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What the Eye Symbolizes

The ancient Eye of Horus symbol.

The eye as a symbol has been around almost as long as man has been drawing. Different cultures and societies have incorporated the eye as a symbol of knowledge, providence, and divine direction. The eye is a powerful symbol representing not only the search for wisdom but also the need for protection from a higher power that watches from above.


Many cultures have used the eye as a symbol. In ancient myths, the eye is associated with a higher vision. According to Gerald Massey, author of "Ancient Egypt - The Light of the World," "The eye was a great emblem of great magical and protecting power." The eye of Horus symbolized the moon and the eye of Sut symbolized the sun. In India, the Eye of Siva is known as an all-seeing eye. During the Renaissance, the eye was a symbol for magic. According the Charles Vail, author of "The Ancient Mysteries and Modern Masonry," in Masonry, the all-seeing eye symbolizes the "sight that annals time and space". In other words, the eye represents "higher clairvoyance". In the Lodge of the Masons, the eye also symbolizes the "Omniscience of God." On the American dollar bill, it represents a guiding, protective force.

The Facts

The Eye of Providence on the U. S. dollar bill.

The eye has been used as a symbol for thousands of years. It appears in ancient hieroglyphics and it is still used today. It is commonly used because it is recognizable in all societies regardless of language. The Eye of Horus is one of the most recognizable eye symbols in the world. Another one of the most popular symbols of the eye can be seen on the American dollar bill. This eye is known as the Eye of Providence. The words "Annuit Coeptis," written above the eye, mean "favor" and "endeavor" respectively, which can be translated to mean providence favoring American endeavors.


Almost all symbols of the eye involve an open eye. Some symbols have rays of light extended from the eye while others are more crude depictions. The eye is almost always almond-shaped with at least an iris or pupil.


Common Eye of Providence symbol.

The symbol of the eye might mean different things to different cultures, but it is almost always associated with knowledge, foresight, power and/or protection. The eye itself is a powerful organ and all kinds of sight and knowledge are valuable. The symbol of an eye represents this significance. Divine guidance is also represented with an all-seeing eye.


The significance of the symbol of the eye remains in the function of the eye and the importance what and how we view things. In addition, many societies function under the notion that they are guided by a higher power, symbolized with a single eye watching over creation.

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