Cross-Cultural Look at 24 Strength Symbols and Meaning

 We humans have certainly lived through a lot in our thousands of years on this planet. We endured a lot and continue to do so. Did we leave a trace of our endurance documented throughout history? And why did these important symbols become sacred? How did our forefathers portray our strength? For those curious, here are the different types of strength symbols and their meanings from different civilizations throughout the world.

Egyptian Symbols representing physical strength

All the adversities represent strength and can be an effective visual tool for communicating and connecting diverse concepts and theories.

Symbols have functioned as vivid mediums for conceptualizing all human knowledge since the start of history.

In diverse human communities, strength and power, or the ability to exert or resist significant force, have been the most fundamentally understood concepts.

RELATED: Guide to Better Master Ancient Symbols of Strength and Perseverance

1. The Ancient Symbol of the Phoenix

The Phoenix bird is a mythical creature that rises from its ashes. As a result, it represents rebirth, growth, and longevity.

We’re not exactly sure where the story of the Phoenix originated from, but it is mainly associated with ancient Greece.

We know ancient accounts mention a bird-like God of rebirth named Bennu that the old Egyptians worshiped. Some people suggest that there might be a link between these two mythical creatures as it was one of their sky gods.

When this mythical bird dies, it erupts into flames and reincarnate from the ashes of that same fire.

Coming up out of its literal ashes has made this legendary creature one of the most recognized symbols of strength across communities worldwide.

The Phoenix also utilizes a symbolic representation of the Roman Empire’s eternal power and continuity.

2. Why the Griffin is an Important Symbol

The Griffin, often portrayed as a combination between an eagle and a lion’s body represents bravery, power, and leadership.

Though this majestic animal is most linked with European folklore from Medieval times, the Griffin is a figure that dates back to the Levant in the 2nd millennium BC and is a symbol of strength.

Some of these mythical creatures are forebears to the Griffin, mythical beings from other ancient cultures have inspired it, such as the Assyrian deity Lamassu, the Akkadian demon Anzu, and the Jewish beast Ziz.

strength symbols

Because it combines the two great and brave brutes: the Lion and the eagle, the Griffin represents strength and intelligence.

People wore it on many types of clothing on the battlefield. They believed that Griffin protects riches as Dragons did.

3. The Golden Eagles Meaning

These birds symbolize might, bravery, ferocity, eternity, and strong military capabilities across cultures due to their fierce demeanor. It’s no surprise it’s on the national flag of a few countries.

strength symbols eagle

They are also gods’ messengers, which is an interesting side note. The golden eagle links to the primary god in many cultures.

The bird was a symbol of Ra for the Ancient Egyptians and Zeus for the Greeks. Later, it became a symbol of the mighty army among the Romans.

From there, European kingdoms and nations wear it as a charm, on clothing, etc.

The Aztec people would draw the Golden Eagles on warriors who would prove themselves strong and brave enough. 

4. Lion

The Lion is another well-known animal when talking about symbols of strength. As it is widely known as the “king of the jungle,” it’s no wonder that many cultures worldwide used the Lion as a sign of inner power.

strength symbols lion

Buddhists especially connects with the Lion. The Buddha sits on the beast which symbolizes a throne of knowledge and strength.

Sri Lanka, Belgium, and Zambia incorporated the power of the Lion through their national flags.

RELATED: Lion: Spiritual Meaning, Dream Meaning, Symbolism & More

A Banner of Lion of St Mark Hanging on a Balcony

Because lions are nocturnal creatures, they symbolize command and authority over subconscious thoughts and radiate with power as they have no natural predators.

For centuries, people uses the Lion as a sign of strength and power, just like the eagle. However, since lions hunt at night, they symbolize a sense of self-control and discipline if we look at the night as a synonym for our subconscious.

Photo of Lion on Grass Field

The goddess of battle and the vindictive embodiment of Ra’s physical strength, Sekhmet, was mostly shown as a lioness in Egypt.

The Lion is one of the symbols of the half-mortal half-god, Gilgamesh, who possessed inhumane amounts of strength in Mesopotamian mythology.

