Are you looking for a sign? Maybe you’ve got a decision to make and you’re holding out for a message from the universe?
You’re not alone.
Humans have long looked to symbols of guidance and direction. Passed from one generation to the next, guidance symbols share moral codes, inspire bravery, and offer hope and comfort. Many of these symbols of guidance and direction are common to cultures, countries, and centuries far apart.
In this article, let’s take a look at 27 of these symbols and deeper meaning they are trying to convey.
The compass is a symbol of guidance, direction, safety, protection and hope. It’s a powerful navigational tool for any traveler as it helps them find the way by pointing them in the right direction. It’s no wonder that this tool has been used since ancient times by seafarers, adventurers, explorers, and people in all walks of life.
In addition to navigation, compasses have also been used in divination, for instance, to help position buildings in line with the principles of Feng Shui or Vastu.
Also, a compass always points to the north direction which symbolizes progression and advancement.
2. North star
The North star is one of the brightest stars visible in the northern hemisphere. It symbolizes guidance, direction, inspiration, freedom and hope.
The specialty about this star is that it does not move and appears anchored in the northern sky acting as a landmark (or a skymark) of the sky’s north pole. Because of this, the North star is highly important for navigation and has been used to find direction since ancient times. This is one of the reasons why it is also known as the ‘guiding star’.
A lantern is a powerful symbol of guidance because not only do they reveal the path ahead but they also act as beacons in the dark, offering hope and inspiring gratitude. The construction of the lantern is such that it remains glowing even in rough weather by consuming very little fuel.
The sight of red lanterns at Chinese New Year is a familiar one, representing new beginnings, abundance, and peace. Yellow lanterns, once reserved only for imperial rulers, are thought to bring good luck. Similarly, green lanterns are associated with health and harmony.
Bells are related to guidance because they demand attention. At the start of meditation, ringing a bell can sharpen your focus and encourage you to look inward. Sometimes bells act as a warning, reminding you to be cautious and slow down, or perhaps speed up to avoid danger. For instance, since ancient times, ships have used what is known as a ‘fog bell’ which is rung when sailing through fog to indicate their location to other ships or boats.
Bells also mark the passage of time, symbolizing new beginnings, or encouraging you to finish what you’ve started.
Chickadees are beautiful birds filled with endless energy and enthusiasm. They symbolize joy, self expression, insight, positivity, lightheartedness and friendship.
In Native American culture, chickadees are considered symbols of guidance, good luck, wisdom, honesty and positive energy. They are seen as prophetic birds that tell the truth about the things that are to follow. Seeing a chickadee or dreaming of one is said to indicate that you are on the right path and that your desires will manifest soon. A chirping chickadee is seen as an indication of good weather and seeing an upside down chickadee a sign of good news that is to follow.
In ancient Egypt, hedgehogs were carried by sailors during their travels because it was believed that they could sense bad weather that was coming. This is why hedgehogs became symbols of guidance for safe passage through the river Nile.
Hedgehogs also symbolize happiness, relaxation, inner peace, optimism and carefree living.
Fireflies illuminate the dark with their own inner light and hence symbolize guidance, direction, energy, motivation, self reliance, spiritual awakening and inner power. As a guide, the firefly encourages you to look within and follow your heart or your own inner light (your intuition). It tells you that your guide lies within you and all that you need to do is connect with it and allow it to lead you forward.
8. Rock cairn
Cairns are stacks of stones made by carefully balancing the stones on each other. Since ancient times, cairns have severed a variety of purposes including being used as navigational aids. Cairns were constructed by travelers as a landmark to help fellow travelers find the way. To a traveler, cairns served as an assurance that they are on the right path and that someone has already been there. This is why cairns can be considered as symbols of guidance, reassurance and direction.
Since ancient times, dogs have been used by humans to help them safely navigate and find their way through dark forests and unknown territories. Dogs have a keen sense of direction and have been known to navigate using the earth’s magnetic field. This is why dogs are symbols of guidance, direction, protection and loyalty among others.
The Vegvisir is a sacred Scandinavian symbol, reminiscent of a compass and often associated with the Vikings. The symbol is made of four lines crossing in the middle, with motifs decorating the ends of each line.
It was believed that this symbol had magical powers of protection, guidance and good luck and that the one who carries it will always find a way. This is why, this symbol was often affixed to ships to ensure safe voyage. In fact, the term vegvisir is derived from two Icelandic words – ‘Vegur’, meaning, ‘Path’ and ‘Visir’, meaning, ‘Guide’.
Lighthouses are perhaps one of the strongest symbols for guidance in the world. Resting high atop steep cliffs at the ocean’s edge, these towers are lit with the sole purpose of guiding ships to safety amid dark and often stormy seas.
In everyday life, we can draw upon the deeper symbolism of the lighthouse to help us navigate the treacherous waters of our own lives. Relationships, jobs, and emotions can often leave us floundering. But by focusing on long-term goals, we can steer our ships around rocks and waves to stay safe and secure on our chosen path.
12. Yatagarasu – Crow God
Yatagarasu is a three-legged crow that symbolizes divine guidance. As per Japanese mythology, Yatagarasu was sent from the heavens to guide Emperor Jimmu (the first emperor of Japan) during his journey from Kumano to Yamato. This is why Yatagarasu is considered to be the god of guidance. Yatagarasu is also believed to be an incarnation of the Sun god.
Manaia is a Maori symbol, typically shown in a figure of eight design, with the head of a bird and the tail of a fish.
This mythical creature acts as a messenger between the living and the dead, symbolizing the connection between the physical and spiritual worlds. A sign from Manaia is thought to be an important reminder to slow down and tune into your spiritual side so that you can benefit from any guidance offered.
