Thinking Out Loud: The Top Symbolism for Wisdom
Much of leading a healthy and delightful life involves making the right choices. But just because something is appropriate doesn’t mean it is what we always prefer. If living wisely was genuinely easy, which it’s not, we’d never experience difficult situations and toxic relationships. Which we do.
Wisdom is a highly sought-after attribute, and for good reason. It allows us to see the world in a new way, understand the complexities of life, and make better decisions. Symbolism is often used to represent wisdom, as it is an easy way to communicate complex ideas quickly and effectively. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most common symbols representing wisdom.
Here are some of the most revered symbolism for wisdom and how they help us attain a more meaningful and fruitful life.
- Wisdom is not the same as intelligence. While there is a very thin line that separates both traits, many “wise” people tell us that wisdom is putting intelligence to good use. It is not always about how much knowledge you have but how expertise and proficiency are practiced.
- Animals can both symbolize and exercise wisdom. Although they were not given the gift to speak like humans, animals that feature communal cooperation and selflessness teach us about the significance of wisdom.
- Wisdom gives us direction and spiritual protection. Such high levels of understanding and knowledge help ensure that we are equipped to face life’s many challenges. It also gives us the ability to determine what’s good and what’s not.
“Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life.”– Sandra Carey, Author
What exactly is wisdom?
The quest for wisdom has been a long-standing one, with the word itself coming from Proto-Germanic roots meaning “wise.” It’s not easy ability to find true justice or discern between good and evil, but those who seek it will be able to do so if they listen closely enough.
Wisdom is the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise. It can also be defined as the quality of being able to think, understand, and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight.
Wisdom is the ability to see things as they really are, despite our difficult circumstances. It helps us to be patient and to have faith that everything will eventually work out for the best. Wisdom enables us to appreciate the various things we experience in life.
When it comes to symbolism for wisdom, there are quite a few symbols that can represent it. We’ve listed some of the most popular ones below.
Symbolism for wisdom is everywhere if you take the time to look for it. The next time you see one of these symbols, take a moment to reflect on the wisdom it represents. Who knows, you might just find the wisdom you need to get through your current challenges.
Eye of Horus
Often seen as a destructive force for its connection with the relentless heat of the sun, the Eye of Horus is used to provide good health, utmost protection, and deep-rooted wisdom. Also referred to as the “Eye of Ra” or the “all-seeing eye,” it reminds us of our ability to see things from different perspectives. This allows us to reach high levels of awareness and knowledge.
Highly associated with a good number of gods and goddesses, this popular symbol tells us that each of us is capable of achieving greatness. The Eye of Horus describes how our level of wisdom can help determine the amount of success we can attain in life.
Throughout the centuries, people across different cultures have consistently come to a similar conclusion- an amulet that you can wear every day wherever you go is your best defense against evil. We put together the top 3 most potent amulets for you.
Salmon of Llyn Llyw
With fossils of this fish showing that it existed for about 7 million years, the salmon easily takes a spot in the list of symbolism for wisdom. However, one particular fish, the Salmon of Llyn Llyw, and its vast knowledge of the waters played a critical role in helping free an imprisoned child.
The salmon is held sacred by the Celts and numerous other cultures. Legend tells us that when the Irish hero Culhwch was asked to rescue the Child of Light Mabon, he asked the wise Salmon of Llyn Llyw for help. With the knowledge of where the child was and because of its travels to the seas and freshwaters to spawn, the salmon gave the hero a lift to where the child was being held. Wisdom instructs us to put family above everything else for there simply is no place like a happy home.
“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”– Socrates
The owl of Athena
Having long been honored as the goddess of battle strategy and wisdom, Athena was often depicted accompanied by an owl, which became her symbol over time. Often seen perched on the goddess’ hand, the belief that owls could foresee future events made them a representation of intelligence and wisdom.
Their nocturnal habits, silent flight, and spooky calls earned them quite a fearsome reputation. However, the owl of Athena was said to be the goddess’ constant companion that revealed to her the realities of the world. The owl played a significant role in providing Athena the knowledge which greatly helped her be a revered goddess of wisdom.
Although getting old is not something most of us look forward to, the elderly are often respected for their knowledge and experience. In many cultures, people believe that the elderly possess a great deal of wisdom because they have lived through a lot and learned from their mistakes.
The Symbolism of Wisdom is vast and varied, with each culture having its own unique way of representing it.
