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Hearts

In Christianity

In religious texts the heart was historically ascribed much mystical significance, either as metaphor or as an organ genuinely believed to have spiritual or divine attributes.

Similarly, in the Bible, this idea emerges in the earliest passages; Genesis 6:5 situates the thoughts of evil men in their hearts, and Exodus 5 through 12 speak repeatedly of the Lord "hardening Pharaoh's heart." By this it is meant that God made Pharaoh resolve not to let the Israelite slaves leave Egypt, in order to bring judgment against Pharaoh and demonstrate his power: "'Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these miraculous signs of mine among them'" (Exodus 10:1). In the Book of Jeremiah 17:9, it is written that the Lord is the judge who "tries" the human heart.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary are traditional Roman Catholic devotional images.

In early science and philosophy

Many classical philosophers and scientists, including Aristotle, considered the heart the seat of thought, reason or emotion, often rejecting the value of the brain.

The Stoics taught that the heart was the seat of the soul.

The Roman physician Galen located the seat of the passions in the liver, the seat of reason in the brain, and considered the heart to be the seat of the emotions. While Galen's identification of the heart with emotion were proposed as a part of his theory of the circulatory system, the heart has continued to be used as a symbolic source of human emotions even after the rejection of such beliefs.

These themes were reiterated in the European Middle Ages.

As an Icon

In European traditional art and folklore, the heart symbol is drawn in a stylized shape. This shape is typically coloured red, suggesting both blood and, in many cultures, passion and strong emotion. The hearts have constituted, since the 15th century, one of the red suits in most playing card decks. The shape is particularly associated with romantic love; it is often seen on St. Valentine's Day cards, candy boxes, and similar popular culture artifacts as a symbol of romantic love.

What the traditional "heart shape" actually depicts is a matter of some controversy. It only vaguely resembles the human heart.

The seed of the silphium plant, used in ancient times as an herbal contraceptive, has been suggested as the source of the heart symbol.

The heart symbol could also be considered to depict features of the human female body, such as the female's buttocks, pubic mound, or spread vulva. The tantric symbol of the "Yoni" is another example of a heart-shaped abstraction of a woman's vulva.

This theory is intertwined with the true-to-life idea that the heart emerged as a symbol for love in the now lava-covered city of Pompeii. It holds for true that brothels conveyed their business via heart-shaped symbols depicting female breasts and sexual organ.

This symbol reached high popularity as a motif for tattoos during late antiquity and spread quickly with the heavy seafaring of the time. Since few wanted to declare the true meaning of the tattoo it was usually explained as a symbol of love.

The heart symbol could also be derived from the shape made by swans' necks in a courting ritual, which resembles the heart shape. Inverted heart symbols have been used in heraldry as stylized testicles (coglioni in Italian) as in the canting arms of the Colleonis of Milan.

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This fanlisting was originally opened by Emma on 29th March 2006. In July she stopped updating it and it ended up being closed. I applied to take it over after that and was approved.

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