Often called buffalo as often as they are called bison, American bison are actually not very closely related to other buffalo species we find in the world today. However, we will be using both terms to describe bison for this spiritual guide.
The bison is perhaps one of the biggest symbols of conservation and nature when it comes to American wildlife.
They are not just one of the biggest hoofed animals in the world, they’re one of the biggest land animals left in North America today. They’re actually the longest and heaviest animals around in the US today, with only the moose being taller.
In this guide we’re going to look into the symbolism of the bison in great detail. We’ll look at their spirit animal meaning, how they are perceived in different cultures, dream interpretations, and more.
Bison Symbolism & Meaning
Having used to roam all across the Great Plains, American buffalo are frequently tied closely to the Earth, and as a part of the wilder web of nature.
Being so big, bison are also symbols of great strength, their giant bodies dwarfing virtually every other type of hoofed animal in the country. Powerful hooves carried their great weight as they run across the great wilds of America’s heartland. It’s a beautiful if somewhat intimidating sight.
The fact that it is so often peaceful is also evidence of their great kindness and attunement with the wider world. Knowing that every other creature on this planet is also valued and should be respected.
Bison Spirit Animal
The bison is an animal with much to teach us, especially if we are looking to learn how to better live with the world around us.
In so much of modern-day culture, it can feel like so much is wasted from what we use. Food. Clothing. Travel. A sense of community. So many times when it comes to to our amenities, it can feel like so much of our day-to-day is disconnected from each part and from other people. We don’t feel the need to share in our bounties with other people.
Historically, Native Americans hunted bison and nothing was wasted. The meat, the fur, the bones, none of it. The bison is an animal that you should try to call on if you want more guidance on how you limit your impact on the natural world around you, and how to better not waste what you use in your life.
The bison are also great teachers when it comes to how to better handle our family lives. Whilst a mother raise bison calf, the herd is often just as important. The herd helps when it comes to helping young buffalo reach adulthood. Thus, they become healthy and dependable as it grows up.
Remember that when you go about trying to raise a family of your own. Make sure that you look to the bison for guidance in those difficult moments of parenting, and to rely on those around to help give your child the best formative years they can have.
No one is an island, especially when it comes to raising our little ones right.
Bison Totem Animal
Those of us lucky enough to be born with the buffalo or bison as their totem animal have a gift of affinity with their more spiritual sides, especially that part which connects them to the natural world.
As a part of that natural cycle, you are keenly aware that nothing is fixed in life. Whether that’s out in nature, or even just your home and work life. The only true constant is that things can change.
Being able to understand that often can help us deal with many other aspects of our life that seem to bug us. Because of that, it is a major boon if you feel that change is a comfortable place for you.
Because you are aware of the power that change can have on your life, it also means that you understand the importance of what does remain the same, especially amongst your loved ones.
If the bison is your totem animal, you are someone who honors those that stay with you through your life. You should also feel a great love for those that do move in and out of your life.
Remember, change affects us all differently, so take pleasure in the people that enter your life as much as you might feel sadness for those that change, leave, or move elsewhere. And remember to rejoice if they do come back to your life.
And, of course, this ability to move with change also takes great courage to uphold. Some people really struggle with the fact that some things, even the best of times, might not last forever.
This strength that you carry, that helps you weather those negative energies that others would attribute to change, means that fear does not fill you as the winds of time pass you by, and allows you to see the good that it brings with it.
Remember to treasure that strength, and to share it with others whenever possible.
Bison Power Animal
The bison will be a great source of spiritual willpower for you if you feel that you aren’t strong enough to face a task that is ahead of you. As we stated in the last section, change often brings great challenges, and not everyone can deal with it when the time comes.
The bison, meanwhile, is a creature that is not so easily fazed by such a Herculean obstacle. In the wild, bison were almost driven to the brink of oblivion, with their numbers cut from tens of millions to just a few hundred.
But did the bison become a timid creature that fled at the first sign of danger as it has recovered? It certainly hasn’t! Even teetering on the edge of falling into the pit of extinction that has destroyed so many other animals hasn’t fazed this incredible creature.
Remember that when you need to rely on a source of strength in your toughest of moments. Draw from the bison, keep yourself planted, and let those fears of change wash over and past you.
When the dust settles, and you are left standing where others might have crumbled or given up, remember and thank the strength of the bison as you plot your next course and goal.
A person’s dreams can often be a window into their subconscious mind, and a way for us to see what troubles us without us knowing. Those invisible and unheard thoughts can often manifest themselves as animals, with a whole host of possible meanings attached to each spiritual form.
Remember to consider your own emotions and thoughts and how a dream animal might reflect them as you experience these deep delves into your subconscious dreaming world.
There may be something that has come up in your waking world that has put long-term plans you have had on hold, and that frustration is psychically manifesting as the bison, a creature who remains steadfast in the face of those things that would push it aside.
Try to remember what emotions exactly you were feeling whilst you saw the buffalo in your dreams. Were you feeling frustrated whilst looking at it? Was there a sense that something was out of your reach as you saw it?
