The Latvian signs are observed as early as Stone Age, when simple lines were used to represent signs for protection, power and health. Through the ages, these ornaments evolved and were being used as decorative (yet still magical) elements in clothing, musical instruments and other important possessions of the household. This shift happened around 6th-7th century AD, and came into full blown ornamental elements from 8th century onwards. Though straight lines were now stylistically painted and became more fluid.
Throughout these ages, some symbols were lost, some remained, but their meaning had changed, and some new elements were introduced. It is also important to note, that the regional differences in the symbols and signs are observed throughout Latvia, however their meanings are largely the same.
The signs did not have particularly complex names, and relied upon visual cues for naming, however with the evolution of language, some were given names to reflect the Patrons they represent, or the qualities of the sign.
It is interesting to me, to see how some symbols are very rune-like, yet completely different in a sense that Latvian signs do not form an alphabet, and would not have been used in fortune telling. Rather, the signs were engraved or otherwise added to clothing, tools, musical instruments etc to give the wearer/user the attributes of this sign.
In recent years, the Latvian Signs have been an object of renewed interest, and has also returned to mainstream folk traditions.
In this chapter, I will not be looking into the Patrons, deities etc. I will be dedicating a blog post to the Latvian Mythology and pantheon of deities. Instead, I will show you some of the Signs and their properties and uses.
So, without further ado, here are some of Latvian Signs: