Symbols of rebirth have existed since ancient times, embodying the idea that life is cyclical – with death comes rebirth.
While rebirth can refer to reincarnation, it can also refer to a new beginning after trials and tribulations. You don’t have to believe in religious or spiritual reincarnation to appreciate the beauty of these symbols – most people can relate to the idea of being born again.
With that said, we’ve rounded up the different symbols of rebirth around the world, highlighting how they’re used in jewelry.
Symbolism: Rebirth, eternal life, and protection
Frequently featured in ancient Egyptian sculptures and paintings, the scarab beetle has long been regarded as a symbol of rebirth and everlasting life. Many scarab beetles from ancient Egyptian times have been found, with most mummified and bearing inscriptions with royal names. The Latin name for the scarab beetle indicates the importance of its perceived symbolism – Scarabaeus sacer, which means sacred scarab— while its Egyptian name means either one that comes into this world, or to be created.
In ancient Egypt, the scarab beetle was associated with Khepri, the scarab-faced god who represents the rising sun. It became a symbol of rebirth, as sunrise marks the beginning of a new day. Egyptians were also fascinated with how these insects lay eggs in dung balls, and believed that scarab eggs were spontaneously generated from them.
Scarab beetles were regarded as a symbol of eternal life throughout the ancient world. Scarab amulets were worn for protection, while funerary amulets ensured the rebirth of the deceased person. In modern times, they’re still widely recognized for their symbolism. So, think of a scarab beetle design in your jewelry to remind you of the never-ending cycle of life.
Symbolism: Rebirth, immortality, and resurrection
The phoenix is a mythical bird that dies in a burst of flames, and rises again from its ashes, thereby representing rebirth. Different cultures have their own versions of the phoenix—the Chinese have the fenghuang, and the Persians have the simorgh, but the phoenix is associated with Greek mythology. There are many versions of the legend of the phoenix. Some believe that only one phoenix exists at any given time, and it lives for more than 500 years.
The beauty of the phoenix’s myth lies in its ability to be reborn from the flames – an apt metaphor for emerging stronger than ever from difficulties. The phoenix is widely recognized as an emblem of rebirth and is a reminder that endings can also lead to new beginnings.
Symbolism: Cyclic nature of death and rebirth and infinity
The name of this symbol is derived from the Greek words ouro and boros, meaning tail and eating respectively. The ouroboros features either a dragon or snake in a circular form eating its own tail, as if it’s devouring itself in order to survive. This image of a creature devouring its own tail has been used to represent the cycle of death and rebirth, as well as of destruction and regeneration.
The oldest depiction of the ouroboros was found in an Egyptian funerary text in Tutankhamen’s tomb, which dates to the 14th century BCE. It’s thought to represent the beginning and end of time, and therefore was also featured on cemetery gates and funerary monuments.
One of the most unique, intimidating, yet auspicious symbols to wear in jewelry, the ouroboros can be a reminder that things never die out, but only keep changing.
Symbolism: Rebirth, immortality, and enlightenment
The lotus flower submerges into the muddy water at night, but then rises above its dirty environment the next morning. This seemingly miraculous cycle has associated the flower with rebirth and new beginnings.
In ancient Egypt, the lotus was also a symbol of immortality, as the closing and opening of the petals were associated with the entrance to the underworld and with reincarnation. In The Egyptian Book of the Dead, there are spells that transform a person into a lotus flower.
In Buddhism, a closed lotus bud suggests that someone is still going through a spiritual path, while a fully bloomed lotus symbolizes enlightenment. One of the most meaningful flowers used in jewelry, the lotus can also inspire you to rise above struggles and bloom beautifully.
There are numerous lotus jewelry designs to choose from. Some feature the silhouette of the open flower, while others depict a more 3D look, like this pendant, while others are studded with gemstones or crafted not fine jewelry, like this stunning lotus diamond ring.
Symbolism: Rebirth, life, healing, and renewal
Water is essential to life, so it also plays a significant role in religious rituals. In Eastern Orthodox Christian traditions, water is believed to possess healing powers. In Hinduism, it’s associated with purification and spiritual cleansing. It’s also regarded as a symbol of rebirth and renewal, as baptisms are thought to stand for spiritual death and resurrection.
Water has been used as a metaphorical symbol in literature too and can be interpreted in many ways. In The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, it represents rebirth, as the old man was able to catch fish again after being dragged into the sea.
Water in jewelry has a cool, almost ethereal feel to it and there’s no one accepted way of depicting water. Some jewelry designs feature the alchemical symbol of water, the inverted triangle like this minimalist pendant, while others depict it as waves or highlight its blue hues, like this beautiful piece.
Tree of Life
Symbolism: Rebirth, life, and immortality
A widespread motif in many mythologies and folktales, the tree of life is thought to be the source of life planted at the center of the world. It has been attributed various meanings over time, including being the connection between the heavens and the earth.
The tree of life also goes through cycles of death and regeneration, associating it with rebirth and immortality. Most jewelry designs feature the tree of life with spreading branches and roots. Since it has universal symbolism, it can be worn by anyone.
Symbolism: Rebirth and resurrection
A kettle-shaped vessel used for cooking and ritual ceremonies; the cauldron has great significance in Celtic mythologies. In Welsh tales of war, there’s a cauldron of rebirth that has the power to resurrect the dead unless they’ve been decapitated.
In 1880, a silver cauldron was found in Gundestrup, Denmark depicting Celtic gods and goddesses, along with mythological scenes. The cauldron may be one of the most unusual themes in jewelry, but it can add some mythical flair to your look.
Symbolism: Rebirth, change, and transformation
The butterfly begins its life as a caterpillar, hibernates in a cocoon, and later spreads its wings and flies. No wonder, it has become a symbol of change, rebirth, and transformation, reminding us of the life struggles we have to face in order to become a better person.
Most jewelry designs depict the butterflies’ vibrant colors and graceful movements. Some are studded with colorful gemstones, while others look artistic in enamel designs, like this crystal-studded ring. Butterfly jewelry wouldn’t only add a whimsical flair to your statement, but also reminds you to welcome change and new beginnings.
Symbolism: Rebirth, renewal, and immortality
Because snakes have the miraculous ability to shed their skin, the ancients thought that the creature was regenerating itself, a view that associated it with renewal and rebirth. The ancient Greeks even regarded them as sacred, and used them to honor Asclepius, the god of healing and medicine. In Japanese culture, white snakes are thought to be messengers to the human world, traveling between heaven and the underworld.
In jewelry designs, snakes are commonly depicted with their scaly skin, adding an exotic flair to the piece. Their eyes are commonly decorated with colorful gemstones, such as rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. If you need a dose of inspiration, snakes will encourage you to shed off the past and be born again.
Symbolism: Rebirth and good health
Even fruits have gained symbolic meanings in the legends and myths of different cultures. Some Native American tribes associate strawberries with spring and rebirth, as these fruits are the first to ripen during the season. The Seneca of the northern United States consider strawberries to be a symbol of good health. Make your style sweeter and more playful with strawberry earrings!
Symbolism: Growth, fertility, renewal, and rebirth
From simple shapes to intricate web of veins, leaf motifs became popular in jewelry during the Victorian and Art Nouveau periods.
The humble leaf holds various meanings, including growth, fertility, and rebirth. While this depends on the type of leaf, it’s color, and stage in life, in general, leaves hold positive meanings. While green leaves convey renewal and hope, blazing orange leaves represent sadness and a change of season. On the other hand, fallen leaves are associated with endings and death.
In heraldry, leaves can stand for different virtues, but grape leaves generally symbolize rebirth and freedom. In the West, the expression turning over a new leaf means starting anew and amending past mistakes.
Today, you’ll see jewelry designs that depict leaves often decorated with gemstones and colorful enamel. Because of their versatility, leaf motifs are a stunning embellishment for a nature-inspired design.
The concept of rebirth varies, but it appeals to people’s desire for vitality, a long life, and new beginnings. The symbols listed above are a reminder that life gets better, that there can be new beginnings born out of trials and tribulations, and that there just may be a second life waiting around the corner.