Greene County, Indiana

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Circa 1890's Photo Enhanced by: Robert Manson

Gravestone Symbols


Gravestone Symbols
Acorn - As the seed of the oak, the acorn is a symbol of potential. In Norse and Celtic culture, acorns symbolized life, fertility and immortality. Druids ate acorns, believing them to have prophetic qualities, and acorns were sacred to the god Thor whose Tree of Life was the oak. "Acorns and oak leaves form one of the circular 'hex' signs used by the Amish and Mennonite communities of southern Pennsylvania, the various signs believed to bestow favors such as protection or natural abundance"

Agnus Dei - Represents the Lamb of God.

Alpha and Omega - First and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Symbolizes the beginning and the end.

American Legion - Found on graves of people who were American Legion members, an organization for veterans.

Anchor - Commonly used in the 18th and 19th centuries to represent hope or the deceased's seafaring profession. Also used, often wrapped in vines, to represent firm Christian faith. - - Hope or eternal life. Often on sailors' graves. Anchors are also a Masonic symbol for well-grounded hope, therefore they are often found on Masons' graves -- Hope, or ďat restĒ. An early Christian symbol.

Angel - The Agent of God, often pointing heavenwards; also the guardian of the dead. -- A guide to heaven. -- Saint Matthew, one of the four evangelists, was often represented as a winged man.

Angel, Flying - Rebirth or Resurrection

Angel, Trumpeting - Resurrection

Angel, Weeping - Grief and Mourning

Ankh -- The original meaning of this ancient Egyptian symbol is not known. One possible theory 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. It is usually portrayed in ancient Egyptian art in the hands of a diety. 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 key like shape also encouraged the belief that it could unlock the gates of death". The Coptic Christians used it as a symbol of life after death. The ankh has been used in magic and today it usually symbolizes peace and truth -- An Egyptian symbol of eternal life.

A.O.U.W. - Ancient Order of United Workmen, a fraternal benefit society

Apple - Apples represent salvation, sometimes sin.

Arches - Victory in Death - - The passage to heaven.

Arrows - symbolize mortality and martyrdom.

Artillery - Artillery, such as cannons, on a gravestone usually represents military service.

Baha'i Symbol of the Baha'i Faith, a monotheistic religion.

Bats - Commonly used in 18th century New England to represent the underworld.

Bed - A deathbed, sometimes only a pillow.

Bell - Often symbolizes a church bell, and therefore religion.

Bible or Book - Often used on the gravestones of ministers or clergymen. However, it is sometimes found on gravestones of very devoted religious people also. Books may also represent a person's good deeds and accomplishments being recorded in the book of life.

Bird - Eternal life - - Peace, messenger of God. The most common birds found on gravestones are doves

Bird, Flying - Resurrection

Boat - A voyage; crossing over to the other side.

Bones - - Death, decay.

Book Often with a cross lying on it, symbolizing faith. - - Books may also represent a person's good deeds and accomplishments being recorded in the book of life.

Books - A pair of Holy Books on Mormon (LDS) headstones indicates the Bible and Book of Mormon

Books -Three Holy Books on Mormon headstones indicates the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine & Covenants -- all of which are scripture to the LDS Church.

B.P.O.E. with Elk - B.P.O.E. stands for Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, a fraternal organization.

Bouquets - Condolences, grief, sorrow

Bridge - Since antiquity, bridges have symbolized linking; between the earthly and heavenly realms, between the physical and the spiritual, or between life and death. In modern psychoanalytic terms, bridges symbolize the transition from one state of being to another and the opportunity for change. The bridge's near side represents the past, its opposite side the future, and water flowing underneath, the chaos of the unconscious mind.

Broken Bud or Branch - Someone who died an untimely or premature death. Usually seen on a younger person's gravestone.

Broken Column - Loss of Head of Family

Broken Chain Link - Symbolizes a loss in the family.

Broken Ring - Family Circle Severed

Broken Wheel - Symbolizes the end of life; a break in the circle or wheel of life.

BRT with a Train Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen. A fraternal organization for men who worked as trainmen

Buds - Morning of Life or Renewal of Life

Bugles - Resurrection and the Military

Bunch of Grapes In Egyptian art it symbolizes the heart, because of the similarity of shape, color and blood-like juice of the grape. Since the heart is vital to life, it therefore symbolizes life itself.

Butterfly - Symbolizes resurrection, and also the soul leaving the body/flesh.-- - Based on its evolution from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly, it represents the soul, transformation and rebirth, the creation of life from apparent death. To the Chinese, the butterfly symbolizes immortality. The Japanese view it as a symbol of fickleness because of its flighty behavior, although a pair of butterflies represents marital happiness and a white butterfly signifies the spirit of the dead. In Christianity, the butterfly is a symbol of resurrection but is sometimes viewed also as symbolic of transience because of its short lifespan, and of vanity.

Calla Lily -Flower that represents beauty.

Canadian Legion of British Empire Service League - A Canadian organization formed in the 1920's for war veterans and their dependants. Usually seen with a maple leaf

Candle - In Christianity, candles represent the divine light of Christ and faith. In Catholic funeral rites, candles signify the light of heaven. When lit by worshippers and placed before shrines, candles signify the souls of the departed or a request for illumination by prayer. When on opposite sides of a cross on an altar, the two candles represent the dual nature of Christ, human and divine. Many religions and cultures use the burning candle as a symbol of light, life, spirituality, truth and eternal life.

