duck symbolism

Spirit Animals: DUCK SYMBOLISM

Duck Symbolism

Often when I write these articles on spirit animals I like to take a systematic approach, but with duck symbolism there are forces at work that are drawing me a different direction. For the last week or so, I’ve contemplated duck spirit animal and what the meaning of these sweet, sweet souls is. As always, it is technically challenging to write about a group of animals that has over 100 different species with widely varied characteristics. However, I never expected this inquiry to take the route it did.

Why Did the Ducks Cross the Road?

Today, I was driving down the highway with gorgeous mountain views reflected off the lake to my left. Traffic was heavy with tourists zooming to get somewhere and relax. I was half listening to a class on my stereo and my mind was wandering off probably thinking of what other errands I had to run. There was a long gap before the vehicle ahead of me. I was looking at a clear lane.

What seemed abruptly, I spotted at a busy scene on the other side of the road. A mother duck leading her long line of seven ducklings across the highway. They spanned wider than half the road. I had plenty of time to come to a rolling stop. There was no time to feel a sense of relief. None of the cuteness of the gangly half-grown brood was mine to savor. Instead I watched in horror as an oncoming white sedan bared down on the family.

The mother kept diligently leading. The ducklings, one by one, followed the instinct to stay in line. The space between each was perfectly equidistant. They were probably too young to fly. Ducks can’t get off the ground that fast anyway. I wanted to honk my horn, but it was already too late. By now the family was covering the entire lane. Four ducklings were in the direct path of the car. I honestly lifted my hand up to cover my eyes. I ducked. I don’t know when the last time is I’ve done that. I couldn’t watch.

The car whizzed by as if the ducks had never been. One duckling was floundering. The traffic in the other lane stopped. We watched the mother, six healthy ducklings, and one half-paralyzed duckling finish crossing the road. That little guy’s instinct to follow his mom overcame everything. He drug himself off the shoulder. He was the last to disappear into the grass. I kept my vehicle at a standstill long past, insisting on making the drivers behind me notice this one life. I pulled over. I sat in my car on the side of the road as everyone else got moving again. It was is as if we’d been sitting at a red light. It was the end of his life. Everyone else went on about theirs. I prayed for his safe passage to the spirit world. His tragedy broke my heart open in an instant to the global attacks we are experiencing. I so wished he could have gotten out of harm’s way. One duckling did that.

Sitting Ducks

How much lately have we thought about being a sitting duck? I barely have to mention the terrorist attacks in recent history (Paris, San Bernardino, Orlando) to conjure images of being trapped in a room with a crazed gunman. The phrase “sitting duck” originated in the context of World War II to indicate a poorly defended or unsuspecting military target that was easy to take down. Dabbling ducks, such as mallards, sit on the top of the water and dabble with their beaks below the surface. They are easy targets for hunters.

Why would I bring up such macabre conversation? This language is in all of our psyches. Regardless of if we want it to or not, we associate vulnerability and danger with duck symbolism. Even before the term sitting duck came into use, the word “duck” has always had the alternative meaning of avoiding a blow, hiding from sight, and departing quickly. Think “duck and cover” and “duck out”. I ducked my eyes from watching the car hit the duckling.

What are you ducking in your life right now? Are you bracing for some unforeseen tragedy you have yet to discover? The instinct to duck is a strong, survival impulse that has saved countless lives. There is a time to duck down and evade the either literal or symbolic blow. If you know your pocketbook is about to get hit, bracing yourself and preparing mentally for the blow may be what gets you through it.

The trouble is when we duck from our illusory fears, you know, the kind that haunt you. Fears like “What will other people think?”, “Will I end up homeless?”, and “Will he leave me?” – those kind of fears. Soon we are paralyzed with fear and cannot move. That is when we become true sitting ducks.

Duck Spirit Animal Helps Us Evade

Duck spirit animal reminds us that we have webbed feet and, even better, we have wings. We have the power to lift out of the watery emotions that threaten to drown us. We can swim into the depths and find inner silence.

We may be rendered physically powerless to do anything in a situation and feel like the victim. Nevertheless, we always have power in our interior. We can always lift off in our view. Duck symbolism teaches that we can always dive down into the truth of the beauty that we are. Some diving ducks swim rushing torrents of class five river rapids with ease.

what is my spirit animal?

Meaning of Duck Molting

With all of this talk about flying out of danger, I am obligated to mention that in the late summer / early fall all ducks are rendered flightless. They drop and replace their entire coat of feathers (called “molting”) in a matter of weeks, which means they are grounded. During this time, ducks hunker down in the reeds in the marshes or they band together in the middle of a large, deep lake.

Preparing for times in your life to be grounded and tend to matters at home will help you take advantage of this aspect of the meaning of duck. It is no use ignoring the fact that the to-do list needs doing and the laundry needs to be washed. By choosing the correct environment to do these tasks, you take less risk of things going awry.

Insulation and Safety

Duck symbolizes spring and summer in the guidebooks, but there is little scientific evidence to back this correlation. Ducks do extremely well in bitterly cold climates. I would associate them with winter for their incredible hardiness. In my mountain town, they swim in the little bit of open water in frozen lakes. Sea ducks brave frigid winter conditions amidst arctic ice flows.

Ever wonder how ducks can paddle around in icy water without their feet freezing? Ducks have a counter-current circulation system in their feet that allows their feet to stay just above freezing with very minimal heat loss. You can learn the mechanics of this ingenious system here: http://askanaturalist.com/why-don’t-ducks’-feet-freeze/ When asking “What does duck mean?” it is important to remember that conservation of your own resources can help you survive lean times.

Ducks also have incredibly warm coats of waterproof feathers filled with an insulating layer of down. If you’ve benefited from the warmth of a down jacket, you know what I’m talking about. These birds are no ninnies. Duck symbolism brings the power of insulation from the outside world helping us brave the hazardous weather in our own lives.

 

lizard meaning

Spirit Animals: LIZARD MEANING

Lizard meaning is a global symbol, seeing that these tenacious and ancient creatures are found on all continents except Antarctica and in all environments expect deep ocean and extreme cold. The first ancestors of lizards arose on earth around 200 million years ago. There are an estimated 4,675 species of lizard around the world and they vary widely in shape, color and lifestyle.

