symbolic meanings of fish

Symbolic Meanings of Fish

Last Updated on September 30, 2020 by Avia

Fascinating Symbolic Meanings of Fish

Symbolic meanings of fish is varied and enchanting. If you think about it, fish live in a world that is not normally visible to us. This makes fish excellent allies in exploring the unknown, uncovering secrets and learning to live intuitively. Get more lessons and symbolic fish meanings here.

To fully appreciate the symbolic meanings of fish, we must first consider their watery domain.

Water holds ancient symbolic meanings dealing with the subconscious and depth of knowledge. Water contains all the mysteriousness of the unknown.

Consider the murky depths of the ocean – we never know quite what to expect there. Even seasoned oceanic explorers are still awed by their findings from the deep.

Water holds endless mystery for us – it represents that which is certainly there, but cannot always be seen…especially the activity that goes on beneath the surface.

Water has also been known to be a womb symbol and as such, an emblem of birth, fertility and woman-ness. This association comes from many ancient flood myths, and the “from water springs life” concept.

Given the wonder that its domain holds, the fish too has similar symbolic meaning. There are numerous species of fish, but the creature in general holds some prime symbolic meanings:

Symbolic Meanings of Fish: Prime Keywords

  • Fertility
  • Eternity
  • Creativity
  • Femininity
  • Good luck
  • Happiness
  • Knowledge
  • Transformation
symbolic meanings of fish
symbolic meanings of fish

“The sea, once it casts its spell,

holds one in its net of wonder forever.”

~Jacques Yves Cousteau

The fish was sacred to the Greco-Roman mythology, where it held symbolic meaning of change and transformation. We see this in the myth of Aphrodite and Heros when they turned themselves into fish in order to escape from the ferocious Typhon.

In Christianity, the fish is a symbol of abundance and faith as observed in the Biblical story of fishes and loaves. There are also several Biblical references as Christ and his disciples being “fishers of men.” Here, man is represented as the transformational fish and the ocean is a symbol of the abyss of sin in which man finds himself.

Pagan traditions recognized the fish as a feminine symbol of fertility and an attribute of the Goddess. Water is a natural emblem of the flow of the Divine Mother principal, and as such, all creatures of the water (including fish) are aspects of the fertility and power of the female deity.

As an ancient Celtic symbol, the symbolic meaning of fish (salmon, specifically) dealt with knowledge, wisdom, inspiration and prophecy. Ancient Celts believed the salmon derived its wisdom from consuming the sacred hazel nuts from the well of knowledge (Segais). Further, they believed to eat the salmon would mean gaining the wisdom of the well too.

In ancient Eastern Indian mythology, the fish is a symbol of transformation and creation. This is observed in the ancient flood myth in which Vishnu transformed himself into a fish (Matsya) to save the world from a great flood. In this form, he guided king Manu’s boat (which contained the select few survivors and seeds of life to re-create the world after the flood subsided) to safety.

meanings of fish
meanings of fish

Ancient African creation myths tell of Mangala, the creator, planting seeds in the cosmic womb. From these seeds two fish erupted, and were set forth into the cosmos upon the waters of creation. We see from this myth the symbolic meaning of fish yet again deals with fertility and creativity by embodying a new phase of initial life. ( click here for other twin symbols).

In China, the fish is symbolic of unity and fidelity as it is noted that fish (particularly koi fish) often swim together in pairs. With this in mind, fish are often given as wedding gifts in the form of charms or figurines to present the newly-wed couple with an auspicious sign of fidelity and perfect union. They also represent fertility and abundance due to their ability to reproduce in speed and volume.

Furthermore, in the Buddhist way of thought, the fish symbolizes happiness and freedom. Also the fish makes an appearance as one of the eight sacred symbols of the Buddha:

  1. Conch
  2. Lotus
  3. Parasol
  4. Wheel
  5. Knot
  6. Pair of Golden Fish
  7. Banner of Victory
  8. Vase

Each one of these symbols stands for something distinct and profound in the Buddhist way. As far as the fish goes, it holds a symbolic meaning of partnership, joy and liberation. Liberation from what? From the confines of societal expectation.

symbolic meanings of fish
symbolic meanings of fish

Fish in Buddhist opinion are free to swim when and where they wish. This is an ability that is highly coveted, especially in a communist environment. A pair of fish, as you might guess, symbolizes harmony between two entities. This could be between two people. Often robes embroidered with a pair of fish are given to the bride and groom as wedding gifts in Buddhist ceremonies.

But harmony might also be a partnership within oneself. Whoa? Yeah. Let’s say you might be of ‘two separate minds’ about something. Two fish might help you liberate that segmented way of thinking. This dual fishy idea might allow you to swim through conflict and give you the freedom to allow your feelings to live in the ocean of your emotions in peaceful union.

Lastly, in Norse and ancient European cultures, the fish had symbolic meanings of adaptability, determination, and the flow of life. It was observed by these cultures that fish often display enormous attributes of adaptability in the wild, and they adopted these characteristics for themselves. Salmon were commonly revered for their determination in their annual pilgrimage to their spawning grounds – the entire journey that swims against the current.

As with all signs and symbols, the symbolic meanings of fish should be special and personal to each of you. This only provides you with a brief summary of the various symbolic meanings available. Ultimately it is you who determines your own unique and symbolic relationship with fish.

May all your fish encounters give you swimmingly delightful meanings.



Take Away Tips About Symbolic Meanings of Fish

meaning of fish

Dream a little dream!
Fish represent the dream world. It’s kind of a no-brainer. They are part of an environment that holds intense mystery. If you think about it, fish live in a place where we can only see the surface, but underneath is a whole realm of enchantment and wonder. This is what fish bring to the world of symbolism: Mystery, dreams, enchantment, secrets and advice in navigating through it all.

smymbolic meanings of fish

No judge zone.
Fish remind us of a whole different universe growing, living and functioning that is normally out of our view. That in itself is symbolic. The lives of fish and sea creatures remind us that if we can’t see what’s going on, we can’t make judgments. In life, this teaches us to be slow to judge. You can’t see what’s going on all the time – so take time to consider the unseen before acting.

symbolic meanings of fish

How low can you go?
When fish come into our awareness, they are often a sign of swimming deeper into our dreams and intuition. Water is symbolic of these things, and fish are masters at negotiating these murky waters. Meanings of fish can offer insight on how to manage slippery (and sometimes dark) stuff that deals with the psyche.

knowing your animal totem

A Collection of Animal Totem Meanings

Animal totems play huge roles in our lives. They aid in self-discovery and capture our imagination, giving us incredible avenues of self-expression and awareness. From armadillos to zebras, click here to get a whole list of animal totem meanings.

water animal totem

Symbolic Meaning of Water Creatures

Fish and sea creatures offer a wealth of symbolism and lessons that can project us into higher understanding. This article offers a whole list of water totems: From crabs to crocodiles, I trust you will find a wave of inspiration on this meaning of water creatures page. (WYS) is a trusted Etsy affiliate & Amazon Associate. We also promote certain products we've tested and approved. As such, the website features sponsored products for Amazon or Etsy or other afiliates. Should you make a purchase from a link on this website, WYS may receive a small commission. This website also hosts advertisements. Please see our policy page for further information. Thank you for your purchases, as it contributes to keeping this website online and running.