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The concept of rebirth is an ancient one and can be found in almost all religions, mythologies, and belief systems. Some religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Gnosticism, and Taoism, believe in reincarnation, where a body disintegrates but the soul lives on.
Pagan and tribal religions do not have such direct notions of rebirth but believe in elements within nature, such as water, trees, the sun, and the moon, that are continually reborn and regenerated. In modern times, these rebirth symbols have been depicted and visualized for physical, mental, and spiritual renewal.
There are numerous symbols of rebirth around the globe. In this article, we explore 13 rebirth symbols and their significance.
A universal symbol present in many cultures and religions, the Octagon is undoubtedly a simple yet elegant depiction. It represents the ideas of rebirth and renewal.
But how and why?
Leonardo Da Vinci was obsessed with Octagons, using them to denote the unifying nature of divinity, elegance, and realism.
Even long before he existed, the Octagon embodied completeness, immortality, divine blessings, and the transition between life and death.
Many temples, churches, and mosques were designed to conform to this shape as it also represents the intermingling of the circle and the square, i.e., Heaven and Earth.
Predominant in the Mayan calendar as the 8th day of the month, the Lamat symbol portrays the start of a new week. It broadly represents fertility, abundance, and transformation.
Besides that, the Lamat symbol is also an illustration of the rabbit and is referenced alongside the planet Venus, considered the deity of life and death.
The symbol is filled with positive connotations, so despite the grim conclusion of death, the Lamat keeps us hopeful for the 8th day of the month, reminding us that tomorrow is always a new day full of bountiful harvests and better opportunities.
As a creature that undergoes a unique lifecycle and periods of transformation.
From eggs to nymphs to adults, the Cicada is revered as a majestic and spiritual being that embodies the ideas of personal transformation, rebirth, and wisdom.
Unlike butterflies or other insects, the Cicada lacks a pupal stage. As such, the creature undergoes a more abrupt yet obscure change during its life, signifying personal, mental, and spiritual rebirth.
Apart from that, the creature is highly respected in Chinese tradition as a representation of purity and wisdom. This is because it’s a prudent creature that lives high atop the branches of trees and chooses to survive on refined plant sap.
Although its most popular meaning is individuality and uniqueness, the Snowflake is a sign of winter and symbolizes the changing seasons.
As such, it denotes a period of healing and a chance to start all over again.
The six-sided shape with intricate designs is a powerful reminder of fate and nature’s ability. So, in that same regard, the Snowflake portrays the complexity of the natural world, and its lifecycle portrays the impermanence of this world in a hopeful and positive manner.
The Triskele (or Triple Spiral) is a popular Celtic symbol used to represent the Trinity and the circle of life.
Derived from the Greek word “Triskeles,” which translates to “Three Legs,” the Triskelion has been extensively used to denote three domains connected to a central idea or concept.
For instance, the Triskelion can stand for the unity of the physical, mental, and spiritual or, in this case: life, death, and reincarnation.
With three spirals (or legs) in constant motion, the Triskelion teaches us that the circle of life is perpetual and that no being is exempt from birth, death, and rebirth.
It shows the somber impermanence of this world but doesn’t fail to highlight hope and the prospect of new beginnings.
As the embodiment of stability and fertility, the Djed is an ancient symbol that comes from ancient Egyptian mythology.
It’s also a symbol of the backbone of Osiris (among many other things). Because of these associations, the Djed can signify protection, spiritual energies, endurance, and rebirth.
The Djed is steeped in ancient mythology and extensively depicted in books, temples, and jewelry.
This symbol has been interpreted as a tree, fertility pole, human spine, and of course, a structural pillar (said to be holding the entire weight of the sky).
Whatever the interpretation, it’s fundamentally synonymous with reincarnation and the immutable nature of life.
Pluto was the Roman God of the underworld and the Greek Counterpart to the infamous Hades. As an aside, we think Hades is a misunderstood god who has many noble characteristics, compared to his two brothers Zeus and Poseidon. But that’s a discussion for another day.
Pluto and Hades share many similarities, including symbolizing wealth, obsession, death, and rebirth.
As warden of the underworld, Pluto was responsible for the souls of the damned, ensuring these poor souls remain there or reenter the world of the living.
Because of this disposition, he’s often associated with rebirth and new beginnings.
Besides that, he was also considered the God of Mineral Wealth and a driving force behind fertility, granting boons of silver, gold, and precious gems and ensuring a bountiful harvest.
