Water is one of the five basic elements that are believed to make up everything in this world. Water is considered the unconscious element and is associated with intuition and emotion. All civilizations and religions throughout the ages have accorded it a central place in their beliefs and practices.

Water Symbols and their meanings

Universally, water is symbolic of purity, fertility, life, motion, renewal, and transformation. The profound symbolism of water comes from its two vital qualities – it is essential for existence, and it cleanses and purifies things by washing away impurities. Its power of transition from liquid to solid and vapour also makes it special and a symbol of metamorphosis & recycling.

Representations of water are numerous and diverse. Let us take a look at some.

Water Symbol in Alchemy
In alchemy, water is associated with the classical element Mercury, and its symbol is an inverted or downward-pointing triangle.

Water Symbols in Astrology
Astrological symbols of water are the zodiac signs of Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces.

cancerCancer: (the crab) is a cardinal water sign, and it represents clarity, purity, trust, refreshment, and regeneration. The crab’s shedding of its shell for a new one represents the rebirth or renewal aspect of water. Its contentment to flow with the natural cadence of water represents motion and trust. scorpioScorpio: (the scorpion) is a fixed water sign. Water deals with the subconscious and holds endless mysteries like the obscure world thriving inside vast, murky oceans. The Scorpio associates with water to symbolize stillness, reflection, and mystery.
piscesPisces: (the fish) is a mutable water sign and representative of life, motion, depth, and understanding. Water is believed to contain knowledge of the infinite unknown and is known to be the source of life. As a water symbol, the fish represents wisdom, creativity, and fertility.
Water Symbols in Tarot
In the Tarot, water rules over the entire suite of Tarot Cups. As water symbols, Tarot cups represent intuition, emotion and inter-connected energy flow between all living things. Just like water is formless and takes the form of the vessel it is put in, Tarot cups are elusive, seductive and difficult to interpret. Their meaning depends on the person viewing them. Tarot cups deal with complex issues related to the heart, psyche, and emotions that can be as fluid as water.Besides the suit of cups, water is also symbolized by some other Tarot cards, including the Moon, Star, and Temperance. The Moon Tarot card represents the subconscious, emotion, reflection and clarity. The Star Tarot card symbolizes intuition, guidance, motion, fluidity, cleansing, and rejuvenation. Meanings of The Temperance Tarot card deal with maintaining fluidity, keeping in motion, going with the flow, creating harmony, and striking a healthy balance between the conscious and the subconscious.
Water Symbols in the Celtic Ogham
The Celtic Ogham denotes the system of wisdom followed by the ancient Celtic people. It consists of twenty sacred tree symbols that convey unique cosmic expressions and each tree symbolizes a specific attribute, essence of feeling. Trees of the Celtic Ogham that are associated with the element of water are:
willowWillow: With its affinity to watery areas, the willow has been closely connected with the psychic realm and used in ritual and metaphysical practices. It symbolizes inspired imagination, clarity, growth, and adaptability. reedReed: Growing in swampy areas, the reed was used by the Celts in many ways – making roofs, cleansing homes, making candles & flutes, etc. Reed’s water symbolism includes purification, protection, and clarification.
alderAlder: It is primarily a swamp or wetlands tree. Often, its roots are submerged in a watery area and provide shelter to fish. Its leaves decompose in water and provide nutrients for water creatures. Alder associates with water by symbolizing life, nurturing and revitalization.