What are symbols and how are they useful? A symbol is “a word, phrase, image, or the like having a complex of associated meanings and perceived as having inherent value separable from that which is symbolized”. For example, an image of a dove carrying a fig leaf in its beak communicates “peace” (a dove is really a dove, but we’ve learned to associate it with peace).
Sometimes we attach meaning to things because they’re associated with a certain memory or story. For instance you may be attracted to calla lilies because they are beautiful, but also your grandmother grew them in her garden, and then they were your wedding flower and now you’ve gotten a tattoo of one. When you see them they may invite good memories and make you feel happy. We all have personal symbols which aid in our understanding and connection to the world around us.
Is there anything in your life that has become a personal symbol? (something that represents something other than what it is?), feel free to share your story below.
Image: Little Original painting of salmon, 6” x 8”: Salmon have become a personal symbol for me since they are a big part of where I live and also because my husband is a fisheries biologist. Because of their epic journeys up these rivers to return to where they were born to lay their eggs, they have come to symbolize for me: “having a sense of purpose”.