Animal Symbolism in Many Cultures

Animal Symbolism in Many Cultures

 

cave paintingArtists frequently use animals as subject matter in their art. Through time animals have appeared in paintings, sculptures, and prints. Animals are also symbolic. Many cultures through the ages have regarded specific animals as representing gods, power, the supernatural, and in the cases of Native Americans, used in names.

 

On this page you will find a compilation of animals and what they represent to their specific cultures through time. These animal symbols have been collected from sources on the internet. Some of the sources can not be verified as being completely accurate.

 

Animals in the Bible [and Torah]

The Dove

When Noah wanted to see if any land had appeared yet after the flood, he released a dove from the ark. After several releases, the dove returned with an olive branch. This indicated that the flood was over and subsiding. Along with the rainbow, it also represented God's forgiveness. The dove is used several times in the Bible. [All verses are from God's Word translation]

  • Genesis 8:8-12 "Next, he (Noah) sent out a dove to see if the water was gone from the surface of the ground. The dove couldn't find a place to land because the water was still all over the earth. So it came back to Noah in the ship. He reached out and brought the dove back into the ship. He waited seven more days and again sent the dove out of the ship. The dove came to him in the evening, and in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf. Then Noah knew that the water was gone from the earth. He waited seven more days and sent out the dove again, but it never came back to him."

dove

The dove was also compared to Ephraim. The dove was described as silly and senseless and flying away from trouble or responsibility.

  • Hosea 7:11 "Ephraim, you are like a silly, senseless dove. You call for Egypt and run to Assyria for help."

    This verse refers to the time when Ephraim called for help from Egypt and then ran for cover in Assyria. In verse 12, God said He would snatch Ephraim out of the air like a bird while he runs. He later explains that Ephraim is running because they are running from God and were rebelling.

The dove was also described as something lovely, sweet and romantic. A woman in love describes the man she loves as like a dove.

  • Song of Solomon 2:14 "My dove, in the hiding places of the rocky crevices, in the secret places of the cliffs, let me see your figure and hear your voice. Your voice is sweet, and your figure is lovely."

Later, the man who she loves describes her a similar way. In this case he compared her as being perfect like a dove. He later described her eyes as like a dove.

  • Song of Solomon 6:9 "...she is unique, my dove, my perfect one. Her mother thinks she is unique. She is pure to the one who gave birth to her...."

The dove is once again described as flying away for escape. In this case, the dove is not described as silly but rather as a means of finding rest.

  • Psalm 55:6 "I said, "If only I had wings like a dove- I would fly away and find rest."

The wings of a dove are also mentioned in the Bible as being covered in silver with feathers of gold.

  • Psalm 68:13 "Though you stayed among the sheep pens, you will be like the wings of a dove covered with silver, its feathers with yellow gold."

A dove is also mentioned for the way it makes its nest at the entrance of caves.

  • Jeremiah 48:28 "Be like doves that make their nests at the entrance of a cave."

Doves are mentioned once again as going to and from Assyria. The fact that they are described as trembling means that they are not able to handle stress well.

  • Hoseah 11:11 "They will come trembling like birds from Egypt and like doves from Assyria."

The dove is described as like something graceful coming from heaven. In several of the Gospels, the Spirit of God descends upon Jesus at the point of His baptism. In Luke, the Spirit is actually described as looking like a dove.

  • Matthew 3:16 "After Jesus was baptized, he immediately came up from the water. Suddenly, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God coming down as a dove to him."


  • Mark 1:10 "As Jesus came out of the water, he saw heaven split open and the Spirit coming down to him as a dove."


  • Luke 3:22 "...and the Holy Spirit came down to him in the form of a dove."

  • John 1:32 "John said, 'I saw the Spirit come down as a dove from heaven and stay on him.'"


lambSheep and Lambs

Sheep and lambs are also important in the Bible. Jesus is described as being like a lamb for slaughter. Lambs were slaughtered for sacrifice in that era. Jesus spoke of being a shepherd and his people as being like sheep who need guidance and direction in life.

 

Sheep are described as being lost or scattered and in need of guidance.

  • Matthew 10:6 "Instead, go to the lost sheep of the nation of Israel."

  • 1 Peter 2:25 "You were like lost sheep. Now you have come back to the shepherd and bishop of your lives."

  • Matthew 15:24 "Jesus responded, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the nation of Israel."

  • Isaiah 53:6 "We have all strayed like sheep. Each one of us has turned to go his own way, and the LORD has laid all our sins on him."

  • Jeremiah 50:17 "The people of Israel are like scattered sheep that lions have chased."


  • Psalms 119:176 "I have wandered away like a lost lamb."

  • 2 Chronicles 18:16 "I saw Israel's troops scattered in the hills like sheep without a shepherd. The LORD said, 'These sheep have no master.'"

