Our world has such an intricate design that everything has a deeper meaning than the one usually perceived by our eyes. Similar is the case for shapes and symbols. We all have studied forms for years during school, but how many of us know the hidden meaning they carry?
Not many, I guess. Don’t worry; even I didn’t know until now when I decided to search for the meaning of one such majestic symbol, the triangle. The symbol triangle is used every-day in everyday life, from preschool coloring books to mathematics and even in spiritual contexts. Triangle is present in almost every sphere of life, denoting a wide variety of meanings in different settings.
Let’s take a look at all that is symbolized by a triangle:
A triangular shape
Triangle, as we all know is a polygon, with three sides, three vertices and three angles. But what we don’t know is that it is one of the most commonly used symbols in maths. Introduced as early as in the pre-school, every kid is accustomed to this shape. From coloring it to understanding its various properties, we all have been through the journey.
The shape triangle is an integral part of the mathematics course. While it was already in use for centuries in Egypt and Babylonia, it is believed to have founded by Euclid. Later on, Blaise Pascal, a French mathematician gave it recognition all over the world.
An essential branch of mathematics is Geometry that deals with the properties of geometric objects and shapes. It is the smallest polygon, regarding sides and angles. It is the only two-dimensional figure that you can construct with the help of rigid members with hinged corners. Due to its significance in everyday life, it is a topic of ultimate importance in the school curriculum.
Triangles have made it possible for us to determine the unknown quantities in geometry and trigonometry. Almost all the two-dimensional geometric shapes consist of a series of triangles arranged in a specific pattern, except circle.
As mathematics went on to become more advanced, a need was felt to find most symbols to represent the sets and equations. For that purpose, the Greek symbol of Delta came into use. Delta became an important symbol to represent ‘change’ in both maths and science.
The upper case delta Δ signifies the change in movement. Not just mathematics, Delta appears in equations of multiple fields like physics and chemistry as well.
Triangles are as mathematically significant as they might be in any other field. Triangle, being the first shape we formed by using just straight lines, is what built the base of mathematics that we know today. From the widely used Pythagoras Theorem to improving our understanding of geometry and its concepts, the significance of the triangle in the field of mathematics is almost unfathomable.
Arguably the most widely used application of mathematics with triangles as a base is trigonometry. Translating to the study of triangles, trigonometry is something that doesn’t limit itself to the field of mathematics. This detailed study of triangles and the angles within it is one of the most vital elements in astrophysics, architecture, and even navigation.
This mathematical use of the triangle dates itself back to ancient times as astronomers used a method called triangulation to measure the distance between far away celestial bodies.
Triangulation is built on the fact that a far-away entity will be witness to a particular “shift” or parallax. By observing the shift from two different points which are known distance apart, one can discern the actual distance of a celestial body from Earth. The famed Greek mathematician Aristarchus is believed to have used the Triangulation method to measure the distance of the Earth from the Moon initially.
Triangle happens to be the building block of yet another sub-section of mathematics – Congruency. Allowing you to identify similar or identical shapes to further elaborate on their interior properties, the concepts of Congruency are as efficient as they are essential.
The Congruency application allows us to study the shapes defining characteristics without exhausting valuable resources to precisely measure them inside out. This concept developed in the core of mathematics extends to usage in the field of architecture to study the strength and durability of a detailed structure.
A spiritual guide
Apart from the given meaning of a triangle which is used in maths, there lies a much broader and significant meaning. In spiritual connotation, a triangle or delta represents change. Change is to be an integral part of life. Life goes on, and it is always advised to change with it, to be present at the moment.
For dwelling on the past and past habits only makes one weak. The delta, a very prominent Greek letter, stands for the same philosophy. It represents a change of the highest order and how it is necessary for life. It stands for the importance of letting go of the things holding one back and embracing the change in life.
According to me, the triangle is the only symbol which has so many meaning, with changing contexts. A triangle pointing upwards represents the male force, solar, assertive or even a mountain; whereas an inverted triangle stands for the female force, lunar, passive or the cave.
As we all know, our nature is made up of four elements which are considered to be essential. Without these four elements, the existence of life on this planet is impossible. These elements are air, water, wind, and earth. Aristotle was an ancient Greek philosopher and scientist, who have exerted a unique influence on every field of thought. He used the triangles to depict these symbols, perhaps because he thought a deeper meaning resides underneath each symbol.
The combination of these triangle symbols together indeed leads to a sum of infinite potential and create divine energy whereas the signs individually lack the power to create any individual effect. To the Greeks, the triangle is seen as the delta glyph and is symbolic of a doorway to the higher realm of possibilities. It indeed revisits the combination of polarities to push out a new opening. Just like the balancing of ideas and feelings would provide a doorway to higher wisdom through the longest side of the triangle, only figuratively.
Triangle, in today’s day and age, stands for a silent spiritual guide for many who seek enlightenment in the spiritual realm. The three-sided figure represents the path of the soul in the spiritual realm and the two orientations that a person walking among the living can take. The pointed edge is believed to be a person’s orientation towards the dark or the light.
