Symbols for Survivor in Nature

7 Symbols for Survivor in Nature

Natural Symbols for Survivor

I often get requests from folks wanting symbols for survivor.  It’s understandable, as we are all trying to find symbolic hooks to hang onto when times are tough. Thankfully, there Nature affords many powerful features that are strong representatives for survival.

As I often say, symbols such as these are vast and vague simply because of the countless cultures that view the concept of “survivor” differently.   Ultimately, we’ve got to determine our own ideas about what being a survivor means, and then associate that with features in Nature to identify symbols for survival. 

Ideally, we should relate to the plight of a creature, tree or plant in Nature that fully encapsulates the meaning of survival for us on a personal level.  This approach will leads us to the most appropriate and powerful symbol for overcoming strife, struggle or pain. That said, here are a few common symbols for survivor found in Nature and in various cultures.

Animal Symbols for Survival

Nature's Symbols for Survivor - Pandar
Nature’s Symbols for Survivor – Panda

Panda: The panda has long been an ancient Asian symbol for survival because of the overwhelming odds their offspring endures in order to live to adulthood. A newborn panda is teeny-tiny, a mere snippet of adult size, and it’s incredibly vulnerable. The panda youth is dealt a harsh hand when it first enters the world. Blind, bald and barely a blink in size and weight, a newborn panda makes an arduous climb on its mother’s body to attain milk from the mother.  Because it’s so small and vulnerable, the baby panda still runs the risk of being crushed by the mother, or becoming malnourished. Survival is tough with these odds, plus threats to environment make this determined baby a fitting symbol for survival.

Nature's Symbols for Survivor - Polar Bear
Nature’s Symbols for Survivor – Polar Bear

Polar Bear: Polar bears are symbols of survivor and endurance as they must overcome seemingly insurmountable odds just to survive in their environment. Their ability to be resourceful, and reserve their energy is legendary. They seem to carry with them a sixth sense – that of survival instinct – more than most species of the animal kingdom. In the Inuit Native American culture, the polar bear represented power, endurance and incredible will.  It was often called upon for success in hunting and surviving the brutal conditions in the frigid Canadian and Alaskan winters.

Nature's Symbols for Survivor - Shark
Nature’s Symbols for Survivor – Shark

Shark: As symbols of survival, sharks are the perfect identification for those of us who fearlessly face adversity, and refuse to allow circumstances to get us down.  The shark sends messages like: “We are born perfectly designed. We are divine designs! Whatever life throws at us, we will survive!”  To the Maori, the mako shark is a sacred creature  because of its status as “king of the waters.” To the Maori natural way of viewing life, the shark is a powerful symbol of victory and superior power…and yes, survival. Furthermore, observe how the shark lives, and you might relate to its symbolism of persistence. For example, the shark doesn’t stop. It literally keeps moving in order to stay alive. The shark reminds us we’ve got to keep moving, growing, and going forward in order to survive life’s tough altercations.

Tree Symbols for Survivor

Symbols for Survivor in Nature - Oak
Symbols for Survivor in Nature – Oak

Oak: Outside of the animal kingdom – we turn the realm of flora (plants) for inspiration.  The oak tree has long been a symbol of longevity, strength, endurance as survival.  This mighty tree is long-standing – with roots delving deep and holding fast to their stance – never loosening – even under the toughest forces Nature may dish out.  The oak is a solid symbol of perseverance against all odds.

Nature's Symbols for Survivor - Bamboo
Nature’s Symbols for Survivor – Bamboo

Bamboo: While it’s not a tree (it’s classified as a grass), bamboo is a powerful plant-based symbol for survival. Bamboo is a Chinese symbol for longevity and endurance because of its durability, strength, flexibility and resilience. It survives in the harshest conditions, and seems to put up with incredible brutalities presented by harsh environmental conditions Bamboo is ever diligent to standing tall, and staying green year-round. Its flexibility and adaptability are a considered life-lessons among the Chinese to go with the flow rather than be inflexible.

Plant Representatives for Survival

Nature's Symbols for Survivor - Fern
Nature’s Symbols for Survivor – Fern

Fern: While it may thrive in some areas of the world, the fern is a tenacious plant that survives in some pretty harsh environments. The fern represents survival, endurance and vigilance in West African Adinkra symbols for Aya because of its persistence to flourish under harsh conditions.  Furthermore, the fern’s resilience is evident since prehistoric times. Fossils of ferns have been dated as far back as 300+ million years ago. All this makes the fern a vibrant, vital symbol for survival.

Nature's Symbols for Survivor - Lotus
Nature’s Symbols for Survivor – Lotus

Lotus: In many Eastern teachings the lotus is a symbol of strength, renewal and enlightenment? It’s often known as an icon for surviving the din and clamor of the world and achieving zen (no thought) in order to attain tranquility and peace. The reason for these associations are quite lovely. The lotus grows, survives and even thrives in the murkiest, muddiest, crummiest environments. It is through filth and sludge the lotus finds a way to grow and bloom to share its glory and beauty with the world.  In a way, we are all called to grow through tough situations and continue to self-develop through the murky chaos of life so we may push forth, bloom and show the world our true light.

Final Thoughts About Symbols for Survivors

Of course, these aren’t the only symbols for survival, but they are some of the most prominent in my research in cultural iconography.  Stay tuned, as I continue to add to this list in the future. In the meantime, I hope this article proved helpful and maybe inspires you to look to Nature for your own personal symbols for survival.

At the end of the day, you can look at almost anything in the world (or even the Universe) as a sign of survival. Life ain’t easy, and we all overcome tremendous challenges to claim our space in this world. Even our own earth’s existence was kind of a crap shoot in the grand scheme of things. I mean, for all the ingredients to come together for the perfect environment that nurtures and sustains life? Whoa! It’s a testimony to creative energy…and we and all of life that has the gumption to live in all the calamity in life deserve a big salute. 

At the end of the day, we all live in eerie elegance of chaos and we’re always teetering on the high-wire, balance of life.  All this to say, look around you…look within you…signs and symbols for survivor and survival are all around you! As always, thanks for reading!

Mighty brightly,

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