Growing to a range of about 6 meters to over 100 meters in height, trees are among the tallest living organisms on the planet. Frequently used in legends and literature to represent life, growth, and wisdom, its ability to stay in its place regardless of its harsh environment also makes it a popular symbol of stability and our deep-rooted experiences.
Often boasting of green leaves which is a color that also represents wisdom, trees are known for not being bound by both height and age. This indicates our own ability to continue learning and to never let those opportunities to expand our knowledge pass.
Considered the essential substance from which all life forms come, water has been widely recognized as a symbol of chaos, wisdom, and life. Known to make up about 60% of the human body, water gives us the knowledge to recognize the many gifts that we receive in our daily life.
An element that helps regulate the planet’s temperature, water enlightens us about the importance of balance as it helps prevent stress and increase our ability to control ourselves during the most trying life challenges (also check our post about balance and its symbolism).
While arguments about why books still hold great significance persist, it seems that their ability to instill knowledge and wisdom shows that many still embrace the power of print. A beloved object that effortlessly awakens our imagination, books give us the wisdom to achieve what we once thought was not possible.
With up to 50 books that can be created out of a single tree, it inspires us to rise above the many challenges we encounter in life. Books provide us with the wisdom to go beyond our limits for it helps improve the way we see ourselves. It gives us the ability to get through even the most difficult situations and that our failures are our stepping stones toward success.
“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”– Thomas A. Edison
No list of wisdom will ever be complete without Solomon. Known to have received his gift of discernment directly from God, Solomon’s Knot is widely believed to symbolize our relationship with the Divine. Wisdom enables us to appreciate the various things we experience in life.
An image that shows no beginning and no end, the knot is also widely considered a symbol of infiniteness and eternity. It reminds us how our wisdom stays long after our physical abilities and attractiveness have faltered.
The elephant is a popular animal that has been used in various cultures to represent wisdom. With its long life span and impressive size, the elephant is often seen as a symbol of strength, power, and loyalty.
In Buddhism, the elephant is also a representation of mental strength, as it helps us to see things as they really are, despite our difficult circumstances. The elephant gives us the wisdom to be patient and to have faith that everything will eventually work out for the best.
Further reading about the elephant
The lotus flower
The lotus flower is another popular symbol of wisdom. A beautiful flower that grows in muddy water. It represents how we can achieve anything we set our minds to despite the obstacles we face in life.
The lotus flower also symbolizes purity and detachment as it is not affected by the mud in which it grows. This reminds us to always stay focused on our goals and to never let our difficult circumstances bring us down.
Frequently used in both religious and secular contexts, the lotus flower is a reminder that we can achieve wisdom and enlightenment if we are willing to put in the effort.
The owl is a popular bird that has been used to represent wisdom in many different cultures. With its large eyes and quiet demeanor, the owl is often seen as a symbol of knowledge and understanding.
In Greek mythology, the owl is also a symbol of Athena, the goddess of wisdom. The owl gives us the wisdom to see things that are hidden from plain view and to always be on the lookout for danger.
The owl also reminds us to stay calm in the face of adversity and to think before we speak or act.
Further reading about the owl
“It is impossible to love and to be wise.”– Francis Bacon
The turtle is a popular animal that has been used to represent wisdom in many different cultures. With its long life span and ability to live on both water and land, the turtle is often seen as a symbol of strength, endurance, and adaptability.
In Chinese culture, the turtle is also a representation of good fortune and longevity. The turtle gives us the wisdom to be patient and to always keep moving forward despite the challenges we face in life.
The turtle also reminds us to never give up on our dreams and to never take anything for granted.
Further reading about the turtle
The eagle is a popular bird that has been used to represent wisdom in many different cultures. With its keen eyesight and powerful wings, the eagle is often seen as a symbol of strength, courage, and freedom.
In Native American culture, the eagle is also a representation of spirituality and vision. The eagle gives us the wisdom to see things from a different perspective and to always be on the lookout for opportunities. The eagle also reminds us to never give up on our dreams and to always strive for excellence.
Further reading about the eagle
Given a choice, many of us would easily pick great riches over the attainment of admirable wisdom. However, being gifted with the ability to see the world in a positive light and respond with favorable values and principles comes with lasting rewards. By giving us the ability to know what’s right and wrong, these symbols of wisdom should motivate us to live wisely and experience the satisfaction that comes with making good decisions.