It’s hard to miss the increasing use of esoteric symbolism by popular artists in the music industry. Upside down crosses, pentagrams, all-seeing eye symbols… what does it all mean? What is the source of this symbolism and why is it so prevalent? This article explores the affect these symbols have on our lives and the global understanding of spirituality.
‘Signs and symbols rule the world, not words nor laws.’ – Confucius
Symbols are a universal language, and such a part of our lives that once we are exposed to them we process them on a subconscious level, our actions guided by them without us having to think about it. We automatically stop at red lights and know which button turns on the TV because of the common symbols used to represent them. But the power of symbols goes far beyond their day-to-day to use.
Esoteric symbols are those with a hidden meaning, likely to be understood only by a small number of people, and have been used throughout time in the great spiritual traditions to guide truth seekers. Depending on how they’re used they can represent and attract either forces of darkness or forces of light.
Increasingly esoteric symbols are making their way into popular culture, especially in high profile places like the music industry. What is the source of these symbols? Why are so many artists using them? Are they just something “cool” that major players came up with to represent their personal brands? Or are they part of a sinister plan? Are esoteric symbols being used for good or evil?
A Brief Introduction to Esoteric Symbolism
Many who study the use of esoteric symbolism in popular culture approach their analysis from a religious perspective, and as such consider all esoteric symbols to be part of a Satanic, anti-Christian agenda. While it’s understandable that symbols may be perceived in this way because they are often used in sinister contexts associated with darkness, it appears that entrenching the idea that all esoteric symbols are “evil” is part of the agenda behind their misuse.
What is often overlooked is that many esoteric symbols have a positive spiritual meaning in their original use and that the majority of what we witness in the public view is an inversion of symbols of light, turned into symbols of darkness.
“In symbolism, an inverted figure always signifies a perverted power (…) Black magic is not a fundamental art; it is the misuse of an art. Therefore it has no symbols of its own. It merely takes the emblematic figures of white magic, and by inverting and reversing them signifies that it is left-handed.” – Manly P. Hall, Secret Teachings of All Ages
Understanding that symbols can represent either forces of light or forces of darkness can broaden our understanding of the agenda behind their use in popular culture, and the agenda towards spirituality as a whole.
To get a better understanding of the way symbols are being misused and abused in the music industry let’s take a quick look at the meanings – both positive and negative – of a number of the most common esoteric symbols on display.
The All-Seeing Eye
In recent years the symbol of the all-seeing eye has become prolific in music videos, photo shoots and live performances, represented either by artists covering one eye, or making a triangle shape with their hands, frequently also covering one eye with it. Often these symbols are built inconspicuously into sets or shown on screen so quickly as to have a subliminal affect on the viewer.
Many cultures throughout time have used the symbol of the eye, either on it’s own or within a pyramid as a symbol of protection, representing a benevolent and all-seeing spiritual force watching over us.
Over the last century however, as negative forces have increasingly infiltrated the world and spiritual schools, the meaning and use of this symbol has been hijacked and distorted, coming to represent sinister conspiracies, secret societies with dark undertones and elitist surveillance and control.
Does the increasing use of the all-seeing eye in the music industry reflect an increasing control that the elite members of society – often involved in secret meetings like the Bilderberg group and occult gatherings at Bohemian Grove and colloquially referred to as the “Illuminati” – have over performers?
This theory is corroborated in the actions, videos and lyrics of many popular artists. Take for instance rapper Jay-Z who has popularised the use of this symbol.
Jay-Z started a record label named Roc-A-Fella, which can be interpreted as a loosely-veiled reference to the Rockefeller family, who are considered to be among the most powerful people in the world (some also believe this family is one of the alleged “13 Illuminati Bloodlines”).
Jay-Z’s signature hand sign is the symbol of the triangle placed over one eye. Following suit, his wife Beyonce and close associates Kanye West and Rihanna have also frequently used this symbol, leading to a culture of other celebrities using it too. While many may think this represents a diamond, which Jay-Z raps about, it may also represent the all-seeing eye as used by the Illuminati, which he also raps about:
“Illuminati want my mind, soul and my body”
“Secret society, tryna keep they eye on me”
– Jay-Z, D’Evils
Just in case you had any doubts about who they might be promoting, check out the following still from one of Rihanna’s video clips.
