Hidden Religion
The Greatest Mysteries and Symbols of the World’s Religious Beliefs
by Micah Issitt and Carlyn Main
September 2014, 531pp, 7x10
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-61069-477-3
$110, £85, 96€, A151
eBook Available: 978-1-61069-478-0
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The Christian and Gnostic crosses may be linked to symbols from ancient Egypt.

Covering secret societies, mysterious ancient traditions, and the often-mistaken history of the world's religious symbols, this book takes readers on a tour through the fascinating world of religious symbolism and reveals the most mysterious and misunderstood facets of religion.

Hidden Religion: The Greatest Mysteries and Symbols of the World’s Religious Beliefs not only explores the history and origins of widely recognizable symbols, like the Christian cross and the Star of David, but also introduces readers to more obscure symbols from religious traditions around the world—even defunct ones like those of the ancient Aztec and Mayan societies. In addition, the book discusses the “religious secrets” found in the major religions, including secret societies of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism.

Containing more than 170 entries, the encyclopedia is organized by religious category, such as Abrahamic, East Asian, and African Diasporic religions, then alphabetically within each category. Each entry is prefaced with a short introduction that explains where and when the religious tradition originated and describes the religion today. This information is followed by an analysis of the historical development and use of symbols along with an explanation of connections between symbols used by different religions, such as shared astrological symbolism in the form of moon, sun, or star motifs.


  • Provides fascinating historical and contextual information about religious traditions and symbols
  • Addresses the roots of some of today's most popular superstitions and conspiratorial theories
  • Focuses primarily on religions that are dominant or are becoming widespread within the United States, allowing students to gain a better understanding of religion in American society and greater appreciation for cultural diversity
  • Develops a unique thesis about utilizing religious archetypes to facilitate understanding of religious ritual and organizations
  • Includes a phonetic pronunciation guide with each entry to help students become comfortable with unfamiliar terminology
Micah Issitt is a freelance writer and researcher. He specializes in animal behavior, evolutionary psychology, and history and has written extensively on the subjects of animal representations in global pop culture. Issitt's published works include Greenwood's Goths: A Guide to an American Subculture and Hippies: A Guide to an American Subculture.

Carlyn Main is a freelance author and editor. She has worked in the publishing industry and owns her own writing and editing service, specializing in web content writing and development, research writing, and the creation of marketing materials.


"Recommended for academic and large public libraries."—Booklist, January 1, 2015

"Highly browsable, especially for students looking for potential research topics. . . . Summing Up: Recommended. Undergraduates and general readers."—Choice, March 23, 2015
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