What is love? We spend our whole lives looking for it, but this elusive idea means different things to different people. That’s why there are so many different love symbols. No one symbol could possibly express something so unique!
If you’re looking for the perfect way to show your special person how you feel, you need my round-up of some of the most beautiful love symbols and what they mean.
From Valentine’s Day hearts to swans on a lake, love symbols are everywhere. They come from different regions and religions, and each one represents a slightly different type of love.
Hearts are a universal symbol of love. They’ve been used as a love symbol since at least medieval times, but became really popular when used on Valentine’s Day cards in Victorian Britain.
There are different theories about where the classic love heart shape comes from. Some claim it’s linked to ancient plant lore, as the shape is similar to Silphium and Asafoetida fruits. Intrinsically sexual in nature, these fruits were used as contraceptives and aphrodisiacs in ancient cultures.
Heart shapes have also been linked to fig trees: they resemble fig leaves, and the fruit symbolizes fertility.
In the late Middle Ages and through the Renaissance, heart shapes appeared in Christian art. They represented Jesus’ love for all humanity. By the mid-1800s, hearts had started to simply symbolize love.
While the brain represents logic, the heart is the body’s emotional center. It’s responsible for affection, love, and romance. Biologically, the heart is crucial – it carries life-giving oxygen around the body. Love is as vital to humans as blood, so the heart’s energy is responsible for everything we feel.
When someone is lovesick, the pain is so sharp it’s as if the heart has been pierced by an arrow. The symbol for “brokenhearted” is a heart that’s literally broken in two, showing that deep healing is needed. “Wholehearted” means you’re giving something everything you possibly can – just like someone who is truly committed to their romantic relationship.
This heart is a classic symbol for romantic love. If you’re looking for a failsafe way to say, “I love you”, hearts are an excellent choice.
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Roses are truly timeless love symbols. They first appeared in Greek and Roman mythology. Aphrodite/Venus was the goddess of love (she is most associated with sexual love, which is why libido-bossing foods are called “aphrodisiacs”).
The goddess is often shown wearing roses, and Greek mythology recounts that roses grew from the ground where her tears mixed with her lover Adonis’ blood. Greeks and Romans also wore garlands of roses during weddings in the 4th and 5th centuries BC.
Roses were also love symbols in other ancient cultures. Some Hindu tradition says that Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune, was created from rose petals (although others say lotus flowers). An ancient Arabic story details how a white rose turned red with a lover’s blood, symbolizing eternal love. Early Christians believed that roses signified the Virgin Mary’s love and virtue.
Different colored roses represent different types of love. Yellow roses are a symbol of friendship; orange roses show passion; pink roses are for appreciation; lavender roses denote love at first site. The iconic, romantic red rose simply says, “I love you”.
Red roses are so strongly associated with romance that more than 250 million of the flowers are grown especially for Valentine’s Day every year! They are a beautiful, classic, and meaningful way to show someone special that you share the truest love.
Celtic Love Knot
Celts were ancient European tribes. Their religion, art, and culture precede Christianity by hundreds of years, making their love symbols some of the most enduring in history – perfect for expressing an everlasting love!
Celtic love knots are like large, complex infinity symbols. They feature intricate designs with no obvious start or end. Instead, continuous strands are woven around themselves, creating a complicated and beautiful design where the two strands cannot be distinguished from each other.
These knots are deeply symbolic. The two inseparable strands signify intertwined lovers whose hearts cannot be divided. Their endless design represents both eternal love and eternal life. They display a love that has no beginning or end, and which is as enduring as the design itself.
The Celtic love knot is a perfect representation of an eternal, prevailing love. It’s a powerful declaration of commitment, as it shows your loved one that you will never let them go.
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Another famous Celtic love symbol is the Claddagh, an intricate motif of two hands holding either side of a crowned heart.
There are several origin stories for the pretty symbol, but the tale of Richard Joyce is definitely the most enchanting. Richard was a silversmith from a village called Claddagh in County Galway, Ireland. In the late 1600s, he was captured by Algerian pirates, and sold as a slave to a Moorish goldsmith.
He learned from his master, eventually becoming a skilled artist in his own right. He crafted a gold ring with the now-famous symbol, and took it with him when he was released from Algeria.
Joyce returned home to Ireland, gave the ring to his sweetheart, and married her. He went on to become a successful jeweler, and his initials are found on some of the oldest Claddagh rings, which are dated to 1700.
Claddagh rings are popular as wedding and engagement rings, especially in their native Ireland. However, according to Irish tradition, you can buy one for yourself and wear it to show your relationship status:
- When worn on your right hand, with the point of the heart facing away from your body, it shows that you’re single and looking for love.
- Wearing the ring on your right hand with the heart pointed towards your body shows that you’re in a relationship.
- Placing the ring on your left ring finger with the heart pointing towards your fingertips shows that you’re engaged.
