Typically, I like to stick to explaining species (such as the red-tailed hawk or barn owl) or a general group of species (such as turtle or eagle) when writing spirit animal articles, but in this case, I am making an exception. Black Panther spirit animal looms so large in our psyche and mythologies that she warrants unique treatment when considering interpretation.
Is Black Panther a Jaguar or a Leopard?
She can be either! Black panthers are not a distinct species, nor are they a group of species. Some black panthers are leopards, but not all leopards are black panthers. Some black panthers are jaguars, but most jaguars are not black panthers.
Black panther is a blanket term to describe an uncommon, specific color variation, known as “melanistic”, of either leopards or jaguars. Melanin is the black pigment found in excess in the coats of these large cats. Leopards live in Africa and Asia. Jaguars are found in Central and South America. Jaguars are larger, stockier and more muscular with broad, boxy heads and a shorter tail. Both species inhabit a wide variety of habitats from savanna to swamp to dense jungle.
This begs the question – Do you need to know the species of the black panther you’ve encountered (in dreams, journeys or waking reality)? Not necessarily, but it will help you understand the nuances of this spirit animal more clearly. The mythology of jaguars and leopards is as different as Hindu and Aztec cultures.
Fitting in with the Family
Interestingly enough, the melanistic gene (that causes the black coloration) in jaguars is dominant and in leopards is recessive. This means that a black jaguar must have at least one black coated parent, but a black leopard can be born from two spotted parents. In a given litter of either species, both spotted and black panthers can emerge.
All of this points to the idea of the “black sheep” and feeling like you don’t necessarily fit into your family. Someone with a black jaguar spirit animal may feel a stronger association to one parent than another, where a person with the black leopard spirit animal may wonder whether she was switched at birth. Black panther spirit animal in general causes us to sit with the question of how we fit in with our parents and siblings. What have you inherited from them? What has skipped a generation?
Black panther symbolism relates to comfort in the mystery of where you came from and how you fit in, bringing the wisdom that not everything needs to fall in line and fit perfectly.
Creature of the Dark
The black panther is most obviously associated with darkness. We are inclined to believe that being solid black would mean a distinct advantage for a hunter, but according to experts on the Shooting authority website, a solid color means a solid outline which is much more visible to prey than an outline broken up by spots. It is believed that for this reason, black panthers are more likely to succeed in darker habitats. To match this theory, most black panthers are found in dense habitats such as jungles.
Jungles are wet, messy, jumbled places and they mirror the unkept and unknown part of our unconscious. Black panther spirit animal is adept at navigating the unconscious, hidden parts of ourselves. She ventures into the unknown, comfortable with the darkness. Black panther spirit animal understands that the jungle is fraught with danger and rich with resources. The shadow is both good and bad.
Black panther symbolism is not only about traveling into our own darkness, but also the mystery of the universe. Both jaguars and leopards are solitary animals, and black panther spirit animal lends us the courage to venture into the unknown alone.
The mystery of the universe is called the “void”. This is the darkness of the womb, the place of pure potential creation, and both the end and beginning of all things. The void is a place beyond the five senses where we must venture on faith alone. Black panther animal totem is our guide along the way.
In the book Medicine Cards, black panther symbolism is explained as “embracing the unknown”. This is an excellent hallmark to remember.
New Moon & The Feminine
Black panther symbolism is associated with the new moon in particular. Her energy is strongest when we face the dark side of the moon during the day and have no moon at night. The absence of moonlight makes black panther less visible and a superior huntress. The new moon is a time of both death and rebirth, when we stand at the threshold looking back at what was and looking ahead at what’s come. Neither are certain for this brief window in time. What was is no more and what’s to be is not yet born. Faith is a hallmark of black panther symbolism.
The moon is strongly associated with the feminine as is the jungle and darkness, thus the black panther is said to carry the energy of the feminine principles of receptivity and intuition. Now is not the time for figuring things out or striking out, but for both turning inward to your soul and opening up to the Divine.
