4 Symbols to Look for Next Time You’re Outside a Temple

4 Symbols to Look for Next Time You’re Outside a Temple

(Feature photo can be found here – Payson Temple – The Work Begins by Tausha Coates)

While most of the symbols inside the temple are up to us to interpret and to learn from, with the help of the Spirit, there are also meaningful symbols incorporated into the architecture and exterior of each temple. Some have a traditional, historical meaning. Others, once understood, can enhance our spiritual experience when we visit the temple. While there are more than just four symbols that can be found on the outside of the temple, these are often the most common.


Present on most temples, the spires draw our eyes upward to Heaven. This symbolizes the need for us to look to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ; and to remind us that the priesthood, and the covenants made in the temple, are to help people prepare for salvation and exaltation in God’s Kingdom.

Eight-Pointed Star

The eight-pointed star is a very old Christian symbol. It typically signifies resurrection and spiritual rebirth. This traditionally comes from the idea of the spiritual creation that occurred on the imaginary eighth day, after the seventh day of creating the physical world. However, on LDS temples they also represent something else – the need for all patrons to change from fallen mortals to sanctified, celestial beings by being reborn through Christ and the Resurrection (see Mosiah 27:25).

And did you know that there are over 10,000 of these eight-pointed figures on the San Diego California Temple? Even the atrium at the center of the temple is the shape of an eight-pointed star. The two images above show the atrium as seen from above the temple.

Tree of Life

Church members worldwide are very familiar with the Tree of Life. It is found in Lehi’s vision in the Book of Mormon. Like the temple endowment, his vision represents man’s journey through life and back to the presence of God. The tree of life symbolizes the completion of our journey. It also often represents the healing power of the Atonement and the love of God. This symbol isn’t quite as common as other symbols, but it can still be seen if you look carefully.

The beautiful stained glass depiction of the tree of life above is found in one of the sealing rooms of the San Antonio Texas Temple.

Circle within a Square

This symbol is definitely the most common and is featured on many temples, both inside and out. For centuries throughout the world, this symbol has represented a connection between man and God. The inner circle stands for the dome of heaven and its eternity and the square stands for the four corners of the earth. It is a reminder that even though we are mortal here on earth, we can join with God through sacred covenants in the temple and be sealed for eternity.

4 Symbols to Look for Next Time You’re Outside a Temple