Followers of Jesus are described as like sheep in several places in the Bible.

  • John 10:15, 10:27 "So I give my life for my sheep... My sheep respond to my voice, and I know who they are. They follow me,"


  • Matthew 9:36 "When he saw the crowds, he felt sorry for them. They were troubled and helpless like sheep without a shepherd."

  • Numbers 27:17 "...who will lead them in and out of battle so that the LORD's community will not be like sheep without a shepherd."

Believers in Jesus are described as sheep once again. If the sheep enter the pen with Jesus' help, they will be saved. Jesus described His purpose for existence as giving life for the sheep. Jesus also talks about hired hands and that they aren't as loyal as those who own the sheep.

  • John 10:7-15 Jesus emphasized, "I can guarantee this truth: I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before I did were thieves or robbers. However, the sheep didn't respond to them. I am the gate. Those who enter the sheep pen through me will be saved. They will go in and out of the sheep pen and find food. A thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But I came so that my sheep will have life and so that they will have everything they need. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. A hired hand isn't a shepherd and doesn't own the sheep. When he sees a wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and quickly runs away. So the wolf drags the sheep away and scatters the flock. The hired hand is concerned about what he's going to get paid and not about the sheep. "I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep as the Father knows me. My sheep know me as I know the Father. So I give my life for my sheep."

    Jesus says to His disciples that He is sending them out as sheep to the wolves. Doves are also mentioned once again as being innocent like a dove.

King David spoke of God's people as being sheep in a pasture.

  • Psalms 74:1 "Why, O God, have you rejected us forever? Why does your anger smolder against the sheep in your care?"

Jesus spoke of his disciples as being like sheep thrown to the wolves.

  • Matthew 10:16 "I'm sending you out like sheep among wolves. So be as cunning as snakes but as innocent as doves."

People were described as being certain of death like sheep.

  • Psalms 49:4 "Like sheep, they are driven to hell with death as their shepherd."


  • Psalms 44:11 "You hand us over to be butchered like sheep and scatter us among the nations."

  • Jeremiah 12:3 "Drag them away like sheep to be slaughtered. Prepare them for the day of slaughter."


  • Romans 8:36 "As Scripture says: 'We are being killed all day long because of you. We are thought of as sheep to be slaughtered.'"

Sheep and goats were compared as being fit for heaven or hell.

  • Matthew 25:32-34, 25:41 "The people of every nation will be gathered in front of him. He will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right but the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, my Father has blessed you! Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. ...Then the king will say to those on his left, 'Get away from me! God has cursed you! Go into everlasting fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels!'"

A lamb was also spoken of in prophesy. In this case the lamb was once again Jesus.

  • Revelation 5:1 "I saw a lamb standing in the center near the throne with the four living creatures and the leaders. The lamb looked like he had been slaughtered. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent all over the world."


lionLions

As in other cultures, the lion of the Bible is described as fierce, roaring, vicious, and strong. Following are a few verses that mention lions.

 

In one cases, evil people were described as lions. God destroyed them in spite of their strength.

  • Job 4:8-11 "Whenever I saw those who plowed wickedness and planted misery, they gathered its harvest. God destroys them with his breath and kills them with a blast of his anger. Though the roar of the lion and the growl of the ferocious lion is loud, the young lions have had their teeth knocked out. The old lions die without any prey to eat, and the cubs of the lioness are scattered."


  • Ezekiel 19:1-9 "Your mother was like a lioness. She lay down among the lions. She fed many cubs. One of the cubs she raised became a young lion. He learned to tear apart the animals he hunted. He ate people. The nations heard about him, caught him in their pit, and brought him with hooks to Egypt. The lioness waited until she saw that there was no more hope. Then she took another one of her cubs and raised him into a young lion. He became a young lion, and he prowled among the lions. He learned to tear apart the animals he hunted. He ate people. He destroyed fortresses and turned cities into wastelands. The land and everyone living in it were terrified by the sound of his roar. The nations from every region came together against him. They spread their net over him and caught him in their pit. With hooks they put him in a cage and brought him to the king of Babylon. They put him in prison so that his roar wouldn't be heard anymore on the mountains of Israel."

The fierceness and strength is spoken of in several places.

  • Psalms 17:12 "Each one of them is like a lion eager to tear its prey apart and like a young lion crouching in hiding places."


  • Proverbs 28:15 "Like a roaring lion and a charging bear, so a wicked ruler is a threat to poor people."


  • Nahum 2:12 "Where is the lions' den, that feeding place for young lions? Where are the lion, the lioness, and the lion cub who moved about with no one to terrify them? The lion tore its prey to pieces to feed its cubs. It strangled the prey for its mates. It used to fill its caves with torn carcasses and its dens with torn flesh."


