[Ivy's Pentacles]

THE SYMBOLISM OF ANIMALS

Animals are often archetypal symbols of sorts, and they also bring up certain images in people's minds. Therefore, they are powerful symbols that can be used for a variety of purposes. They can be used in the form of statues to guard the house; on jewelry to inspire or protect; in visions or manifested as helpers for those who believe in familiars or guides; and even as a decoration whose meaning runs deeper than the surface. Little figurines of any animal can be included in a bag or charm for symbolic value. Also, animals' behaviors can be taken as signs of things to come or events unknown.

Ants

  • An ant bite signifies an upcoming fight.
  • Use as a symbol for hard working and success.

    Apes and Monkeys

  • Put an ape on an amulet of protection.
  • Use a monkey as a symbol of benevolence.
  • Carrying an engraved monkey stone can lend levelheadedness.
  • Envisioning apes on guard around you can help to be freed from unjust accusations.

    Bats

  • Often considered a sign of upcoming death or bad omen.
  • Images of bats can aid eyesight.
  • Use as a symbol of longevity and joy.
  • Popular spirit guide because of night vision ability.
  • Inspiring animal for meditation on enhancing psychic abilities.

    Bears

  • An emblem of power and protection.
  • Bear meat is said to be a cure for insomnia and baldness.
  • A symbol of reborn springtime, after hibernation.
  • Guardian of the West in some cultures.
  • Honey bears symbolize truth.
  • A bear appearing in real life or in dreams can symbolize a resting period followed by flourishing growth.

    Bees

  • Gods' messengers.
  • Carriers of good souls in the next life.
  • A swarm of bees indicates a catastrophe on its way.

    Bison and Buffalo

  • Popular totem animal of old.
  • Buffalo image helps to inspire successful meditation.

    Boars

  • A Greek/Roman personification of victorious battle.
  • A symbol of nature-based wealth.
  • The boar is an inspiring symbol for success and protection, especially when the chips are down.

    Bulls

  • When a bull roars and stamps its feet, rain will grace the fields.
  • Bulls' horns are a good symbol in meditation for motivation.
  • Carvings of bulls are blessings, good for gardens and other protected places.

    Butterflies

  • The three parts of the butterfly's body symbolize the three phases of life.
  • A good inspiration for transformation.
  • A symbol of happy union when carved in jade.
  • A group of butterflies indicates positive change on the way.
  • Butterflies can carry the souls of the dead in some traditions.

    Cats

  • Worshipped as divine in some cultures.
  • Thought to have nine lives, so aligned with the symbolism of nine, a lucky number.
  • Black cats can be a bad omen for some, if they cross your path.
  • The appearance of a stray cat at your door could indicate monetary gain.
  • Asking a question and then watching a cat walk into the room was a divination procedure; if the cat stepped first into the room with the right paw, the answer was yes.
  • A cat is popular for amulets used to keep the wearer safe in travel.

    Chameleons

  • A symbol of the ever-changing future, and of inconsistency.
  • A resurrection symbol.
  • Its appearance could be studied for signs of rain on the way.
  • Useful inspiration for blending in.

    Cows

  • One mother goddess symbol.
  • Sacred in India.
  • Red cows are a symbol of hope.
  • Inspiring symbol for nurturing efforts.

    Crickets

  • Some believe crickets are reincarnated family members come to bless the home.
  • Good luck charm.
  • If one lives in your chimney, you are blessed; if it leaves, bad things are on the way.

    Deer

  • Deerskin has been thought to help epileptic people be cured.
  • Visions or dreams of deer indicate desire to find the right path.
  • Sighting a deer, especially if it is unafraid of you, is a sign of an influential person coming into your life to teach you what you most want to learn.

    Dogs

  • A dog howling at the moon is a bad omen.
  • Dogs can supposedly sense the presence of ghosts.
  • If a dog hides under a table, a thunderstorm is on the way.
  • Putting a coral necklace on your pet dog will protect it from disease.
  • A dog arriving unexpectedly at your house forecasts the arrival of a new friendship.
  • A dog's appearance in a vision or dream indicates loyalty, service, and trust.

    Dolphins

  • Dolphins are thought to carry departed souls to the next incarnation.
  • When dolphins leap often, a storm is coming.
  • A dolphin image signifies joyous, childlike play and helpfulness.

    Donkeys

  • Placing an ailing person on a donkey's back may bring them back from the brink of death. If the person cannot be placed to sit, passing them under the donkey's belly three times does the trick.
  • A donkey symbolizes fertility and easy childbirth.
  • Donkeys are symbols of efficiency, health, well-being, and luck.

