Latvian Signs

Pagan Deities and Their Signs

We hope you find this brief introduction useful! While all signs have a primary meaning, many overlap in various aspects of their significance. As you explore Latvian signs, you will find considerable variations even in basic representation, let alone ornamentation. We also recommend our An ABC of Latvian Ornaments to see how basic signs transform into more ornate representations.

Aka (water well)

Aka

Also called a double cross. Symbol of the sun and earth. Experience and knowledge. Unity and world order. Start of the agricultural year.
Auseklis (morning star)

Auseklis

While Auseklis is a male god, his Lithuanian counterpart, Aušrinė, is female. Auseklis is subordinate to Mēness (moon) while also his rival for Saule's (the sun's) daughter. Victory of light over dark. Protector of men. (This is how Peters learned to draw it, growing up.)
Austra's koks (tree)

Austra's tree

World order, linking past, present, and future. Guardian of the beautiful and valuable. Luck, blessings, success.
Dievs (God*)

Dievs

Christian missionaries co-opted the Latvian word for their primary pagan divinity, "Dievs," to denote the Judeo-Christian "God." The spiritual, non-material, world. Light and goodness. Masculinity. Sanctuary. Divinity. Creativity. See also Dievs' partner, Māra, below.
Dzīvība (life), also known as Ūsiņš

Dzīvība

Light. New beginnings. Strength. Safe journey, protection. Strength to the weak.
Jumis

Jumis

Fertility. Well-being, abundance.
Krupītis (toad)

Krupītis

The subcoscious, intuition. Strength. Knowledge and wisdom. Linked to "Auzsaule", mythical habitation of ghosts.
Krusts (straight cross)

Krusts

The cross of Dievs. World order. Unity. Joie de vivre, luck, energy. Permanence, rooted energy. Against sickness and envy.
Krusts, slīpais (oblique cross)
The cross of Dievs. World order. Dynamism, productivity, movement, development. The ideal balance between the old and new, the past and present.
Laima

Laima

Laima, and Laima's mother are the Fates in Latvian and Lithuanian (Laimė) mythology. Each individual has their own Laima, while thereafter multiple gods can influence one's fate. By the 16th century, missionaries had subsumed cults of Laima and Māra into Christianity's reverence of the Virgin Mary, changing her representation in Livonia to more closely resemble Laima. The needle, or herringbone, pattern of Laima's sign mimics the needle pattern of pine tree branches. Fate, life. The rhythm of life and the seasons. Divine fortune.
Māra's cross

Māra

Māra is the highest divinity of motherhood. Resolution, completeness. The active, dynamic world. Protector against misfortune, bringer of godliness.
Māra's earth (Earth mother)
Peace. Boundary, threshold. Stability. The material life.
Māra's earth sign
An alternate earth symbol for Māra. This particular shape is the mirror of the Dievs sign if placed above it. Combining the signs of Dievs and Māra achives balance and harmony. The material world. The land. The dark and unknown. Femininity and security.
Māra's water (Sea mother)
The changeable, unsettled. Fleeting time. Ascendancy. Protector of life.
Mēness (moon)

Mēness

Cycle of life, creation or destruction, living or dying.
Saule (sun)

Saule

Harmony, health, corpulence. Unity, safety, light. The eternal. Returning, repeating. All-knowing, protecting.
Ugunskrusts (Firecross, swastika)

Ugunskrusts

Variations include the cross of Pērkons (Thunder) and Dievs (God). Holiness, health, well-being. Eternal flame. The accumulation and expending of energy. Meditation. Protector against evil.
Facing "left", counter-clockwise—material realization of divine thought. Facing "right", clockwise—spiritual life, strengthens awareness and the soul. More on the swastika and what is being said about it in the context of current events in Latvia on our Signs and Rhetoric page..
Zalktis (snake)

Zalktis

Also Māra's sign. Wisdom and knowledge. The changeable. Energy of life and renewal. The waxing and waning of the moon.
Zvaigzne (star)

Zvaigzne

Eternity, the world in motion. The harmony of life and death. Bulwark against the dark and underworld, protector against evil.

If you skip ahead, there's more about signs on our 2006 NATO Summit Latvian mittens' history page. Note the differences even in basic representation.

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