  • Amos 3:1, 8 "Does a lion roar in the forest if it has no prey? ...Does a young lion growl in its den unless it has caught something?The lion has roared. Who isn't afraid? The Almighty LORD has spoken."

The lion is spoken of being destructive and a destroyer of nations and evil.

  • Jeremiah 2:30 "...You killed my prophets like a raging lion."


  • Jeremiah 4:7 "A lion has come out of its lair. A destroyer of nations has set out. He has left his place to destroy your land. Your cities will be ruined, and no one will live in them."


  • Jeremiah 12:8 "My people have turned on me like a lion in the forest. They roar at me, so I hate them."


  • 1 Peter 5:8 "Keep your mind clear, and be alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour."

The lion is spoken of in prophesy. Future evil events are spoken of like lions.

  • Daniel 7:4 "The first animal was like a lion, but it had wings like an eagle."

Lions are spoken of as hardship and torment.

  • Psalms 22:21 "Save me from the mouth of the lion and from the horns of wild oxen."

The lion is spoken of in positive terms. Here the bravery and boldness of lions is mentioned.

  • Proverbs 28:1 "A wicked person flees when no one is chasing him, but righteous people are as bold as lions."

God spoke of Himself as a lion when speaking as a judge of evil.

  • Hosea 13:6-8 "When I fed you, you were full. When you were full, you became arrogant. That is why you forgot me. So I will be like a lion. Like a leopard I will wait by the road to ambush you. Like a bear that has lost her cubs, I will attack you. I will rip you open. Like a lion I will devour you. Like a wild animal I will tear you apart."

Lions (as well as other animals) are spoken of in prophesy

  • Ezekial 10:14 "Each of the angels had four faces. The first was the face of an angel, the second was the face of a human, the third was the face of a lion, and the fourth was the face of an eagle."


  • Revelation 4:7 "The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like a young bull, the third had a face like a human, and the fourth was like a flying eagle."


  • Revelation 5:5 "Then one of the leaders said to me, "Stop crying! The Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has won the victory. He can open the scroll and the seven seals on it."


Other animals in the Bible

There are many other animals spoken of symbolically in the Bible. Common animals mentioned include the eagle.

  • Job 39:27 "Is it by your order that the eagle flies high and makes its nest on the heights?"


  • Obadiah 1:4 "Even though you fly high like an eagle and build your nest among the stars, I will bring you down from there," declares the LORD."


  • Ezekiel 17:7 "There was another large eagle with large wings and many feathers. Now, the vine stretched its roots toward this eagle and sent its branches toward the eagle so that the eagle could water it."


  • Psalms 103:5 "...the one who fills your life with blessings so that you become young again like an eagle."


  • Hosea 8:1 "The enemy swoops down on the LORD's temple like an eagle."

Bears are mentioned several times in the Bible

  • Lamentations 3:10 "He is like a bear waiting to ambush me, like a lion in hiding."

  • Job 38:32 "Can you bring out the constellations at the right time or can you guide the Bear with her cubs?

There are many other animals mentioned in the Bible. To search for verses that include them, enter your search terms at Scripturetext.

 

Animals in the Koran [Qur'an or Quran]

The Lion

The lion is mentioned as something to fear.

  • The Covered One 74:49-51 "What is then the matter with them, that they turn away from the admonition as if they were asses taking fright that had fled from a lion?"


cowThe Cow

The cow is mentioned in several ways in this passage.

 

The Cow 2.67-2.73 "And when Musa said to his people: Surely Allah commands you that you should sacrifice a cow; they said: Do you ridicule us? He said: I seek the protection of Allah from being one of the ignorant. They said: Call on your Lord for our sake to make it plain to us what she is. Musa said: He says, Surely she is a cow neither advanced in age nor too young, of middle age between that (and this); do therefore what you are commanded. They said: Call on your Lord for our sake to make it plain to us what her color is. Musa said: He says, Surely she is a yellow cow; her color is intensely yellow, giving delight to the beholders. They said: Call on your Lord for our sake to make it plain to us what she is, for surely to us the cows are all alike, and if Allah please we shall surely be guided aright. Musa said: He says, Surely she is a cow not made submissive that she should plow the land, nor does she irrigate the tilth; sound, without a blemish in her. They said: Now you have brought the truth; so they sacrificed her, though they had not the mind to do (it). So We said: Strike the (dead body) with part of the (Sacrificed cow), thus Allah brings the dead to life, and He shows you His signs so that you may understand."

  • Surah Ta Ha 88" Then he produced a calf for them, a physical form which made a lowing sound. So they said, 'This is your god - and Musa's God as well, but he forgot.'"

  • Surah Yusuf, 43 "The King declared, 'I dreamt of seven fat cows which seven thin ones ate and seven green ears of wheat and seven others which were dry. O counselors! Explain my dream to me if you are those who can interpret visions!'"


