Animals have long been symbols of the human emotions as well as the physical embodiment of heavenly spirits. Their images have appeared on the walls of Neanderthal caves, in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, Elizabethan poems, Greek myths and much more. When it comes to jewelry designs, animal images have been used for centuries and are still very popular today.
There are a plethora of gorgeously designed animal-themed jewelry in the marketplace that used various metals and glistening gemstones. Think about the jewelry that you own that is shaped like any given animal. Have you ever stopped to think about why you chose that specific animal or what it symbolizes? In ancient Greek culture, the butterfly is a symbol for the Greek Goddess Psyche, who was the goddess of the soul. She started out as a mortal and married Eros, also known as Cupid. His mother, Aphrodite, was offended by Psyche reckless actions when it came to love.
She then told Eros to prick Psyche with one of his magic arrows so that she would fall madly in love with the first man she saw. While trying to shoot the arrow at Psyche , Eros ended up pricking himself and ended up falling “head-over-heels” in love with her. He then married her and whisked her away to his castle. For weeks, he only visited Psyche after dark and told her to swear she would never look at him. Her friends convinced her that Eros must be a monster. Why would he not want her to look him? One evening she went to Eros’ bedside with a knife preparing to stab the “monster”, only to discover that he was the most beautiful man she ever met. Hurt by the lack of trust, Eros went to his mother Aphrodite to tell her what had happened. She then made Psyche go through a series of dangerous tasks, before the God Zeus took pity on her and made her immortal. She then became the goddess of the soul. The story of Greek goddess Psych is connected to the symbol of the butterfly because it signifies the transformation and maturation that all women go through.
Similar to a caterpillar going into its cocoon, changing and then coming into the sunlight as a beautiful butterfly. The ancient Romans also believed that butterflies were symbols of the soul and that it is there that all pure love originates. The same notion can be taken for the dragonfly. For many cultures, this also symbolizes the changes that occur throughout one’s life. Like the butterfly, it starts out in one type of body, in this case a nymph, hibernates into a cocoon and emerges a dragonfly. In Native American culture, the dragonfly symbolizes swiftness and the purity of water. In Japanese culture, dragonflies are a symbol of strength, courage and happiness. Elephants are another type of animal whose presence has very powerful meanings in various cultures. It is no coincidence that their likenesses are used in jewelry. For many jewelry is very personal and its design has meaning. Jewelry designed with an elephant theme usually has a meaning attached to it. In some Asian cultures the elephant is a holy symbol of benevolence and divinity.
Historians believe that part of the reason elephants were seen as such mystic creatures is their immense stature and incredible power. In Africa, India and Asia, these creatures were seen as signs of good luck. Ancient people associated elephants with nobility, pharaohs and emperors. Even today, some Asian cultures hold religious ceremonies where they make offering to elephants while asking for their blessings and prosperity. Today, mystics believe that elephants represent the highest true self. Ancient lore involving elephants still resonate today. Some cultures believe that if you dream of an elephant it means that you are going through a spiritual transformation. It means that you have reached the highest sense of spiritual consciousness.
This only happens when your conscious and unconscious mind become one with the help of the heavens. In Greek mythology, the elephant was linked with Neptune and it was believed to be a symbol of fantasy or illusion. Historians believe this is why some Greek legends believe that elephants foster creativity. So, the next time you are shopping for jewelry and you reach for that specific piece that is shaped like an animal. Take a minute to think about why you have selected it? Is it because you like the design or because you like what design symbolizes. Or, maybe there is an innate quality in that animal that you have found within yourself? Whatever the reason, the beauty and their symbolism are in the eye of the beholder. Remember, jewelry is not always just about aesthetics, sometimes the meaning behind the design outshines the look.