Ancient History > Ancient Symbols > Top 23 Symbols of Truth With Meanings

Top 23 Symbols of Truth With Meanings

Man holding a mirror

Truth is a complex concept that can be described in a variety of ways. Some may argue that there’s only one absolute truth, while some could argue that there are many different kinds of truths. To understand the concept better, think of honesty, knowledge and wisdom. The truth is the opposite of a lie and is real and raw. 

It’s interesting to note that there are multiple symbols out there that can be used to represent the concept of truth. While some have been around for centuries and since the beginning of time, some are relatively newer and have come around as a result of different concepts and ideas.

These can be various objects, colors or parts of nature. A lot of them are also religious symbols that hold significance to a particular culture or religion. 

There are plenty of them out there, but here, we cover the top 23 most important symbols of truth and their meanings:

1. Ostrich Feather (Ancient Egyptian Culture)

An image of an ostrich in the wild 
Ostrich
Image from piqsels.com

In ancient Egyptian culture, the ostrich feather was used to symbolize truth and justice. This symbol was linked to the Goddess Ma’at. The concept behind this symbol stems from the belief that a person kept count of their good and bad deeds in their heart. 

In the soul ceremony in the afterlife, the heart of the dead person was weighed on a scale of justice, alongside the Goddess Ma’at’s feather of truth. If the person’s heart was as light as a feather, then it signified that the person was good in their life and, therefore, deserved to live on in the afterlife.

Because of that, the ostrich feather was such a potent symbol of truth in ancient Egyptian Culture. 

2. The Dharma Wheel (Buddhism)

The dharma wheel on top of a temple
Dharma wheel
Image from pixabay.com

The dharma wheel holds a deep significance in Buddhist culture. In fact, the word ‘dharma’ means truth in Sanskrit. The dharma wheel is known to represent the teachings of Buddha and his rules on the path to enlightenment.

Therefore, this wheel depicts an aspect of truth in Buddhism and the Buddhist philosophy. The four spokes on the dharma wheel represent the four noble truths of Buddhism. 

Over the years, the dharma wheel has gained popularity not just in Buddhist culture but also around the world. It has become such a potent symbol that is also used for tattoos and a variety of other purposes. 

3. Mirror (Universal)

A woman looking at herself in the mirror and smiling 
Mirror
Image by piqsels.com

It makes sense why mirrors would be considered a symbol of truth. A mirror shows you exactly the way that something is. It will never lie to you, but instead completely reflect the truth.

Even as a literary symbol, mirrors have always symbolized one’s own truth. You’ll find it being used in a lot of poetry and other works of art and literature. 

One famous example is Sylvia Plath’s poem called “Mirror”. It’s not just a modern symbol but it has been used as a symbol of truth since ancient times. Another example is the fact that mirrors are used in fairytales.

For example, in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the stepmother looks in the mirror and says: “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” Here, she is asking the mirror to tell her the truth because she knows that it will not lie to her. 

4. Biwa (Ancient Japanese Culture)

Biwa.
Biwa / Symbol of Benten
Metropolitan Museum of Art, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The biwa is a kind of Japanese lute that has come to symbolize wisdom and truth. This is because it has been closely linked to Benzaiten, who is the Japanese goddess of everything that flows, e.g. music, words, water, and knowledge.

The goddess is portrayed holding a Biwa and, therefore, she is famous for being a symbol of truth and wisdom across Japan.

5. A dot (Universal)

A black dot.
dot by Karine Shahnazaryan from the Noun Project

A dot is a modern symbol that is used to represent the truth. It is simple yet so effective. A dot is honest—it is what it is and it doesn’t hide anything or try to be something that it is not.

It is raw and real, which is why it’s an effective symbol of truth in modern times. 

6. Mandala (Buddhism)

Mandala painting - Circle of fire
Mandala painting – Circle of fire
Rubin Museum of Art / Public domain

In Buddhism, mandala means a circle, which, in turn, depicts the universe and wisdom. The mandala is known to symbolize the spirit of the Vajrayana teachings, which believe that the human mind is a microcosm that signifies the unique powers at play in the universe. Its outer circle of fire represents wisdom and truth.

7. Sweet Peas (Universal)

A sweet pea flower.
Sweet Pea
Giligone at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Judging by its name, you may not understand the association but it is a rather interesting one. Sweet peas are known for their beautiful fragrance. Due to legends and stories surrounding them, they are linked to the concept of truth and strength.

In some areas, it’s even known to attract new friendships and that the person carrying these flowers will be the reason that you tell the truth. Over the years, they have come to perfectly portray the concept of truth.

