Perhaps we can blame it on The Lion King and similar bits of animation, but most of us react negatively when we see hyenas. For the most part, we see hyenas as devious creatures, scavengers, and wildly dangerous.
But this is an unfair image. In fact, in Africa where they are mostly found, hyenas are considered to be heroic creatures. Part of the canine family with cunning resemblances to dogs and wolves — two creatures considered of noble symbolism — hyenas are in good company. Yet another creatures whose exterior qualities belie its magnificent qualities, the hyena is ready to teach us a lot of valuable lessons.
Hyena Symbolism Facts & Meaning: A Totem, Spirit & Power Animal
Hyena Symbolism & Meaning
Indeed, the hyena’s leering eyes and uncanny laugh have earned it a negative symbolism among people of West Africa. In fact, Tanzanians believe that the hyena is a witch familiar, used for the dark arts.
Despite this, people are quick to recognize the hyena’s virtues especially with respect to living in social circles. Hyenas are typically found in packs, with each one closely supporting the others. This is a great model for a community. Even if one’s abilities are limited on their own, they can greatly amplify this when working in unison.
Hyenas also have a commendable way of raising their young, so much that mothers raise their babies with a hyena artifact (often dung) with the belief this will help them walk earlier. The hyena has also been linked to tribe mentality, with the myth that a certain tribe has mastered the hyena’s ways so much that they could transform into the animals themselves.
Hyena Spirit Animal
As a spirit animal, the hyena imparts a sense of raw energy and the ability to tap into the pulse of society. The latter, however, does not mean that the hyena is a ready victim of peer pressure. Instead, the hyena has a strong individual will — their propensity for a pack mentality is not the result of being pushed or coerced towards it, but as a result of thorough understanding that such a setup is most advantageous.
The hyena spirit animal is also ready to charm anyone with its perpetually smiling face. They are comfortable whether on the frontlines or in a support role, and they make it difficult for others to feel any animosity towards them.
Hyena Power Animal
If ever you need to tread the fine line between quiet thoughtfulness and vocal insistence, then the hyena is the perfect power animal for you. Despite their appearances, they are incredibly versatile. You can call upon the hyena to help you shift across different roles, both as a part of a time or as a lone contributor to a greater cause.
You can also call upon the hyena to help you when you need to be an example to others. The hyena is a powerful image of one who leads by example, and so long as the people you work with are receptive, it would be easy for them to see the best practices from you.
Hyena Totem Animal
People born under the hyena totem are incredibly versatile, though not without fault. Their ability to adapt to many situations could easily make them self-centered. This could, in turn, make him condescending towards others, not mincing words when demonstrating their superiority. Once the hyena person gets over this, however, they are all set to contribute to the world in a big way.
Hyenas also have a magnificent sense of intuition. Being creatures of the wild, where they can be both hunter and hunted, they rely on their instinct to sense danger around them. As a totem animal, the hyena enables a person to sense when someone or something is hiding in the tall grass around them, allowing them to react faster and more efficiently.
Hyena Native American Symbolism
The Native Americans do not have the hyena in their mythology, simply because they had no interactions with the creature. The hyena’s attributes, however, mimics the wolf in the sense it can work both alone and with a group.
Hyena Celtic Symbolism
As the hyena lives in Africa (except for a few captive members of the species), the ancient Celts did not have any interaction with the creature. However, there are some stories that talks of the great hero Cuchulain helped by his sacred hounds which were described similar to hyenas.
Hyena Far Eastern Symbolism
Asia has no interaction with the creature either, though the hyena’s instincts have been represented in the Chinese depiction of the fox symbolism. In Loong culture, is an animal described by the Chinese after entering the agricultural society to have hyena-like characteristics and tiger-like beard. It is a magical animal that can change in size and disappear at will. It represents cultural creation at a time of disintegration of China’s primitive society.
Hyena in Dreams
When the hyena comes to you in a dream, it is asking you to look within you — at your untapped potentials. Maybe you feel the energy coursing through you, but are you using that energy appropriately? You have great capacity, but you can only make a ripple if you are using that capacity to your advantage.
Hyena Encounters / Hyena Omens
When you see the hyena, look sharp! There is likely something around you that needs immediate attention. It may be something bad waiting to befall you, and you need to move fast to control the damage. It may be an opportunity that flies by, and you need to act fast in order to catch it. Or, it may be a cause that you have once devoted yourself to, which is now languishing. Any progress you have made before can slip back unless you reaffirm your allegiance to this cause.
Hyena Mythology and Folklore
According to ancient African belief — one that can be traced to the area’s colonization by the Romans — the hyena is a medicinal animal that is used to ward of ailments caused by evil. It is also said that they are able to guarantee fertility.
There were also tales that the hyena is personified by a warrior Muslim who fought the cult of animism in the Ivory Coast region. This is parallel to the tale of the hyena as a solar symbol, bringing the warmth and blessings of the sun to the earth. The hyena may have endured an unsavory reputation during our childhood, but there is much more to it than a leering dog-like creature of the wild. In fact, if we look closely, its energy is something that we may need in our lives.