Symbols of Motherhood: A Guide to Maternal Symbols

Mom Bird

Introduction to Motherhood Symbols

Embarking on a journey through the tender landscape of motherhood, one encounters a myriad of symbols that have, over time, come to represent the essence and spirit of motherhood. Each symbol carries with it a unique story, a piece of history intricately woven into the fabric of various cultures and traditions around the globe.

Understanding the Significance

The symbols associated with motherhood are not merely artistic expressions; they are a language in themselves, speaking volumes about the perceptions, values, and sentiments placed on motherhood in different societies. These symbols serve as a bridge, connecting us to the past, reflecting the present, and perhaps, providing a glimpse into the future of motherhood.

The Universal Language of Motherhood Symbols

Despite the diversity and multitude of cultures, there exists a universal understanding and recognition of motherhood’s sanctity and significance. The symbols of motherhood, in their various forms and representations, communicate this universal language, transcending geographical boundaries and linguistic barriers. They encapsulate the love, sacrifice, and nurturing spirit that define motherhood, resonating with people from all walks of life.


The concept and symbolism of motherhood have been celebrated and revered in virtually every culture and civilization throughout history, highlighting its fundamental role and importance in the tapestry of human life and society.

Modern Symbols of Motherhood

In the tapestry of modern life, symbols of motherhood have evolved, mirroring the changing perceptions and expressions of maternal love and care in contemporary society.

  1. 1. Rose: A Contemporary Emblem of Motherly Love

    The Rose, with its delicate petals and enduring beauty, serves as a poignant symbol of the love and admiration bestowed upon mothers. Each color of rose encapsulates a different aspect of maternal love, making it a versatile and expressive symbol in celebrating motherhood.

  2. 2. Carnations: Celebrating Motherhood in Today’s World

    Carnations have long been associated with Mother’s Day and are often chosen to honor and celebrate mothers. The tradition started with Anna Jarvis, who selected the white carnation to represent the purity of a mother’s love. Today, carnations of various colors are used to celebrate and acknowledge the irreplaceable role of mothers in our lives.

  1. Ancient and Cultural Symbols of Motherhood

    Delving into the annals of history and the rich tapestry of various cultures, we uncover ancient symbols that have celebrated and revered motherhood, each telling a story of the sacred and profound journey of being a mother.

  2. Ancient Symbols
  3. 3. Lotus: Purity and Creation

    The Lotus is a revered symbol in Hinduism, embodying purity, beauty, wealth, and the promise of new beginnings. It is closely associated with goddesses representing motherhood and fertility, serving as a powerful symbol of the creative and nurturing aspects of motherhood.

  4. 4. Earth: The Ultimate Mother

    Representing fertility, nurturing, and life itself, Earth is often personified as a mother across various cultures. Mother Earth, or Gaia, as known in ancient Greece, is depicted as the ultimate mother, providing sustenance and life to all living beings, embodying the essence of motherhood in its most primal and universal form.

  5. 5. Tree: Life and Nurturing

    The Tree is a universal symbol of life and nurturing. With its deep roots, sturdy trunk, and sprawling branches, it mirrors the strength, support, and care provided by mothers. Trees are often seen as life-givers and protectors, making them a fitting symbol for the nurturing and protective nature inherent to motherhood.

  6. 6. Apple & Knot (Celtic Symbols): Fertility and Connection

    The Apple and Knot are significant symbols in Celtic lore, each bearing a unique connection to motherhood. The Apple, often associated with immortality and knowledge, is also a symbol of fertility and abundance. The Celtic Knot, with its endless loops and turns, represents eternity and the interconnectedness of life, love, and motherhood, symbolizing the unbreakable bonds formed between a mother and her children.

  7. 7. Moon: Cycles and Femininity

    The Moon, with its cyclical nature and serene glow, has been a long-standing symbol of femininity and the mystical aspects of motherhood. Its phases mirror the cycles of life and the passage of time, embodying the rhythm of life that mothers are inherently connected to. The Moon is a universal symbol, revered and celebrated in various cultures as a guardian of the night and a beacon of hope and inspiration for many.

  8. 8. Taweret & Isis (Ancient Egyptian): Protection and Magic

    Taweret and Isis are powerful figures in Ancient Egyptian mythology, each embodying aspects of protection, magic, and motherhood. Taweret, the hippopotamus goddess, was seen as a protector of pregnant women and young children, while Isis, the mother of all gods, was revered for her magical powers and her role as a protective and nurturing mother.

  9. 9. Gaia (Ancient Greek): Mother Earth and Creation

    In Ancient Greek mythology, Gaia is the personification of the Earth, representing Mother Nature herself. As the mother of all life, Gaia embodies the spirit of creation, nurturing, and unyielding support. Her presence is felt in the whisper of the winds, the fertility of the soil, and the endless ebb and flow of the tides, making her a timeless symbol of motherhood in its grandest and most universal scale.

  10. 10. Venus (Ancient Roman): Love and Beauty

    The symbol of Venus in Ancient Roman mythology is not only a representation of love and beauty but also a celebration of motherhood. Venus, the goddess of love, is often depicted as a nurturing and caring figure, embodying the qualities of a loving mother. Her symbol, often associated with femininity and fertility, is a powerful representation of the beauty and strength found in every mother.

  11. 11. Triple Goddess (Neopaganism): Maiden, Mother, and Crone

    The Triple Goddess symbol in Neopaganism represents the three stages of a woman’s life: the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone. The Mother aspect of the Triple Goddess symbolizes fertility, stability, and power. It is a celebration of motherhood, nurturing, and the creation of life, highlighting the significant role that mothers play in the cycle of life and the continuity of the generations.

  12. 12. Lakshmi Yantra (Hinduism): Prosperity and Generosity

    The Lakshmi Yantra in Hinduism is a symbol associated with the goddess Lakshmi, the deity of wealth and prosperity. However, Lakshmi is also revered as a motherly figure, providing for and nurturing those who seek her blessings. The Lakshmi Yantra symbolizes not only material wealth but also the abundant love and care that mothers generously bestow upon their children, making it a meaningful symbol of motherhood.

Animal Symbols Representing Motherhood

Animal symbols have been used throughout history in various cultures to represent the essence and beauty of motherhood. These symbols often embody the characteristics that are highly valued in mothers, such as strength, protection, nurturing, wisdom, and care. Animals, with their instinctual love and dedication to their offspring, mirror the deep and unbreakable bond between a mother and her children. The use of animal symbols to represent motherhood highlights the universal and timeless nature of maternal love and care that transcends species and cultures.

  1. 13. Bear & Turtle (Native American): Strength and Protection

    In Native American symbolism, both the Bear and the Turtle are revered as powerful symbols of motherhood. The Bear, often seen as a symbol of strength and bravery, is also recognized for its nurturing nature and protection towards its cubs. Similarly, the Turtle, with its hard shell, symbolizes protection and security, providing a safe haven for its offspring, much like a mother’s unyielding protection for her children.

  2. 14. Cow & Elephant (Various Cultures): Nurturing and Wisdom


    The Cow and the Elephant are celebrated in various cultures for their attributes that are reminiscent of motherhood. Cows, often associated with nourishment and providence, symbolize the nurturing aspect of motherhood, providing sustenance and care. Elephants, known for their wisdom and strong familial bonds, embody the deep connection and understanding that exists between a mother and her children, making these animals powerful symbols of motherhood.

  3. 15. Bird Nest (Various Cultures): Home and Care

    The Bird Nest is a universal symbol of home, care, and motherhood. It represents the labor and love that goes into building a safe and comfortable space for the young. The meticulous construction of the nest and the attentive care provided by mother birds to their chicks mirror the dedication and love that human mothers offer to their children, making the Bird Nest a poignant and heartwarming symbol of motherhood.

Religious and Mythological Figures of Motherhood

  1. 16. Virgin Mary (Christianity): The Epitome of Motherly Virtues

    The Virgin Mary is a central figure in Christianity, revered as the mother of Jesus Christ. She epitomizes purity, compassion, and unconditional love, embodying the ideal virtues of motherhood. Her image, often depicted with a serene and gentle expression, has been a source of comfort and inspiration for millions, making her one of the most beloved symbols of motherhood in the world.

  2. 17. Angwusnasomtaka & Circle (Native American): Holy Mother and Continuity

    Angwusnasomtaka is a Native American figure known as the ‘Holy Mother’. She is a symbol of fertility, growth, and nurturing, providing for the needs of her children with endless love and care. The Circle, another significant symbol, represents continuity and the cycle of life, mirroring the eternal nature of a mother’s love and the ongoing cycle of birth and renewal.

  3. 18. Frigg (Norse Mythology): Queen of the Aesir and Mother

    In Norse mythology, Frigg is the queen of the Aesir and the mother of Baldr. She is a symbol of motherhood, love, and fertility. Known for her wisdom and foresight, Frigg is a protective mother figure, embodying the qualities of care, nurturing, and love that are characteristic of mothers everywhere.