Further, the lion is related to bravery and dignity in ancient Persia. 

Wild lionesses and lion lying together representing ferocity

The Lion may have also represented might among the Greeks, according to Aesop, the famous Greek teller of tales. 

5. The Dragon as a Symbol of Strength

The dragon is a mythical creature. People described the dragon as either benevolent or malevolent in practically every major ancient culture. Dragons are most associated with East Asian culture, and they represent strength, power, and good fortune for those who are deserving.

The Chinese emperor also utilized the emblem as a royal symbol representing his absolute strength and power.

Many eastern cultures refer to exceptional and extraordinary people as dragons. Being referred to as a dragon is tremendous honor someone can receive because it symbolizes strength and power.

Legend has it that the Yellow Emperor, China’s first monarch, transformed into an immortal half-dragon upon rising to heaven at the end of his life.

6. Viking Symbol of Strength

The symbol is circularly shaped, with eight tridents spreading outwards from the middle of the Circle. Many used the emblem to induce terror in enemies’ minds in ancient times.

The Vikings of ancient times would paint the sign between their eyes, believing it would provide them entry to the spirit world, where they could wield their gods’ powers.

Vikings thought it would give them the ability to battle and immobilize the opponent with dread simply by looking at them.

Viking symbols sometimes look like adinkra symbols, but they are not to be confused.

7. Mjölnir, The Hammer of Thor 

Thor was a mighty warrior among the most powerful gods in Norse mythology. He used a mystical hammer known as Mjölnir as a weapon, which was so great that it could even demolish mountains.

As a result, Mjölnir became a sign of power among the Norse people. Furthermore, it was one of the most common Viking protective charms.

When confronting their rivals, their warriors wore Mjölnir pendants or had the sign tattooed on them to invoke the might and protection of their powerful god, Thor.

Thor’s hammer is still one of the most prominent Viking and Norse symbols today, appearing on jewelry and apparel.

8. Uruz

Uruz is the second rune in the Nordic alphabet, symbolizing growth, depicted as a simple symbol. The Uruz symbolizes unbridled physical and emotional strength, perseverance, reproduction, and courage. Further, it is known as the ‘the ox’s rune.’

People commonly worn the rune as an amulet to promote health and well-being. It provides the bearer with a sense of inner power and resilience.

The name ‘Uruz’ comes from ‘aurochs,’ the wild European oxen thought to be a mix between a bison and a mammoth. These animals are no longer alive since becoming extinct in the 17th century. But the symbol is still widely used around the world.

The Norse and Viking people used the Uruz as another symbol of great power

9. Oak Tree

Oak trees are well-known as a sign of resilience and strength. Because of its antifragility, oak wood is a suitable building component for furniture, structures, and large ships.

The amazing thing about oaks is that their roots grow down to the point where they virtually match the tree’s height, making them nearly impossible to tear down.

As a result, the tree can resist weather extremes such as thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes.

RELATED: Tree of Life Meaning Through 11 Cultures

Distant Photo of Oak Tree

Many ancient European societies revered the great oak as a sacred tree. It links to might, knowledge, and fortitude.

Greco-Roman culture regarded the tree holy and represented their supreme deity, Zeus. On the other hand, the Celts, Slavs, and Norse people considered the tree sacred and is closely tied with their thunder gods.

The tree’s Celtic name was ‘drus,’ which is also an adjunct for ‘strong’ and ‘tough.’

10. The Lotus Flower

Because of its perseverance in overcoming its muddy and dirty surroundings, the lotus flower signifies endurance and bravery in Buddhism. The lotus makes its way through murky, deep water until it rises to the top, where it fully opens its petals. The mental strength one must endure reaching the top reflects the challenges one must conquer to achieve their objective or goal.

4 Pink Lotus Flowers on Pond

However delicate and beautiful, the lotus flower depicts one’s power and strength to rise above the darkness and transform into the greatest feasible form of oneself. The reason is that the lotus flower thrives in murky swamps yet rises far above mud and blooms into a beautiful flower.

strength symbols lotus

The lotus blossom was and continues to be a significant symbol for many past and present civilizations and faith systems, including ancient Egyptians and Hindus.

