Symbols of Renewal and Rebirth excerpted from my book Your Soul at a Crossroads
may your life be filled with renewals in 2015...
Here is a personal glossary of universal symbols that appear in dreams or stories about change and renewal. They will naturally appear in your soul work at the right time for you.
Vessel—The vessel is the womb. The female body is such a container.
Vulva—The vulva, yoni, or vagina is the place of putting in the semen, which jumpstarts procreation and birth. Through it passes all human birth.
Fire—Used to create vessels and tools, to fry/broil/roast food, it is thus an agent of transformation. Emotions and conflicts, religious and sensual desire, heat our temperature; containing them allows inner fires to work their changes.
Water—Our bodies are mostly composed of water; water covers most of the planet’s surface. The water cycle moves between the heavens and earth. Water is considered the mother/creator of all life. Because it dissolves most things, it’s been a primary image for the swallowing of our egos. The ever-changing waters of the soul’s journey sustain and refresh.
Egg—The incubator and newly born, the container of life.
Seed—In the cycle of life or inner transformation, life begins in the spring with the seed.; the seed puts forth tender shoots (while many die or get trampled on); with luck the seed blooms; it then must wither and die and endure the cold dark winter in order to be regenerated. Inner growth follows the same cycle: first we are lit up by the seed of inspiration; then we struggle to make a project a reality; we all like success or the blossoming stage, but equally important is the passing away of the bloom and facing the empty unknowingness before the new seed can be born.
Moon, Sun—We liken our changes to their phases.
need to do.
Lotus—The many-petalled lotus begins as a seed at the bottom of a murky pond and rises to float on the top, opening in the morning and closing in the evening.
Rose—The Western equivalent of the lotus is the mystic rose. Ancient Rome knew the rose as the Flower of Venus. Red roses belonged to full-blown maternal sexuality; the white rose to the Virgin Goddess. In Dante’s Divine Comedy in Dante’s Paradiso, the poet perceives paradise as a vast white rose on whose petals are enthroned the Angels, the Redeemed, the Virgin, the Christian saints, and children.
Mandala—The root word “manda” means essence, and “la” means container. The mandala contains the spiritual essences of life. The picture express order, balance, and wholeness.
Lightning—signifies a sudden, dazzling, and overpowering change of psychic condition.
Cave—The cave is a dark protected place, where inner vision and change can manifest.
Erich Neumann in The Great Mother describes brilliantly how the cave is associated with the nest, cradle, bed, wagon, and coffin. The temple is the ultimate development of the cave.
Goddesses—The Feminine guides of spiritual transformation are known as the Great Mother, in Greece Demeter and Artemis, in Egypt Ishtar, China Kwan Yin. Also, the Hebrew Shekinah and Christian Mary.
Gods—Masculine, they are associated with creation and transformation: Zeus, Pan, Shiva, Krishna, Bodhisattva, Great Spirit, Almighty, Yahweh, Christ, Allah.
Note: The majority of cosmogonic gods are bisexual, showing the unity of male and female.
Destruction/decay and renewal—The process of change and transformation is creative but understandably also involves pain, rendering to pieces, and death of the old ways. Anguish, horror, and fear loom large. Madness or stupor induced by drugs tends to dissolve the personality. The Hindu Goddess Kali, the projection of all negative aspects, wears a necklace of skulls; death, nothingness, disease, hunger, war are her helpers.
In nature, plants rot and decay and fade away. We make compost piles where heat can turn dead vegetation and garbage into fertile soil. Even polluted ponds cleanse themselves if conditions are right.
In both personhood and nature we must experience equally birth and death, creation and destruction. To bring about rebirth requires sacrifice, worship, and attention to keep the process moving.
Labyrinth—Walking the spiral labyrinth signifies movement from what is outside to what is inside and invisible. The journey may be regarded as a return to the soul’s source, a descent into the unconscious, or a journey to the center of the world.
Darkness—Countless mythologies begin in darkness, whether the source of life is the primordial ocean or earth or heaven. In the dark night of the soul, we feel lost and miserable. Yet, in darkness the light of the moon and stars can be seen. Darkness is a symbol of the unconscious, the unknown. From there the next steps or dawn emerge.
Light—Spiritual radiance, transcendence, conscious insight, inspiration.
Divine Child—The Child symbolizes pre-consciousness and post-conscious essence after death. Naked and vulnerable, the child is the new creation coming into being with powers greater than our own.