Since the dawn of time, the lion has been a formidable beast. Its qualities and appearance have earned it a reputation that’s carried through the ages and made its way into religion, spirituality, and broader culture. From dreams and art to religion and tattoos – the lion is everywhere. So let’s take a closer look at the lion’s spiritual meaning, symbolism, dream meanings, and more.
Lion Symbolism & Meaning
Lions have a diverse and unique symbolism. They’ve been depicted across the world for millennia, and their sun-kissed manes, unmistakable prowess, and regal connotations have earned them a compelling spiritual reputation.
The earliest depictions of the lion were found in the Ardèche region of France, in the Chauvet cave. These paintings were some of the earliest examples of palaeolithic cave art in the world, dating somewhere between 15,000 to 32,000 years ago.
Some of the earliest historical records found in Egypt depicted lions as cultural figures that protected people and rulers. For the Egyptians, the symbolism of the lion was complex – not only did they represent protection and the neutralization of chaos, but in some depictions, they symbolized danger.
Sekhmet, the goddess of war, was depicted as a woman with the head of a lioness. Sekhmet was one of the major deities in ancient Egypt – she was a sun deity, warrior, and protector. Gods like Maahes and Dedun, and Sekhmet’s parallel deity Bast were also depicted as Lions. In Ancient Egypt, Pharaohs liked to either hunt lions or keep them as pets to show they had control over them. For the Egyptians, the lion was considered the fiercest warrior of the wild.
Sculptures of lions have been used for thousands of years, particularly in public buildings, to create a sense of majesty. In fact, some evidence suggests that this use of lion sculptures has been established since the beginning of civilization. You’ll find statues of lions at many sacred sites across the world, from Greece and Iran to Egypt and Turkey.
Depictions of the Lion can be seen elsewhere, too. The lion can be found everywhere, from Gnostic and Arthurian legends to Islamic and Hindu-Buddhist traditions. In the majority of depictions, you’ll find the lion shares several key characteristics: bravery, chivalry, courage, knightly virtue, and connotations with royalty.
Lion Spirit Animal
In many spiritual cultures and traditions, a spirit animal is a spirit that protects a person and guides them on a journey towards self-improvement or happiness. The spirit animal will share characteristics and qualities with the person they guide.
Many people believe that a spirit animal enters your life in times of adversity. They can guide you through hardship and share a unique and personal power with you.
As a spirit animal, the lion gives you masculinity, power, authority, strength, and courage. With the lion by your side, you’re in control of your own destiny. You’ll find that you’re not afraid to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, and this newfound strength and confidence will give you a commanding presence that gives you the power to lead others, and yourself, through hardship.
The lion’s attributes of sun and solar energy, esteem, wealth, ferocity, and strength will also give you an energy of strength and independence that’s cloaked by a quiet and gentle demeanour. The lion is also associated with loyalty and honor. Lion people defend and stand by their loved ones to death.
Lion Totem Animal
Totem animals are well-documented in Native American traditions. They’re said to act as spiritual guides and present opportunities for self-discovery and a deeper connection with ourselves. You’ll often feel a special bond with this animal through shared characteristics, a special interest, or other interactions.
As a totem animal, the lion has three primary meanings: family, strength, and energy. It brings the totem gifts of wisdom, wealth, strength, loyalty, and courage. If this is your totem animal, you can expect to face any challenge without fear or reserve. Lion people are also believed to be the best natural-born leaders. They often have a unique ability to work well with others and take the helm in a time of crisis. They can steer even the most uncooperative of people to a shared end goal.
Lion people are often masters of meditation and trancework – though they have a wild side filled with courage and a sense of adventure, they also have an admirable ability to remain silent and motionless. They can remain the primary observer while still blending seamlessly into the background.
Lion Power Animal
It’s universally believed that the lion is the true power animal. Out in the wild, lions are fearless and rule their domains with their majesty and strength. It’s believed that you can summon the power of the lion if you’re feeling fearful or anxious, want to nurture stronger bonds with your loved ones, or if you want to increase your confidence.