Candle being Snuffed - Time, mortality

Cherub - Angelic

Century Plant - Represents immortality; everlasting life.

Circle -- Eternal life - no beginning, no end; incorporated into the Celtic cross.

Clasped Hands - Farewell to earthly existence. Also unity.- - in the Native American culture clasped hands represent a Delaware grave.

Clock/Watch - Represents the transitory nature of human existence. In psychoanalysis it signifies human emotions. It also can represent new beginnings and opportunities. - - Mortality, death; the passage of time.

Coat of Arms - High social status and family lineage.

Coffins - Often carved on 17th and 18th century New England tombstones to signify mortality. - Mortality - - Symbolizes mortality and death.

Cohanim Hands - Hands with thumbs (and sometimes forefingers) joined. This is a Jewish symbol that represents members of the priestly tribe of Aaron.

Column - The broken column traditionally signifies mortality; the support of life being broken.- - Cohanim Hands Hands with thumbs (and sometimes forefingers) joined. This is a Jewish symbol that represents members of the priestly tribe of Aaron.

Corn - Ripe Old Age - - Rebirth, fertility.

Cornucopia - Also known as the "Horn of Plenty." Symbolizes an abundant, fruitful life. Also a symbol of the harvest, which in turn symbolizes the end of life.

Crooks - - Shepherds crooks, usually found on graves of Independent Order of Odd Fellows members (a fraternal organization). Symbolizes the opening of earth to the heavens.

Cross - has several meanings, but it is above all the symbol of the Christian religion. - - Emblem of faith, there are many different types of crosses. The crucifix, a Christian symbol, is a Latin cross with an image of Christ nailed to it and depicts the sacrifice Jesus made for human salvation. The shepherd's cross has a crooked apex and represents both the Christian faith and Jesus' role in guiding people through life and saving lost souls. The Celtic cross was prevalent in Ireland and it looks like a cross with its arms surrounded by a circle. this cross signifies the Christian faith, the circle the power of the sun and eternity, and together they represent the unity of heaven and earth. In pagan times, this cross symbolized fertility and life. A cross whose vertical arm ends in a point is called a crossy fitch. Often used in heraldry, it looks like a cross and sword combined, and signifies one's unshakeable faith in Christianity and willingness to defend it.

Cross, Celtic - In pagan times, this cross, with its axis enclosed by a circle, was a symbol of fertility and life, the cross representing male potency and the circle, female power. Prevalent in Ireland, it is now primarily a Christian symbol signifying the unity of heaven and earth.

Crossed Swords - High-ranking military person

Crown - The emblem of the Christian martyr who may expect reward in heaven - - Commonly used on 18th century New England headstones to represent the crown of righteousness. - - Victory or triumph over death.

Crown and Cross Symbolizes both victory and Christianity. Also, this symbol sometimes denotes a member of the York Rite Masons

Crucifix - Salvation. This Latin cross with the image of Christ nailed to it is a Christian symbol which shows the sacrifice Jesus made for human's salvation.

Cypress Tree Mourning and death on account of its dark color, and because once cut down, it never grows again.

Daisy - Symbolizes innocence; usually found on graves of young children.

D.A.R.- Daughters of the American Revolution, a non-profit women's organization for the descendants of American Revolutionary War veterans.

Darts - Death, mortality. Sometimes seen on 17th and 18th century New England tombstones.

Dog - Loyalty, Vigilance, Courage. As a symbol of faithfulness, dogs often appear at the feet of women on medieval tomb engravings. In Christianity, the dog guards and guides the flock, and so becomes an allegory of the priest. The dog is also a companion of the dead on their crossing. Ancient Egyptians and Greeks believed it followed its master into the afterlife. Many cultures believed that dogs were mediators with the realm of the dead: the Egyptian god Anubis who oversees embalming and weighs the heart of the dead is jackal-headed, Cerburus the guardian of the entrance to the Greek underworld is a three-headed dog with a serpent's tail, the dog Garmr guards the Norse underworld. The Celts and Greeks believed dogs possessed healing powers. In some African cultures, the dog is the father of civilization and the bringer of fire. In the eleventh sign of the Chinese zodiac, the dog symbolizes idealism. In Chinese tradition, the dog can signify both catastrophe and protection. Among Jews and Moslems, the dog possesses negative qualities. It is unclean and, when black, signifies the Devil. -- Loyalty, fidelity, watchfulness, and vigilance.

Drapery - Mourning.

Door - Passage from one state to another. In Christianity, the door signifies salvation through Christ who said "I am the door." In dream interpretation, a closed door represents a hidden mystery or barrier, an open door liberation or invitation to a new challenge, an inward opening door the need for self-exploration, and an outward opening door represents accessibility to others.

Dove - Holy Spirit, Soul Reaching Peace, Spirituality. In Slavic culture, at death the soul turns into a dove. In Visigothic and Romanesque art, it represents souls. In Hinduism, the dove represents the spirit. This bird was sacred to Zeus, to Athena as a symbol of the renewal of life, and to Aphrodite as a symbol of love. To the ancient Egyptians, it signified innocence, and in Islam the dove is the protector of Mohammad. In Christianity, the Holy Ghost of the Trinity is often portrayed as a dove. In China it represents longevity and orderliness while in Japan the dove is associated with the war god Hachiman. In Jewish history the dove was sometimes sacrificed for a mother's purification after childbirth. The dove is sometimes an emblem of Israel.