The Lizard Brain

What all lizards have in common is the primal, reptilian brain. Lizards share this brain type with other reptiles such as alligators, snakes and turtles, but I include this characteristic here, because of the contemporary name for the reptilian brain – the “lizard brain”. This is the part of the brain that drives the instinct to survive including fight or flight, mating, and eating. It also sees to basic bodily functions such as breathing and coordination.

We all have a lizard brain, which is simply the collection of the brain stem, cerebellum, and basal ganglia at the back of our brains. This part of the brain gets quite a bad rap these days because of the reactive and compulsive actions it drives. The lizard brain does not process emotions, store and retrieve memories, or create complex thought. We have other brains for that, but lizard does not.

Lizard symbolism is closely tied to instinct and survival. Yes, we can put politicians down for operating from their lizard brains, but this does not mean we should forget the power of this ancient way of thinking. It is necessary no matter how smart we think we are. When left to it’s own devices, the lizard’s thought process keeps us safe and provides for our basic needs. It also helps us react quickly when needed.

When we say we need to “go back to basics” we are drawing on the power of lizard spirit animal and forgetting all the complex machinations of the mind that cause us to overthink. Now is a good time to evaluate how your emotional intelligence and reasoning mind may have gotten you in a bind. It may help to give all that up and trust your instincts for awhile.

What About Feelings?

For an animal without the part of the brain that processes emotions, lizard sure does have a ton of charisma. He just drips with enthusiasm as he darts here and there. He looks like he’s smiling. He seems content resting in the noonday sun. There is so much that is captivating about lizard spirit animal. Are we just projecting feelings onto a heartless beast? I sure hope not. Lizard spirit animal prompts us to think that maybe emotions can just happen, without us thinking and processing them. By simply letting our feelings just be without labels we are liberated.

There is something to be said for naivety, for living in the now, and not worrying about the future. Lizard spiritual meaning can call us into careless bliss, giving us a much needed break.

Lizard, like all reptiles, is cold-blooded. Rather than meaning he is vicious and cruel, this means he is active when it’s warm and he rests when it’s cold. In snowy climates he hibernates all winter. Lizard meaning is about moving with the mood in our environment.

What Sets Lizard Meaning Apart

Lizard is closely related to snake, but is set apart by his four legs, external ears (in most species), and excellent color vision. In lizard meaning, this speaks to an increased mobility, openness to hearing what others have to say, and an appreciation for the vibrancy and variation in the world around us.

Most lizard species, unlike snakes, also have eyelids. The lizard’s ability to open and close his eyes shows us that lizard symbolism relates to knowing the world behind our eyes, the world within. Lizard spirit animal connects us to the dreamtime and our inner vision.

Evasion in Lizard Symbolism

Different species of lizard have developed fantastic strategies to evade capture by predators. These tactics teach us about how we might respond in hostile situation.

The horny toad, found around my home in the American southwest, squirts blood from his eyes to scare and confuse predators. This dramatic display speaks of paying attention to the ways you create visible drama to avoid confrontation. Do you claim your feelings are too hurt to be able to see the other person’s perspective? Do you create a horrific display too overwhelm the other person and scare them away?

The Australian frilled lizard has an large frill of lose skin around his head he can raise up to make him look bigger and more intimidating. Aboriginal folklore about the frilled lizard warns against overreacting to being rejected or unrecognized.

The Gila monster, who is also found in the American southwest and Sonora, Mexico, protects himself via a venomous bite. He literally has to chew the venom into his prey. Does your resentment build up as you chew on something someone said? The Gila monster’s skin is bright orange and black, presumably to warn predators of the danger. Do you try to give people a head’s up that they are about to offend you?

The gecko is one among many species that is able detach his tail when a predator has ahold of it, thus escaping with his life. He is able to regenerate a new, albeit lesser, tail afterwards. Are you quick to concede a point and sacrifice a value of yours just to get out of the argument?

Lizard meaning points to the evasion strategies that give us a chance to get out of or diffuse a situation before it turns dangerous. Being cool, calm and collected in the face of controversy and not getting sucked into drama is the power lizard spirit animal brings.

The Spectrum of Perception

Lizard animal totem embodies the entire spectrum of experience beyond the polarities of light and dark or hot and cold. This is evidenced by lizard’s keen eye for color, the myriad of color patterns different species of lizard have, and most explicitly in the way the chameleon changes his color. Other lizard species can also change the color of their skin or flash a vibrant throat patch to make an impression.

Lizard cannot vocalize (there are a few rare exceptions), so communication happens via body language. Lizard meaning teaches us about reading subtlety as well as demonstrating outwardly what we have to share. Having an appreciation for all the colorful members of our tribe comes with lizard symbolism. Honoring the full spectrum of ways different people see the world brings a richness to life.

References:

http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/brain-the-inside-story/your-emotional-brain/beyond-our-lizard-brain/

http://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/lizard

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/tech/columnist/aprilholladay/2006-07-10-lizard-sounds_x.htm

what-is-my-spirit-animal

About Author, Stacey L. L. Couch

Stacey Couch shamanic practitionerStacey L. L. 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 her deeply rooted experience in the field of shamanism and passion for 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.

bee symbolism

Spirit Animals: BUSY BEE

There is a plethora of beautiful information available about the general qualities of bee symbolism such as fertility, communication, hard work, rewards, etc. For some variety, I’m going to give a more detailed look at lesser known aspects of bee symbology and biology. 

Bee Symbolism of the Hive

There are only seven species of honey bee, which is a very small portion (0.04%) of the 20,000 bee species on earth. We know the honey bee best because they are the only domesticated bees. The honey bee’s close relationship with humans spans over millennia. This likely explains why most associations we have with bee symbolism are actually attributes that are specific to the honey bee.

When we think of bees, we think of the hive. Naturally, bee spiritual meaning is paired with the idea of community. Honey bees do have incredibly large hives with 50,000 to 60,000 individuals. These massive hives, made of beeswax and formed into a hexagonal matrix, are storehouses for excessive amounts of honey. Humans have harvested this honey since the time of early Egyptian and Greek civilizations.

bee spirit animal

Bumble bee – Fat, furry with blocks of color rather than stripes.