Of course, rap stars who frequently use symbolism associated with the Illuminati just as frequently deny it.
Conspiracy theorist screaming Illuminati
They can’t believe this much skill is in the human body
I said I was amazing/ Not that I’m a Mason
Jay-Z / Rick Ross, Free Mason
However Jay-Z has also created a clothing line called Roc-A-Wear, which features many esoteric symbols and references to dark forces as well as freemasonry – an institution many believe is linked to the “Illuminati” (historically the Bavarian Illuminati secret society was known to have infiltrated Freemason lodges in Europe).
Confused? Maybe that’s the idea.
Interestingly this isn’t the first time this symbol has been used as can be seen in this photo of Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan, who most likely wasn’t rapping when this picture was taken.
Assuming that on one level this symbol signifies the control the ruling elite have over the masses, we can easily see how incorporating these symbols into popular culture could serve to signify and exalt the elite’s power, with people essentially saluting their servitude.
Here’s just a tiny sample of the use of the all-seeing eye in the music industry:
The Symbol of the Cross
The symbol of the cross is almost universal in the Western world and for most people represents Christianity and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The inverted cross typically represents either St Peter – who was said to have been crucified upside down out of reverence for Jesus – or more typically, and particularly in popular culture, dark forces and a rebellion against the Christ.
Looking further into the past however, the symbol of the cross is much older and wide-ranging, with spiritual uses predating Christianity. We can see examples of the cross in the Egyptian Ankh, the Swastika in Eastern traditions – a kind of dynamic cross – and in Druidic and Pagan traditions: all cultures where it was esteemed as a symbol with deep spiritual meaning. Interestingly Hitler was very interested in the occult and took the Hindu symbol of the swastika – representing the positive power of the creative force – and inverted it for his own negative use, an excellent example of how the meaning of a symbol can be distorted for people throughout the entire world.
Sadly inverted crosses are becoming commonplace in popular culture, often also associated with darkness in other ways. Where once they may have been used for shock value and rebellion, they are now becoming a new norm in fashion accessories as society moves further and further away from an understanding of spiritual values.
Have a look below at some of the examples of inverted crosses in video clips and clothing worn by popular artists.
The Pentagram / Pentacle
Due to frequent appearances in the heavy metal scene (both upright and inverted) and its association with witchcraft, the pentagram has got a really bad rap, and is widely thought to be a symbol that is satanic or “of the devil”.
Looking to the past however, the pentagram has a long heritage as a powerful positive symbol. The pentagram contains the golden ratio / fibonacci sequence – a universal principle that creates beauty and harmony in nature. Used by Pythagoras in his teachings, the pentagram came to be used as a secret symbol identifying Pythagoreans to each other when their school was driven underground.
16th century philosopher Paracelsus said of the pentagram:
I would gladly knowe, where and in what place in all the Books of the Nigromancers may befound any other, wherein there is made the like against malignant Spirits, Devils, and Inchantments of the Magitians, by all the deceits and devices of the Sorcerers.
Truly those which we have spoken of, are the true Pentacles to be had and used against allunclean Spirits, which they do all fear, even they which wander in the Elements.
In Christianity the pentagram was seen as the star of Bethlehem that led the three magi to the birthplace of Jesus. It was also seen to represent the five wounds of Christ and was used as a symbol of protection. In Arthurian legend the knight Gawain displayed the pentagram on his shield as a symbol of the five knightly virtues (generosity, courtesy, chastity, chivalry and piety).
When used correctly with single point upwards (like a person standing with their legs and arms spread into the shape of a star) the pentagram represents the ascension of a spiritual seeker towards enlightenment. It works as a powerful symbol of protection that repels the forces of darkness.
It wasn’t until the witch hunts of the Inquisition that the pentagram publicly began being viewed as a symbol of darkness – many people were burnt at the stake for displaying them.
It was understood by philosophers and magicians of the time that the connection between symbols and the world of actions could be manipulated for evil purposes. Magician Giordano Bruno, warned of such misuse of the powerful pentacle by Black magicians.
Later in the 1800’s esotericist Eliphas Levi was the first to popularise the understanding of the upside down pentagram as a symbol of evil.
