The Meaning of Different Elephant Symbols
Elephants hold significant meaning in many cultures and symbols of these majestic creatures have been depicted in mythology and religion for thousands of years. There are many meanings and interpretations behind elephant symbols, which are particularly significant in Indian and Asian faiths, including Hinduism and Buddhism.
Strength & Power: In the most general, universal meaning, the elephant symbolizes strength and power. This meaning refers to both the body and the mind. The elephant is also seen as a sort of spirit guide to help us along a journey that requires patience.
Wisdom & Loyalty: Elephant symbolism also represents sensitivity, wisdom, stability, loyalty, intelligence, peace, reliability and determination, which are all seen in the animal's nature when observed in the wild. Elephants are gentle giants, who show great care toward their herd, offspring and elders. This symbolizes responsibility, determination and loyalty.
Patience: Elephants are also a symbol for keeping calm and having patience as elephants are generally calm and mellow creatures, unless their young or herd is threatened. The elephant is very slow to anger and is, therefore, a calming, stable and patient symbol.
Power: In its huge physical form, the elephant could do a lot of damage if it wanted to but it isn't in their nature to be destructive. This makes the elephant symbol so powerful and admirable, as even though they have the power to dominate, they choose to lead a calm and harmonious existence.
In many cultures, elephants are revered and highly respected due to their symbolic meaning. Cultures in most regions across the world hold some sort of value to the elephant as a symbol, which makes it a very powerful and prominent symbol.
It is believed that using elephant symbolism in and around one's household will invite good luck and fortune into one's home, while keeping any negativity out. Tapestries, wall art, figurines and jewellery featuring elephants is very popular.
Elephant Symbolism in Dreams
Dreaming of elephants can have various meanings depending on what the elephant is doing in the dream.
What Does It Mean When You Dream Of An Elephant? - Seeing an elephant in a dream, could suggest that you need to have more patience and understanding of other people. It could also mean that you have been holding onto a specific memory for too long and that it's time to let the past go.
If you're quite an introverted person, the elephant in your dream could merely be a reflection of your own character. Riding on an elephant could indicate that you are someone in control, someone with good leadership qualities.
Dreaming that you are scared of an elephant suggests that you are afraid to confront a serious problem in your life. If you dream that you are an elephant, it means that you need to start expressing yourself and your opinions more.
The Significance of Elephants in Mythology and Religion
Buddhism & Elephants: The significance of elephants in Buddhism stems from ancient legends of Buddha's birth, in which a white elephant played a vital role. Buddha's mother, Queen Maya, did not fall pregnant until she dreamt of a white elephant. The elephant gave her a white lotus flower, circled around her three times and then entered her womb. When she awoke, she knew that the dream was an omen of the divine, and was finally able to conceive a child.
There is also a difference between the meanings of a white elephant and a grey elephant. White elephants are believed to be a symbol of purity, divinity and a calm mind, while grey elephants symbolize an untrained and agitated mind, which tends to wander off from the path toward enlightenment.
Hinduism & Elephants: The elephant is a very powerful and significant symbol in the Hindu faith as one of their favourite gods, Ganesha, is depicted in the form of an elephant. Ganesha is thought to be the remover of obstacles, as well as the god of luck, protection and fortune.
Elephant symbolism in Hindu mythology, is also associated with water and rain because of the god Indra. Indra was the god of thunder, rain, river flows and lightning and was usually depicted riding on a white elephant. Elephants also represented royalty as they were depicted as the mounts of gods, and were ridden by kings in processions.
Christianity & Elephants: In Christianity, elephant symbolism denotes temperance, chastity and patience. They are depicted in many ancient artworks and are thought to represent Adam and Eve in their male and female forms. The Bestiaries, which contain information and stories about almost every animal thought to exist (even imaginary ones), suggest that there are many symbolic meanings to the elephant.
Long ago, it was thought that elephants had no joints in their knees and therefore symbolized the "fall of man". A fallen elephant would represent a person who had fallen into sin. Elephant symbolism was also indicative of chastity as the animals showed no indications of passion.
Certain Asian cultures believe that the world is carried on the back of a cosmic elephant, instead of a tortoise as some other cultures believe. This signifies the power of the elephant as a symbol. In Asia, elephants are revered as they also represent the divine, so there are many ceremonies where offerings are made to elephants.
Chinese Culture & Elephants: In Chinese culture, the elephant is believed to be a symbol of good luck and happiness. In Feng Shui, elephants can also symbolize good luck, wisdom, protection and fertility, depending on the position they're depicted in. An elephant with its trunk raised up represents good luck, while fertility is symbolized when the trunk is down. Two elephants sitting at entrances provide protection.
The significance of elephants in mythology was that it was seen as a cosmic animal that represented the structure of the universe. Their body is composed of four pillars upholding a spherical body, symbolizing power and stability.
African Mythology & Elephants: African mythology depicts the elephant as the wise chief who can objectively settle the disputes of other animals, which has resulted in its symbolic meanings of strength, power and wisdom.
What does the majestic and gentle elephant mean to you? Does it invoke a childhood memory or a recent dream? Do you love these beautiful giants? Tell us in the comments below!
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