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Top 15 Symbols of Femininity With Meanings

Top 15 Symbols of Femininity With Meanings

Female symbols have existed since ancient times. They symbolize numerous female attributes such as their caring and loving nature, the strength of their character, and the complexity of their minds.  From flowers, animals, and goddesses, symbols of femininity are wide-ranged and significant.

Some natural elements, such as the moon, represent feminine power. Animals such as Orca and elephants display matriarchal tendencies and exude strong feminine energy. Flowers throughout history, such as the Rose and Lily, have signified feminine qualities. 

Listed below are the top 15 most important Symbols of Femininity:

1. Cats

A Siamese cat outside.
Siamese Cat
Photo by rihaij from Pixabay

Cats have a refined and elegant deposition and have lived alongside humans for thousands of years. They have a mystical femininity that has been revered and worshipped in the past.

Cats are known to give joy and delicate pleasure that other animals don’t tend to give. In terms of physical appearance, cats are less masculine than dogs. They associate with the moon rather than the sun. Cats harbor a mysterious feminine charm rather than open masculine power.

The mysterious feminine qualities found in cats are a creative and positive reflection of femininity itself. Cats can also symbolize pregnant women, and their feminine nature is also symbolically linked to the moon. Cats also tend to symbolize the negative aspects of femininity, such as cunningness and destructiveness. (1)

2. Venus Symbol

Venus Symbol.
Venus Symbol
MarcusWerthmannCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Venus Symbol represents prosperity, beauty, desire, fertility, love, and sex. The symbol itself is based on Venus, the Roman Goddess. The Romans believed Venus was made of sea foam and had many lovers from the mortal and immortal world.

Within the realm of mythology, Venus and Mars were Cupid’s parents. It is a common representation of females today. It can be described as a circle with a cross underneath. (2) The Symbol itself represents Venus, the Goddess’ hand mirror.

It is a strong representation of femininity as Venus was the Goddess of beauty and love. The Venus symbol is also used as the chemical sign that represents copper. This is because copper was used to fashion hand mirrors during ancient times. (3)

3. Spider Grandmother

Spider grandmother sculpture.
Spider grandmother sculpture
Lauren raine, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Spider grandmother is an important symbol of femininity. In Native American cultures, the spider grandmother was a prominent figure within oral traditions, mythology, and folklore. (4)

In Hopi Mythology, the Spider Grandmother was known by many names, including “Gogyeng Sowuthi.” She was a timeless old woman who could take the shape of a spider in many Hopi stories. When she was in spider form, she lived underground. When people needed her help or advice, she would emerge. She could give people medicinal cures and wise advice when called upon. (5)

The themes associated with the Spider grandmother are growth and magical charm. In southwestern Native American culture, the spider woman was thought to spin magical charm and determine an individual’s fate. She reflects positive energy and helps you keep track of your goals and accomplishments.  (6)

4. Gaia

The goddess gaia sculpture.
The goddess gaia sculpture
Image Courtesy: pixabay.com

In Greek Mythology, Gaia was a goddess that symbolizes creation, fertility, and power. She was the personification of the Earth and was also Mother Earth. Gaia was also the mother of the sky, the giants, and the sea. She was thought to be the primary ancestor of all life.

It was believed that Gaia gave birth to multiple sea deities. Gaia also gave birth to giants to overthrow Zeus when Zeus was blinding and overthrowing titans. Gaia was also known to nourish young children and plants. She was also the provider of dreams. (7) Gaia was also the first female entity in Greek mythological stories.

Gaia is also an important figure in recent times. She has become a symbol representing the environment and a personification of the planet. This symbol helps us conceptualize human beings’ relationship with Earth. (8)

5. Umay

Umay was thought to be the Turkish Goddess denoting fertility, help, and luck. She was represented by the sun and was thought to protect women and children. If a child was ill, it was thought that Umay had left. Shamans were brought in to bring her back.

It was also a common perception that if women tied a string to a cradle, Umay would give them a child. It was believed that Umay also brought people luck and food.  (9) The depiction of Umay in Turkic mythology as the Goddess of fertility and virginity earth mother goddesses is found in various other cultures and mythologies as well. 