The Camel

camel

The camel is mentioned in several ways in these passages. The camel is spoken of a sacrifice and a sign from Allah.

  • The Elevated Places 7.40 "Surely (as for) those who reject Our communications and turn away from them haughtily, the doors of heaven shall not be opened for them, nor shall they enter the garden until the camel pass through the eye of the needle.."

    [Note- this verse is very similar to one in the Bible. Mark 10:25 says, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."]

  • 7.77 "So they slew the she-camel and revolted against their Lord's commandment..."

  • The Holy Prophet 11.64 "And, O my people! this will be (as) Allah's she-camel for you, a sign; therefore leave her to pasture on Allah's earth and do not touch her with evil, for then a near chastisement will overtake you."

  • The Pilgrimage 22.27, 36 "And proclaim among men the Pilgrimage: they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, coming from every remote path... And (as for) the camels, We have made them of the signs of the religion of Allah for you."

  • The Overwhelming Calamity 88.17-18 "Will they not then consider the camels, how they are created?
    And the heaven, how it is reared aloft..."


The Dog

  • The Elevated Places 7.176 "...We would certainly have exalted him thereby; but he clung to the earth and followed his low desire, so his parable is as the parable of the dog; if you attack him he lolls out his tongue; and if you leave him alone he lolls out his tongue..."

  • The Cave 18.22 "(Some) say: (They are) three, the fourth of them being their dog; and (others) say: Five, the sixth of them being their dog, making conjectures at what is unknown; and (others yet) say: Seven, and the eighth of them is their dog."


Sheep

  • Ta Ha 20.18 "He said: This is my staff: I recline on it and I beat the leaves with it to make them fall upon my sheep, and I have other uses for it."


Birds

  • Surah Al 'Imran, 49 "As a Messenger to the tribe of Israel, saying: 'I have brought you a Sign from your Lord. I will create the shape of a bird out of clay for you and then breathe into it and it will be a bird by Allah's permission. "

  • Surat an-Nur, 41 "Do you not see that everyone in the heavens and earth glorifies Allah, as do the birds with their outspread wings?"


Other Animals

  • Surat al-'Adiyat, 1-2 "By the charging horses panting hard, striking sparks from their flashing hooves.

A crow is mentioned as a messenger from Allah."

  • Surat al-Ma'ida, 31 "Then Allah sent a crow which scratched at the earth to show him how to conceal his brother's corpse. He said, 'Woe is me! Can I not even be like this crow and conceal my brother's corpse?' And he became one of those who suffer bitter remorse."

Donkeys spoken of as panicked.

  • Surat al-Muddaththir, 50-51 "...Like panicked donkeys fleeing from a lion?"

People who depend on others besides Allah are compared to spiders who build flimsy houses.

  • Surat al-'Ankabut, 41 "The metaphor of those who take protectors besides Allah is that of a spider which builds itself a house; but no house is flimsier than a spider's house, if they only knew."

As in the Bible, the snake represents evil.

  • Surat al-Qasas, 31 "Throw down your staff!' Then when he he saw it slithering like a snake he turned and fled and did not turn back again. 'Musa, approach and have no fear! You are one of those who are secure."

Recent comments about animals in Islam include the following:

 

"Imam Hazrat Ali gives this piece of advice: "Be like a bee; anything he heats is clean, anything he drops is sweet and any branch he sits upon does not break." [1]

 

Search in the Koran at the University of Michigan's site.

 

Celtic Mythology

"Animals in Celtic and Welsh mythology are tied in with fertility and vitality, because they are living, moving, and growing. They also provide vitality and continued life for the tribes through their meat, skins, and bones. In addition, they are a connection to the realm of spirits and the gods. This connection is seen through their use in the hunt, search for secrets and wisdom." [ Animal Symbolism in Celtic Mythology, Lars Noodén, 22 November 1992]

 

Following are various animals and their symbolic meaning in Celtic and Welsh mythology:

 

Birds - The transition from life to death

Boars & Sows - The boar is a symbol of masculine power. Because of this, the meat of the boar was served at Otherworld feasts. The sow is associated with some Crone/Mother Goddesses, such as Cerridwen, and with Otherworldly feasts. The pig is the archetypal symbol of plenty, healing, and shapeshifting.

Bull - The bull was a symbol of virility, sovereignty, and wealth. The famous Irish legend, The Cattle Raid of Cooley, surrounds the taking of a famous bull. In Ancient Ireland, a highly ritualized "feast of the bull" called a tabhfheis, always preceded the crowning of a new High King.