“A reversed pentagram, with two points projecting upwards, is a symbol of evil and attracts sinister forces because it overturns the proper order of things and demonstrates the triumph of matter over spirit. It is the goat of lust attacking the heavens with its horns, a sign execrated by initiates.”
When inverted with two points up and one point down the pentagram represents a person descending into darkness and towards the abyss, the hells that are represented in the different religions and in Dante’s Inferno. When inverted the pentagram attracts the forces of darkness.
The pentagram is used extensively in black magic, but when so used its form always differs in one of three ways: The star may be broken at one point by not permitting the converging lines to touch; it may be inverted by having one point down and two up; or it may be distorted by having the points of varying lengths. When used in black magic, the pentagram is called the “sign of the cloven hoof,” or the footprint of the Devil. The star with two points upward is also called the “Goat of Mendes,” because the inverted star is the same shape as a goat’s head.”
– Manly P. Hall, Secret Teachings of All Ages
There are many references to upside down pentagrams in the music industry, some concealed, others out in the open.
There are other examples where the upside down pentagram and forces of darkness are referred to without directly being shown. For instance there are many female performers who appear to have drawn inspiration for their costumes from the character Maria from the black and white film Metropolis. Maria is an innocent woman who has an “evil” double created after she is kidnapped and her likeness is given to a robot, with the intent that the robot Maria will control the masses, driving them to commit animalistic acts through lust. The robot is brought to life under an upside down pentagram.
“Let us keep the figure of the Five-pointed Star always upright, with the topmost triangle pointing to heaven, for it is the seat of wisdom, and if the figure is reversed, perversion and evil will be the result.”
The commonly known depiction of the symbol of Baphomet – the androgynous goat with an upright pentagram on its forehead – was from the book Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie by esotericist Eliphas Levi.
Levi said of this symbol:
The goat on the frontispiece carries the sign of the pentagram on the forehead, with one point at the top, a symbol of light, his two hands forming the sign of occultism, the one pointing up to the white moon of Chesed, the other pointing down to the black one of Geburah. This sign expresses the perfect harmony of mercy with justice. His one arm is female, the other male like the ones of the androgyne of Khunrath, the attributes of which we had to unite with those of our goat because he is one and the same symbol. The flame of intelligence shining between his horns is the magic light of the universal balance, the image of the soul elevated above matter, as the flame, whilst being tied to matter, shines above it. The beast’s head expresses the horror of the sinner, whose materially acting, solely responsible part has to bear the punishment exclusively; because the soul is insensitive according to its nature and can only suffer when it materializes. The rod standing instead of genitals symbolizes eternal life, the body covered with scales the water, the semi-circle above it the atmosphere, the feathers following above the volatile. Humanity is represented by the two breasts and the androgyne arms of this sphinx of the occult sciences.
While the symbol of Baphomet as drawn by Levi bears an upright pentagram and contains elements that seem to point towards a spiritual transcendence beyond the material world, it has often been seen throughout the ages as a negative symbol, again featuring in the persecution of the spiritual practitioners in the persecution of the Inquisition.
The negative view of this symbol has been reinforced in modern times largely by the Church of Satan who have adopted the “sigil of Baphomet” – a goat’s head contained within an upside down pentagram – as their official symbol.
“Baphomet represents the Powers of Darkness combined with the generative fertility of the goat. In its “pure” form the pentagram is shown encompassing the figure of a man in the five points of the star – three points up, two pointing down – symbolizing man’s spiritual nature. In Satanism the pentagram is also used, but since Satanism represents the carnal instincts of man, or the opposite of spiritual nature, the pentagram is inverted to perfectly accommodate the head of the goat – its horns, representing duality, thrust upwards in defiance; the other three points inverted, or the trinity denied.”
– Anton Lavey, The Satanic Bible
It can also be seen to represent Aleister Crowley (the self proclaimed “wickedest man alive”) who was born in the same year that Eliphas Levi died, and therefore thought he was Levi’s reincarnation. Despite studying Levi’s teachings, Crowley appears to have deliberately inverted some of Levi’s concepts. For example, Crowley adopted the use of the inverted pentagram. Crowley also took the nickname Baphomet in the secret order of the O.T.O which he popularised. Many celebrities are, or have been, participants in this order. We will look further into the relationship between Aleister Crowley and popular artists in a future part of this series, as many artists appear to be strongly influenced by his teachings.
