Wisdom is a highly valued virtue in many religions and cultures. This trait is reflected through a number of symbols and images. These symbols display the unique perspective on wisdom held by various traditions and reflect what it means to live wisely.
What are Some Symbols of Wisdom?
Different religions use different symbols to represent various attributes and traits. Wisdom is a much-revered quality in all cultures. It is defined as the ability to discern right and wrong and gain knowledge through years of learning.
The accumulation of philosophy, common sense, and profound ability to gain insights are also called wisdom. Several symbols like the raven, goddess Saraswati, Bodhi tree, lotus, elephant, mountains, nyansapo, tree of life, etc., represent wisdom.
The Nyansapo, also known as the Wisdom Knot, is one of the popular Adrinka symbols used by the Akan people of Ghana. The symbol stands for wisdom, patience, intelligence, and ingenuity. It represents the Akan philosophy that a wise person can determine the best means and path to achieve goals.
A wise being has the necessary knowledge and ability to put it into practice to attain rewards. Wise people is open to learning and adding to their existing knowledge.
Native American Wisdom Symbols
The Quill is one of the sacred symbols used around the world. Other cultures used the Quill as a status symbol in the previous centuries.
Still, the Native Americans gave the utmost importance to feathers, especially eagle feathers. Feathers represent wisdom, freedom, creativity, and communication.
The trees symbolize love, strength, endurance, patience, and wisdom in many cultures, including Native Americans.
Wisdom Symbols in Greek Mythology
Aster flowers were born out of the tears shed by goddess Astraea when she noticed that the sky with too few stars. However, the flowers denote wisdom, patience, and love. They come in various colors like white, mauve, purple, pink, etc. Purple aster flowers are associated with wisdom and royalty.
Athena is the most famous Greek goddess of wisdom and war. Her effective war strategies are respected and followed by many Greek rulers and warriors like Hercules, Odysseus, etc. Athena’s animal is an owl, giving it the status of a wise bird.
Wisdom Symbols in Ancient Egypt
The Thoth is an Egyptian god of learning, writing, realizations, and the moon. He carries the bird Ibis, a papyrus scroll, a writing palette, and a reed pen. The Thoth and these symbols are associated with wisdom and learning.
Ancient Egyptians considered Ibis, a sacred bird. It symbolizes calmness and the ability to be mindful. It represents wisdom, adaptability, balance, calm, and mindfulness. Ibis belongs to the god Thoth.
Tyet is known as the Knot of Isis. It is an ancient Egyptian symbol of wisdom and knowledge. It represents the goddess Isis and looks similar to the Ankh symbol, which denotes life.
Norse Wisdom Symbols
Odin is the god of wisdom and learning in Old Norse mythology. He also represents war, death, magic, and poetry. Odin carries Gungnir, a spear, and is an older man with one eye. He is the Viking god who sacrificed himself by hanging from the Yggdrasill tree to gain knowledge of runes.
Mímir, or Mim, is Odin’s uncle and is usually represented as a transcendental older man. He’s the wisest of Æsir gods and is mentioned in Edda. Though he is not as popular as Odin, Mímir is found near the Yggdrasill tree along with the eagle and falcon.
Wisdom Symbols in Buddhism
The mandala is a geometric pattern with multiple representations. Everything in the universe can be associated with a mandala.
The outer ring of the mandala is fire and symbolizes wisdom. It burns ignorance, purifies the mind, and makes a person wise.
Benten is a Japanese Buddhist goddess of knowledge, music, words, and anything that flows.
Biwa is a musical instrument similar to a flute, so it’s often associated with Benten. Biwa is also a sign of wisdom.
The blooming of a lotus flower is associated with wisdom, enlightenment, and self-awareness. The lotus symbolizes wisdom in many Eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism.
People should strive to gain knowledge and spiritual awareness despite hardships as a lotus flower grows and blooms, even in adverse conditions.
The Wisdom Eyes symbolize Buddha’s ultimate knowledge. The eyes of Buddha signify the inner eyes and the outer eyes.
Both are necessary as a wise person can see the materialistic world for what it is and go beyond it to enter the spiritual world.
What Animals Mean Wisdom?
From ancient Greeks to Native Americans and modern-day Harry Potter fans, many consider owls to be a sign of wisdom and intelligence.
These nocturnal birds are messengers of the spirit world. The owls are called wise beings and are often associated with wisdom and knowledge of the unknown, due to their night vision abilities.
The raven symbolizes wisdom and intelligence in Norse, Celtic, and Druid mythologies. Muninn and Huginn are Odin’s ravens that represent memory and thought.
The Celts associated ravens with the triple goddesses. A famous Irish proverb says that having a raven’s wisdom is akin to having a seer’s supernatural powers.
Elephants don’t forget and have a long memory. They also have ancient wisdom and share it with the next generations.
These gentle giants represent wisdom and denote the need to understand their cultural and familial lineage to gain more profound knowledge.
What Is Wisdom in Other Cultures?
Wisdom has various symbols used in different countries around the world. For example, Hindus revere the goddess Saraswati as the goddess of knowledge, wisdom, learning, and arts. Her symbol includes numerous interlinked inverted triangles. Lord Ganesha also represents wisdom in Hinduism.
Wiccans invoke wisdom using the element air. Air represents wisdom and connects the soul to the breath of life, and a triangle with a horizontal line through it is its symbol.
Cranes are associated with wisdom in China and Japan. At the same time, the salmon of Llyn Llyw is the wisest animal, according to the Celts.
To keep learning about more common symbols, check out this great article on trust symbols.