Symbols for Renewal
I thought it would be interesting to talk about symbols for renewal. When I think about that, I can't help but think of that wonderful undo button, or the back button in computer programs. You know what I'm talking about - the button you push that magically erases all the stuff you've done in the program you didn't want to do. Love that back button!
With that analogy in mind, there are certain symbols in Nature, culture, history and our environment that we can tune into as sort of that "Undo" button - a reset button, symbolically speaking. These are symbols for renewal, fresh-starts...kinda like a 'do-over'.
Have you ever played a game with friends as a kid, softball or playing hoops - and you screw up a shot - so you yell "DO OVER!" It was just implied you messed up the action, so you got a second try. Well these symbols for renewal are reminders of our opportunity for re-setting our focus of attention for the purpose of getting a fresh new shot at our wanted intentions, no matter what happened in the past.
Having said all that...what ARE some symbols that represent the act of getting our awareness out of a place of stuff unwanted, and into a focus of more positive, ideal intent?
When mining for symbolic meaning, I often seek macrocosmic cues, and then work my way to the microcosmic level. Why? Because what happens on a big scale, also happens on a small scale - and vice versa. Everything in this universe is connected. We exist in a big web of connectivity. Activity in the cosmos is reflected in our activities on earth. We're born from the universe - born from the starts - born from Mother Nature - that means our actions reflect the larger whole.
Consider the moon. She goes through phases, just like we do. We all have cycles of life in which we shine at our brightest and vice versa. The moon is pulled by gravity - we are too. Symbolically, our gravitation orbit may revolve around our family, our work or whatever - but we're still compelled to move around something very important - just like the moon orbits around the earth.
In countless spiritual teachings, the phases of the moon represent phases in our lives. The NEW moon is a profound illustration of new beginnings. In essence, the new moon is a symbol for renewal. This moon phase is one of utter darkness. It's a time in which the moon is positioned in such a way that no light can reach her surface for illumination. Now, that darkness might conjure negative concepts such as fear - or ignorance like that cliche' "being in the dark" - nobody likes being in the dark about something. But that darkness is symbolic of 100% pure, positive potential.
Think on this...if there is no light - then there is nothing by which we can form impressions. We can't see enough to make a judgment. We can't even form a belief. If that's the case, then the dark of the New Moon gives us an opportunity to dive into an abyss in which anything is possible because there is no restriction in our thinking. In essence, the new moon phase is like a clean slate upon which we can chalk up a storm of new dreams and creations. With this in mind, I'd like to invite you to utilize the next new moon as a restart for your life's direction. At the next new moon, sit in that void of night and lack of moonlight and meditate upon your fondest intention for renewal and reanimation for your life. And for each consecutive night, as the moon is exposed to the light of consciousness (symbolically speaking) - witness your own intentions growing with that light. It's a phenomenally effective practice - a great way to jump start a new direction for your awareness. Learn more about Moon Symbolism here.
As a side note...In Alchemy, the moon is represented by the precious metal silver. Alchemical symbolism of silver deals with purification, cleansing, and...you guessed it...renewal. So, as you don your cufflinks or earrings - consider adorning yourself with moon-affiliated silver. As you do, focus on the vibrational frequency silver offers - that of clarity and fresh vision. Learn more about Alchemy Symbols here.
Another cosmic symbol for renewal is Uranus. Both the planet and the Greek god Uranus are all about innovation, revolution and awakening. In Greek mythology, Uranus is a father god. He mated with Gaea (Mother Earth) and this connection sparked forth the first gods of the pantheon. In essence, Uranus is a creator god, and the planet shares that creative influence. So when it comes to creating renewal in our lives - Uranus is a great funnel for focus. And I'm not just talking about birthing new life - like human life - although that is certainly a theme for Uranus - I'm also talking about creating new life in our career, our finances, our emotions, creative ideas, etc. Get more about Uranus Symbolic Meanings here.
