Symbols of Wisdom

Are you interested in the Meaning of Symbols of Wisdom? Then this guide is for you!

Symbols come in handy where plane explanations and descriptions are not enough. Symbols instill emotions in a way that cannot be achieved by any other method of communication.

Throughout history, humans have used symbols to convey knowledge and wisdom. Most of these symbols are used in ornaments, jewelry, tattoos, and artwork.

Here’s a look at some leading symbols of wisdom and knowledge:

Meaning and Significance of Symbols of Wisdom

#1 – The Lotus Flower

The lotus flower has for centuries been revered in Eastern religions for the rich symbolism it conveys. It is closely associated with such stellar qualities as holiness, resilience, peace, harmony, and wisdom.


The blooming of the lotus flower indicates the journey that each one of us must take toward enlightenment and self-awareness.

#2 – Books Symbolism

From ancient times, books have been linked to learning, insight, knowledge, and the acquisition of wisdom.

Many educational institutions feature books in their logos and mottoes. Also, most religious organizations prominently display their holy books as an indication of the kind of services they offer.

The images of the holy books hold the promise of knowledge and enlightenment to the adherents.

#3 – Pen and Paper Symbolism

In modern times, images of pen and paper are closely associated with literary progress, science, and the acquisition of wisdom.

The association between pen and paper did not start yesterday.

Some of the earliest civilizations – Assyria, Sumer, and Babylonia – had high regard for the symbolic meaning of the stylus and clay tablet.

People in ancient Mesopotamia worshiped Nabu, the god of writing and vegetation.

#4 – The Light Bulb Symbol

Have you ever heard of the phrase to see the light? It means to understand. The light bulb is a universal symbol of creativity, knowledge, and wisdom.


It symbolically gives out the light that enables us to see things as they truly are. Without this light, we’d be fumbling in the dark with hardly a clue of what’s going on.

#5 – The Triangle Symbol

The triangle is a simple symbol of communicating wisdom. For example, it represents the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity and spiritual enlightenment – God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The triangle signifies mental strength and balance. It indicates wisdom and the stability of the mind.

#6 – Stalk of Wheat

In ancient Mesopotamia, people paid allegiance to Nisaba, the goddess of grain. With time, this goddess became associated with writing, reading, and all forms of literature.

The goddess of wheat was taken to be the guardian of wisdom and knowledge, and a stalk of wheat became her symbol.

This was particularly true of the Sumerian cities of Eres and Umma.

#7 – The Tyet Symbolism

According to Egyptian mythology, the Tyet is closely linked to the goddess Isis. This deity was regularly consulted for her great knowledge and wisdom.

Myth has it that Isis is cleverer than a million gods combined. As such, her symbol, the yet, was highly regarded by wisdom seekers in ancient Egypt.

#8 – The Rainbow Symbolism

The rainbow is a universal sign of hope and optimism. It indicates that one must remain focused on their goals and dreams despite the hurdles on the way.


Also, the rainbow gives one the wisdom to handle life’s issues in the best way possible. It encourages you to keep doing what you do best and to look forward to positive outcomes for all your efforts.

#9 – Ibis of Thoth

Alongside the goddesses Isis and Seshat, Thoth was an ancient Egyptian god of wisdom. He represented all branches of learning, writing, and knowledge.

Among his many roles, Thoth kept records for the gods. As such, he was seen as a great source of knowledge and wisdom on matters happening in the spiritual realm.

#10 – The Owl Symbolism

In many cultures across the world, the owl is revered as a symbol of knowledge and wisdom. His ability to see in the dark gives weight to this symbolism.


The owl, as a symbol of wisdom and knowledge, probably started with the ancient Greeks.

According to Greek mythology, the owl was a constant companion of Athena, the goddess of warfare and wisdom.

#11 – The Lion Symbolism

For years, the lion has earned the respected title of ‘King of the Jungle.’ This paints a picture of a strong and brave animal that rules over the animal kingdom.


To become such a ruler, one has to be full of wisdom, courage, and determination. Many people look up to the lion for inspiration to acquire these qualities.

To have a lion totem means that you aspire to high levels of power, firmness, and wisdom.

#12 – The Raven Symbolism

According to Nordic mythology, the god Odin was always accompanied by two ravens: Muninn and Huginn.

