Columbine flower meanings include aspiration, endurance, ascension, risk-taking, good fortune, faith, and peace. In this post you’ll learn about what these symbols could mean in your life plus columbine spiritual meanings and the columbine flower in cultural mythology and folklore.
What does the columbine flower symbolize?
Columbines can be found in a range of environments in the Northern Hemisphere, from grasslands and meadows to woodlands and high mountains. They are not a common flower, but their special beauty, seen in wild alpine settings, is loved by many. Hence, many columbine flower meanings inspire us to reach for lofty heights. These include:
- Good Fortune
Columbine Flower Meaning: Aspiration
In the Rocky Mountains, columbines can grow at elevations as high as 9,000 feet, or almost to the timberline. Because they can grow at such high elevations, they are symbols of aspiration. With their pointed, star-like outer petals, the columbine reminds you to keep reaching for the stars.
The columbine is a hardy flower that can grow in a range of adverse conditions. So, they are also symbols of endurance and perseverance. Like a mountain climber meticulously making an ascent, the columbine overcomes every obstacle. Yet, despite surviving these hardships, the columbine still manages to exude a delicate beauty. Thus the columbine is a powerful reminder to never let life’s challenges cause you to be cynical or jaded. Despite hardships, the columbine never sours on life.
Columbine flower meaning is also associated with risk-taking. The columbine is a “nothing ventured, nothing gained” type of flower. In the tarot, the columbine is most representative of The Fool card. In fact some historians say the columbine’s association with foolishness is because its shape is reminiscent of a court jester’s hat.
However, The Fool card in the tarot has deeper meanings than senselessness. While the image of the fool in the tarot is one of a seemingly careless young man with his head in the clouds about to walk off of a cliff, he has a little dog beside him. This dog serves as his protector, warning him so he doesn’t make a mistake. Even though the fool is a dreamer with his head in the clouds, he is protected.
Like the fool, the columbine is a symbol for the thrill-seekers among us – those who believe that if you’re not living on the edge, you’re just not living.
The columbine is the state flower of Colorado, where it is native to the Rocky Mountains. It was the Rocky Mountain state’s school children who rallied to make the beautiful wildflower their state symbol.
The columbine’s blue petals reminded the students of the clear blue sky above the Rockies and the white petals reminded them of the snow-capped mountains. In addition, the gold pistils and stamens in the center of the columbine are reminiscent of the gold found that was found in the mountains during the Gold Rush.1 So, columbines are also symbols of good fortune and prosperity.
Just as the columbine is a symbol of risk-taking, it’s also a symbol of faith, as in taking a leap of faith. As an alpine flower, the columbine is associated with spiritual ascension. For many of us, concepts that are not scientifically proven or which are not rooted in the material world can make us feel uncomfortable. The columbine reminds us that there is far more going on than what we see and feel in the physical realm. Like a mountain goat who confidently scales steep terrain without losing his footing, your faith can keep you going despite doubts and despite all odds.
The mantra of the columbine is: “Faith not fear.”
Christians also ascribe a number of symbolic meanings to the beautiful flower, which you can read more about below.
The columbine is sometimes compared to a dove both on a physical and figurative level. The two share a common meaning as being symbols for peace.
Columbine Flower Meaning in Mythology and Folklore
The columbine flower appears in the mythology and folklore of a number of cultures in the Northern Hemisphere. Here are some of those stories:
Celtic Columbine Meanings
Just as they believed that butterflies were intermediaries between the material and spirit worlds, the ancient Celts believed that columbines could open doors to other worlds beyond Earth.
The Columbine in Norse Mythology
In Nordic mythology, the Vikings associated the columbine with the fertility goddess Freya. In fact, they considered columbines to be aphrodisiacs. So, giving a columbine to someone with whom you just started courting could be considered too forward in ancient Nordic cultures. While columbines are toxic if eaten raw, the Vikings would boil them, which dispelled the poisons from the plant.2
Columbine in Greek Mythology
As the columbine was associated with Freya in Norse mythology, it was also a symbol for Aphrodite, the goddess of love, in ancient Greece.
Columbine Meanings in Christianity
Columbine symbolism also that appears in Christian stories. By some accounts, it represented the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, which were:
- Fear of the Lord3
Columbine Symbolism in England
In England during Shakespeare’s time, the columbine flower had some negative associations. In general, it symbolized faithlessness in love. According to the site A Shakespeare Garden, the poet and playwright George Chapman (1559 -1634) implied that the columbine represented ingratitude when he wrote: “What’s that – a columbine? No, that thankless flower grows not in my garden.”5
In addition, the poet William Browne (1590 – 1645) suggested that the columbine flower represented forsaken or neglected love: “The columbine is tawny taken, Is thus ascribed to such as are forsaken.”
