Symbolism of Light (8 surprising meanings) (2023)

Light has often been a symbol of good in the world. In many cultures, religions and societies, light is often referred to as good, which is usually seen as an ongoing battle between good and evil (light versus dark).

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While this is what many people automatically associate light with, there are other symbolisms of light that many people seek meaning from and can identify with.

In this article we will cover some of these symbolisms of light as it has some powerful and influential meanings.

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Light symbolism and meaning

1st life

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Light is a symbol of life in general, both on earth and in the hereafter. People who have had near-death experiences will relate how they had the opportunity to "walk toward the light," which is symbolic of the path to heaven in the afterlife.

in Christianity,GoodSaid to have created life first, but his first step was to create light. Light would act as the foundation upon which all life would grow and thrive.

Light is also referred to as the source of life in non-spiritual teachings. In the theory of science, light was created by the Big Bang. This is said to be an expanding light source responsible for the creation of our universe.

The sun is also essentially a burning ball of light that sustains life on earth. Plants use the sun's light energy to grow and flower, while humans and animals derive numerous medicinal benefits from absorbing light.

Regardless of one's spiritual or religious beliefs, there is usually a unified understanding that light is an important source and life-giver.

Read more: A list of 19 light metaphors

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2. Divinity

Light is a symbol ofdeityand divine life. In Christianity, God is the creator/giver of light and in several religions angels (the messengers of God) often appear in the form of light.

When light appears during a miracle, it is often interpreted as an act of divine power, usually related to divine intervention.

Certain deities and gods often have a blurred line between the definition of light or sun, the two are intertwined in terms of divinity and are often seen as a symbol of light.

For example, in Egyptian mythology, Ra was the sun god (or god of light) and was considered the most powerful of the Egyptian gods.

3. Purity/Good

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Light is a symbol of purity and ultimately good. Good is a subjective and very unspecific word, everyone will have their own interpretation of good.

In relation to light, however, it is often seen as part of a whole that is light versus dark and ultimately good versus evil. In ancient Chinese philosophy, yin and yang are a representation of this dualism for opposing forces.

Light is always associated with good and heaven. Darkness, on the other hand, is associated with evil and ultimately hell.

If you relate to someone of good morals or someone who is considered a good member of society, you will hear a hint of their "inner light". This inner light is used to describe someone who is considered good and is a way of representing their inner qualities.

Light is also a symbol of purity and openness. If someone hides something, they do it in the dark. However, light allows for transparency and openness, and these pure souls are often said to emit a certain glow or radiance.

Also read: Lighthouse symbolism

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4. Celebration

In many cultures, light is a symbol of celebration and there are festivals known as "Festivals of Light" around the world. These festivals represent a celebration, and the Hindu Festival of Lights, better known as Diwali, is a celebration of the triumph of lights over darkness.

The Jews celebrate an eight-day festival of lights known as Hanukkah, and at Christmas lights are used as part of the celebration of Jesus Christ, who was known as the "Light of the World."

All of these celebrations have the underlying meaning of hope, strength and togetherness stemming from the symbolism of light and the victory it has over darkness.

5. Instructions

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Light is a symbol of leadership and following a path. In many religious teachings and fables, a lost soul often follows a path of light to find guidance.

In literature, the divine light is often presented in the form of a glowing orb, which a lost soul can use to find its way. These guiding lights are often viewed as messengers, acting on behalf of God.

Lights are also used to illuminate pathways in a more physical sense. Streetlights, lights on an airstrip, and lights in tunnels are intentionally placed to act as signposts and show a safe route.

We see through visual light and this helps us interpret the world around us. Without light there would only be darkness.

Spiritually, light can be used as a guide for someone who needs to follow a moral or personal path/journey. You will often hear from someone who "sees the light" and makes a life-changing decision to take a different path in life.

This is usually a symbol for the people who feel lost in life. They then stumble upon something they resonate with to change their lives and point to how they saw "the light".

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6. Wisdom & Knowledge

Light is often associated with wisdom and the accumulation of knowledge (see also:owls!). Expressions such as illuminate, see the light, and shed light on the subject are all metaphors or literal meanings for acquiring knowledge in a particular area.

