Monkey Symbolism and Meaning (Totem, Spirit and Omens)

Monkey Symbolism

Monkies have evolved into an important part of both Western and Asian culture. And by now, you’ve surely seen images of cute monkeys in books, cartoons, and even at some point in the zoo. But apart from being adorable members of the animal kingdom, they also carry a certain amount of spiritual symbolism that’s been passed on for thousands of years.

That’s why they have been used to teach us lessons about life and nature for centuries. Let’s find out what do monkeys symbolize and their spiritual significance.

Monkeys are symbolic of playfulness, humor, mischief, and curiosity. The Hindus see them as messengers from the gods delivering messages of truth to mortals who need spiritual guidance. A monkey is considered the spirit of the forest in many cultures.

Monkeys are found in many different cultures and are portrayed in various ways. Although some people may see monkeys as silly and unimportant creatures, the monkey has been used to symbolize deep spiritual meaning in many legends, myths, and religions.

This article looks at the various spiritual meanings represented by a monkey in detail, how these meanings have changed over time, and what their relevance is today.


What do monkeys symbolize?

What makes monkeys unique in the world of symbolism? Which traits and qualities can we learn from these hopping mammals? If you’ve been wondering about these questions, here are your answers:

Playfulness and humor

If all work and no play makes you dull, the monkeys probably have one of the brightest spirits in the world. For them, playing around is a part of their daily routine. They behave playfully not only in their troops but even they are by themselves. This has earned them the symbolism of playfulness and humor.

Creativity and problem-solving

Have you heard of the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make a lemonade”? Those words were probably of a person guided by the spirits of a monkey. While these animals are not the best planners and rarely think ahead, when a problem or challenge springs itself upon them, they somehow manage to come up with a way to tackle it.

Moreover, their way of dealing with it is quite creative as well. Because of their calm attitude towards life, they’re able to come up with such solutions. These resourceful animals can, therefore, be a symbol of creativity and problem-solving abilities.


Although monkeys are mostly innocent at heart and mean no severe harm to others, their notorious innate quality often gets them into trouble. Their tendency of mischief is often aimed at amusing themselves rather than create problems for others.


Curiosity is one of the monkeys’ predominant traits. Whenever they set their eyes on something new and fascinating, they have to have it for themselves. And once they get it, they will explore every aspect of it until they get bored and probably dump it.

Then, they’re just waiting for something else to catch their attention. This cycle might seem tiring to you, but to the monkeys, it is quite fascinating.

Compassion and affection

For all their silliness and humor, monkeys are also capable of a great deal of affection and compassion. These animals often live in large troops and take care of their younger ones and the elderly.

When they’re part of a troop, they form a strong bond with each other and are fiercely protective of their troop-mates. This behavior makes them symbolic of compassion and affection.


What does it mean to dream of monkeys?

It’s not every day that these notorious creatures come to your dream. But do all of their dreams have a playful interpretation? Not necessarily. Given below are the interpretations of the most common monkey dreams. Have a look:

A monkey sitting on a tree

Seeing a monkey simply sitting on a tree without much movement is very unusual. If you see such a thing in a dream, it might be a warning for you to be more careful about your health, or you might end up being sick and bed-ridden soon.

A monkey running towards you

If in your dream you see a monkey running towards you in a threatening manner, it is a bad sign. Such a dream foretells some kind of family trouble, which might even result in parting ways with the ones you love.

A dead monkey

If a dead monkey comes to your dream, it has a positive interpretation. Such a dream indicates that although your rivals are trying their best to bring you down, their attempts will not be successful. In the end, your reputation will remain unscathed.

A giant monkey

If you see a giant monkey in your dream, it indicates that you are currently under the strong influence of someone, possibly at your school or workplace. However, this person is not healthy for you since they distract from your goals in life.

A baby monkey

If a baby monkey encounters you in a dream, it signifies that you need to put more effort into your relationship with your family members. This dream could also indicate that if you were planning to have a baby, now is the right time for it.

A pet monkey

Having a pet monkey in your dream is not a good sign. Such a dream is symbolic of the overwhelming effect your fear has over you. If you dream of it, it means that you’re used to worrying too much without a probable cause. You’ve tried to help it in the past, but the habit has not gone away yet. You need to keep working consistently so that you can stop over-thinking.

