The symbolic meaning of octagon deals with:
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: