Octopus is a beautiful, enchanting, and unique-looking ocean creature.
In spiritualism and symbolism, much of an octopus’s meaning comes from its tentacles. More so in the way that they move, and the way that they are used to entangle an octopus’s prey.
Oftentimes, the octopus’s arms symbolize a problem, and the many layers, or facets of that problem.
In this article, we will take you through the meaning of octopus across many cultures and practices. We will also analyze a few related symbols, like squids and the Kraken. Such to give you a comprehensive understanding of the spiritual meaning of an octopus.
Octopus as a Spirit Animal
If you have an octopus as your spirit animal, then you are intelligent. Also, you are mysterious, and able to easily adapt and blend in with your environment.
You also have strong characteristics of flexibility, but can be a little unpredictable. You love both nature and the ocean. One of your favorite past times is walking along the shoreline at the beach.
The octopus spirit animal encourages you to adapt to whatever situation you are put in. It lets you know that things will change, and nothing lasts forever.
Octopuses can easily escape traps, or tanks. So having an octopus as a spirit animal can symbolize regeneration and renewal in your life.
If you are in a phase of your life where you feel like you are just going through the motions and feeling stuck or dejected, then the octopus will guide you through these feelings.
Seek his strength and guidance so that you can grow and develop new skills/strengths.
Octopus as a Totem Animal
If you have an octopus as your totem animal, then your element is water, and your mineral is brass.
The plant or tree that you are linked to is the Elder Tree. Thus, your personality type is the hider/camouflager, or the grasper.
Those with octopuses as their totem animals tend to be very in true with their emotions. They can also be quite solitary people.
If they are feeling threatened, they can withdraw to safety, or attack, as they have quite a volatile temper. However, they can easily grasp opportunities that come their way and end up on top.
Their characteristics are those of intelligence, reflection, and even the ability to be manipulative.
Just like their totem animals, these people are clever and tend to do really well in both their personal and professional lives, though, they can be at risk of taking on more than they can handle.
The negative traits of those with the octopus as their totem animal tend to be things like arrogance and self-assurance. If they are your boss, they can be a little demanding and difficult.
They can also have a stinging and sarcastic sense of humor, that can hurt other people.
Octopus as a Power Animal
The octopus has all the necessary qualities of a power animal.
If you have the octopus as your power animal, then you are very good at getting yourself out of tough situations, because of your innate intelligence and out-of-the-box thinking. You also know a lot about human nature.
If you have an octopus as your power animal then it will be with you to power through any kind of situation that demands expression, via your ability for flexibility and adaptability.
Octopuses in Native American Symbolism
Much of the symbolism that is intertwined with Native American culture and spirituality comes from moral tales that were told (by elders, to their children).
As well as entertaining the children, these stories were supposed to encourage acceptable behavior in children.
One of the most famous Native American stories involves an octopus – it is the tale of the Raven and the Octopus.
In this story, a woman with eight braids (for the eight octopus tentacles), was digging for clams at the beach, just on the edge of the water, whilst the tide was low.
The raven, disguised as a man with black hair, began to bother and irritate the octopus whilst she was digging, by repeatedly asking him what he was doing. Although she paid him no attention, he kept repeating his question again and again.
Every time he asked the question, he would move closer to the woman. When he got close enough, she used her brads to ensnare the raven and drag him into the ocean to drown as the time came in.
The Octopus knows she will survive the tide, as she was able to breathe water. The villagers manage to take him from the water, and revive him, with the help of the Raven’s wise cousin, the Crow.
The Raven never bothered the Octopus again.
Octopuses in Celtic Symbolism
The octopus is especially widespread throughout Scandi and Celtic symbolism and spirituality.
When represented in Scandinavian art, the arms of the octopus tend to be straight, rather than coiled (as is shown in Mycenaean Greek representations). This has led to the octopus being linked with the Swastika symbol throughout parts of Europe.
Before the swastika was co-opted by the Nazi party, it was considered to be a spiritual amulet to bring good luck, well-being, and long life.
The symbolic meanings of the swastika then became linked with the octopus.
The swastika and subsequently the octopus became linked to female reproductive organs, the cowry, the Pterocera, and magic.
The octopus took on a lot of maternal and creation legends. It was linked to the Goddess Mother, and in Polynesian myth, it rose from the primordial water and gave birth to two children – Fire and Water.
In Britain and the Republic of Ireland, the octopus (although in some retelling, it is believed to be the spider) is a symbol for the Mother.
The octopus is even associated with the dragon, a creature that is common through Celtic mythology, and the Celtic God of Nine Rays is believed to be an octopus.
Octopuses in Christianity Symbolism
Fish and sea life symbolism is rampant within Christianity. For example, in much artwork, the fish symbolized Jesus Christ.
As the fish represents Jesus, almost all sea creatures were given a sacred meaning in the Bible. It even claimed that solemn fish had the ability to heal the sick with contact from their heavenly charged bodies.
Christians considered the octopus, squid, and mighty Kraken to be remarkable nautical freaks.
Fishermen believed them to be divine and god-like, with some Christian legends likening the Kraken to the great cosmic fish in antiquity. Only of these fish would survive, and they went on to create the world and will die when the world ends.
In Christian art, the octopus is thought to symbolize mystery, flexibility, intelligence, fluidity, unpredictability, and adaptability.
In its natural habitat, the octopus lives on the ever-changing ocean floor is subject to the waxing and waning of the moon and does not have a skeleton. Together this gives them the ability to move quickly, and escape.
Christian spirituality meant for the octopus to represent creativity, and encourage one to move towards their goals in an unorthodox way.
When the octopus appears in your dreams, there are a few different meanings or situations that your dreams are trying to communicate to you.
- An octopus attacking or ensnaring you in your dreams symbolizes that, in some way, your unconscious mind is pulling you into its realm. It can become a common image in dreams for those who are resisting the call from their unconscious mind to explore deeper down in their psyche. Trouble could also be on the horizon.
- Dreaming of octopuses can also symbolize far-reaching influence, especially harmful and destructive ones.
- Eight is a fortunate number, that can symbolize commitment, eternal life, fortitude, and abundance. However, the octopus can change color, and folklore has portrayed them as fickle-minded characters, meaning they are often known as the ‘cheat of the animal world’, and dreaming of octopuses might mean infidelity.
- Seeing an octopus in your dreams can also mean you have a sense of adventure. Seeing an octopus killed means that you are taking a moral stand.
Far Eastern Octopus Symbolic Meanings
There is a lot of Japanese art depicting both the octopus and the squid, much of it in a humorous manner. Often, they show the creature with tentacles in knots, and a surprised look on its face.
In Japanese cuisine, the octopus is an important food source. Nowadays, people consider it a Japanese delicacy.
It is an integral ingredient to dishes like sushi, and takoyaki (a type of octopus ball pancake). In Japan, you can buy octopus from your local fishmongers’ pre-boiled.
Some parts of Japan considered the octopus as a sex symbol, as it is able to make amorous advances to eight diving maidens in some folklore.
In other tales, the octopus can transform itself into humans, so that they can seduce women.
Some people in rural parts of the country believe that the symbol of the octopus can help to prevent whooping cough. If someone does contract whooping cough, then they may draw the eight legs of the octopus onto paper and paste onto the earthen stove.
In China, the octopus takes on a political meaning and symbolism.
In a 1952 speech, Casey used a metaphor to state that western allies were debating whether they should hack away at the tentacles or the head of the Chinese octopus.
Therefore, the octopus took on the meaning of an all-enveloping communist state, that strangles any type of individuality or dissent.
In many parts of the world, there is a link between the Swastika (which, pre-Nazi party, was a Sanskrit symbol for well-being, and the octopus.
The Kuna people of Panama believed the swastika symbol is a representation of the octopus that created the world.
Octopus Tattoo Meaning
Tattoos of octopuses show power, strength, intelligence, a manifestation of desires, and flexibility.
For women, they may get octopus tattoos to show strength when they experienced abuse or bullied in childhood.
It symbolizes survival and strength and shows that these characteristics is what got them out of a dangerous situation.
Octopuses are one of the most popular tattoos for sailors to get, in order to honor the sea. Likewise, squids are a common maritime tattoo on both sailors and submariners.
In general, octopus tattoos often indicate a ‘grasper’ personality type – someone who is always on the lookout for opportunities and is then quick to grab them and achieve their goals.
If you are thinking of getting an octopus tattoo, make sure that you analyze the design and setting of the image, as the tattoo meaning can change with depiction. Look through a few options before picking your final design.
When the octopus glides into your life, it tells you that a whole new world of opportunities is about to open up to you. To take full advantage of these new possibilities, you should fully explore your creative and intuitive self.
Their eight legs represent infinity, which can be a message about your past life, or any of the lessons that you have learned from the wheel of life if you subscribe to metaphysical beliefs.
Often, in spirituality, the octopus challenges us to look at our true emotions honestly, that we may have pushed down.
Octopus Spiritual Meaning
On a general spiritual level, the water element highly influenced and tied the symbolism of an octopus.
Hence, it often links to cleaning insight and movement. Lightworkers sometimes consider Octopus medicine as linked with sacred femininity.
Octopus in Astrology and the Zodiac Signs
In the zodiac calendar, the octopus links to the Zodiacal sign of Cancer, which corresponds to both the summer solstice, and with depths of water.
African Myth & Symbolic Meanings
In African art stylized the shapes of snails and octopuses in such a way that conveys a sense of slow movement, alongside characteristics of persistence and determination.
It shares similarities with the symbol for the sun, which has a circular face and three arms/legs sprouting in three directions.
Africans also used it as a symbol on objects like Egyptian scarabs and a Thracian statuette of a nude Goddess. This indicates that African culture used it as a life symbol.
The Neolithic period in Africa also had crud idol objects that represents forms which people derived from octopus.
Lastly, people may have used it as a conventional symbol of the ocean, and of the watery fertilizing principle.
Octopus Symbolic Meaning (Bullet Summary)
The octopus is spiritually important to many cultures. Here’s a quick summary of some meaning of the octopus in symbolism and spirituality:
- An ability to adapt
- Incoming opportunities to grasp
- Feminine power
- Intelligence and wit
- Renewal and regeneration.
The octopus is a significant symbol for cultures and religions across the world, with symbolic meanings ranging from sex, fertility, and sacred femininity, all the way to intelligence, mystery, adaptability, and flexibility.
If you find yourself resonating with the octopus (either as an animal or as a symbol), then you are probably clever.
This is particularly true when it comes to out-of-the-box thinking, and solving problems in ways that other people might not think of.
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