Solar Eclipse Power
In Ted Andrews’s Animal Speak, he shares that “To the Tucano Indians of the Amazon… the black panther was the god of darkness and could cause eclipses by swallowing the sun”. The brilliance of this teaching is that solar eclipses only occur during a new moon and black panther spirit animal’s height of power occurs during the new moon. New moons are often seen as new beginnings, a rebirth. Most astrologers highlight the point that solar eclipses are amplified new moons, setting the stage for what’s to come for the next six months.
However, in leaping forward, we miss the medicine of black panther which is aligned with the moment of the new moon more than what’s to come. Nights of entire darkness during any new moon and also that moment when the moon and sun are dark during a solar eclipse are chilling experiences for us. We like the light and fear the darkness, but if we could manage to stay with the fear long enough much would be revealed to us.
Even though the sun is mostly covered by the moon during a solar eclipse we still cannot look at it without risking eye damage. If we look at a bright light we go blind and see darkness. Many mystics teach that most of us could not bear to look directly at God. Great saints and gurus spent decades preparing to handle just a glimpse of The One.
Black panther meaning is an opportunity to encounter the Divine through the mysteries of God. We fear the dark side of the moon, but we are merely looking at the other side of the same celestial body. Life emerges from death and death from life. They are opposite sides of the same coin. Black panther leads us into the untapped creative potential of this truth.
About Author, Stacey L. L. Couch
Stacey Couch, Certified Shamanic Practitioner, works as a publicist and journalist for Mother Nature and is the author of Gracious Wild: A Shamanic Journey with Hawks. She empowers people with the ability to explore life’s big questions by calling on nature, story and synchronicity as a source for guidance and healing. With over ten years of experience in the field of shamanism and thirteen years experience working with wildlife and rescue animals, Stacey has a unique blend of rational and mystical perspective that makes the world of shamanism easily accessible to others. She values mindfulness, wonder, and compassion in her daily spiritual practice. Learn More about Stacey.
About Author, Stacey L. L. Couch
Stacey L. L. Couch is a Spiritual Director who teaches about archetypes and symbolism. Her speciality is working with soul pioneers - those of you who are making it up as you go along the spiritual path. She works with beginner and life-long spiritual seekers. Through working with Stacey, lost seekers find their way home and professional spiritual guides receive mentorship. Stacey empowers people with the ability to explore their purpose and calling. Wisdom found in story, mysticism, and nature provide guidance and healing in her work. She is the author of Gracious Wild: A Shamanic Journey with Hawks. She values mindfulness, wonder, and compassion in her daily spiritual practice. Learn More about Stacey.
Beautifully written! So glad to have seen this email tonight! Right before the end of 2012, I asked for my dreams to reveal to be a new power animal that was ready to make itself known to me that be of my highest good, that night I was stalked by a black panther!
I was walking down a dark street at night with a friend of mine. I suddenly felt like something or someone was following us, so I kept looking behind us as we walked. Finally I caught a glimpse of its silhouette sneaking between cars. Scared, I grabbed my friend and we ran to the closest house and somehow scaled up to the roof quickly. I thought, “that oughta do it” but it jumped up there like there was nothing to it. Now, we actually saw it full on! Our backs up against the wall, we were trapped. It didn’t attack, just stood there with its soul piercing yellow eyes starting deeply into me. I accepted my death in that moment and surrendered completely. I was so enthralled by its presence and energy, scared me stiff but was so remarkable at the same time.
Ever since that dream, I have gone through a super intense 3 year stint of probing deep into my shadow and all my deep seated wounds. The healing and unreal discoveries I’ve come across through this process blows my mind and I can honestly say I am certainly not the same person I was before she found her way into my life! Saturn in Scorpio helped fuel this period and I am honestly at the end of this long journey and with Saturn leaving Scorpio for good tomorrow, I couldn’t be more grateful for all I’ve learned, how much I’ve healed, and the person I’ve become because of it all! Def hasn’t been easy, but so worth every bit!
Honored to have the black panther as one of my main animal guides! Thanks for your beautiful words!