A loud monkey

Dreaming of a loud monkey symbolizes that someone you’ve met recently and seem to like quite a bit has a serious addiction problem but is hiding it from you intentionally. If that’s the case, your best interest lies in staying away from them.

Feeding a monkey

If you see yourself feeding a monkey in a dream, it has a negative interpretation. Such dreams are symbolic of betrayal.

The dream could mean that someone who you consider to be your closest friend is not really who they seem to be. While on the outside, they appear to care about you a great deal, deep down, they’re just waiting for the right time to make their move against you.

Moreover, the dream of feeding monkeys could also suggest that you are going to be in the center of a humiliating situation very soon.

A monkey climbing on a tree

Just like the last dream, the dream of a monkey climbing up a tree also represents betrayal. If you see such a dream, it indicates that the very people you trust the most are secretly scheming and plotting against you.

If the monkey in your dream manages to reach the top and is enjoying the view, it means that you will be successful in your ongoing plan. However, if it falls down halfway, all their plans will amount to nothing.

Hugging a monkey

A monkey hugging you in your dream is a sign that your life lacks any kind of fun or adventure. This dream is telling you to go out and make friends with people who know how to enjoy their lives.

Chasing a monkey

If you find yourself chasing after a monkey in your dream, it is a sign that despite all your hard work and efforts, you are still far away from your goal and do not seem to be getting any closer to it. This is making you impatient and restless.

Being afraid of a monkey

If you feel frightened of a monkey in your dream, it is not a good sign. Such a dream signifies that you will be accused of something you had no part in at your workplace soon. This accusation might even threaten your employment.

A dressed-up monkey

If a dressed-up monkey appears in your dream, it means that there is someone in your dream who you are aggressively trying to change. However, the truth is, this person can’t be changed no matter how hard you try. Therefore, you can either accept the fact and the person as they are, or move on without them.

A dancing monkey

Dreaming of a dancing monkey is a happy sign, for it indicates the arrival of happiness and joy in your life. Such a dream foretells a happy vacation where you will relax and have loads of fun with your friends.

A monkey crying

If a monkey is crying in your dream, it is symbolic of your dissatisfaction with your life. Maybe you’re unhappy with your work or are exhausted from your relationship. Whatever it is, it has robbed you of all your happiness.

A monkey fast asleep

Dreaming of a sleeping monkey has a positive interpretation. If you see such a dream, it means that you will get a chance to travel abroad, most likely for work purposes.

A monkey eating something

If you dream of a monkey eating something, but what it is eating is not clear to you, it is a bad sign. Such a dream foretells that you might suffer from poverty and would be unable to maintain your usual lifestyle in the near future. During these times, you might be losing all hope and confidence in yourself. But if you endure it with patience, you will surely come out of it soon.

Monkeys jumping all around you

Monkeys can be rather stupid and careless when they are having fun. Dreaming of them jumping all around you, thus, has a negative indication. Such a dream means that you might have to pay the price of the stupidities or mistakes of others in the near future.

Petting a monkey

If you see yourself petting a monkey in your dream, it indicates that you will soon find leverage against your rivals or enemies, using which you can keep them under control.

A monkey chasing you

If you see a monkey chasing you in a dream, it indicates that people don’t take you seriously, a fact that deeply bothers you. However, if the monkeys in your dream are just chasing each other, it symbolizes the lack of co-operation around you.

A monkey in a cage

Dreaming of a monkey trapped in a cage is the symbol of your lack of freedom to make your own choice. Such a dream signifies that your life is being controlled by someone else, and it eats away at you.

A monkey scratching you

If a monkey scratches you in a dream, it signifies that your playful attitude might come back to bite you if you don’t take the important decisions of your life seriously.

Killing a monkey

While killing a monkey seems morbid, it is a good sign if you see yourself doing it in a dream. Such a dream indicates that you will be able to recognize and defeat all your enemies very soon. The dream also suggests that you’ll get to know if you have been under the influence of negative people.

Monkeys fighting with each other

Dreaming of monkeys fighting with each other is a warning for you to be careful about what you say to others. Such a dream is an indication that shortly, a careless remark you make can trigger a huge quarrel between you and someone you love.

A monkey jumping from one tree to another

Dreaming of a monkey jumping around from tree to tree is symbolic of you crossing paths with a thief or a pickpocket. You should try to avoid carrying too much cash with you for the next couple of days.

