Rituals and Worship


The church of Scientology has from its beginning created symbols to represent major aspects of its life and a set of insignia to designate various personnel within the church. Of the symbols, the triangular representation of the Greek letter "delta" is possibly the oldest. This symbol of Dianetics, four horizontal green strips arranged as an equilateral triangle, was initially used in 1950 and continues in use to the present.

By far the most visible symbol of the church is an eight-pointed cross that resembles a Latin cross with a light ray protruding between each arm. The church sees this cross as an eight-armed symbol, with each arm representing one of the eight basic dynamics through which Scientologists organize their experience of the world. The eight dynamics designate ever-enlarging realms with which a person interacts in order to survive -- self, creativity (sexuality), social groups, humanity, life, the universe, the spiritual realm, and infinity. The symbol, which appears to have been developed from an old Spanish cross Hubbard ran across in Phoenix, Arizona in the early 1950s, is found on the cover of many Scientology books and is displayed prominently on all church buildings. One version of the Scientology cross has become the official insignia of Scientology ministers while another variation has been developed as the ministers' medallion. Scientology ministers may wear one of these to identify their status.

Equally ubiquitous, but less familiar to those outside the church, is the official symbol for Scientology, a stylized "S" intertwined with two triangles. The two triangles stand for two basic concepts in Scientology, the ARC triangle (Affinity + Reality + Communication = Understanding) and the KRC triangle (Knowledge, Responsibility, and Control). Scientologists are introduced to these concepts very early in their work as they begin to explore their mental processes. The symbol is found throughout Scientology, and may be combined with other elements to create different insignias. The symbol is, for example, stamped on the silver bracelet that is worn by people who have attained the state of Clear.

The Sea Organization, the organization originally created to deliver the Operating Thetan (OT) Levels to members and that currently manages the church at the highest levels, is symbolized by a laurel wreath that surrounds a five-pointed star. The star represents the spirit, and the laurel wreath of victory represents the many personal wins continually experienced by the individual Sea Org member.

The fifth important symbol of Scientology was developed for the Operating Thetan. An oval with the letter "T" within it, the arms of the "T" touching the inner edge of the O, the Operating Thetan symbol resembles both the Greek letter "theta" and the Egyptian scarab. Those engaged in the OT Levels may wear the OT symbol as jewelry, and those who have completed OT IV may add a laurel wreath around the thetan symbol. Those who have attained OT VIII may wear a gold bracelet with a Thetan symbol and laurel wreath.

Hubbard was a naval officer during World War II, and the Sea Organization was founded when the church's headquarters was operating aboard three ships. During this time, the Scientology leadership wore clothing suggestive of that sea-going period, and to this day, Sea Org members occasionally dress in uniforms suggestive of their sea-born origins. Along with the uniforms, church leadership developed a set of emblems that quickly identified the wearer's place and position in the church.

Each of the various departments of the church -- from the top organizations, the Religious Technology Center (RTC) and the Church of Scientology International, to the auxiliary organization such as the International Association of Scientologists or the Citizens Commission for Human Rights -- have a specific symbol. The RTC symbol combines the symbols for Dianetics and Scientology, while that of the Church of Scientology International is the Scientology symbol in a circle with four arms coming out of it.

Among the symbols in common use but adopted by the Church of Scientology for its own purposes is the horizontal "8" -- the popular symbol for infinity. Within Scientology it represents the human urge toward infinity (the eighth dynamic). Within the church, it is usually combined with other symbols. It is combined with the ARC triangle, for example, as the symbol of Division 6 of the church. Division 6 is the distribution division, which in Scientology is assigned the task of making Scientology grow. The Division 6 symbol placed in a circle is used to designate field staff personnel.

Scientology arose in the late 20th century, and like most churches that have developed logos and distinctive symbols, the church has trademarked its distinctive symbols, and those trademarks have become part of the possessions placed in the hands of the RTC, whose duty is to protect the church. As with the copyrights, the various symbols of the church are licensed to the local churches and other Scientology-related organizations, with the understanding that any licenses can quickly be withdrawn should the organization deviate from standard practice.

Study Questions:
     1.     What are Scientology's symbols? Which is most popular, and what does it represent?
     2.     What are the two triangles of Scientology? What do they represent?
     3.     Why is symbolism important to the participants of the Scientology tradition?

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