Symbols for Wisdom: Symbols & Their Timeless Influence

Photo of author
Symbolism For Wisdom

In ancient civilizations, did you know that symbols of wisdom were revered as much as gods? From the enigmatic Eye of Horus to the wise old owl, these symbols have transcended time, guiding humanity through ages.

But why have they remained so influential? Dive in as we unravel the profound meanings behind these symbols, offering a glimpse into the age-old quest for knowledge and enlightenment.

Stay with us; there’s wisdom in every symbol.

books full of wisdom

Key Takeaways

  • Wisdom bridges the gap between knowledge and its practical application.
  • Symbols like the owl, lotus, and tree represent profound insights and life lessons.
  • Wise decisions have enduring benefits, shaping both personal and global narratives.

“Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life.”

– Sandra Carey, Author
wisdom dictonary

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.

Eye of Horus

wisdom symbolism 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.

Protection needed?

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.

[lasso type=”table” id=”2″ link_id=”7123″]

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.

Salmon of Llyn Llyw Wisdom symbol
The salmon of wisdom

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.

owl of Athena
The owl of Athena

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.


Tree wisdom

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.


water wisdom

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 increases our ability to control ourselves during life’s most challenging times. (Also check our post about balance and its symbolism).


books symbols of wisdom

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

Solomon’s knot

Solomons knot
Solomon’s knot

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.

For more information on Solomon’s Knot, check out this video!

The elephant

wise elephant

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.

lotus flower wisdom

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.

“It is impossible to love and to be wise.”

– Francis Bacon

The turtle

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.

wise turtle

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

Symbols of Wisdom Recap

SymbolOriginMeaningModern InterpretationAssociated Virtues
OwlVarious CulturesInsight, KnowledgeWisdom in decision-making, foresightIntuition, Mystery
Eye of HorusAncient EgyptProtection, Health, WisdomSpiritual protection, deep understandingVigilance, Healing
TreeGlobalGrowth, Life, LearningPersonal growth, rooted experiencesStability, Resilience
Salmon of Llyn LlywCeltic MythologyKnowledge, WisdomOvercoming challenges with wisdomPersistence, Transformation
ElephantVarious CulturesStrength, LoyaltyMemory, patience, and longevity in wisdomLoyalty, Patience
Lotus FlowerVarious CulturesPurity, EnlightenmentRising above challenges, spiritual growthRenewal, Beauty
TurtleGlobalLongevity, EnduranceSteady progress, resilience in wisdomProtection, Patience
Solomon’s KnotJudaic TraditionConnection with the DivineInfinite wisdom, intertwined pathsUnity, Eternity
BookGlobalKnowledge, LearningContinuous quest for wisdom, enlightenmentEducation, Exploration
WaterVarious CulturesLife, ClarityFluidity of wisdom, adaptabilityPurity, Adaptability


Wisdom is not just a word; it’s the compass that guides us through the labyrinth of life. Every culture, every ancient scripture, and even our ancestors have emphasized its significance.

Why? Because wisdom is the key to understanding the world around us. It’s the bridge between knowledge and action, between what we know and how we apply it.

Making wise decisions doesn’t just benefit us momentarily; it leaves a lasting impact on the world around us.


Why are Symbols of Wisdom important?

Symbols of wisdom serve as reminders of the value of insight and the benefits of making informed decisions. They connect us to ancient wisdom and teachings, helping individuals navigate life’s challenges.

What encompasses Symbols of Wisdom?

Symbols of wisdom refer to various icons, emblems, and motifs that cultures worldwide have revered as representations of knowledge, enlightenment, and deep understanding. These symbols, deeply rooted in history, encapsulate the essence of wisdom and its pivotal role in human evolution.

How do modern societies interpret Symbols of Wisdom?

In modern times, symbols of wisdom transcend mere artifacts. They inspire literature, influence art, and guide philosophical discourses, continually shaping the narrative of wisdom in an ever-evolving world.

How do Symbols of Wisdom transcend time?

These symbols, rooted in ancient traditions, act as timeless testimonies to humanity’s unending journey towards knowledge and self-awareness. They serve as bridges, connecting past wisdom with present insights.

Photo of author
Author: Richard Alois
Richard, a London-based spiritual explorer and daytime marketer, invites fellow seekers to join him on a journey of discovery through his website, With engaging articles and thought-provoking discussions, Richard's inclusive approach transcends borders, uniting people in the quest for wisdom, inner peace, and self-understanding.

Leave a Reply