Summoning the power of the lion can be done through meditation – it’s often best to do this in your own home. Get comfortable in a quiet space, and meditate into a state of complete calmness and openness. Once you’re here, you can simply speak out loud and summon an incantation by asking the astral world to reveal your spirit animal to you or to connect you directly with the lion. Express that you’re ready to open this communication – many people have found that this is the most effective way to channel the power and spirit of the lion.
Lion Native American Symbolism
Lions are a popular feature in Native American stories and often appear in the stories of various tribes. The lion is usually depicted as a wise, warm-hearted, cunning, and courageous leader.
For example, the Hopi tribe, who live largely on the Hopi reservation in Arizona, consider the lion to be a guardian of their people. They often look to the lion for advice during rituals and times of hardship.
The Navajo tribe, one of the largest tribes of American Indians in the world, used to live in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah. The Navajo tribe also considers the lion’s spirit to be the protector and guardian of their people.
Lion Celtic Symbolism
In Irish clans and Irish literature, the lion appears on coats of arms and helmets and represents a gathering of warriors preparing for battle. The lion was placed on helmets to symbolize its role as a guardian in battle.
Lion Christianity Symbolism
In Christianity, there are several biblical accounts of Lions – the most notable is the Book of Daniel, a 2nd-Century BCE biblical apocalypse set in the 6th Century. Daniel is famously thrown into a lion’s den and survives against all odds. In the Hebrew Bible, Samson (or “man of the sun” in Hebrew) kills a lion with his bare hands. For Christians, the lion also represented St Mark and Christ’s power.
Dreams are the window to the soul. Each dream can have a different and complex meaning – so, what does it mean if you see a lion? Let’s look at some of the most common lion dreams and what they mean.
Being Attacked By A Lion
If you dream of being attacked by a lion, your subconscious may be trying to warn you that you’re letting some difficulties in your life overpower you. This could be anything from a challenging friendship or relationship to your mindset preventing your success and happiness.
This dream can also be a sign that you’re being too controlling. If you feel the need to control every small detail of your life, and you’re not comfortable with situations or experiences that you can’t dictate, your dream may be warning you. If you’re to live life to the full and learn the lessons you’re being dealt, you need to trust the universe and divine timing to guide you through your experiences.
Being Chased By A Lion
Being chased by a lion in your dream could suggest that you’re running away from your power. This could be due to a lack of self-worth, fear of the future, or failure to embrace your inner truth or confidence.
Dreaming Of A Running Lion
Having a dream of a running lion is a positive experience. If you dream of a lion running towards you and you’re not feeling scared, this could represent that you’re facing your fears head-on and embracing your strength and power. The message here is to keep doing what you’re doing and trust that the lion won’t hurt you. Facing these fears will only make you stronger.
Far Eastern Lion Symbolic Meanings
In Indian mythology, the Lion is closely associated with Lord Vishnu. According to Indian mythology and lore, Lord Vishnu once came to earth as part lion and part man, intending to eradicate evil in the world. This story helped reinforce the lion’s associations with creating stability and harmony.
In Chinese culture, Lions were often depicted as the guardians of temples. They have close associations with protection, strength, and royalty – notably the Han dynasty. The Han dynasty introduced the lion as the guardian of the Empire’s Dharma.
In the Shinto temples of Japan, lion statues are placed outside to represent protection. To Sri Lankans, the lion is the national symbol.
Lion Tattoo Meaning
Lions are a popular choice of tattoo. There are all kinds of symbolism ascribed to lion tattoos, but most people get them to represent the following:
Lions have appeared on the shields of ancient warriors, and they’ve been a symbol of courage for millennia. Some people get a lion tattoo to symbolize their own courage and fearlessness – particularly if they’ve overcome adversity in their life.
Lions are enormous animals, and some claim they’ve killed humans with just one strike of their paw. They’re also well adapted and have become one of the most successful predators on the planet. They have a powerful bite of 650 PSI, and they can weigh anywhere between 130 to 190kg. Drawings and historical depictions have documented this well, making them a popular choice of tattoo for those who want to express their power.
