Understanding Animal Symbolism

Understanding animal symbolism

Three animals made themselves known to me this week, prompting me to share with you some information on understanding animal symbolism.

Basic Animal Symbolism Information

For me, signs from nature give me personal insight. They help me sit in the moment, look inward for meaning and ponder whether to adjust my behavior for my well being and the greater good.

Unless the animal is particularly special to me, I first look for recurrences of three, such as 3 individuals in a day or week, a bird call repeated exactly 3 times, or groups of three. Secondly, I look for something unusual. Is the butterfly fluttering all around me? Did the hummingbird stop during their flight to stare directly at me? Lastly, I notice situations that are repeated often like the call of a hawk that seems to vibrate in my body. Although I know she is stating her claim of territory to other hawks, she has chosen to do this precisely when I walk out to get the paper, even though it is at a different time each morning.

Finally, when writing or talking about specific animal symbolism, I use a singular capitalized noun. Looking at the catfish in the photo above, I refer to it as Catfish. I see this individual representing the collective soul of Catfish.

The Animals This Week

  1. Catfish
  2. Bald Eagle
  3. Caterpillar

How the Animals Are Unique

  • Catfish landed on my concrete driveway two feet from a busy two-lane road. It was alive, it’s body perfect, no perforations or damage indicated. Furthermore, it disappeared later without a trace.
  • Bald Eagle exhibited unusual behavior, hunting along the lakeshore 25 feet above the ground, weaving back and forth three times before flying off. Seems like she chose to hunt when I had the perfect vantage point. I was laying on my exercise mat, at the end of my workout, looking through the tall windows on my downstairs porch.
  • Caterpillar caught my attention with three different sized individuals browsing close together. As I videotaped their vastly different eating habits, the youngest one moved too close to the ‘teenager’. Most noteworthy, I witnessed a first for me – aggression in caterpillars.

What Meaning Do These Animals Have?

Using methods in the next section, I select the words that resonate with me. How? I can feel a change in my chest, face, or arms when I read the explanation. Also, I consider what is going on in my life right now. Then I wrote these thoughts in my journal.

  1. Catfish – “Know the power of words and going with the flow.” Make the best of the situation and trust your instincts. Discard what no longer serves you. Catfish indicates an opportunity for growth, emotional balance, and prosperity.
  2. Bald Eagle – Eagle is my Spirit Animal. Therefore I always notice it. She brings me encouragement to stay balanced. “Stay grounded, even when you are soaring high.”
  3. Caterpillar – Since this is the larvae of Butterfly, I receive a message of transformation and emerging. The aggressive behavior I observed reminds me to have strong boundaries around the influence of others.

Three Ways You Can Begin

  1. Open your heart
  2. Observe
  3. Research

For one week, start each day with a simple exercise. Open your heart by sitting in a quiet place, close your eyes and place your non-dominant hand over your heart. Take three slow breaths. Breathe in through your nose and out through your relaxed lips. This will start to open your heart, beginning your journey toward understanding animal symbolism through being in the moment.

Observation is key. Paying attention to nature and your surroundings begins the learning phase of observation. Practice by taking walks alone in your garden, your neighborhood, even while shopping. Solitude and putting away your phone are key to developing this skill.

As you begin to observe nature, everything will seem new or unusual. Primarily, I use two methods of research; Googling ‘spiritual meaning of catfish’, substituting the name of the current animal for catfish, or looking it up in my favorite reference book, Animal-Speak Pocket Guide by Ted Andrews.

Start Small Learning Observation

Observation is a learned skill. Or you may possess an innate ability of observation. If it is foreign to you, start with small steps. Sit in a quiet, well-lit place where you will not be disturbed. Begin by looking at your hands. Start with your thumb. Ask yourself questions about it, using all your senses. Does the nail have a half moon at the base? Touch the nail. Are there ridges? Are the ridges uniform? Is the skin furrowed at the joint? How many furrows do you see? What does it feel like to flex the this joint? Does the joint connected to the bone in the hand move too? Can you move only the thumb joint?

Asking questions is a great way to learn how to observe. Now you are starting on your path to understanding animal symbolism.

I invite you to share in the comments, your thoughts or experiences in observation or anything else this article has stirred up for you. And if you particularly like this article or others, please sign-up for my newsletter where I share much more about my life.

Loving through sharing,
Dawn