Water lily

Symbols for guidance and healing

In Insight and Experience by peter.deanLeave a Comment

We are surrounded by symbols. They all have a specific meaning. They can guide us on our journey and they can heal us.


Our spiritual connection to symbols goes very deep. Of course, the reaction to them is not always the same. Our unconscious recognises some of them immediately for the power that is inherent in them. Others we might have to study a bit longer until we realise their potential. There could also be those which seem to mean nothing to us, but when they are interpreted, we fully appreciate their hidden beauty.

However, they all have one thing in common: they are much more than an interesting image. They give out certain vibrations that speak to us in a transcendent way. By meditating on them, we will arrive at a clear message that gives us guidance for a better understanding of ourselves, or they may let us be engulfed by their strength in order to heal a specific ailment. Most symbols are intrinsically connected to one or another illness, which might have manifested in either a physical, mental or spiritual form.

These seemingly humble, but powerful, images have accompanied humanity throughout the ages. Some are thousands of years old; others are still being created as we speak. There are literally hundreds of them, but let us concentrate on two from ancient times and one which has been created fairly recently.

The lotus

An extremely important symbol, representing knowledge, wisdom, spirituality and art. It also is often connected with divinity, fertility, wealth and enlightenment. The flower, and its symbol, is closely associated with Hinduism and Buddhism. In these religions, it stands for the need to discover and embrace the spiritual aspects of life. The flower’s growth is symbolic itself. In the beginning it is embedded in the mud at the bottom of a pond, a river or a lake. Then it sprouts, drawn by the light that shines through the water. When it finally reaches the surface, it will blossom and end up as a flower of exquisite and rare beauty.

Originally, the goddess of the lotus was Padma (‘lotus’ in Sanskrit). She was more than likely the Indian version of the great mother goddess of ancient times. Hindus perceive the lotus as an image of a person’s true soul. Rising above the muck at the bottom and striving for the light and thus achieving enlightenment, finally, beauty will bloom and show an image that gives pleasure to the world.

Buddhists possibly revere the lotus even more. After all, the Buddha himself is described as having “lotus eyes and lotus feet”. Since the flower and its symbol represent knowledge (NOT book learning but REAL knowledge), wisdom and enlightenment, they are of course a very important image indeed.

Although the flower and its symbol is most revered in India, it has significant meaning in many other cultures. This, of course, is the case with many symbols. The ancient Egyptians worshipped it, the Chinese believed in its potency and power and the Mayans of Yucatan (Mexico) depicted it frequently on pots and reliefs.

The symbol of the lotus reminds us of our purpose on this planet. Work through the muck and become a flower. In other words, there is nothing that can stop us if we only believe in ourselves. Whenever doubts or fears rear their ugly head, the lotus will remind us to overcome them and face the world. Before long, we will be admired for our courage and tenacity, but during our journey we will be reminded that there is only one path to take, the path to the light.

The lotus can also give us the strength to fight an illness or a disease. Look what it had to go through to bloom in health and beauty. It certainly wasn’t an easy path. So why should you give up or give in?

The lotus is particularly powerful and efficient for women, but men can use it too, since it might uplift the female side of their personality. In turn, this will strengthen the male part as well.


The concept of yin and yang is thousands of years old. It is the basis of virtually every thought form in Chinese philosophy, medicine, art, exercise and martial techniques. It also plays a vital role in everyday life. The symbol itself represents how we should view the world. The circle stands for ‘everything’. In the never-ending continuation of its line it can go on forever and therefore encompass all things possible.

The white (yang) and the black (yin) shapes fill this void. Everything is now in motion, even sometimes in turmoil. The two forces interact, flowing from one to the other, never standing still until they find perfect harmony. Then it is all quiet again. The balance in life has been restored. Yin and yang are not only symbolising our journey on Earth, but describing and representing it as well. Yin is female; yang is male. But we should never see one concept without the other. They are constantly flowing. Neither one is ever the dominant factor. A female can be extremely yang, just as a male can be extremely yin. This is one of the fascinating aspects of life. Opposites are constantly weaving a rich mosaic. The diversity will forever keep us spellbound.

We all experience this constant interplay of the opposites, not only in the state of our health, or in the affairs of the world, but also in ourselves. From the moment we are born, our actions are based on a wide range of emotions – some are yin, some are yang. After all, we are part of nature and nature itself serves up opposites all the time. One moment it is peaceful and lovely and we are lulled into a weak state of mind. The next it is in turmoil, dramatic, dangerous, and asks us to be strong and act decisively.

This symbol is one of the strongest examples to guide us through stormy or difficult times. Whenever we feel that life is getting us down, it would be advisable to meditate on the simple image of yin and yang. Soon, our thoughts and emotions will calm down. We will find solutions where we thought there were none. We finally can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it shines brighter and brighter the longer we look at it.

People in responsible positions should always be aware of the yin and yang symbol. Perhaps keep its image at a place where they can see it easily. It will help them in making the right decisions and let them overcome the destructive force of self-righteousness.

The concept of yin and yang was also the basis for Chinese scientific thinking. In particular in medicine. If yang is too strong, yin may be too weak. If yin is too strong, yang is too weak. If we don’t know how to use this principle, our body will decay early. By observing external symptoms, we get to know internal diseases.

This automatically tells us that the symbol can be effectively used in case of various illnesses. A lot of them are mainly an outcome of being out of balance. It can be restored to a great extent by very directed meditation, going deeply into the image of the yin and yang. Becoming one with it and fully transcend into its higher meaning.

Handshake for peace

A modern example of how powerful symbols can become is the ‘handshake for peace’. This simple gesture, where two people grip each others’ hands sideways, has been adopted by FIFA and the Nobel Peace Center in Norway to be used during the World Cup in Brazil. As one official put it: “Will it change the world? No! Will it change anything in the world? Yes, more than likely!”

Quite clearly, the symbol wants to show everybody that we all can be friends, even if we compete with each other. It transcends national, racial and religious discrimination.

May it be a stepping stone to a better world where we can live in harmony and a higher sense of spirituality.


Peter Dean has worked with symbols for 30 years. He has given readings and conducted many workshops in Australia, Europe and the United States. He is the author of “The Power of Symbols”. 0429 223 981

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