The ankh, also known as the breath of life, the key of the Nile or crux ansata (Latin meaning "cross with a handle"), was the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic character that read "life", a triliteral sign for the consonants. It represents the concept of eternal life, which is the general meaning of the symbol. The Egyptian gods are often portrayed carrying it by its loop or bearing one in each hand, arms crossed over their chest. The ankh appears in hand or in the proximity of almost every deity in the Egyptian pantheon (including Pharaohs). Thus it is fairly and widely understood as a symbol of early religious pluralism: all sects believed in a common story of eternal life, and this is the literal meaning of the symbol. This rationale contributed to the adoption of the ankh by New Age mysticism in the 1960s, to mean essentially the same tolerance of diversity of belief and common ethics as in Ancient Egypt.
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