Spiritual Power of Symbols
Students will learn how symbols are used in some societies to influence
spirts and to protect rooms. Students will create their own symbols
to "protect" their classroom.
This lesson is part
of a series. Select this text to learn more
about the series and how to extend its usefulness.
Students will be introduced to the spiritual beliefs and customs of
other cultures and will learn to understand and tolerate those beliefs.
Students will learn
how symbols represent spiritual or supernatural forces in some cultures.
Students will learn
how to work together while building a "protective door".
Decorating a Door
serve as portals between one space and another. Doors and locks were created
to control access between those spaces and to protect the occupants of
one space from the people and forces on the other side. In many societies,
doors were used not only to control access by physical beings but to influence
spirits and block access by malevolent influences.
the decorations on doors were used to invite forces for good. For example,
the Dogon people of Mali sometimes decorate grainary doors with
symbols that represent prayers for life-giving rain, resurrection, and
regeneration on earth.
parts of America, horseshoes are hung over doors to bring good luck to
the occupants. Other people believe that the iron in the horseshoes wards
off evil spirits. The doors of many religious buildings are decorated
with symbols. Christian churches often have crosses on their doors and
people believe that evil can not enter the churches. Many houses have
knockers that are shaped like lions. The lion is a powerful animal and
may be seen as a symbol to ward off evil.
Butcher paper, construction paper, black and colored markers, crayons,
tempera paints, tape, pipe cleaners, fabric, shells, pasta shells, glue,
scissiors and stickers.
the idea to your students that people in many different cultures believe
that symbols can influence spiritual beings. Describe the use of symbols
on doors and ask your students to identify symbols used on doors in America.
the classroom door with butcher paper.
students to create designs and decorate the door with American and African
4. Glue pipe
cleaners, shells or fabric to the door to give the symbols and door
a three-dimensional effect.
The double-headed serpent reminds the Bamum people of Cameroon
that their king once fought his enemies on two fronts and won.
The Edo people of Benin City believe that snakes consume and destroy
The Edo people of Benin City believe that the crocodile symbolizes
power. The king or Oba is able to crush opposition like
crocodile crushes its prey.
The Edo people of Benin City believe that the rooster symbolizes
power and authority. The queen mother rules over the king's wives
like a rooster rules the hens.
Chevrons symbolize rain or water to the Dogon of Mali.
To the Edo people of Benin, the bird symbolizes the king's power
to overcome false prophets and fortunetellers.
To the Dogon peoples of Mali, the stool symbolizes dignity and
The people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)
believe that the navel is a focus and release point of strong
Bared teeth generally symbolize ferocity and aggression
Round hollow Eyes
Round hollow eyes symbolize the ability to project penetrating
Half-closed eyes symbolize contemplation.