Being the largest living terrestrial animals on Earth, the elephants are fascinating creatures that often get along well with humans. There are only three extant elephant species globally, out of which two are from Africa, and the third belongs to Asia. Have you ever wondered what these magnificent animals might symbolize?
Elephants are symbols of strength, power, wisdom, and good luck to many cultures and religions. They represent the ability to understand metaphors and abstract ideas. In some parts of the world, elephants have long been an emblem of royalty and power. Elephants are related to earth and water elements, which are associated with healing, stability, regeneration, and endurance.
We’ve taken a look at the elephant symbolism in Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Christianity. This article will look at elephant symbolism further and hopefully give you a greater understanding of this fascinating animal as well as an appreciation of the spiritual meaning that lies within.
We’ll also discuss the spiritual meaning of seeing elephants in dreams, their significance in different cultures, and the traits of their totems and spirit animals.
What do elephants symbolize?
If you learn about the traits and behavior of elephants, you can easily understand their symbolism. Here, we will talk about two of the most prominent qualities they stand for:
While we humans, who consider ourselves to be the smartest living beings, have brains that weigh about 3 pounds, the brains of elephants are more than three times heavier than ours, weighing over 10 pounds.
These emotionally intelligent creatures can display humor, grief, and compassion and are also very much self-aware. It is, thus, quite justified for them to be symbolic of intelligence.
Warmth and affection
Despite their large and potentially threatening size, the elephants give us no reason to fear them. These gentle animals are, in fact, quite fond of being around humans and can get attached to them pretty fast. Many civilizations, especially in Africa, interact with elephants regularly and have never had an incident with them.
Elephant Dream Interpretation
Elephants are considered to be lucky animals. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all the elephant dreams have a positive implication. Following are some of the most common elephant dreams, along with their interpretations:
An angry elephant
An angry elephant in your dream is symbolic of your suppressed feelings of anger and resentment. Such a dream indicates that you need to let out the feelings that you have been hiding. Talking to a professional might help you.
A friendly elephant
If you dream of a friendly elephant, it suggests that you have an introverted personality and can easily shy away from interacting with new people.
An elephant chasing you
If you find yourself being chased by an elephant in your dream, it indicates the presence of an authoritative figure in your life who is bullying you or pushing you around for their amusement. You must stand up against this person.
An elephant in a cage
If you dream of an elephant inside a cage, it is a sign that your insecurities and lack of self-confidence trap your true potential. The dream is a message for you, telling you to overcome your insecurities and free your inner strength and potential.
An elephant in the water
An elephant standing in water is a somewhat positive image. Dreaming of it suggests abundance and prosperity in your future.
An elephant giving birth
If you see an elephant giving birth in your dream, it suggests that you need to be more vocal about your ideas and beliefs. Otherwise, your inability or lack of self-expression might soon become the reason for your failure.
An injured elephant
An injured elephant in your dream is symbolic of your empathy. Such a dream signifies that you have an innate desire to help others in healing from their pain. It could also mean that the fields of therapy and counseling, energy healing, and medicine are most suited for a person of your temperament.
Dreaming of an elephant stampede is indicative of things going out of hand in certain situations. If you dream of a stampede, try to focus on your position in it. Do you see yourself getting stepped over by the elephants? If you do, it implies that the hasty decisions made by others can impact your reputation negatively.
An elephant’s tusk
The tusks of an elephant are primarily used as a defensive tool by them. Dreaming of these tusks indicates that you already have the capacity to overcome all the challenges you are facing; you just need to brave enough to act.
An elephant’s ear
Seeing an elephant’s ear in your dream is a sign that you are ignoring your inner voice for some reason, and all of us know it never ends well. Therefore, it is time to stop blocking these voices out and pay attention to what they’re saying.
An elephant’s trunk
If you dream of an elephant’s trunk, it suggests that you have everything you need to succeed, except for creativity. That is something you need to work on. This dream could also be indicative of your hidden sexual desires for someone you fancy.