  4. 19. Yemaya (West African): Mother of All and Protector

    Yemaya is a powerful deity in West African tradition, often referred to as the ‘Mother of All’. She represents the sea, motherhood, and fertility. As a protector of children and the downtrodden, Yemaya is a symbol of nurturing and care, providing for and protecting those who seek her blessings with maternal love and wisdom.

  5. 20. Monumento a la Madre (Mexican): Honoring All Mothers

    The Monumento a la Madre in Mexico is a tribute to all mothers, symbolizing the respect, love, and gratitude that society holds for them. This monument is not only a representation of individual motherhood but also a celebration of the collective spirit of mothers who have shaped and nurtured society through their love and sacrifice.

Unique and Lesser-Known Symbols of Motherhood

  1. 21. Tapuat & Yellow Cactus Flower (Native American): Life and Beauty

    The Tapuat, or Hopi symbol for mother and child, represents the labyrinth of life and the unbreakable bond between mother and child. The Yellow Cactus Flower, another cherished Native American symbol, stands for life’s beauty and the warmth of a mother’s love, making both symbols deeply connected to the essence of motherhood.

  2. 22. Triskele & Mother’s Knot (Ancient Celtic): Triple Spiral and Eternal Love

    The Triskele is an ancient Celtic symbol consisting of three spirals, representing the concept of triplicity in unity. Often associated with the triple aspect of motherhood as maiden, mother, and crone, it symbolizes the different stages of a woman’s life. The Mother’s Knot is a beautiful and intricate symbol of eternal love and the interconnectedness of a mother’s love and life.

  3. 23. The Chalice (Ancient Pagan): Femininity and Reception

    The Chalice is a potent symbol in ancient pagan traditions, representing the womb and the feminine. It is a symbol of reception and containment, embodying the nurturing and receptive qualities of motherhood. The Chalice is often used in rituals to honor the divine feminine and the magic of creation that mothers inherently possess.

  4. 24. Pelican (Medieval Christianity): Self-Sacrifice and Love

    In Medieval Christian symbolism, the Pelican is believed to pierce its own breast to feed its young with its blood, serving as a powerful emblem of self-sacrifice and maternal love. This symbol reflects the deep and abiding love of mothers who are willing to make great sacrifices for the well-being of their children.

  5. 25. Auseklis Cross & Witch’s Knot: Protection and Magic

    The Auseklis Cross is a protective symbol, often associated with the morning star. It serves as a guardian, much like a mother protects her children. The Witch’s Knot, a symbol of magic and protection, is believed to possess the power to ward off evil, providing a shield of safety and security akin to the protective nature inherent in motherhood.

Conclusion: Embracing the Diversity of Motherhood Symbols

The myriad symbols of motherhood across different cultures and times encapsulate the reverence and deep affection humanity holds for mothers. These symbols, each with their unique history and significance, collectively celebrate the timeless and universal aspects of motherhood. They offer us various ways to express, honor, and reflect on the profound role that mothers play in our lives.

The Timeless Celebration of Mothers

Motherhood symbols have been celebrated and revered throughout history, serving as a testament to the enduring and unconditional love that mothers provide. These symbols are not just mere representations; they are embodiments of love, sacrifice, nurturing, and the myriad roles that mothers play in the lives of their children and society at large.

Incorporating Motherhood Symbols in Daily Life

Integrating these symbols into our daily lives can serve as constant reminders and celebrations of mothers and the essence of motherhood. Whether through art, jewelry, tattoos, or home decor, these symbols can be powerful and personal tokens of love, respect, and gratitude towards the mothers in our lives and the concept of motherhood itself.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to use these symbols?

Motherhood symbols can be used in various ways depending on your personal preference and the context in which you wish to use them. They can be worn as jewelry, incorporated into artwork, used in tattoos, or placed in your home as decor. Each symbol carries a unique energy and significance, so choose the one that resonates most with your understanding and appreciation of motherhood.

Can these symbols be combined?

Yes, these symbols can be combined creatively to represent the multifaceted nature of motherhood. Combining symbols from different cultures can also symbolize the universal and inclusive spirit of motherhood. However, it’s important to approach this with sensitivity and respect for each symbol’s cultural significance and history.

What is the best way to represent motherhood through symbols?

The best representation of motherhood through symbols is highly subjective and personal. It depends on your personal beliefs, cultural background, and the aspects of motherhood you wish to highlight. Explore the meanings behind each symbol, reflect on their relevance to your experience or perception of motherhood, and choose the ones that speak to you the most.