However, the thousands of other species of bees that exist do not congregate in such numbers. Nor do other species of bees produce elaborate hives and a surplus of honey. Is it smart to look at the largest city in a country (say New York) and think that everyone in that country (USA) lives the same way?

Bumble bees, for example, live in groups of 50-400 bees and create a small nest. They only produce the amount of honey they need to feed themselves and their young.

So when thinking of bees, yes think of cooperation, community, and production. But, there’s no need to think that if we have a bee animal totem that we need to join the masses. When a community becomes too large it becomes a crowd in which we can get lost. Bee symbolism reminds us to be mindful of our tendency to escape into the swarm. Bee totem animal encourages us towards genuine connections with others.

For fun, let’s take a closer look at how to tell the honey bee apart from the bumble bee (the photo at the very top of this post is a honey bee).
[ct_column_half style=”narrow”]

HONEY BEE

[/ct_column_half][ct_column_half_last style=”narrow”]

BUMBLE BEE

[/ct_column_half_last][ct_column_half style=”narrow”]

Slender, narrow build

[/ct_column_half][ct_column_half_last style=”narrow”]

Fat, broad build

[/ct_column_half_last][ct_column_half style=”narrow”]

Pointed body at stinger

[/ct_column_half][ct_column_half_last style=”narrow”]

Rounded body at stinger

[/ct_column_half_last][ct_column_half style=”narrow”]

Many thin stripes on the abdomen

[/ct_column_half][ct_column_half_last style=”narrow”]

Larger blocks of color

[/ct_column_half_last][ct_column_half style=”narrow”]

Moderately hairy

[/ct_column_half][ct_column_half_last style=”narrow”]

Very furry

[/ct_column_half_last][ct_column_half style=”narrow”]

Only feed on open flowers

[/ct_column_half][ct_column_half_last style=”narrow”]

Can feed on different flower shapes

[/ct_column_half_last][ct_column_half style=”narrow”]

Mostly domesticated

[/ct_column_half][ct_column_half_last style=”narrow”]

Always wild

[/ct_column_half_last][ct_column_half style=”narrow”]

Hives of 50,000-60,000

[/ct_column_half][ct_column_half_last style=”narrow”]

Nests of 50-400

[/ct_column_half_last][ct_column_half style=”narrow”]

7 species

[/ct_column_half][ct_column_half_last style=”narrow”]

250 species

[/ct_column_half_last]

The Eusociality of Bee Spirit Animal

The word “Eusocial” means the highest order of social organization. Many species of bee, including the honey and bumble bee, are eusocial. This means that they tend to young as a group, have many generations working together, and practice division of labor into reproductive and non-reproductive adults. The division of labor is also known as a “caste system”. There’s a queen bee, worker bees and drones.

Bee spirit animal challenges us to accept the roles we have in life. There is a value to dividing up labor and having a job description. There’s a security and a freedom in that. When we embrace the work we have to do in our lives and really put ourselves into it, we can truly benefit the whole. Of course, the downside of this is when we go numb to the routine of life. The bee totem animal can help us find the joy and the creativity in playing our discrete roles. By not being everything to everybody or not being the queen bee, we can specialize, focus on the work at hand, and be really good at what we do.

what is my spirit animal?

The Sting of Bee Animal Totem

Ever heard that bees die after they sting? This is only true of honey bees. When they sting animals with thick skin (such as humans) their barbed stinger gets caught in the skin. Part of their inner organs ruptures out of their bodies as they pull away from the stuck stinger. The venom sac continues to pump toxin into our bodies after the bee flies away and dies. Other bees, including bumble bees, have straight stingers that don’t become lodged in skin, so they can sting repeatedly.

When we get angry we can attack someone again and again. We may also become attached to the person and rupture our energetic systems. This causes us to pour way too much of our own energy into making the offender pay. Like the bee, we may feel compelled to go back to the hive and rally the swarm to join in on the attack.

We all have the potential to harm others. No matter how much we say we won’t harm another creature, we still snap at our spouses or tell the telemarketer to take a hike.

The majority of bee species are known for using the sting as a last resort. They retreat whenever they can. Bee teaches us to watch carefully how easily we are offended. We can ask bee spirit animal for the wisdom to strike back only when it is necessary for our protection. The honey bee reminds us to watch carefully afterwards to be sure we aren’t rupturing valuable energy into the situation long after it is over.

How Pollen Baskets Influence Bee Spiritual Meaning

We are told that bees pollinate flowers by picking up pollen on one flower and carrying it to another flower. It sounds like an accident that the pollen is just brushed onto the bee’s legs and they just happen to carry it elsewhere. Female worker bees intentionally collect pollen. It is a valuable protein and fat resource for them and the young.

The pollen is carried in “pollen baskets” which are dish-shaped indentations on their back legs that are surrounded by a basket of hairs. The workers rub the pollen off their bodies and pack it into their baskets. You can see the bright yellow-orange globs on the back legs of the honey bee in the photo at the top of this post. That is all pollen.

Bees also harvest nectar and carry it back to the nest in their bellies. They regurgitate it upon return which creates honey.

Harvesting and carrying resources is a huge aspect of bee symbolism.

Like the bee, travel far and wide seeking out the richness of life. Gather it up. Pack it into your soul and swallow it into your belly. Then feel the hum of the hive, of your community, calling you home. Bring back the harvest. Share it with others. And get up the next day to do it all over again.

References:

http://www.myrmecos.net/2011/10/11/how-to-tell-the-difference-between-honey-bees-and-bumble-bees/

https://bumblebeeconservation.org/about-bees/faqs/honeybees-vs-bumblebees/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee

 

About Author, Stacey L. L. Couch

Stacey Couch shamanic practitionerStacey L. L. 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 her deeply rooted experience in the field of shamanism and passion for 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.

falcon symbolism

Spirit Animals: FALCON FURY

CalThe current information about falcon symbolism fails to encompass many of the amazing adaptations of the entire family of falcons. When most people think of a falcon they think there is just one species, but “falcon” refers to a family of birds of prey. There 37 species of falcon subdivided into four groups – kestrels, hobbies, traditional falcons (such as peregrine falcon and prairie falcon), and hierofalcons (such as gyrfalcon and lanner falcon).

