Hyenas are probably one of the most ridiculed and condemned mammals by humans. Although they are mostly inhabitants of deserts, these animals are highly adaptable and can survive in a variety of habitats. They are strong, agile, and either travel alone or in small, tight-knit groups.
Although they are basically scavengers, their predatory skills are quite impressive. These animals have evolved from the cat family, but their nature and instincts have more in common with the canines.
Although they’re openly disliked by the humans, Hyenas have managed to stay around all this time, which represents their survival instinct. The most important concern for these animals is how they will survive the next day.
Because of such a strong survival instinct, hyenas are quick-thinkers and often make the right choice. Hyenas are also known to put their clan above everything else; the spirit of community is deeply imbibed in them, which is why they’re loyal, protective, and fierce.
In this article, we are going to talk about what Hyenas symbolize to us. Moreover, we will interpret what it means to dream of them and discuss what it means to have Hyenas as spirit animal and totem. We will also explain their cultural significance and what getting their tattoos might mean.
Four extant species of Hyena can be found in the world today. Before we move on to talk about their symbolism, let’s learn a little about each species and their traits:
Aardwolf (Proteles cristata)
Also referred to as “Civet Hyena” because of the Civet-like anal gland secretion, the Aardwolves are the most uncharacteristic of all hyena species. They are more like jackals in appearance and are insectivores, unlike their carnivore siblings.
They follow a nocturnal routine and primarily feed on termites. Although most people think of them as solitary, they are rather fond of their children and live with them.
Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta)
Often called the “Laughing Hyena”, the Spotted Hyenas are the world’s most widespread hyena species. They are endemic to the sub-Saharan region and are the only extant member of their genus.
Known for their complex social behavior, these hyenas are believed to be the most social carnivores in the world. They can easily be distinguished from the other hyena species, if not by the size of their clan, then by their appearance.
They are the largest of all the four species and have rounded ears, the characteristic spotted pelt, and their mane is less prominent than the others.
Brown Hyena (Hyaena brunnea)
Also referred to as “Strandwolf”, the Brown Hyenas are a species of Hyenas that are mostly found in the southern parts of Africa, such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa. These hyenas preferably inhabit savannahs, deserts, and semi-deserts.
Their pointed ears, short tail, and shaggy brown coat distinguish them from the other hyenas. Both sexes of the Brown Hyenas are about the same size, although the males are slightly heavier. Their species are included in the Near Threatened List by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Striped Hyena (Hyaena hyaena)
Endemic to Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East, the Striped Hyenas are the national animal of Lebanon. They, along with the Brown Hyenas, together make up the family of True Hyenas.
The forelegs of these hyenas are longer than their hind legs, along with a neck that is thick enough to restrain free movement. They have a nocturnal lifestyle, have little social engagement, and are scavengers by nature.
The symbolism of Hyenas
Since all four of the hyena species are so different from each other, it is only natural that they will have different symbolism as well. Let’s find out what each one of them symbolizes to us:
The Aardwolves are symbolic of the simple pleasures of life. They don’t have an adventurous vein, and would much rather stay with their loved ones and lead an ordinary life. If they have access to their basic necessities, they will be content. They don’t believe in participating in the race to the top. We can learn from the lesson of distancing ourselves from mindless materialism and competition.
Spotted Hyena symbolism
The Spotted Hyenas have just the opposite personality. They believe in being an active and productive member of the community and look down upon those who withdraw themselves from it. According to them, one can only achieve growth and progress through active involvement in everything that is going on around them. They are symbolic of social values, activity, and a balance in the community.
Brown Hyena symbolism
The Brown Hyenas are representatives of survival. These hyenas have the best survival skills among all four and put themselves and their clan above all. They are patient creatures that do not make rash decisions, for they know that the lives of their loved ones depend on them. They are also firm believers and do not wear themselves out by dwelling on the past or fretting about the future.
Striped Hyena symbolism
The Striped Hyenas are experts at detaching themselves from everything that goes on around them. They are the most self-centered hyenas, caring about themselves above all. Moreover, they are also self-sufficient and do not believe in taking the help of others.
What does it mean to see Hyenas in your dreams?
Of all the animals in the world, Hyenas are not ones we expect to see in our dreams, right? It is very rare to dream of these carnivore mammals. This is why it is natural to question the purpose behind such dreams.
Depending on which Hyena species you dream of, and what you see in the dream, there could be several interpretations of your dream:
Aardwolf in dream meaning
Dreaming of Aardwolf is a sign that now is the ideal time for your mental and spiritual growth. Such a dream encourages you to take some time off your mundane life and focus on your personal growth. At this time, you should spend more and more time at home, either alone or with your loved ones.
An Aardwolf eating in your dream
If you dream of the Aardwolf eating, it indicates that you are probably not eating right, which can affect your health destructively. You should start taking care of your nutritional health and diet if you want to stay away from any kind of sickness or ailment.
A Spotted Hyena in your dreams is symbolic of your fear of social acceptance. Such a dream indicates that you feel fear or nervousness for involving yourself in a community.
Seeing more than one Hyenas in your dream
Dreaming of more than one Hyenas is symbolic of social acceptance. The more hyenas you see, the more people are going to accept you as you are.
Being ignored by a large group of Spotted Hyenas in your dream
If you see yourself being ignored by a large group of Spotted Hyenas in your dream, it has a negative implication. It means that people are trying to make your life difficult, and you might have to overcome a lot of challenges on your path.
A single Spotted Hyena in your dream
A single Spotted Hyena in your dream symbolizes that you need to devote all your focus and efforts towards your goal if you hope to achieve it.
