Today’s post is about the symbols of knowledge and wisdom around the world. What symbolizes knowledge? Which symbol did the people in ancient times use to represent it? Who are the gods of wisdom? The answer to these questions and many more is here in this detailed article. Let us begin our journey of knowledge with the Norse mythology.
Norse Symbols of Knowledge and Wisdom
Mimir, The Norse God of Knowledge and Wisdom
Mimir is the Norse god of knowledge and wisdom. He was the protector of the well named Mimisbrunnr, which is considered to be a source of wisdom, and the water from the well is known to have given Odin his wisdom.
Another myth associated with Mimir involves his beheading by the Vanir gods during the Aesir-Vanir war. Odin preserved his head by using special herbs and magic, which brought back his life force. The head of Mimir became a confidant and consultant of Odin who used to carry the head around with him
Odin, The Allfather
Odin is also known as the One-eyed Allfather and he is considered a symbol of knowledge and wisdom. He had the power to look across the whole world from his throne in Valhalla, but he sacrificed half of his sight to obtain greater wisdom.
Odin wanted to learn about everything in the universe and gain information about things hidden from him, which is why he threw his eye in Mimir’s well to drink from its waters, self-impaled himself on his spear, and hanged himself in the tree of life for nine days to gain extensive knowledge of other worlds and the ability to understand runes.
During his search for wisdom, he obtained wisdom through visions and gained knowledge about curing different ailments, controlling the weather, and even learned the power to influence others.
Chinese Symbols of Knowledge and Wisdom
Grasshoppers As A Symbol of Knowledge
Grasshoppers have multiple meanings in Chinese culture; they commonly symbolize wisdom, luck, and fertility. There is a specific form of wisdom associated with the grasshopper that refers to the intelligence required to overcome challenges in life.
The grasshopper is a limber insect that is capable of jumping distances which symbolically represents how we should be wise enough to jump over any obstacles we face in life.
Even in Feng Shui, they represent wisdom, immortality, and protection, as they are highly intelligent creatures capable of voraciously consuming crops which can be a representation of how we should consume knowledge, and they have existed on the earth for more than 300 million years which shows they are wise enough to adapt and survive.
The Endless Knot
The next item on our list of symbols of knowledge is the endless knot. As Buddhism is one of the most prominent religions in China, its influence can be felt in Chinese culture which heavily features Buddhist symbolism. One of those Buddhist symbols commonly used in China is the endless knot.
The endless knot represents the infinite wisdom and compassion of the Buddha as the symbol does not have a beginning or end, and it is made up of intertwined lines that form connections similar to how we expect wisdom to be strengthened by making connections between pieces of wisdom.
Greek Symbols of Knowledge and Wisdom
Owls As A Symbol of Wisdom
The owl is shown accompanying Athena – the goddess of wisdom in Greek mythology, and there are numerous statues representing their close association. The goddess appreciated its calm appearance, large eyes, and silent nature.
Owls are highly observant and keen to be aware of their surroundings which makes them ideal protectors as well. They are also capable of seeing in the dark and considered to have their own internal light that guides them through the darkness.
As knowledge and wisdom are associated with guidance through the unknown, a parallel can be drawn between the owl and wisdom.
Athena, The Greek Goddess of Wisdom
The Greek goddess Athena is the goddess of wisdom and war in mythology. Her wisdom came from her intelligence and rationality compared to the other, more temperamental gods; she did not make rash judgments and weighed different options logically before making any decisions.
Her knowledge and intelligence are what made her exceptionally wise, especially when it came to matters of strategy in war and peace. There was also a more artistic side to her wisdom as she is considered to be the goddess of artisans and poetry, which is also a method of sharing knowledge in unique ways.
Roman Symbols of Knowledge and Wisdom
Minerva is the Roman goddess of wisdom, arts, and medicine. She is quite similar to the Greek goddess Athena, and her name is derived from the word meminisse, which means to remember, thereby creating an association with knowledge and wisdom.
Her mother was a Titan goddess known for possessing unparalleled wisdom and cunning, qualities Minerva inherited. She used her wisdom to assist Hercules in killing the hydra and even outsmarted Neptune, the God of the sea when they both laid claim on Attica (the area surrounding Athens).
While Neptune gave the people of Attica a river of salty water (or a horse according to some versions of the myth), Minerva gave them olive trees which resulted in gods deciding in her favor.
Egyptian Symbols of Knowledge and Wisdom
Neith is an Egyptian deity who was considered the creator of the universe and the goddess of many things, including wisdom, water, war, and hunting.
The goddess was considered to be the mother of Ra – the sun god who is one of the most important gods in ancient Egyptian mythology.
Neith was considered the goddess of wisdom which was why other deities and gods often came to her for knowledge and to resolve disputes.
A popular example was when she acted as an arbitrator during the dispute between Horus and Seth to decide who would rule Egypt and the world.
Thoth, The Egyptian God of Knowledge and Wisdom
Let us end our list of symbols of knowledge with another Egyptian god, Thoth. Thoth is the god of knowledge and wisdom in Egyptian mythology. He invented writing – the primary method for the continuation of knowledge and went on to become the scribe of the gods.
In his pursuit of knowledge, he created different disciplines and sciences including astronomy, law, medicine, and art, and he is also associated with the ibis, a bird known for its intelligence and wisdom in ancient Egyptian culture.
Thoth was a highly respected god as he had the power to create knowledge by writing it down, which made it permanent and expanded the knowledge base in different areas. This was highly admired and even led to him being the advisor of the sun god.
This wraps our piece on the symbols that represent knowledge and wisdom. If you liked it, you will probably enjoy reading our article on the symbols of strength here. If you would like to read our article on the symbols of rebirth, on the other hand, you can check it our here. Thanks for reading with us.