Symbolism of an Arrow: Spiritual Meaning in History

Arrows have served as important symbols in different cultures and societies throughout history. They have been utilized as tools and weapons, as well as representations of deeper concepts such as conflict, triumph, and direction.

The versatile nature of the arrow symbol allows for a wide range of interpretations and various meanings. This makes it a great choice for both artistic and personal expression.

In its simplest form, an arrow signifies direction, used to point or indicate a particular path. This can symbolize the choices we make in life, the many different paths we choose to follow, and the goals we aim to achieve.

colorful sign with directions to countries

One can lead us down the right path to the right place while the other can result in various things. Additionally, arrows link with other ideas such as struggle, triumph, and deep emotions.

For instance, a heart struck by an arrow is commonly used to denote strong love or passion for a loved one.

Furthermore, arrows play an essential role in various mythologies and belief systems, as evidenced by their association with Hindu deities or their significance for Native Indians in Native American culture.

Here’s the scoop on the symbolism of an arrow!

Historical and Cultural Significance of an Arrow

blue neon arrow sign

Creation of the Arrow

English Cartographer Emil Reich is credited with creating arrows for his book, “The New Student’s Atlas of English History.” The arrows he created don’t look exactly like the ones used today. 

Astronomer Carl Sagan with the help of his then-wife Linda Salzman-Sagan, and Frank Drake created a message designed to be placed on spacecraft, Pioneer 10.

The message was supposed to create communication with extraterrestrial life in case there is contact. The message featured a drawing of an arrow pointing at the ship which would come from Earth. 

Native American Symbolism

In Native American cultures, the arrow holds deep symbolic significance. Arrows were primarily used for hunting and warfare but also held spiritual and cultural significance for Native Americans.

They symbolized protection and defense for American Indians. The left arrow meant to ward off evil, while an arrow facing right offered protection, and an arrow facing down represented peace.

Arrowheads, the sharpened tips added to arrows, were made of stone and could penetrate the skin.

Different tribes of the Iroquois League, a confederation of Native American tribes in the northeast, also used arrows as an important symbol. Native American people believed that a bundle of arrows, bound together, represented strength and unity among the tribes.

Greeks and Romans

In ancient Greek and Roman mythology, arrows link with gods and goddesses. The ancient Greeks worshipped the god Apollo. He is the god of archery, his arrows symbolizing the sun’s rays.

Similarly, the goddess Artemis, Apollo’s sister, was the goddess of the hunt, and her arrows represent the moon’s rays. In ancient Greece, arrows also signified power, swiftness, and precision.

Symbolism of an Arrow in Buddhism

In Buddhist symbolism, the arrow appears throughout art, mythology, and theology. They are held by gods and lauded in sacred text symbols.

Furthermore, the arrow relates to shamanistic cultures, with decorated arrows called “dha” being a part of their spiritual traditions.

Mongolian shamans would sew arrows into their clothing. The rattling sound created when moved was supposed to frighten demons away.

Arrow Symbolism and Spiritual Meaning

woman holding arrow

Direction and Movement

The arrow is a powerful symbol that represents direction and movement. The direction of the arrows signifies moving forward, as it takes on a path towards a specific direction or goal.

Arrows are the directional symbol and can also symbolize focus and swiftness, as they travel straight and fast to their destination.

In addition, an upward-pointing arrow represents optimism and confidence, while a downward arrow can indicate a need for balance or a slow down in progress.

Strength and Power

Arrows for a long time have been associated with the symbol of strength and power, as they were used as powerful weapons in ancient times for both hunting and warfare. In certain ancient civilizations arrows are a bad omen.

The bow and arrow was a formidable force in battle, representing the warrior’s courage, skill, and consistency. A bundle of arrows is an especially strong symbol, signifying unity and collective power.

In Hindu mythology and Indian epics one of their higher power, the god Rudra, associated with storms and winds, wields a bow and arrow among his weapons, further highlighting the connection between arrows and strength.

Love and Relationships

The arrow also carries symbolism in the spiritual realms of love and relationships. In the spiritual practice in Greek mythology, Cupid, the god of love, uses a bow and arrow to ignite passion in people’s hearts.

Cupid’s bow and arrow piercing the heart is now a universal symbol of love and desire. Additionally, the crossed arrows represent a strong bond and lasting connections that go beyond romantic love.

The connections can include deep friendships, family members with close ties, and spiritual connections to the spiritual world.

Friendship and Communication

Arrows represent friendship and communication. The image of two arrows crossed or pointing in opposite directions signifies a strong connection and mutual understanding between two friends or groups of people.

Arrows can also represent a sense of protection and the willingness to defend one’s friends from harm or evil.