It seems that Crowley initially tried to awaken spiritually in light, but then turned to the dark side, and began to promote things like child sacrifice and using one’s will to obtain spiritual power.
Other Symbols of Darkness
There are many other ways that esoteric symbols from the dark side are used in the music industry; from celebrities making their hands into the shape of devil horns, to the frequent usage of the “Okay” sign, often covering one eye and having 3 hidden sixes concealed in it.
The symbol of three sixes is a reference to the number of the beast in the Book of Revelation. The Book of Revelation is an esoteric text that was left in the bible when most other esoteric teachings were removed (even direct teachings of Jesus that were labelled “blasphemous”) because of a passage it contains stating that “If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city”.
The beast is said to come from the abyss at the end of days, to be worshipped by all. The punishment from the powers of darkness for not worshipping the beast is death, but not worshipping the beast leads to salvation. The number of the beast adds to 18, a significant number in esoteric numerology as it represents attacks from the forces of darkness.
There are also many direct references to demons and possession which will be covered in much more detail in future articles.
Is The Use of Symbolism Deliberate?
By now you’re probably getting the idea that this symbolism is quite common. Maybe you’re wondering how these symbols got so thoroughly entrenched in our culture, or why they are so often cleverly concealed? Is the idea that these symbols bypass our conscious mind to go straight into our subconscious – the main driving force behind many of our actions?
Is it possible that the use of these symbols in popular culture is all just a big creative coincidence?
Maybe the artists, producers and directors behind their videos are using the symbols as a way to create shock value that makes their videos go viral? Maybe these artists are just using the symbols because everyone else does and they’ve become “cool”?
While those elements probably play a part in the widespread usage of symbolism we see today, in at least some cases there appears to be a deeper understanding of the symbols being used and the affect they might have on fans and viewers.
The Illuminati symbolism we see in popular culture is becoming so prevalent that it is BECOMING popular culture. While some might claim that “it’s a trend” or that “Ke$ha is making fun of it”, they don’t see the important reversal that is happening here: Trends used to come from the streets to then be picked up and reflected by mass media; Nowadays, trends are CREATED by mass media and forced on the world through repetition and omnipresence. Source
Lady Gaga, who is possibly the most prolific user of esoteric symbolism in her videos, made the following comments on her 2009 VMA performance, which many believe represented a ritual blood sacrifice:
Journalist: “Do you think it will be one of those defining moments people will remember at the VMAs?”
Lady Gaga: “I know it will. I sort of have this philosophy about things: there’s never a reason to do something unless it’s going to be memorable, unless it’s going to change things, unless it’s going to inspire a movement. […] I think after watching the performance and maybe studying it after you watch it on YouTube, you’ll see the references and the symbols come through.”
So what movement was Lady Gaga trying to inspire on her “Monster Ball” tour when she made quite a deliberate sign of the beast right in front of the all-seeing eye symbol worn by her backing dancer, just after after asking the audience “Who is a monster?” to cheers from her fans (who are known as “little monsters”, and Gaga the “Mother monster”).
If you want to see the live version of the screenshot the hand signal is at 1:44. I would recommend NOT watching the rest of the clip which is pretty vulgar.
Then there are videos like Ke$ha’s Die Young, which contains a confusing mix of dark and white esoteric symbolism (more on that in a minute) and glorifies mindless violence, partying and, as the title states, dying young. Even the live performance of this song is packed with negative symbolism, with Ke$ha wearing an upside down crucifix outfit and her backup dancers having cleverly concealed upside down pentagrams and all-seeing eyes on their pants.
When confronted about this song and the message it is presenting to young fans Ke$ha tweeted:
Forced by who? What was their motive for creating a video loaded with symbolism that serves to turn people against spirituality, and that carries such a fatal and destructive message?
There are many instances in photo shoots and videos where the use of symbolism appears very deliberate. Do the artists know what they’re doing? Have the symbols been forced on them by directors or photographers?
There appears to be some power in the world that wants our culture infiltrated by negative symbolism and it is using every means it can to achieve it’s goal.