Beautifully said Steven. The intensity, gravity and understanding in your words is awesome. Thank you for sharing your story and your interpretation. Wonderful job seeing through a symbolic lens and picking up the greater and deeper meaning. – Stacey
Your email today linking to this information about black panthers came with perfect timing. During a teacher led meditation years ago to meet our guides and get gifts from them (those of us in the channeling class), I saw my guide standing on the edge of a cliff with a gorgeous black jaguar and she/he gave me a rose quartz sphere. I’ve had other exotic cats like cougars/mountain lions show up in photos of me and during a healing session once. Anyway, as I just recently FINALLY really met my main spirit guide and got a name, I’ve been wanting to learn more about the significance of the black jaguar with me. Somehow I’ve always known it’s a jaguar and not leopard. Thank you for sending this info right when I needed it. 🙂
Just a few days ago I was talking to my 23 year old son about my discovery that I have the mouse as a spirit animal and he asked me what I thought his spirit animal would be. The next thing I know I get this email!
I knew it would be some kind of feline because he has a pet cat he dearly loves and has a connection to and his favorite blanket from when he was a pre-teen has a giant tiger on it. Reading this was mind blowing because for one thing his dad is black and I’m white. He identifies with his black culture yet is very close to me but never was to his father who recently passed.
His tendency to want to be alone is spot on and he just a month ago ventured out alone into the darkness of Amarillo, Texas, (a lot of racism there), to live with my older son. I will be emailing this to him asap. I can’t thank you enough, this is great!
I Recently encountered a black panther in a journey and was waiting to speak to a guide, when it arrived. I asked if it was my guide i requested but said no i am the assistant to her. I never caught its name,nor did I meet the guide. I was literally left in the dark. Im not sure about attachment to leopard or jaguar as I feelcloser to my one parent and felt like I was adopted. But it has appeared lingering in the shadows of other journeys. I definitely feel a connection to it and the characteristics. still puzzled by the original journey though. Thank you for thearticle. Liz
Hello Liz, Ahhh… the mystery. It does not surprise me that you were left in the dark. It all ties together with the symbolism of the black panther doesn’t it. We expect our journeys to be like books with a beginning, middle and end. We like everything to be tied in a neat bow when we finish. But, the spirit world is not on a clock, nor is there a beginning, middle or end. Journeys happen on a circle, like all of life, and a journey you have today may link to one you have in ten years. There is just no way of knowing. Be willing to feel yourself in suspense and incomplete and know that this is the love of the black panther assisting your soul’s evolution. Many Blessings on the Path, Stacey
Very interesting analysis thank you so much! Enjoyed reading immensely! 🙂
You’re very welcome Nino!
Oh my God!!! I’ve just come across this after my meditation on the new moon/solar eclipse on September 1, 2016. This resonates with me so much! I’ve been kind of struggling with the dark lately, not sleeping properly and having this fear of the dark for some reason. I’ve been aware that this is the reason I won’t go deep in my meditations (even just now, I cut it short due to fear of the unknown/what I was about to see).
Anyway, the reason I’m writing this comment is because a black panther presented itself to me during my meditation. It was such a surreal experience, I had to Google it as soon as I finished meditating. It was so funny because I was surrounded by 4 angels and I felt, well saw it nudge one of them to enter the circle that had formed around me and laid right next to me. I always think it’s my mind playing tricks on me when I see/hear/feel anything but there’s no explanation for this, it’s just so random.
I’m fairly new to this stuff so I’m always questioning instead of trusting. Your article has definitely made me trust more as it’s spoken to me on some many levels. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing it.
