Elephant Symbolism: The Elephant as an Animal Totem and Spirit Animal

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Elephant Symbolism

Elephants are one of the most fascinating animals on the planet. They are massive creatures with a long history that is steeped in symbolism and spiritual meaning. In many cultures, the elephant is considered a spirit animal or totem. There are many reasons for this, but some of the most common include their strength, intelligence, and loyalty.

Born To Be Mild: How The Elephant Symbolism Develops A Big Unselfish Heart In Us

Often seen as massive and intimidating figures, elephants are gentle giants that play a vital role in their natural habitats. Typically peaceful yet aggressive when needed, these colossal creatures might be some of the smartest animals you have ever met. While they are native only to Africa and some parts of Asia, they are perceived to possess significant symbolic meanings across the planet. A formidable image of power and strength, let’s stomp into the magnificent elephant symbolism and see just how awesome they really are.

“From sun in the summer. From rain when it’s fall-ish, I’m going to protect them. No matter how small-ish!”

–Dr. Seuss’ Horton the Elephant
  • Elephant spiritual Symbolism Elephant Symbolism: The Elephant as an Animal Totem and Spirit Animal
  • Lotus flower Elephant Symbolism: The Elephant as an Animal Totem and Spirit Animal

Elephant symbolic meaning

Characterized by their impressive and extremely purposeful tusks, the elephant symbolism offers meaningful messages that go beyond their towering physical prominence. Charging into our presence to remind us why nurturing ourselves is of the utmost importance, here’s what it means when you encounter an elephant.

The sharpest knife on the shelf

Boasting a brain that weighs over 11 pounds, elephants are considered to have the same intellect as humans. Revered for their ability to use tools, show grief, and engage in complex communication, these imposing creatures indicate how we can utilize our wit and intelligence to get through life’s countless obstacles. Capable of showing feelings and emotions, they tell us how we should see things reasonably and to never allow the opinion of others to affect our decisions and judgments.

A photographic memory

Using their brilliance and strong sense, these perceptive mammals can keep food and water sources in mind, as well as places and situations that may have caused them to feel endangered. Their huge presence signifies our capacity for long-lasting memory, all while instilling in us the value of staying in touch with our past. Although not all of our experiences are beneficial and helpful, learning from them, particularly from our failures, can help ensure a productive present and a wonderful future.

Elephant symbolic meaning

Developing soft spots

Often spotted stomping around with their herd, these highly social animals thrive in large groups which they stay with for countless years. Observed to take turns in keeping an eye on their young as well as go beyond their skills to keep the herd safe from harm, the elephant serves as our reminder to never take our family for granted for they are the ones who will stick with us regardless of how little or enormous our achievements are. These mammoths would often present themselves to remind us how we too can be effective leaders if only we would commit our hearts and minds to it.

Watching your every step

Admired by many for being protective of their herd, elephants would wield and sway their strong tusks to make sure that predators are kept at bay. While it implies our need to keep our eyes open for signs of dangers or threats that may unexpectedly happen, the presence of this kind-natured creature could also mean that a higher level of protection is required for the ones we hold dear in our hearts.

Elephant spiritual Symbolism

Elephant spirit animal

Hailed as the largest mammals on the planet, the elephants’ ability to recognize themselves in the mirror symbolizes a call for us to enhance our self-awareness. They remind us how we should tend to our needs first for us to have the heart to reach out to others.

Making use of their powerful trunk to draw and spray water on themselves all before coating their skin with dust as a protective cover, these naturally humongous creatures teach us the importance of loving ourselves as it enables us to provide spiritual and emotional nourishment to our family and friends.

Known for using their trunk to dig and create watering holes as well as having a memory that holds long, their appearance signifies our need to delve into our soul and to find painful memories that we need to let go of.

Respected for showing great love and protection for their family, they come into our lives as a reminder of how we, too, should strive to develop close-knit relationships.

However, since such intimate and warm emotions may not always be returned as expected, we should seek and embrace those who are more worthy of our loyalty and care. Seen to stand their ground when predators threaten their herd, they urge us to be protective not just of our families but of our talents, beliefs, and spiritual ideas as well.

Elephant spirit animal

Totem animal 

Along with its amazing characteristic of going through a pregnancy that stretches for up to twenty-two months, having the elephant as your totem animal inspires you to be more caring of your elders and the young. While you in no way use your strength to intimidate or pick on others, you are always ready to transform into a fearsome mammoth each time you sense disturbances and trouble.