Reaping the Power of Falcon Symbolism

The falcon is a raptor. Raptor, otherwise known as “bird of prey”, is a name for predatory birds that means to “seize or take by force”. Other raptors are eagles, hawks and owls. The falcon has especially long toes that are proficient at seizing prey in midair. He also uses the increased surface area of his big feet to club his prey and knock them out of the air.

Falcon is the fighter jet of the raptor world. Built for speed he takes no prisoners. His name comes from the Latin word “falco” which means sickle-shaped and which refers to the shape of his wings. These streamlined, long wings create fast flight and allow for sharp maneuvers. He slashes through the air. Air is symbolic of thoughts. A sickle harvests a crop. Falcon symbolism brings the ability to chop down the field of thoughts. Leave behind the chaff. Bringing home the harvest.

Falcon Spirit Animal Pursuing at Speed

Falcons typically use two distinct hunting strategies. The first, most well known, is the dive. Peregrine falcons are known for their record breaking stoops that reach up to 238 mph. They are the fastest animal on earth. The stoops start from a high perch or a high hovering position upwards of 3,000 ft. elevation. Falcon folds in his wings and free-falls like a skydiver with arms tucked to his sides jettisoning towards earth. Falcon spirit animal is not just about speed, he is about harnessing the power of gravity.

Have you set something in motion that you cannot stop? Are you going into a free fall? Do you believe it is controlled? Can you handle the force that is about to take over your whole being? Call on falcon to help you pull out of the dive in time.

Falcon medicine can help you manage an acceleration of life events beyond what most people think is humanly possible.

Falcons also pursue birds on the wing or mammals or insects on the ground. This is where the fighter jet quick turns come in handy. These direct flights are not for sissies either. They reach top flying speeds of 67 mph. Falcon symbolism teaches us about intensity. When you are moving that fast you can’t take in the environment around you. Focus is key.

 

Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.

 

Murmurations & Falcon Medicine

Have you ever seen a giant flock of thousands of birds twirling about in the air like a cloud of black dust? These flocks are made up of smaller birds such as European starlings or some species of shorebird. The flocks are in a tight ball that morph and dance in the sky. It is one of the most amazing sights of nature. These flock dances are called murmurations, a lovely name if you ask me.

Murmurations look to be a joyous dance by a chorus of birds, but scientists have found that they are really a predator evasion strategy. These flocks of thousands of birds are typically scurrying to get out of the path of a single peregrine falcon. This is the whirlwind in which falcon reaps his prey. Yes, reap the whirlwind.

The murmuration is coordinated. The birds become part of a group mind that moves together much like a school of fish is thought to. So what may look like a chaotic, haphazard dance is spontaneously choreographed.

Falcon symbolism teaches us about the nature of chaos and whirlwinds in our lives. Be it a free fall or whirlwind, where in your life are you feeling out of control? How much do you contribute to this chaos like falcon at the center of the murmuration? We say we like control, but we like chaos just as much because it is a form of control. Coming into awareness of your relationship with chaos can change everything in your life. Call on falcon spirit animal to help with this navigation.

Falcon Animal Totem of War & Hunting

Falcon symbolism is closely linked with the Egyptian God Horus who is the God of sky, war and hunting. Depicted as a man with the head of a falcon, but also in his entire form as a falcon. It is said that when he takes wing and flies across the sky he is the sun and the moon. His right eye is the sun and left eye the moon. He fought many battles against his father’s killer, Set. Some stories say he eventually won and unified the kingdom of Egypt.

The sport of falconry is named after the falcons who were among the first birds of prey trained to live and hunt with humans. This sport is thousands of years old and predominated in royal courts as a pass time. It was practiced by nobility throughout the Middle East, medieval Europe and the Mongolian Empire. More recently it has experienced a resurgence as a hobby for laypeople. Falcons are prized falconry birds because of their collected disposition and trainability.

Falcon has a shrill, blaring shriek that travels for miles. His war cry carry on and on for what seems like way too long. The characteristic helmet shaped coloring on falcon’s head is reminiscent of a gladiator’s cap. Falcon is one of a few types of raptors that has a characteristic “tominal tooth” on his beak that is a specially evolved notch. This notch aids in a swift severing of prey spinal cords.

Peregrine Falcon Symbolism

Falcon spiritual meaning calls you to the wars you wage within yourself. Are you spending too much time at war with yourself in your thoughts? Do you talk too much about what makes you mad? We like to say that war happens “out there”, but we have the opportunity everyday in our own thoughts to win the war over darkness and be on the side of the light.

The name peregrine means “wanderer” or “pilgrim”. This falcon is known for its very long migration from northern tundras of Canada all the way to wintering grounds in South America. Found on every continent except Antarctica. The peregrine falcon spirit animal causes us to look at our own wandering spirit.

 

Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.

 

 

tiger spirit animal meaning

Spirit Animal: INDUBITABLE TIGER

Courage, Strength & Tiger Spirit Animal

The most common associations with tiger spirit animal are courage and strength, which are very easy to understand. Tiger has a fierce reputation known for preying on humans and taking down prey twice his own weight. The tiger is rivaled in size only by lions. There is no definitive evidence that tigers are, on average, bigger than lions, but, no matter, they are very, very big cats. Tigers can weigh upwards of 600 pounds and be over 9 feet long.

When we see someone overcome with ambition, drive or obsession, we often say “Whoa! Tiger!” to indicate they are getting out of control. This may trivialize the ferocity associated with symbolism of tiger, but it also serves as a reminder of tiger spirit animal’s intensity.

Spirit Animal Tiger Cutting to the Chase

The orange/gold and black stripes of tiger spirit animal are a key into lesser-known aspects of the tiger spiritual meaning. Morphologically, the stripes provide excellent camouflage in the dense forests and grasslands that tiger calls home. The broken pattern, different on every tiger, blends in with twigs, leaves, shadows and light.

The difference between the symbolic meanings of a tiger’s stripes versus a leopard’s spots is great. The leopard’s spots imply a softness and indirect nature with things coming around full circle.

The tiger’s stripes demonstrate a sharp directness, slicing through the darkness, and cutting to the chase. In the shamanic journeywork I do, I often find that the spirit animal tiger is great at slicing through chaos and confusion allowing for new levels of healing and transformation to breakthrough.