You are so welcome from the bottom of my heart Trinny. What a fortunate synchronicity to have black panther spirit animal help you in this way at this time! Thank you too for sharing you experience. I look forward to staying in touch. Many Blessings, Stacey
This article has really helped me. I haven’t had any dreams, but I have moved from home and the first frame i was able to hang up(without hammering in a screwdriver) was that of a black panther with a woman beside her. I went to the store twice looking for something completely different for my home and noticed that the frame was still at the location. I went the first time on Friday, Sept. 8 and the 2nd time today, Sept. 11. I wanted to purchase it on the first date and said to myself “IF this is the first frame that needs to be purchased by me at this particular store, then it will still be here the next time i need to return.” I had NO intention on returning to the store until something convinced me to stop by today, Sunday Sept. 11. I couldn’t understand why I was so attracted to this artwork and what CONVINCED me to pay for it, plus adding the fact that its placed up perfectly right outside of the bedroom without me having to put in the effort to hang it, so i decided to look into its meaning. At first i googled “black lion, lions cousin, black tiger” (lol) and eventually figured out it was a black panther, based on the description of how its painted.
I have always had a FEAR of darkness, but am very open about exploring new opportunities. I’ve spent a vast majority of my life living in fear of what can’t be seen and now that i come across hanging this up in my own home and being so attracted to the idea of having it without knowing exactly what it meant in the first does connect with the article. thank you so much with being able to give detail description of the meaning behind the black panther
What a fun story of discovery Dayanara! You are most welcome for the description. I’m so delighted it’s been of service to you on the path. Many Blessings, Stacey
It’s funny that I’m just now reading this story it is November 9, 2016 I had a dream on November 7 In the dream there was a lady that I know she owned two panthers one was brown and one was black I just so happen to know the Panthers I love the panthers but especially the black panther he actually looked at me with such love I kissed him on his head three times and hugged him then my dream faded away not sure exactly what it all means came across your article looking up dreams of panthers hopefully soon I will resonate with one of these explanations thanks for your article
Hello Adrian, You are welcome for the article and thank you for telling me about your dream. Some dreams have a meaning or a message for us while others are opportunities to connect and commune with our spirit animals. They come to us in dreams to let us know they are with us and give us comfort. It sounds to me like your choice between the brown and the black panther shows you coming into a deeper, more pure, connection with your own inner knowing. Keep following your intuition! Many Blessings, Stacey
THANKS FOR YOUR SHARING .. I HAD BEEN HAVING SYNCHRONISTIC EVENTS WITH THIS AMAZING BEING FOR ABOUT THREE YEARS .. THAT WAS IN DEAR DAUGHTER STARTED COLLEGE AND THE SIMBOL THERE IS THE MAGNIFISENT PANTER ..!
NOW I HAVE CONFIRMED THAT MY SPIRIT HAS BEEN CLOSE TO HER ALL THIS TIME.. PROTECTING AND SENDING HER LIGHT .. ENCOURAGING AND LOVING AT EVERY STEP.
IT FEELS SO SERENE NOW TO KNOW THAT SHE IS IN THE RIGHT PATH . THANKS
You are most welcome. That is wonderful to hear of the support you and your daughter have received from black panther spirit animal. Many Blessings, Stacey
I think I have found my spirit guide in a dream. He is a magnificent black panther with luminous large yellow eyes. He sat next to me, reared up non-threateningly to show how powerful he was, turned o his back, presented me with his belly which I stroked and tickled. His paws were enormous, gentle, the claws never extended. We played together. I storked his deep, dark fur and felt the strength of his muscles beneath the luxurious coat.
Our love was mutual.
I have tried to call him back. He has stayed in my mind but not in my dreams.