With mathematical symmetry and spiritual implications, the Pinecone has long since been an essential symbol of rebirth, spirituality, fertility, and love.
Coniferous trees such as Pines have been around for millions of years on this Earth and adopted by many cultures around the world as an eternal symbol of divinity, enlightenment, and abundance.
The Pinecone is used to protect the seeds during harsh conditions. Pinecones close themselves shut when it’s cold and open up when conditions are more favorable.
They start to fall during Autumn and endure the harsh Winter months until they can release the seeds by Spring.
By doing so, the Pinecone warns us but also keeps us hopeful for the future and new beginnings.
9. White Lily
With different interpretations based on their color, Lilies are full of symbolism. Red, orange, yellow, and pink all stand for specific meanings alongside the fundamental symbolism of femininity and fertility.
In the case of the White Lily, it’s said to represent innocence, purity, and rebirth.
White Lilies are commonly used as decorations or gifts during funerals and weddings. On both occasions, it marks an important turning point in our lives, signifying the end of one phase and the beginning of another.
The symbolism of Lilies, as embodiments of love, impermanence, and the feminine spirit, have been around for hundreds of years, often associated with the Virgin Mary and Hera, the Greek Goddess of women, children, and marriage.
The Hummingbird is always a sight for sore eyes, and there’s no denying that observing these delicate yet elegant creatures – fluttering about and feeding on flowers – is an absolute treat.
So, in that same vein, the presence of a Hummingbird can bring about many positive and hopeful connotations, most of them having to do with life, divinity, rebirth, and adaptability.
The Hummingbird is a joyous sight, adding much-needed color and joy into our lives and nature. As a colorful creature hovering from flower to flower, it’s helping to sustain the allure of this realm. In doing so, they bring back life and color into this world.
Encountering a hummingbird, either in your dreams or real life, can be a sign of good things to come, as they are said to be divine angels or messengers.
Seen as good omens of wealth and representations of purity and grace, the Swan is another majestic creature that warms our hearts and reminds us that everything will be alright.
They sing passionately when their life is at an end (called Swan Songs) and, unlike other creatures, welcome death with open arms. Is it because they know that death – in the physical realm – is not the end?
Swans can dip their heads underwater or even turn their entire bodies upside down to reach deeper. This behavior was derived, in many cultures, as an ability to return from the afterlife. As such, Swans are synonymous with rebirth and transformation.
12. Cherry Blossom
With a dedicated ritual in Japan, no better flower symbolizes life, death, and rebirth than the Cherry Blossom.
These flowers are considered to have one of the shortest lifespans, blooming for only two weeks yet managing to leave a “cheering” impression on our lives every Spring.
Around many parts of the world, Cherry Blossoms are considered a sign of renewal and feminine grace. These pretty flowers are truly magical, teaching us to cherish our limited time on this earth and look to the future with hope and aspiration.
The phoenix is a colourful, mythological bird, that symbolizes rebirth, regeneration, and renewal. At the end of its life, the phoenix builds a nest around itself and bursts into flames, and is replaced by a new phoenix that is born from the ashes. The Phoenix has been incorporated into the mythology of several cultures.
The Persians have a similar bird known as the simurgh. For the Chinese, a male and female phoenix represents the Yin and Yang and is said to bring balance to the universe.
In Rome, an image of a phoenix was etched into Roman coins to signal eternal wealth. In Christianity, the phoenix was held in a place of great importance as a symbol of Christ’s resurrection.
14. The New Moon
The new moon or the crescent moon is a symbol of new beginnings and rebirth. Many people start new jobs, projects, and set new goals at the start of a new moon. In some cultures, there is a belief that the new moon rejuvenates the mind and soul, enabling an individual to have a fresh start.
In Hinduism, the new moon day is considered very auspicious, and some make offerings to their deceased ancestors on this day. Each month of the Hindu lunar calendar begins and ends with a new moon.
15. The Ouroboros
The Ouroborus originated in ancient Greek and Egyptian mythology and represents a dragon or a snake eating its own tail. The Ouroborus is seen as a symbol of death and rebirth.
A snake/dragon dies by eating itself but is reborn through self-fertilization. In the 17th and 18th centuries, images of Ouroboros could be seen on gravestones and this symbolized the reincarnation of the deceased.
The Ouroborus has also been used as a gnostic and alchemical symbol, to say that things never disappear but keep changing, and are destroyed only to be recreated.
Like many other creatures, starfish have the ability to regenerate their limbs. When one limb has been torn or cut off, it can grow back.