Tiger is not a long distance runner, so he must silently prowl for miles over his territory to stalk prey and pounce on them unsuspecting. There is commitment and passion in the focus of tiger spirit animal meaning. When it comes down to getting a job done, tiger spirit animal cuts straight to the chase.

Where in your life can you act swiftly and cut through the underbrush in your way? Ask tiger spirit animal for assistance.

what is my spirit animal?

Doubt and Conviction of the
Symbolism of Tiger

The light and dark stripes of tiger relate to pronounced opposites. In tiger’s case, the contrast has to do with the struggle between doubt and conviction.

The Buddha taught that “having killed a tiger the Brahmin, undisturbed, moves on.
This comes from verse 295 in The Dhammapada and a Brahmin is translated as an “awakened one” or a spiritual guru or teacher.

In his translation of this important Buddhist text, Gil Fronsdal shares that this teaching about killing a tiger is not meant to be taken literally. Fronsdal says that to the Buddha, the tiger is symbolic of one of the five hindrances – doubt.

Overcoming doubt is attaining conviction. Therefore, in looking at the shadow and light attributes of tiger spirit animal meaning, we see that tiger can represent both sides. He can slice through doubt with conviction or degrade conviction with doubt.

Our struggles with doubt are intense, challenging and shattering. There is nothing soft and cuddly about what doubt can do to our own wellbeing and what we must do to doubt. We must be fierce in taking down indecision and hesitation. Tiger spirit animal is here to help.

Like the tattered fabric that tiger’s coat imitates, tiger spirit animal will tear our illusions to shreds allowing us to see the fault in our ways and find the conviction to move ahead.

When considering the tiger spirit animal meaning in your life, where are you struggling with doubt? The breakthrough from doubt to conviction is not meant to be pleasurable. Where can you let go of the need for things to be comfortable and embrace the call to be ruthless?

What Does a Tiger Represent –
Good Fortune

The Chinese God Tsai Shen Yeh is often depicted sitting on a tiger relaxed and smiling. Tsai Shen Yeh is a supreme god of wealth ruling over abundance and good fortune. His position atop the tiger is meant to show his mastery over the fierce tiger.

When considering what does a tiger represent, it could be the unruly or unpredictable nature of fortune. Tiger is known for his wild nature and unpredictability. It is said that in good times Tsai Shen Yeh offers great prosperity and in bad times he protects against poverty, riding out whatever unexpected events life brings.

This takes on a different meaning all together when we think of the tiger as a dual symbol of doubt and conviction.

Doubt undermines our stability, especially when it comes to good fortune. So often, I have people come to me thinking they’ve seen a bad omen and fearing that bad luck will follow. Their fear steals from their good fortune.

The doubt that we won’t be able to ride out whatever twists and turns life sends degrades our peace. Fear of bad luck begets tension and unhappiness, the opposite image of Tsai Shen Yeh content on his tiger.

What omens are you trying to interpret to find confidence? Align with the medicine of tiger, stop watching omens, and turn your attention to dismantling the uncertainty that plagues your tranquility.

By mastering the battle with doubt, bad omens no longer carry significance. When we are riding the back of the tiger, we are prepared for whatever life brings. We know, in our heart of hearts, that we have the strength to do what it takes to absorb the abundance of life.

what does dove mean dove spirit animal

Spirit Animals: DIVINE DOVE

What does dove mean?

The term “dove” actually refers to a whole family of birds that includes both doves and pigeons. There are many species of doves of a variety shades of brown, gray, rose and slate blue. Dove species include mourning doves, rock pigeons, Eurasian collared doves, white winged doves, and band-tailed pigeons. One of the well known species extinctions caused by man was that of the passenger pigeon. Hunting and habitat destruction by European settlers wiped out some 3 to 5 billion birds around the turn of the 20th Century.

The white doves we frequently associate with the name of dove are rare in the wild and are white varieties of normally pigmented rock pigeons or ringneck doves. There is no actual species of white dove or pigeon. White doves are mostly bred and raised in captivity to serve as pets, release doves or racing pigeons.

What does dove mean? Dove spirit animal is most often associated with love, purity, nurturing, spirituality, and peace.

Dove Medicine is Love Medicine

The phrase “lovey-dovey” explains well the unabashed way that dove nibbles at her mate’s neck and erupts into a synchronized dance of beak grasping and head bobbing with him. We have borrowed a lot from dove, saying that lovers “coo” over each other. Male mourning doves are the ones that do the cooing to attract mates.

The Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite (Venus in Roman mythology) is often depicted holding a dove in her hand or surrounded by a flock of white doves. Aphrodite’s seven daughters were called a “flock of doves”. Kamadeva, the Hindu god of love is known to ride a dove.

Dove chooses one mate for life and forms strong pair bonds which contributes to her associations with romantic love.

We tend to downplay the importance of the honeymoon period of relationships, calling the lovey-dovey mood an infatuation that will not last, but dove teaches us that this outward sign of affection strengthens bonds and is critical for a successful relationship. If you find yourself swept up gazing into your lover’s eyes, dove totem animal is in your corner. Dove spirit animal is a great companion as we abandon ourselves to romance.

Dove Nurturing

The love of the doves extends beyond that of romantic love into the excellent care doves give their young. One example is that both mother doves and their mates produce “crop milk” for their young. The milk is secreted from the lining of the dove’s crop (organ in the throat), regurgitated and fed by mouth to the chicks. This is a relatively rare ability in the bird world with only flamingos and a few penguins able to do the same. Dove parents are also very attentive and often raise multiple broods in a year.

When considering what does dove mean, ask what you are nurturing right now? How can you partner with others to be more successful?

 

Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.

Purity & Dove Spirit Animal

The color white is symbolic of purity, so it follows that white doves are too. This link between doves and purity goes back to biblical times: “Even while you sleep among the sheep pens, the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver, its feathers with shining gold,” – Psalms 68:10. In this passage, we are “my dove”.

St. Teresa of Avila affectionately called the soul a “little dove”. A person who is called a dove, is often seen as innocent, sweet and pure of intention. It is a compliment.

