Throughout human history, fertility and birth symbols have been revered. People have resorted to rituals, Phallus symbols, and worshipping specific deities attributed to the cause to seek saints’ intercession.
Ancient civilizations gave special importance to plentiful harvests and new life. Gods and goddesses were called upon to aid fertility, sacred rituals were carried out, and figures of the human gentile were all meant to help fertility.
Let’s consider the top 15 symbols of fertility below:
Table of Contents
1. Crescent Moon
The crescent moon is a popular symbol in many religions. It’s also referred to as the ‘Luna,’ ‘half-moon,’ and ‘sickle of the moon.’ The crescent moon or the waxing and waning moon can be interpreted as a sign of fertility.(1)
Demeter was the Greek Goddess of fertility, harvest, and grain. In ancient Greece, She was one of the twelve Olympian gods residing on Mount Olympus. The Ancient Greeks considered Demeter as very powerful and immortal who could control the harvest and growth. (3)
One of the primary deities in Hinduism, Parvati represents the feminine side of lord Shiva and is considered his second half. She is popular as the Goddess of marriage, fertility, beauty, and the arts.
Goddess Parvati and Goddess Shakti are considered synonymous. ‘Parvati’ translates to ‘daughter of the mountain’ in Sanskrit. She is the personification of the Himalayan mountains and was considered the daughter of the Himalayan or Himavan mountain king. (5)
Several Native American cultures worship Kokopelli, who was considered the deity of fertility. Kokopelli was prominent in the Southwestern US, Canada, and Mexico. Kokopelli’s earliest depictions in paintings dating back to 200AD.
In these depictions, he is shown as an anthropomorphic figure with a hunched back. He is playing the flute and dancing and has an erect phallus. It was commonly thought that he carried unborn children in his erect back.
His erect phallus was considered a symbol of fertility and virility. Amulets depicting Kokopelli were given to pregnant women to improve the vigor of their male children born. (6)
Min was one of the oldest Egyptian gods linked to virility and fertility. Min was the son of Isis and Osiris. Min was mainly worshipped in the cities of Ahmin and Coptos in the 4rth Millennium BCE, in the predynastic period. Min was depicted adorning a crown fashioned of feathers, holding his erect penis in one hand and holding a flail in the other hand.
A flail was considered symbolic of authority at the time. Min was also linked to soil fertility, and several rituals and offerings were held to him, especially during the harvest season. Several Orgiastic rites were also performed in the cult of Min. (7)
The Lingam is a phallic-shaped, aniconic form linked to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is one of the three primary Hindu gods and can take many forms. The Lingam is one of them. The Lingam is usually placed on a structure called the Yoni, which is a disc-shaped structure that represents Goddess Parvati. This is known as the Lingam-Yoni union.
Hindus place offerings of rice, flowers, water, and fruits before the Shiva Lingam, and it is known as a sacrificial post. Hindus commonly touch the Lingam after giving offerings and pray to Parvati and Shiva. This is known to improve their fertility. The Lingam is a symbol of Lord Shiva’s power and creativity. Some authors also describe it as an erotic phallic symbol.
7. Wedding Cakes
Symbols of fertility have been used since prehistoric times to encourage fertility in both men and women. Wedding cakes were prominent fertility symbols in ancient Rome. There was a popular custom at the time involving wedding cakes and marriage.
The groom was supposed to break cakes over the bride’s head when getting married. This symbolized the end of the bride’s virginity and ensured her to be fertile to bear children. It also symbolized the beginning of the husband’s power over his wife. (8)
Hazelnuts have historically been popular symbols of fertility. This may be because they are nourishing and tend to grow near water. They are also known to represent female wisdom. Hanging strings of hazelnuts is popular in rooms to make its occupants fertile. (9)
In ancient Germany (Germania), Hazelnuts were considered strong symbols of fertility. In ancient Celtic cultures, religious leaders considered the Hazelnut sacred. In ancient Rome, twigs from Hazel shrubs were given as gifts to bring happiness. (10)
Today, circumcision is practiced in many communities. This ritualistic practice has a long history and has been transited in many cultures. The ancient Egyptians also regarded a circumcised penis as a symbol of fertility.
There are several types of circumcisions. The ancient Egyptians were known to remove part of the foreskin when circumcising. In the circumcision practices today in the United States, the entire foreskin is removed. In the circumcision practiced in the pacific islands, the frenulum was snipped, but the foreskin was not left.
10. St. Anne
St. Anne is known to be one of the most popular Christian saints. Apocryphal Christian literature states St. Anne was the mother of Mary the Virgin. Married women pray to her to have a safe pregnancy and delivery. (11)
Storks have been linked to avid symbolism in many cultures. They have been strong symbols of fertility and growth.
But how were Storks linked to fertility and growth? When Storks arrived in Europe, it marked the arrival of spring hence this longtime association. In Europe, it was considered lucky to find a Stork’s nest on your roof. As Storks return to the same nest every year, they are also linked to concepts of faithfulness and gratitude.
In Roman Mythology, Storks were linked to Venus and were considered sacred. If a stork nest was found on your roof at that time, it was considered a promise of love from Venus. Aristotle even made it a crime to kill a stork. (2)
12. Drukpa Kunley
Drukpa Kunley, also known as the Divine Madman, was a Buddhist monk from 1455 to 1529. He was known to spread Buddhism through unorthodox methods throughout Bhutan. He used his penis to enlighten people. His penis was known as the ‘thunderbolt of wisdom.’
His teaching sessions and rituals often included drinking and sexual interaction. Throughout Bhutan, he is referred to as the god of fertility. Amulets and phallic paintings featuring him were known to protect people from negativity and to improve fertility.
The Peacock is known to be a strong symbol of fertility, maybe because it is known to dance before a rainfall. Many also link the Peacock’s fan-shaped tail to represent the sun.
The tail is so beautifully designed that it also represents a ‘vault of heaven.’ The eyes on the tail are known to depict the stars. It is strongly linked to immortality and fertility among the widespread symbolism associated with the Peacock in many different cultures.
Legend says the Peacock also represents the Sufi spirit of the world, that God has created in the shape of a Peacock. (13)
The abundance of seeds present in a Pomegranate makes it a potent symbol of fertility, rebirth, beauty, and also eternal life.
This was especially true in Persian and Greek mythology. Many ceremonial items such as scepters and pendants are seen in the shape of a pomegranate. The Greeks associated the Pomegranate with Goddess Demeter, Athena, and Aphrodite. (14)
Frigg was a Nordic goddess worshipped by women. She was the Goddess of household management, motherhood, and of females, in general.
She was the wife of Odin, the all-mighty. Frigg was known as the primary patron of childbirth and granted relief to women undergoing the pains of childbirth. It was common for Scandinavian women to take Galium Verum, also known as the plant lady’s bedstraw, as a mild sedative during difficult childbirth. This was also known as ‘Frigg’s grass.’
Fertility has been an important concept since ancient times. Many different cultures have taken unique approaches to promote fertility and virility in males and females.
Which of these top 15 symbols of fertility were you already aware of? Let us know in the comments section below!
See Also: Top 10 Flowers That Symbolize Fertility
Header image courtesy: pixabay.com