We can look on a more terrestrial level for symbols of renewal. Namely, the animal kingdom. Nature and her creatures are phenomenal educators of how to focus. Nature offers a spectacular model for oodles of great concepts and positive attributes.
Take the bear, which is a sublime symbol for renewal. It has to do with hibernation. There are other animals that hibernate...such as the skunk or squirrel - but they don't go to the deep, deep level of unconscious as the bear does when she withdraws during the winter. And you know, winter - the cold itself is symbolic of dormancy - and bears snuggle into that suspension of life on a profoundly deep level. We can use this burrowing within as a metaphor for our own process of resetting our awareness. When we suspend activity like the bear does, we are presented with only the present moment. And, just like the moon, we also sit in a hibernating 'dark space'. This places us in the center of pure positive potential. A place in which we can re-design our own ideas about what our world should look like. Then, when we reemerge in the metaphorical spring (as the bear does in actual spring) we look anew at the opportunities for new growth before us. Curl up with more Symbolic Bear Meanings here.
And this brings up an interesting point about the process of renewal. Renewal is often preceded by a time of withdrawal. It's as if we must go within, contemplate, introvert. In the afterlife of our hibernation - a time in which our minds and bodies experience deep rest - we then emerge with a sense of YEAH! YEAH! -a renewed purpose and vigor...we are energized and ready to set out on our new path. In essence, that down time gives us a much needed reset button so we can experience renewal with the enthusiasm we're born to express.
Another animal that represents renewal is the snake. I can hear it now: "No, Avia, don't go there!" But don't freak out. Granted, I acknowledge there are some legitimate fears surrounding snakes - some folks have a real phobia about them, and I can respect that. But I just love these slithery babies. Why? because the snake is of so many brilliant concepts, I value. Concepts like: Life, Rebirth, Cycles of time, Rejuvenation, Healing, Cunning, Sensory perception and much more. Renewal is a big theme for snakes. Why? Primarily because of the snakes ability to shed their skin. Over the course of time, a snake picks up dirt, parasites or whatever that clings to their skin. They build up excess skin cells that they can shed. Upon shedding, they essentially rid themselves of all the filth and/or potential dis-ease they encountered in the past. Now how cool is that? Can you imagine simply casting off past mistakes? Mistakes that often cling to us in a way too friendly way - often through feelings of guilt or self-scolding. Snake reminds us that stuff crud tends to cling to us - crud we don't need - but we have the ability to shed that icky stuff - cast it off and never consider it again. In shedding, we come out renewed, clean and fresh.
The snake is also a symbol of healing - and if healing isn't a sign of renewal, I don't know what is. Ancient Greeks used snakes in healing rituals. The god Asclepius is a Greek god of healing, and the snake is one of his sacred symbols. The theme of healing comes from skin shedding, but also the snakes venom. The shedding of skin was symbolic to Asclepius removing the DIS-ease - casting it off, never to be a threat to the body again. The snake is, in essence, healed. The use of venom was thought to promote healing of certain ailments. I'm not recommending use of venom as a home remedy - I'm just sharing some of the historical reasons the snake is considered a symbol of healing to this day. Consider the Staff of Asclepius, which you may know as the caduceus. This emblem features a snake twisted around a rod - which is the healing staff of the Greek god Asclepius. The symbol is seen to this day on medical logos, as well as badges worn by medical professionals - at least in the United States. Slither into more Snake Symbolism here.
Let's consider the universally cheerful presence of the butterfly - i mean - who doesn't love butterflies? They're bright, beautiful and seemingly imbued with joy. In fact, butterflies are symbolic of lots of good vibes like: Happiness, promise, hope, safe journeys...and...yes...renewal...specifically a kind of renewal that happens after a complete transformation.
Consider the process of metamorphosis. The butterfly changes from one life form into an utterly different life form. Isn't that crazy!?! It would be like me changing from a human to...oh, I don't know...a Wookie or an Ewok. And it makes the change from one life form to another within the span of like a month or so! Interestingly, the butterfly is a symbol for Psyche, which, translated, means soul. So, we're talking about metamorphosis on a soul-level.
