Hope symbols abound in every religion and in secular form -- from the anchor to the rainbow, from a Chinese blessing plaque to a Jewish mazuzeh (shown below), from the Easter egg with its promise of new life, to a shooting star scorching a fiery trail across the sky.
Hope is a deeply human phenomenon that defines something important about who we are as a species.
Every day, for example, thousands of people search online for inspiring hope quotations.
With all this interest in hope symbols and hope quotations, it is safe to say that hope constellates one of the universal archetypes.
These words end the greatest revenge story ever told,
The Count, born simple sailor Edmond Dantes, turns to ashes the lives of those who betrayed him. Yet he tempers his vengeance with this hope quotation for the young lovers, mourning his departure as he sails away at the end of the story.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast is an old saying that expresses common wisdom. If hope indeed springs eternal, what better month than March for a meditation on this universal archetype?
This is the month when life springs anew from the breast of Gaia, the planet. Tender green shoots of new life pierce even the snow.
Hope is an distinctly feminine symbol, and one of the mature woman. It is we, society's elders, keepers of wisdom, who have been there, done that; we know that this too shall pass.
Women are masters of hope. We dole out words of perspective and encouragement that provide hope quotations for those who falter on life's journey.
Elpis is a Greek female archetype for hope. Elpis is characterized as a daimona, or spirit, trapped in a jar by the lord of the gods, Zeus. One source, interpreting Hesiod and other ancient treatments, explained the jar was filled with these trapped daimons, most of them malevolent.
Zeus entrusted the jar filled with humankind's ills to the first woman, Pandora. She opened the jar, and the daimons escaped. Plagues and drought scattered across the globe to create the travails that have besieged humanity ever since.
Hope alone remained to comfort people.
Elpis is whimsically characterized in a painting at
The Roman goddess of hope is Spes, who was depicted on some ancient coins.
Hope evokes traditionally feminine qualities such as nurturance. Yet hope sustains the most masculine of males.
Hope sustained Senator John McCain and many other prisoners of war during Vietnam and countless other atrocities.
Hope sustained the wrongly accused simple sailor Edmond Dantes during his wrongful imprisonment, betrayed by his best friend and fiancÃ©.
During those long years, Dantes is tutored by an aristocratic church elder. He chooses to hope, plan, and prepare for freedom. Dantes returns transformed into the fabulously wealthy and cultured Count of Monte Cristo to destroy the lives of those who destroyed his.
Hope is a grand archetypal energy pattern, and hope symbols have been sought throughout time and by all genders.
In one of his earliest books, The Sky's the Limit, Dr. Wayne Dyer writes that it is the loss of hope that causes one to feel depressed. Hope, he argues, "is purely a mental process." Therefore, hope is a thought that each of us may choose.
He explains, "Hope is the mental part, the confidence [to pursue oneâ€™s goals and dreams] is the behavioral part, and you must start with the notion that nothing is hopeless. Hope is up to you, and it comes from deciding to trust yourself. . . . You get hope by deciding to have it."
By deciding to have hope no matter our age, we may transforms our Selves, our lives, and our world.
Rob Breszny is a shaman-prophet of hope in the form of what he terms Pronoia. Breszny writes about a hope-inspiring urban walkabout he calls the whirligig as a way to engage with our playful, hopeful selves.
By discovering something new and wonderful in our neighborhood, town, city, or county, we each find our own hope symbol.
Emily Dickenson characterized one of the most appealing hope symbols in a poem. She wrote:
Dance & Spring SymbolsMother
Value of Storytelling