8. Owl of Athena (Ancient Greek Culture)

Owl of Athena Statue
Owl of Athena Statue
Jebulon, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The owl plays a significant role in ancient Greek culture. It is portrayed as sitting on the shoulder of the Greek Goddess Athena, who is the goddess of wisdom and ethnic warfare.

Some scholars believe that the fact that the owl is able to see in the dark is symbolic of its knowledge, truth and enlightenment, all of which are Goddess Athena’s qualities. It is still fully unclear about how this link came to be; however, the owl of Athena continues to be a symbol of truth and wisdom. 

9. The Pentagram (Various Religions)

A pentagram pendant on a table
Pentagram pendant
Image from piqsels.com

This is a star, which has five points. It was first seen in Mesopotamia from around 3000 BC. At one point in time, the five points of the star were seen to represent the planets Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Mars and Mercury. 

For the ancient Greeks, the pentagram depicted the golden ratio, which, in turn, was a symbol of perfection. The symbol came to be known as a source of protection against evil forces. 

This symbol also represented a bunch of other things. For the Hebrews, it was a symbol of truth as well as the five books of Pentateuch.

10. Swastika (Old World Cultures)

Indian Swastika.
Indian Swastika 
Image courtesy: needpix.com

The symbol of the swastika goes way back. Although it did gain a negative image due to the Nazi party, this symbol is used by various civilizations across the world with different meanings.

For starters, the word Swastika comes from the Sanskrit word svastika, which means something to do with good or something that is linked to well-being. In Hinduism, this symbol depicts truth, divinity, spirituality and purity of the soul.

11. Bodhi Tree (Buddhism)

Buddha head on bodhi tree.
Bodhi Tree
Image from pixabay.com

It’s not hard to imagine this one; trees have long been associated with knowledge, wisdom and truth. This particular tree holds a lot of significance in Buddhist religion and philosophy.

It was said that Siddhartha Gautama, who was a Nepali prince, meditated under this ancient fig tree, which was located in Bihar, India. He later became known as the Buddha and the tree came to be known as the Bodhi tree or the tree of awakening.

The reason why it was considered to be of so much importance is that it was under this tree that he was said to have gained enlightenment. This tree, therefore, is the ultimate symbol of truth and enlightenment.

12. The Maltese Cross (Maltan Culture)

Flag of Malta.
Maltese Cross
Sheriff of Hutton, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Maltese cross is a significant part of Malta’s culture and history. It goes back to the crusades when this cross was linked to the Knights Hospitallers. It kind of resembles a star with four V-shaped arms. Its eight points represent the eight duties of the knight.

One of these obligations among the eight is to live truthfully. It is because of that, that the Maltese cross remains a symbol of truth, bravery and honor because of its link to the knights. 

To date, this symbol is popularly seen on coats of arms, family crests and medals because of its deep-rooted history and culture.

13. Flaming Chalice (Unitarian Universalism)

Flaming chalice lit
Flaming Chalice
Last Minute Linda, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This symbol is linked to Unitarian Universalism and is used to symbolize freedom, hope, truth and commitment. There is no orthodox explanation when it comes to this symbol.

The flaming chalice is used to symbolize the quest for truth. In addition to that, it is also light up in gatherings to celebrate diversity.

14. The Eye of Providence (Ancient Religions)

Eye of providence on building venice in Italy.
Eye of Providence symbol
gnuckx, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

According to many people, the eye of providence is symbolic of Satan or Lucifer. However, in reality, this ‘All-Seeing Eye’ is a representation of divine providence. It is a symbol of truth.

For example, in ancient Christianity, the symbol was used to symbolize the Holy Trinity and God watching his people and guiding them to the truth.

Other than Christianity, this symbol is also found in other ancient religions, such as Buddhism, where it is also known as the “Eyes of the world”.

15. Pen and Paper (Ancient Mesopotamian Culture) 

A fountain pen placed on a notepad.
Pen and paper
Image from pixabay.com

Although it can be argued that pen and paper are a universal symbol of knowledge, wisdom and truth throughout the world, all of this goes way back to ancient times.

In the earliest civilizations, such as in the ancient culture of Assyria, Babylonia and Sumer, the people worshipped Nabu, who was the God of wisdom and science as well as of writing and vegetation. One of the potent symbols of this god was the clay tablet as well as the stylus. 

It is all because of this early depiction that pen and paper have come to be symbols of truth and enlightenment over the centuries.

16. Kolovrat symbol (Slavic Culture)

Kolovrat symbol.
Kolovrat symbol
ThomasANeb, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This symbol is a kind of variation of the Swastika. It consists of eight bent arms that are facing anti-clockwise. For the Slavic people, it is symbolic of the sun and the circle of life. In addition to that, it’s symbolic of the truth and the fight between good and evil. 

