Symbols of patience – A List (Symbolism and their meaning)

Patience Symbols

Patience is one of the most coveted – and the hardest to attain virtues. Ever since we are children, learning to be patient sometimes feels like torture.

Although most of us do conquer that ability, some people remain naturally impatient. Also, conditions like ADHD might make a person impulsive and really have to suffer due to the inborn lack of patience.

On the other hand, even the calmest and tolerant people enter life stages of great ordeals – the times when their patience gets tested.

In any case, the symbols of patience can offer some relief, help, and even guidance. You may get surprised about what are these symbols are, those that can help us build and attract patience and resilience into our lives – some of them are quite unlikely.

Read on to find what they are.

Natural symbols of patience

Humans have found quite a lot of inspiration for patience in the natural world.

Let’s check out some creatures that seem very patient indeed.



Turtle is an obvious symbol of patience and the rewards that slow living can reap. The slow reptile with thick armor is the symbol of resilience, acceptance, patience, and longevity. You can look at the last two traits as connected. Patience, which results in lack of stress, certainly does wonders for personal longevity.

Oh, and remember the story about the Rabbit and the Turtle race story? That is a true lesson in how patience and diligence bring inevitable good results – rewards much better than impatience, no matter how gifted the individual.



The heron has a special significance in Celtic culture, where it represents a symbol of prosperity, protection, persistence, and patience.

The heron is associated with several Celtic deities, including Rhiannon, – the fairy queen who had transformation power. Because of the Goddesses’ ability to transform, the heron was considered one of its forms or reincarnations – which is why the bird was also called “the lady of the lake.”

When we talk about patience in particular, the conclusion that a heron is connected to this virtue certainly came from the bird’s hunting technique. A heron will stand in the shallow water, nearly motionless; this can last for a long time, hours even.

When its underwater prey comes near, it will make only a few gentle movements before striking at an amazing speed to hit the prey animal with its sharp beak.



Both the fruit and the flower of the plum tree are important symbols in the Far East – countries such as China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam  – and have been for centuries. For example, in China, the five petals of the plum blossom represent the Five Blessings – health, virtue, wealth, old age, and dignified death.

However, the plum tree and its products are also symbols of tolerance and patience for a reason not related to the looks, but to the plant’s biology.

As an early spring bloomer, the plum tree is somewhat tolerant to surprise spring frosts and snowfall managing to produce fruits despite the icy hardships. That is why it is an unlikely symbol of resilience and patience.

Also, a long wait for the winter to pass ends with the plum’s flowering.



Another plant close to the heart of all Celts – and many other indo-European ethnicities – Ivy is omnipresent in European forests and was once celebrated for its qualities.

Note that we are talking about the English ivy (Hedera helix) – not poison ivy or any other plant that contains “ivy” as a part of its common name.

The English ivy is an evergreen woody vine that has the ability to cling to surfaces – predominantly tree bark – with amazing strength. Starting out its growth slowly, as soon as it reaches some sunlight by climbing up a “host” tree, it starts to grow vigorously and can climb into the canopy, and even knock down the more feeble trees.

Because of these strengths, people have seen it as a symbol of determination, patience, and resilience. The ancient druids have used the vine to create necklaces and headpieces because of its symbolic properties.

Abstract Symbols Of Patience

Besides learning from nature, various cultures have created their own symbols of patience. Let’s see some examples.

Native American Patience Symbol

A symbol that looks like a sharp letter V contained within a circle, this symbol is said to date back to 3000 BC and is found in the archaeological remnants and traces of different native American Cultures – mostly as rock paintings and carvings.

The true and full meaning of such an old symbol that belongs to nearly-extinct cultures is probably impossible to know, but today, it has become a popular modern symbol of peace, perseverance, and – patience.

Although we will probably never know its true nature, the fact is that this symbol lives on in modern times, weaving a new tapestry of symbolism for itself.

Ren Symbol

Ren – 忍 – is a patience symbol that comes from China. It is created when you combine two Chinese language characters – Ren 刃 and Xin 心. The meaning is quite profound and reminds us of something we often forget about patience.

‘Ren’ translates as a knife blade, and Xin means ‘heart.’ When you place these two together, you get Ren, the symbol of patience, tolerance, restraint, and self-control characteristic of Chinese culture.

Ren 忍 symbol reminds us that obtaining patience as a virtue is often painful and demands sacrifice. Having to symbolically run a steak through your heart is excruciating but is sometimes necessary to obtain strength and overcome unfavorable circumstances.

Resisting life’s temptations can indeed feel bad at the moment but eventually leads to success and victory – over the outer circumstances or over oneself – which is often the most difficult battle in the world.


In modern, fast-paced times, patience is a virtue that is largely overlooked. In fact, certain mechanisms of our world – the consumer market, the social networks – depend on our impatience and impulsivity to generate business and profit.

However, we still require patience for personal growth and for our souls to find peace in everyday life.

We also need the virtue of patience to succeed in our real-life challenges. Just remember every time you’ve heard that somebody’s impulsive and impatient act has cost that person their career, marriage, or property.

When we feel like we have lost the inner source of our patience, we can turn to symbols to regain inspiration. Look at them, meditate upon them. Just the sight of that heron hunting will surely bring you focus and new inner strength.