Motherhood: We all know what it means, but its symbolism is elusive outside modern times. We recognize selfless, nurturing, and endless motherly love in life and myth, but these concepts seem to transcend representation due to the countless ways in which maternal love has broken the “delicate woman” archetype for the sake of her family.
In this way, while symbols can have maternal aspects attributed to them, motherhood itself is a symbol of creation, wisdom, and patience in the continuation of life.
She bears and nurtures life. With undying persistence and grace, she imparts her wisdom, faithful that she has contributed to the betterment of all. Here, we find symbolism of delicate ribbons and eternal Celtic knots, doves, hearts, flowers, eggs, the full moon, and the Mother Goddess herself, but these things do not inherently represent motherhood, especially when used before the establishment of Mother’s Day in the early 1900s.
That said, symbolism can be both widely accepted and personal in meaning. The meanings behind symbols can evolve or change entirely. We apply existing symbols to our lives in unique ways or invent our own meanings for designs. Symbolism, like language, is fluid. Established representations have always begun as personal attributions of meaning to an object or sign.
What this means: Get creative! What does motherhood mean to you? Is it intricate, endless Celtic knotwork that weaves the complexities of maternal love? Does a particular animal exhibit a nurturing spirit? Does your mom love a variety of flowers or identify with a certain symbol or spiritual being? Use these to guide you in your representation of motherhood, and remember that all symbols have a degree of personal interpretation.