Hello Dona, Thank you for sharing your beautiful dream. What a gift! Sometimes we only have one intense meeting with a specific spirit animal in the whole of our life, but it’s more than enough to sustain us. This may be one of those times or the black panther spirit animal may show back up at a later date. There’s no telling. I also want to mention that from what I’ve seen we all get more than one spirit animal. It’s more like a tribe of them. So it sounds like the black panther has joined your tribe, and it’s worth allowing the relationship to unfold however it needs. Many Blessings, Stacey
Hi there! Just made the switch from part-time to become a full-time Realtor. Internally, I felt & knew it was time, but consciously – quite a bit of fear of the unknown. Met a few nice people at my Open House this past Saturday afternoon; 3 new buyers, but one stood out. We were just talking about life in general; she had mentioned that she was the proud owner of a Jaguar automobile & drove around L.A. in it for many years. I didn’t think anything of it at the time. Fast forward to Saturday night; I had a dream that night in which I was sitting in a patio of a restaurant with my father (who passed away, 9 years ago) & someone else (I cannot remember who it was). I remember seeing a black cat from across the way, thinking to myself, “I shouldn’t let it cross my path”. I stood up, on a sidewalk, & I then noticed that this wasn’t a house cat. This black cat was much bigger. Right then, I knew it was a Black Panther. It was non-threatening, just walking briskly. We made eye contact. Initially, I wasn’t scared, just in awe – I’ve never crossed paths with one before. Lol! Then, I felt my mind starting to move & fear started to set it – “what if it starts attacking me, I’ve got to calmly get away from it.” So, I went back to the patio to join my father & this other person. This black panther crosses the road & comes up to us; it’s still calm & non-threatening. I’m acting calm on the outside, but I’m freaking out on the inside thinking to myself, “what if..” I decide to capture it so I cover it up with some white tablecloth – not much to work with at a restaurant, LOL! About a minute or two goes by & I see a baby black panther walking up to us. And then, another adult black panther comes walking up to us. I got the feeling that this was a family of black panthers & that is all I remember because I woke up from the dream. Crazy to have not just one black panther but a whole family of them appear & to also have my deceased father in the dream with me & for him to be a part of it was super intense. It was one of those “real life” dreams. I, then remembered the woman I met from the day before at my Open House, who mentioned driving around town in her Jaguar three or four different times throughout our conversation. I believe in the Universe, meditation/prayer, law of attraction, etc.. I know that this dream has a message for me & that is how I ended up here. It makes sense that I’m probably closer to a Black Jaguar since my deceased father was in the dream & the lady whom I’d met from earlier that day who used to drive around in a Jaguar automobile. I’ve been scared since diving head-first as a Realtor, full-time. When am I going to get my next deal, where do I spend my money on marketing, how much do I spend, am I saying the right thing, are people going to believe me, etc.. Reading your page, I’m so similar to the Black Jaguar. It’s truly magnificent how the Universe works!
It sure is magnificent isn’t it Paul?! Thank you for your willingness to share your dream and struggles. I am sure it will help others to know they are not alone in fearing the unknown. Given the presence of your father and the family of black jaguars, it may be worth looking at the family stories around the potential perils of business and putting yourself out there. For example, you may have grown up hearing that businessmen aren’t to be trusted or some other myth that undermines your ability to believe in what you’re doing. Once you shed light on these family myths, you can dismantle them and replace them with healthier affirmations. There’s so much more to be gathered from that rich dream of yours and maybe sometime you’d like to make an appointment with me so we can delve deep into the guidance within this experience. Either way, hopefully I’ve given you a good place to start. Many Blessings, Stacey
Thank you for your insight!
For the last few months, my focus is on “creating” my life and being assertive in my manifestations versus living by “default” and kind of just going through the motions. This is still kind of a new, fresh approach for me – and, probably the most important & positive change for me & my life.
A lot has transpired & been shown to me, by the Universe, in just the past few weeks since that dream. I’m really starting to see some of my manifestations play out in “the now time”, which is incredible! More importantly, it’s how I got there – meaning, as my life is unfolding, when I feel from my gut & come up against “resistance”, at that point I choose to make the decision that goes against that “resistance” & into a “positive feeling” direction. That has been key for me here as of late.
As far as “business” & my father are concerned, when my grandfather was alive, he was a very successful businessman & had a very successful business. My father worked for his father & I had a brief time, from 10 years old to 16 years old, to work for grandfather. My grandfather died when I was 18 years old – I was devastated by the loss, at the same time, the family business got into the wrong hands because my father had been ill with MS since I was eight years old. He died ten years after my grandfather had passed on.
