As a traveler, part of the perks of the job is that I get to spend my off time exploring the new world around me. Even though it’s work that takes me around the world, it’s my time off exploring that really inspired me to explore.
In my travels, one of my favorite things to do was go to the museums and historical sights. Amongst my top things to learn about were ancient Egyptian jewelry and its deep meaning. Some of the symbols I kept seeing over and over again were the ankh and, closely linked, the eye of Horus. In ancient Egyptian jewelry, there is a lot of deeply rooted meaning in these symbols.
Ankh: What does the Ankh symbol mean?
Even if you’re not familiar with the ankh symbol itself in its meaning, you’ve absolutely seen it before. It’s also known as the Egyptian cross and is often understood as being the symbol of life. This life could refer to our physical lifespans here on earth or in the afterlife. It is used commonly across many kinds of hieroglyphics and more.
In anxiety times, the ankh was used to ward away evil. It was a symbol of courage and positivity, and life. It word keep away negativity and misfortune to those who kept the symbol close. It was seen as a symbol of life because it would so specifically communicate the importance of life. That’s why it’s so commonly referred to as The Egyptian cross since the classic cross is seen as a symbol of faith and hope for modern-day civilizations.
The shape blends the shape of the sun with a cross symbol that signifies the horizon and the path of the sun. The Egyptians believed the sun to be crucial in life and, more specifically, the root of life.
The ankh is also related to the eye of Horus because it was seen as keeping this god close and, with it, life. In other words: Having the eye of Horus in the ankh was a way to literally hold life close to you and to ward off negativity.
Interestingly, the evil eye is actually very similar to the shape of the ankh, which is the symbol for negativity and evil proceedings. The ankh is thought to help keep you safe from these if you keep it close by.
The Ankh Symbol Today
In our modern-day, the ankh symbol has shifted just slightly to mean something a bit more relatable to our modern audiences. While it is still very seriously seen as an Egyptian symbol, its meaning has shifted to be a bit more general with promoting the importance and beauty of life. The ankh is seen as a reminder to enjoy life and to see if to for all of its beauty.
Since it is so closely linked to a classic cross, this is often referred to as an Egyptian cross and continues to be so even in our day and age. It is seen as blending old and new together and offering up a symbol of hope, life, and religious expression through both the ancient belief and the modern-day Christian beliefs that eventually superseded the ancient Egyptian followings.
The loop, at the top, helps signify eternal life (including that after death on the earth’s plain). Interestingly, wearing it upside down (with the loop on the bottom) signifies the opposite of life (aka death). It is seen as disrespectful to wear the Egyptian cross this way, much the same as it is seen as disrespectful to wear or put the Christian crucifix upside down.
The Eye of Horus: What does the eye of Horus symbol mean?
I mentioned a bit about the eye of Horus, but it’s important enough to talk about it in more detail. This is another interpretation of the ankh because it is very similar in meaning. Horus, of course, was one of the gods that the Egyptians worshipped. Representing healing, power, and quintessence, this falcon-headed god was amongst the most powerful out there in terms of their potential in daily life.
In the ankh, another interpretation of the loop at the top (which could have represented the sun) was that it was the eye of Horus. All-knowing and all-seeing, this god was present with its eye in the loop at the top of the Egyptian cross. It was a way of keeping Horus close by to help protect you from the dangers.
Serving as the protector of Egyptian people, this eye of Horus in the Egyptian cross was a way of physically representing the protection of the gods as long as you had it nearby you. This warded off evil and misfortune, too.
Horus is one of the most commonly known Egyptian gods because it was featured so much in a lot of the paintings that come from this time. Most people don’t realize that there is a connection between it and the ankh since the loop is associated with the sun.
The Eye of Horus Symbol Today
Even in today’s times, I’ve seen the eye of Horus in many places and accentuated in the ankh. It is a popular symbol, and that is known amongst those who are familiar with ancient Egyptian history and those who aren’t. While the god of Horus isn’t popular with most modern-day people, the symbols that he represents are still well-followed and appreciated.
After all, our world is full of problems and frustrations, sending most of us to seek comfort in common themes such as spirituality. The goal becomes remembering to focus on the right ones, and the Egyptian cross is one of the best places to look when it comes to bringing them close to your heart.
As well, since there is a connection between ancient Egyptian gods and Christianity in the early days, there are many devout Christians who still see the Egyptian cross as being a symbol of modern-day faith.
The eye of Horus helps you to appreciate the power of the environment and the importance of having gods and other mythical figures watching over you to keep you safe and sound. Even if many don’t follow classic Egyptian thinkings, it’s still relevant in today’s day and age with the need for spiritual protection.
Ancient Egyptian Symbol Jewelry: Who Should Wear It and How?
While my experience has been mostly in the idea of seeing Egyptian jewelry from a historical perspective in museums, there are still many who wear it. In fact, it was quite popular back in the ‘90s. Some knew the true meaning of what they were wearing, and some didn’t. Today, the relevance of Egyptian jewelry is going to be as important as ever.
There are many options for symbols, but the two most popular are the ankh and the eye of Horus, as they both represent the power of divine intervention and the idea of holding a higher power close to you. Since jewelry is the best way to have it on you, this expression through necklaces, bracelets, and more became very popular -- and is still so. The only focus point here is to ensure that they are worn respectfully -- with the loop at the top -- so that their sentiment and symbolism are clear.
There are many who wonder just why the symbols of the ankh and eye of Horus are so popular in Western culture, but it comes back to take a look at the symbolism as well as the roots, which are much closer to Western life than many assume.
Firstly, the overall sentiment behind these symbols offers comfort and peace of mind. This is especially so to those who are spiritual and like to have physical reminders on their person that they are connected to the divine world. This is also loaded with the idea of bot the ankh and eye of Horus are reminders that they protect against the evil eye and keep spirituality close. They speak volumes on the reminder to always see life as the most precious thing and that it goes beyond our plain and into the next world where there is nothing but joy and happiness waiting.
Secondly, there is the fact that the ankh is still seen as the Egyptian cross. It is one of the few symbols to survive the change from Ancient Egyptian gods to more modern-day religious followings. When Egyptians converted to early Christianity, this symbol remained and continues to be present in many blended church proceedings because it is so similar in both shape and sentiment to the Christan crucifix. It wards off the evil eye in both cultures.
A Note of Reflection
There’s a lot that goes into the ankh meaning, really. If you are hunting for a way t enjoy some fun shapes but also know that you are staying rooted in spirituality as you do it, you’ll want to take on the ankh in the form of jewelry that you love most.
As with any piece of jewelry, you’ll want to pick a version of the eye of Horus that best suits your preferences for size, color, sparkle (or not), and more. Personalized jewelry is going to help you wear it more and enjoy it for its fashion and spiritual reasons.
I can’t wait to travel more and see the ankh everywhere that I go. It is, by far, one of the most important symbols of Ancient Egypt that has plenty of meaning even in our modern-day world with its modern spiritual beliefs.