8 Ancient Symbols of Purity – What They Mean & How to Use Them

In our everyday lives, purity has almost always been associated with goodness. Symbols of purity are, therefore, what you would typically expect them to be. Something bright, something nice, and something innocent.

Purity, however, isn’t always good. Sometimes, the term can be linked to undesirable qualities such as naiveté or a lack of experience. Those instances, however, are far between.

If you identify purity as a positive attribute and want something that represents that in your life, here are some symbols of purity that you can adopt.

wood burning

1. White – Universal Symbol of Purity

From time immemorial, the color white has always been associated with purity or cleanliness. That’s why whenever we see a blank white piece of paper, we instantly think of it as clean, free, or without any blemishes.

It’s easy to see why white is closely associated with purity. Most white things can easily highlight any kind of blemish on them. For something to remain completely white, it simply has to be free of any dirt. Unlike other colors, such as brown and black, that can easily hide imperfections.

2. White Doves – Religious Symbol of Purity

White doves are a big part of Christian iconography. In the Bible, it’s a white dove that came back with an olive branch and gave it to Noah. This symbolized that the flood had receded and God’s wrath had ended.

White doves also happen to be white in color, and as already discussed, white is a color that symbolizes purity. Christian churches also often use drawings of white doves to symbolize grace and peace, making white doves a powerful symbol with a host of symbolic meanings.

3. Lamb – Christian Symbol of Purity

According to the Christian faith, the term “lamb” is used in reference to the Messiah, or Jesus Christ. This is symbolic of his sacrifice for the sins of all humanity and to give us a chance at eternal life. However, that’s not where the symbolism ends.

The fact that a lamb is the young one of a sheep that is yet to be tainted by the world is symbolic of the purity of the lamb. Also, most lambs tend to be white in color, and as we have already seen, white is widely considered pure.

Lambs are considered so pure that they were sacrificed to the gods and mummified after death in ancient Egypt.

4. Jesus Christ – Christian Symbol of Purity

There is no more powerful symbol of purity in the Christian faith than Jesus Christ. There are several reasons for this, but the most significant is that Jesus Christ is considered one-third of the Holy Trinity.

According to Christianity, God the Father has three parts:

  • God, the Father
  • God the Son (Jesus Christ)
  • God the Holy Spirit

Since God is all good and pure, Jesus Christ was considered all good and pure since he was a part of God.

Another reason Jesus Christ was considered pure is that he was conceived immaculately through the Holy Spirit when Mary, his mother, was still a virgin. Couple that with the fact that Jesus’ entire life was dedicated to saving mankind and doing good, and you have one of the purest symbols in history.

5. Virgin Mary – Christian Symbol of Purity

Virgin Mary

The Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, is also considered a symbol of purity by the Christian community. The reasons behind this are numerous, but some of the most iconic include the following:

  • The immaculate conception: Since Mary got pregnant with and gave birth to Jesus Christ while she was still a virgin, she’s considered pure, at least pure enough for the Holy Spirit to use her as a vessel for the son of God.
  • Her virginity: Virgins, in general, are considered pure and untainted. It’s rumored that Mary remained a virgin for the rest of her life.
  • Her sacrifice: Mary sacrificed her body to bear the son of God for the greater good of mankind without demanding any compensation. This is something only someone with a pure heart can do.

6. Pearls – Universal Symbol of Purity

There’s no doubt that pearls are beautiful and full of grace. That’s why they are often closely associated with perfection and purity. Even though pearls tend to come in a host of colors, they are usually white, which further amplifies their purity.

Furthermore, natural pearls are rare and extremely hard to find, just like most good things in life and genuine purity.

In some cultures, in Asia, pearls symbolize the journey a human’s soul takes to perfection. This is similar to how, over time, a pearl transforms into one of the most beautiful things on this planet.

7. Lotus Flower – Universal Symbol of Purity

lotus flower

Even though flowers are generally beautiful, few are as stunning and serene as the lotus flower. The lotus flower has many meanings, but purity and resilience have to be the best.

The lotus flower is considered pure because, despite having a different colored core, it’s often white. Another factor is that the lotus flower often grows in places with lots of water.

Regardless of how dirty the water might be, once the lotus flower blooms, it’s always clean and white. This shows that this beautiful flower doesn’t let its purity be affected by all the murk surrounding it.

In some religions, the lotus flower symbolizes a woman’s womb. This is yet another place where purity exists as the human body, mind, and body are formed in seclusion.

8. Fire – Universal Symbol of Purity

Many cultures and religions, such as the Aztecs, ancient Greece and even early Christians, consider fire a symbol of purity. The definitions or explanations are different, but one that makes the most sense is the fact that fire cleanses.

Fire can cleanse almost anything. Cultures that believe in cremation, such as the Hindus, do so because they believe that the fire used can cleanse (burn off) any impurities as the human soul transitions to a higher plane. It was also believed that it purified the departed soul of any lingering attachments to the deceased body.

In short, fire cleanses and renews. Despite appearing to be destructive to the ecosystem, wildfires actually serve a purpose by allowing natural organisms to regenerate. As such, fire can also be considered a symbol of rebirth and new beginnings.

Some of these common symbols of purity, such as fire, appear in some of the most impactful pieces of literature, such as the Old Testament in the Bible. White doves, lambs, and the Virgin Mary are actually all over the Bible.

Most other religions and cultures have their own symbols for purity, but they all tend to overlap. Many of these symbols can be used as tattoos or totems by people who want to convey purity or invite it into their lives.

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