That being said, it wasn’t always used positively. This symbol was also adopted by the Russian National Unity, which is a neo-Nazi political party as well as other extremist groups. 

17. Raven (Universal)

A raven on a branch of a tree.
Raven
Image from pixabay.com

The raven is a bird that is often associated with death. It is the bird that is considered to carry the bodies of dead humans and animals. However, in the ancient world, this bird has other connotations. It is known to be the messenger of cosmic secrets that reveal the future. 

In addition to that, the raven is a symbol of truth, wisdom and mental acuity. For the Native Americans, the bird was a magical creature that the holy men used to get perception and foresight into things. 

For the Romans and Greeks, the raven is in fact a solar animal that is linked to the sun, wisdom, light and truth. For others, such as the Navajo, Zuni, and Hopi tribes the bird is viewed as a bringer of light and truth.

They believe that the raven was responsible for the earth coming into being by throwing stones into the sea and causing islands to form as well as bringing sunlight to humans.

18. The Head of Mimir (Norse Culture)

The Snaptun stone, depicting Loki.
The Snaptun stone
Bloodofox / Public domain

For the Norse people, Mimir is known for his large amount of knowledge, wisdom and truth. However, tragically, this man was beheaded at war, after which his head was sent to Asgard to Odin.

Here, the Norse God put balm on it and put a certain kind of magic on it to prevent it from rotting. He also gave it the power to speak again. It was after that, that the cutout head of Mimir became an ally of Odin and revealed to him the secrets and truth of the universe.

It is because of that, that the head of Mimir symbolizes truth, wisdom and knowledge.

19. Wisdom Eyes (Buddhism)

Buddha’s eyes.
Buddha’s eyes
Image Courtesy: libreshot.com

You may have seen a giant pair of eyes looking down, almost as if they are in a meditative state. You’ll notice that in the middle of these eyes is a symbol that looks somewhat like a curly question mark.

Above and below it is a teardrop symbol. This symbol, when looked on as a whole, is symbolic of the all-seeing eyes of the Buddha that see the truth and everything else.

20. Blue Color (Universal)

Shades of blue
Blue
Image Courtesy: pixabay.com

The color blue is associated with many different things. From inspiration, confidence and integrity to truth, freedom and wisdom. It is a bold yet calming color that is used in many flags. It is also symbolic of trust and loyalty.

If there’s one color that’s used to highlight truth, it would be this color. In addition to that, this color was always seen as the color of spirit. The color enables people to reflect, worship and contemplate. 

21. Daffodils (Universal)

A bunch of daffodils 
Daffodils 
Photo by Maria Tyutina from Pexels

This beautiful flower has been a source of inspiration for many writers and artists. Daffodils symbolize many different things, such as trust, forgiveness, truth, rebirth and new beginnings.

The story behind these flowers is quite an interesting one. They get their name from Narcissus, who, as the name suggests, was a narcissist and obsessed with his own reflection in the water.

It was in this water that he drowned while trying to capture his own reflection. The daffodil is known to depict a sense of awareness and inner reflection. 

22. Pear (Universal)

Four difference pears.
Four pears
Rhododendrites, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The pear is true to itself. Its shape is similar to the apple yet not completely like the apple. The pear represents the dual, fruit-sided nature of truth, ripe-vs.-rotten. This fruit is all about the concept of truth and honesty, of interpretation. 

23. Heart (Universal)

A heart drawn with crayons on paper
A heart
Image from pixabay.com

This one must be familiar to you. The symbol of the heart has been used to represent a variety of concepts over the years. It is also used in many different areas, from playing cards to paintings, jewelry, tattoos, etc.

The reason why it represents the truth is that a heart is symbolic of love. It depicts that the person is open to love in the most genuine way and that’s an element of truth. It highlights honesty and a human truth.

A heart gives off genuine vibes and can be used as an icon for many purposes. This doesn’t mean that it has to be a traditional red heart but it can be any kind.

Summary

Each of these 23 symbols of truth is so distinct and powerful. They are deeply rooted in culture and history and can be used in so many different ways.

We bet you didn’t know most of these, did you? The next time you come across any of them you know what to think!

References:

  1. P., R., & About The Author Rebekah P. Rebekah is a writer in upstate New York. (2020, July 04). Daffodil Flower Meaning and Symbolism. Retrieved from https://florgeous.com/daffodil-flower-meaning/

Header image courtesy: pxfuel.com

Cite this article

The Editors of Give Me History, "Top 23 Symbols of Truth With Meanings," Give Me History, September 27, 2021, https://www.givemehistory.com/symbols-of-truth.

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