It’s So Obvious it Can’t Possibly Be Real…
You might have heard the phrase “hidden in plain sight” before. It refers to things that are so obvious they are overlooked. In this sense it could refer to negative symbolism so thoroughly infiltrating popular culture that anyone who questions its origins are considered crazy conspiracy theorists.
Many commentators speculate that the “Illuminati” are behind the masses of symbols that are being used. This in turn has led a number of celebrities and powerful institutions to mock those who think there is more to the use of esoteric symbolism than meets the eye. Take for instance this appearance by Jim Carrey on the Jimmy Kimmel show, or this strange commercial featuring Bono from U2 and other celebrities proclaiming they’re in the Illuminati. Weird Al Yankovic has made his own take on the issue, and Katy Perry – who’s 2014 Grammy performance was steeped in negative symbolism – has also joked about wanting to be invited to the Illuminati “if it exists”.
MTV have also chimed in, publishing two articles with “concrete” reasons (which don’t make much sense if you research this sort of thing) that prove and disprove the idea that the Illuminati are behind much of the symbolism of the Video Music Awards (VMAs).
MTV VMA performances are widely analysed for their frequent use of dark symbolism which often feature things like Jack Black leading the audience in a prayer to the “Dark Lord Satan” for the continued success of those in the music industry, re-enacted masonic rituals (many believe the freemasons are linked to the Illuminati) and, as recently as last year, a performance by Katy Perry depicting the burning at the stake of a member of the Knights Templar, an ancient esoteric order of light that was persecuted. Are these articles a way of drawing attention away from what’s really happening?
All of this mockery serves to prevent people questioning what’s really going on with the music industry’s use of esoteric symbology, as who would want to be called crazy? People who are interested in understanding esoteric symbolism and the effect it has on the masses are then relegated to a land where everyone who questions things is wearing a tin foil hat. This ridicule allows the use of negative symbolism to continue spreading unquestioned and unhindered.
What’s the Motive Behind Symbols in the Music Industry?
Sadly we live in a society that has almost entirely been turned against positive esoteric spirituality through an ongoing smear campaign by governments, the anti-cult movement and mass media establishments. This is not a new occurrence. Spiritual seekers throughout the ages have been oppressed by society’s institutions and there is already a high degree of suspicion towards any form of spirituality that is not in the mainstream (think established religion and commercialised, socially acceptable spirituality).
This suspicion (and sometimes outright hatred) is fuelled through the negative use of symbolism in popular culture as this promotes the idea that spirituality is either satanic (for believers of established religions) or something dangerous and elitist that is used to control the masses.
Here we begin to see a dual agenda, where symbols of darkness are promoted as “cool” to the unsuspecting general public so they come into common usage throughout the world as fans emulate their idols. Symbols as we’ve seen are powerful, and the common usage of inverted esoteric symbols attracts the forces of darkness into the lives of those who unwittingly use them. At the same time the search for truth is confused and it becomes harder to distinguish light from darkness as negative symbols are mixed with positive ones, subconsciously creating an association for people that all symbols and esoteric spirituality as a whole are evil and to be avoided (or just something to be mocked with irreverence).
There are many examples of this, often used in a subliminal fashion.
In Jay-Zs “Onto the next one” he makes gestures of the devil hand sign with what appears to be a halo around his head.
In this still from Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance we see the word “monster” above a cross.
In this photo shoot, Rihanna was portrayed as Medusa – a mythical monster – while showing the tattoo she has of the Egyptian Goddess Isis, who represents the divine feminine principle which has been represented in many cultures as a destroyer of the darkness that binds an individual.
In Ke$ha’s Die Young video she arrives at a church in a black hearse with the word “EVIL” on the side. Dressed in black and red (the colours of the hierarchy of darkness), Ke$ha is carried into a church housing an upright pentagram, where she proceeds to participate in a strange orgiastic type dance ritual with her backup dancers before trashing the church. The whole video is full of pyramids, all-seeing eye symbols and upside down crosses.
For people not interested in spirituality this creates an association between death, evil and the image the upright pentagram. For anyone who understands what an upright pentagram represents we are mocked with an image of evil destroying a temple of positive spirituality.
Incidentally, Ke$ha is often seen wearing inverted pentagrams, and the only upright pentagram that seems to be associated with her is the one in the church that gets trashed in the Die Young clip.
