This sign is said to
have been used in the Gnostic mystic tradition and is called the Seal
of the World. The philosophy of Gnosticism developped around the
coasts of eastern Mediterranean, mainly in the years 100-300
A.D. It was a syncretistic and sectarian movement, basically trying
to reconcile the Christian and the Oriental religions, albeit with a
strong puritanistic bias.
Certain Gnostics regarded the Old Testament's God as an evil being who had created an evil world (and evil Jahve really was for the poor Philistines). According to Gnosticism everything physical or earthly is evil, especially the eating of meat and sexual pleasures, but sometimes even normal bathing and washing habits. What a happy bunch they must have been.