Now, if the butterfly can change itself so dramatically - so too can you - on a soul level. Why? Because as I mentioned at the beginning of this podcast - we are all connected - we are all made of the same stuff - and we all come from the same source. What is true of the Moon, of the Bear, of the Butterfly - it is true of you and me too. Science proves it. Through the process of changing our minds, actions and behaviors - our physiology changes too. There is proof meditation can actually change our cells - even change the structure of our DNA!
Is it easy? No - but ask a butterfly if changing from caterpillar to butterfly is easy - I doubt she'll say "oh, no sweat, it was a breeze". Or maybe she would say that - creatures as close to Nature as birds, bees, butterflies and trees, etcetera, tend to go with the flow of their revolutions. They don't fuss - they just change as they are called to change. These are all extraordinarily profound lessons we can learn from Nature and Her creatures.
Are you in a place of discomfort? Are you stuck? Consider the butterfly - consider her ability to change from one form into another. Your commitment to transformation holds just as much gravity. You can move from one form of life into another. It may take a time of cocooning yourself - a time of withdrawal so that you can regroup yourself - but when you emerge from your cocoon - you are a new form of life - you are unstoppable - in essence, you are able to spread your magnificent wings and fly into the vistas of your own design. Flutter into more Butterfly Meanings here.
Believe it or not, the Vulture is also a symbol of renewal. The vulture is Nature's ultimate recycler. They feed off of decay and dead stuff they find in their environment. The Egyptians noticed this behavior, and deemed vultures as death-eaters. Now this was powerful stuff - it meant the vulture could consume death, yet still walk the path of life. In the ancient Egyptian mind, the vulture represented the renewal of life - the embodiment of the cycle of life and death. It's noteworthy here that the Egyptians held the vulture as a sacred symbol of motherhood. Yep - the vulture was considered the ultimate mother - to such an extent - the Egyptians figured ALL vultures were females and mothers. In truth, both male and female play a role in raising their young. Still - these heavy, rich concepts of life and death are hugely contrasting, and that play of duality of it turns me on. I think it's fascinating that vultures are great mothers - but they could not be great mothers if they were not also death eaters. It is the consumption of death that allows them to give birth! How is that symbolic of renewal? Well, through a process of internalizing the perceived decay of our environment - like identifying that stuff that isn't working for us and digesting it - we become nourished by the consumption. It is the experience of discomfort that gives birth to the vision of the life we want to live. We can't have life with death. We can't have joy without sorrow. It works this way because we wouldn't know one without experiencing the other. The vulture is a great reminder of facing and utilizing the stinky stuff in order to give birth to the good stuff. View my full article on Symbolic Vulture Meaning here.
Speaking of birds in general..MOLTING birds are a key focus on themes of reawakening or rebirth. Molting is a sign of renewal. Much like the snake sheds its skin to discard past influences - birds do the same thing. Birds lose their feathers - and their kind of bald for awhile, but they re-grow them...it's like the restart button in Nature. It's a great lesson for us to observe because feathers become, after a time, essentially dead material. They're like fingernails or hair - made mostly of keratin that no longer produces life on a cellular level at some point. We cut those things off, to make room for new growth. Birds are doing the same thing when they molt.
Different types of molting birds will impart specialized meaning. I'd like to touch on a few fabulous feathered friends who molt once a year in an effort to land more profound meaning of renewal for you.
For example, Owls lend a sense of refreshing our sensitivity in a dark span within our lives. Why? Because owls are nocturnal, and they have immaculate sensory perception in the pitch of dark. Are you in a dark place? Consider the Owl as a guide through the dark night of the soul - she can move you to what you need through the unknowns you might be dealing with. Furthermore, a molting owl will help you shed that dead stuff - like fear of the unknown, or despair or anxiety. Once those feathers of DIS-ease are molted, you have transformed yourself, and are more able to function with skill - even in the most dark spaces - just as the owl does. Learn more about Symbolic Owl Meaning here.
