Symbolic Meaning of Octagon

Written by avenefica on May 24th, 2008

meaning of octogon

The symbolic meaning of octagon deals with:

  • Regeneration
  • Totality
  • Infinity
  • Rebirth
  • Transition

The octagon is found in baptisteries as a symbol representing eternal life as – likely because the number eight is symbolic of renewal.

We see further religious architectural connections when we recognize many sacred buildings (churches, temples, etc) were designed with octagonal structures supporting a dome on top. 

This interplay between circle (dome) and square (found in the angular octagon) speaks of the transitional dance between earth and heaven.  The circle is symbolic of the heavens (also eternity/infinity) and the angularity of the square is symbolic of earthly presence. 

This is an amazingly profound concept – one that many ancient orders were aware of (including the ever-symbolic Masons), and so took the time to design their places of worship with no symbolic detail unmissed.

An interesting side-note: The eighth step upon the sacred stairway ascending to the first heavens climbed by Muhammed lead to a sea of illumined angels in deep and focused meditation upon the highest of holies.  There’s a nice post about this topic on this blog here. 

I like looking at the symbolism of the octagon from a navigational standpoint.  Specifically, I like to imagine each point of the octagon as one among the four cardinal directions and the four intermediate points. 

I occasionally use this imagery in meditations in conjunction with the Buddhist concept of the eightfold path:

  • Right View
  • Right Thought
  • Right Word
  • Right Action
  • Right Livelihood
  • Right Effort
  • Right Mindfulness
  • Right Concentration

Other related posts that may be of interest:

Meaning of Number Eight 

Meaning of Hexagon

Symbolic Meaning of Numbers

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2 Comments so far ↓

  1. Liara Covert says:

    Wow! This shape triggers images of stop signs on the road, quirky, family-size pizzas, and the fact that we can choose to see many sides and angles to every situation.

    I opened myself to learn an octagon is the symbol of M.I.T Technology Hackers Association (THA). In their view:

    “The eight sides of the octagon represent eight aspects of human endeavor; initially these coincided to some extent with the areas mentioned inside the little dome at MIT: arts, agriculture, science, etc. Whatever specific definition one would like is fine, providing the set covers most of the categories of what people do with their brains. The center of the octagon represents the activity of the generalist, bordered on the edges by the above realms of the specialists. The solid crossbar in the octagon signifies creativity as the unifying element in all of these areas. The small lines paralleling the crossbar are intended to represent the necessity of intellectual discipline to hold it all together.”
    (Anyone can expand on this and members are open to input)
    http://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/users/bentz/octdesc.html

  2. Teri says:

    During a visualization training course many years ago, one of the exercises had us build our perfect “house” or sanctuary; a place we could go mentally and be free and safe. My “house” was built of wood, octagon shaped with windows on every side.

    I have no idea how or why the octagon shape came about. It just came to me seemingly out of no where but I knew it had to have some meaning behind it.

    Thank you for the insight into this symbol. That my “house”, my sanctuary, would be octagon now makes perfect sense.