Symbolic Meaning of Crossroads

Written by avenefica on March 3rd, 2008

I see crossroads, and thus I’m compelled to explore the symbolic meaning of crossroads.

When I see them, Eric Clapton’s voice and ax come cutting through my mind with “Crossroads,” and I wonder what prompts the passage “fall down on my knees and ask the Lord for mercy please” in the song.

Of course, my ruminations produce some symbolic thoughts on this….

Crossroads (the intersection of four roads to make it simple for this post) were considered significant markers for supernatural or non-local activity.  In other words, reports of seeing ghosts, apparitions, spectres at crossroads count up into the thousands.

Primitive South American cultures such as Aztec, Mayan, and some southern North American Indian tribes used crossroads as a place of sacrifice.  Alters, or totem-like poles would be erected at these locations to indicate hallowed ground.

Early Europeans used to bury criminals and suicide victims at crossroads with the thought that when their spirit rose from the dead, they would be confused and return from whence they came and leave the living undisturbed by their presence.

Crossroads are often situated on top of natural ley lines which are intersections of high energetic vibrations from the earth and its atmosphere.  These high voltage spots are often blamed for car accidents at intersections.

Perhaps these ley lands attracted witches as it is reputed they would secretly meet at crossroads to conduct coven work.  Then again, maybe the witch association came from Hekate (Hecate), the Greek goddess of sorcery, who was said to appear at earthly crossroads with baying wolf-hounds at her side.

Hermes, son of Zeus, was also reputed to hang out at crossroads.  In fact, statues called herms were erected at crossroads as Hermes represented one of the gods of travel (particularly commerce/trade roads) to the Greeks.

It is fabled that if you simply must make a deal with the devil, do so at the crossroads because you have four times better chance of outrunning devilish clutches with a choice of four roads (I guess the devil can’t predict which road you’ll choose).

Dreaming of crossroads may be symbolic of confusion, and not being able to see our way clear of a solution to a problem. It may also be a portent of many opportunities on the horizon for us.

Setting superstitions aside, I have to answer my deeper ruminations about crossroads thusly…

Ultimately, the symbolic meaning of crossroads deals with choice, consequence, making a selection about the direction in which we want to go (both physically and philosophically).  Furthermore, my visions of standing at the center of a crossroads speaks of being poised in a position of pure potential.  Suspended upon a vortex of power – and that begs the question from me “in what direction shall I navigate that power?”

For many of us, being in a position of power requires taking a stand for what we believe, even when we do not know what we will encounter upon the road we have chosen.

If we can’t make that stand it’s sometimes helpful to think of the symbolic meaning of crossroads in terms of the equal-armed cross which I’ve written about here.  I rather like the mental picture of four in-roads leading to our hearts with each protrusion representing four perspective beatitudes of the cross:

  • Nature
  • Self
  • Knowledge
  • God

That’s the kind of power I’m talking about.  That’s the kind of capacity for soul-quaking, paradigm shifting I’m alluding to.

In the combining of these four sacred concepts we meet in the middle – the center – which is both the beginning and ending.  No choice in direction need be made when we seat ourselves in this kind of navigational setting.  We merely wait for the roads to come to us.

 

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