Odin used these birds to gather as much information as possible about the world of humans. The ravens would fly to Midgard (where humans live) and bring back news of war, victory, and death.

As such, the two ravens were seen as great sources of knowledge and wisdom.

#13 – The Serpent Symbolism

In many cultures, the snake is regarded as the keeper of knowledge and wisdom.

It is a stealthy creature that gives the impression of making some well-thought-out calculations before it strikes its prey.

The association of the serpent with wisdom is seen in the world of science and medicine, where it is immortalized as the symbol of healing.

In some African cultures, diviners and spiritual healers would imitate the movement of the serpent to deliver or decipher a prophecy.

#14 – The Wolf Symbolism

The wolf is highly respected as a sign of loyalty, resilience, and wisdom.

It is thought that the courage, loyalty, independence, determination, and freedom displayed by the wolf goes to demonstrate that it is a highly intelligent animal.


Many people look up to this creature for inspiration when they want to make wise decisions.

#15 – The Phoenix Symbolism

This is a mythical bird that bursts into flames when its life comes to an end. Out of the ashes, a new phoenix emerges and takes the place of the old one.


Apart from its strong association with the concept of rebirth, the phoenix has been used as a symbol of courage, perseverance, knowledge, and wisdom.

#16 – The Spider Symbolism

In many ancient fables, the spider is depicted as a clever prankster who holds immense knowledge and wisdom.

Among the Akan people of West Africa, the spider represents Anansi, the good of learning and knowledge.

In modern times, the spider stands for survival and freedom. Enslaved people taken to the New World looked to the spider for inspiration on clever ways to outwit their oppressors.

#17 – The Scarecrow Symbolism

The scarecrow is seen as a symbol of wisdom in the Shinto (Japanese) culture. The Shinto deity Kuebiko (scarecrow) stands for agriculture, scholarship, and knowledge.

#18 – The Mimir Symbolism

In Norse mythology, the Mimir was said to be the counselor of the gods. He was consulted by many as a source of knowledge and wisdom.

Myth has it that Mimir was beheaded by the god Odin. He preserved Mimir’s head and gave it the power to speak.

Mimir’s head would counsel Odin on all matters of life and death.

#19 – The Mandala Outer Circle

The mandala is a geometric pattern that stands for the cosmos. It is used to symbolize wisdom and fire.

This symbol teaches that life is impermanent; nothing lasts forever. Just like fire, life eventually comes to an end, paving the way for new life to sprout.

#20 – The Diya Symbolism

The diya is a traditional oil lamp that is common in the Indian subcontinent. It is used in Hindu, Jain, Sikh, and Zoroastrian religious rituals to enhance spiritual understanding and enlightenment.

It is a favorite tool for the seekers of spiritual knowledge and wisdom.

#21 – The Oak Tree Symbolism

People from across the world have a lot of respect for the symbolism the oak tree represents. It is a sign of strength, resilience, longevity, power, and knowledge.

Among the ancient European pagans, the oak tree was revered as a sign of wisdom and perseverance. It was an important item in pagan rituals and festivals.

The oak tree can live for hundreds or thousands of years. As such, many cultures associate it with age-old wisdom and knowledge.

#22 – The Gamayun Symbolism

The Gamayun is a figure that is featured in Slavic mythologies. It takes the form of a bird with a woman’s head.

According to mythology, the Gamayun is a keeper of knowledge, wisdom, and prophecies. It would deliver special messages to the people from the divine realm.

#23 – The Capricorn Symbolism

In ancient Mesopotamia, the goat-fish Capricorn represented the god Enki. Enki was celebrated as the guardian of life, magic, water, knowledge, and wisdom.

He held the secrets of the cosmos, and only he knew how to fertilize the lands to receive a bountiful harvest.

#24 – The Saraswati Symbolism

In the Hindu culture, Saraswati is respected as the goddess of learning, arts, knowledge, and wisdom.

She has four hands with which she holds the book of knowledge (Pustaka), a water pot (Matka), a musical instrument (Veena), and a garland (Mala).

The goddess Saraswati is represented by vertical triangles that emphasize her vast knowledge and wisdom.

#25 – The Bodhi Tree Symbolism

The Bodhi tree emphasizes the importance of meditation as a tool to attain spiritual wisdom and enlightenment.