This is an interesting paradox to consider given that white doves are typically a strain of rock pigeon. Rock pigeons are the exact same species of pigeon that lives in cities. These are the pigeons that people call flying rats. It never ceases to amaze me how much power is in a name. Change the color and name and the exact same bird with the exact same habits turns from clean to filthy.

Consider your reputation right now. Are you trying to portray the image of purity? Do you want people to think you are honest and impeccable? Are you having issues with others seeing you as disgraced or dishonorable? Or do you know of your own baseness and you’re trying to hide it? When dove spirit animal comes on the scene, it is time to consider your struggle between beauty and ugliness and realize that we all both. The potential for either good or bad is within us no matter what color we wear.

Dove Spiritual Meaning

In the same way that butterflies are seen by human souls in Japanese mythology, doves are seen as symbols of the spirit in Christian theology. Even further, the dove is representative of the Holy Spirit as seen when a dove descended from heaven during Jesus’s baptism.

The love and strong pair bonding of dove is often used as a metaphor for spiritual devotion and union.

Do you feel the presence of the sacred in your own life? Are you waiting for a visit from your Creator? Dove spirit animal reminds us that communications from Spirit can come in very obvious forms. Do not dismiss a sign just because it is clear as day. If a sign does not come, know that blatant divine favors are not given out like candy. Some of us will only receive an unmistakeable sign once in a lifetime. Dove spirit animal is here to help us maintain our faith no matter how few or far between gifts from God are.

Peace and Pacifism

Dove brought Noah an olive branch to show that the great flood had ended. Since then, images of dove holding an olive branch demonstrate the peace that comes when the flood waters of emotion subside. Water is symbolic of emotion and wars are sparked by an excess of emotion. Where can you extend an olive branch in your life?

Remember that what is in one is in the whole. Whatever feelings of vengeance you harbor are contributing energetically to the larger conflicts between nations. Your forgiveness is needed.

Mourning Dove Symbolism

In the United States, the main species of dove we have is the mourning dove. Mourning doves are also known as “turtle doves,” which we hear about a pair of in the famous “Twelve Days of Christmas” song every holiday season. The morning dove’s slow and melodic song eases the pace of the otherwise chaotic and fast-paced birdsong that fills our world. To us the song may seem sorrowful, but for the male bird singing the song it is full of the excitement and anticipation of another year with his beloved. It is a song filled with longing and love.

 

bat symbolism

Spirit Animals: BAT BRAVERY

The mere mention of a bat sends many people into a panic. Conservationists have been working for decades to dispel the terrifying myths about bats and to bring humans into a greater appreciation of these flying mammals. Bats work wonders for an ecosystem keeping pest insects in check and producing fertilizer in the form of guano. Still, despite the best public relations campaigns, many shy away from bat symbolism.

Coming to Terms with Bat Symbolism

We often want our spirit animals to bring good tidings, but it’s hard to feel optimistic about bat spirit animal. When we draw a bat card from an animal totem deck, we tense up, brace for impact, and begin furiously trying to figure out how to spin this in a positive light.

At the core, bat symbolism carries an archetypal association with fear. Our gut reaction to seeing a picture of a bat speaks of this. There is really no good way to turn fear on its head so that we can feel better. Fear is unnerving, and bat spirit animal seats us firmly outside our comfort zone. If you find yourself already holding your breath, it is likely that bat is bringing to the surface the fear you’ve stored up inside.

Move into the fear and know that you have one of the best guides along for the journey in the form of a flying, furry mammal. You have an opportunity to inherit gratitude, which will be one comforting emotion during this very trying time.

Bat Spirit Animal’s Foreboding

When helping others interpret their encounters with spirit animals, I often find a nail-biting listener on the other end of the conversation. Many people fear that the message from the animal is bad news. I always want to bolster the listener’s faith in the universe by creating an uplifting reading about an animal encounter, but this can be tough to do when faced with bat symbolism. The truth is, it’s scary.

Bat spirit animal carries messages of fear, suffering, trial, initiation, and challenge. At the same time, this tenacious, outstandingly brave little creature could not be a stronger ally to have in times of uncertainty.

On the spiritual path we hope to find great rewards and even bigger favors, but coming into connection with the Divine is not a way to guarantee comfort, safety, peace, joy, or abundance. It is a way to gain fortitude and presence. To become a generous being that moves grace and love into the world.

Death & Initiation

To become clear channels for grace we have to release our egos, identity and attachments. Release is a poetic word for death. Shamanic teachers are much more candid about what this process of releasing looks and feels like. It feels like dying. Even though the physical body comes through the process, we are not the same person on the other side. Who we were has passed away.

Just like the seasons, bat symbolism reminds us that our lives move in cycles. There are times when all the old must be sloughed off so that we can move our gifts into the world without distractions or obstacles.

Traditionally, shamans understood the necessity and periodicity of these “small” deaths in our lives. They created ritual and ceremony to facilitate and support this critical component of the spiritual path. Initiates were buried up to their necks, locked in caves, left in the woods, and abandoned in their own graves. We now affectionately call these ancient and painful rituals “vision quests” which can disguise the severity of the experiences.

Today, we don’t have such rituals for better or worse, but this does not mean that many people aren’t experiencing what is known as the shamanic death or initiation. These initiations are happening in the midst of life, cloaked in the mundane, but they are no less painful.

Bat spirit animal appears during these initiations when the world seems to be falling down around us. The loss of a job, a health crisis, death of loved ones, floods, fires, lawsuits, and so forth can be the outward manifestations of an inward crisis.

Upside Down and Clinging

Bat hangs upside down from the ceiling of the cave, clinging to the rough surface. This inverted posture could be seen as everything going wrong, but I see it as a defiance of gravity. Symbolically, gravity is the past. Gravity is what weighs us down and  keeps us from moving forward into grace.

Bat spirit animal says, “I’m not going to let that bring me down. I’m climbing as high as I can and riding this one out.” There is an intense tenacity in bat symbolism, more so than you will find almost anywhere else. Even when things are at their very, very worst and it seems like we won’t be able to go on, bat is the voice deep inside us that tells us to keep hanging in there. Bat symbolism is about not giving up, not matter how hard it gets.

Is this Ever Going to End?