Dove and Olive Branch - Peace. This symbol stems from Judeo-Christian culture and the biblical story of Noah and the great flood. When the dove returned to the ark with an olive branch from the Mount of Olives in its beak, it was a sign of God's forgiveness. It is now a common secular symbol.

Dragon - Dramatically different interpretation between Eastern and Western cultures. In the Orient, the dragon protects humans from evil spirits and represents joy, health and fertility. But in Western cultures, the dragon possesses the negative traits of the snake, destruction, danger, depravity, and loss of innocence. In Jewish tradition, mythical beasts like the dragon are messianic creatures.

Drapes - Mourning or Mortality

Eagle - Height, The Spiritual, Courage, Victory, Power. With its speedy and high flight, the eagle is an extensively used symbol throughout many time periods and cultures. With the details varying, a common thread in most eagle symbolism is dominating and destroying baser forces, or the victory of higher powers. In Oriental art, it is often shown fighting. In Christian tradition, it carries a serpent in its beak to represent Christ's victory over Satan. In pre-Columbian America it represented the struggle between the spiritual/celestial and the lower world. On the banner of the Roman legion, it represented the victorious Roman Empire. As the king of the birds, it came to symbolize royalty. In many nations, such as the U.S., the eagle is the symbol of sovereignty and nationhood. The eagle also is commonly a messenger. In Christianity and some Native American traditions, the eagle is a messenger between god and man. Also a messenger in Vedic tradition. Often associated with the sun and the day, luminous, positive and active as opposed to the owl, the bird of darkness, death, and night. In ancient Syria, where the eagle symbolized sun worship, it assisted souls to immortality. In Native American cultures, the eagle's feathers symbolized the sun's rays, therefore the Great Spirit. This bird is often associated with thunder and fire. - - are often seen on gravestones of Civil War veterans. Saint John, one of the four evangelists, was often represented as an eagle.

Eagle, Double-headed - A Masonic symbol, part of the Scottish Rite. It symbolizes the 32nd degree in this Rite.

Eagle with FFC = Symbol of the Improved Order of Red Men, a patriotic society. Their motto is Freedom, Friendship, and Charity.

Eagle with FOE = Symbol of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, a fraternal organization.

Eagle with TOTE - Symbol of the Improved Order of Red Men, a patriotic society. TOTE = Totem of the Eagle.

Easter Lily- Purity, Chastity.

Eye - Usually found in a triangle or within a sunburst. This is a masonic symbol

Eye of God - Judeo-Christian symbol that includes an eye with a tent below it and a three-link chain underneath. Often shown in a triangle, the eye signifies God, the all-seeing, at the center of the Trinity. The tent is the house of God, its flaps open to show inner truth. The chain represents both the Trinity and the link that binds the faithful to God.

Fallen Tree - Mortality, Death.

F.A.T.A.L. (with five-pointed star)- Motto of the Order of the Eastern Star; stands for "Fairest Among Thousands, Altogether Lovely."

Father Time - Mortality

Father Time and the Weeping Virgin Masonic carving - The carving consists of a weeping virgin holding a sprig of acacia in one hand, and an urn in the other hand. A broken column is in front of her. Father Time is behind her, attempting to untangle the ringlets of her hair. It symbolizes that time, patience, and perseverance will accomplish all things.

FCB with Shield and Suit of Armor - Symbol of the Knights of Pythias, a fraternal organization. FCB stands for Friendship, Charity, and Benevolence.

F.C.L. - Motto of the Women's Relief Corp. Stands for "Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty."

Fern - Humility and sincerity.

Fish - Symbolizes Christianity.

Flag - Usually found on veterans' graves.

Flame or Torch Eternity. - An upside down torch represents the end of life.

Flowers - Condolences, grief, sorrow

Flower, Severed Stem - Shortened life

FLT in Chain Links - A symbol of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a fraternal organization. Stands for Friendship, Love, and Truth.

Flying Birds - Flight of the Soul

Fruit - Various fruits possess their own symbolic meaning but fruit in general signifies abundance. Also, since it contains seeds, it represents life, potential, immortality.

GAR Grand Army of the Republic. - A fraternal organization for men who fought and were honorably discharged from the Union Army during the Civil War.

Garlands - Victory in death

Gates Entry into Heaven.

Gateway - Carries much of the same symbolism as the door but the destination is less personal. It represents entrance to greater areas, the mystical, heaven or hell, spiritual palace. A series of gateways can represent the stages of enlightenment. In dream interpretation, the gateway invites self-exploration. It is a symbol of initiation, passing through the gateway into a new state of being.

Gourds - In 17th and 18th century New England, the birth and death of earthly matters.

Grapes and Grapevines - Grapes signify sacrifice, since they are used in the making of wine, which, in Christianity represents Christ's blood and his sacrifice. They can also connote life and immortality. From the Old Testament, among the Jews, the grapevine signifies peace and abundance. - >Grapes Blood of Christ.

Greek Catholic Cross - Also Russian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox. They have three bars that symbolize the cross Christ was crucified on: Top Bar - Title Board Middle Bar - Board on which the Lord's hands were nailed Bottom Bar - The footrest

Hammer - This tool, used in building and shaping, represents the power of creation. It can also represent the person's profession.