Thriving in large matriarch-led herds, they inspire us not just to strengthen our relationships but to restore and uphold our loyalty to the group. Utilizing their powerful tusks to smash through obstacles, the elephant symbolism comes to our presence as a reminder that our skills and talents are still the best tools to use in overcoming challenges and difficulties.

As the elephant’s natural skin color represents a balance between life’s gentle and light-hearted moments, as well as the darkness that unexpectedly arises, it encourages us to recognize the complexity of the situation quickly and leads us to solutions easily.

Featuring an appearance that represents impartiality, deep understanding, and compromise, having these creatures of magnificent size and features as totem provides us with the wisdom to recognize the symbolic messages that the elephant sprinkles upon us.

elephant Totem animal

The elephant symbolism in different cultures

In some cultures, the elephant is seen as a sacred being that is often worshiped and given offerings. It is also believed to be a representation of good luck, fortune, and fertility.

In Hinduism, this divine animal is linked with one of their most important deities known as Ganesha who has an elephant head. According to their belief, he is the remover of obstacles and the god of new beginnings. To the Hindus, the elephant also signifies royalty, power, strength (see also top 10 animals that represent strength), and wisdom.

hindu culture elephant

For the Chinese zodiac calendar system, those born under the year of the elephant are said to be calm, patient individuals with great memories.

Lastly, Native Americans see the elephant as a creator god that is often associated with rain. elephants are also believed to be a link between the physical and spiritual world. Elephants did not exist in North America, but the tribes hunted large animals similar to the elephant, known as the mammoths.

In the bible, the elephant is not specifically mentioned but is thought to be included in a reference to the Behemoth in Job 40:15-24. Some Christians see the elephant as a representation of Christ.

In all cultures, the elephant symbolizes strong femininity as an animal.

Meaning of dreaming of elephants

Dreaming of an elephant can have different meanings depending on the context of the dream. It could represent good luck, fortune, strength, power, and wisdom. Alternatively, it could also symbolize obstacles that need to be overcome or a new beginning. If you see a baby elephant in your dream, it may represent innocence and purity.

To dream of riding an elephant may suggest that you are being influenced by someone who is more powerful than you. To dream of being chased by an elephant may indicate that you are feeling overwhelmed or overpowered in some situations.

Your dream about an elephant might be telling you that it’s time to take charge of your life and stop letting other people influence the way in which things happen. The powerful creatures are known for being sensitive, yet they can’t allow others’ emotions to get underneath their skin because if this happens there will only ever seem like one thing left: sadness!

You need some practicality when dealing with difficult situations so try getting away from all those negative influences – go on holiday or spend quality bonding moments together as families without any smartphones around (sometimes we just want peace – see animals that represent peace).

elephant dream

What does an elephant tattoo mean?

Elephant tattoos can have various meanings depending on how they are designed. They can represent good luck, strength, power, wisdom (see animals that represent wisdom), and determination. They can also be a symbol of the family (see top 9 animals that represent family), loyalty, and unity. Elephant tattoos can also be seen as a representation of the spiritual world or as a reminder to stay grounded.

Elephant tattoos are often perceived as symbols of strength and loyalty. They also have the ability to represent divinity and good luck in some cultures. When chosen carefully by your tattoo artist an elephant can make for a striking design on any body part that you choose- whether it’s shoulder blade or leg bone is up to them!

elephant tattoo meaning Elephant Symbolism: The Elephant as an Animal Totem and Spirit Animal


Barreling through with a host of remarkable and meaningful spiritual messages, elephants are enormous creatures that show great strength and sensitivity. An image of unselfishness, intelligence, and grace, shows us that living a well-balanced life not only helps develop deep-rooted relationships but also leads to personal and spiritual progress.

While we are often swept away by their capacity for loyalty and devotion, the elephant symbolism of gentleness, love for the family, and protection capture our hearts and imagination.

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Author: Rachel Meyer
Meet Rachel, a veterinarian in Pasadena, California, and a valued contributor to our blog. Rachel brings a wealth of expertise to the table, with a particular focus on the intersection of symbolism, nature, and spirituality. She shares her knowledge and insights on our blog on regular basis.

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