Lion Symbolism & Meaning
Lion symbolism and meaning is associated with regal grace and power among other things.
Do you need the courage to pounce on an opportunity or defeat a foe? Are you having trouble speaking your truth? Lion, as a Spirit, Totem, and Power Animal, can help! Lion teaches you how to walk your path with integrity and honor! Delve into Lion symbolism and meaning to find out how your Animal Spirit Guide can inspire, strengthen, and motivate you.
Throughout the ancient world, the vibrant yellow mane of the Lion made it a natural solar symbol. Like the Sun, the King of the Beasts comes roaring into your spiritual journey with raw power, courage, and aggressiveness. But, by way of dichotomy, Cats are nocturnal. So, Lion Energy cloaks your spirit in the lunar power of night. When the world sleeps, the Big Cats are everywhere yet unseen, communicating yet unheard, and prowling yet immobile.
Depictions of Lions are millennia-old throughout the world. Some revered the Lioness as the provider for the pride, and the meaning of providence and hunting skill remains intact. In Egypt, for example, the Sphinx has Lion’s body, which was a sacred symbol of the Goddess who safeguarded the pharaohs in the afterlife. The Sun God Mithras was a Solar deity associated with Lion and often portrayed with a Lion’s head.
Historians suggest the playful Goddess of Dance and Protection appeared in early illustrations as having a Lioness’ head instead of a domesticated Cat. Other deities in the Egyptian pantheon had Lion likenesses, including the fierce friend to women and children, Sekhmet, and Bast’s son, Maahes, a War God.
Middle Eastern stories and art show the Lion as representing great kings. The Gods and Goddesses in the region often had Lion companions. Examples include Ishtar with a Lion-drawn chariot, and Inanna, who stands on the backs of two female Lions. The images allude to the Lion as an emblem of great strength and authority. The connection intensifies further with the entrance to great cities and temples featuring Lion gates and sculptures flanking statues as protectors.
Chinese Buddhist portray the Lion as a creature of great majesty. It’s believed Lions safeguard humans from ghosts and demons. As a result, the architecture throughout China includes Lions at entryways, standing vigilant guard. People in Tibet have similar beliefs, associating protection with the Snow Lion. The critical difference is fearless Snow Lions represent the Earth Element instead of Fire associations.
It would seem the Lion Spirit has a soft, Pussycat side too. In the story of Androcles and the Lion, the Great Cat remembers kindnesses rendered to it. After helping the Lion rid itself of a thorn and infection, the creature returns the favor by refusing to devour the young slave at the Circus Maximus. Then, the Lion shows its affection for Androcles in front of the Emperor; because of this ancient story, Lion symbolism includes devotion and kindness toward those who show mercy and compassion.
Lion Spirit Animal
If the Lion Spirit Animal makes you aware of its presence, the majestic Cat introduces you to its uncommon strength and vitality. Lion often appears to a person who needs to reclaim their space and take back a leadership role in life. The same Spirit Animal finds brave and outspoken people with leadership potential attractive.
Lioness, as a Spirit Animal, likes people who nurture and protect the weak. The Lioness shows its young all they need to know to fend for themselves without ever leaving them vulnerable. The female Lion offers teachings on how to care for your pride and get your family members to cooperate with one another.
With a Lion Animal Spirit at your side, your personality is a magnet for others, and often people want to emulate that something special about you. Spiritual leaders who have a Lion Spirit Guide are firm in their convictions. They will defend religious freedom and the choice of finding God in one’s own way.
When Lion accompanies you in life, you will learn much about banishing fear and self-expression. Remain humble with Lion, knowing your demeanor matters. The Feline can teach you much about handling your power with the greatest degree of effectiveness.
Lion Totem Animal
If Lion is your Totem Animal, you face challenges head-on, without fear. You are cunning and have the strength to outlast the competition, no matter what. Though a bit of a wild child, if you’ve got the heart of a Lion, you have the uncanny ability to stay motionless and silent; your ease with stillness and silence makes you a natural in meditation and trancework.
Lion People make for some of the best leaders. They are adept at dealing with less-than-cooperative groups. Lion People dare to make whatever changes necessary to protect the figurative pride.
Lion Power Animal
Be prepared when you invoke Lion as a Power Animal. It is a mighty Animal Ally that will charge into your life with all the power and fiery, energetic influence of the Noon-Day Sun. There is no hesitancy here–rather pure knowledge. Lion People know their place in the proverbial food chain and the world–at the apex. Lion People are a proud lot with commanding communication skills and a natural knack for leadership.