A New “Religion” of Materialism?
Apart from creating confusion and negativity towards esoteric spirituality there may be a greater agenda at play.
It appears the music industry is working towards creating its own form of “religion”: a way of life based on the worship of popular artists, mindless materialism and socially destructive behaviours.
Artists mocking religion and placing themselves in positions of worship is not a new phenomenon.
As far back as 1966, John Lennon boasted that the Beatles were more popular than Christ and that Christianity would pass away.
More recently Marilyn Manson stated that he would be remembered as “the person who brought an end to Christianity”.
When you begin to look it is amazing to see just how many artists mock religion, particularly Christianity, raising themselves to the status of gods:
Jay-Z produced an album titled Jayhovah – a play on what many consider to be the name of God.
Jay-Z’s wife Beyonce stirred controversy when she posed for a picture in front of a painting of the last supper, her image covering that of Jesus. Beyonce has also posed as the Virgin Mary in a replication of Michaelangelo’s La Pieta, a scene where Mary holds Jesus’ body just after it has been brought down from the cross.
Kanye West – who’s nickname is Yeezy – produced an album called ‘Yeezus’ on which there was a song called ‘I am a god’.
Responding to criticism about this he simply said “I made that song because I am a god. I don’t think there’s much more explanation”. The artwork created for Yeezus contains much negative esoteric symbolism.
Lily Allen produced a song called Sheezus that incorporates direct references to Christianity and ends with her as “Sheezus” with a pair of devil horns.
I am born again, now run along and tell
All your friends to come and join us
I am your leader
“Let me be Sheezus”
– Lily Allen, Sheezus
Rapper Lil B, who’s popular song “Look Like Jesus” contains the lyrics ‘I’m God, I look like Jesus’ and states that women are interested in him sexually because he looks like Jesus. The song is full of profanity and many crude references to Jesus and caused controversy by being filmed in a church.
He has also adopted an alter ego known as “The Based God” and said of the nickname: “Music wise I do feel like I’m a prophet status and at the God status…”
Lil B has a fanatical following, with male fans practically worshipping him and “offering” him their wives, mothers or girlfriends. Even people who live in the hip hop scene were taken aback by the treatment of him:
“Lil’ B’s concert still amazed me because of the connection between the performer and the audience. It was like a semi-religious gathering of ethnically diverse superfans, who, at one point, spontaneously chanted rapidly, and in unison: “Thankyoubasedgod. Thankyoubasedgod. Thankyoubasedgod.…“
– Hip Hop Show Host Miss Info of ‘Miss Info TV‘
Here are some other examples of stars depicting the passion of Christ or associating themselves with Jesus in some way.
Now while it might seem like I’m getting all religious on you at this point I personally feel that the agenda here goes beyond mockery of Christianity and religion and affects spirituality as a whole, and its place in society.
By depicting themselves as spiritual figures in association with material and sometimes demonic values it appears that popular artists are slowly creating a new “religion”: one where celebrities are worshipped and their fans live lives of mindless materialism, promiscuity and socially destructive behaviour, while the trashing of eternal spiritual principles is celebrated.
Whether or not artists are acting through their own means or as puppets of more elite forces, it seems that popular music – which plays such an important role in identity creation in the lives of so many people – is being used to create a culture that is completely divorced from spiritual values.
What’s your opinion?
It’s amazing just how many examples of inverted symbols there are out there. The images in this post are just a small selection of what could have been included.
So now that you’ve seen some of the evidence, what do you think? Is it all just a big coincidence? Are there dark forces and a dark agenda behind the symbols we are seeing?
I’ll leave you with a commentary on the state of society in regards to hidden truths in the words of rapper Lupe Fiasco, who seems to take a keen interest in the truth movement (expletives removed):
Wake up, don’t join the army
Kill your own peoples, but fear Illuminatis
And they ain’t even real, or are they?
But you ain’t even know, because you partay
Too much, if you start to doubt
They already in yo mind, and comin’ out yo mouth
Stay tuned for the next article in this series where we’ll delve deeper into the dark side of the music industry, uncovering how popular artists celebrate the macabre and embrace very real forces of darkness.
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Last updated 22/01/2015