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Symbolism of Water

Symbolism of Water

Meaning and Symbolism of Water

I've been asked about the symbolism of water outside of the Christian/Biblical realm. Fascinating subject and I'm grateful for the question. My response is as follows:

The symbolism of water has a universal undertone of purity and fertility. Symbolically, it is often viewed as the source of life itself as we see evidence in countless creation myths in which life emerges from primordial waters.

Interestingly, we are all made of water, and so we can liken many of these myths and allegories to our own existence (the macrocosm mirroring the microcosm and vice versa). Further, we can incorporate symbolism of circulation, life, cohesion and birth by associating the creative waters of the earth with the fluids found in our own body (i.e., blood).

In Taoist tradition, water is considered an aspect of wisdom. The concept here is that water takes on the form in which it is held and moves in the path of least resistance. Here the symbolic meaning of water speaks of a higher wisdom we may all aspire to mimic.

The ever-observant ancient Greeks understood the power of transition water holds. From liquid, to solid, to vapor - water is the epitomal symbol for metamorphosis and philosophical recycling.

Among the first peoples of North America, water was considered a valuable commodity (particularly in the more arid plains and western regions) and the Native Americans considered water to be a symbol of life (further solidifying the symbol affixed in many creation myths).

So it is also with the ancient Egyptians as we learn their beloved (and heavily relied upon) Nile river is akin to the birth canal of their existence.

symbolism of water

A quick list of symbolic meanings for water include (but are not limited to)...

Symbolism of Water Keywords

  • Life
  • Motion
  • Renewal
  • Blessing
  • Intuition
  • Reflection
  • Subconscious
  • Fertilization
  • Purification
  • Transformation

Contemplation of this tranquil water video may reinforce these attributes:

For more in-depth perspectives, we can turn to the more esoteric sources for water symbolism.

Water Symbolism in Astrology

Astrologically, we can find symbolism of water through the zodiac signs.

  • Cardinal water sign of Cancer (the crab) indicates purity, clarity and refreshment
  • Fixed water sign of Scorpio (the scorpion) speaks of mystery, stillness and reflection
  • Mutable water sign of Pisces (the fish) indicates depth, motion and life

Water Symbolism in Tarot

In the Tarot we find water is symbolized by the entire suit of cups. Here water is symbolic of emotion, intuition and the interconnected flow of energy between all things alive. Other than the suit of cups, other Tarot cards such as:

All speak of these symbolic water themes and deserve a bit of investigation if you are of an inquiring mind.

Water Symbolism in the Celtic Ogham

Within the symbolic language of trees, we see symbolism of cycles, revitalization, generosity as well as dreaming and visions.

In the Celtic realm of the Ogham, the following trees are associated with water...

symbolism of water

"Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can't go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does."
~ Margaret Atwood

We can't forget the animal realm when considering the symbolism of water. Water creatures give us an added layer of perspectives in our daily lives and meditations alike. Those of you who work with animal energy in the form of animal totems (power animals, animal spirit guides, etc.) likely know exactly what I mean. Consider contacting the watery world of animals for inspiration and intuition - these creatures are amazingly adroit at clearing through clutter and clarifying our vision.

As water is essential to our very existence, it is no wonder the symbolism of water is so far-reaching and profoundly deep. The suggestions above are merely the tip of the iceburg.

As usual (but particularly with this subject) I recommend doing your own personal research on the philosophical brilliance water holds. The wisdom of water is infinite, and you will find if you invest the time to meditate and contemplate its vastness your rewards will be quite enlightening (if not enlightenment itself).

I hope you enjoyed these insights into the symbolism of water. To access more pages on this website that may be of interest to you, just click on the links at the end of this page. Thanks for reading!



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Avia Venefica

About the Author: Avia Venefica has an undergraduate degree with a focus in anthropology and art. She has also been an understudy in several tribal and spiritual organizations around the nation. Avia is the author of several publications concerning esoteric wisdom, and makes herself available for public speaking/presentations on symbolic topics.