- Wearing your Claddagh ring on your left ring finger with the heart facing you shows that you’re married.
The design’s three elements all carry deeper meaning. The two hands represent friendship, the heart symbolizes love, and the crown signifies loyalty. Altogether, the Claddagh symbolizes a love built on trust and commitment.
In Greek mythology, Aphrodite was the goddess of love, procreation, and beauty. Doves were one of Aphrodite’s symbols, and are sometimes depicted drawing her chariot. Fittingly for a goddess of love and procreation, doves mate for life.
They also represent purity and peace: in the Bible, a dove brought an olive branch to Noah’s ark as a sign that God had forgiven humanity.
There’s an ancient tradition for newlyweds to release a pair of doves at the end of their marriage ceremony. It is believed that the doves will bring the new couple joy, prosperity, and a long, happy life together. Seeing doves on your wedding day is also a symbol of luck.
Doves represent a very wholesome love. This powerful love symbol shows long-term partnership and commitment, as well as a willingness to work through the tough times together.
Swans are also strongly associated with the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite. In ancient Greek art, she is often depicted riding sidesaddle on a swan.
Swans symbolize love and fidelity. They mate for life, caring for their young together through several nesting cycles to ensure their fragile babies survive into adulthood.
Additionally, the intertwined necks of swans forming a heart shape is one of the most iconic romantic images we know.
Swans are also associated with fresh beginnings, hope, and purity. As a love symbol, they signify partnership, commitment, and true, simple love that lasts for a lifetime.
Shells are another love symbol which have stood the test of time. They appear in love mythology from different cultures, eras, and regions.
Ancient Romans believed shells represented rejuvenation, and that the goddess of love, Venus, was created from sea foam and washed ashore in a shell. She frequently appears standing in a scallop shell.
Ancient Hindus used a conch shell to call out to their loves, believing that hearts that were ready for love would hear the shell’s call and answer. Cowrie shells were used through the Mediterranean, Middle East, and South Pacific as charms for fertility and symbols of femininity.
In nature, hard shells provide a safe home for other organisms. They also create a safe space where beautiful things – pearls – can grow. Shells represent a protective and protected love which is deeply nourishing. They are associated with female love, and symbolize wholesomeness and growth.
Ubiquitous in Renaissance and Romantic art, Cupid is an instantly-recognized symbol of love. Usually shown as a chubby baby angel, his bow and arrow render their victims lovestruck. This symbolism means Cupid is a popular Valentine’s Day motif.
In Roman mythology, Cupid is the son of Venus, goddess of love. The name Cupid comes from the Latin meaning “desire”. However, instead of Venus’ romantic love, Cupid is associated with passion and lust. Cupid is the Roman interpretation of Grecian Eros, whose name inspired the word “erotic”, denoting sexual passion and excitement.
If you’re looking for a love symbol that speaks to devotion and eternity, Cupid isn’t for you. He has wings because lust is flighty. He is represented by a young child instead of an adult to show immaturity. His symbols are arrows and torches, showing that his type of love wounds and inflames the heart.
Cupid is synonymous with love – but probably not the kind of love that most of us are looking for.
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While many of us most associate maple leaves with Canada and maple syrup, they are actually important symbols in other cultures, too.
In Japan, it’s traditional to go and see the cherry trees as they blossom, heralding in the spring. The Japanese also go to see the maple leaves in the fall: the changing colors and dropping leaves represent the continuation of life.
In Japan and parts of China, the leaves are also an emblem for love. They represent the beauty and sweetness that love brings to everyday life, and the hope that this sweetness will continue through the seasons and years.
Settlers in North America used to place maple leaves in their beds to encourage sexual pleasure and sweet sleep that was untroubled by demons. North Americans also depicted storks weaving maple branches into their nests, symbolizing the sweetness of bringing a new baby home.
Maple leaves are an unusual love symbol, but they represent a very sweet, pure, and wholesome love.
How To Use Love Symbols
Choosing and using love symbols isn’t easy. In fact, if you’ve read through my list and you’re still not sure which symbol is for you, you may want to speak to a love psychic for clarity.
If you’re already in a healthy and loving relationship, you may want to choose a love symbol to give your special someone to show them how you really feel. If this is the case, all you need to do is choose the image that speaks to you the most.
If you’re in a relationship but you don’t think it’s healthy, you could be in a karmic relationship. While you could try a love psychic reading, psychics and symbols won’t help you here: karmic relationships exist to help you learn something important. No love symbol will be able to save a karmic relationship.
If you’re looking for love, love symbols can definitely help you. Choose the symbol you most connect to, and try to truly internalize its message. Try meditating with the symbol in mind (or, if it helps you, a physical version or picture of it). By deliberately and consciously introducing a love symbol and everything it represents into your mind, you will open your heart to finding the kind of love you’re looking for.