A monkey making funny faces at you

If you see a monkey making funny faces at you in your dream, it suggests that you are soon going to meet an interesting and funny person who will become your friend or lover. If the monkey was in a zoo, you would meet them at a party or a social gathering. You are going to spend some crazy time with them. However, they will not stay in your life forever.

A monkey biting you

If you have been bit by a monkey in your dream, it suggests that the people around you treat you with mistrust and are, thus, skeptical about everything you do.


The cultural significance of monkeys

The monkeys have been mentioned extensively in the folklore and legends of various cultures in the world, particularly in the far eastern land. Let’s explore what roles they place in these cultures:

Monkeys in Japanese culture

  • In the Shinto tradition, there is mention of a monkey-like God called “Sarutahiko Okami” who is believed to be guarding the crossroad between earth and heaven. Sarutahiko has appeared in many Japanese mythical tales and stories as well.
  • In the folktale of “Saru Kani Gassan”, the monkey plays an evil character of a trickster that tricks a crab into giving him the rice ball and pays him with seed in return. Years later, when the seed grows into a fruit-bearing tree, and the innocent crab asks the monkey to help her to grab the fruit, he uses the fruit to hurt her. In the end, the children of the crab take revenge on the monkey.
  • In another popular Japanese folklore, “Momotaro”, a monkey, a dog, and a pheasant, are befriended by the hero.
  • Monkeys are also believed to be horse guardians or “Umayagami” in the Japanese tradition because the Japanese believe that keeping monkeys in a horse stable can make their horses immune to any disease.

The Chinese culture

  • In the Chinese zodiac, there are 12 zodiac animals of which the monkeys are ninth. These monkeys, for the Chinese, are symbolic of cleverness. Therefore, in China, “your child is like a monkey” is a compliment and not an insult.
  • Along with several other Asian countries, the Chinese also had a peculiar culture of eating the brain of a monkey that is alive. While it might sound brutal and disgusting to many, it was an expensive cuisine in China that only the most elite could afford. However, this practice was banned in China in 1934.


Monkey totem

The monkey totem enters your life when you’ve been living a mundane, monotonous life for a long time and need a change of scene. You can rely on their adventurous and humorous personality to give you the best time of your life. Their totem will show you what it means not to have a care in life.

Under their influence, every single day is like a grand party where you’re the center of attraction. But you must know when to stop and go back to your real life.


Monkey spirit animal

If living in the moment is the mantra of your life, the spirits of the monkey are certainly guiding you. These people are not much for planning ahead; at any given time, you will find them to be completely invested in where they are and what they’re doing. They’ve understood that life is short and don’t intend to waste a moment of it cribbing or fretting about the future.

These people are also totally carefree, which is half the reason why they are so fun to be around. They somehow remind you of your childhood days, when the silliest things meant the world to you, and you were far away from the struggles of real life.

But their carefree nature often ends up becoming a curse for them as they grow up. They are bad at most of the adult things, especially handling their responsibilities.

This is why, while they are fun to hang out with, being related to them is not altogether a pleasant experience. Whether they’re your sibling or cousin, you will always find yourself worrying about how they will get through life. Because some of these people can’t stand the continuous pestering of their family, they often end up distancing themselves from those who care about them, which is very unhealthy.

These people also struggle to choose a vocation in life. For them, simply earning their livelihood isn’t enough. They want a profession that interests and excites them, which is certainly not easy to find. Most of them keep switching jobs merely because they are bored. But once they find something that truly appeals to them, they have the potential to shine brighter than anyone else.

As a life partner, you can call these people a little difficult to put up with. While dating them in your twenties can feel invigorating, by your thirties, you might begin to grow tired of them.

You keep expecting them to grow up for years, only to realize at last that they’re incapable of that. These people can be much happier in life with a partner who is exactly like themselves.


Conclusion: Monkey Symbolism and Spiritual Meaning

While monkeys are more popular for their stealing and imitation, these animals have plenty of positive lessons to teach us as well. They’re high on life and believe in making the most of every single moment. Their childlike playfulness and curiosity are infectious, and they also prefer living in tight-knit troops to staying alone. As your spirit animals, they will teach you how to truly appreciate the priceless gift that’s life.


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