In the Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams and David Carson, they warn against stagnation and preventing the death-rebirth cycle from progressing, but there is an important component of bat biology that we must evaluate. Female bat has three ways to prolong her pregnancy. She can prevent the sperm from fertilizing the egg, she can keep the fertilized egg floating free awaiting implantation, or she can keep the very young embryo in a sort of stasis where it is not allowed to grow. She forestalls the development and birth of her pup until environmental conditions are more favorable.

Forbearance is another key component of bat symbolism. When everyone else is saying to get on with it, let go of the past, and start a new life, we don’t have to listen. We know when the right time is and we know when there is still more that must die. When we deny these truths it is no use. The cosmos provides more obstacles to slow us down anyways. Trust your instincts about the timing of your emergence from the cave.

Rebirth & Resurrection

Bats give birth to their young while hanging upside down. The babies come out feet, rather than head, first. This again speaks of the enormous strength and effort that is at the heart of bat medicine. Born against the pull of gravity, the force of the universe that pulls everything down, your new self is coming. It is a tremendous, heroic effort not to be taken lightly and worth every ounce of power you put into it.

At dusk every day, bats are born anew into the darkness flying out from the cave. That is why so many cultures associate bat with resurrection. We think being reborn into our new selves means we will come out into the light and have everything revealed to us. The trick of bat spirit animal is to remember that we are being born into the mystery. So much will be uncertain, but with bat spirit animal as your faithful companion you’ll be able to fly to new heights, hear the voice of the cosmos with great precision and have more freedom that you ever could have imagined.

 

Want to learn more about spirit animals?
Visit the Spirit Animal Guide

 

 

spirit animal squirrel meaning

Spirit Animals: SECURE SQUIRREL

Squirrels are members of the family Sciuridae and are characterized by slender bodies, longer back legs, and a long, expressive bushy tail. The name squirrel is derived from the Ancient Greek world skiouros meaning “shadow-tailed”. There are over 265 species of squirrel worldwide, with the Eastern Gray Squirrel being the most commonly seen mammal in the United States. The family of squirrels includes not only tree squirrels but also ground squirrels, flying squirrels and chipmunks.

Squirrel Meaning and Preparedness

In four-season climates, squirrel meaning relates to being prepared. Squirrel practices what is called “caching” or hoarding. He “squirrels away” nuts and seeds by burying the food as it ripens throughout the late summer and fall, then relying on this stashed food through the winter and spring. Squirrel cannot digest cellulose (the fibrous tissue of leaves) like deer or elk can, so he must rely on food rich in protein, carbohydrates and fats. His primary food source is nuts, seeds and pinecones but he will eat fruit, fungi, insects and meat when faced with food scarcity.

Boom and Bust

The season of fall is when squirrel is at the height of his power. His main food source is abundant and he has time to gorge as well as cache. In the spring, food is more scarce because his buried stores sprout and there aren’t new seeds available to eat yet. When working with squirrel spirit animal, you may experience boom and bust periods in regards to your finances and/or resources. Questions of whether to set money aside and how much are directly related to squirrel meaning.

Saving Up

First ask, “What do I value as a resource?” then explore how you either cling to and burn through these resources. Squirrel symbolism teaches you to be mindful of how much you consume as well as how much of a miser you are. If you spend all of your time earning money and none spending it, you will find your life is full of money but nothing else, no friends, no love, no meaning.

Many see saving money as giving in to the fear of scarcity. Saving money takes us out of the present and into the future, but this is not always a bad thing. Squirrel spirit animal teaches us that scarcity is a reality and that a calculated, rational approach to preparedness has its place. Notice that squirrel only buries seeds protected by the hard shell of nature’s packaging so they don’t rot. This teaches us the wisdom of putting our resources away out of sight and in a safe place.

Squirrel has an incredible ability to remember where he buries the majority of his food. The 25% of the nuts he forgets contribute to the next generation of trees and plants to populate the forest. He also creates bogus caches out in the open, tricking other squirrels, birds and animals into thinking his storage is somewhere it’s not. The lessons of squirrel spirit animal are to save a little more than you need as well as not share what you are doing with the world.

Agility and the Meaning of Squirrel

All squirrels are incredibly quick on their feet, lightening fast in fact. They dodge and weave to avoid the best of predators. It is when we try to catch, chase or follow a squirrel that we gain a deep appreciation for this.

The tree dwelling or “arboreal” squirrel has an additional advantage. He has a mobile ankle that allows him to turn his foot backward and run down a tree face-first. This is a rare trait in the animal kingdom.

Flying squirrel has special skin flaps between his front and back legs that makes it possible for him to leap and take great glides from one tree to another. He doesn’t actually fly like a bird, but he glides like a parachutist. This demonstrates a willingness to take giant leaps and trust that you have a parachute to dampen your fall.

Looking at both tree and flying squirrel shows us that squirrel meaning brings not only great mental agility that can help us reach great heights, but also the courage and audacity to plunge head-long into endeavors.

Shadow-Tail

The origin of squirrel’s name, meaning “shadow-tail”, is a brilliant window into the meaning of squirrel. The tail and the shadow are both symbolic of what follows us, namely our past. The shadow represents our unconscious and the things we don’t always see. Now would be a good time to check and see what shadows are following you about especially in regards to your fears, old wounds and ingrained patterns regarding money and security. Squirrel spirit animal can help you come into a more balanced relationship with your resources by addressing and clearing your past.

The Chatty Sentry

Squirrel is the sentry of the forest constantly calling the alarm with his bushy tail flagging down danger and his piercing chirps keeping everyone alert. Birds and other prey animals always keep an ear open for squirrel and heed his warnings most of the time. But, some squirrels are more talkative and nervous than others, sounding the alarm too often. Then the other creatures of the forest stop listening to him. Pay attention to how you play the whistleblower at work or at home and make sure your worrying out loud isn’t turning off those around you. Being the sentry comes with responsibility. Use it wisely.

Busyness and Rest

Squirrel meaning is closely linked with the way he scurries about to and fro, up and down, in and out. Squirrel is known for being busy, really busy. There is a lot to do to prepare for winter. If you find yourself in the midst of squirrel medicine and busier than you think you should be, check in. Do you have enough energy to be so busy? Does now feel like a good time to get a lot done? Once winter comes, squirrel does slow down and spend time lazying about in his nest, called a “drey”. He waits out the storms and comes out during breaks in the weather to dig up and eat his caches of nuts. Squirrel does not hibernate like bear, so expect some level of activity in yourself no matter what the season when working with squirrel spirit animal.

