Fish have the power to take us into lands of fantasy - they let our analytical minds drop out of sight and allow our imaginations to roam the seas of our thoughts for a while.
In China fish symbolize living in a state of fearlessness, without danger of drowning in the ocean of sufferings, and migrating from place to place freely and spontaneously. In Buddhism, in particular the fish symbolizes happiness and freedom.
As a Celtic symbolic fish meant knowledge, wisdom, inspiration and prophecy.
In ancient Eastern Indian mythology, the fish is a symbol of transformation and creation.
Ancient African creation myths tell of the creator, planting seeds in the cosmic womb. From these seeds two fish erupted, and were set forth into the cosmos upon the waters of creation.
Lastly, in ancient European cultures, the fish had symbolic meanings of adaptability, determination, and the flow of life. Fish could grant wishes if you caught one and gave it back its freedom by releasing to the water again.
Fish stories also posses the meaning of tall tales we tell ourselves in order to make sense of our lives and give it meaning and purpose.
As Henri Matisse once said, “Creativity takes Courage”. Like the fish, the artist chooses to swim in the creative juices of life alone, over joining the ranks in the marketplace, at once a safer and more deadening existence.
For me, fish symbolize freedom, silence and communion with the mystery of life; a life lived outside the main stream.
Oh, and only dead fish swim against the stream.