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Courage and resilience are just some of the many characteristics that humans strive to display in their lifetimes. Representations for such ideals have been present in many cultures and religions all throughout the world. In this article, we’re going to discuss a wide variety of symbols that pertain to these attributes and why they are significant.
Symbols of Courage
Courage means having the strength to face your fears. It’s a vital characteristic that allows people to grow and become stronger. While it’s also often mistaken as foolishly facing off an enemy or a task without preparation and understanding, courage is important, allowing people to face difficult situations and to rise from their problems. Here are some of the most common symbols associated with courage.
As the King of the Jungle, lions are the most common symbol for courage and bravery and are easily recognized as such in most cultures. This is because the lion is at the top of the food chain in the African savanna and is a fearless predator, going after what it wants.
This association of lions with courage goes back thousands of years. Egyptians used lions not just to represent courage, but also as protectors. They associated lions with the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet, who is otherwise known as the Eye of Ra. Egyptians believe that Sekhmet used her power to protect the weak and banish evil.
Lions as protectors also ring true for Hindus, who use these beautiful creatures to represent Vishnu, one of the members of their Holy Trinity.
Ancient Greeks also associated lions with gods like Dionysus, Artemis, and Apollo who supposedly used lions for their chariots. In this representation, lions are believed to be protectors of homes, guardians of the dead, and guardians of shrines and thrones.
Another animal that is associated with courage and bravery is the wolf. But just like lions, wolves symbolize not just courage, but also wisdom, nobility, and honor.
Wolves are among the many spirit animals invoked by Native Americans. For them, wolves also often appear in dreams as a guide in your journey in life towards self-discovery. This is why many wear wolf totems and amulets to help lead them to the right direction.
The chiefs of tribes also sometimes wear wolfskin to represent being the leader of the pack, as a symbol of not just courage but wisdom to their clan.
Another animal included on this list of symbols for courage is the mythical beast known as the griffin. Griffins are legendary creatures with the body of a lion and the wings and head of an eagle. Since the Middle Ages, griffins are believed to be protectors of treasures and possessions of their owners.
Because of the combination of the qualities of lions and eagles, griffins are believed to emulate courage, boldness and wisdom. This is why griffins also represent military courage, strength, and leadership. To depict this, griffins are always shown to have spread wings and talons posed and ready to strike.
Daggers, or any short knives, are used as a symbol of courage in heraldry. It’s believed that those who use daggers in a fight are brave because they dare initiate a fight in close combat.
Borage flowers are the ultimate symbol of courage in the world of plants. The origin of its name is unknown, but it is commonly believed that it was derived from the term carago which means I bring courage. The Celts added borage to their wine to give them an ounce of bravery before battle. Roman soldiers ate leaves and flowers from the borage plant before going to war. Even Medieval knights wore scarves sewn with borage flowers to make them more fearless.
Borage flowers are also known as tailwort, starflowers, barrach, and bees brea. Because of its association with courage, borage flowers are believed to be masculine and are also sometimes linked to the zodiac sign Leo and the planet Jupiter.
6- Golden Fish
Aside from the lion, Buddhists also associate courage with golden fish, because of how they fearlessly and freely swim through oceans without drowning. These golden fish are usually depicted as carps which are highly regarded creatures for their beauty and size.
Among all colors of the spectrum, red is the color that symbolizes courage. This is one reason the color red is commonly used in flags. However, the color red also has negative meanings which include anger, danger, and destruction.
Thor’s mighty hammer, mjolnir, represents courage, strength and generosity. With the mjolnir symbol, Vikings believed they could invoke Thor’s powers and grant them strength and courage to face their foes. Even today, Thor’s Hammer continues to be a symbol of power and bravery.
Symbols of Resilience
While courage is about bravery and fearlessness, resilience is about the ability to weather any storm and to endure. It’s another facet of strength and a quality that’s essential in life, as it means having the strength to overcome inevitable difficulties in life. Below is a list of common representations of resilience.
1- Helix / Spiral
The helix is the most popular symbol for resilience because of its prevalence in nature. Many things in nature bear the helix or spherical figure like galaxies, plants, and shells from prehistoric times. One example is the Maori Koru symbol, which symbolizes resilience and growth. The helix is often associated with stability and strength because items with such shapes can often stand the test of time.
2- Green and Brown
Because of its association with nature, the color green represents resilience, youth, and sometimes good fortune. Brown is another color that symbolizes resilience because it is often the color of tree trunks and land, which represent stability and growth. The two colors are among the most common in nature, which strengthens their association with resilience and endurance.
3- Monarch Butterfly
The monarch butterfly is the only two-way migratory butterfly alive, traveling to Mexico for winter and back to North America for spring. This amazing endurance and resilience has made the monarch a much-loved symbol of resilience.
In the modern world, immigrant rights activists have adopted the symbol of the monarch butterfly to represent migration, as these butterflies are known for their annual migration and movements. In addition, like the monarch, which faces many obstacles and yet migrates yearly and adapts to its new environment successfully, migrants also show resilience.
4- Lotus Flower
The lotus flower is a representation of resilience, not just because of its ability to weather strong storms and winds effectively, but because it’s rooted in muck and filth, and yet rises above it all to bloom in purity and beauty. As such, the lotus symbolizes the ability to overcome difficult situations in life, and to reach upwards spiritually.
5- Plum Blossom
Plum blossoms have been the national flower of Taiwan since 1964. The Taiwanese believe that it represents resilience and perseverance despite facing many challenges because of the way plum blossoms bloom vibrantly even during the harshest winter storms. But that’s not all, plum blossom trees usually last for a long time, many of which live to be more than thousands of years old, strengthening its association with endurance.
The semicolon is no longer just a simple punctuation mark, because in modern times, it has also become an important symbol of survival. It’s a badge of pride for those who suffer from mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and addiction but have chosen to live another day. It symbolizes the resilience of those who struggle to live with mental health issues and banish their thoughts of suicide.
Courage and resilience are two amazing traits that humans possess, and the symbols that embody these qualities are an effective way to remind ourselves of them. These symbols of courage and resilience have the power to inspire people to act and stay strong in the face of adversity.