To be enlightened is to gain wisdom on a subject. Someone who is said to have seen the light is often someone who has seen the flaws in their previous ways or has attained wisdom that enables them to move forward with purpose and promise.

People who have had negative experiences in life or who have taken a wrong path are often said to have seen the light when they suddenly turn their lives around for the better. Learning from your mistakes and "seeing the light" is a collection of knowledge and wisdom through life's experiences, both good and bad.

In religious teachings it is said that those who ascend to a higher form in the afterlife have attained the ultimate form of enlightenment. This is a sign of their accumulated wisdom over the years, and in Buddhism enlightenment means awakening (reaching a level of high spiritual knowledge and wisdom).

7. Hope

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Light is a sign of hope and promise. This stems from its relationship with darkness, darkness cannot scatter light, however the faintest glimmer of a light source can illuminate even the pitch blackest of areas.

The fact that light can overcome darkness is often presented as a way of giving hope, this has both a physical and a spiritual meaning.

Light is comforting to those who are afraid of the darkness in the physical world, and it can also be comforting to those in a spiritually or mentally dark place.

The saying "light at the end of the tunnel" is a symbol of hope and is used to help people who are struggling in life. As mentioned earlier, angles and other forms of divine light are meant to be messages from God to bring hope and promise to those who need it.

8. Truth

A famous quote from James Russell Lowell states:

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"Light is the Truth"

Something that is said to have light is said to reveal a truth. To shed light on something is to reveal the truth, and this expression is often used by people who are looking for an answer to something.

In Plato's allegory of the cave, light reveals shadows on the wall and is ultimately a symbol of truth. The light outside the tunnel (from the sun) revealed the rest of the world and its truths as well.

Becoming enlightened is also viewed as learning a truth (or truths) and is often associated with the quest for knowledge and wisdom. Humans who seek the truths of life are essentially seeking knowledge in order to attain an enlightened state.

Also read:shadow symbolismAndsymbolism of darkness

Final Thoughts

Light is one of the most powerful symbols we know. It is a symbol of life, regardless of your religious, spiritual, cultural or scientific beliefs, and one of the few things in life that the majority of the population can agree on.

It is often agreed that without light there would be no life.

Light is also a symbol ofwisdom, divinity, hope, goodness and truthand these powerful meanings show how central light is in our everyday life and should not go unnoticed.

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What is symbolic meaning of light? ›

Across cultures, light is an ancient symbol of understanding and intellectual thought: it is the opposite of ignorance, or darkness. Almost universally, the dark is considered to be frightening and sinister, associated with things we cannot understand. Light is said to conquer darkness and to bring order out of chaos.

What is the most common symbolic meaning of light? ›

Light is the symbol of joy and of life-giving power, as darkness is of death and destruction. Therefore, in religion, light is often associated with immortality and a higher power. For example, in the Jewish Holy of Holies, a cloud of light symbolized of the presence of Yahweh.

What is the figurative meaning of light? ›

It's often agreed that without light, there would be no life. Light is also symbolic of wisdom, divinity, hope, good, and truth and these powerful meanings show how central light is to our everyday life and should not go unnoticed.

What is the true meaning of light? ›

: something that makes vision possible. : the sensation aroused by stimulation of the visual receptors. : electromagnetic radiation of any wavelength that travels in a vacuum with a speed of 299,792,458 meters (about 186,000 miles) per second. specifically : such radiation that is visible to the human eye.

What does light mean in spirituality? ›

In theology, divine light (also called divine radiance or divine refulgence) is an aspect of divine presence perceived as light during a theophany or vision, or represented as such in allegory or metaphor.

Does light symbolize hope? ›

In a more spiritual sense, light represents the hope to help us find our way through the maze of darkness that seems to be permeating the world around us.

What objects symbolizes light? ›

Usually, the symbolism of light is used in conjunction with darkness, where light represents life or hope, while darkness represents death or the unknown. In some instances, the candles, the sun, the moon, and stars are used as embodiment of light.


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