6. Orca

Two Orcas leaping into the air.
Orcas leaping into the air

Orcas embody long life, peaceful interaction, and community cooperation, and family. The largest member of the oceanic dolphin family, Orcas display curiosity, mischief, and intelligence. The Orca or Killer Whale is an apt symbol of femininity.

Orcas are diligent when dealing with their pod and raise their little ones with meticulous perfection. The entire pod interacts, travels, and plays together. They are social and friendly creatures that live together and all benefit from it. Connecting intimately with femininity, Orcas are matrilineal.

A female Orca leads each pod and teaches their young everything they need to know to survive. If a mother passes away, a sister or grandmother orca steps in and takes up the role (10). A powerful symbol of feminine energy and femininity itself, even male orcas remain subordinate to their feminine leader. (11)

7. Elephants

Elephants in a field.
Elephants in a field
Image by newexcusive02 from Pixabay

Human beings have had an interest in the magnificence of elephants for a long time. These gentle souls have been associated with a multitude of meanings over the course of time. Elephants’ association with femininity stems from an ancient Buddhist legend.

In the legend, Buddha’s mother Maya fell pregnant after a white elephant visited her in a dream. (12) Elephant families are also headed by a matriarch. An elephant family usually consists of daughters, calves, sisters, and mothers. A family can consist of between 3 to 25 elephants. At times, female elephant groups also combine with large bull elephant groups in order to form larger clans.

Between 500 and 1000 elephants have been recorded together when herds are aggregated. They have been sighted wandering around sources of food and water.  (13)

8. Lotus Flower

Red lotus flower in a pond.
Red lotus flower
Image Courtesy: pixabay.com

The lotus flower is associated with symbols like tranquility, inner strength, and purity. The lotus has also been widely associated with womanhood nature.

Some interpretations also use the lotus bud to represent a virgin, while a fully bloomed lotus flower represents a sexually experienced, mature female. The Lotus flower also denotes purity and cleanliness due to its ability to emerge from murky waters unsullied and pure.

It also represents the purity of the human soul as the center of the lotus flower remains intact in spite of its journey through muddy waters.  (14)

9. The Moon

Moon.
The Moon
Robert Karkowski via Pixabay

One of the best-known feminine symbols, the moon, has been linked to a number of goddesses in various mythologies. This includes the Japanese Goddess Tsukuyomi, the Egyptian Goddess Isis and Greek goddesses Artemis, Demeter, Hecate, and others.

The moon is seen as a strong feminine symbol due to many reasons. The moon is often linked to the monthly female cycle. It is also thought that the moon follows the natural curves of the female body. Many ancient cultures revered the feminine energy and power of the moon.

There were many goddesses associated with the moon, and these lunar deities were widely called upon. 

10. Venus of Willendorf

Venus of Willendorf all sides in black background.
Venus of Willendorf all sides
Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Venus of Willendorf is an ancient artifact in the form of a figurine representing the female body. This figurine has very pronounced sexual and physical characteristics such as huge breasts, a large belly, braided hair, and thin thighs.

The figure has no legs. Either this figure can be a representation of the fertility of an unnamed female goddess. Venus of Willendorf dates back almost 25,000 years. Based on other similar Venus figurines, it could be possible that depictions of nude women with exaggerated sexual features could be a representation of fertility, fetishes, or maybe a mother goddess.

Although some scholars reject this and claim that the figurine couple simply represents the silhouette of a woman from Willendorf. (15)

11. Sheela Na Gig

Sheela na Gig in Llandrindod Wells Museum.
Sheela na Gig, Llandrindod Wells Museum
CeluiciCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sheela Na Gig, also known as the short form Sheila, is an architectural figure with uncertain historical significance. The figure is in the form of a naked woman displaying exaggerated genitalia with an unapologetic expression on her face.

Many Sheela Na Gigs were found in numerous Romanesque churches in central and Western Europe between 1000-1200 CE. Some of these sculptures were also found in secular buildings during the same time. The largest number of Sheela Na Gigs were found in Ireland, although many were also found in France, Spain, and England.

