing the perfection of heaven). Traditional baptismal fonts are also of this shape. However, in the tombs erected for saints, the lower part is square with an octagonal drum inserted as a transition between the cube and the dome, to symbolize the saint as the link between man and God. The octagonal structure of Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock became the model for domed sanctuaries and saints’ tombs from Morocco to China.”
— Raza Rumi: “Delhi by Heart: Impressions of a Pakistani Traveller.”