The upwards orientation of the triangle represents the soul of a person pointing skywards to heaven as it draws strength to endure the physical hardships of life from its inner stability and rigidity. A Triangles’ inverted orientation represents a person who is unstable as his soul is oriented towards the daily luxuries of the physical world and is unable to draw out its true potential given its precarious position.
Religion and mythology
The triangle symbol has a deep connection to number 3. The three sides and three angles have much to say about its relevance. The triangle is inseparable from number 3. Three is considered to be a powerful number, enfolding within it great potential and power.
The numerological analysis also emphasizes the possibility of this number, since the amalgamation of the two numbers forms it before it. Number one signifies force, and number two is openings, therefore three stands for the wisdom.
This power of the triangle or three can is persistent in various religions and mythological stories. From the oldest to the newest religions, the triangle has played a significant role.
Triangle most often has Christian connotations.
According to the Christian doctrines, the Christian God is a trinity of three powers. They are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. All of them put together to form the surreal image of a triangle, as a single Godhead. The three Gods or the three persons are distinct, yet their essence or nature is one. Also known as the trinitarianism, this popular belief stresses the fact that nature is exactly as you are, whereas a person embodies his traits.
The religious scripture, the Holy Bible, does not explicitly say the word Trinity, but it certainly exists as an impression of three distinct people in 1 John 5:7. All the three gods are at par and have similar nature, power, action, and essence.
The shape of the triangle can be found in many Christian symbols as well, revealing its vast usage — a Germanic symbol of the Dragons Eye forms by an isosceles triangle pointing downwards, with a Y in the middle joining the three corners of the triangle. The Dragons Eye represents the decision between good or bad through the Y, and the triangle posing as a threat. It is also prevalent in Greek and Hindu traditions which date back to 5,000 years.
The dragon is believed to be the protector of humanity and is born out of the deep waters. It stands for the balance of love, wisdom, and power.
The Eyes of Providence is yet another very prominent Christian symbol made out of triangles. It is a symbol showing an eye, inside the triangle, mainly surrounded by rays of wisdom emitting out of it. It resembles the eye of God looking over the people and caring for them. It stemmed from the picture of the Holy Trinity, of Christian Gods that get their representation by a triangle. It got popular in the 16th century when the
Christian doctrines were very much popular, and God had a major significance in people’s life. Here it was commonly believed that God, through the eye keeps a check on all people. The Lord observes all deeds of man, and hence a fear was instilled in people to do good work and refrain from living a sinner’s life.
The concept of the triangles extends beyond to the realm of Hinduism.
In Hindu mythology, the triangle represents the all-powerful and ever-existing trinity of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva. The three gods represented together symbolizes balance that exists throughout the universe. Brahma, being the creator, forges life from nothing to give purpose to the entire universe; Vishnu, being the one who maintains, guides and protects all living beings within the universe; and Shiva, being the destroyer, brings the inevitable end to all life in the universe when the appropriate time arrives.
This never-ending cycle of creations, maintaining and destruction are symbolized by the triangle to represent the fact that stability can only occur when these three work in perfect synchronization and harmony. This teaching went much deeper than just myths and was created to emphasize the importance of the perpetual cycle of birth and death. The triangle links one process to another to encompass all of creation in a single two-dimensional shape.
The Hindu’s are also having a sacred symbol called Sai Yantra. It is made up of nine overlapping triangles, which ultimately forms 43 tiny triangles. It is believed to be the visual demonstration of OM and people meditate on this symbol to attain enlightenment.
Triangle is considered to be the ideal shape to represent and encompass the universe is not only the Christian and Hindu realm but also in the Greek mythology and religion.
In the Greek beliefs, the Trinity represents the bonds between three gods – Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. Zeus, the ruler of the skies, is deemed to be the protector of humanity; Poseidon, the ruler of the seas, stands as the one who nourishes all who worship him; and Hades, the ruler of the underworld, guides departed souls through their journey to their afterlife.
Striking an undeniable similarity between the Christian and Hindu religions, the Trinity represents the cycle of creations, nourishment, and destruction. The trinity here is created to symbolize the importance of the phases above of creation and destruction, implying how they are crucial in maintaining the integrity and stability of the universe.
A trinity also exists within the religion of Buddhism that is represented by the three-sided shape of the triangle.
It is also popular that the entirety of a Buddha exists within three kayas or bodies. The same is known as Dharmakaya or the embodiment of truth, Sambhogakaya or the bliss-body, and Nirmanakaya or the incarnation body.
Dharmakaya is how the Buddha is viewed by his followers – as an embodiment of the Dharma or the truth. Sambhogakaya is the bliss-body of a Buddha that exists in the pure lands of enjoyment and bliss.