The bard himself referenced the columbine in Hamlet as well as in his comedy Love’s Labor Lost. While there are different interpretations, it’s generally thought that for Shakespeare, the columbine symbolized adultery and faithlessness in love. In Act IV of Hamlet, Ophelia, who is now considered mad, gives out flowers at court:
“There’s fennel for you and columbines,” Ophelia says to King Claudius.
By giving these two plants to the king, Ophelia risks her life because of their symbolism. Fennel symbolized flattery. But as fennel was known to wilt quickly after being picked, the gift was a sexual jab at the king. In addition, the columbine symbolized adultery and foolishness – a further jab at the king.6
Later, in the Victorian era, the columbine flower took on a more admirable meaning: It symbolized winning – but at all costs.
In Germanic folklore, notably in ancient Austria, the columbine symbolized five doves in a circle. The doves represented God at peace.
Spiritual Meaning of the Columbine
On a spiritual level, the columbine symbolizes reaching for an elevated level of consciousness. It’s a flower for the spiritual seeker – one who is willing to withstand the rigors of study to gain a better understanding of spiritual philosophies.
The columbine also symbolizes having faith in God and your Angels.
Associated Spirit Animals
The columbine flower shares traits and symbiosis with certain wild animals and insects. These include:
The Bee, the Hummingbird, and the Butterfly
Flowers have co-evolved with butterflies, and each relies on the other for life-giving energy. Similarly, bees and hummingbirds are attracted to columbines because of their nectar. In fact, the columbine has evolved to make it easier for these pollinators to access its nectar. In turn, the pollinators spread the pollen of the flower to extend its life force. Thus, the columbine is associated with the hummingbird, the butterfly, and the bee spirit animals.
The Mountain Goat
The columbine also shares synergies with the mountain goat spirit animal. Both of their life forces exemplify endurance, aspiration, and faith.
The scientific Latin name for columbine is Aquilegia,7 which translates to “eagle” in English. Apparently the columbine’s pointed petals reminded its namer of an eagle’s talons.
In addition, the columbine shares traits with the eagle spirit animal, including hope, or faith, ascension, and connection to the divine.
As mentioned earlier, columbine meaning is also associated with doves. In fact, the name columbine is derived from the Latin name Columbidae, which is the scientific name for the family of birds that includes doves and pigeons.8
The sphinx moth, or hawk moth, is connected to the columbine because it is another of the flower’s pollinators.
Columbine Color Meanings
While they are well-known for their lavender and white petals, columbines come in a range of hues, including purple, red, pink, and yellow. Here are some meanings applied to the columbine’s different colors.
Purple and Lavender Columbine Meaning
Lavender and deep purple columbine flower meanings include spiritual evolution and expanded consciousness. They are closely related to your seventh chakra, which rules your super-conscious.
In addition, the purple columbine symbolizes peace and how we sometimes have to make sacrifices to achieve it. Purple is a special color in that it combines the coolness of blue with the warmth of red. So, a purple columbine is representative of the blending of differences and finding harmony.
Red Columbine Meaning
Some columbines come in fire red and orange hues. These colors symbolizes primal energy, passion, and romance. They also symbolize prosperity. You can plant red columbines to bring more passion and energy into your life, as well as to fortify those things that make you feel secure. In addition, red columbines make a beautiful gift for a romantic partner.
Pink Columbine Meaning
Pink columbines symbolize platonic love, like the kind you have for family members and friends. They also make lovely gifts for young people in your life who are going through a rite of spiritual passage.
Yellow Columbine Meaning
Yellow columbine flowers symbolize happiness and good luck in financial matters. They also symbolize the rewards received from working hard to achieve your goals.
White Columbine Meaning
White columbine flower meaning includes purity and innocence. Similar to the purple columbine, a white columbine also symbolizes the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment. In addition, like the white butterfly, a white columbine flower symbolizes angels and messages from loved ones who have passed.
Columbine Tattoo Meaning
A columbine tattoo tells the world a variety of things. For one, it can mean you’re a spiritual seeker and one who takes your faith seriously. By the same token, it can show the world that you are a thrill-seeker and someone who always looks for that next adrenaline high.
Of course, tattoos are extremely personal to every individual. But hopefully learning more about columbine meanings in mythology and folklore will bring even more personal significance to your tattoo.