    Dragons

  • A symbol of wisdom due to long lives and potent magick.
  • Dragon charms can bring power.
  • Visions or dreams of dragons can symbolize a person in power.
  • Dreaming of flying on the back of a dragon symbolizes the beginning of a new spiritual insight.

    Dragonflies

  • Do not scare off a dragonfly; it brings harmony and serendipity.
  • A symbol of dreams, luck, and ancient knowledge.

    Fish

  • Associated with messiahs and saviors.
  • Fish symbolize good luck and prosperity.
  • Fish that dwell in wells are thought to be water spirits.
  • Carp are symbolic of true love and courage, because of their upstream swim to spawning ground.
  • Used as a symbol for foresight, fortune, and miracles.

    Foxes

  • Foxes align themselves with certain families and appear to them when danger is near.
  • Foxes can be seen as tricksters, shapeshifters, and possessors of great magick.
  • Visions or dreams of a fox may indicate a need to reevaluate your position.

    Frogs

  • A frog's tongue was used in the Middle Ages to place over a lover's heart and make her answer truthfully.
  • Frogs are thought to be able to take sickness away.
  • Frogs symbolize health, honesty, and purification.

    Gazelles

  • If a gazelle crosses your path left to right, it is a bad omen.
  • Thinking of the gazelle's image in times when you need energy can help boost your personal power.
  • Gazelles appearing in dreams indicate a need to settle an old score.

    Goats

  • Goats are aligned with Pan, and thus thought to be disguised forest deities.
  • Goat's fur or foot is an anti-evil talisman.
  • Goat symbols can help to achieve goals, endure criticism, and stay safe.

    Hares

  • Hares hopping into a churchyard are thought to be incarnations of departed young girls who died of abandonment.
  • A hare crossing a pregnant woman's path was unlucky.
  • Hares are symbolic of lunar energy and fertility.
  • If you see a hare unexpectedly, it can mean you may be dawdling on things that matter and should pick up the pace.

    Hedgehogs

  • Hedgehogs are thought to be able to predict changes in the direction of the wind.
  • Using an image of hedgehogs collecting grapes with their quills can help you reap the fruits of your labors.

    Horses

  • Representative of transportation and communication.
  • A black horse with a white marking on its forehead is lucky.
  • Observing a white horse could give hints about the future.

    Jaguars

  • Some say shamans' departed spirits can live on in jaguars.
  • The jaguar is a good focus image for those wishing to begin a shaman path.

    Lions

  • Lions symbolize the sun.
  • Images of lions can protect sacred ground.
  • Lions are symbolic of just laws and fairness prevailing.
  • Use the image of a grown lion to inspire strength and courage, and of baby lion cubs to inspire mercy and gentleness.

    Pigs

  • Hogs are used as food for special occasions. Eating their meat is supposed to help the triumph over darkness.
  • Pigs are symbolic of rebirth and rejuvenation.

    Rabbits

  • Rabbit's feet are lucky talismans, probably because of their swiftness.
  • Rabbits can be utilized in meditation by envisioning a rabbit hopping away and towing your troubles away from you.
  • Saying "rabbit" as the last word before you sleep and "hare" as the first word when you wake up can bring a gift once a month. There are several variations on this.

    Scorpions

  • When the sun is in the house of Scorpio, initiations can take place successfully, aligning the initiate with the fire sign.
  • Scorpions symbolize the "fire within" that often needs careful tending.

    Snakes

  • Snakes are aligned with healing powers, and are sometimes kept as pets for that reason.
  • Snakes symbolize healing, fertility, and renewal and rebirth (because of its tendency to shed its skin).
  • Tossing a dead snake into the air can divine rain; if it lands belly-up, here comes a storm.
  • If an adder snake appears in the home, it is said that death will strike.
  • Dreaming of a snake can be a warning that an acquaintance is working against you.

    Spiders

  • It is unlucky to kill a spider.
  • The spider's weaving skills make it a good inspiration for any rituals involving networking and connection to the outside world.

    Tortoises and Turtles

  • A tortoise shell can be used in divination.
  • Considered an inspiring symbol of the ocean gods.
  • Turtles and tortoises symbolize persistence and wise choices.

    Whales

  • Some say whales have the power to cause earthquakes.
  • Whales appearing in visions or dreams mean to concentrate on harnessing your own magick and aligning with the water element.

    Use these symbols in combination with each other, with the symbolism of engraved stones, with color symbolism, and with anything else that is inspiring.

    This list was inspired by and expanded from Patricia Telesco's The Magick of Folk Wisdom, 1995.

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