Heraldry and meaning of symbols

July 1, 2016 - Philosophy -

The image above is reproduced by kind permission of heraldic artist Andrew Stewart Jamieson.


For many, heraldry is nothing more than the reflection of a heroic age of knights and tournaments in which the face was completely hidden by a helmet. Consequently, these knights were forced to adopt distinctive signs which became the first heraldic escutcheons. Anyhow, those who advocate this interpretation recognize that the symbols and images were closely related to the personality and characteristics of their wearer.

According to the French heraldist Cadet de Gassicourt, the symbol is the basis of all religion, as it is in science; but while these symbols can be seen by everyone, their interpretation is reserved to initiates or experts in that field (religious or scientis). From there, he saw this assessment applicable to the medieval heraldry symbols which were meant to be seen by everyone but interpreted only by those with the same code of values.

In conclusion, the heraldic elements and symbols represent an extract of the personality and achievements of a knight and his family and, although these images could be seen by everyone, its interpretation was reserved to a circle of people who shared values and principles.

The same happens with modern images in the emblem of an activity or practice: the image of an onion can be seen by everyone but a yoga practitioner will also identify it as a valuable way of self-knowledge and that meaning is available only for those who share the values of that practice.

So the first gift that heraldry gives us is:

Your values represented in an image or emblem will be easily interpreted by a community that shares the same ideals and principles.

The second gift is the figure of the herald, the gallant messenger that carries and discloses the emblematic image which embraces and shelters a noble identity.

Heralds inherited from the messengers of antiquity the halo of prestige and merit. A herald was himself a knight and therefore worthy of delivering a valuable message. It should not be different in our attitude when communicating something important. As a value driven entrepreneur, who do you trust with the delivery of your messages and offers?

For the studious of antiquity, heraldry figures represented the spiritual portrait of the wearer. This sounds bombastic, too ethereal for the image of an entrepreneur, but if we remove the aura of magnificence it is possible to salvage something essential and rethink:

What is the symbolism that truly represents your identity and how or through whom you want to spread it?

The answer to these two questions often makes clear to me with whom I can serve.

Horacio Camperi