The Sambhogakaya is the astral manifestation of a Buddha that exists to guide other Bodhisattvas on their journey to enlightenment. The Nirmanakaya is the embodiment of the Buddha that exists beyond time and space and is considered to be an immortal form of the Buddha.
• Other Media
The triangle is also used to represent various other trinity pairings throughout the world. The triangle is commonly used to represent the co-existing nature of the mind, body and the soul. In other philosophical Media, it represents the ever-flowing cycle of the past, present, and the future. The triangle also signifies the combination of the mother, maiden and the crone.
There’s a common belief among physicists and other scientific community which states that if we are ever able to observe the building blocks of the universe, it’ll relate itself more to a triangular form than any other shape.
The belief derives from the fact that states triangle to be a shape that takes the least amount of special area while providing the most stability along with a considerable amount of strength and durability.
Even a square that is unparalleled when it came to strength was found to get deformed into a parallelogram when it experienced significant force on edge. That, however, isn’t the case for a triangle. When a triangle experiences a considerable amount of force on one edge, it still retains the properties and characteristics of a triangle, unlike other shapes that come to experience similar conditions. This rigid nature of the shape makes it the ideal candidate to lay the basic foundations for complex structures.
Ever since Pharaohs walked the Earth, triangles were used to build gigantic monoliths and tributary monuments. One of the perfect examples to represent the idea would be the Great Pyramids of Giza. These massive structures were supposed to be the final resting place for the great Pharaohs of the past. Formed from these stones, these monuments have stood against the trials of time for over 4,500 years and are still unscathed as they maintain their structural integrity.
All of this is owing to their triangular base and architectural design. Learning from the past, different forms of triangles are still used today in the modern day architectural blueprints and buildings.
One of those common implementations of triangles in architecture is through A-Frames. This is the framework that is used to strengthen a building to ensure that it can bear heavy loads and endure the might of natural disasters.
Given the triangular structure, this framework is the most reliable and durable in the industry. A-Frames design comes with equilateral triangles, where are sides of the same length or with an isosceles triangle, where one side differs, and two are identical to each other.
The types above of triangles provide an equal weight distribution on all sides, owing to their symmetric nature. A few of the modern architectural marvels are built using the same concept namely the National Art Gallery of Washington, the Flatiron Building in New York City, and the Golfball Building in Epcot Center.
Palmistry, also known as chiromancy is the study of foretelling and analyzing the future through the study of the palm. It is an ancient practice found all over the world, through which palm reading can predict the future. This practice started in the Eurasian landmass, and now it is practiced all over the Asian continent and historic Palestine and Babylonia.
Later on, it spread to various other parts of the world. It involves the detailed study of various lines and patterns that the lines delicately form on our palms. The various lines and bumps suggest interpretations depending upon the size and intersections, by which the palm reader can make assumptions about the future happenings. The dominant hand of the person, which is the most used hand, is used for this art of predicting the future.
In palmistry, triangle shape plays a significant role. The occurrence of a triangle symbol, in between the lines has auspicious meanings and implications. If you have a small triangle at the exact center of the palm, it is considered to be good luck and brings good fortune and power to the person; whereas a triangle on the side towards the thumb is considered to be a bad sign.
The triangle symbols occurrence on the various lines also has different meanings.
One on the marriage line implicates a very successful love life, and abundance of joy in it, the one on the headline stands for academic brilliance and achievements, and with a triangle on a lifeline, it means that the person is overly active and is an excellent performer in every field of life.
Similarly, the position of the triangle under the fingers to has different meanings. The index finger represents talent in politics, middle finger asserts the development of a career in middle age, ring finger highlights the versatility of the person, and the little finger brings in good luck in wealth. All in all, the triangle is an important symbol in the art of palmistry and is used to make many predictions about the life of people.
Clothes are the one thing on which we spend the majority of our income. We consume not just our money, but also time and efforts on it. The real task is not to buy the clothes but to maintain it over the period. We all are guilty of spending loads of money, only to find the piece of clothing ruined during the washing. Either it has shrunken, loosens, faded or damaged just because we forgot to read the instructions.
To refrain from that happening again, it becomes essential to read the instructions very carefully. These instructions are the do’s and don’ts for washing that particular clothing. Here also the triangle symbol is important since it conveys a very important direction. This symbol stands for the bleaching instructions about the cloth. It depicts whether specific bleaching conditions are needed while washing that cloth or not.
A triangle without anything written inside it illustrates that that particular piece of clothing can undergo a bleaching process with any product. While a triangle with diagonal lines prohibits the use of chlorine-based bleach, the one with the black triangle and cross over it says that you should not attempt any bleaching.
Through centuries and centuries triangles have appeared in almost every myth, religion or story. They play an important role in portraying the essential lessons and preach about the higher wisdom that can help humanity to lead a better life.
Triangles are the most versatile symbol in that sense, changing meanings with different scenarios and yet retaining a part of the previous one, all adding up to the sheer mystery of it. It is an enigma, a strange puzzle or mystery that takes a lot of efforts and knowledge to unfold.