A broken arrow serves as a symbol of peace and the resolution of conflict, often a symbol of overcoming of challenges and hardships through teamwork, communication, and compromise in real life.


While arrows have feathers on the backend, the most common colors you’re going to see are a black arrow or red arrows. A golden arrow has many different meanings, one of the meanings being peace and brotherhood.

Another interpretation is since the color gold is similar to yellow, it can represent the light of God in the Middle East and how we live under him. 

Arrow Tattoos and Jewelry

African people making arrow jewelry

Design Variations

Arrow tattoos and jewelry come in various designs suited to individual preferences. The ideal spot to get an arrow tattoo would be the ankle or the side of your foot.

Since arrows typically symbolize moving forward. A common design of arrow variations includes:

  • The infinity arrow: A unique design where the arrow shape combines with the infinity symbol, representing endless possibilities.
  • Two crossed arrows: This design symbolizes friendship or an alliance between two individuals or groups.
  • A single arrow: This simple design can represent focus, direction, or protection.
  • Arrowhead tattoos: This ancient symbol means strength, courage, and precision. 
  • Compass tattoo: Believed to bring good fortune among sailors and men usually at sea. Is now a universal sign for people in constant travel.
  • Broken arrow tattoo: A symbol representing the ending of a fight or a feud.

Arrow jewelry designs also offer a wide range of options, such as necklaces, bracelets, and earrings with different styles and materials.

Associated Meanings of the Arrow

The symbolism of arrow tattoos and jewelry can have multiple meanings, depending on the design and personal interpretation. Some common meanings associated with arrow tattoos and jewelry include:

  • Struggle and Triumph: Arrows naturally represent the ideas of struggle and triumph due to their use as a tool and weapons. An arrow being pulled back on a bow signifies tension, conflict, or a real-life struggle, while an arrow resting on a bow may symbolize peace and calm. The end of an arrow is the arrow shaft; the arrow shaft must have the same stiffness as the bow.
  • Direction and Focus: Arrows commonly connect with direction and staying on track. A “follow your arrow” tattoo design serves as a reminder to stay focused on the future.
  • Native American symbols: Arrow designs originating from Native American tribes carry specific meanings, such as warding off evil forces (arrow facing left), protection (arrow facing right), and peace (arrow facing down).

When choosing an arrow tattoo or jewelry design, it is essential to consider the underlying meaning or message you wish to convey.

Keep in mind the versatility and deep English history of the arrow symbol while selecting the perfect design to suit your style and beliefs.

a sparkler in the shape of an arrow

Graphical Symbols

The type of arrow tattoo you get is important because they all mean different things. Arrows come in various graphical forms, such as simple triangles, chevrons, or concave kites, often affixed to a line segment or rectangle.

More complex designs resemble actual arrows. These symbols appear throughout history to indicate direction, showing up in early maps, diagrams, and even art.

They control the movement of information, people, and machines and play a crucial role in our lives.

Some common arrow symbols in use today include:

  • ← or →: Left and right-pointing arrows
  • ↑ or ↓: Up and down-pointing arrows
  • ⤴ or ⤵: Curved arrows indicating a change in direction
  • ↙ or ↗: Diagonal lines going up or down

Special Numerical Values

In addition to serving as a visual guide, arrows can also have special numerical values. These numbers link with specific ancient cultures or symbolic interpretations.

For example, in Native American cultures, arrows often represent an external force of nature and the speed with which they move.

Arrows used in mathematics may symbolize the application of a particular operation or transformation, such as the vector sum in physics.

Some examples of numerical values associated with arrows include:

  • 7: Symbolizes perfect balance and harmony in ancient alchemy
  • 3: Represents growth, creativity, and communication in various cultural contexts

Influential Artists With Arrows in Their Works

cupid with an arrow

Arrows appear in various forms of art by influential artists. One such artist is Paul Klee, a Swiss-German painter who extensively used arrow symbols in his works.

Klee’s use of arrows ranged from abstract representations to more literal depictions of their shape and function. His work often included arrows as a way to direct the viewer’s eye, signify movement, or represent abstract concepts.

In the 14th century, Gerrit van Honthorst created a piece of work showcasing a saint who converted to Christianity and was then punished with arrows by his own men.

In the world of tattoo art, arrows are a popular choice due to their versatile symbolism. Arrow tattoos can represent struggle, triumph, or the idea of moving forward in life.

Designs vary greatly, from simple, straight arrows to more elaborate compositions featuring multiple elements, such as feathers or intricate geometric patterns.

In summary, the arrow is a powerful symbol with deeper meanings and uses across various mediums. Its flexibility and adaptability make it a popular choice in both artistic expression and everyday life.

