The lion is one of the first significant animals we learn about in school. Since we were children, it has come to mean ferocity, superiority, and royalty. We see characters embellished with the lion’s crest, and we see stories that depict the lion either as the hero or the villain, spotlighting these basic qualities.
But there is much more to the lion than meets the eye, and it is important that as we grow up we also recognize this multifaceted animal deeper.
Lion Symbolism Facts & Meaning: A Totem, Spirit & Power Animal
Lion Symbolism & Meaning
The lion’s regal stature and its flowing mane has made it a natural symbol of kings, whose power shines like the sun over their dominions. They are powerful hunters, and are capable of powering through tough obstacles. Beyond this, the lion is also a symbol of skill, especially one that is passed down from master to apprentice. Lions may be great hunters, but that’s only because these skills are being honed in them since they were children.
The lion is also a symbol of truth. Like the truth, lions are straightforward and very difficult to contain. Also like the truth, a lion’s roar echoes for all to hear. The truth can be used to attack or to defend, much like how the lion both hunts for its pride and defends them from would-be aggressors.
Lion Spirit Animal
When the lion pounces in as your spirit animal, it may be telling you to put your foot down and assert your authority. This may come in a wide variety of ways. You may need to reclaim some lost personal territory, or you may start reining in a project that has gone astray. You may need to display personal strength in order to have others respect your command. You may also be called upon to assume the role of the leader, and to be the spokesman of your group.
Lion Power Animal
We already know a lot about what the lion can give you as your power animal (the same as above), but what many may now know is that the lion also helps one to gain a character of care and affection. A lion’s pride is a very close-knit community, supporting each other and teaching each other the skills they need for survival. This is spearheaded by the lioness, whose character switches from the ferocious to the motherly in an instant.
This is also a great life lesson, because it teaches us that leadership isn’t all about being brash and strong. It is equally important to have a caring and nurturing side, one that your people know they can rely on in times of leadership. Fear and domination may cause other people to follow your commands, but only trust in your person will beget you lifelong loyalty.
Lion Totem Animal
People with the lion totem animal typically dive headfirst into challenges without a care. They know their skills, and they know they can overcome whatever life has in store for them (by hook or by crook). They are also confident when it comes to competition, because they know they can outlast any opponent.
Lion people also have a wild streak, stronger than that of most other animal symbols. One moment, they can appear motionless and attentive, another they can be relentlessly on the move. Their natural abilities may sometimes be out of control, and they have the tendency to let nature win over nurture.
Lion Native American Symbolism
The Native Americans have regular run-ins with mountain lions, to whom they have attributed the qualities of wisdom, nobility, and confidence. The silent treading of a lion on the hunt also inspires fear among certain tribes, especially since they come without warning. For the Hopi, the lion has a more traditional guardian role.
Lion Celtic Symbolism
The Celts did not have any encounters with lions, and thus they did not appear in the people’s symbolism. Instead, the lion’s meanings are split into the bull and the horse, two of the most important creatures in their pantheon.
Lion Far Eastern Symbolism
In the Chinese belief, the lion is a majestic protector. This is why we see the lion often in doorways and gates. In Tibet, the same is mentioned in the folklore of the snow lion.
Lion in Dreams
When you see a lion in your dream, you may be on your way to a significant change in your life that sees you taking on more important roles. You may want to start brushing up on your leadership and social skills so as not to be taken by surprise when this happens.
Lion Encounters / Lion Omens
An encounter with a lion means you need to start focusing on personal progress. Here you are, face to face with the symbol of the kings — what can you do to be a king in your own right? You might have important plans that have been derailed or put on the backburner, and it’s time to get back on track. When you do this, however, make sure you don’t approach it in such a way that is rash or undisciplined. Just as the lion has dignity, make sure your entire conduct is just as disciplined.
Lion Mythology and Folklore
The lion is perhaps most prominent in the legend of Hercules and his labors, where the Nemean Lion (a symbol of the lion at its most ferocious) was defeated. In ancient cultures from Egypt, to the Middle East, to Europe, the lion has been granted fantastic powers to serve as kingly symbols. It has also appeared in major religions as a symbol of godly power. South Asian religions go a step further, and consider the lion as earthly avatars of their gods. There are times when the lions were used as a symbol of oppression and tyranny (as in the Judeo-Christian stories of lion dens). Notably, lion-related terms (such as “Lionheart”) have been attached to famous people as monikers to denote unusual bravery and leadership.
The lion is fierce, but beyond it is a many-layered personality we should study and emulate.