Cats - The Celts did not revere cats, though there are many references to them in Celtic mythology. They served the same guardian function as demons/angels in the Judeo-Christian myths. Three mythic references to cats which are prominent are; one, a cat which helps to guard the gates of the Otherworld; two, one who is able to shapeshift into a ball of fire; and three, one called Irusan of Knoweth who stole humans like the faery. Cat-like monsters were also believed to dwell in dark caves.

Cranes - Numerous Celtic myths tell us of a heroic figure or deity who was changed into a crane such as Aife, the Lady of the Lake, or Munanna. Archetypally this bird means an apparent, rather than substantive, change A sign of, or punishment for, deception.

 

Deer - The doe was associated with most woodland Goddesses, such as Saba and Flidais, and is their totem animal. The stag was often seen as the incarnate form of woodland Gods such as Cernunnos. White stags were considered to be from the Otherworld and, in myth, their appearance always heralded some profound change in the lives of those in the story.

 

Dogs - Many Celtic myths involve dogs or dog familiars, which belonged to heroic figures or deities, and wars were often fought for and over them such as the one between Fionn MacCumhal and King Arthur. Dogs are also the archetypal symbols of shapeshifters.

 

Dragons - The dragon is a creature of fire and related to the Power of the Land. Another word for Ley Lines is Dragon Lines. Another name for raising power is to invoke the "Eye of the Dragon". The whole Earth was viewed by the Druids as the body of the Dragon. Menhirs and stone Circles were located at great Power nodes. The Celts also called Dragons 'Fire Drakes'.

 

Eagle - Eagles were the feared scavengers of Europe and were usually linked to death Gods, such as Beli, in the same way as the crow was linked to death Goddesses. In Welsh mythology, Llew was turned into an eagle at the moment of his murder.

 

Horses - Horses were linked to the night, the moon, mystery, and magick. Nightmares, a name which is derived from that of the female horse, were thought by the Celts to be brought by a visiting horse Goddess such as Epona or Mare. In most Celtic myths the horses are black or white.

 

ouselOusel (Ouzel) - This water bird (See image at left) is known for its tenacious and deceptive personality. While it looks harmless enough, it is revered for its ability to staunchly defend itself and its flock. In myth, the Ousel of Cilgwri once picked a smith's hammer down to the size of a small nut.

 

Raven or Crow - The Crow is deeply linked to Crone Goddesses such as Badb, and to Goddess of war or death like the Morrigan. The Raven is similar to the crow in that it is deeply associated with death deities. The raven has been the Otherworldly body for both Gods and Goddesses. Like the crow, it flew over Celtic battlefields as the deity incarnate.

 

Salmon - The Salmon is considered a source of Knowledge. The myths of Nudons and Fionn are among the many dealing with this fish. It is said to have acquired its great knowledge from eating the Nine Hazels of Wisdom that fell from the Tree of Knowledge.

 

Serpent - Represents the cyclic nature of life due to the annual shedding of its skin. It is a phallic symbol, a symbol of the Triple Goddess, and of the earth mysteries. It is important to the Druids, and is found on much old Celtic jewelry.

 

Taken in part from http://www.joellessacredgrove.com/Celtic/animals.html

 

Animals - Combining All Symbolism

The following animals appear in a variety of cultures and represent a variety of things. In one case an animal might symbolize something good, while in another culture might consider it representative of evil. Each animal below is followed by symbols from different cultures and religions.

 

Alligator - Aggression, survival, adaptability. Cunning, deceptive.

Ant - Group minded, perseverance, self-discipline, group effort, teamwork, industriousness, orderliness,
virtue. Strength, stamina, honor.

Antelope - Lunar animal, associated with the Mother. Grace, beauty.

Ape/Monkey - Mischief, mimicry, cunning, benevolence. Humanity, nurture.

Baboon - Hailer of the dawn.

Badger - Supernatural power, mischief, playful. Other world, wisdom, caring.

Bat - Guardian of the night, cleaner, obscurity, messenger, double nature, happiness, good luck, longevity, peace; also - hypocrisy, melancholy, revenge, wisdom.

Bee - Immortality, rebirth, industry, order, purity, soul, chastity, messengers between worlds, secret wisdom, Mother and priestesses. Community.

Birds - The soul, transcendence, spirits of air, ascent, communication, freedom, sight.

Bear - Primal power, mother, cunning, healer, gentle strength, dreaming, sovereignty, intuition married with instinct. Nurturing, protective.

Bear Paw - Power, direction, connection to creator.

Beaver - Builder, gatherer.

Blackbird - Enchantment, the Gateway, the inner call. Guide, illumination.

Boar - The warrior spirit, leadership, direction, lust, gluttony, fertility, prophecy, magic, protection, hospitality.

Buffalo - Sacredness, life builder. The buffalo provides all good things for living, and bestows great curing
powers.

Bull - Wealth, potency, beneficence, generative force, male procreative strength, kingship, taming of the
masculine and animal nature. Destructive force.