Siddhartha Gautama, a prince of Nepal, popularized the image of the Bodhi tree as a tool of meditation.

The time he spent under the Bodhi tree led to Siddhartha’s spiritual awakening, and he eventually became known as the Buddha – ‘the enlightened one.’

#26 – The Bagua Symbolism

The Bagua is a symbol used in Taoism (China) to indicate the knowledge of the natural workings of the Universe.

This symbol encourages one to discern what’s happening in their world as this enables them to unleash their wisdom.

The Bagua symbolizes the journey one must take to harness one’s true mental prowess.

#27 – The Wisdom Eyes Symbol

The Wisdom Eyes is used to indicate a state of meditation in the Buddhist culture. This symbol is featured in many stupas.

It indicates a pair of eyes looking down in a state of meditation. It encourages people to search for truth and wisdom about their lives.

#28 – The Nyansapo Symbol

In the West African culture of Akan, Nyansapo means the ‘wisdom knot.’ This is an adinkra symbol that stands for patience, creativity, intelligence, knowledge, and wisdom.

The Akan hold this symbol in high regard as it empowers one to display wisdom in decision-making.

#29 – The Trishula Symbolism

The Trishula symbol features heavily in Hindu and Buddhist cultures.

It is a three-pronged trident that holds many meanings in the life of the believer.

Depending on the context with which it is taken, the Trishula can mean knowledge, wisdom, intelligence, and determination.

#30 – The Biwa symbolism

In Japanese mythology, the symbol of the Japanese goddess Benzaiten is the biwa. This goddess is in charge of everything that flows, such as knowledge, words, poetry, music, and water.

The biwa is highly respected in all the islands of Japan as a symbol of wisdom.

#31 – The Jnana Mundra Symbolism

This symbol is shown as the forefinger of the hand bent to touch the thumb. Many Hindu gods are depicted in this pose.

The Jnana Mundra pose signifies knowledge, wisdom, purity, and passion.

Final Thoughts on Symbols of Wisdom

Everywhere you look, you will encounter symbols of insight, perception, knowledge, and wisdom.

Symbols of wisdom hold deep meaning for the intended audience. As such, they are heavily employed by storytellers to pass their message across.

In modern times, symbols of wisdom have found their way into the world of fashion and beauty. Many people use them in jewelry, ornaments, and as good luck charms and amulets.

Universal Symbols of Wisdom

The Owl and Athena

You may have noticed owls being associated with wisdom in various cultures around the world.

This is because these nocturnal creatures are often linked to intelligence, knowledge, and insight. For instance, in ancient Greece, the owl was closely connected to Athena – the goddess of wisdom, courage, and strategic warfare.

Today, the owl still symbolizes wisdom and is often referred to as the “Owl of Athena.”

Nyansapo: The Wisdom Knot

Another symbol of wisdom is the Nyansapo, or “wisdom knot,” which is an Adrinka symbol from West Africa. It represents wisdom, creativity, intellect, and perseverance.

This symbol, revered by the Akan people, embodies the belief that a person of wisdom can choose the most effective means to achieve a goal.

Lotus: Purity and Wisdom

In numerous Eastern cultures, the lotus flower is a symbol of purity, spirituality, and wisdom. It often represents the third eye chakra, which is associated with intuition and spiritual insight.

The lotus flower’s ability to grow and bloom through muddy waters makes it a powerful symbol of overcoming obstacles and attaining wisdom.

The Bodhi Tree: Enlightenment

The Bodhi tree holds significant symbolic meaning, especially in Buddhism. Under this tree, it is said that Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment and became the Buddha.

This large, sacred fig tree represents wisdom, spiritual awakening, and the pursuit of enlightenment.

Ibis and Thoth: Knowledge

In ancient Egyptian mythology, Thoth was the god of knowledge, writing, and wisdom.

This deity was often depicted with the head of an ibis, a wading bird with a long, curved beak. Thus, the ibis became a symbol of knowledge and wisdom, as it was associated with Thoth’s divine attributes.

The Triple Goddess: Balance

In many cultures, the Triple Goddess symbolizes the cycle of life, balance, and wisdom.

This figure can be represented by a waxing, full, and waning moon, or sometimes as a maiden, mother, and crone.

