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RAINBOW: A symbol of transfiguration; in Norse mythology the rainbow is Bifrost, the bridge between Midgaard, the world of men and Asgaard, home of the gods; a symbol of peace and concord and a sign of promise. The rainbow is the sign of the Covenant with Noah and God's promise to Noah that never again would the World be purified by flood water. The rainbow, was often thought of the bridge to the Heavens, and as such was a popular heraldic symbol of hope.

RAM: A male sheep. In Celtic symbolism, the Ram is believed to be a symbol of fecundity and rebirth. The Ram was revered by the Persians and sacred to the Egyptians as a symbol of life, dominion and stability. It is also said to represent leadership and authority. The symbolism of the Ram has great antiquity. The cult of the Ram flourished in the Middle East beginning about 2000 BC. For example, the chief god of Upper Egypt was Amon, a highly spiritual deity whose name means "occult" or "hidden." He was originally represented as having the head of a Ram and was worshipped in Roman times as Jupiter Ammon. Isaiah prophesied that the Rams returning to Israel with God's scattered children would joyfully offer themselves upon the altars of the Millennial Temple. The most famous Ram in the Old Testament is the one Abraham found trapped by its horns in a thicket on Mount Moriah where he had gone to sacrifice his only son Isaac. [Gen 22: 1-14] An angel stopped the hand of Abraham just as he was about to kill his boy and the Ram was sacrificed instead. This story is known as the akedah (binding) and is a reminder of the obedience of the patriarchs. Aries, the Ram, is the first sign of the zodiac and is related to dawn, the spring, and the beginning of life. The Ram has played an important role in the religion and mythology of many different cultures.

RAPIER: A small sword used for thrusting. See Swords. The word "rapier" generally refers to a relatively long-bladed sword characterized by a complex hilt which is constructed to provide protection for the hand wielding it. Symbol of Power, Status, Honour and the Renaissance; the rapier is the sword most often associated with the duels of honour.

RAT: A fierce and voracious animal. In Hinduism the Rat is the most powerful of the demons and represents foresight and prudence and as such is the vehicle of Ganesha, the elephant-headed god (of wisdom, prosperity and successful endeavour), and is an object of veneration. It is also regarded as the symbol of industry and prosperity on account of its ability for locating, acquiring, and hoarding abundant supplies of food.

RATCH-HOUND (small hound, beagle): Once widely used either singly or in packs, to hunt hares; symbol of the hunt, loyalty, courage, and vigilance.

RAVEN: See Corbie. Symbol of initiation, protection, and prophecy.

REED (slay, slea): Instrument used by weavers and may indicate the trade of the first bearer.

REEDS: A long hollow knotted grass sacred to the mythological river gods. Syrinx was an Arcadian river-nymph who was pursued by Pan. To escape him she fled into the waters of her river where she pleaded the gods for help, and they changed her into a reed. Disappointed, Pan cut the reed into pieces of gradually decreasing lengths, fastened them together with wax and thus produced the shepherds flute, or "pipes of Pan", upon which he plays; lover of music and with a methodical disposition.

REINDEER: A stag with double attires; one erect and one pendent; extremely strong and has great powers of endurance; hunted by the ancients, for both meat and hide; symbolic of persistence and resoluteness. To the Vikings, the reindeer (renne in fr.) antlers were symbols of status.

RHINO: The word Rhinoceros comes from two ancient Greek words - "rhino" meaning nose and "ceros" meaning head. They are descendants of ancient times and bring with them the energy of comfort in one's own solitude. The Rhino is unpredictable, and can turn and charge with great agility and ferociousness especially when aroused or agitated. Rhinoceroses have poor eyesight but acute senses of hearing and smell. Most prefer to avoid man, but males, particularly bad-tempered during the breeding season, and females with calves may charge with little provocation. Some historians believe that the horn of the Rhinoceros, former uniceros, is in fact the horn of the legendary unicorn, symbol of chastity. The horn of the Rhino is not made of bone but of skin and hair tissue called keratin and was used by many cultures as an aphrodisiac. The skin of the Rhino could not be pierced by sword or lance and this lead to many legends written about the Rhino. "Thou shalt not conquer my army, as it likens to the skin of the mighty Rhinoceros and cannot be pierced with lance or sabre." A symbol of tenacity, vigour and concord, and may symbolize jurisdiction.

RING: See Bague, Annulet

RIZOM: Is the fruit of the oat and is a symbol of harvest, hope, and were used as emblems of the faithful.

ROBIN: An Old World bird resembling the thrush and originally called Ruddock' or 'Redbreast'; symbol of domestic peace and tranquillity; also the mariner's bird of hope.

ROCKS: Safety and protection; refuge.

ROLLER: So called because this bird does backward summersaults in the air. Using the Roller as an emblem would suit one whom is unconventional in nature.

ROSE: The early Greeks and the Romans inexorably linked the rose to love, beauty, purity and passion. The Christians adopted the Rose as a symbol of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and hence became a symbol of motherhood and purity. When shown stalked and leaved it has the added symbolism of protection because of the thorns. The Rose is the emblem of England and still the two counties (Yorkshire and Lancashire) replay the Wars of the Roses on the cricket field each English summer. In heraldry, the Rose is used as a mark of distinction for the seventh son. The Red Rose is one of the badges used for the House of Lancaster and is mentioned severally in the early days of heraldry in the reigns of Henry IV and Henry V. The White Rose was used as a badge by Richard Duke of York by his son Edward IV and was adopted by his descendants. The Jacobites also adopted it as an emblem. The Rose can be shown as a heraldic rose or as a natural rose; symbol of providence, divination, love, beauty, purity and passion.

ROSEMARY: This shrub has long been said to aid in the inclination to love. When Venus, the love goddess, was sprung from the foam of the sea, rosemary (or sea dew) would thereafter have amatory qualities. Rosemary is also an emblem of remembrance. In Hamlet, Ophelia says, "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance." In the language of the flowers it means fidelity in love.

ROUNDLES (roundels): The old heralds have attached various names and significations to these round figures. When of gold they were called Bezants, and represented ancient Byzantine coins. This bearing has been said to denote one who had been found worthy of trust and treasure. The white roundle is called a Plate, and denoted "generosity." The green was called a Pomme or pomeis, and had the same signification as the apple, when purple it was called a Golpe, and denoted a wound; when blue it was a Hurt or wortleberry, known in ancient times as a hurtleberry; when black it was a Pellet, Ogress, or Gunstone, and represented a cannon ball; when red it was called Torteau, and signified the communion wafer or Manchet-cake; when Tawney it was called an Orange, and signified a tennis-ball. A Guze is sanguine in colour and represents an eyeball.

ROWEL: A small wheel with radiating points, forming the extremity of a spur. A mullet, pierced, is said by some to represent the rowel. The spur was one of the essential tools a knight possessed as an equestrian, and they became one of the dominant symbols of knighthood. Prior to the late 13th century simple "prick" type spurs were in wide use, but during the last two decades of the 13th century and into the 14th the "rowel" spur gained wide popularity.

RUFF: As soon as a single female arrives and emits even a faint sound, the male Ruffs begin to fight violently amongst each other, and do so until there remains one victor, who claims the female as his prize. The Ruff is a warrior symbol and one that signifies that the bearer will fight to get what they want.

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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.