Butterfly - Metamorphosis, carefree, transformer, immortality, rebirth, resurrection. Grace, light, soul.

Cat - Guardianship, detachment, sensuality, stealth, desire, liberty, pleasure, magic, lust, pride, vanity.

Cock - Solar, courage, vigilance, supremacy, passion, pride, the underworld.

Cougar - Leadership, courage, power, swiftness and balance.

Cow - Nourishment, motherhood, power of Earth, plenty, procreation, gentleness, nurturing.

Coyote - Prankster, insight, playful. The coyote symbolizes duality and the ability to present both sides of an issue. Clowning and humor, perhaps sarcastic.

Crane - Solitude, independence, messenger, communion, higher state of consciousness, wisdom, knowledge.

Crocodile - Devourer, liberation, guardian, dual nature, conscious and unconscious, fertility, brutality,
viciousness, deceit, treachery.

Crow - Messenger, death, wisdom, communication, the underworld.

Deer - Love, gentleness, kindness, gracefulness, sensitivity, purity of purpose, walking in the light, swift, nimble, meek, gentle, meditation, love, longevity, wealth.

Dog - Guidance, protection, loyalty, fidelity, faithfulness, watchfulness, the Hunt.

Dolphin - Kindness, play, savior, guide, sea power, swift, intelligence, communication, breath control, awareness of tone.

Donkey - Humility, patience, peace, stupidity, stubbornness, lewdness.

Dragon - Power of Earth, combining bird and serpent as matter and spirit, breath of life, supernatural power, magic, strength, wisdom, knowledge, guardian.

Dragonfly - Flighty, carefree, swift, activity, shamanistic, supernatural powers.

Eagle - Divine spirit, air, the sun, power in battle, protection from evil, clear vision, success, prosperity, wealth, intelligence, renewal, courage.

Elephant - Strength, fidelity, memory, patience, wisdom, intelligence, power.

Elk - Strength, agility, freedom, power, nobility.

Fox - Cunning, provider, intelligence, feminine magic, diplomacy, wildness.

Frog - Power of water, sensitivity, medicine, hidden beauty, power.

Goat - Vitality, fertility, creativity, virility, abundance, lust.

Goose - Guardian, watchful, wind, the sun, war, inspiration, swift, happiness, providence.

Grizzly Bear - Mother, nature's pharmacist

Hare - rebirth, rejuvenation, resurrection, intuition, balance, fertility, fire, madness, transformation.

Hawk - Nobility, recollection, cleansing, messenger, observer, Solar, clarity, discrimination, inspiration, the soul.

Heron - Vigilance, quiet, power of water, the underworld, tact, delicacy, renewal, life, transformation.

Horse - Stamina, mobility, strength and power, coping under difficult circumstances, love, devotion, loyalty, the land, travel. Life and death symbol, intellect, wisdom, power, nobility, energy, freedom, wildness, divination, prophecy, fertility.

Hummingbird - Messenger, stopper of time, optimism, sweetness.

Jackal - Guide of souls, associated with cemeteries.

Jaguar - Messenger, forest spirits, power.

Kingfisher - Beauty, dignity, speed, calmness, serenity.

Leopard - Ferocity, aggression, intrepid, Great Watcher, courage, activity, speed.

Lion - Solar, splendor, power, majesty, strength, courage, nobility.

Lizard - Conservation, agility, promotes dreaming.

Moose - Headstrong, unstoppable, longevity, value, integrity.

Octopus - The spiral, water, unconscious.

Otter - Laughter, curiosity, mischievous, feminine power, grace, empathy, joy, play, helpfulness.

Owl - Wisdom, truth, patience, darkness, a death messenger, divination, solitude, detachment, wisdom, change, totem of clairvoyants and mystics.

Python - Darkness, feminine, power of Earth, wisdom.

Rabbit - Alertness, nurturing.

Ram - Sacrifice, breakthrough, achievement, virility, creativity, the Sun, solar power.

Raven - Trickster, teacher, hoarder, healing, initiation, protection, shaman's power, transformation, change in consciousness, mark of a shape shifter.

Salmon - Instinct, persistence, determination, wisdom, inspiration, rejuvenation.

Seahorse - Confidence, grace.

Serpent - Life, rebirth, resurrection, wisdom, passion, healing, poison, preserver, destroyer, malice, fertility.

Shark - Hunter, survival, adaptability.

Snake - Shrewdness, transformation, life, death and rebirth, rain, fertility.

Spider - Creative, pattern of life, connects the past with the future, creating possibilities.

Stag - Pride, independence, purification.

Swan - Grace, balance, innocence, faithfulness, solitude, retreat, poetry, sincerity.

Tiger - Creator, destroyer, strength, ferocity, power, anger, power of Earth.