Perseverance and Personal Growth

The arrow is a powerful symbol representing various aspects of life, including perseverance and personal growth. It serves as a reminder for individuals to stay true to themselves and continue pursuing their goals, overcoming obstacles that may arise along the way.

A primary aspect of the arrow’s symbolism is the idea of change. As the arrow moves in a forward trajectory, it signifies the importance of adapting to new situations and embracing growth in the face of adversity.

The arrow’s journey also represents the negative energy and tension between where one is and where one strives to be. It encourages the individual to maintain focus and continuously push toward success.


Independence is another key feature with a link to the arrow. As the arrow flies solo, it reminds the person of their inner strength in making decisions and standing on their own.

This aspect of independence comes to light when the arrow splits from its initial path, taking on a fresh start and symbolizing the opportunities that arise from embracing transformation and growth.


When an arrow begins its flight, it goes through tension. Akin to personal struggles and challenging experiences, the tension that the arrow endures is essential for propelling it toward its target.

This exemplifies the importance of persevering through difficult times, as it is often through these experiences that individuals develop fortitude and resilience.


Lastly, the arrow embodies success by reaching its target and fulfilling its purpose. The sense of accomplishment achieved from overcoming personal hurdles and obstacles serves as a testament to one’s perseverance and personal growth.

In summary, the symbolism of the arrow serves as a meaningful reminder of the significance of perseverance, independence, change, tension, new beginnings, and success in one’s journey toward personal growth.

By embracing these aspects, individuals can strive for progress and achievement in their lives.

A Heart with an Arrow

a heart with an arrow in chalk

The symbol of a heart with an arrow ties with relationships, romance, and love. It depicts a heart pierced by an arrow and represents strong emotions, passion, and deep affection for someone.

The origin of this symbolic imagery can be traced back to the mythological figure of Cupid, who is known to shoot arrows at individuals to make them fall in love. When a heart is struck by Cupid’s arrows, it signifies the formation of a deep and unbreakable bond between two people.

In recent times, this imagery has been popularized through the use of emojis and tattoos. People often choose to get a heart with an arrow tattoo to represent their love for their partner or to showcase their romantic side.

Such tattoo designs can be small and minimalistic or detailed and intricate, depending on the wearer’s preferences.

Besides its use as a symbol of romantic love, the heart with an arrow can also signify self-love and personal growth. The arrow’s forward motion embodies the idea of forging ahead with resilience and strength while overcoming obstacles.

In some cases, the symbol represents the individual’s spiritual journey toward emotional healing and self-discovery.

In summary, the heart with an arrow is a symbol that appears in history and folklore, representing deep emotional connections, romantic love, and personal growth.

Its versatility and timeless appeal make it a popular choice for tattoos, emojis, and other forms of visual expression.

Symbolism of an Arrow in Buddhist Teachings

karma cycle

In Buddhism, arrows symbolize various aspects of human life and psychological experiences. One of the teachings that involve arrows is the Parable of the Poisoned Arrow.

This parable emphasizes the importance of addressing immediate suffering instead of getting lost in metaphysical speculations.

The parable revolves around a man who is shot by a poisoned arrow and, instead of seeking immediate treatment, he questions the nature of the arrow, the identity of the shooter, and other irrelevant details.

The Buddha uses this story to illustrate that focusing on metaphysical questions distracts from addressing one’s immediate suffering.

Another significant Buddhist teaching involving arrows is the similar concept of the Two Arrows. The first arrow represents the natural feelings that all humans develop, such as aggression, fear, craving, and greed.

The second arrow symbolizes the mental anguish that arises from these emotions, intensifying the suffering.

Recognizing and detaching from the second arrow is crucial for developing mindfulness and resiliency in the face of life’s challenges.

Here are some key points related to arrows in Buddhism:

  • Arrows symbolize human emotions and experiences
  • The Parable of the Poisoned Arrow emphasizes addressing suffering rather than focusing on metaphysical questions
  • The Two Arrows teach us to recognize the difference between natural emotions and mental anguish

Spiritual Meaning of Arrows

Arrows are around us everywhere we turn. The astrology symbol Sagittarius is an arrow logo, with a diagonal line through it.

Companies like Subway, Volvo, and Amazon Prime have an arrow sign in their logo.

Arrows in Buddhism serve as powerful symbols to represent various aspects of human psychology and spiritual development. Even though arrows may have a negative connotation, you might just find out they will lead you in the right direction.

By understanding the lessons these symbols convey in modern times, individuals can work towards cultivating mindfulness and resilience in their daily lives.

symbolism of an arrow

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