Something that represents human babies
, the organs
used to conceive
s and breast
s, most commonly) or growth of crop
s and livestock
. The Venus of Willendorf Paleolithic sculpture
is one of the most well-known fertility symbols; it's a "squat little figurine of a woman with what we would now call 'child-bearing hips'" found with red ochre
(representing the blood of menstruation
?) on it, which probably represented the kind of woman (or goddess) who had given birth.
Other fertility symbols are more subtle; a cowry shell as a "womb gate," a maypole as a phallic symbol, a lotus flower because Brahma sat on one while creating the world, frogs because they seemed to appear out of nowhere after rains, and many more throughout the world. A complicated mythology often develops to explain why a particular thing is used in a ceremony or offered to a god (see James Frazier's The Golden Bough for many examples), but many of these items started out because of their association with fertility.