So, I felt all alone, for a long time… And for many years after that, I thought we would all be working together…
Those days are gone & over a long period of time, I have slowly “accepted” it.
Seeing the black Jaguar family in my dream, two weeks previous, gives me reassurance that I’m meant to be on this business journey alone & to believe and have faith in myself that I am successful & that my life will work out because I now know & believe that I’m the one who ultimately creates my own outcome.
Now that you have more of my backdrop, Stacey, anything else you see from your perspective?
Thank you for this post, it was very revealing. I found my spirit animal on my ayahuasca journey in Peru. The black panther appeared close to me almost as if to be following me in every vision. I felt very safe and had an amazing altering experience and was not expecting to find so much out of it!
Hello Kami, I’m glad to hear that you are under the protection of black panther spirit animal and that you are being granted deep insight. Blessings to you on the journey, Stacey
My name is Prerana.I am from India and a Hindu by religion. I know nothing about Shamanism.I had a crazy dream today , something that is beyond my little poor understanding of things, that lead me to look up ‘Black Panther’.
In the dream I saw a house that was unkempt and unorganized and there was a lady ( not sure if it was me) who was struggling to keep the house n life in order and even with complete awareness she would not take the right steps to fix things, much to the distress of the rest of the family members.Then a lady arrives riding some animal (not sure what it was) and black dog…and she cursed saying you will stay this way and this black dog will loiter around making you sure you can never set right things because my daughter has been hurt…and then she removes a stole like thing from around her neck and places on me( whoever) and I see her head is detached from her body …it floats along her body. Then I hear a voice that tells me that things will be fixed when a black panther comes into this house. I could sense an energy telling me that the panther will come soon.
Now I am all lost.In many ways I feel that lady who is struggling is me because of the mess in the house and sometimes feel it’s my sister or sister-in-law, both of whom are struggling in their marriages.
I started to look up for some signs and I reach your post almost immediately! Now when I think of it, I had seen a huge black in my childhood, it had followed my sister and me while we were playing near the woods.Dont remember what happened of it as we ran home like crazy and looked back. But it was never spotted again.
I don’t know if anything I said here makes any sense but I don’t think it’s easy to ignore that dream.Whatt do I do?
Hello Prerana, Thank you for sharing your story. It sounds like you have more of a long-standing relationship with black panther, so many elements of the symbolism likely apply to you. Consider embracing the mystery as an opportunity, not just something to dread. You never know what great miracles and wonders are in store. Many Blessings, Stacey
Thank you so much Stacey.I was really worried.I trying to stay positive and strong. Currently I am going through a rough patch. Something tells me it’s going to be ok.
I read this interpretation again today and after receiving your reply and calming down from the fear that the dream has caused…I picked up these gems from your insightful article
1.Faith is a hallmark of black panther symbolism.
2.Jungles are wet, messy, jumbled places and they mirror the unkept and unknown part of our unconscious. Black panther spirit animal is adept at navigating the unconscious, hidden parts of ourselves. She ventures into the unknown, comfortable with the darkness.
3.Now is not the time for figuring things out or striking out, but for both turning inward to your soul and opening up to the Divine.
4. if we could manage to stay with the fear long enough much would be revealed to us.
So what I now gather is, I will have to resume my inward journey. I have been very sensitive as a child and as I grew older I have tried to distance my self from my meditation because I developed a strange sensitivity to natural calamities and loss of human life…my whole body would feel like it’s crumbling…I wouldn’t be able to walk and all this would follow with some unpleasant news.Only on one occasion could I stop my parents from getting into trouble but all other times I failed.
I have a fear of going back.i don’t want to feel something I cannot change 😔
I am at crossroads…I am going to keep reminding myself of these points I gathered here and soon take up a path. Your words are like a guiding light.Thank you.
My husband has been feeling the presence of a big cat for months now. That she shone a bright light on me in his darkest hour during the darkest hour of the night. When the moon was at it’s fullest a brilliant blue this month. At the darkest hour it was the darkest dark that he has ever seen, except for the Divine white light that surrounded him