Hand - This is a very expressive symbol that takes on different meanings depending on its positioning in relation to the body and arrangement of the fingers. The raised hand symbolizes voice and song, placed on the chest it represents the wisdom of the sage, on the neck it depicts sacrifice, covering the eyes it signifies clairvoyance at the moment of death. Two hands joined typically signify union. A common hand placement on Jewish tombstones is the two open hands, thumbs touching, with index and middle finger spread away from the ring and pinkie fingers. This gesture, raised above the head, is used by priests to bring God's glory through the hands' openings and to the congregation. In Egyptian hieroglyphics, pre-Columbian America and as an amulet in Islamic cultures, the open hand represents a human task and magnetic force. The hand, with its five fingers, takes on the meaning of the number five, i.e., love, health and humanity.

Hand Holding Heart The hand holding a heart is a symbol used by the I.O.O.F (Independent Order of Odd Fellows) and Masons, both fraternal organizations. It symbolizes charity.

Hand of God Chopping - Sudden Death

Hand Pointing Up - Hand pointing up to heaven.

Hand Pointing Down - The hand of God descending from heaven.

Hand with Finger Pointing - Gone Home, Look to God, Direction. The pointing finger represents direction, whether physical, spiritual or psychological.

Hand writing - Writing names in the book of life. Can also be found on writers' graves.

Hands Praying - Pious devotion.

Hands Reaching- Usually the hand of God reaching down from the heavens, and the hand of the deceased reaching up to grab it in greeting

Hands When clasped- are a symbol of farewell. On Jewish tombs two outstretched hands with thumbs touching symbolize a descendant of Aaron, the High Priest (nearly all named Cohen).

Handshakes - Carry a variety of meanings including, greeting, goodbye, friendship, solidarity, unity and agreement, and the doubling of power achieved through partnership. The right hand is the life-force or hand of power. An eye associated with a hand symbolizes clairvoyant action.

Harp - Harmony with the universe and ascent to higher things, a bridge between heaven and earth. In Judaism, the harp is a symbol of David, conqueror of Goliath and king of Israel. David's harp playing relieved King Saul's depression and when he became king, the midnight wind playing on a harp that overhung his bed called him to study the Torah. - A harp symbolizes praise to God. They are often carved with a broken string, representing a break in mortal life. -

Heart - Love and devotion. - - Person's spirit or soul. Sometimes the sacred heart of Christ.

Hearts - Soul in Bliss or Love of Christ

Hooped Snake - In 18th and 19th century New England, this symbol meant eternity.

Horns - The Resurrection

Horse - Strength, courage or the swiftness of the passage of time. - - Death. White horses represent good, while black horses represent evil.

Hourglass - Mortality. The swiftness of time. Because it must be turned upside down for the sand to run out, it also represents the cycle of life and death, and heaven and earth. In Christianity, it personifies temperance. -- Passage of time.

Hourglass The traditional symbol of Father Time -- who also carries a scythe.

Hourglass with Wings of Time - Time Flying; Short Life

Hummingbird - Often found on infants' gravestones. Usually just decorative.

IHS - Sometimes looks like a dollar sign. IHS stands for the first three letters of Jesus' name in the Greek alphabet.-- This symbol also stands for "in hoc signo", Latin for "by this sign we conquer", referring to the cross. It is actually more involved than that, and apparently also has some fraternal applications.

Imps - Mortality

Iris - Light and Hope. With its pointed leaves, it's often called the sword Lilly and is associated with the sorrow of the Virgin Mary. To the Chinese, this flower represents affection, grace and beauty.

Ivy - Immortality, Friendship, Faithfulness. Because it is an evergreen that clings while climbing, it signifies the need for protection. Since it grows quickly, it also symbolizes regeneration, sensuality and revelry. The Greco-Roman god Dionysus, or Bacchus, had an ivy cup and wore a crown of ivy leaves.

Ivy The evergreen, symbolizing immortality or friendship.

Jr. OUAM - The Junior Order of United American Mechanics

Key - Mystery, Opening and Closing, Solution to a Problem. Its dual symbolism can mean liberation and the ability to unlock secrets, or incarceration. It can represent the threshold of the unconscious or a task to be performed and the means of carrying it out. In Catholicism, the key is a papal emblem, the key to the gates of heaven. In Greek mythology, Hecate holds the key to hell. In Judaism the key of God controls birth and death. In Japan the key represents happiness. A dove and a key symbolize the spirit opening the gates of heaven. The Roman god Janus, keeper of the doorway, looking both forward and backward, is associated with two keys that are sometimes placed over a heart. Especially in ceremonies for the dead, ancient Egyptian gods are sometimes depicted holding the ankh from the top as if it were a key, possibly the key that opens immortality.

Keystone with letters HTWSSTKS - The Masonic Keystone, which is the Masonic mark of an Ancient Grand Master. HTWSSTKS stands for "Hiram The Widow's Son Sent To King Solomon."

Knot - A tied knot symbolizes marriage and unity.

K of C - Knights of Columbus,- a fraternal organization for Catholic men.

KOTM - Symbol of the Knights of the Maccabees, a fraternal organization.

Labarum - This symbol is also known as the Monogram of Christ, Constantine's Cross, the Chrismon, the Christogram and the Chi-Rho. Since the Roman emperor Constantine I used this symbol on his shield, overcame his enemy in battle, and consequently converted to Christianity, the labarum has been a symbol of Christianity. In pre-Christian Greece it signified a good omen. It also represented the Chaldean sky god.

Labyrinth In popular usage, symbolizes eternity; used in esoteric tradition to represent the inward path.

Lamb Innocence, sometimes used on a childís grave.-- - Purity, Innocence, Gentleness, Sacrifice. In Christianity it represents the sacrificial crucifixion of Christ for the sins of the world.

