Symbolism vs Superstition

Symbolism vs Superstition
Symbolism vs Superstition

Symbolism vs. Superstition, what’s the difference between the two?  This question came from an email sent by an avid fan of (thanks Annabel).  It’s an uber-valid inquiry, so I thought I’d devote a little time to the debate on this blog post.

First, a word from your pal and mine, Mr. Webster (Webster’s Dictionary):

Superstition: An irrational belief in or notion of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, or occurrence.

Symbolism: The practice of representing things by symbols, or of investing things with a symbolic meaning or character.

Big difference, eh?

The key phrase here, I think, is “irrational belief.”

Interpreting symbolism runs counter to irrational belief.  In fact, the realm of symbolism is highly appealing because it requires a logical approach.

Symbolism Superstition
Relies heavily on logic Feeds on ignorance
Encourages independent and critical thinking Encourages no thought, blind acceptance
Encourages anthropological/cultural research for greater understanding Requires no understanding or research, concepts taken at face-value
Requires interpretation and exploration from the observer Must be accepted as truth or fact without substantiation
Offers insight according to the observer’s needs Keeps banal value, with the gist of meaning left unchanged
Lends itself to improvement of the human condition Keeps humankind stuffed in a dark hole of ignorance

Symbolism is an interactive practice, requiring the discernment of humankind to flesh out meanings according to his/her own perspective at the time of interpretation.  Superstition asks no such thing of us, and that’s my main gripe.

If you want answers in your life about synchronicities, oracles, signs and other meaningful phenomenon it seems to me you have a choice.  You can go the quick-and-easy route, the route requiring little to no effort on your part – a pat answer typically based upon fear-driven concepts, by all means, let superstition be your guide.

If, however, you find yourself to be more refined, more evolved, and so require a sophisticated approach to interpreting uncommon events in your life – an approach that encourages expanded perception, open-mindedness and soulful sensitivity – then symbolism might be your bag baby.

7 thoughts on “Symbolism vs Superstition”

  1. I love this post! (well, I love all of your posts) I especially love: “interactive practice, requiring the discernment”
    Thanks for these ideas you continually give all of us!

  2. How true, I discovered recently after researching two dreams where I was wearing new shoes that the old superstition of leaving shoes on a table related to the time when people were hanged and when they cut them down there shoes would lay down on a surface. Fascinating! I love symbolism, superstition can always be explained away if people are willing to investigate.

  3. This is really nice. Keep us posted more on symbolism. Not only does it make life colorful and meaningful, it makes life wonderful and magnificent! Your work inspires me to go on and love the journey of who I am. Thank you very much.

  4. I like your insight about superstition especially due to that fact I’m in Africa where superstition is prevalent……there is a bit of it in every society though. Symbolism?….gush we have a lot in Africa…I think that will the the next thing i blog about….thanks!

  5. I hear these terms interchanged quite a bit. There are some big difference between that two and I’m glad that you draw those out here.

  6. It’s awesome to see the two so clearly laid out. I interact with a lot of people who are very negative, or opposed to all things spiritual and mystical, and they would discount everything symbolic as crazy superstition – clearly it’s not, and we know that! Thank you so much for the great information as always, Avia.


  7. Hi Ashlee, too right. I suppose it only makes sense to encounter polarities. For every high end, there is a low end waggling its tail. LOL. Good for you for keeping your vision focused purposefully on the high side of this life experience. Don’t let the turkeys get you down! :)

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