A baby elephant
A baby elephant in your dream is symbolic of things growing out of proportion for you. This dream can have both positive and negative interpretations. On the one hand, it could mean that a new venture or project you’ve started or are a part of will soon bring you massive success. On the other hand, it could also mean that you are going to face problems that are far too big for you to tackle alone.
A dying elephant
If you dream of a dying elephant, it is a sign that you have held on to the painful memories of your past and are unwilling to let go. Therefore, these memories continue to hurt you, restricting your growth. If you want to move forward with your life, you must let go of the past first.
A dead elephant
The image of a dead elephant is a rather disturbing one. Dreaming of them is symbolic of your grief over some tragic event from your past. The grief is overwhelming and all-consuming and often pushes you to give everything up. But you can’t give in to it; keep moving forward is your best choice.
A herd of elephants
A herd of elephants is a clear sign of a tight-knit community. If you dream of them, it indicates that the people in your inner circle support you entirely and will always be there for you when you need them.
Training an elephant
If you dream of training an elephant, it suggests that you are working hard towards achieving a work-oriented goal. Maybe it’s a new vacancy for a higher position that you want to bag. If the elephant seems to listen to you in the dream, it means that your hard work will pay off. However, if it is resisting you, things might not work for you.
Riding an elephant
Dreaming of riding an elephant has a positive implication. Such a dream indicates that you’re on the verge of discovering your true strength. From this point onwards, there is no stopping you until you achieve your dreams.
Eating an elephant
Eating an elephant is a rather peculiar image. However, seeing it in a dream is a good sign. If you have a project idea or business venture in mind and are looking for funding, the dream indicates that someone will soon take an interest in it, and might even fund it.
Killing an elephant
If you see yourself killing an elephant in your dream, it is a bad sign. Such a dream is symbolic of a huge financial loss you might incur soon. As a consequence of it, you might have to give up your lifestyle or even your house. Under such trying circumstances, you need to be patient and have faith that things will get better eventually.
Feeding an elephant
Feeding an elephant in your dream is a positive sign. Such a dream indicates that your kindness will be appreciated within your community; people will respect you and come to you in their time of need.
Being afraid of an elephant
Being afraid of an elephant is symbolic of your unwillingness to address the inevitable problems of your life. You need to understand that ignorance will get you nowhere, so you should try to sort things out instead.
Interpretation of elephant dreams based on their color
The color of the elephant you dream of can also influence its interpretation. Check out what it means to dream of these elephants:
A grey elephant
Most of the elephants you encounter are typically grey in color. If you dream of them, it is a sign from your guiding spirits that are asking you to trust your instincts and act accordingly.
A white elephant
In the Buddhist culture, a white elephant is believed to have been of Lord Buddha’s many incarnations and is considered sacred. These elephants are symbolic of enlightenment and evolution of the spirit. If you dream of them, it means that the higher powers are trying to send you some kind of spiritual message that has a positive interpretation.
A black elephant
Think of a black elephant as a large obstacle in the path of your life. Dreaming of these elephants is an indication that you will have to go through a lot of difficulties soon.
A pink elephant
If you see a pink elephant in your dream, it is a happy sign. It indicates that you are about to meet with old friends and classmates you haven’t talked to in a long time. It will be a happy reunion for you.
A golden elephant
A golden elephant is a symbol of abundance, wealth, and luxury. If you see these elephants in your dream, you are in or a pleasant surprise. In the near future, you might come across a lot of wealth. Or you might take a lavish vacation with your family or your loved ones.
An orange elephant
Dreaming of an orange elephant has a negative interpretation. It signifies the lack of your sense of responsibility and obligation. You want everything to be a cakewalk for you and go running for the hills at the first sign of responsibility. This desire for having it all easy has made you an unproductive person.
A yellow elephant
If you dream of a yellow elephant, it indicates you will spend a large sum of money on unnecessary things.
