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Trident as a Religious Symbol Introduction A trident also called a Trishula, leister or gig, is a three-pronged spear. It is used for spear fishing and was also a military weapon. Tridents are featured widely in mythical, historical and modern culture. As a weapon, the trident was prized for its long reach and ability to trap other longweapons between prongs to disarm their wielder. In Ancient Rome, in a parody of fishing, tridents were famously used by a type of gladiator.

Trident in the Greek/Roman Mythology The trident symbol, from the fishing origins is most commonly associated with Poseidon, the god of the oceans and sea in Greek mythology. Neptune in the Roman Mythology or Poseidon in the Greek mythology was the second most powerful god who ruled the seas. When he was in a good mood, Poseidon created new lands in the water and a calm sea. In contrast, when he was in a bad mood, Poseidon would strike the ground with a trident and cause unruly springs and earthquakes, ship wrecks, and drowning. By hitting the earth with his trident, Poseidon created the horse and some water sources in Greece.

Left: Poseidon and Right: Shiva

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Trishula in the Hindu Mythology The trident also symbolizes major gods among various occult groups. In India, it is linked to the Hindu "trident-bearer" Shiva, spouse of the skull-bearing goddess Kali. Shiva is recognized as the most powerful symbolic God in India. Due to His symbolic activity of enforcement and recreation, the words destroyer and destruction are often wrongly associated with Lord Shiva. The trident is called “Trishula” in Hindi. Trishula in Sanskrit means “three spear”. It is wielded by the Hindu God Shiva and is said to have been used to sever the original head of Ganesha. Durga also holds Trishula, as one of her many weapons. There are many other gods and deities, who hold the weapon Trishula. The three points have various meanings and significance, and, common to Hindu religion, has many stories behind them. When looked upon as a weapon of Shiva, the Trishula is said to destroy the three worlds: the physical world, the world of the ancestors (representing culture drawn from the past) and the world of the mind (representing the processes of sensing and acting). The three worlds are supposed to be destroyed by Shiva into a single non-dual plane of existence that is bliss alone. In the human body, the Trishula also represents the place where the three main nadis, or energy channels that include “Ida, Pingala and Shushmana”. Shushmana, the central one, continues upward to the 7th chakra, or energy center, while the other two ends at the brow, there the 6th chakra is located. The Trishula's central point represents Shushmana, and that is why it is longer than the other two, representing Ida and Pingala.

Trident in Taoism: In religious Taoism, the trident represents the Taoist Trinity, the Three Pure Ones. In Taoist rituals, a trident bell is used to invite the presence of deities and summon spirits, as the trident signifies the highest authority of Heaven.


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Trident in the Greek/Roman Mythology