Lamp Immortality, knowledge of God. Wisdom, faithfulness.

Lyre Often have a broken string, symbolizing the end of life. Lyres are usually found on the graves of musicians.

Laurel Laurel represents the "evergreen" memory of the deceased.

Laurel Leaves/Wreath - Victory. The laurel wreath was first worn by the ancient Romans in parades after triumph in battle where it was viewed as a prize and a sign of divine blessing. With the Pythian Games in ancient Greece, the laurel wreath became an emblem of victory. The laurel is an evergreen thought to have purifying powers that could result in immortality. The laurel wreath is often still used as a mark of distinction for those who have excelled in their pursuits

Laurel Fame, often of literary or artistic figure.

Lily Purity.

Lily of Valley - Light, Purity, Perfection, innocence, virginity, Mercy and Majesty. In Greco-Roman mythology this flower was sacred to Hera and Artemis. In Byzantium and early France, it was a royal emblem (the fleur-de-lys is sometimes considered a stylized Lilly). Primarily the Lilly has Christian associations, usually attached to the Virgin Mary where it signifies chastity. When Christ is shown as the judge of the world with a Lilly in his mouth, the flower represents mercy. a Lilly and a sword signify guilt and innocence.

Lion - Valor, Strength, Courage, Pride, Wisdom, Protection, Majesty, an ancient symbol of the sun. - - the Resurrection

Lotus - Purity, Resurrection, creation and rebirth,Evolution, Potential. Commonly used in ancient Egypt and in Hinduism, the flower is sacred in Buddhism. "It symbolizes the creation of life from the slime of the primordial waters. The closed lotus represents potential. Depending on the number of petals, the lotus' symbolism changes, shaped by the symbolism of the number. With eight petals, it represents cosmic harmony, with 1,000 petals it means spiritual revelation. The lotus is the emblem of India and Egypt.

Masonic Compass and Set-square - Freemasons combine religious and construction and architectural forms in their symbols. Viewing God as the architect and builder of the universe, Freemasonry intends to build the temple of humanity through self-improvement with stone-masonry work. The compass, used in geometric calculations, symbolizes creation and the spirit. The set-square draws perfect right angles, so represents uprightness and lawfulness. The compass and the square measure things, so they symbolize judgement. They also represent geometry, and the union of the sky (the compass's circle) and the earth (the square). The letter "G" in this symbol represents God, geometry and geomancy. Compasses and a mason's square also were the emblems of the Chinese emperor Fu Hsi.

Man with Hourglass and Sickle Father Time- An old man with a beard, holding a hourglass and/or sickle

Menorah - Jewish symbol of divine wisdom. The seven branches of the candle represent the seven days of creation; the sun, moon and planets; the seven heavens; and the seven stars of Ursa Major. It usually marks the grave of a righteous woman.

Moon - Rebirth. A crescent moon and star symbol like the one pictured here is also a symbol of Islam.

Moon with Seven Stars, the letter "R", and a dove - Symbolizes a member of the Daughters of Rebekah, the female auxiliary of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

Morning Glory - Symbolizes the Resurrection; also beauty, youth, and love. - Beginning of Life

Mortar and Pestle Usually found on the gravestones of pharmacists, and sometimes doctors.

Music - Usually found on the graves of musicians. The music can be from a song the musician wrote, or it could be the deceased person's favorite hymn.

MWA - MWA stands for Modern Woodmen of America. This was the original name for the Woodmen of the World organization.

Oak Leaf Longevity (long life). -- in the Native American culture an oak leaf represents an Algonquian grave.

OES, 5-Pointed Star Order of the Eastern Star, a fraternal organization for women.

Oak Leaves & Acorn - Maturity, Ripe Old Age

Obelisk Eternal life, from the Egyptian sun-worshipping symbol.

Open Book / Bible - Deceased Teacher, Minister, etc.

O.S.C. - Order of Scottish Clans. A fraternal and benevolent society that was founded in 1878. They provided life and disability insurance to Scottish immigrants and their descendants. They became a part of the Independent Order of Foresters in 1971.

Owl - Wisdom, watchfulness.

Ox - Patience, strength.

P of H - Patrons of Husbandry, also known as the National Grange. An agricultural organization.

Palette and Brushes - Usally found on artists' gravestones.

Palm Tree or Frond - Victory over death.

Palm - Triumph of a martyr over death.

Palm Tree/Branch - The palm has a variety of sacred and secular associations. In the Kabbalah, it symbolizes the righteous man and was an emblem of Judea after the Exodus. One of the four plants paraded on the Sukkot to celebrate God's bounty, it represents the Jew who studies the Torah but does not obey the commandments. Other interpretations include the spine that bends before God, and God. In Christianity, it signifies righteousness, resurrection, and martyrdom based on Christ's entry into Jerusalem where palm branches were laid in his path. In the Middle Ages, a palm leaf was a badge of pilgrimage to the Holy Land and people wearing it were called 'palmers.' Because of its height and radiating leaves, it was an early fertility and sun symbol. The Babylonians considered it a divine tree because of its association with the sun. In many early Middle Eastern civilizations the palm was a Tree of Life; the Phoenician god Baal-Tamar was the lord of the palm and the palm was the emblem of the goddesses Astarte and Ishtar. In ancient Rome, victors were presented with palm branches and the palm took on victory as its meaning in ancient Rome, Egypt and Greece. The palm has also signified fame and peace. In contemporary, secular culture it represents tropical delights

P.A.P. with Moose Loyal Order of Moose (LOOM),- a fraternal organization. P.A.P. stands for their motto: Purity, Aid, and Progress.