Turtle - Self contained, creative source, Earth, informed decisions, planning, adaptability.

Unicorn - Chastity, purity, dreams, virtue, strength, integrity, magic, healing, freedom.

Whale - Power of Water, regeneration, death, rebirth.

Wolf - Loyalty, success, perseverance, stability, thought, pathfinder, teacher, intuition, learning, the shadow.

Wolf Print - Tracking, movement.

Woodpecker - Prophecy, magic, power, guardian of trees, Heralds rain and storms.

Wren - Spirit, witchcraft, the Oak King.


Native American Animal Symbolism

The following animal symbols come from a variety of tribal nations and may be different from nation to nation.

Alligator - Stealth, Aggression, survival, adaptability.

Ant - The ant represents self-discipline and a group effort or teamwork, patience, diligence and Work

Antelope - Taking Action

Armadillo - Boundaries, Self Protection

Badger - Aggressiveness, Passion and Drive

Bat - The bat is the guardian of the night, cleaner, Death and Rebirth on Personal, Spiritual Level

Bear - Power, mother cunning, healer, gentle strength, dreaming, Gentle Strength, Introspection and Dreaming

Bear Paw - Power, direction, connection to creator.

Beaver - The beaver is a builder or gatherer, Accomplishing Goals

Buffalo - Abundance, Survival Needs Met, Good Fortune, Healing, Sacredness, life builder. The buffalo provides all good things for living, and bestows great curing powers.

Bumblebee - Honesty, Pure Thinking, Willingness and Drive

Butterfly - Self Transformation, Balance, Grace, Metamorphosis, Carefree, Transformer.

Caribou -Travel and Mobility

Cougar - Leadership, courage, power, swiftness and balance.

Coyote - The Trickster, Humor, Charm, Folly of Self-Deception and Survival, Prankster, insight, playful. The coyote symbolizes duality and the ability to present both sides of an issue. Clowning and humor, perhaps sarcastic.

Crane - Water, End of Summer, Migration, Solitude, independence.

Cricket - Singing, Spring, Fertility

Crow - Sacred Law, Gateway To Supernatural, Shape Shifting, Illusion

Deer - Love, gentleness, kindness, gracefulness and sensitivity. Deer carries the message of purity of purpose, and of walking in the light.

Dog - Protection, Loyalty, Companionship

Dolphin - Joy, Harmony, Connection with self, kindness, play, bridge man to ocean, Intelligence, Self Connection. Dolphin brings us teachings from the water. Breath control and the awareness of tone is also Dolphin power.

Dove - Love, Gentleness and Kindness

Dragonfly - Dreamtime, Illusion, Spring, Water, Flighty, carefree. Dragonflies symbolize whirlwind, swiftness and activity. The dragonfly is an important insect in Zuni legend, where they are shamanistic creatures with supernatural powers. In Hopi rock art, the dragonfly is symbolized by a vertical line with two or sometimes one, horizontal cross line. Skill, Refinement, Relentlessness

Eagle - Spirit Connection to Higher Realms, Courage, Divine spirit, chief of all the creatures in the air, the primary servant of the sun. Powerful in battle, the eagle protects the people from evil. Eagle medicine attributes include clear vision and soaring spirit. The eagle is associated with success, prosperity and wealth. In the Zuni Tradition, the Eagle symbolizes the direction Up. Potency, Healing, Power, Illumination

Elk - Strength, agility, freedom, power and nobility. Pride, Power, Majesty

Feather - Spirit

Firefly - Communication, Illumination

Fish - Water, Current, Flow of Life From the Earth

Fox - Camouflage, Adaptability and Integration, Cunning, provider, intelligence. Fox represents twilight and feminine magic. Cleverness, Subtlety, Discretion

Frog - Fluidity, Water and Rain, Cleansing, Tears, Peace, Emotional Healing, Connection with water element.

Goat - Tenacity, Diligence

Goose - Safe return, Love of home

Grizzly Bear - Mother, nature's pharmacist.

Hawk - Awareness, Truth, Foresight, Messenger of the sky, observer.

Hedgehog - Self-preservation

Heron - Patience, Grace

Horse - Carrier Of Burdens, Stamina, mobility, strength and power. The horse was introduced to the plains tribes by the Spanish. Shamans are often pictured flying on mythical horses. Horses can symbolize coping under difficult circumstances. Horse is love and devotion, loyalty, Freedom.

Hummingbird - Pure Love and Joy, Celebration of Life, Beauty, Wonder, Agility, Messenger, stopper of time. It represents optimism and sweetness. Being able to roll with the punches is an attribute of Hummingbird.

Kokepeli - Joy, Fertility

Ladybug - Delight, Trust

Lion - Pride, Nobility, Cunning, Courage

Lizard - Dreaming, Foresight, Ancient Secrets, Letting go, Illusiveness, Conservation, agility. Lizard promotes dreaming.

