tiger spirit animal meaning

Spirit Animal: 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.

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.


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


Stacey Couch

About Author, Stacey L. L. Couch

Stacey Couch is a Spiritual Advisor who supports creative seekers learning as they go on the spiritual path. She serves beginner and life-long students of the soul. Her compassionate and collaborative approach honors the humanity and value of each person. Wisdom found in story, mysticism, and nature provide guidance and healing in her work. Through meeting with Stacey, lost souls find refuge. Connection to the Divine is realized. Belonging comes. She is the author of Gracious Wild: A Shamanic Journey with Hawks. Learn About working with Stacey
13 replies
  1. Marcia
    Marcia says:

    Hi Stacey,
    Thank you for sourcing out this info on Tiger Spirit. I was recently coached by Martha Beck and she compared me to a Tiger stuck in a cage. I was thinking more along the lines of a small rodent stuck in some goop. A couple of weeks ago a song by the villagers came out called, “Set the Tigers free”. Parts of this song spoke to me and I wept. Now I read what you have written. “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.” In the last six weeks my beliefs about who I am and what I know have shifted. I still have doubts but I can see conviction is going to win.

    • Stacey Couch
      Stacey Couch says:

      That is great news to hear of your shift and your newfound conviction. It most definitely sounds like you are in the midst of a great transformation and that you have the spiritual awareness and stamina you need to make it through. Many blessings to you on the path, Stacey

  2. Susan
    Susan says:

    Thank you Stacey,
    A few years ago I used the cat, specifically the leopard spirit to aid in overcoming anxiety in a major relationship. Since then things have taken a major turn towards rejuvenation and release of old behaviors and beliefs that have been holding me back. Your article has come at a much needed time. The synchronicity of life has emerged as a signal in my daily cycles as I move forward on this new path. The wisdom of nature is abundant and accessible to all. Thank you for your work it is much needed in our world today.
    Namaste, susan

  3. Peg McMahan
    Peg McMahan says:

    Mama Tiger is one of my spirit animals. She’s usually pretty laid back, watching over her two cubs. Sometimes she’s front and center. After reading this article, I wonder if those times are when I’m feeling less than confident or confused about my direction. It’ll be interesting to watch and see what I discover… about myself. Thanks, Stacey!

  4. Cindy
    Cindy says:

    I have had my Tiger for many years, but she is leaving me. Why must she go- I do not understand as she is a part of me. I haven’t stopped crying since I woke up this morning in a fright. All the signs have lead up to this. How can I make her stay- please?

    • Stacey Couch
      Stacey Couch says:

      Dear Cindy, Let go. It is not for us to possess a spirit animal anymore than we can possess the stars. Have faith. The Divine is in you and you are in the Divine. This is an opportunity to release limiting beliefs that are holding you back. The universe is inviting you into something larger. Be brave. You have all you need. Many blessings to you on the path, Stacey

  5. Sabrina
    Sabrina says:

    I recently had a dream, a not so pleasant one, where I was running away from tigers, there were several of them prowling around. I could not understand it’s meaning. But reading your article has given me insight. I think, for me personally, I have been taking my power back & standing my ground these last few weeks instead of avoiding such situations earlier. Its almost as if they’re telling me to be brave, stand in the now, overcome ‘self-doubt’ and just act from a personal place of power. I loved your quote from the Dhammapada, being a student of Buddhism it resonated with me. How interesting, also that the tiger is the national animal of India. Thank you, love & light.


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