 

what is my spirit animal?

About Author, Stacey L. L. Couch

Stacey Couch shamanic practitionerStacey L. L. 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 her deeply rooted experience in the field of shamanism and passion for 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.

black panther symbolism black panther spirit animal

Spirit Animals: BLACK PANTHER POWER

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.

Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.

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.

A Glimpse of the One

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.

 

Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.

 

 

spiritual meaning of butterfly spirit animal

Spirit Animals: BEAUTIFUL BUTTERFLY

Resurrection & Transformation

The spiritual meaning of butterfly spirit animal is widely understood as resurrection. Hindus take the butterfly’s time in the chrysalis as a reminder of the importance of meditation on the road to enlightenment. Christians see the emergence of the winged butterfly from the chrysalis as a metaphor for Jesus’s resurrection from the dead.

The meaning of butterfly as resurrection could be seen literally in the example of Christ or symbolically as our own rebirth into a revolutionary way of being and viewing the world. Butterfly spirit animal, like dragonfly and ladybug spirit animal, is about transformation, but in a much larger, grander way. Butterflies undergo complete transformation changing from one body type (caterpillar) to an absolutely different type (butterfly) with an immovable stage in between (pupa in the chrysalis).

Sometimes in life we take things in stages and other times there is a giant leap in our evolution. This leap is a signature of butterfly spirit animal working in your life.

Moths build cocoons and butterflies construct chrysalises. During and just after the chrysalis stage is when the butterfly is most defenseless. This stage is short in the scheme of things, but many people I’ve met in the midst of the chrysalis stage are very impacted by how vulnerable they feel. It is both a tender and terrifying time. Everything is dismantling and it is hard to see what new form will emerge.

We must give ourselves fully over to the death of the chrysalis before resurrection can come.

Departing Souls and Visits from Departed Spirits

In many cultures, most notably Japanese, Greek and Aztec culture, butterfly is seen as a direct representation of the human soul. Butterfly is seen as the soul departing from a dying body and butterfly is told to be the soul of a loved one coming back to visit.

There is a wispy, ephemeral nature to the teetering flight of a delicate butterfly that tells us how much we intuitively know the nature of the human soul. The meaning of seeing a butterfly could literally be that a deceased loved one is dancing by for a visit or it could be a calling into a deeper relationship with your own immortality.

 

Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.

The Butterfly Effect

The theory of the butterfly effect is that the smallest change, such as the flap of a butterfly’s wings, could result in enormous ripple effects. This was initially proposed in relation to weather patterns positing that a hurricane may ensue from the flap of a butterfly’s wings but has also been widely applied to science fiction novels and movies as a warning of the dangers of time travel.

Regardless of the truth or relativity of the butterfly effect, it has a firm root in our unconscious. We intuitively know that the smallest action can have the biggest effect. Butterfly symbolism helps us realize this deep seated mystical truth. Butterfly spirit animal is the guardian of our conscience reminding us to act with care.

Putting Up Your Defenses

In the natural world, butterflies and plants are in a great arms race. Plants create toxins to protect from hungry caterpillars and caterpillars find ways to overcome the toxins. Some caterpillars and butterflies internalize and assimilate the plant toxins turning them into their own self-defense from predators.

Both caterpillars and butterflies are also well known for developing signals to deter predators. The most notable signs are bright colors that say “I’m unpalatable.” What we interpret as beautiful reds, oranges and yellows are actually warning signs. When looking at spiritual meaning of butterfly, ask yourself, “Am I heading the warning signs that others are putting out? Am I comfortable with not having everyone like me? Can I be in my own inner beauty and not have to have it feed others?”

You Are What You Eat

In the mythology of resurrection, the caterpillar is the earth-bound soul tied to material wealth and concerns. This metaphor blends flawlessly with the fact that caterpillars eat solid, rooted plants. Caterpillars eat voraciously like we do when we get caught up and grounded by our need to posses things, property and people. Some of us never leave this obsession and stay grounded as caterpillars, wandering from leaf to leaf for life.

Others of us lose a taste for things of this world just like the caterpillar who stops eating a few days before going into the chrysalis. Dissatisfaction and restlessness are hallmark promptings from our soul that a transformation is coming. The caterpillar begins seeking a place to undergo the change. Within the chrysalis, the former form is shed and the new is shaped.

The butterfly eats primarily nectar of flowers. Nectar is known as the elixir of the Gods. (To learn more about the significance of eating nectar read this article about hummingbird).

Challenges of Psyche

The Greek Goddess Psyche is always pictured with a set of butterfly wings. Her name, “Psyche,” literally means “soul” in Greek. Today we take the word psyche to represent our mind. This shows how we’ve tried to supplant the wonder of the soul with the faculty of intellect. One reading of the tale of the stunningly gorgeous Psyche tells us how much we miss in knowing our own souls.

Born a mortal, Psyche’s beauty caused humanity to worship her to the point of extreme alienation. By a trick of his own, she was taken by Aphrodite’s son, Eros, and they left the world to find bliss in each other. But, Psyche couldn’t resist the temptation to please others and destroyed the fragile promise they were pledged upon. Exposed, she then suffered great torture and grief at the hands of Aphrodite. She endured the trials put before her with great stamina to eventually be made immortal, a goddess with butterfly wings, and marry Eros in front of the Gods. Zeus served nectar at their wedding. The whole beautiful story can be found here: http://www.theoi.com/Ouranios/Psykhe.html

Allowing Butterfly Symbolism

We so often think we’ve fledged the chrysalis and become a butterfly before we actually have. As long as a hunger for this world as well as the need for the acceptance and love of others contaminates our hearts we still have many challenges to overcome. Butterfly spirit animal does not symbolize the sweet triumph over small adversity. The impact of butterfly medicine cannot be forced.

True butterfly spiritual meaning brings the involuntary experience of a life shattering hurricane that tests us at our core. Butterfly spirit animal guides us through this torturous and wondrous experience only a few precious times each life. If you are in the midst of a resurrection yourself, cherish it and remember to thank the Gods no matter how painful it is.

 

Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.