Even the most Herculean humans are not immune to occasional weakness. That's okay. Weakness is a sign we are human, we're alive, and we are 'normal'...whatever normal is, but you get my point. Nevertheless, there are times in all our lives when it's essential to be strong in the midst of some pretty harrowing circumstances. Whether we're trying to stay strong for ourselves, or trying to stay strong for others around us...there are times when a little symbolic boost may bolster our strength in times of need.
I don't know about you, but these days I can really use a few positive anchors to keep me focused and strong. That's the great thing about symbols and signs. They might come to us randomly. Or, we might seek them out in times of need. Whatever the case, the limitless language of symbolism always provides some kind of rope to tie a knot in when we need to hang on. Sometimes that's all we have. A sign...a hint of something...a glimpse of something that peaks our attention. To explain: There are times when our grief, pain, doubt or confusion is so profound - we are on the brink of being zombies - unable to function, much less be strong. That's often when we are given or we reach out for simple signs that encourage us to pull out of our coma and gain strength. Sometimes it's the simplest, slightest evidences in our environment that give us just the right 'oomph' to get us moving out of a bad place.
So that's what this post about. These symbols of strength are both simple and powerful. There's a point to that. Huh? Yeah. I mean: No matter how weak, hopeless or ineffective you may feel - you still have power. You are still strong. That which we call 'human' is FAR more dynamic than we give ourselves credit. We have limitless potential. That means we are all as strong and powerful as we recognize ourselves to be. These simple symbols of strength are just nudges to remind you that BIG strength comes from unexpected sources.
Having said all that, there are tons more symbols of strength than what's listed here. And I mean TONS! In fact, you may have your own ideas about strength. Maybe the hummingbird might symbolize strength for you. That is super-valid. It may seem like a fragile, ephemeral bird - but it's ability to generate massive energy to stay alive is mind-blowing. I'd call that a great personal symbol for strength.
My point is this: I've hand-picked and researched the potential in these symbols for strength. I picked them for their purity, simplicity and availability. They are common, and therefore most of them give us immediate access to visual, profound signs of power around us. Don't be committed to this list. If moths or rabbits or dandelions mean strength for you...go for it. In truth, all life has power and strength. All life exudes big strength. It might come in funny-looking packages, but we all have the strength we need to grow, move beyond, and rise above.
Symbols of Strength - Some Examples
I know. I know. Grass? What?! It seems so banal. So insignificant. But really, it's an extraordinary symbol of strength. On the surface (pardon the pun) grass is about strength in systems. Think about it. Grass is an impressive network of roots. Roots become tightly knit together. This tight network insures life, growth and strength within numbers. Roots share resources and work together for the benefit of the whole. We can do the same thing. Sometimes our greatest strength is found when joining with our friends, family, community. Sharing our resources, providing for others, binding together - that's big power. Don't believe me? Okay. Did you know the greatest honor in the Roman army was to receive a crown of grass
? Yep. War heroes were given a crown of grass to signify sacrifice for the whole group of comrades in arms. This ceremony came from an even older custom within early warring clans. A chieftain who won a territorial war was gifted a handful of grass. This was symbolic of his acquirement of an entire new land. Learn more about the symbolic meaning of grass here
Ginseng is also known as the 'thunderbolt root' amongst various North American tribes. The Chinese viewed the ginseng as a cure-all, just like early Europeans who touted this root to be the answer to every physical weakness known to man. It's also viewed as a harmonizing root. It balances the mind, body and spirit when ingested (usually as a tea). Even though it's a balancing root, ginseng has a long foot-hold on yang energy. Yang is an assertive, masculine, strong essence. Therefore, identifying or even consuming the root is often said to bolster big strength and confidence. There is a reason ginseng has been dubbed the 'root of life' - it's an amazing natural element that, as folk lore has it, promises strength, virility and immortality. You all know I'm not subscribing ginseng for every physical ailment, right? Nope. Ginseng is a fine root, and can produce great results if ingested. Nevertheless, consult your health practitioner about ginseng if you have any doubts about dosage or potential adverse effects.
Fir trees, like most evergreens, have made epic symbols of strength throughout human history. The Celts were especially prone to peg this tree as a power symbol. Why? It represents resilience...even immortality in certain situations. It has to do with the fir/evergreen's ability to appear stoic and strong and vital in the midst of life-sucking winter. This was a hard season for our early ancestors. Too often it was a time of life or death. So seeing a tree that remains viridian, vibrant and strong in the midst of a bone-crushingly brutal winter was a big deal. In fact, you might relate to the Christmas tradition (see more about symbolic meaning of Christmas here
) of bringing in firs and pines into the home as decorations for the holiday. This isn't a random tradition. It actually stems back to the Yule tree. This is a fir that was taken at Yule-time (same time as Christmas) to represent, celebrate and welcome the rebirth of the sun
. Yule/Christmas marks winter solstice. The Yule tree (fir) were symbols of strength to the ancient European peoples because it was a testimony to the belief the light would return to earth, and reignite our lives. Learn more about powerful fir symbolism tree here.
The laurel is one of endless examples of how the most timid things can be symbols of strength. How so? Well, I mean...it's a plant. Unsuspecting, often unnoticed...a part of landscape, overlooked. But check out its origin in Greek mythology. Apollo was hotsy-totsy for a Delphic priestess named Daphne. But it wasn't a healthy kind of desire. Apollo wanted to take Daphne as his own, and I don't mean that in a good way. To avoid the risk of rape, Daphne turned herself into a laurel tree. In so doing, she became strong in her own womanhood
, and remained strong in her purity. This Greek tale also points out how strength is often employed by subtle, passive methods. It's not always fist-to-cuffs that means strength. Not always firm words or big actions that demonstrate power. Often, it is transformation that gives us strength. These transformations are often soft and even silent. That doesn't make them any less profound. As it happens, the Greeks passed a wreath made of laurel leaves to the victors of their Olympic games. It was one of the highest honors and one of the most recognizable symbols of strength in the Greek age.