Walking with the Lion as a Power Animal means being ready for trouble, but not seeking it. Channeling Lion Energy encourages you to do what is noble and right with conviction. Don’t fear to use Lion’s Power, waiting in the grasses of your aura. Letting even just a little your defensive nature out puts predators on notice, particularly when it comes to your ego and pride. Disrespect is not in a Lion Person’s vocabulary, let alone the word “quit.”
The sacred triad of character traits, honor, respect, and gratitude sum up Lion’s metaphysical associations. Honor means appreciation. Respect comes by earning it, and gratitude goes hand in hand with walking in the world as a spiritual being.
Native American Lion Symbolism
Mountain Lions appear in various tribes’ stories as the symbol of a wise leader who knows his intention and leads with confidence. Lions are cunning, noble, and courageous. In certain regions, Lion Spirit causes fear because of the dangerous power they wield and the fact the Lion walks in silent moccasins.
The Hopi revere Lion as a Sacred Guardian for the tribe to whom they look for ongoing advice during a ritual. The creature is an expert hunter who is reliable and fearless in the face of any challenge. The symbolism of bravery and its ties to the Lion also appears in the lore of Navajo Tribes where they consider the Lion Spirit a Guardian and Protector.
Pueblo people known as the Keres, believed that Mountain Lion was the protector and one of the most significant Spirit Helpers.
The link between Mountain Lion and Creation Myths are also found among the Tewa people. For the Tewa, an explorer was sent to the Upper Realms from the primordial realm called Sipofene, and returned as a Mountain Lion.
In the lore of the Zuni people, Mountian Lion was associated with Northern direction and was considered a God of the North.
What does a Lion represent when this majestic animal shows up in your dreams?
Seeing a sitting Lion in a dream may portend an upcoming change in your role to being a leader or teacher. When it happens, the Lion reminds you to follow its lesson of leading with dignity. Such positions imply trust from others, so, it’s time to trust yourself.
An aggressive Lion in your dream represents personal anger and offense bubbling under your calm veneer. Or it may mean a verbal assault coming from another. There is a genuine threat here with malicious intent behind it. Try to lie low or go to someone who can help protect you.
Lions sitting and lying together while basking in the hot Savanna Sun’s rays are an excellent sign. The dream means people in your life find comfort in your presence. Within your pride, honesty and loyalty are something to treasure.
In many Native cultures, the silent, stalking predation of Mountain Lion is associated with dealing with silence and changes of consciousness in your own life.
Are you being called to listen in silence? Perhaps it is not necessary to fear Mountain Lion, but rather to still your own mind and walk steadily on your path, approaching your goals with stealth and determination.
Lion Christianity Symbolism
What does a Lion represent in Christian culture?
In Christian lore, Lion is a significant symbol for power and has come to represent the righteousness associated with early Christian Emperors and Kings.
Actual Biblical references are not as flattering. Lion, as King of the Beasts and a ferocious predator, is used as a symbol for evil.
“The Devil, as a roaring Lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Is a line from the Bible. In fact, Lion is referenced numerous times in the Bible.
Both as a symbol of strength, the power of Kings and entire Nations, and the symbol of courage, fearlessness, ferocity, watchfulness and so forth.
The Lion’s attributes are described both in positive and righteous ways but also in terms of evil and cunning, the greed of powerful Kings and aggressive pursuit of power but also powerful leaders who are benevolent.
There is a reference to Christ being the “Lion of Judah,” for example.
God is referred to as a Lion at some points, but also as a sign of wealth, warfare and corruption of power.
There are descriptions of a powerful Lion who also has wings and this image is later featured in some of the earlier depictions of Tarot Cards such as The World and The Wheel of Fortune, as the winged Lion meaning is associated with Mark the Evangelist, and became synonymous with mysticism in various occult traditions.
Medieval Christian culture gave rise to a renewed interest in Lion as a symbol both of Kings, royalty, bravery and courageousness.
Since people believed that Lion cubs were born inanimate and required the breath of their father to bring them to life, the symbolism and meaning of Lion is also associated with patriarchal lineage and power of vitality.
In some Christian lore, the Lion is also a symbol of the Virgin Mary and the protective nature of mother Lions.