Lion Spiritual Meaning
Lions are famously known as the kings of the jungle. Spiritually, the lion represents the sun and gold. Its connotations with the sun are based on astronomical and astrological beliefs (more on that later!), and its associations with gold are somewhat related to alchemy – lions are associated with the attributes of gold.
In esoteric studies, the lion also appears in the Tarot. It’s represented on the strength card of the Major Arcana – this has reinforced the universal spiritual belief and physical truth that lions symbolize strength.
It’s commonly believed that the lion is a reminder that we are powerful and divine. It may appear in our lives to share spiritual messages with us, such as:
- To remember our power
- To show authority, stand up for ourselves, and lead with love
- To have courage and faith
- To defend your principles
Lion In Astrology & Zodiac Signs
In astrology, the Lion is the symbol for Leo – the fifth sign of the Zodiac. This applies to people born between the 22nd of July and the 23rd of August. Leos are also a fixed sign ruled by the sun, and because they’re a fire sign, known for their passionate nature, warmheartedness, and zest for life. They’re often daring, creative and bold, and can come with a hot temper.
Because Leo is ruled by the sun, they often boast a celestial, dazzling, and ethereal nature. Leo is symbolized by the lion (usually the lion’s mane) and two halves of the heart. However, other images can include the ruling planet sun and the Leo glyph. Each zodiac has its unique symbol with a rich mythological history behind it. Ancient astrologers defined the zodiac signs by corresponding them with the legends and myths that surrounded the twelve constellations that share the same names. The most famous constellation myth is the story of Hercules and Nemean.
Hercules was ordered to slay the Nemean lion, which was depicted as a monstrous and murderous beast that terrorized the country. Hercules didn’t know that the lion’s mane was immune to the damage of all weapons. Eventually, Hercules managed to trap the lion in a cave, hit it with a club, and kill it with his bare hands. Once the lion was dead, Hercules skinned it and wore the skin for protection, as it was impervious to damage.
Hawaiian, African, & Greek Myth & Symbolic Meanings
Although spirit animals used to dominate Hawaiian spirituality, the lion isn’t significant. However, Greek mythology and African culture have some interesting symbolic meanings for the lion.
The lion represents authority, wisdom, and courage in African culture. Rituals to cure and heal illness are common practices, and lions, hares, and hyenas are central to these rituals. Often, healers will use body parts from these animals as ingredients to concoctions that promote healing. This practice is widespread amongst voodoo healers in Ghana.
Lions have also appeared in Greek mythology. The most notable appearance was the story of the Nemean Lion, which Hercules eventually slew. In Greek myths, monsters that are part lion make the most appearances. The Manticore is a Greek monster that originated in Persia, and the manticore resembles the sphinx (a lion with a human head). These monsters also had poisonous spikes at the end of their tails to throw at their enemies.
Lions In Cuban & African Folklore
Lions don’t really appear in Cuban folklore, but they often appear in African folklore tales. But, according to African legend, although lions have become one of the most fearsome predators, they started small and gentle, causing little bother to other animals.
However, the other animals became worried. The lion was so quiet, and there was no way to tell when they were being hunted. The other animals held a meeting to figure out how to make the lion easier to spot. Eventually, one of the animals decided to give the lion a loud roar that would always announce its arrival.
One of the animals at the meeting, a hare, visited the lion and tricked him into believing his brother was gravely ill. The lion asked the hare to lead him to his brother, but the trek was so long, the lion had to take a rest in a shady spot. Once asleep, the hare and his honeyguide bird found a nearby bee’s nest, stole some honeycomb, and poured it over the lion’s paws. When the bees found their honeycomb was missing and saw it placed on the lion’s paws, they swarmed together to attack the lion. Feeling such immense pain, the lion let out an almighty ‘roar’ which changed the lion’s voice forever.
Lion Symbolic Meanings
Now we’ve covered the primary spiritual, symbolic, and dream meanings of the lion, let’s take a look at this final round up of some of the most popular symbolic meanings of the lion.
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