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Symbols of Patience: A Journey Through Time and Culture

It’s a common saying that patience is a virtue, but in today’s world, many people find it difficult to wait for something or endure something challenging without becoming frustrated. There are various interpretations of patience.

For instance, it can be a tool to prolong satisfaction with the expectation of receiving a reward later. For some people, it’s a way of approaching life that helps them cope with difficulties. To those who do not believe in rushing through life, it’s characteristic.

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These different interpretations can all be found in nature as there are various animals, trees, and fruits that represent this trait. Here’s a look at some common symbols of patience, both in nature and made by humans.

1. Allium


The allium flower is an herbaceous plant with a distinct onion flavor, hence its nickname the ornamental onion. There are several varieties of this flower, including culinary (garlic, chives, onions) and ornamental.

Ornamental alliums are recognized as a symbol of patience, good fortune, humility, prosperity, and unity and are perfect for wishing someone good luck.

They’re beautiful flowers to grow indoors or in your garden, and they also serve as a reminder to be patient and persevere.

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2. Elephants

elephants natural gemstone
Elephants are a symbol of strength and patience. See them here.

Elephants are highly admired and respected animals in different cultures around the world.

There have been many symbols of majestic creatures depicted in religion and mythology since ancient times, highlighting the animal’s power, majesty, strength, and loyalty.

A generally good-natured animal that’s slow to anger, the elephant is often regarded as a symbol of patience and calmness.

3. The Patience Symbol

An important symbol in Native American Rock Art, the Patience symbol features a large outline of a circle with a V inside it.

The point of the V where the two diagonal lines meet rests at the base of the circle, while each arm protrudes out of the top.

The symbol is believed to date back to 3000 BC. The symbol is now a popular emblem of patience and perseverance.

4. The Snail


Snails are known for their lack of speed, which is probably their most defining feature. While they may be slow, they remain patient and focused on their goal – to get to where they’re going.

The snail is recognized as a symbol of patience in life and serves as a reminder to people to be patient with themselves and their loved ones.

The modern world is full of chaos and the snail signifies the patience required to get through it all without giving in to pressure and becoming a member of the rat race.

5. Coral


Coral is comprised of colonies formed by groups of polyps that slowly grow their shells over a long period of time.

Due to their tough shells, they’re a distinctive symbol of strength and they also signify patience. This is due to the fact that coral takes several years to grow at only about a millimeter in one year.

People wear coral amulets and talismans as reminders to have the patience and strength needed to overcome obstacles in life.

6. The Turtle


Throughout history, turtle symbolism has been present in many legends and tales. The turtle is regarded as the personification of patience because of its slow movement.

Moving at such a slow speed, it has no choice but to be patient since it knows from the start of its journey that it will take time to reach its destination.

In the Bible, its spiritual meaning is shown through various narratives as a symbol of patience and wisdom.

The story of the turtle and the hare is well-known, and a popular morality tale told to children. The moral of the story is that doing things slowly, with patience, can lead to a more successful outcome than acting carelessly and quickly.

7. Ren

chinese word ren

The Chinese word pronounced Ren 忍is not a symbol for patience but is in fact a word meaning patience and tolerance.

It’s a complex word created by two different Chinese characters: Ren 刃 (meaning blade of the knife) placed on top of the other character Xin心  (meaning heart).

As a symbol, it signifies how difficult it can be to practice patience, a virtue that’s crucial for success, but not everyone is likely to have.

8. The Plum

plum fruit

Native to Europe, the Americas, and China, the plum is a stone fruit that’s cultivated mostly for the production of prunes worldwide.

The process of turning fresh plums into prunes requires much patience and perseverance as they need to be grown, harvested, and traditionally sun-dried.

For this reason, the plum represents patience as well as the importance of staying calm during the most challenging of times. It also symbolizes hope, beauty, and determination during times of difficulty.

9. The Ant

black ants in a wood

As small as it is, the ant is another important symbol of patience because of its food-gathering habits. It spends many months hard at work collecting food for difficult times and does not expect nor receive an immediate reward.

Even when it stores large amounts of food, it does not touch them, but patiently waits until its food is scarce before it takes more from its resources.

This is an extremely rare quality, especially in the animal world. Therefore, the ant signifies patience and the triumph that comes with it as it knows that its determination and hard work will pay off sooner or later.

10. Aster Flower

Aster Flower
Asterfflowers are a symbol of love and patience. See them here.

A dainty flower that’s commonly associated with the daisy, the aster received its name from the Greek word ‘astron’, meaning ‘star’ because of its beautiful star shape.

The flower is associated with many things including patience, elegance, love, and contentment.

Since ancient times, this flower has been strongly regarded as a symbol of patience. Giving someone an aster flower is a way of telling them not to rush through life, but to exercise patience and perseverance.

Wrapping Up

Most of the symbols on this list are those that can be found in nature, such as animals and flowers. They represent the valuable quality of patience that many people around the world strive to achieve.

Some, such as flowers, bring out the patient, calm nature of life. Others, such as the animals, serve as reminders to be patient and take each day one step at a time.  

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Dani Rhys
Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education, and has also studied Political Science, Ancient History and Literature. She has a wide range of interests ranging from ancient cultures and mythology to Harry Potter and gardening. She works as the chief editor of Symbol Sage but also takes the time to write on topics that interest her.