View Full Version : I need a word

02-06-2011, 06:51 PM
Something, other than avatar or totem that means a physical representation of something else.

Okay, that's vague...

If I have a carving of a tree or a mouse, that's meant as a ceremonial representation of a real tree or mouse, and believed to embody some sort of spiritual construct from the tree or mouse... what would it be called?

I've literally got "whatever-they-are" written each time I reference this thing in my story, and I'm to the point that needs to change.

02-06-2011, 06:57 PM
icon, graven image, idol, personification, statue (perhaps with some sort of qualifier--"sacred statue")

02-06-2011, 06:59 PM
Token? Symbol?

02-06-2011, 07:30 PM
Thanks. :)

02-06-2011, 07:36 PM
Icon was my pick but I see the cat beat me to it. So how about emblem?

02-06-2011, 07:40 PM
... I think I recall that there were objects like that mentioned in Clan of the Cave Bear. They were referred to as totems and possibly as something else.

02-06-2011, 07:48 PM
Some cultures call them "fetishes"...

02-06-2011, 08:21 PM
I took icon and went looking for similar words. I think I've settled on Eidolon, which given the astral projection component, seems like a winner.

Thanks for your help. I hate when I know there's a word for what I want, but can't pinpoint it.

02-06-2011, 08:27 PM
You might want to research that more. To me, eidolon is almost the reverse of what you were looking for, but I could very well be wrong.

02-06-2011, 08:31 PM
The definition I've found is: apparition; an image of an ideal

It wouldn't work if the carving was the only part to it, I agree, but there's a second component to the images that involves a projection of the animal/tree/whatever on the carving becoming visible and semi-corporeal.

02-06-2011, 08:42 PM
Yeah, that's more-or-less the way I think of it: a ghost or spirit or phantom. And you have something that's real that embodies a spirit.

That's why I thought I'd mention it. Or at least suggest more research if needed.

Of course, I didn't know all the details of what you're writing.

02-06-2011, 11:44 PM
Tamga (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamga)is another possibility.

whimsical rabbit
02-07-2011, 04:14 AM
I took icon and went looking for similar words. I think I've settled on Eidolon, which given the astral projection component, seems like a winner.

Ha. What do you know. I was going to suggest 'Eidolon' to you. It's a Greek word that derives from the verb 'to see' and it means 'idol'. This is where the word idolatry derives from too.

But indeed it is a very successful word to describe the physical representation of

02-07-2011, 04:43 AM
Of the options, I like "idol" the best.

Another not-quite-good-enough word is relic. That's when the object itself is made of a piece of the being whose spirit is being invoked.

Usually a relic is a body part of small piece of the body of a saint.

The best thing about the word "relic" is that they're stored in "reliqueries," which is a really cool word.

02-07-2011, 04:48 AM
Talisman, perhaps.

02-07-2011, 07:40 PM
Effigy, although then whatever your describing has to be in the shape of a person. Also, kinda has a negative connotation.