Passion Flower Christís passion, sacrifice and redemption.

Phoenix Christís Resurrection.

Piano - Most likely symbolizes someone who was fond of playing the piano.

Picks - Mortality. Commonly used in 17th and 18th century New England.

Pitcher - Often found on graves of prohibitionists. Represents virtue and control.
If it is found on a Jewish grave, it symbolizes a Levite, a person who was responsible for cleaning the hands of the Temple Priest.

PLEF, sometimes with crown and shield - Symbol of the Pythian Sisters, a fraternal organization for women. The letters PLEF stand for their motto: Purity, Love, Equality, and Fidelity.

Plow - A plow symbolizes the harvest; the reaping of life.

Pine Cone - Immortality and Fertility The ancient Greeks and Assyrians viewed the pine cone "as a symbol of masculinity because of its phallic shape. It formed the apex of the thyrsus staff, which represented both fertility and immortality". As the emblem of Artemis, it represented feminine purity. It was also the emblem of the Roman goddess Venus (Aphrodite). In Christianity, the pine cone forms the crown of the Tree of Life. Because of its swirling form, it is associated with "dynamic generative and cosmic power."

Poppy - Sleep

Portals - Passageway to eternal journey

Portrait = Usually a portrait of the deceased.

Pyramid - Symbol of ancient and modern Egypt, it represents the power of the kings and creation. Among the ancient Egyptians, Aztecs, Mayans and Mesopotamians, pyramids represented the cosmic mountain. In esoteric thought, it represents the world axis and enlightenment. The pyramid is a synthesis of different forms: the base is a square representing earth, the apex is the beginning and finishing point of all things, and the sloping, triangle sides that link the apex to its base represent fire, divine revelation and the threefold principle of creation, thereby symbolizing all of creation.

Rabbit - Humility, gentleness, self-sacrifice.

Rifle = Usually found on the graves of military members and hunters.

Rising Sun - Resurrection, Immortality.

Rocks The Church or Christian steadfastness.

Rope - Eternity, Binding and Connection. In Egyptian hieroglyphics, a knotted cord signifies a man's name, a symbol of an individual's existence. In Vedic teaching, the silver cord "expresses the sacred, inner path which binds the outer consciousness of man (his intellect) with his spiritual essence"

Rooster - Symbolizes an awakening, or calling attention to the person's death. It also symbolizes vigilance.

Rosary - Almost always found on Catholic gravestones. Symbolizes devotion to Mary and constant prayer for the deceased person.

Rose - Sinless, usually associated with the Virgin Mary or Paradise - -Symbolizes beauty

Rosebud - Morning of Life or Renewal of Life

Roses - Brevity of earthly existence, Completion, Achievement, Perfection. Meanings vary depending on the color, shape and number of petals. For example, the blue rose symbolizes the impossible, the golden rose the pinnacle of achievement, an eight petal rose regeneration.

Saint Aldemar Commandery - A Knights Templar organization. Masonic.

S.A.R. Sons of the American Revolution, a fraternal society that was organized in 1899 for male descendants of American Revolutionary War veterans.

Scales Often marks the grave of someone who was in the legal profession. Sometimes seen with a statue of Saint Michael, which symbolizes his duty of weighing the souls of the departed. - Justice, Balance. Originating in Chaldea as the mystic symbol of justice, it represents the equivalence of guilt and punishment. From the zodiacal archetype of Libra it represents immanent justice, the idea that guilt automatically unleashes the forces that bring self-destruction and punishment.

Scarab - An ancient Egyptian emblem symbolizing the renewal of life. When shown with falcon's wings it represents transcendence and protection.

Scroll Symbolizes the scriptures.

Scythe or Sickle- The passage of time and death -- Reaping of life.

Seal of Ohio Ohio's state seal.

Shattered Urn Someone Old

Sheaf of Wheat - Ripe for Harvest, Divine Harvest, Time

Shell - The Human Journey Through Life, Birth, Life, Resurrection, Love, Good Luck. The shell's hard casing protects life, the pearl inside, and its aquatic nature associates it with the feminine, lunar, and virginity. Both the Hindu goddess Lakshmi and the Greco-Roman goddess Aphrodite were carried ashore on a scallop shell. In medieval Christianity the scallop shell was the emblem of St. James, the patron of pilgrims, so the shell came to symbolize a pilgrimage. The scallop shell is also associated with the guardian angel Raphael, and the Virgin Mary. In later Christianity, it symbolized resurrection and baptism. In Buddhism and Hinduism the conch shell's call awakens the faithful from ignorance. The conch also is a sign of victory over samsara, or suffering existence, in Buddhism. In Chinese Buddhism, the conch shell can signify a prosperous journey, and in Islam it represents the hearing of the divine word. -- Pilgrimage, the badge of the pilgrims who travelled to Compostella in Spain. - - Baptism or rebirth.

Shih Tzu of Fo Guardians of Buddah.

Ship - Ships are usually found on the graves of sailors. Many times they are found on graves of people who died at sea. They sometimes symbolize Noah's Ark, the ship that weathered the storm against all overwhelming odds. - - The Christian church, symbolically carrying the faithful through the world. --- Hope or Seafaring profession

Shoes Empty shoes symbolize the loss of a child. Usually one shoe is overturned.