Hawks are symbolic of focus, and intense vision upon something wanted. Molting, they represent what we have to release in order to obtain our goals. The Hawk can be your guide to obtaining your grandest desires - while also helping you see limiting beliefs that are keeping you from spreading your wings and soaring into your desired life. Get more insights about Hawk Meanings here.
While we're on the subject of feathered friends, the phoenix is a mythological creature that might be really worthy for you to tap into when we're contemplating the idea of revitalization. When we're stagnated, or in the doldrums, the phoenix will kindle us, creating a fire that burns those ho-hums away. According to the Greek historian Herodotus, the phoenix was a mythical bird from Ethiopia. It was spectacularly large, beautiful and adorned with mind-blowing plumage. The historian also reported that the phoenix made a nest cypress branches. Rather preparing to lay eggs, the phoenix was preparing to die. While sitting in the nest, the bird created a great deal of heat, and set itself on fire from its own heat with the cypress serving as kindling. After three days, the phoenix emerged from its own ashes - reborn and released from the sentence of death, able to live on forever. So, here again, we have that theme of rebirth and renewal. The phoenix is, in essence, giving birth to itself. It dies to itself, only to reinvent, or recreate itself. The phoenix is a symbolic reminder that, after a time of withdrawal and contemplation - we can emerge to experience life in a new way - and even experience ourselves in a fresh new light. The phoenix is a remarkable example of reinvention of the self. It reminds us we always have the opportunity to transform ourselves and our circumstances. We can be reborn. Discover more about Symbolic Phoenix Meaning here.
Creatures Who Can Regenerate:
And speaking of reinvention...any creature who has the ability to regenerate a new limb is absolutely a sure symbol of renewal. Octopus, starfish, certain lizards like skinks and the green anole to name a few. These babies are phenomenal teachers about dropping stuff that does not serve us and replacing these things with new growth. This is a great physical example in Nature where you lose something, only to replace it with fresh, new growth. I compare this clever behavior to habits. Just as the octopus can have one of its tentacles lopped off to form a new one - we can lop off a bad habit, and form a new, and (hopefully) a better habit in its place.
It's even more empowering to know that many of these creatures voluntarily cast off their appendages as a form of protection. The skink for example will drop its tail when it perceives threat. The idea here is that its predator is distracted - or maybe even eats the discarded skink tail - while the skink is free to frolic another day. In my symbolic way of thinking, this says something like: "What parts of me threaten my happiness? Is it time to lop off that stinkin' thinkin', and grow a new habit of better thought?" Let's say you have a bad habit...or a bad thought pattern rolling around in your head...or even a bad relationship. We can be like these regenerative beauties and cast off these things that hold us back. We can do this with full confidence that we can generate new growth in its place. We can grow a new thought pattern. We can grow a new relationship. We can grow new circumstances in our lives that allow us to live in the joy and freedom we so nobly deserve as divine human beings. It's all about choice. Just as the skink chooses to drop his back end for his survival - we can drop our baggage to live better, larger, brighter days ahead.
While we're still discussing animals as symbols of renewal - I mentioned the octopus, whose domain is water.
Water is a quintessential symbol for renewal. It holds meanings that deal with: Clarity, Intuition, Dreams, Healing and easy, fluid motion. Water is a potent symbol for cleansing - it washes away the grime that clings, making us fresh, new and reborn. I'm not just talking about washing out from between our toes. I'm talking on a symbolic, spiritual level. The imagery of water in healing ritual, or meditations is a powerful influence on the psyche that says: "You are washed clean of perceived impurity - now go forth anew." Learn more about Water Symbolism here.
I've talked about fauna for symbols of renewal - but what about flora? The plant world has their fair share of refreshing reminders, and I'd like to quickly share a few with you...
