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The Symbolism of Water (Top 7 Meanings)

The Symbolism of Water (Top 7 Meanings)

Water is the one element that ties all living beings together. Every living organism needs water in some way for survival, and this universal demand makes water special and powerful. 

The essence of life comes in many different forms, such as rain, ice, water bodies, snow, mist, dew, and many others. Each of these forms has something unique to offer and is special. 

Thinkers and philosophers have given water a lot of thought and, through observation of its physical characteristics, have derived many refreshing symbolisms.

Water symbolizes: power, cleansing, adaptability, fertility, feminine energy, cycles, consciousness and the subconscious.

Let’s look at how this liquid metaphor is used as a symbol in various cultures and religions. 

Photography Of Waterfalls Between Trees.
Photo by Rifqi Ramadhan

Water Symbolism: At a Glance

  • Water is often seen as a symbol of life, renewal, and cleansing. 
  • It can represent emotions such as joy, sorrow, fear, or anger.
  • It’s also used to represent the cycle of life and death
  • It is also a symbol of transformation, as it can take many forms, such as liquid, solid, and gas.
  • In some cultures, it is believed to have spiritual powers that can bring healing and protection
  • For centuries, water has been used in rituals to purify the soul and body. 
  • It can also be seen as a metaphor for change or transformation. 
  • The symbolism of water varies depending on its form (e.g., rain, river, ocean) and context (e.g., baptism). 
  • Some believe that it has an energy field that can affect our physical health and emotional well-being when we come into contact with it.

1. Power 

Even with modern technology, science, and newer building materials, we still find it hard to protect ourselves from water damage, whether that is a leak in the wall that causes the paint to swell up or a flood that takes homes and entire cities. 

Tsunamis and floods are among the leading causes of disaster in several countries. 

Water can ruin crops, destroy buildings and even wipe entire cities off the map. The symbolism of raw power that we find in old texts and oral traditions is still valid today. We can use it as a symbol of pure power and ultimate destruction.

2. Cleansing 

Water is a natural cleaning agent and the only source of purification for all living beings. Living beings depend on water to cleanse themselves, and humans use water to clean their surroundings as well. 

However, water also plays a role in spiritual cleansing and is used metaphorically as a purification agent in several religions. 

In Christianity, people are baptized using water, and similarly, in Hinduism, people are cleansed of their sins when they submerge themselves in the river Ganges. Some cultures also use it for spiritual cleansing or cleansing property and possessions from demons and other invisible forces.

Water symbolizes purity and is included in many rituals.

3. Adaptability

Water is a very flexible element in terms of its physical structure. As the famous saying by Bruce Lee goes, ‘‘When you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup.’’ 

Water is very adaptable in terms of what it can provide living beings. All living plants need water; each can create a different fruit, scent, and flower using the same common input. 

The way water flows around obstacles and through different kinds of terrain is also a sign of its adaptability. Water can easily make its way across any surface because it is naturally formless. 

It can change its form based on the temperature or pressure of the environment. We can see it in the form of ice, snow, mist, steam, or liquid. This is a unique characteristic that no other element can do. 

When we see water as a theme in our life, it means that a change is coming or that we will be able to adapt to that change. We must be like water to flow through life.

4. Fertility

Water is the seed of fertility in many societies and religions. In Christianity, it is believed that the first creation was water, and God created everything else using it. Many religions consider it the mother or fundamental ingredient of all creation. 

In the modern world, we need water to grow plants, which are the basis of our entire ecosystem. Without plants, not many forms of life would exist. 

Water is used to symbolize fertility both physically and metaphorically. It helps the seed to grow, but this need not be a physical seed. It can symbolize growth in the physical world just as much as it can represent mental, emotional, or spiritual growth.

Look for symbols of water when you are mentally blocked or lacking inspiration. 

5. Feminine Energy

The characteristics of being able to mold into different forms, providing nourishment, and having a graceful outlook are all features commonly associated with the feminine gender. 

Mothers also have wombs full of water when they are pregnant. This is another way it is interpreted as a source of fertility and shows how feminine energy and water are related. 

Girl in Black Swimsuit in Water.
Photo by Victoria Akvarel

Women go through different stages of their menstrual cycle, similar to how water also goes through different phases at different moon stages.

6. Cycles

The behavior of the waves, along with the cyclical nature of water, is linked to other cycles we see in nature. Things like life and death, decomposition, growth, one generation after the next, and even seasonal changes are all cyclical things that behave much like water. 

Today we know that water also goes through different cycles from evaporation to perspiration, from being ice on the mountains to becoming a strong river that nourishes the land as it rushes down into the ocean.

Even a single day from dawn to dusk is similar to the lifecycle of water. 

7. Conscious vs. Subconscious

Water is often also seen as a representation of the subconscious mind. Today, we know much more about the subconscious mind and its impact on our daily lives. Similarly, we know much more about water but haven’t yet fully explored these two territories. 

The vastness of the water is seen as the vastness of the subconscious mind. Similarly, the depth of water, like how oceans hide an entire world underneath them, is seen parallel to the depth of the subconscious mind and how it is full of things that we know very little about. 

Just as the ocean and other water bodies are essential to our life, the subconscious mind also plays a big role in our existence, but we don’t fully understand it yet.


Water has been and continues to be an important part of our lives. Whether we see it or not, we depend on this humble resource for life. 

With symbols of water, you represent powerful forces like fertility, destruction, creativity, and life itself. Look for these symbols in your daily life to better understand who you are and what life is bringing your way.