The Triple Goddess teaches that balance and harmony are essential to acquiring wisdom and understanding the interconnectedness of all things.

By learning about these cultural symbols of wisdom, you can deepen your understanding and appreciation for the various ways wisdom is recognized and honored throughout history.

Wisdom in Ancient Cultures

Wisdom Symbols in Ancient Egypt

In ancient Egypt, wisdom played a crucial role in their culture and beliefs. Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom, was often portrayed as an ibis or a baboon.

He was associated with writing, magic, and the maintenance of the universe. The Ibis of Thoth was one of the significant wisdom symbols from Egyptian mythology.

Another important symbol of wisdom in ancient Egypt was the Tyet, closely linked to the goddess Isis. The ankh, a famous symbol of life, divine protection, and wisdom, was also highly revered in this culture.

Wisdom Symbols in Greek Mythology

Greek mythology is rife with symbols of wisdom, with perhaps the most iconic being the Owl of Athena.

The owl represented the goddess Athena, who was known for her wisdom, courage, and strategic warfare. Owls were seen as nocturnal creatures that symbolized intelligence, knowledge, and insight. Through Athena, Greek culture ensured that the owl remained a prominent symbol of wisdom for centuries.

Wisdom Symbols in Norse Mythology

The Raven holds a special place as a symbol of wisdom and intelligence in Norse mythology. Odin, the God of War and Wisdom, had two ravens named Muninn and

Huginn, which represented memory and thought, respectively. Odin sent these ravens out each day to gather information about the human world and report back to him.

This connection between Odin and the ravens emphasized the importance of wisdom in Norse culture and tradition.

Wisdom Symbols in Buddhism

In Buddhism, the Mandala Outer Circle is often seen as a symbol of wisdom. The outer circle represents the cyclical nature of human existence, with its continual pursuit of knowledge and wisdom.

Additionally, the Bodhi Tree, under which the Buddha achieved enlightenment, is also associated with wisdom and spiritual awakening.

Siddhartha Gautama’s transformation into the Buddha symbolizes the ultimate attainment of wisdom in Buddhist beliefs.

Wisdom Symbols in Hinduism

Hinduism is another ancient culture with strong ties to wisdom and knowledge symbols. One prominent symbol of wisdom in Hinduism is Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, music, and the arts.

She is often depicted with a swan or a peacock, both of which represent the quest for knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.

The Vedas, sacred Hindu texts, also embody wisdom and serve as sources of spiritual and philosophical knowledge for Hindus.

Meaning and Insights

Understanding Symbolism of Elements

As you explore symbols of wisdom, it’s essential to understand how different elements, such as water and fire, contribute to their meaning.

Elements often reflect universal principles in symbolism and convey abstract concepts that have influenced human thought and insight throughout history.

Interpreting Symbols of Knowledge

Symbols of knowledge, like the wise owl, represent intelligence and good judgment. The owl, for example, has been associated with wisdom in various cultures due to its ability to see at night, symbolizing the ability to perceive what others may not.

As you study symbols, recognize how their meanings can be tied to specific traits or abilities linked to knowledge and understanding.

Symbols of Strength and Courage

In the quest for wisdom, symbols of strength and courage are often intertwined with insights.

These symbols may take different forms, such as animals or objects, symbolizing the power and bravery needed to face challenges, overcome obstacles, and achieve goals.

Embrace the deeper meanings of these symbols as you learn about their significance in various cultures and belief systems.

Symbols of Purity and Health

Purity and health are vital aspects of wisdom, as they represent the balance, well-being, and clarity needed to make good judgments and sound decisions.

Symbols related to these concepts, like the labyrinth, showcase the importance of seeking spiritual and mental health by navigating the complexities of life.

These symbols remind you of the significance of maintaining a clear mind and a healthy body to achieve wisdom.

Symbolism in Water and Fire

In the realm of wisdom, water, and fire symbolize opposing yet complementary forces. Water represents purity, cleansing, and rejuvenation, while fire symbolizes transformation, passion, and energy.

Understanding the intricate balance between these elements can provide you with deeper insights into their symbolism and the different aspects of wisdom they represent.

Philosopher’s Stone: Symbol of Transformation

The Philosopher’s Stone, a renowned symbol in alchemy, embodies transformation and the pursuit of knowledge, both of which are essential aspects of wisdom.

