Starting at the beginning of chapter 17, consider the meaning of one word in the passage. If we could agree on that, then perhaps some other symbols can be unlocked.
And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
(Rev 17:1-2 KJV)
Fornication. Let's look it up in Strongs.
It's pretty well agreed upon that the symbolic meaning of fornication here is idolatry. The act of spiritual fornication - the practice of idolatry.G4203
From G4204; to act the harlot, that is, (literally) indulge unlawful lust (of either sex), or (figuratively) practise idolatry: - commit (fornication).
How to define idolatry? Well, would anyone disagree that praying to a statue or a corpse is idolatry? Or repeatedly kissing the foot of a statue until it is worn down? Or how about praying to a wafer? Or the adoration of a wafer? Or saying that a priest of a particular religion can turn a wafer into Jesus literally?
Then, how about the figure of a woman in this passage? Not a real flesh and blood woman - but what does a harlot symbolize? Spiritual seduction? Trading on fornication, that is, trading on idolatry?
How about the kings of the earth? Do they represent world leaders? Or could we say that they are Christians, true Christians who are the targets of spiritual seduction into the practice of idolatry?
Revelation begins with the declaration that Jesus has made us to be kings and priests unto God. That is the truth and also the focus of the attack of the enemy. To try and bring down the kings in temptation, to have them forsake their honor, their crowns, in the worship of dead relics or dead doctrines and have them lose the knowledge that they are priests in Christ and have full access by one Spirit unto God through Christ without any kind of man made mediatorship - that is a diabolic strategy!