11. The Hamsa Hand

The Hamsa symbol comes from the Arab “khamsa.” It means five. Further, it is a palm-shaped symbol with three straight fingers pressed together and two thumbs leaning away from the palm on each side.

It’s most popular and worn in Africa and the Middle East.

The Hand of Fatma is another name of the Hamsa hand. It brings its wearer protection from all evil and abundance for many decades.

Today, the Hamsa is worn in the form of jewelry, on clothing, as decoration on your front door, and even tattooed.

The hand of Fatma dates back thousands of years to Carthage and even ancient Mesopotamia. So, it’s no wonder the sign appears in Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, and the Muslim culture as a symbol of all-around good luck and protection from the evil eye and negativity.

RELATED: Hamsa Hand Symbol and Meaning Guide

12 What are the Symbolic Meanings of the Circle?

In several cultures, the Circle is also one of the oldest marks of importance. It signifies the greatest powers, such as purity, wholeness, and the eternal.

The Circle represented the sun in Ancient Egypt and was thus a sign of Ra, the highest Egyptian god.

This could also refer to the Ouroboros, a snake that bites on its tail. The Ouroboros was a sign of renewal and fulfillment within itself.

Meanwhile, in Ancient Greece, it is the perfect metaphor (monad) that links to heavenly symbolism and natural harmony.

It symbolized spiritual power for Buddhists in the east, representing the achievement of awakening and completeness.

The Chinese symbol Taiji in their culture illustrated The “Supreme Ultimate” – the unity before the dualism of yin and yang and the greatest imaginable cause from which life essentially flows.

13. The Cross

The cross is, without a doubt, the primary symbol of hope and inner strength.

It’s also a symbol of physical ability since it refers to Jesus’ capability to endure the agony of being crucified.

Crucifix Illustration

People believed that tattoos of a cross help people conquer difficulties in life better.

14. The Lightning Bolt

The lightning bolt dates back to Celtic symbols and ancient Greek mythology. Many cultures commonly viewed it as how the Gods punished non-believers. The lightning bolt associates with divine power. People frequently used it as a tattoo symbolizing one’s ability to overcome impossible odds in life.

Both men and women tattoo this symbol to express their inner strength and power.

It must have been quite a humble experience in different cultures to first witness the lightning bolt and the brute force of nature that it brings. 

Many civilizations believes thunderbolts connects with powerful deities. For the Hurrians and the Hittites, the lightning bolt was related to their god Teshub. For the Romans and the Greeks, it was Zeus. Some German cultures associated the bolt with Thor, who we mentioned before. 

It has long been one of the symbols of Indra, the god of heaven in Hinduism, who killed the huge serpent, which represents the notion of evil in India. Many tribes in the New World thought that the thunderbird, a mythical creature of enormous strength and power, creates lightning.

It was a symbol of Huracan among the people in Mesoamerica, a mighty god connected with various qualities such as storms, rulership, and magical powers. The lightning bolt also links to a higher presence in other major religions.

15. The Scarab Beetle, an Ancient Egyptian Symbol

One of Egypt’s most ancient symbols is the scarab beetle. Strength, vigor, productivity, rebirth, prosperity, and eternity are all represented by this symbol. The scarab links to the Egyptian deity Khepri. Khepri possessed the strength to pull the sun across the sky. 

Many people believe that wearing Scarab pendants and charms represents power and the endurance they need to overcome any problems in life. Thus, they worn it as a symbol of good luck. The hardness of its exterior acts as a type of shield and protection from any harm. 

16. Wolf as a Symbol of Strength

The wolf frequently shows to symbolize trust, protection, courage, freedom, and independence. In addition, several Native American tribes regarded the wolf as a powerful animal. They believed it created all things on earth and was the first creature to die.

Wild wolf and its meaning in Native American culture

The wolf is the best hunter. Also, many people associate it with possessing huge spiritual strength. It is also a social creature that communicates by physical movement, touching, and sound.

RELATED: Wolf: Spiritual Meaning, Dream Meaning, Symbolism & More

Other Animals Representing the Symbol of Strength:

17 The Bear

The bear symbolizes strength, vigor, bravery, and family for Native American tribes. It is highly independent and self-sufficient when it comes to most things. The bear also has a great deal of willpower and resilience.

Brown Bear in Close Up

As a result, the bear symbolizes strength and comfort to Native Americans who felt they needed some extra reassurance and solace when alone for long periods. 

18. The Horse

The horse has been a pillar of pride, power, and wisdom in various societies for thousands of years. The horse became holy among early civilizations for exactly that reason.

Greece and Rome highly respected it later on, its symbol signifying prosperity, strength, and prestige.

Horses on Grassland Across Mountain

The Horse, after the dragon, is among the most frequently depicted Chinese symbol in their history and art.

The horse sign had diverse connotations among Native American tribes across the Pacific. Most cultures from the old world associates the horse with power, youthful vigor, and strength.

19. The Raven

Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “The Raven” is one of the most famous examples of the utilization of this enigmatic and legendary bird, which is typically connected with its relative, the crow.

Black raven closeup

The raven has become associated with death and dread in the human mind as a bird that feeds on rotting corpses. Ravens’ symbolism is so widespread that people today associate them with a bad omen.

All types of visual interpreters can use the raven sign to foretell loss and tragedy or create a grim atmosphere.

20. The Dove Symbol

Dove symbol closely correlates with peace, serenity, and gentleness. Its significance has become so widespread that some of the world’s biggest religions like Christianity and Judaism used it as the most accurate image of peace, mercy, and the divine

strength symbols dove

It has also become associated with peace and the end of a battle in present society. Further, society may use this religious symbol as a symbol for anti-violence initiatives in a political form and the Olympics. It has become a medium for promoting worldwide peace and collaboration.

All messengers can use the symbol to convey tranquility, unity, oneness, and the lack of aggression.

21. Butterfly Symbolism

Because of its metamorphosis from a small caterpillar to a gorgeous creature with strikingly colorful wings, the art world and mythology recognized the butterfly as a symbol of change and transformation all over the world.

Yellow and Black Butterflies Cocoon

Certain civilizations used stunning butterfly as a symbol of the soul. Further, mythical stories featured the butterfly to symbolize a visit from someone who has died or the potential of life beyond death.

The “Titanic” utilized the ornamental butterflies on Rose’s hairbrush to reflect her escape from the cocoon of her marriage to a partner she didn’t really love.

strength symbols butterfly

Anyone can use this symbol of the butterfly to physically express any type of internal or external shift or metamorphosis.

RELATED: Butterfly: Spiritual Meaning, Dream Meaning, Symbolism & More

22. The Owl

The owl as a symbol is as popular as it has ever been, with owls appearing in everything from jewelry and apparel to interior decoration and household items. However, the popularity of the owl is nothing new.

The fact that an owl typically followed Athena, the Greek goddess of knowledge, contributed to its ancient significance as a symbol. Native American beliefs associates the owl to the mystical world and even death since it is a nocturnal creature.

strength symbols owl

Owls are seen as fascinating and supernatural beings who live in the shadows and rise from them due to their nocturnal nature. The creatures were even thought to be witches in disguise by European settlers during the Middle Ages. 

Similarly, the owl was seen as a bearer of secret messages and a companion of wizards and witches in Aboriginal Australian and West African civilizations.

An owl can be used to signify knowledge, intellect, or an obstacle that needs to be overcome in logo design.

23. Wild Boar Celtic Symbol

The wild boar was undoubtedly one of those animals that held special significance as a Celtic symbol.

Wild boars are fearsome, deadly, and formidable beasts, and the Celts viewed them as a symbol of power, bravery, and prosperity. In Chinese culture, the wild boar was considered a symbol of strength.

24. B’alam: The Symbol for Strength in Mayan Culture

The Mayans believed that the Balam was used to depict a jaguar. The Jaguar was thought to be one of the first gods ruling the underworld.

In Mayan society, the Jaguar was a sign of power, symbolizing savagery, dominance, and courage.

This animal is respected and feared because its name means the one who kills with one strike. 

Gloria White

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