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Post  Bad Wolf on Mon Dec 25, 2006 1:05 am

The ankh (pronounced 'ahnk', symbol ☥) was the Egyptian hieroglyphic character that stood for the word ʿnḫ, which means life. Egyptian gods may carry it by the loop, or bear one in each hand crossed over their breast. Latinists interpreted the symbol as a crux ansata, "cross with a handle".
-> Origins
AnkhWhat it was intended to represent remains a mystery to Egyptologists, and no single hypothesis has yet been widely accepted.

Some have speculated that it was a stylized womb[citation needed]. Sir Alan Gardiner speculated that it represented a sandal strap, with the loop going around the ankle. The word for sandal strap was also spelled ʿnḫ, although it may have been pronounced differently. Howard Carter speculated it could be a primitive representation of human genitalia.

In their 2004 book "The Quick and the Dead", Andrew H. Gordon and Calvin W. Schwabe speculated that the Ankh, Djed and Was symbols have a biological basis derived from ancient cattle culture (and linked to the Egyptian belief that semen was created in the spine), thus:

the Ankh - symbol of life - thoracic vertebrae of a bull (seen in cross section)
the Djed - symbol of stability - base or sacrum of a bull's spine
the Was - symbol of power and dominion - a staff made from a dried bull's p*n*s
The original meaning of this Egyptian symbol is also not known. One suggests that it combines the male and female symbols of Osiris (the cross) and Isis (the oval) and therefore signifies the union of heaven and earth[citation needed]. As a hieroglyph, it likely encompassed a range of meanings depending on its associated hieroglyphs but all of these expressions centered around the concept of life or life force.

Over time, the ankh certainly came to symbolize life and immortality, the universe, power and life giving air and water. "Its keylike shape also encouraged the belief it could unlock the gates of death." The Coptic Christians used it as a symbol of life after death[citation needed]. The ankh has been used in ritual magic.

It also appears to be a 'cross' between a crucifix and the 'christian' (flat) fish symbol which is also represented as determining a point of origin and a vanishing point by drawing two curves around the three main pyramids.

Two ankhs could therefore represent two crossed fishes being a combination of the symbol for Pisces and a crucifix[citation needed].

-> In Egyptian art
The ankh appears frequently in Egyptian tomb paintings and other art; it often appears at the fingertips of a god or goddess in images that represent the deities of the afterlife conferring the gift of life on the dead person's mummy. The ankh symbol was often carried by Egyptians as an amulet, either alone, or in connection with two other hieroglyphs that mean "strength" and "health." Mirrors were often made in the shape of an ankh. Sometimes, in art, the Ankh was shown being touched by a god onto a person, which usually symbolized conception.

-> In alchemy
A similar symbol (♀) was used to represent the Roman goddess Venus. This symbol, known benignly as Venus' hand-mirror, is much more associated with a representation of the female womb. The same symbol is used in astrology to represent the planet Venus, in alchemy to represent the element copper, and in biology to identify the female sex.

-> In Hermeticism
Hermeticism is a belief system that is believed to have come out of Egypt and whose beliefs may be able to unify many of the Ankh's meanings. It is unclear whether their beliefs created the ankh or added many meanings, or remain a coincidence. Their concept of God was The All, who purportedly claimed: "Nous, God, being male and female, beginning as life and light, gave birth, by the Word, to another Nous, the Creator of the world;" [2]

If the concept of the ankh suggesting the joining of the masculine and feminine is correct, with the top opened up to look similar to Ω representing the feminine (genitals) and the bottom shaft being a phallic symbol, then the rest may follow. If God is both male and female, the ankh is a symbol of hermaphroditism and can be representing God. It also can be representing reproduction as both genitalia are pictured, with Nous having given birth. God is also "life and light," making those now synonymous with a symbol of God. God is certainly synonymous with power, and in the Hermetic view, "While All is in THE ALL, it is equally true that THE ALL is in All." [3] The universe or Cosmos was seen as being the same as The All, making the universe also synonymous with God, and this symbol.

-> The ankh and the cross

Transitional ankh into Coptic cross found in the Fayuom, 1960s. The long-standing importance of the Ankh, and its deep symbolism to the dynastic Egyptians, led to it being gradually adopted by the fourth century Christian church in Egypt (which eventually became the Coptic Church). This is highly significant, as it is almost certainly the genesis of the cross as the central thematic symbol of the Christian religion. A kind of cross, the ankh had long been a central religious symbol. It was non-anthropormorphic; not even animal-like. (Many Egyptian gods had been animal-faced human figures.) Anknaton's benevolent sun was the only other symbol that was so esoteric. This cross implied all of the "god ideas" that are infinite in nature. As monotheism is at the core of Christian belief, the ankh seemed a logical choice to symbolize the belief in one all-powerful God. Over time, the idea that His son had died on some type of cross made it seem all the more appropriate.

To Christians outside of the ankh's influence, the image of the Roman cross of execution was "shameful" in the same manner as a hanging noose or a headsman's ax would be. Especially to professed Christains in fourth century Egypt, the association of the ankh with the cross seemed comfortable and familiar.

Elsewhere, the main Christian symbol at the time had been a stylised alpha, resembling a fish, and therefore known as Ichthys, the Greek word for 'fish'. However, the new "more positive" symbol of a cross eventually spread throughout the Christianized Empire. The distinct circular or "gothic arch-like" upper part of the Ankh was kept well into mediaeval times. The Ankh symbol often being used as a Christian talisman.

The photograph shown of a Christian 3rd Century bust with a transitional "ankh becoming a cross" was found in the 1960s in the Fayuom, Egypt archeological region. It is analogous to the "archaeopteryx fossil", the famous "Dinosaur into Bird" relic, which lends tangible support to the transitional concept. (If you have red-cyan glasses you'll see it in museum grade 3D)

In Unicode, the ankh sign is U+2625.

i wear an Ankh around my neck(and have for about 10yrs + now)
this symbol predates modern religion
meaning * Eternal Life * or Rebirth/Birth
the 1st truely symbol of universal unity (male/female)
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