The stone represents the power to change base metals into gold, symbolizing the continuous journey of personal growth and self-improvement. In your exploration of wisdom symbols, consider how the Philosopher’s Stone can inspire you to embrace change and strive for personal development.

Modern Symbolic Representations

Books: Never-Ending Wisdom

Books have long been a symbol of knowledge and wisdom. They provide a means for you to dive into the vast ocean of knowledge that has been accumulated over centuries.

As you read a book, your mind expands and grasps new ideas, perspectives, and information. In this way, books help in fostering intellectual growth and creative imagination.

Infinity Symbol: Boundless Knowledge

The infinity symbol, resembling a horizontal figure 8, represents the concept of never-ending knowledge. It is a reminder that wisdom is boundless, as there’s always more to learn and discover in the world.

Additionally, the infinity symbol serves as a visual cue to inspire lifelong learning, reminding you that opportunities for growth and enlightenment are infinite.

Gyana Mudra: Spiritual Clarity

The Gyan Mudra is a hand gesture used in meditation to represent wisdom and knowledge.

By forming a circle with your thumb and index finger, you create a connection between the individual consciousness and the universal consciousness.

It is meant to help you achieve greater spiritual clarity and better insights into life, guiding you toward the path of wisdom and inner peace.

Mala Beads: Mindfulness

Mala beads are tools used in meditation and mindfulness practice. A traditional mala consists of 108 beads, each representing a specific mantra or intention.

As you pass each bead through your fingers while reciting or focusing on the mantra, you cultivate mindfulness and concentration. This process of mindful meditation can help you develop the wisdom needed to navigate the challenges of daily life.

Sapphire: Wisdom of the Philosophers

Sapphires have been revered throughout history as a symbol of wisdom and divine favor. Ancient philosophers believed that wearing a sapphire would aid in attaining spiritual enlightenment.

The intense blue hue of the gemstone is thought to resemble the heavens, thus connecting those who wear it to higher wisdom and divine guidance.

Sapphires remain a timeless symbol of wisdom, fueling the quest for truth and clarity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common wisdom symbols and their meanings?

Several symbols represent wisdom across various cultures and periods.

Some examples include the Eye of Horus, which represents wisdom, protection, and insight in ancient Egypt; the Celtic Triskele, symbolizing the unity of mind, body, and spirit; and the Buddha, which embodies the path to enlightenment and spiritual wisdom.

Which animals are often associated with wisdom?

Different animals are associated with wisdom across diverse cultures. Among them, the owl is a popular symbol in many traditions, including the ancient Greeks, as it was considered a companion of Athena, the goddess of wisdom.

The raven is another symbol in Norse, Celtic, and Druidic mythologies, representing thought and memory. In North American indigenous tribes, wolves are seen as wise teachers connected to concepts of death and rebirth.

How is wisdom represented in Greek mythology?

In Greek mythology, the goddess Athena is the embodiment of wisdom, knowledge, and strategic warfare.

She was born from the head of her father, Zeus, and is often depicted accompanied by an owl. As a symbol of wisdom, Athena guided heroes like Odysseus during their struggles and challenges in ancient Greek stories.

What are some popular wisdom symbol tattoos?

Many people choose to tattoo symbols of wisdom on their bodies. Some popular choices include the Eye of Horus, Celtic knots, Buddha images, owls, and even quotes or phrases that inspire wisdom and personal growth.

These tattoos are seen as reminders to strive for wisdom and self-improvement.

Which ancient cultures used symbols to represent wisdom?

Various ancient cultures used symbols to represent wisdom. For example, the ancient Egyptians revered the Eye of Horus, while the Celts used the triskele and spiral knot.

In the Far East, the Buddha and yin-yang symbol both signified balance and wisdom. Symbols of wisdom transcended time and geography, often playing a central role in the art, beliefs, and stories of these ancient civilizations.

How do symbols of wisdom and strength differ?

Symbols of wisdom typically represent knowledge, insight, and sound judgment, while symbols of strength convey power, courage, and resilience.

Although both types of symbols have their importance, wisdom symbols often focus on the inner qualities of a person, whereas strength symbols depict external or physical aspects.

Yet, many symbols combine both wisdom and strength elements, highlighting the interconnectedness of these qualities in our lives.

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