Shovels - Mortality

Skeleton - The personification of death.

Skull - Mortality. Because it is what survives of the living once the body is destroyed, it is also used to represent life and thought, especially in alchemy, where it is the receptacle used in transmutation processes. In Christianity, a skull wearing a crown of thorns means eternal damnation. A winged skull symbolizes the ascension into heaven.

Sleeping Child A sleeping child is a Victorian symbol for death.

Snake With its tail in its mouth, symbolizes eternity.

Snake, hooped Symbolizes eternal life - no beginning, no end.

Staff entwined by two snakes A caduceus, - which is a short herald's staff entwined by two snakes (serpents) in the form of a double helix. Symbolizes someone who worked in the medical profession.

Snake wrapped on a cross with "In Hoc Signo Vinces" The Masonic brazen serpent, a symbol of the 25th Degree Masons.

Soldier on Horse A soldier's grave. If the horse has both front legs in the air, the person probably died in battle. If only one leg is raised, the person probably died as a result of wounds. And if the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person probably died of natural causes. --Traditionally, in statuary, when a figure is seen atop a horse in memorial, there are the three meanings: two or more feet raised - death in battle. One leg raised fully off the ground - death from wounds suffered in battle. Standing square or at rest - death of natural causes. This is typically the accepted formula for any equine statue/carving offered in memory of a deceased.

Sphinx Guardian; represents strength and protection.

Square and Compass Usually have the letter "G" in the middle. Found on gravestones belonging to members of the Freemasons (Masons).

Stag - Life, Wisdom, Regeneration and Growth, Virility. Because its antlers resemble branches, the stag has been associated with the Tree of Life and because of the way it renews its antlers, it's been used as a symbol of regeneration. In the West during the Middle Ages, the stag was often shown with a crucifix between its horns where, in Christianity, it represents purity and solitude and was the enemy of Satan, the serpent. The Celts believed the stag led souls through the darkness. The stag also was associated with warriors and hunting in Celtic culture and in Greco-Roman mythology where it was an animal sacred to Artemis. In Buddhism, the golden stag represents knowledge. The Chinese regard it as a symbol of virility and happiness.

Star The Spirit, Divine Presence, Enlightenment, Wisdom, Human Aspiration. Represents light struggling against darkness. The Babylonian goddess Ishtar's emblem was an eight-pointed star and females such as Astarte, Isis, and the Virgin Mary are often pictured with a crown of stars. Stars are sometimes believed to be the souls of the dead with comets being seen as foretellers of doom and a sign of the anger of the sun god. Stars often take on additional meaning depending on their color, shape, number of points and arrangement. The most common, the five pointed star, comes from Egyptian hieroglyphics where it meant "rising upwards toward the point of origin" and formed part of words such as "to bring up," "to educate," "the teacher".

Star, Cross, and Shepherd's Crook Symbol of the White Shrine of Jerusalem. Often seen with the phrase "In Hoc Signo Spes Mea," which translates to "In this Sign (the Cross) is my hope." A society for women who are related to (through birth, marriage, or legal adoption) to a Master Mason in good standing. Founded in 1894.

Star of David - Symbol of Judaism and the State of Israel. This star, comprised of an overlapping upright and an inverted triangle, is associated with David because he carried a hexagrammic shield against Goliath. The interlocking triangles represent the union of opposites. The Kabbalists believed this emblem had protective power and magical properties. It is also called the Creator's Star with each point representing the days of the week and the hexagram representing the Sabbath. - Divine Protection.

Stars & Stripes Around Eagle - Eternal Vigilance, Liberty

Steps - A common symbol used around the world, steps generally mean Ascension, Stages or Levels. The number of steps brings the meaning of numbers into the interpretation as does the symbolism of any objects that surround or are a part of the steps. In Romanesque art, steps represent the relationship between worlds. In many religions steps, or a ladder, are seen as the path to god. For alchemists of the Middle Ages, steps were associated with the transmutation process. Swallow Hope, Fertility, Renewal of Life, Resurrection Like most birds, it also represents light. In ancient Egypt, it symbolized motherhood. In ancient Greece and Rome, it was a bad omen to kill a swallow because it held the spirits of dead children. In Swedish legend, a swallow was present at Christ's crucifixion, where it called for consolation. In China, it represents daring, danger, and a good change in fortune and in Japan it can mean unfaithfulness and maternal care. In Islam, the swallow makes an annual pilgrimage to Mecca and so is revered. In African cultures it represents purity. These birds are often symbols of illumination and good luck.

Star A five-pointed star represents the Star of Bethlehem. A six-pointed star represents creation.

Sun - A sun symbolizes the soul rising to heaven.

Sundial Passage of time.

Sunburst with star and cross, Monstrat Viam. Symbol of the First Corps of Cadets, now the 211th Military Police Battalion. "Monstrat Viam" is Latin for "It Points the Way."

Sunflower Devotion to God.

SV Sons of Veterans of the United States of America, a group formed in 1881. They changed their name to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War in 1925.

Sword - Swords represent ustice, constancy or fortitude. martyrdom. Crossed swords are often seen on the gravestones of veterans, especially officers.

Sword, Crescent, and Sphinx Symbol of the Shriners - (The Imperial Council of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine). The group was founded in 1872, and can be joined once the member has become a Master Mason.

Tablets Usually two tablets joined. This symbolizes the Ten Commandments.

Tent A symbol used by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The tent symbolizes their encampments, which are the three highest degrees attainable before reaching the highest branch.

