Snow is a lovely natural occurrence that often marks the arrival of winter and represents the change of seasons. It is glistening, fresh, and bright. It evokes holiday cheer and memories of childhoods spent marvelling at the beauty of each snowflake. However, these aren’t the only things that snow may represent; you might be shocked to hear that this type of precipitation can signify anything from difficulty to transformation to individuality. Join us as we explore snow symbolism and how it has been interpreted in many faiths, mythology, and cultures throughout history.
Snow’s Spiritual Meaning
Snow has long been utilised as a symbol in numerous cultures’ spiritual beliefs. Snow is used as a metaphor of cleanliness in Christianity, as seen by Bible texts like Psalm 51:7, where the poet prays, “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Snow is also seen as uncontaminated and fresh in East Asian philosophies. “White is the emblem for purity,” author Ming-Dao Deng explains in his book Everyday Tao: Living With Balance and Harmony. It is the hue of spirituality in ceremonies.”
Snow is occasionally used as a symbol of purity in literature, and not simply in religious texts. Take Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, for example, when one character says, “I considered her as chaste as unsunned snow.” In other plays of Shakespeare, such as Macbeth, The Winter’s Tale, and even Hamlet, snow is used as a metaphor for purity. Another clear comparison can be found in the name of Snow White, the famously pristine fairy tale heroine.
In an essay for Meaningful Life Institution, a spiritual education and health centre, author and Rabbi Simon Jacobson goes even further. “Water in all its forms is a symbol of wisdom,” he says at the outset. The flow of information from instructor to student signifies the transmission of knowledge from a higher to a lower level.” As a result, snow falling might symbolise humans receiving knowledge.
Snow is more subtle than rain, which the rabbi compares to a continual downpour of wisdom to Earth. A snowflake requires both water droplets (in the form of vapour) and a nucleus made up of dust, minerals, and other airborne particles to form, according to Jacobson. To put it another way, it’s made up of a mixture of dirt and water.
The water droplets, according to Jacobson, reflect God’s knowledge, while the earth represents the material world. Snow could act as a bridge between heaven and Earth as a result of this combination. Given that snow eventually melts into water, Rabbi Jacobson says that “snowflakes signify the necessity to communicate progressively, step by step, in a manner that the pupil can understand.”
Snow’s Mystical Symbols
Snow can also be found in the popular Rider-Waite tarot deck from 1909, particularly in the Five of Pentacles, the Hermit, and the Fool. Given that the tarot is all about symbolism and is used to understand subconscious signals like those seen in dreams, it’s fascinating to see how the cards depict snow.