The anchor symbolizes moving forward from a place or a certain period in life by embarking on a new journey the way a ship sets sail when its anchor is lifted from the water. This symbol represents brave decisions and new adventures or new voyages – things we hope for and look forward to. The bearer of the anchor is likely a seafarer of some type —traditionally military (Navy, Marines, or Coast Guard) but sometimes also recreational. In maritime lore, the tattooed anchor showed that a seaman had sailed the Atlantic Ocean. In ancient times among Mediterranean seafarers, the anchor symbolized the sea gods.
Because of the great importance of navigation, the anchor was regarded in ancient times as a symbol of safety. The Christians, therefore, in adopting the anchor as a symbol of hope in a future existence, merely gave a new and higher signification to a familiar emblem. In early Christianity, the anchor (with a horizontal tie bar under the ring) was used as a covert symbol by its resemblance to a cross. Indeed, the crux dissimulate is just an anchor.
As a Christian symbol, the anchor does not only represent hope but strength as well because an anchor holds a ship in place as it braves the storm. And since it also resembles the cross, the anchor was used to mark houses as safe for early Christians looking for a place of refuge, becoming a Christian symbol of safety and security. The anchor symbol is indicative of how Christians should not sway when persecuted. It has come to symbolize salvation and steadfastness or being firmly anchored in our beliefs, in the same manner, that Christians were while under Roman persecution.
According to Oxford Languages, an anchor is “a heavy object attached to a rope or chain and used to moor a vessel to the sea bottom, typically one having a metal shank with a ring at one end for the rope and a pair of curved and/or barbed flukes at the other.” Anchors are devices that hold water vessels in place to prevent them from drifting away. Because anchors look somewhat like a cross on a crescent, early Christians used them as a symbol of their Christianity under Roman persecution. Hence, the anchor became a symbol of salvation. Today the anchor remains a symbol of hope, strength, and steadfastness. It also represents the church and the ancient Christian faith.
Many times the anchor is combined with other symbols that elaborate on something more specific—various creatures of the sea, ships, lifesavers, and names of ports. In general, though, it guarantees stability and security in the physical world and by extension also steadfastness, hope, and trust in the spiritual world.