Thistles - Traditional Scottish symbol connoting remembrance -- represent earthly sorrow. Also, the thorns on a thistle symbolize the crown of thorns and the Passion of Christ. In addition, it is found on many Scottish gravestones.

Tombs - Mortality

Torch - Turned upside down, it represents death. Right side up, it symbolizes life and the regenerative power of fire. It has been used in initiation and fertility rites in many cultures and was the emblem, in Greek mythology, of Eros and Aphrodite, symbolizing the flame of love. In Christianity, the torch represents purification through God's illuminating the spirit, and Christ as the Light of the World. Associated with one of the seven deadly sins, it represents anger. The torch is also seen as an emblem of places of learning and signifies truth and intelligence. - - Immortality; upturned, symbolizes life extinguished.

Trees - Life , regeneration and immortality.

Tree Stump w/Ivy - Head of Family; Immortality

Tree Trunk/Stump Usually marks the graves of Woodmen of the World members. Also, they usually contain other symbols such as anchors, lilies, vines, etc. Broken braches on the tree symbolize a life cut short.

Triangle - In the Christian tradition, the triangle represents Faith, Hope and Charity, and the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The symbolism of this shape is always associated with its three sides, signifying a variety of triads such as birth, life and death; heaven, earth and human; mind, body and soul; body, soul and spirit; and father, mother and child. In ancient Egypt, the triangle combined will, intelligence, and love to represent man's soul. The ancient Egyptians and the Mayans built stepped pyramids with temples at the top to represent the cosmic mountain. In magic and alchemy, the pyramid with its apex pointing upward represents fire or masculinity and when inverted, represents water or femininity. These two triangles combined signify the unity of the elements in alchemy and, in Judaism's Star of David they stand for the union of opposites. The pyramid can also represent aspiration, the struggle to climb to the top and achieve one's earthly ambition or heavenly ascent.

Triangle with square, spade, and keys Symbolizes the York Rite of Masonry.

Triangle with a star in the center Symbol of the Order of the Sons of Temperance, a fraternal organization that promoted the temperance movement (abstinence and prohibition of alcohol). Usually seen with their motto: Love, Purity, Fidelity.

Triangle with three T's joined at base Symbol of the Royal Arch Masons (RAM). Click here for more information about this fraternal organization.

Tulip Symbolizes love and passion

Trumpeters - Heralds of the Resurrection

Urn The soul.

Urn with Blaze - Undying Friendship

Urn with Wreath or Crepe - Mourning

Urn Draped and empty, symbolized death, derived from classical cinerary urns; if flaming indicates new life.

U.O.A. Druids United Order of Ancient Druids, a fraternal organization.

UVL Union Veterans League, an organization for Union Civil War veterans.

Vacant Chair Usually symbolizes the death of a child.

Veteran of the Cross A veteran member of the Methodist Church.

Water A hand pouring water from a flagon may occur on Jewish tombs of the Levites whose duty in the synagogue is to pour water upon the hands of the priests.

WBA Woman's Benefit Association, a club for women that provided life insurance. Part of the Order of the Maccabees.

Weeping Woman Mourning, sorrow.

Wheat A sheaf of wheat represents harvest, usually found on older peoples' gravestones Fruitfulness harvested.

Willow - Grief and mourning. - - Presented in a variety of styles, this symbol is of German origin and usually represents sorrow. Sadness-- in the Native American culture a willow tree represents an Iroquois grave.

Winged Effigies - Flight of the Soul

Winged Lion Represents Saint Mark, one of the four evangelists.

Winged Ox Represents Saint Luke, one of the four evangelists.

Winged Solar Disk An Egyptian symbol that represents the journey of the sun and the spiritual attributes of the heavens.
Winged Sun Disk - This is an ancient Egyptian symbol which represents the journey of the sun. Ra was the creator of the world, ancestor of the pharaohs and god of the sun (symbolized by the solar disk) and skies (symbolized by the wings). The winged sun disk symbolizes the life-giving power of the sun and the spiritual attributes of the heavens.

Woman Clinging to Cross Usually found with the verse "Rock of Ages cleft for me" or "Simply to the cross I cling." Symbolizes faith; A person or soul who is lost in the sea of sin, whose only hope is to cling to Christ's cross (the Rock of Ages).

Woman Holding Anchor Represents hope.

Woman Holding Cross Represents faith.

Woodmen of the World Seen on the gravestones of Woodmen of the World members, a fraternal organization.

W.R.C. Women's Relief Corp. It is the female auxilary for the Grand Army of the Republic.

Wreaths - Victory in Death.

XP, overlapped The Chi-Rho, one of the oldest Christian symbols. XP are the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ

Yew Mourning, on account of its dark color and its association with churchyards.

Yew Leaves - Eternal Life

Yin-Yang Circle - The symbol comes from Taoism and Confucianism and represents harmony and balance. It denotes the two existential and controlling forces of the universe, the yin, the negative and passive feminine power depicted in black and on the left side of the circle, and the yang, the positive and active masculine power depicted in white on the right side of the circle. Yin represents the soul, wetness, cold, darkness, the moon, the Earth and sustenance. Yang represents the spirit, light, heat, dryness, day, the sun, heaven, creation and dominance. The yin before the yang signifies primeval darkness before creation. The small circle of the opposite color contained within both the yin and the yang represents the seed of the other and therefore their interdependence. The sigmoid line dividing the yin and yang means dynamism and the two are contained within a circle of revolution and unity.