A red elephant
Dreaming of a red elephant is not a good sign. If you encounter these animals in your dream, it might mean that you are about to lose someone who is very close to you, and their departure from your life will weigh heavily on you.
A green elephant
Green elephants are symbolic of family and community. Dreaming of them signifies that you need to invest more time and effort at your home and should try to be a more active member of your community.
A purple elephant
Dreaming of a purple elephant is a sign that you are trying to keep up your appearances to compete with the people around you (probably your neighbors or co-workers). And in the process, you are losing your financial stability.
The cultural significance of elephants
The elephants are regarded as an important symbol in various cultures around the world. Let’s take a look at how they’re perceived in the following cultures:
In many Christian countries, elephants are considered to be symbolic of chastity. Moreover, the thickness of their skin is associated with their strong will and somewhat stubborn temperament.
The Africans keep elephants in high regard and are often found to worship them as well. To them, elephants symbolize power, longevity, wisdom, and strength.
The Chinese associate elephants with similar qualities as Africans. Since their natural habitat range includes China, the elephants are frequently mentioned in their cultural texts.
In Feng Shui, it is recommended to add elephant symbols in your house for they attract good fortune and prosperity to it.
In Hinduism, one of the God Lord Ganesha has a human body but the head of an elephant. He is believed to be the remover of all obstacles and is often worshipped before the beginning of something new.
In Buddhism, elephants are symbolic of a mind that has attained a calm that cannot be disturbed or controlled by others. There are many stories in Buddhism that involve elephants.
One such story depicts that Queen Maya, the mother of Lord Buddha, had conceived him after she had dreamt of a white elephant. Buddha himself was passionate about these animals. Other tales also state that Buddha had taken the form of a white elephant in one of his incarnations.
The elephant totem enters your life when you have lost all sense of obligations and are overly indulged in the fleeting pleasures of life. These totems come to remind you what it is like to be grounded in life. They’re warm and gentle, but also take their responsibilities very seriously and teach you the same.
These totems can also come to you when you’ve cut all ties with your family and community and are now feeling lonely and depressed.
These totems firmly believe in the idea of your family being your one true treasure. They will show you what it means to be loved and cared for and take you back to your blood and roots. For that is the only place in the world where you can find true happiness and contentment.
Elephant spirit animal
If you are the one who always takes responsibility for everything, the elephants’ spirit is guiding you. These people have an innate sense of responsibility for everyone and everything around them. If you go partying with them, they will make sure everybody reaches home alright at the end of the night. While they are not total control freaks, they do like to maintain balance and feel disturbed when they find that things are getting out of hand.
Such people are always the most reliable ones in their friend circle and workspace. Moreover, they are dedicated employees. When they work for an institution, they’re not concerned about their personal growth but the growth of the whole community. The knowledge that they are working towards a bigger cause provides them utmost satisfaction.
Just like the elephants, these people are so homely that having them in your family is a true blessing. They are instinctively nourishers and caregivers and can make great parents. Once a child comes into their lives, it becomes the center of their world. They’re gentle, affectionate, and fiercely protective of their own. Their younger ones can often find themselves being smothered with love and warmth to the point of suffocation. But that’s just who they are.
In a relationship, these people are stable and comforting. They are understanding to a fault and have very little demands from their partners. If you’re looking for peace and calm rather than fire and passion, they will be the most suitable candidates for you.
Conclusion: Elephant symbolism and meaning
With a height of about 9 feet and weight ranging between 6,000-12,000 pounds, elephants are a walking wonder. What’s surprising about them is that even though they possess all that strength, they are usually gentle and peace-loving animals.
To us, they symbolize honor, devotion, protection, stability, patience, dignity, durability, royalty, and longevity. Widely regarded as lucky animals, they have a positive depiction in almost all cultures of the world. People who are guided by their spirit are a solid rock that you can always count on, and should always be appreciated for it.