10 Hippo / Hippopotamus Symbolism Facts & Meaning: A Totem, Spirit & Power Animal

Have you ever seen a Hippopotamus playing in water? Despite the large size, you are sure to find it cute. Cute enough to maybe approach and play with yourself. But that may prove to be a bad move — in Africa, Hippos are among the most feared animals, killing more people and destroying more property than the giant cats.

This two-fold nature makes the Hippo a curious animal symbol, but one that is very potent if we learn to understand it.

Hippo Hippopotamus Symbolism Facts & Meaning: A Totem, Spirit & Power Animal

Hippo Hippopotamus Symbolism & Meaning

The Hippopotamus is a strong symbol, one that teaches us courage and calmness in the midst of adversity. While the image of a charging Hippo is anything but calm, their “resting” state is one of complete alertness. They observe their environment calmly, and react only when needed. They are excellent guardians, and they clearly know what to do when action is warranted.

These are all primarily maternal instincts, and this is also why the Hippo is the perfect animal symbol for mothers. Not only do they sport characteristics essential to caring for their young, but their girth have also gained them the symbolism of fertility since ancient times.

Hippo Hippopotamus Spirit Animal

As a spirit animal, the Hippo is a beacon of imagination. Its multiple facets tell us that our lives need not be one-sided, and we have the power to stir things up when we want to. The Hippo lives both on land and in water. It can be fun and playful one moment, menacing and deadly the other. It can mingle fearlessly with other animals, even would-be predators, because it is sure of itself. This is something we could learn from, as there are times when life seems to be dictating our every move. The Hippo is there to remind us that movement comes from within, not from the world outside.

Hippo Hippopotamus Power Animal

The Hippo is a good power animal for those who need to rein in their aggression. We usually believe that aggression is something bad, something that we should (if possible) do without. But the Hippo teaches us that aggression needs not be suppressed, it only has to be channeled to the right things. The proper use of aggression can be a powerful mover, and it doesn’t mean that we have to go hurting others or ourselves.

To channel aggression, one has to be creative and imaginative in using the impulses this emotion generates. This is also a demonstration of the adage “mind over matter” — if we can conceive of something, then we can do it, even if that means channeling something normally destructive to something constructive and beautiful.

Hippo Hippopotamus Totem Animal

People born under the Hippo totem are very introspective, but not in the sense that it tends to paralyze them. Instead, Hippo people have a good grasp of how they feel inside, and this serves as their compass in making decisions.

These people are also very imposing, not in size but in will. They demand what is true and just, and they demand that others respect this. This may not always sit well with everyone (especially when others have different definitions of what “true and just” means), but the Hippo does not waver from his stand.

Hippo Hippopotamus Native American Symbolism

To the Native Americans, the Hippopotamus is a symbol of being in touch with one’s feelings. This includes the ability to see through one’s own subjectivity to seek the truth. In connection with this, they also view the Hippos as being a symbol of stability, of being able to withstand adversity without backing down and giving up. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Hippo also stands for being grounded and wise during times of plenty.

Hippo Hippopotamus Celtic Symbolism

The Hippo did not live in the land of the ancient Celts, so it did not appear in their mythology. Instead, its attributes were given to the bull, which is remarkably similar in its main characteristics. However, there is an Irish myth that tells of Nechtan, a river monster which some historians consider to refer to the Hippo. It is a creature that looks after the Well of Wisdom.

Hippo Hippopotamus Far Eastern Symbolism

The Hippo also was not present endemically in the Far East, and so did not appear in any of their legends and symbols. However, the Chinese had the symbol of the Ox (notice its similarity with its Celtic counterpart) to symbolize the same attributes given to the Hippo. Similar to the Greeks, the Chinese literally call the animal, River Horse.

Hippo Hippopotamus in Dreams

When the Hippo appears in your dreams, then it is time for you to go for an emotional detox. You may be burdened by conflicting and runaway emotions that cloud your eyes from seeing the simple things in life. Take time to dispose of your emotional baggage, and clear your heart from the things that are weighing it down.

This also means that as soon as you get rid of your negative emotional baggage, you should also fill the space with thoughts that are useful to you. Keep on nurturing hope and happiness, and try to imbibe a sense of clarity. Like the Hippo, learn how to play and to keep still — everything will come to pass, in the end.

Hippo Hippopotamus Encounters / Hippo Hippopotamus Omens

When you see the Hippo in your life, that means you need to take a break. You may be working too hard, or you may be too engrossed with the fine details of life that you forget to take care of yourself. This message rings doubly true when you are in charge of taking care of someone. Only those who take care of themselves will be fit to take care of others.

Hippo Hippopotamus Mythology and Folklore

The Hippo was prevalent in Africa especially during the ancient times, and does not like it when people wander into and try to take over their territory. This caused the ancient Egyptians to consider the Hippo as a dangerous and violent animal, one that is universally feared. The Hebrews of old, however, had the opposite view (again, showing the two facets of the Hippo). According to them, the Hippo is a righteous symbol of force and power, controlled by none other than Yahweh.

The Hippo may not be among the first many animal symbols that come to mind, exotic as it is. But when we cast our eyes on it to see its many characteristics, we find that it is a very useful symbolism to keep in mind.

2 thoughts on “10 Hippo / Hippopotamus Symbolism Facts & Meaning: A Totem, Spirit & Power Animal”

  1. Lena says:

    Someone called me an hippo to hurt my feelings. I decided to look what an hippo truly is and symbolizes. Thank you. Now I do embrace that word gracefully in my soul. Damn righ I am an hippo!

  2. zidane says:

    very clear and good article easy to understand. Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *