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Anchors are practical objects, used to keep vessels in place. But they’re also a beautiful symbol, often used on jewelry, clothing and for decorative objects. The reason for using the anchor symbol can be personal to each person as the anchor has many symbolic meanings. The symbolism behind the anchor is rooted in its traditional design and purpose of holding a boat steady in a storm. In this article, let’s take a closer look at the symbolic meaning of the anchor.
History and Origin of Anchor Symbols
The word anchor originates from the Greek word Ankura of the same meaning, and in English, it’s used both as a noun and a verb.
- Anchor (noun) – this refers to the object that is used to secure another object or a base of stability and security.
- Anchor (verb) – this refers to the act of securely grabbing hold of a base.
Anchors are associated with their nautical use of holding boats in place by pulling down a chain and gripping into the seabed while the attached chain controls the boat.
The most recognizable parts of the anchor are the flukes; these are the hook-shaped arms that come out from the base and give the anchor the shape as it is known. The flukes are what physically grab the seabed to hold the anchor in place. As such, it’s a practical object with a single purpose – to keep a vessel safe and stable in place.
The first anchors that resemble the common depiction appeared around the 1st century in Rome.
Symbolism of the Anchor
The earliest known symbolic meanings of the anchor are safety and hope, however, here are also early coins with the anchor depicted to honor Neptune the Greek/Roman god of the sea.
Each part of the anchor has symbolic meaning:
- The cross within the anchor represents the unity of spirit and matter, and masculinity.
- The crescent moon shape created by the flukes represents femininity and the womb.
- The two flukes represent the love between two people who serve to keep each other level-headed.
Anchors’ symbolic meanings stem from how they are used and what they represent to a ship’s crew, and with so many meanings the anchor is one of the more universal and adaptable symbols.
- The anchor represents the sea and an anchor marking a grave is a sign that the deceased worked in a maritime profession.
- Anchors represent new adventures as they symbolize that you have strong, stable connections from which you can set sail from.
- A broken anchor represents letting go of the past.
- With its resemblance to the cross, the anchor is a religious symbol representing salvation, steadfast belief, and hope and faith in Christ.
- The anchor also symbolizes safety, security, confidence, hope, stability, good luck and consistent strength.
- Anchor also represents overcoming adversity and being resilient.
- It’s a reminder of one’s roots, and of staying grounded, regardless of how far you move from your origins. It’s a reminder to be proud of who you are.
Anchor Symbolism in Christianity
The anchor has religious significance with evidence of representations from early Christianity found in ancient catacombs. Due to the anchor’s resemblance to the cross and its representation of hope and strength, it became a common symbol of Christian faith during the Roman prosecution of Christianity. During this time, the anchor was often used as a secret symbol among Christians, to identify other Christians without risking persecution. Unlike the cross, the anchor wasn’t as overtly recognizable as a Christian symbol, making it a safe choice.
Additionally, there are numerous Biblical references to the anchor, most notably the anchor is referenced in the Hebrew verse “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (6:19). While not as commonly used in modern-day Christianity, the anchor symbolizes steady and constant hope, faith, and love. Today Christians may show their faith and honor the past by wearing anchor jewelry and/or tattoos.
Anchors in Dreams – Meaning
There are various interpretations of the psychological meaning of anchors appearing in dreams.
- If you dream of a regular anchor, it can symbolize that you need stability and greater security.
- If you dream that you are throwing an anchor into the water, it could mean that something bad is weighing you down and holding you back from progressing in life.
- If you dream that you are not able to use an anchor, it is said that you are facing instability, and lack of concentration and control.
- If you dream that the anchor is lost, it represents that you are adrift in life and losing motivation.
- If you are female, it is said to allude to your future child choosing to work as a sailor.
Use of the Anchor in Jewelry
The popularity of the anchor in jewelry has been continuing to grow because people can wear an anchor for various personal reasons. It also makes for the perfect gift for any occasion. Giving a gift that uses the anchor symbol represents that you and the receiver have a significant secure relationship, that they help ground you, and that they make you feel secure.
- As a Valentines’ day gift, it says that you are each others’ anchors. Like how the anchor is strongly attached in place and by extension provides stability to the boat, the anchor represents a stable and secure love between two people.
- As a wedding gift, it shows that the couple is anchored together and able to face any obstacle.
- As a graduation gift, an anchor gift symbolizes the stability of the person’s friends and family and the grounding of their roots as they get ready to go on new adventures.
- As a good-bye gift for someone departing on a long trip, it is a reminder of their home and to stay steadfast in their dreams.
Popular anchor gifts include jewelry, decorative objects or clothing. Below is a list of the editor’s top picks featuring the anchor symbol.
Use of the Anchor in Tattoos
Anchor tattoos were originally popular among those who worked on or lived near the sea. Sailors would commonly get an anchor tattoo to represent security at sea and would add family members’ names to further represent stability at home.
Now they have become an increasingly popular tattoo design. Common reasons for anchor tattoos include honoring a loved one, representing strength and perseverance to overcome traumas and obstacles, and as a religious symbol.
Common tattoo pairings for an anchor include roses and hearts. The heart represents love, the rope represents strength and the anchor represents stability – all three of which make the perfect symbol representing a strong relationship.
FAQs About Anchor Symbol
While the anchor has many meanings, it’s best known for symbolizing protection, safety, hope and stability.
Early Christians used the symbol of the anchor to represent their hope in a future existence.
This phrase means that the person will be there to emotionally support you when you’re in times of trouble and stress.
There are many types of anchors, ranging in size and shape, such as grapnel, the Danforth and the Bruce anchors to name a few. However, the most popular design is what we tend to see on jewelry and clothing, featuring a stylish design with two curving arms.
Wrapping It All Up
Given the number of different meanings that the anchor has, the reason for choosing to sport the symbol can be personal and meaningful to each person. The anchor can mean security, hope, being grounded, faith, love, connection, or new adventures. It provides a sense of safety and stability, a reminder that no matter what, you will overcome.