Due to this characteristic, the starfish were given great importance among the Native Americans, who venerated them for their strength and immortality. There was even a Native American tribe named after a type of starfish.
In recent times, many people have adopted the starfish as their spirit animal due to its regenerative ability. People look at the starfish as an inspiration to cast away their older selves, paving way for new thoughts and actions.
17. Lotus Flower
The lotus flower has been considered a symbol of rebirth, regeneration, and enlightenment in many cultures. This is because the lotus emerges from muddy waters and blooms during the day, then closes up and retreats back into the water at nightfall, only to repeat the process the next day.
In ancient Egypt, the closing and reopening of the lotus petals symbolized the dead entering the underworld, and their reincarnation. Due to this symbolic meaning, the ancient Egyptians used the lotus flower in tombs and wall paintings.
In Buddhism, the lotus is often depicted with the Eightfold Path, a guide to reincarnation and enlightenment. In Buddhism, a popular symbol for nirvana is the Buddha meditating over a lotus flower.
18. Tree of Life
The tree of life is both a symbol of immortality and rebirth. The oldest tree of life was found in Turkey in 7000 BC, and in 3000 BC an image of a pine tree was found in the Acadians, symbolizing life and rebirth.
In almost all ancient cultures, the tree of life stood as an emblem of spring.
The season of spring marked the end of winter and witnessed a rebirth of plants and flowers. Trees were worshipped during this season as a giver of new life through their seeds.
19. Scarab beetle
The dung beetle or the scarab beetle has been worshipped in many cultures since time immemorial. In ancient Egyptian mythology, the scarab beetle was associated with Khepri, or the God of sunrise.
Khepri has a man’s body and a beetle’s head. This beetle was seen as a symbol of rebirth and immortality, just like the rising sun, which goes down only to rise anew every morning.
The Egyptian name for the scarab beetle means “to be created” or one that “comes into this world”. The scarab beetle is considered holy and can be found in amulets, sculptures, and tomb walls.
Water has been a symbol of rebirth and renewal since ancient times. The unique characteristic of water is that it has the ability to cleanse itself of grime and dirt and become sparkling clean once again.
Human beings use water not only to clean themselves physically but also as a means of emotional renewal. Many people who bathe in holy rivers believe that they have washed away their sins and troubles, only to be reborn again.
Water also plays an important role in rituals and meditation to cleanse and freshen the mind, spirit, and soul. In countless creation myths, water is seen as the source of life itself.
Butterflies are a symbol of rebirth, transformation, and renewal. They crack out of their eggs as caterpillars, develop in a pupa, and come out as winged creatures.
The butterfly is ever-changing and transforming until it reaches its final stage of development. Butterfly necklaces, bracelets, and earrings, are gifted to people who are entering a new phase or stage in their lives.
22. Easter Egg
The Easter egg is seen by Christians as a symbol of fertility, new life, and rebirth. In Christianity, the Easter eggs mark the resurrection and rebirth of Jesus Christ, who was crucified on the cross.
Easter eggs painted red symbolize the blood of Jesus Christ, and the shell of the egg is said to be a symbol of the sealed tomb. When the egg is cracked open, it symbolizes Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
Snakes represent life, renewal, and rebirth. Over a period of time, snakes accumulate dirt and grime on their skin but they have the unique ability to shed their skin to get rid of the filth. Due to this quality of the snake, many people use it as a symbol of self-renewal.
Just like the snake, if we are ready to shed off the past, we can rid ourselves of what was holding us back and be born again. Additionally, in many ancient cultures, the snake has represented a rebirth of the physical body.
For instance, in ancient Greek mythology, god Asclepius, who has a snake on his staff, is believed to remove diseases and restore the body.
24. The Color Green
The color which is most commonly associated with nature, freshness, hope, and rejuvenation is green. The Japanese associate green with spring, as a season of rebirth and renewal.
In China, green is associated with the east and the rising sun, which diminishes into the darkness, only to be reborn again.
In Hinduism, green is the color of the heart chakra, which is considered the crux of life itself.
25. Moulting Birds
Moulting birds have similar characteristics to snakes. They can shed off their feathers and regrow newer, stronger ones.
The process of moulting happens periodically, with either a few feathers or all feathers being cast away.
Due to this characteristic, moulting birds are thought to represent continuous and consistent rebirth or renewal.
Rebirth symbols can be found all around us. They act as a reminder that there is always hope and an opportunity to start afresh, no matter how bleak the circumstances may seem.
In our world, rebirth symbols will never lose their significance or relevance.
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