The oak...what can I say? The oak is near and dear to my heart. It is kind of like an alpha and omega in the natural realm of symbols. Strong, true, stoic, honest, stable. These are just some highlights. The Celtic Druids considered the oak to be the mightiest trees to grace the earth. They were sacred for many reasons. One was the belief that oaks were memory-keepers. This idea comes from the oak's longevity. And you know what...sometimes being a memory keeper is a big deal in the realm of strength
. It's not easy to maintain memory, keep secrets safe or keep human history intact. Those who can relate to the oak know this. If you do relate, you're likely the one who observes. You research. You look around you and keep track of the activities and actions around you. There is strength in that. It points to an undercurrent of belief that the core of life feeds off roots, history, experience. It suggests that those who know our origins have more power than those who have no clue about their past. In Greco-Roman tradition, the oak was considered 'king of the woods'. When a soldier was honored for saving a life, he was awarded a crown of oak leaves. Learn more about strong oak meaning and meaning here.
It's not called 'king of the jungle' for flippant reasons. The lion is one among the highest quintessential symbols of power. Lots of reasons for this. One among them is the lion's affiliation with the sun. (see more about symbols of power and the sun here.
) Granted, I didn't put the sun on the list of symbols of strength, but that's because I thought the lion would be a good representative. The sun is the lion's mascot. It stands for life, virility, strength and energy. The lion is featured in many ancient myths. It's associated with the strong and powerful Mithraic, which was a secret system of belief established by the ancient Romans. The lion was kind of like a logo because it required stoicism, strength, and courage to maintain the honor and power associated with Mithraism. Hathor was a goddess of Egypt, and was embodied in the Sphinx, which is a lion-like creation. In this light, the lion takes on the role of protector, guardian and sacred ruler
. The lion was also depicted on the Lion Throne which is sacred to Buddhist beliefs. The Lion Throne is a seat of extraordinary power. Those who sit on the throne must display sound judgment, fearlessness, wisdom and strength in leadership. Learn more about powerful lion symbolic meanings here.
to Artemis, Julebuk to even Christ...the stag is a massive symbol of power. These sacred associations are due to a lot of factors. The stag itself is obviously powerful, making it a worthy partner to those have an association with this regal being. In lots of cultures, the stag is symbolic of the sun, which is synonymous with the power exhibited in rebirth. Themes of renewal, resurrection, dawning a new day is inherent with the stag because of its horns. Huh? Yeah. This creature doesn't keep its horns. The falling off and growing back of horns is a sign of renewal of fresh strength. I guess you might say, symbolically speaking, the stag is like getting our 'second wind' in terms of strength and renewal. The stag is often depicted as a sacrificial symbol in many cultures. It's positioned as such in Christianity, Druidism, Native American spirituality and more. This placement comes from the sheer stature and impressiveness of the stag. In all its 10-point buck glory...let's face it, the stag is a awe-inspiring beast to behold. It may be hard to absorb, but these glorious beasts were slain as sacrifice. As such, the power and strength of the stag was passed on to the clan, tribe, people, or spiritual cause. Rather than go a'hunting for the first stag you see...let's start a new trend. Let's salute the stag for its beauty, strength, power and perception
. Rather than sacrificing it, let's honor it and realize that sometimes we have to surrender ourselves in order to show our pure strength. What do I mean by that? I mean pure strength comes forth when we step back from our egos. When we move in the truest sense of ourselves (honesty, clarity, integrity, wisdom) - we are essentially sacrificing our ego to let our big strength shine. Learn more about stag symbolism here
In a very big way, the eagle is a partner to the sky gods in a staggering amount of religions and spiritual systems. It is inseparable from the Native American concept of the thunderbird, which represents power and powerful messages from the divine. Learn more about the symbolic meaning of the thunderbird here
. Eagle was also sacred to big, powerful gods like Jupiter and Zeus. Why? Because the eagle has a history of long life. Longevity is a symbol of power to our ancestry. The eagle, although sometimes cruel in carving out its life, is surprisingly adept at mothering
. Yep. Mother eagles display extraordinary strength in protecting and raising their young. Eagles (of both genders) are also symbols of strength in terms of territory. Do you have a territory that you need to protect? Call upon the eagle to help you get your point across. Eagles do not mess around with interference. They are pointed, focused and superior beings at controlling what they can within their environment. This is supreme strength. That's why eagles are honored by so many cultures. As far as symbols of strength goes, the eagle expresses ferocity in protection, focus in gaining resources and fearlessness in flying to new heights of clarity. Fly higher into symbolic eagle meaning by click here.
I hope this article on symbols of strength has given you a boost. I know the concept of strength can be sketchy. Sometimes it seems like strength is inaccessible, invisible, unavailable. Not true. Just keep in mind you were born from a powerful, strong force. Heck....all of life is born from earth-shattering movement. Newborns don't come forth with a fluffy 'poof'. Courage isn't born from a cotton candy machine. In essence, strength is something we are called to. It is all within us, but we've got to meet the challenge in order to unleash that outrageous strength from within us.
May you always find your inner strength,