By Kara Reynolds | Guest Writer
The answer lies in ancient belief systems that some still follow today. Many nature-based religions believe that everything has a spirit, from rocks and trees to various critters. Furthermore, certain creatures symbolize different things in the Jungian collective unconscious. Here’s the symbolism behind coming across these 11 innocuous animals.
Have you noticed that bowl of food you put out for the neighbourhood feral cats disappearing with an alarming quickness? You might want to fire up your outdoor security camera and check the footage. Raccoons are notorious for stealing cat food, carrying it off in their wee hands like little bandits complete with face masks. Perhaps it’s not surprising that these critters symbolize deceit and theft.
However, please don’t give them an undeserved bad rap for wanting to eat. While these creatures can become a nuisance if one takes up residence in your attic, they’re incredibly clever animals. Some people successfully keep them as pets, although you should never corner one in the wild.
Is there anything more elegant than the long, sweeping neck of a crane? These animals symbolize beauty and harmony, given their stately appearance.
They’re also recognized as a talisman for longevity. A Japanese legend says that folding 1,000 paper cranes will result in you receiving one wish granted. Many people with health issues participate in this ritual to symbolize hope for a speedy and lasting recovery.
You might associate rabbits with Easter here in the western world. It’s appropriate that they are related to this holiday, as this critter has long been a symbol of new beginnings.
Coming across a rabbit is considered good luck, so no worries if one of these critters crosses your path. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they also symbolize haste. Remember the story of “The Tortoise and the Hare?”
Do you associate black cats with Halloween? The scariest thing about these creatures might be letting them out of your sight when trick-or-treaters appear. Some less than savoury sorts take amusement harming the poor animals.
In many cultures, black cats are considered lucky. For example, a strange black cat appearing at your home is viewed as a sign of coming prosperity in Scotland. The same goes in Japan.
These creatures might be small – but they can cause big problems, as any homeowner plagued by them can attest. However, they have a happier symbolic meaning. Mice represent the idea that you can accomplish anything you set out to do in life despite your size. If you’re facing a difficult challenge, consider it a lucky omen if a mouse crosses your path.
They look like crosses between dogs and cats, but this species is uniquely its own. Foxes inhabit every continent on earth except for Antarctica, and their symbolism appears across various cultures.
Foxes are associated with wiliness, independence, brilliance and good luck. They’re a fortunate animal to stumble across if you’re facing an intricate problem that requires considerable cleverness to untangle.
These delicate birds come in the most striking colours. Their little wings flutter so quickly that you might hear one well before you ever see one.
Hummingbirds represent various things across cultures, but their symbolism is universally positive. Because they create such a high vibration with their wings, some people consider them signs of spiritual ascendency.
Do you recoil in terror when you think of snakes? While you probably don’t want to get too up close and personal with a western diamondback, coming across some species is good luck. The ancient Chinese believe this animal was a sign of prolonged life. Perhaps that legend influenced the development of the medical caduceus symbol.
Here’s another creepy-crawly critter that’s considered good luck to encounter. In many cultures worldwide, a spider hanging from a web symbolizes wealth and prosperity, like fortunes raining down from the heavens.
Money worries or not, you might not want to kill spiders that you see in your home. These beneficial creatures eat other, less savoury household pests like cockroaches.
Owls come out at night, so perhaps it’s not surprising that they’re associated with magic, mysticism and the occult. Who can forget the owls in the “Harry Potter” series?
These birds were also favourites of the Greek goddess Athena. As such, they also symbolize wisdom. If you stumble across one of these creatures on your journeys, you might be in for a bit of life-changing knowledge.
Crows and Ravens
Ever since Edgar Allan Poe wrote his classic poem “The Raven,” people have associated these big black birds with death. However, they’re considered lucky in many cultures.
Like owls, ravens are symbolic of knowledge and wisdom. Some cultures also consider them psychopomps, carrying spirit messages from the world of the dead to that of the living. Perhaps that’s another reason for their undeserved, unsavoury reputation – these birds are among the most intelligent in the animal kingdom.
Have you come across any one of these 11 innocuous animals in your travels lately? If so, what is the symbolism trying to tell you?
About the Author
Kara Reynolds is the Editor-in-Chief and founder of Momish Magazine. Mom, stepmom, and wife – Kara wants to normalize big blended families. She enjoys Pilates, peanut butter, and pinot grigio – but not at the same time.