Theosophical Encyclopedia


An Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol of life or immortality, the ankh, from an Egyptian word for “life, soul,” is also called crux ansata (Latin for “cross with a handle [by which Egyptians gods were depicted as carrying it]”). Much imaginative speculation has been given to the origin of the symbol, which remains unknown.


An ankh-like symbol () was also used in ancient Mycenae and Cyprus and became the symbol for both copper and the goddess Aphrodite, both associated with Cyprus, and hence for the feminine (as distinct from the Mars-like sign for the masculine). It was also used by Coptic Christians instead of the Latin cross.

Blavatsky offers an interpretation of the ankh as "the man crucified in space of Plato." She sees the circle or handle as a human head (CW 10:59). In Isis Unveiled (2:557) she alludes to depictions of Krishna “holding the cruciform ankh and the chakra.”

In modern use, the ankh is a symbol of power and wisdom in neo-pagan and New Age groups or simply a lucky charm or a decoration in general use.