Lion’s meaning in association with gold and the Sun led to this animal having special symbolism among Christian occultists and early Alchemists as well.
Lion was thought to represent devotion and loyalty but also greed and misuse of power, courage and also predatory nature.
Lion African Symbolism
What do Lions symbolize in African cultures?
We often look to Egypt as a prime example of a culture in which Lion was revered as a symbol of royalty and of the Sun. The Ancient Egyptians saw Lion as both protector and bringer of chaos.
The Goddess Sekhmet is part Lion and part woman, and therefore represents the power of Lion and Lion’s association with Solar Deities.
The Aker Lions of Ancient Egypt are found prevalently in papyri and connote looking to the left and to the right, representing past and future.
This symbolic portrayal of Lion remains obscure, but we can note that it correlates to the much later depictions of a pair of Sphinx on the Chariot card representing ambivalence or being caught between past and future and being stuck in the present.
Some believe this symbol represents the importance of staying in the present or the connection to the present as creating a link to infinity.
What do Lions symbolize in other aspects of African culture?
Elsewhere in African culture, Lion is considered to have unique powers and can bestow protective energy. Lioness is associated with protecting the family and feminine power.
Though considered King of the Beasts in many cultures, this was not the role Lion tends to play in African cultures. Instead, in African cultures, Lion is seen as an important judge or overseer.
To the Zulu people, Lion is considered a bridge between the world of the carnivores and herbivores because Lion eats both grass and other animals.
Lion Celtic Symbolism
What does a Lion symbolize in Celtic cultures?
Celtic cultures inherited tales and myths related to Lion meaning from other cultures such as Egyptian and Greek. Lion symbolism has been found on graves believed to belong to early Celtic people north of the Alps.
There are also tales of Lion ornamentation on the battle helmets used in warfare, perhaps to grant the power of the Lion to those in battle. This is especially true of the heraldic imagery of the Winged Lion.
Symbols such as the Griffin, part Eagle and part Lion, figure in Celtic lore. This symbol represents the blend of virtue and vice and also the ferocity, insight, wisdom and power of both the eagle and Lion.
Lion Far Eastern Symbolism
What does a Lion represent to Eastern cultures?
Lions are significant in Indian mythology and lore. Lion represents one of the guises of Lord Vishnu. In particular, there is a story of Vishnu coming to Earth as part Lion and part Man, with the mission of ridding the world of evil.
Though he used the guise of the ferocious Lion, the intention was to restore peace and balance the Earth’s Dharma. Thus, Lion meaning is associated with knowing when to use your power to create order and peace.
How do you manage power or power struggles? Do you know when to bare your teeth and intimidate your adversary or when it’s best to use diplomacy?
Hindu texts describe both Vishnu and Parvati as having attributes related to Lion.
Lion meaning in Japan is also related to protection. Komu-ina statues, or statues of protective Lion, are stationed outside of Shinto temples.
In this culture, the Lion Dance is one way homage is paid to the power of Lion. In this tradition, Kara-shishi is the Lion said to fiercely protect her young and with whom people connect in this ritual.
What does a Lion symbolize in Chinese culture?
Lion, in Chinese culture, represents protection as well and is shown as a guardian of temples. In China, Lion is associated with strength, royalty and the power of the Han dynasty.
Lion as guardian of an Empire’s Dharma was a concept introduced under the Han dynasty. Thus, Lion was associated with the Divine link between rulers and the fate of the Empire as a whole.
Buddha was said to have the strength and wisdom of a Lion, thus Lion is also a favorable symbol, used to describe both inner and outer strength.
Though there are presently no Lions in Sri Lanka, the Lion is a significant symbol here. The national symbol for Sri Lanka, the Land of Lions, is the Lion. Thus, Lion’s symbolism still is prevalent and important to many far eastern cultures.
Lion in Astrology & Zodiac Signs
In Western Astrology, the Lion represents the sign of Leo. Individuals under Leo’s influence often have a King of the Jungle mentality, making them exceptional bosses, mentors, guides, and instructors. A Leo’s reality is their kingdom in which they are the sole ruler. In relationships, Leos are loving and appreciative of a doting mate. Being in the limelight is where it’s at for a Leo personality.
When using their powers for good, Leos can be almost saint-like. Still, the influence of a Wild Cat also means they can be aloof, independent, secretive, and sometimes aggressive when it comes to going after what they want. Like all outstanding leaders, though, Leos are the truest humanitarians. Leo personalities view all people as theirs to protect and serve.
Lion Tattoo Meaning
When you meet someone who has a Lion tattoo, they are no doubt displaying it proudly. Much like Lion, who is associated with pride in one’s self and open self-expression, a person wearing a Lion tattoo is sure of who they are and has plenty of confidence to share.
What does a Lion represent when found on a tattoo?
As a tattoo, Lion represents a number of characteristics. It could be the person you’ve met is a Leo and is boldly displaying this aspect of their identity, as Leos are inclined to do.
But even if this is not the case, a Lion represents bravery, courage, protective instincts and confidence and all these traits may lead someone to decorate their body with a Lion tattoo.
If you are considering a Lion tattoo, this can be a good way to connect with your inner power. You can portray your courageous and bold nature with this tattoo.
Lion Spiritual Meaning
What do Lions symbolize, spiritually?
A Lion tattoo may also remind you to be proud of who you are and what you have accomplished, while also symbolizing your devotion to family, children and those you love.
By studying the attributes of this animal, you can easily derive the spiritual meaning of Lion. Stealth and the need to balance when you are outspoken and when you are silent.
Lions roar loud enough to declare their presence and claim their territory. But they also stalk silently when they need to sneak up on their prey.
Sometimes, it is best to remain silent about your intentions. In this regard, Lion correlates to the Witch’s pyramid: To Know, To Will, To Dare and To Keep Silent.
These principles serve as a reminder that in order for you to be effective as a magickal practitioner, you may need to draw on your Lion-like qualities of daring, persevering and also pursuing your goals with discretion.
In a more mundane sense, it can be best to not advertise your strategy sometimes. Whether you’re working on a patent or trying to get a promotion at work, you may want to follow Lion’s guidance and remain silent until your strategy is completed.
Lion in traditional Tarot depictions is an interesting reminder of this animal’s special significance. Lion represents the Ego and identity, much as it does in the Astrological depiction of the sign of Leo and Leo’s ruling planet, the Sun.
Yet Lion also appears in various contexts.
In the Strength Card, the Lion is tamed by a Maiden who places her hand into the Lion’s mouth and calmly subdues the mighty animal. The spiritual meaning of Lion is therefore the balance between strength through leveraging emotional power as opposed to strength through giving in to brute instincts.
In the Two of Cups, the Winged Lion’s head is depicted representing a powerful and even divinely fated connection or alliance between two people. Perhaps a couple who sees each other as the King and Queen in their lives can easily understand the Lion symbolism in this card.
In the Wheel of Fortune and World, the same four animals are used to represent the four corners and four directions. The Eagle, Person, Bull and Lion. These four animals are associated with four directions and also quadruplicity in the Zodiac, so the signs of Taurus, Scorpio (associated with an Eagle as well as Scorpion), Leo (the Lion) and Aquarius (the Angel/Human/humanitarian).
These are the four Fixed Signs, and therefore they symbolize pillars that are unmovable.
In some depictions, each being is winged.
The Lion or Winged Lion in these two cards represents one of the four pillars of strength and universal wisdom that serves as a guidepost, either as you wade through changes in the Wheel of Fortune or as you embrace completion and transition in the World card.
The Lion as Sphinx appears in the Chariot, a card of stagnation or stalemate between past and present. The Chariot is also a vehicle and as such, represents the journey or path you are on. The Lion/Sphinx represents that which pulls you forward and that which holds you back, two opposite aspects of yourself which may need to be brought into alignment.
Lion represents the bonds to family and responsibility toward community. As much as Lion represents Ego and individuality, in a spiritual sense, Lion connotes the obligation of the individual to serve society in some larger way.
Thus even as Lion symbolism relates to Kings, Queens, Emperors and royalty, Lion also reminds us that power is not just about status and wealth but also about a sacred obligation to be a protector and steward of resources.
How are you being guided to protect, help, and be a beacon, for others?
Lion’s association with royalty can also be linked to the Crown Chakra and the connection between the mundane and spiritual realms.
Do you need to speak from a higher philosophical standpoint? Are you compelled to take the lead and help others find empowerment and success? Are you encouraging of others because you’re confident in yourself first?
If so, you are working on a spiritual path that is aligned with Lion energy.
Lion Symbolic Meanings Key
- Inner Knowledge