Many hypotheses regarding the meaning behind Sheela Na Gigs have been theorized, but its meaning still remains uncertain. (16)

12. Orchid

An orchid flower.
An orchid flower
Image Courtesy: pikrepo.com

These popular flowers with perfectly geometrical-shaped petals represent a multitude of meanings. Popular in many cultures, they are widely symbolic of love, beauty, and innocence. The name ‘Orchid’ is derived from the Greek word Orchis that means testicles.

This flower has also been linked to sexuality in many cultures. Orchids have also been connected to virility and fertility. In ancient China, Orchids symbolized having many children. In ancient Greece, it was believed Orchids helped determine the sex of a child. If the father of an unborn child ate several tubers of the plant, his wife would give birth to a baby boy.

If an expecting mother ate a small orchid tube, she was likely to give birth to a girl. Due to these beliefs, orchids were common gifts to expecting parents at the time. (17)

13. Queen Anne’s Lace

Queen Anne's Lace field.
Queen Anne’s Lace field
Jrosenberry1, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Grown wild across the United States, Queen Anne’s lace has several names such as wild carrot, bishop’s lace, or bird’s nest flower. As it has delicate lace-like flowers, it’s associated with beauty and femininity.

Many women also add Queen Anne’s lace to their baths in hopes of attracting love. As its also called bishop’s flower or Bishop’s lace, it also represents safety, refuge, and sanctuary. This flower perfectly symbolizes the sanctuary of a happy home as it resembles a bird’s nest when it goes to seeding. (18)

14. Rose

Pink roses.
Pink roses
Carla NunziataCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Individual flowers have often signified individual feminine virtues. The rose has been symbolic of love and beauty. (19) Red roses have held the implication of love while white roses imply innocence and purity.

In ancient Greece, the rose was closely linked to Goddess Aphrodite. After the Roman Empire was Christianized, the rose started identifying the Virgin Mary. 

15. Lily

White Lily.
White Lily
Image Courtesy: Piqsels

The White Lily symbolically represents innocence, virginity, and purity. White Lilies are usually used to decorate churches and are used during wedding ceremonies. This flower also represents pure love, noble feelings, and a blissful marital union. (20)

Final Thoughts

Various symbols through the course of history have represented femininity in their own unique ways. The top 15 symbols of femininity include natural elements, ancient goddesses, flowers, and animals.

Which of these symbols representing femininity were you already aware of? Let us know in the comments below. 

References

  1. Ae-kyu Park*. Journal of Symbols & Sandplay Therapy. 2015, 6, Vol. 6, No. 1, 43-61.
  2. https://www.ancient-symbols.com/female-symbols
  3. https://www.universetoday.com/35931/symbols-of-the-planets/
  4. Spider Woman From the Hopi People. Resources for Indigenous Peoples’ Religious Traditions. John Carroll University.
  5. Courlander, Harold (1982). Hopi Voices Recollections, Traditions, and Narratives of the Hopi Indians. University of New Mexico Press.  
  6. https://journeyingtothegoddess.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/spider-woman/
  7. https://www.ancient-symbols.com/female-symbols
  8. https://www.uniguide.com/gaia-goddess/
  9. https://www.ancient-symbols.com/female-symbols
  10. https://whatismyspiritanimal.com/spirit-totem-power-animal-meanings/mammals/orca-symbolism-meaning/
  11. https://symbolismandmetaphor.com/orca-killer-whale-symbolism
  12.  https://symbolsage.com/symbolism-of-elephants/
  13. https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/six-facts-about-elephant-families-9015298.html
  14.  https://symbolsage.com/lotus-flower-symbolism-and-meaning/
  15. Venus of Willendorf, Encyclopedia Britannica.
  16. https://www.britannica.com/art/Sheela-Na-Gig
  17. https://gardenerdy.com/orchid-flower-meaning/
  18. https://www.farmersalmanac.com/what-queen-annes-lace
  19. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/424151?journalCode=amart
  20. https://www.floraqueen.com/blog/the-lilly-flower-and-its-beautiful-history-care-and-symbolism

Header image of red Rose courtesy: Angelynn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons