Anchor Symbolic Meanings

Anchor Symbolic Meanings

The image of an anchor is more than just a popular sailor tattoo. Its shape alone speaks wonders of symbolism. For example, the curved crescent along the bottom is symbolic of female energies, the “yin” in Asian belief systems. By the same accord, the vertical rod is paired with the male “yang” energy.

The shape of the anchor can then be symbolized as a sign of both the dualities and harmonies found in the universe. As for general themes, the anchor has a plethora of them, many of which are particularly relevant for water-lovers and travelers. Steadfastness and all bodies of water are good examples of this.

Stability is also an ideal thing to have when you’re on a boat in the middle of the ocean. However, the anchor can speak to any person of things that occur in every day life. These more generic meanings include an increased sense of hope, good luck (especially in journeys), fidelity and truth, security, and salvation.


Ancient Anchor Symbolism

The anchor symbol has been found in many ancient art works of cultures past. In ancient Egyptian art, the anchor represented gender, as well. Drawings and engravings have been found with snakes making up the upper half of the anchor. This is a strongly phallic symbol, as it is perfectly erect. The curvature at the bottom forms the complement of the male form: the female form.

A crescent is also synonymous with the shape of the moon, which is strongly feminine and fertile in nature. When combined together to form the anchor, these two symbolic entities form a fertile pair capable of procreation. As such, the anchor meaning can be perceived as a symbol of creation.

Art of the Renaissance also depicted anchors, especially in accompany with dolphins. For seafaring folk, this was interpreted as moderating speed (the dolphin) with resistance (the anchor). Dolphins are representative of our carefree fun sides, while anchors remind us to be grounded and not forget our responsibilities. In this relationship, anchors act as a stabilizer. For us, the combination of these two symbols remind us to practice balance between taking quick, impulsive action and reacting with sound judgment.

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Anchor & God Goddess Symbolic Meanings

Several gods and goddesses of ancient mythologies also had symbolism with the sturdy anchor. In Roman lore, the sea god, Neptune, was a natural pair with it. He was also believed to create and control storms and shake the Earth. His Greek counterpart was named Poseidon, who was known to be highly temperamental and rebellious against Zeus.

The ancient Greeks also believed in a half-man, half-fish deity, Triton, who had some ability to control the waters with a blow of his conch. Ran, the old Norse sea goddess, was believed to tug on sea anchors to alert seamen of bad weather and tumultuous waters ahead.

Even the Hindus had an official god of the oceans. Varuna took care of those who died at sea, with his ability to make the most noble of humans immortal.

anchor symbol

Christians and Jews, on the other hand, had a slightly different idea of anchor symbolism. As the anchor somewhat resembles a cross, Christians believed that this sign would bring them salvation after they paid due sacrifice, like Christ.

During the first years of Christianity, it was quite risky to profess your faith, as the Romans were not big fans of the influence that the man that they executed had over their subjects. Anchors were used as symbols instead of crosses so that one could identify him or herself as Christian in a covert manner. Jews viewed the anchor as a reminder of God’s omnipresence and humble grounding nature.

Although the anchor has strong historical roots, its interpretation is up to you to decide. You can take a basic foundation from these contexts and use them as a starting point for your own personal exploration of what the anchor symbolic meaning means to you.

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One comment

  1. Leah,
    Thank you for putting together many different
    ideas and thoughts together on anchors. I especially enjoyed your invitation st the end to create our own meaning in our lives.

    I wish you no disrespect. There was one area that made me sad to read “Christians believed that this sign would bring them salvation after they paid due sacrifice, like Christ.” It made me sad because Christ died and rose so that we could have salvation our only part is to accept that He did that for us and admit we need Him. He is THE ultimate sacrifice.

    I hope I have not offended you but only shared my heart with you.

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