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Fertility is a concept that has a huge impact on every single being here on earth. It’s basically how life starts on the planet, from plants, to animals and humans.
That’s why it’s not surprising that there are many symbols of fertility that exist in various cultures around the world. In this article, we aim to tackle some of the most popular symbols of fertility and which aspects of fertility these symbols represent.
Symbols of Fertility in Religion
Fertility symbols abound in religion and are usually hidden in plain sight. Here are some of the most popular symbols and icons you didn’t even know were associated with fertility.
- The Cross/Ankh – Before it became a symbol for Christian salvation, the cross was widely considered a pagan icon for fertility. In Ancient Egypt, the ankh or the key of life is said the symbolize the union of Osiris and Isis, which gave life to Egypt by making the land fertile. Some believe the cross also symbolizes the union of man and woman in procreation.
- Saint Gerard Majella – This Catholic saint is revered by church faithful as a patron saint of fertility. It’s common for couples praying to have a child on the way to have a statue or figure of St. Gerard in their home.
- Horned God – In Wicca and Mythology, the Horned God, as symbolized by the crescent moon, is considered a male god of fertility.
- Celtic Dragon – For the Druids, dragons do not only represent power and danger, but also fertility. The Celtics believed that the dragon was born out of the first-ever living cell that emerged from the earth. Thus, the dragon became a symbol of the Earth’s fertile energies.
- Lingam and Yoni – Found in Hindu temples, the yoni and lingam symbolize nature’s gateway of all births and the cyclic creation that paves the way for life to exist.
Popular Symbols of Fertility
Reproduction is an integral part of all life on Earth, and so the symbolism and iconography that relates to fertility are also seen in all art forms in many different eras.
- Venus of Willendorf – One of the earliest sculptures preserved by humans is the Venus of Willdendorf, a rendering of the woman body with parts associated with reproduction and childbearing emphasized.
- Wedding Cakes – Believe it or not, the wedding cake started out as a symbol of fertility and was thrown at the bride to wish her luck in her journey as a soon-to-be mother.
- Phallus – Phallic art, or artwork that feature elements resembling the male virile member, have existed for as long as people started producing art.
- Mermaid – The mythical mermaid, with body of a fish and the torso of a woman, embodies revitalization and renewal of water. They also symbolize birth and rebirth, making them an overall symbol of fertility.
- Aventurine – This gemstone, similar in appearance to jade, is often considered to be a powerful symbol of fertility. It’s used by those who believe in the powers of crystals to increase fertility and to heighten the chances of getting pregnant. Green is also the color of renewal and rebirth, connected to fertile greenery in nature, which enhances the symbolism of aventurine.
- Moonstone – Sometimes referred to as a ‘woman’s healing stone’ moonstone is believed to boost energy and balance female hormones and menstrual cycles. It’s possibly the most popular stone for fertility-related matters.
Animals that Symbolize Fertility
Many animals and insects are viewed as symbols of fertility, depending on the culture they’re viewed within.
- Bees – Their crucial role in the pollination of flowers has made bees quite the symbol of fertility and sexuality.
- Ladybug – Symbolically associated with good luck and abundance, ladybugs are thought to represent love, healing, and fertility
- Snake – Because of their ability to shed their skin and be ‘reborn,’ snakes have become powerful icons of fertility, renewal, and rebirth.
- Owl – As they are attuned with the moon’s renewal cycles, owls are believed by the Welsh people to be a symbol of feminine fertility. In fact, they believed that pregnant women who encounter owls can expect quick and hassle-free childbirth.
- Frogs – To the Egyptians, frogs were a symbol of fertility because of how fertile frogs were. Every year, after the Nile had flooded, thousands of frogs would be born, symbolizing abundance, fertility and the ability to thrive.
Flowers That Symbolize Fertility
Flowers in and of itself already generally symbolize fertility because a plant that has flowers means that it is already fertile and can bear fruit. But if you want to be more specific, here are flowers that symbolize fertility from different cultures and even religions.
- Lotus – The lotus flower is regarded as a symbol of fertility by Egyptians because it was associated with the goddess Isis who holds a lotus staff as a symbol of life, maidenhood, and fertility.
- Orchids – The name orchid is actually derived from the Greek word orkhis which means testicles. Because of this, orchids are often associated with virility, fertility, and sexuality.
- Hollyhock – The hollyhock flower is an icon of fertility because of its ability to produce a disk of seeds right before it wilts and dies.
- Barrenwort – Barrenwort is another common name for the genus Epimedium which can be seen around Eastern Asia and the Mediterranean countries. Epimedium flowers like the Barrenwort, Bishop’s Hat, and the Horny Goat Weed all symbolize strength and fertility.
- Cornflower – The cornflower, particularly the cyanus kind found in Egypt, is believed to be a symbol for fertility because of its connection to the Egyptian god Osiris who is the god associated with fertility and agriculture.
- Catnip – Since the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt, the catnip flower has also been regarded as a symbol of fertility. It is also associated with the Egyptian goddesses Bast and Sekhmet, who are revered as representations of cats and lionesses.
- Poppy – Europe’s common poppy is a symbol of fertility because of the multitude of seeds contained in each of its flowers. One poppy flower can contain as much as 60,000 black seeds.
Why Fertility Matters
From the flower waiting to be pollinated to a female human who has finally reached the age of maturity, fertility is a concept that gives life. It signals to the world that another being may or may not be born and is the starting point of creation.
Fertility is an important concept to humankind solely because it’s the source of life on earth. Fertile land allows us to plant and build communities. Fertile plants bear fruit which gives us life. Fertile animals provide us meat and even milk. Fertile humans allow us to procreate and be many. Fertility has become the cause of continued human development over the years. In fact, many civilizations owe their humble beginnings to fertile land.
As long as there are couples and individuals hoping for a chance to rear a child in this life, these icons will remain relevant, not just as symbols of fertility, but as symbols of hope for a new life.