A Spotted Hyena with cubes in your dream
If you dream of a Spotted Hyena with cube-shaped spots in your dream, it means that you might face some difference of opinion with your partner about raising your children. The sooner you resolve the issue, the better.
The arrival of a Brown Hyena in your dream is a sign that you are being too ruthless, which can create problems for you. It is time for you to take responsibility for your actions if you don’t want to see your loved ones hurt.
A group of Brown Hyenas in your dream
A large group of Brown Hyenas is symbolic of abundance. If you dream of them, it means that a huge amount of wealth is about to come to you in the near future.
Dreaming of the Striped Hyena is a symbol of a life-long relationship. If you see such a dream, it means that very soon, you’re about to find a partner on whom you can truly count. This relationship can either be a business partnership or the beginning of your love life. But whichever it is, it will fill your life with joy. With the combined effort of both of you, you will achieve unimaginable heights in your life.
A Striped Hyena scavenging in your dream
If you see a Brown Hyena scavenging for food in your dream, it is a sign that you don’t have to go looking outside for what you seek; you will find it within you.
The significance of Hyena in different cultures
The Hyenas have been regarded as despicable creatures by humans for as long as we can remember. But when did it all start, and why? Let’s find out.
Long ago, the Striped and Spotted Hyenas were known to prey on the defenseless people in the darkness of night. This, along with their scavenging nature, made them out to beasts in human eyes.
The symbolism of Hyenas in the African culture
In West African mythology, Hyenas were believed to be the dirty animals that conspired with the witches and the practitioners of dark arts. Many of the African folklore talk about them as being rotten from inside. In some parts of Tanzania, there’s a saying that if a Hyena’s yowling is heard when a mother gives birth, the child that is born will turn out to be a thief.
The symbolism of Hyenas in the Middle East
Many of the Middle Eastern communities associate Hyenas with the corrupted djinns. In some of the Arabic stories, they were even believed to be vampires that lurked in the night to suck the blood of innocent humans. They were condemned for their cowardice and stealth.
The symbolism of Hyenas in other cultures
Not all cultures of the world have a negative opinion about the Hyenas. The people who live in the rural areas of Palestine and Afghanistan slaughter them to use their blood in making love potions, for they believe that these poor animals have an unquenched thirst for love.
What does it mean to get a Hyena tattoo?
The Hyenas have been projected in a negative light for many centuries. People associate with them symbols of impurity, cowardice, and corruption. However, there is a possibility that there is more to these animals than we can see. People who feel misunderstood by society and are treated as outcasts often get Hyenas tattooed over their bodies.
To get a Hyena tattoo is a sign that the tattoo-bearer is now beyond caring about what the world thinks of them. They are comfortable in their skin, and it is enough to keep them happy. They are tired of trying to prove themselves to the world and failing and have lost the will to be loved and understood.
The Hyena totem will come to your life when you have drawn too far from your roots and have lost your family values. It will remind you what it means to be part of a clan or family and will encourage you to spend more time at home.
The totem might also come to you when you are alone and can’t find your path in life. They will teach you how to survive, get you on your feet, and guide you on the right path in life.
Hyena Spirit Animal
What does it mean to mean to have Hyenas as your spirit animal? Well, it depends on which of them is the spirit that guides you:
People who have Aardwolves as their spirit animal are generally shy and unassuming. However, they are strong advocates of “live and let live”, and don’t believe in growth that comes from pulling others down.
These people are minimalists at heart and do not need an extravagant life; as long as they have what they need, they are happy and content. Such people often have a knack for gardening because seeing things grow brings them the ultimate joy.
Guided by the spirit of the Aardwolves, these people are mostly introverted and, thus, aren’t very keen on socialization. Even when they do socialize, it is always for a short period of time. They are very family-oriented and make excellent life partners.
The Spotted Hyenas are versatile opportunists above everything else, and so are the people that are guided by their spirit. These people are great at cooperation and teamwork and can work just as well by themselves. All that matters to them is achieving their goal.
Such people are recyclers to the core and hate for anything to go to waste. They have well-developed communications and leadership qualities and can get their work done without being authoritative about it.
The Brown Hyenas stand for survival. Although the people who have them as their guiding spirit are not anti-social, they prefer a smaller group of friends and family. They can be polite and even friendly to many, but that doesn’t mean they will let you in their inner circle.
Earning the trust of these people is no easy chore since they have a hard time trusting anyone other than themselves. They are instinctively skeptical of everyone, although they don’t let it on.
These people are more likely to be introverted. As a life partner, they are extremely loyal and fierce lovers. However, their protective attitude can get a little overwhelming at times. They can also easily become paranoid, so it is best if you don’t keep secrets in your relationship, even the harmless ones.
People with Striped Hyenas as their spirit animal are ideally family-people. They are instinctively nurturers and care-givers and love their family fiercely. They are also great socializers and entertainers and look for ways to bring the community together on picnics, parties, and get-togethers.
When it comes to their love life, these people are perfect. They don’t believe in casual dating and are looking for their soulmate. For them, love is a one-time thing. And once they fall in love, they fall hard.
They’re devoted and passionate lovers who would not mind making sacrifices for their partners, be it big or small. They’re incapable of letting people go. If you are not looking for something serious, you should never get involved with them.
Hyena symbolism and meaning (summing it up)
To sum it up, for all the negativity associated with Hyenas, there are several qualities that we can learn from them: survivability, single-minded focus, and family values. These animals are fierce and strong, and as your spirit guides, will always teach you to pursue the things that matter to you.