Symbolism of Charcoal

Symbolism of Charcoal


In many cultures, charcoal was seen as a wondrous substance, for it made possible the use of metals. It fervency, or great heat, was critical to refining progressively harder and harder metals, from lead to copper, brass to bronze, and iron to steel. In the lecture we learn that “Nothing more fervent than Charcoal, to which, when well ignited, the most obdurate metals will yield.” It is interesting and instructive that the term “obdurate” carries the meanings “hardened in wickedness”, persistently impenitent”, and “resisting or insensible to moral influence”. Thus a second service is expected of our Brother, namely to ignite himself in his search for a better moral foundation and strive to fit himself for the Builder’s use.

The Romans marked festive days with lime and unlucky days with charcoal.

A Korean tradition is to wait twenty-one days before visiting a new mother and child. All visitations are restricted for this time period, and ropes are hung across the gate to keep people out. The ropes, called kumchul (or geumjul), are decorated according to the sex of the child. Charcoal, white paper, and pine needles let people know that a girl has been born; charcoal and red paper (sometimes peppers) signify that a boy has been born to the family. The charcoal symbolizes cleanliness, red symbolizes the male, pine needles symbolize chastity in women, and white is to prevent impurities from entering the house.

Charcoal is also a symbol of absorption, coming from the same physical properties it possesses, and hence was often used as a symbol of quick absorption of thoughts and lessons. It is the porosity of wood charcoal explains why it floats on the surface of water, although it is actually denser. This also accounts for its ability to readily absorb gases and liquids; charcoal is often used to filter water or absorb odors. Its pharmacological action depends on the same property; it absorbs the gases of the stomach and intestines, and also liquids and solids (hence its use in the treatment of certain poisonings). Charcoal filters are used in some types of gas mask to remove poisonous gases from inhaled air.

To dream of charcoal unlighted, denotes miserable situations and bleak unhappiness. If it is burning with glowing coals, there is prospects of great enhancement of fortune, and possession of unalloyed joys.


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