Loon - Peace, Tranquility, Generosity, Communication, Serenity

Lynx - Keeper of Mystical Secrets

Moose - Self Esteem, Assertiveness, Unpredictability, Spontaneity, Headstrong, unstoppable longevity. Moose represents value and integrity.

Mouse - Scrutiny, Attention to Detail, Illusion, Charm

Opossum - Strategy and Diversion

Otter - Joy, Lightness, Laughter, curiosity, mischievous, Earth and Water, Balanced Feminine Energy. Otter is a feminine power, and the symbol of grace and empathy.

Owl - Wisdom, Vision, Insight, truth, patience, Magic, Astral Projection. The Mescalero believe that Owl carries the souls of the recently deceased, a death messenger. Owl is the totem of clairvoyants and mystics.

Parrot Feather - Bringer of Essential Rain and Seed

Peacock - Pride, Recognition, Self-Assurance

Pelican - Abundance, Plenty

Pheasant - Warning, Concealment

Porcupine - Innocence, Humility, Trust

Quail - Protectiveness, Group harmony

Rabbit - Conquering fear, Safety, Alertness, nurturing, Overcoming Limiting Beliefs

Raccoon - Curiosity, Inquisitiveness

Ram - Strength, Determination

Raven - Bringer of Magic and Light, Creation and Knowledge, Trickster, teacher, hoarder, Mystery, Exploration of the unknown. To Pacific Northwest Coast tribes, Raven represented the shaman's powers and a belief in transformation between human and animal spirits. Raven symbolizes change in consciousness and is the mark of a shape shifter.

Roadrunner - Speed, Agility

Salmon - Instinct, Determination, Persistence, Dependability and Renewal

Sandpiper - Quickness, Foraging, Scavenging

Scorpion - Defense, Self-protection, Biting Truth

Seagull - Carefree attitude, Versatility, Freedom

Seahorse - Confidence, grace, Nourishing, Fathering

Seal - Contentment, Inquisitiveness, Organization

Shark - Hunter, survival, adaptability.

Skunk - Perseverance, Determination, Reputation, Respect, Caution

Snail - Perseverance, Determination

Snake - Power, Life force, Sexual potency, Shrewdness, transformation, Life, death and rebirth are represented by the shedding of skin. Among the Pueblo Indians snakes and lightning are equated with rain and fertility.

Spider - The Web of life, Interconnectedness, Industry, Creative, pattern of life, Weaving, Symbolism. Spider connects the past with the future, creating possibilities. Spider-woman is a major Pueblo goddess.

Squirrel - Gathering, Preparation, Trust, Thrift

Swan - Elegance, Nurturing, Grace, balance, innocence, Surrender to the Universal Plan.

Tadpole - Fertility and Renewal, Transformation

Turkey - Give Away, Sacrifice of Self and Others

Turtle - Love & Protection, Healing, Knowledge, Self contained, creative source. Turtle represents Mother Earth. Informed decisions, planning and adaptability are attributes of Turtle.

Weasel - Stealth, Information Gathering

Whale - Historical Record Keeper, Traveler, Guardian, Creativity, Intuition

Wolf - Teaching skill, Loyalty, Interdependence, Loyalty, success, perseverance, stability and thought. Wolves are also regarded as pathfinders and teachers. Wolf is represented by the constellation Sirius, the Dog. In the Zuni tradition the Wolf symbolizes the direction East. Wolf Print--Tracking, movement.

Woodpecker - Change, Persistence

 

Symbols of the Chinese Horoscope Cycle

The Twelve Earthly Branches and Their Attributes.

 

RAT: intelligent, enterprising, has devotion to purpose, but can be devious and scheming at times.

OX: strong, steadfast and dependable, but not necessarily stupid; faithful to the end, slow to anger, but can be very forceful.

TIGER: loyal, courageous, energetic, strong, cunning. The tigress tends to be shrewish.

RABBIT: modest, fast mover, has delicate senses, and is a good listener.

DRAGON: benign, embodies wisdom, strength and goodness. Protector of the weak.

SNAKE: observant, quick to anger, usually possesses great physical beauty and is not necessarily venomous except when protecting the family.

HORSE: strong and powerful, usually vain if a woman, warlike and chivalrous.

SHEEP: proud, domineering, strive to help and guard their fellows, and are sometimes excellent doctors.

MONKEYS: quick and keen of wit, highly observant, curious, loving, a good parent, and excellent in small enterprises.

ROOSTER: quick to fight, single-purposed and persistent.

DOG: loyal, steadfast, persistent in adversity. Sensitive to feelings.

PIG: highly intelligent, scholarly, easily angered, easily swayed and affected by emotions.

 

 

 


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