WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Yellowjackets season 1.
The mysterious symbol in Yellowjackets recurs both in the wilderness and back home,and its unknown meaning and power still terrify the survivors 25 years later. Yellowjackets season 1 ended with many mysteries still unsolved, with one of the most significant unanswered questions being the true meaning of the symbol found in the wild. Theories about the symbol’s meaning and why the girls are so scared of its appearances have abounded since Yellowjackets began, and each possible answer makes the show’s supernatural story all the more intriguing.
Yellowjackets’ symbol has appeared numerous times in the series, with its first introductions in the 1996 timeline showing it carved into a tree and into the attic floor of the cabin that the girls find in the woods. The symbol is one of the most significant connectors between the survivors’ past and present, which begins in Yellowjackets'2021 timeline when the adult Shauna, Natalie, and Taissa all receive postcards of a landscape with the symbol marked on the back. Soon after, Misty and Natalie go to investigate the supposed suicide scene of Travis, where the girls realize from a picture of his death that the candle wax spots below his body connect to form the symbol. In the final moments of Yellowjackets season 1, Natalie is preparing to take her own life when mysterious figures wearing pendants of the symbol kidnap her.
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The symbol has now become an icon for a mysterious cult in Yellowjackets’ present timeline that connects to the survivors’ time in the wilderness, with many assuming the cult to be run by the adult Lottie Matthews. Although the extent of the symbol’s power in the present is unknown, it seems to recur when a sacrifice is being made, such as in Taissa’s sacrificial shrine in her basement. Since the symbol has an odd connection to the supernatural elements of Yellowjackets and seemingly their cannibalism in the wild, the meaning of the icon has become a significant subject of audience speculation. Here’s a breakdown of the theories around what Yellowjackets’ symbol means, and why the girls are so scared of it.
The Symbol Was Originally A Hobo Code Hieroglyphic
According to Reddit user Winter_Yak_9031, the meaning behind Yellowjackets’ symbol could be derived from what is colloquially known as “Hobo Code,” which is a way of transient individuals leaving messages for one another on travels. Since the dead man in the cabin during Yellowjackets season 1 was found with the symbol beneath him, it’s possible that he was the one who made it, perhaps as a warning sign to whoever found the isolated cabin next. Based on the known signs in Hobo Code, the theory states that the symbol includes the following messages: "Nothing here to be gained," "Man with gun lives here," "A beating awaits you here," "Halt," "Alcohol here," and "Doubtful."
Other interpretations of Yellowjackets’ symbol based on the Hobo Code include the additional messages of “Dog lives here” and “Get out fast,” both of which would aptly connect to the terrifying experiences of the girls upon their arrival. The dog would most likely translate to the wolves, which seem to have an odd connection to the dirt-eating Taissa both in the past and present. If the Yellowjackets symbol truly is made up of Hobo Code symbols, the girls would likely be terrified because of the implications of the symbol coming back in the present. Considering the symbol would be a warning of bad omens, finding it in the present would mean trouble on behalf of people from their past for Yellowjackets’ survivors.
The Symbol Depicts Their Cannibalistic Cult Ritual
Another common theory for Yellowjackets’ symbol suggests that it abstractly represents an important icon during the cannibalistic ritual. It’s unclear where or how the girls got the idea for their cannibalism ritual seen in Yellowjackets’ season 1 premiere, with the history behind the cult –andLottie’s mysterious Yellowjackets communicative power with it – perhaps being the source. It's assumed that Lottie began the cult after leaving (or staying in) the wilderness, but it's also possible that she was recruited into it. The symbol can thus be interpreted as depicting someone hung upside on a hook, with the circle being the head, the triangle the body, the lines being the arms, and the hook being the way in which the girl is strung up while being bled out.
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Since the girls have yet to dive into cannibalism at the end of Yellowjackets season 1, it’s possible that they only began doing so once Lottie (or all of them when high) could decode the message and its connection to the cult practice as a way to get them out of the wilderness. If the symbol was put there to represent Yellowjackets'cannibalism ritual, the girls would likely be afraid of it because it indicates others know of their cannibal past and could expose them. On the other hand, seeing the symbol could mean that the cult knows where they are and could be coming after the remaining Yellowjackets survivors next.
The Symbol Is A Yellowjacket
In connecting to theories that Yellowajackets’ characters were purposefully meant to crash in the wilderness, it’s been speculated the symbol represents their mascot, the yellowjacket. This theory suggests that the circle and triangle are the yellowjacket’s body, the outside lines are the wings, and the hook is the stinger. Since the symbol has been at the cabin and in the woods since before Yellowjackets’ plane crashed, there may have been a supernatural pull bringing the team to that specific area, knowing that they would continue the cannibalistic rituals or sacrifices that the cursed woods require. As such, Yellowjackets’ characters would be scared of the symbol because of its associations with bad omens and their perceived destiny that’s trying to draw them back to the wilderness, a place the survivors like Shauna, Natalie, and Taissa wouldn’t dare return.
Yellowjackets’ Symbol Is Secretly A Mathematic Map
One of the most commontheories regarding the symbol goes back to a comment made by one of the teachers in Yellowjackets’ premiere episode. The teacher remarks that none of the girls cared about trigonometry, with this specific branch of mathematics being brought up in subsequent episodes. Since none of the girls were apparently good at trigonometry, it’s assumed that they didn’t derive the meaning of the symbol until far too late, but once they did, it helped them escape the wilderness.
The popularYellowjackets theory suggests that the symbol is a mathematic equation that, if solved correctly, can not only tell the girls where they are in reference to the rest of civilization, but also help them escape. In this way, the symbol was never necessarily intended for the girls, but for whoever became stuck in this area of the wilderness again. If it truly is a map for their bearings, then the Yellowjackets symbol never had any supernatural connection until the girls arrived, with Lottie likely just adopting it for her cult and assigning it a meaning herself. As is commonly assumed, the symbol would simply scare the Yellowjackets survivors because it's a reminder of their horrific past and the notion that others could expose them for what they did.
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The Symbol Is Used To Protect The Girls Against The Bad Spirits
A theory by Reddit user Charlestonchops suggests that Yellowjackets’ symbol is actually a charm that is used to protect an area or person from the bad spirits that may have cursed it. The theory comes from the notion that Yellowjackets co-creator Ashley Lyle recommended the book The Hunger, which is based on the cannibalistic true story of the Donner Party. The novel features a section in which the characters find a mysterious symbol carved into a tree – much like Yellowjackets episode 1 – that used shapes and unexplained slashes, seemingly to tell a story. The characters then realize that the symbol is a charm against bad spirits, including “the hungry ones,” which refersto cannibals similar tothose in Yellowjackets.
As such, it’s possible that the symbol will be used as a way to protect Yellowjackets’ girls from the seemingly supernatural spirits in the wilderness, with Lottie eventually adopting it for her cult. Since Taissa is seen to still make sacrifices with a shrine that includes the symbol, perhaps she does so as a way to protect herself from the spirits back home. Natalie and Shauna aren’t too caught up in the supernatural meaning of the symbol, with Natalie also saying Travis didn’t believe in it, which may be why they don’t use it to protect themselves in the present day. At the same time, the symbol could mean that Yellowjackets’ bad spirits are near, with the symbol on the postcard perhaps being a way for Lottie, the theorized former Antler Queen, or another survivor to protect the recipients.
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