If that’s the case, it may be time to consider where your priorities are in the short-term future. Make sure you are mindful if you are offered new opportunities. While perhaps great in some ways, it may take you away from your current goal and ambitions.
Also, try to keep in mind the physical state the buffalo was in when you saw it. Was it a healthy, content animal? A part of a bigger herd? Then it could mean that you have found a place and community in your life that makes you feel well both in spirit and body.
Was the buffalo sick or ill? Then you should show caution as you start any new endeavors you are starting. Even a small injury on a buffalo in the wild can be enough to spell its doom, so you need to keep your eyes peeled for any factors that might hinder your future projects. You don’t want them ballooning out of your control.
Bison tattoos have been growing in popularity over the last few decades and years. There are plenty of good reasons for this.
For many people who are of Native American descent, the bison being such a symbolic animal in folklore, history, and beliefs means that having a tattoo of such an important animal is a way for them to establish some kind of connection with their heritage ancestors.
People might also get a tattoo of a buffalo if they feel strongly about helping and maintaining nature. As the conservation movement has continued to gain traction over the past few years, many people have turned to interesting ways to try to bring and keep many animals in the public consciousness.
This is why you often see tattoos of animals such as leopards, tigers, pandas, and, in this case, the bison.
Having been brought back from the brink of extinction since the beginning of the 20th century, they have since become a symbol of resilience. They also symbolize the success of conservation efforts, as well as the danger of uncontrolled human hunting and activity in their homes.
Having a tattoo of an animal like this is often a way to start conversations about subjects that might otherwise be intrusive to bring up.
Bison Spiritual Meaning
Many considers bison as majestic masters of the open plains. In their prime, they would have symbolized the plentiful, healthy bounty that mother earth provides.
They represent a spiritual connection to the land and earth that we live on. It represents a breathing, living life form with its own energy that must be respected. Otherwise, we must face the consequences for abusing it.
In today’s disconnected world, the buffalo reminds us to maintain those connections we do have, whether emotional or spiritual. Like the buffalo, we should aspire to try and continue to build those connections as we reach out to make new ones.
As we’ve stated many times, the buffalo are also great symbols of strength to draw on. Their bodies are obviously very muscular, able to carry themselves over large distances. But as we’ve already discussed, it should become clear that buffalo also have great spiritual strength to them, in how they operate as a large family, and their resilience in the face of hardship.
They remind us that strength is not just something the biggest of us have. It is something that cannot be gauged by how many pounds something is, or how tall or big it is.
Strength is as much energy that people carry within them, and most would rather not have to use that on others, remaining humble and keeping it to themselves. It’s only in those tough times when that strength makes itself known.
Bison Astrology & Zodiac Signs
Because of their many similarities, both in spirit, and the role they play in the natural world, bison are often associated with the Chinese year of the buffalo, or the ox in the Vietnamese year cycle.
Like the bison, you are sociable and love spending time with others. You do not tend to wear your emotions on your sleeve like other people might, however. Whilst you love being in the company of people, you are usually quite collected in how you hold yourself.
Some people might take this relative lack of expressiveness as a genuine lack of affection, but don’t let that stop you from being who you are. Those that are close to you know you well, and understand how you operate, and that even if you’re as cool as a cucumber on the outside, you’re still feeling the fun on the inside.
That being said, remember to let other people into your life when the time calls for it. You have a habit of keeping a distance between yourself and others, only letting them in when you’re ready.
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. Quite the opposite! It’s important to set boundaries for yourself with others. Just make sure that distance doesn’t turn into hostility over time, or you might stop letting people in altogether.
Bison Native American Mythology
Bison are practically synonymous with Native American Culture. Not only were they the main source of food for tribes across North America for thousands of years, but they were also a symbol of unity amongst those within a group, as well as both a symbol of great strength, both for the individual, and the community as a whole.
Because of their impotence in Native American life, many stories have arisen that include them.
Amongst the Sioux people, for example, the White Buffalo Woman, also known as Ptesan-Wi by those cultures she comes from (the name can vary depending on the tribe), was the person who introduced the sacred pipe to the people of that area, as well as the ‘Seven Sacred Rites’ to the Lakota people.
Because the natural ingredients used in the smoking rituals are also tied deeply to the earth itself, and the cycles in which humans operate around the world.
The image of a white buffalo itself holds a lot of spiritual significance in Native American folklore amongst the Lakota people, as it both functions as a blessing and a warning, as it would signal a time of great change for the people in the area.
Bison Symbolic Meanings
Here are just some of the meanings for bison and buffalo we have covered:
- Sacred Rites & Offerings
- Strength & Power
- Plenty & Abundance
So, the bison is clearly an icon for those who want to keep in touch with the spiritual aspect of the natural world. As we’ve seen, they stand for so many aspects, for strength, for family, for toughness, and for moving with change.
We mustn’t allow ourselves to forget what this graceful creature represents. And we hope this guide has helped you understand why we should protect them, and communicate with them as well.
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