Article: Origin of Hearts

This article was written by Anne Keller Smith of Down to Earth Creations. It’s used with permission. 

On Valentine’s Day we will see hearts everywhere in candy, jewelry and on cards. But have you ever wondered where this iconic shape came from? It’s not like it resembles the actual organ beating within us.

sacredheart.jpgSo how did these two semicircles with a pointy bottom come to be associated with love and romance? The Christian church has for centuries used this shape to represent the sacred heart of Jesus, and you can see it in stained glass windows to this day. They say it originated with St. Margaret Marie Alacoque, who had a vision in the 17th century of a heart surrounded by a crown of thorns.

egyptian-amulet.jpgHowever, the ancient Egyptians wore amulets with a very similar shape and called it Ab, one of the seven hearts that made up a person’s soul. This heart came directly at conception from the mother’s heart in the form of holy lunar blood and became the center of moral consciousness and thought.

silphium-coin-from-cyrene.jpgAn even more ancient source may be the seed pod of the plant silphium, which was used by many ancient cultures, including Egypt, for medicinal, aphrodisiac and birth control purposes, and became associated finally with romantic love.

Additionally, the symbol may related directly to the female body, with the rounds at the top representing the female breasts or buttocks and the pointy bottom part of the triangle representing the power to give birth. Interestingly, today in Sweden you will find the heart symbol on rest room doors!


Textual Sources:

  1. http://welshlovespoons.blogspot.com/2007/02/calon-ln-heart-symbol.html
  2. http://www.fact-index.com/a/ab/ab.html 
  3. http://ancient-coins.com/resourcedetail.asp?rsc=8 
  4. http://symboliccreations.com/Heart.htm

Photos Sources:

  1. Egyptian amulet from http://sciencemuseum.org.uk
  2. Silphium coin from Cyrene from http://ancient-coins.com
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3 Responses

  1. Pretty cool Anne. I didn’t know all that 😀

  2. Very interesting stuff. I had no idea, and it’s so cool to know about the heart now.
    Thanks Anne!
    Brenda 🙂

  3. That was a really interesting read! I didn’t know any of that info. 🙂

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