Since ancient times, seahorses have been viewed as magical creatures and sighting them has been linked to good luck and positive outcomes. Sailors and divers have been known to view seahorses as a symbol of guidance as sighting them was linked to good luck and protection helping them navigate through rough waters with confidence.
Seahorses also symbolize strength, gentleness, peace, insight and persistence.
The string ray is a large animal but has the ability to navigate calmly and serenely in deep waters. The stingray acts as a guide reminding you to do the same and navigate your life with calmness and presence so you can overcome any setbacks and achieve your dreams.
Own is a bird with spectacular vision and a calm demeanor, and is commonly used to represent wisdom and knowledge.
The sight of a snowy owl, in particular, is said to be a symbol of intelligence, perhaps a reminder to look inward and follow your intuition. The owl’s ability to see during the night represents your own ability to see through things and make correct decisions even when times are rough.
Owls also represent guidance in many parts of the world. For instance, in Indonesia, people decipher the owl’s different calls to decide if or not to travel or undertake any new venture.
17. Ship wheel
The helm (steering wheel) of a ship helps the helmsman navigate the ship through rough weather and troubled waters to a safe destination. This is why the helm is a symbol of direction, guidance and navigation.
18. Languz rune
The Laguz (pronounced “log-uhz”) rune symbolizes guidance during tough times. It encourages you to let go of doubts and trust your inner voice (intuition), believe in yourself and to open yourself up to new possibilities.
A starfish is a symbol of guidance because of its ability to navigate itself intuitively even in the dark depths of the ocean where there is no sunlight. It serves as a reminder of your inner light and that you are always guided from within.
20. Compass Rose
A compass rose is a figure used in navigational tools like a compass, maps or nautical charts to display the orientation of the cardinal directions which are – North, South, East and West. Because of this the compass rose just like the compass is a symbol of guidance and direction. It encourages you to approach any situation with self belief and to always put yourself first.
21. Third Eye Chakra
The Third Eye Chakra is an energy center located in the center of your head. It corresponds to the pineal gland and is the seat of intuition, perception, understanding, guidance, clairvoyance, enlightenment and higher consciousness. The Third Eye Chakra symbolizes guidance because once active, your intuitive and psychic abilities increase manifold and you are able to receive solutions and guidance from your higher self.
22. Eye of Horus
The Eye of Horus is an Egyptian symbol which just like the Third Eye Chakra, relates to the pineal gland. It symbolizes protection, guidance, well-being, wisdom and healing.
23. Buddha’s eyes
The Buddha’s eyes symbol depicts material eyes that see the real world and a middle eye (represented by a circle in between the material eyes) that symbolizes the third eye chakra or the inner eyes.
The material eyes represent Buddha’s wisdom and understanding of the material realm. Whereas the third eye is meant to see beyond the material into the realm of the spiritual. These are the eyes of intuition and guidance.
24. Koru Aihe
The Koru Aihe is a Maori symbol inspired by dolphins. It symbolizes guidance, playfulness, freedom, harmony, communication and friendship. The Māori considered dolphins as water spirits with magical powers. They believed that gods took the form of dolphins to guide sailors across treacherous waters safely to their destination.
Dolphins are also symbols of guidance and direction because they swim freely. They don’t feel confined and they make their own choices. When you feel confined and think you are not making your own choices, make use of the dolphin as a symbol of guidance and direction.
25. Dharma Chakra
The dharma chakra or dharma wheel is a wheel of guidance as it teaches you the eightfold path that you can follow in order to grow from within and reach a state of higher consciousness or awakening.
The Eightfold path can be divided into three elements which include – Wisdom, Ethical conduct and mental discipline For mental discipline you need to practice right mindfulness, right concentration and right effort. For ethical conduct you need to practice right action, speech and livelihood. And for wisdom, you need to practice right thoughts and understanding. All these eight actions are represented by the eight spokes of the dharma chakra.
Eagles are associated with freedom and leadership. The eagle is a powerful predator, top of the food chain with outstanding hunting abilities.
They have far superior sight than humans. And so, it’s not surprising that eagles are often seen as a sign to revisit your vision. Look carefully at your situation, and consider the big picture. Once you are clear on your target or the goals you want to achieve, then just like the eagle, you can swoop down and effectively take back control of your life.
Butterflies are beautiful and delicate insects that are associated with transformation, change, and new beginnings. Butterflies are also symbols of guidance and direction. When you feel lost, frightened, and uncertain about your future, make use of the butterfly as a symbol of guidance and direction.
Like dragonflies, butterflies have undergone a process of metamorphosis to become who they are today.
Signaling change on the horizon, the color of a butterfly is said to offer clues about what lies ahead. White for good luck, brown for news, red an event, and black for illness or bad news.
Yet, regardless of the color, butterflies are seen by many Native American Peoples as a comforting sign, that the change will ultimately be positive and you’ll be supported through it.
Wrapping It Up
Whether you’re plagued with decision fatigue or a paid-up member of the commitment club, a sign from the universe might be just the push you’re after.
Symbols of guidance and direction do have a long history of offering comfort and security to many and are often found in body art and jewelry as they make beautiful gifts. Yet they can only take you so far.
Understanding the meanings of these symbols is a highly subjective and personal matter. Try not to get too attached to any one possible meaning.
Instead, take what makes sense for you and leave the rest. Appreciate the real value of these symbols of guidance and direction as a reminder to pause and go deep, trusting your inner wisdom to lead you on this wonderful adventure of life. Enjoy 🙂