The lily is a symbol of renewed relationships. When giving or receiving lilies, it's often a message of rekindling an old friendship and renewing social connections. The lily is a sacred symbol of the Virgin Mary. It's often depicted with Mary in Christian art to symbolize purity, clarity and cleanliness. The lily is a great reminder of the beauty experienced when we seek to renew the relationship with ourselves on a spiritual level. Grow into more Meanings of the Lily here.
The lotus is another flower associated with renewal. It's also affiliated with water which links it to themes of refreshment, revitalization and cleansing. The lotus unfolds its petals every morning, which is often associated with the opening awareness of consciousness according to Buddhist wisdom. What I find particularly interesting about the lotus is that it often grows in icky places. Sticky, boggy ponds yield spectacularly lovely lotus blossoms. This dichotomy jazzes me. It's an illustration of that cliche' "We can bloom where we are planted." Meaning, even if you're in a scummy, crummy environment - you are divinely gifted to bloom regardless. The lotus encourages opening the heart - opening awareness - and bloom in the light of the divine. Now if that doesn't press a restart button within the soul, I don't know what does. Invoke the power of the lily as a reminder of your ability to renew from the inside out, and spread your beauty wherever you are planted. More Lotus Meaning here.
While digging around in the realm of flora for meaning, we can tap the roots of trees for themes of renewal. I confess, I'm a huge sucker for trees. I'm a tree hugger in every literal sense of the term. I think they are spectacular models for how to live a noble life. Trees are so switched on and jam packed with so much symbolism that deals with strength, patience, wisdom-keeping...and yes...renewal. If we contemplate deciduous trees, trees that lose their leaves, like maples and some oaks, we get a sense of the process of dying to ourselves or going within - only to return in metaphorical spring - alive, refreshed and renewed. Branch out into more Symbolic Tree Meaning here.
And speaking of spring...spring shimmers with the color green. Life returns after the long dormancy of winter. After that time of hibernation and withdrawal, Nature returns on steroids, and it explodes in Technicolor. Green is the pervasive color found in this season. Symbolically, green is the color of health, wealth, vitality, energy and much more. Green is also the color of the heart chakra. Chakras are energy centers within the body. The chakra color meanings of the heart speak to us about fresh new growth, the promise new hope brings, the eternal nature of love and the ability to share that love for the common good. The heart is the dispatcher of information - all kinds of information. From physical, emotional, and intellectual the heart serves as the hub - it connects with the matrix of existence. When green glows in your thoughts, it's a cue to get back in step with the beating rhythm of the pulse of all life. Essentially, green is a reminder of renewed purpose of the heart. Embrace the gemmy green springtime of your life, and become renewed as all life becomes renewed around you. Learn more about Color Meanings here.
Well, I certainly haven't exhausted all the symbols for renewal - but I've definitely scratched the surface. Nature is replete with invigorating essences that have the ability to breathe new life in our consciousness. It just takes a little awareness, and the willingness to focus with a goal to shift our perception in renewed ways.
As always, thanks for reading!
Bright, renewed blessings to you all,
An Important Note About Signs, Symbols and Their Meanings
Signs and symbols cultivate their meanings according to culture, context, passage of time in society as well as mass societal opinion. What's cool and highly important is that signs and symbols earn their most powerful meanings from our own personal perspectives.
This website strives to provide you with the best, time-honored information when defining signs and symbols. However, in the final analysis, "Beauty (and symbolism) is in the eye of the beholder."
Having said that, it's in our best interest to invest the time to do personal research on symbolic events happening to us. This website is just one perspective in an ocean of variety and diversity in the realm of symbolism. So dive in! There is a whole universe of deeper meanings to explore! You can start your research by clicking on the links at the end or to the side of this page. Odds are good I've got a follow-up article about this symbolic topic. ;)
As always, thanks for your willingness to learn more about the language of symbolism. It's a language that is universal and everywhere. It's super-groovy to travel with you on your symbolic path, and maybe offer a little translation along the way. Thanks for reading and exploring!