Symbolic Hippopotamus Meaning
In my work with interpreting animal symbolism, I've found some critters reveal themselves boldly and clearly. These animals are straightforward and generous with their messages. Others, not-so-much. Creatures that like to keep their secrets (like crows, for example) demand strong commitments from us. They expect us to work for enlightenment. Then there are creatures that swing both ways. The hippopotamus is one of these tricky creatures...candid with some messages, covert with others.
I say this because there are lots of surface facts and features about the hippo that are super-obvious. For example, symbolic hippopotamus meaning tends to take aim on the hippo's girth. The sheer size of this animal is boggling. It's also very obvious. They can weigh in around 4 tons, and play second fiddle in size only to the elephant (sometimes rhinoceros). So where's the symbolic meaning in being gigantic? There are a couple of meanings. It implies big potential, big growth, and big power in cultural symbolism. It may also be symbolic of laziness and sloth according to certain religious symbology. But these are just surface observations. We owe it to ourselves and the hippo to see beyond the meaning of size. To start our contemplation about hippopotamus meanings, here's a keen list of keywords:
Consider how the hippo maneuvers their size. They spend most of their time in the water (in fact, their name means "river horse"). Water displaces gravity - making us (and hippos) feel significantly lighter. On land, hippos have these neat feet which are four-toed. This displaces gravity too, making it easier for the hippo to lug around its weight. When we weigh these aspects, we could say symbolic hippopotamus meaning deals with embracing our magnitude and finding ways to manage our greatness.
Huh? Manage our greatness? I hear it now: "Avia, what does that mean!?" We are all big. We are all bold. We are all great. It's true. We are all born to be dynamic. We are all born to expand and succeed. It's the process of growing up, being socialized, taking a few hard knocks in life that beats the bigness out of us. Hippo reminds us of our birthright for greatness.
Some of us can't accept we are powerful and worthy of success. Others of us abuse our power and use success as a weapon. Hippopotamus is an illustration of how to love and accept our big, beautiful selves. Conversely, hippo shows us how to temper and manage our bold, massive beauty. It does this by settling in cool, calm waters. It eases into its greatness with the uplifting help of water. Being bold and successful isn't always easy. We need to have a buoy - something that sustains and balances us. Success means responsibility, and that often means burdens. Hippo reminds us to find ways to embrace our achievements, while finding a support system to insure our continued progress.
As mentioned, hippos are mostly water-dwellers. Water is symbolic of nifty stuff like: Emotion, Dreams, Intuition, Creativity. By association, symbolic hippopotamus meaning deals with the same themes. It's how the hippo behaves with water that's key to interpreting the meaning of it all. As mentioned, the hippo utilizes water to buoy its weight. As water is a creative element, this suggests a symbolic dialogue that says something like...
Pretty cool, eh? What's even more cool is that's just the surface of symbolic hippopotamus meaning. Take for example the hippo's notorious temper. It's got a reputation for being very cranky. That's putting it lightly, really. The hippo can be super-aggressive. A lot of that aggression takes place in water. Did you know hippos are mostly territorial in water? Not so much on land (unless defending their babies). This is symbolic fodder. When hippo shows up in our life, it may be a sign that we are defensive about certain things. Specifically, defensive about our dreams and emotions. As water is where hippo is most territorial, it suggests a message of standing up for our territory in terms of dreams, goals, creative ambitions.
Let's see...what other kind of symbolic messages might the hippo have to offer? What about that huge yap of theirs?
Now, I thought I had a big mouth - but hippo has me beat. It can open its mouth 180 degrees! Hippo also has crushingly strong jaws and teeth. What's this all about on a symbolic level? Well, hippos don't 'open wiiiide' for the dentist, that's for sure. But they often open wide to scare predators and territorial trespassers away. Symbolically, jaws, teeth and mouth represent vocal expression. A strong jaw means we have strong ideas we want to speak about. If the hippo is paying you a visit, it may be a message to open wide, speak your mind, verbally defend your creative territory!
I've touched on a lot of meanings the hippo holds for us. If the hippo is your totem animal, these themes will be particularly important.
Hippo is a great totem for those among us who have a hard time accepting our potential. Hippo reminds us we are born to be great. It also reminds us that support can be found to help us achieve our potential.
Hippo is also a totem for people who would prefer to live in their own creative realms. Those of us who can't stand the weight of reality can identify with the hippo. Folks who thrive in their own dream world, and take only brief peeks into the 'real' world can get help from hippo. Hippo reminds us that we can submerge ourselves in our creative rivers and let our imaginations float. It's all good! However, the hippo tells us we must also go on land (reality) from time to time. Remember those hippo feet - divinely designed to sustain their weight. Hippo lets you know you are divinely designed to sustain the weight of the outside world too.
Speaking of creativity - the hippo is a champion for defending creative ideas. The hippo and water are symbolic of fertility and creating good stuff. Hippos' territorial and aggressive nature can bolster our belief in our ideals. Call upon hippo-power when you need to defend your creative territory. Beckon for hippo-hulk-smash-energy when you need to speak your mind and stand up for your creative ideals.
Hippo might also be a great spirit-companion for those of us who want to get pregnant. Whoa? Yeah. In Egyptian mythology the hippo is synonymous with fertility, pregnancy and motherhood. Egyptians observed hippos lounging about the Nile river. That river is a symbol of life. It was the source of their livelihood, providing food, water, cleanliness. This connects the hippo with life.
Egyptians also noticed how terrifying mothers were in protecting their calves. In essence, do NOT mess with a baby hippo, 'cause mamma's gonna go Medieval on you! The symbolism in this mythology isn't necessarily physical pregnancy. Although, Egyptians invoked hippo energy for the purpose of getting pregnant, having a successful term and delivery. If you're nowhere near the idea of literal pregnancy or motherhood...consider it as a metaphor. Is there a creative idea you want to give birth to? Call upon hippo to help you conceive your idea, nurture it and protect the dickens out of it!
Who knew the hippo had so much diversity to offer in symbolism? I did. Hee hee. Well, not totally true. As mentioned in the opening paragraph, I knew the surface stuff. I knew the symbolic connection between hippo and water. And the biggety bigness of hippo was a no-brainer key point in symbolism. But as far as the nuances of asserting our creative selves - I had to really meditate on all that.
There's more to hippopotamus meaning and messages, you know. If the hippo is floating down the rivers of your life - pay attention. Ask hippo why it's there, and what it means. Odds are, you'll find many more meanings than what I've written here.
May all your hippo encounters be big, bold and beautiful,
An Important Note About Signs, Symbols and Their Meanings
Signs and symbols cultivate their meanings according to culture, context, passage of time in society as well as mass societal opinion. What's cool and highly important is that signs and symbols earn their most powerful meanings from our own personal perspectives.
This website strives to provide you with the best, time-honored information when defining signs and symbols. However, in the final analysis, "Beauty (and symbolism) is in the eye of the beholder."
Having said that, it's in our best interest to invest the time to do personal research on symbolic events happening to us. This website is just one perspective in an ocean of variety and diversity in the realm of symbolism. So dive in! There is a whole universe of deeper meanings to explore! You can start your research by clicking on the links at the end or to the side of this page. Odds are good I've got a follow-up article about this symbolic topic. ;)
As always, thanks for your willingness to learn more about the language of symbolism. It's a language that is universal and everywhere. It's super-groovy to travel with you on your symbolic path, and maybe offer a little translation along the way. Thanks for reading and exploring!