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ACACIA BRANCH OR LEAVES: It is said that the gods were born underneath the goddess Saosis' Acacia tree, north of Heliopolis. Horus (Egyptian God) was supposed to have emerged from an Acacia tree and as such this symbol was betoken on one to signify eternal and affectionate remembrance both for the living and the dead.

ACORN: Denotes antiquity and strength. Acorns hold high significance as a Scandinavian and a Celtic symbol for life, fertility, immortality and perseverence. It is said the Norse legend that Thor sought shelter from a thunderstorm under an oak tree has contributed to the belief that having an acorn on a windowsill will prevent a house from being struck by lightning. A theme in Roman architecture and equally popular in Celtic and Scandinavian art, the acorn is used as an ornament on jewellery, furniture, and appears on finials in many countries. Chaucer wrote of "achornes of okes" in the 1300s. Etymology connected the word both with "corn" and "oak-horn," and the spelling changed accordingly. SEE OAK

AGRICULTURAL TOOLS: Implements of husbandry representing one whom laboured in the earth and was dependent upon providence; see also Scythe and Sickle, Plough.

ALERION: An eagle displayed (wings spread) but without beak or claws; denoted one who was injured in a war and thus was prevented from fully asserting his power.

ALPHYN:A wolf or lion-like creature, with the forelegs of a dragon or eagle, a long tongue and knotted tail, a large mane and long pointed ears and tufts covering its body. It is said this fabulous beast has been recorded in early English heraldry. The obvious fierceness of this beast suggests its symbolism. It has been proposed by some, that the Alphyn is a cross breed between a heraldic tyger and a griffin, mythological monsters in their own right.

ANCHOR: The Christian emblem of hope and refuge; awarded to sea warriors for special feats performed; the Greeks and Romans referred to the anchor as sacred as it was always dedicated to some god. The anchor was given to Clement of Rome and Nicolas of Bari. Nicolas of Bari is the patron saint of sailors. Also signifies steadfastness and stability. In seafaring nations, the anchor is a symbol of good luck, of safety, and of security, and thus of trust and confidence.

ANGEL:According to Dionysius the Areopagite, angels were divided into nine orders: Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones, in the first circle; Dominions, Virtues, and Powers, in the second circle, and Principalities, Archangels, and Angels, in the third circle. They denote dignity, glory, virtue and honour; missionary; bearer of joyful intelligence.

ANNULET: The emblem of fidelity; a ring worn as a sign of Knighthood (Roman)…it stood as the symbol of nobility and jurisdiction, and was the gage of royal favour and protection; also a mark of Cadency of the fifth son. See Cadency.

Commonly called in Latin, Annulus, but by Cambden, Annellm, which perhaps he took from the French, Annelet, for so they call them. And Colomliere speaks of them thus: " The Hiero^ glyphick of the Ring is very various; some of the " Ancients made it to denote Servitude, alleging, " that the Bridegroom uses to give it to his Bride, " to denote to her that she is to be subject to him, which Pythagoras seem'd to confirm, when he prohibited wearing a Ring, that is, not to (' submit to over rigid Servitude). Many believe the Rings do rather denote the Truth and Fidelity they owe to one another, than that they import any Servitude.

The Romans by the Ring represented Liberty and Nobility, and none among them were allow'd to wear it, but such as were of their Knightly Degree, and Soldiers of Renown. A Ring may also signify Secrecy, especially if it have a Seal cut on it : And it may be the Emblem of Love, if the Face, the Cypher, or the Arms of the Person belov'd are engrav'd on it. The Ring also denotes Strength, by reason of its circular Figure ; so that this Figure is graceful and of great Signification.

ANNUNCIADA (Knights of the Order of the) in Savoy, first instituted by Amadeus the First, Duke of Savoy, at what time he defended Rhodes from the Turks, Anno 1409. Their Collar is of fifteen Links, to express the fifteen Mysteries of the Blessed Virgin.

ANT: Denotes great labour, wisdom, and providence in one's affairs; diligence and industriousness.

ANTELOPE (heraldic): A mythical beast with the body of a stag, the tail of a unicorn, a tusk at the tip of the nose, tufts down the back of the neck, chest, and thighs. ; one of the most ferocious of beasts, wild and untameable. Beware to all beholders.

ANTELOPE: The word comes from Medieval Latin anthalopus and from Late Greek antholops. It was only the Egyptian elite who were allowed to hunt various species of Antelope and Ibex and considered them magical, and even had amulets made in their shapes. In Heraldry, Antelopes seem to appear more often in the arms of royalty but not exclusively so. The symbol represents action, agility and sacrifice and a very worthy guardian that is not easily provoked, but can be fierce when challenged. In Sumerian mythology, the antelope was both a lunar and solar animal. As a solar creature it was sacred to the God Ea who was sometimes called Ea-Onnes ("the antelope of Apsu and of creation") and the God Marduk. In its lunar form the antelope or gazelle was sacred to the Goddess Astarte. In Egyptian Lore, this animal represented Osiris and Horus, but was also sacred to the Goddess Isis, and it was sacrificed to the desert God Set. In most of Asia Minor the antelope was considered to be a lunar animal and associated with the Great Mother. In India it was an emblem of Shive, the chariots of Chandra.

ANTLERS: Strength and fortitude; once used as a symbol of divine power in Assyria, Mesopotamia and Egypt.

ANVIL: Denotes honour and strength; chief emblem of the smith's trade.

APPLE: Denotes liberality, felicity, and peace; temptation, fertility. In Greek mythology, Hera received an apple as a symbol of fertility upon her engagement to Zeus. The Greek hero Heracles, as a part of his Twelve Labours, was required to travel to the Garden of the Hesperides and pick the golden apples off the Tree of Life growing at its center. The Greek goddess of discord, Eris, became disgruntled after she was excluded from the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. In retaliation, she tossed a golden apple inscribed Kallisti ('For the most beautiful one'), into the wedding party. Three goddesses claimed the apple: Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. Paris of Troy was appointed to select the recipient. After being bribed by both Hera and Athena, Aphrodite tempted him with the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Sparta. He awarded the apple to Aphrodite, thus indirectly causing the Trojan War. A beautiful woman gives the Irish hero, Conle, son of Conn, an apple, which nourishes him for a month but also makes him long for her home, the island of women. In Scandinavian myth, the goddess Idhunn keeps golden apples in Asgard which confer immortality.

ARM (bare): Signifies a labourious and industrious person.

ARROW: An ancient and honourable symbol sometimes referred to as the emblem of affliction; martial readiness; if with a cross it denotes affliction; a bow and arrow signifies a man resolved to abide the uttermost hazard of battle.

ASS: The ass has enjoyed a marked favour above all other beasts of burden in many ancient countries. In Heraldry times it was the symbol of patience, peace and humility.

AXE: See Battleaxe and Hatchet.

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Heraldry Symbolism Library by Armorial Gold Heraldry Services is provided as a free resource tool for Heraldry enthusiasts. The Heraldry Symbolism Library and the information contained therein, has been researched through original manuscripts and Armorial Gold’s own sources. The Heraldry Symbolism Library is provided as a free resource tool for Heraldry enthusiasts. Reproduction in any form is prohibited.