Symbolic Meaning of Lions

symbolic meaning of lions

Lion Meanings and Thoughts on Lion Symbolism

The symbolic meaning of lions, as one might imagine, primarily deals with strength.

The fact that it is a nocturnal creature means that the lion is a symbol of authority and command over subconscious thought (as night is an ancient symbol of the subconscious - or dream states).

It's interesting that the lion is considered by many ancient cultures to be a solar animal symbol, however it is primarily a nocturnal creature, conducting its hunting activity mostly at night. Further, the lioness is considered a lunar animal.

This serves as a symbolic message of balance and sound judgment. In that the lion shares the world of both night and day, the lion bears a message of prudence to us. In other words, the lion asks us to not overdo in certain areas of our lives. Rather, keep an even mind and an overall balance in our life activities.

Other than a symbol for strength, other symbolic attributes of the lion include...

Symbolic Meaning of Lion

  • Wisdom
  • Power
  • Royalty
  • Dignity
  • Courage
  • Justice
  • Ferocity
  • Dominion
  • Authority

In Egypt, the lion represented the ferocious heat of the sun and was seen in the likeness of Sekhmet who is the Egyptian goddess known as the Eye of Ra. She is the power that protects the good and annihilates the wicked.

In ancient Greece, lions were identified with Dionysus, Phoebus, Cybele, and Artemis because myth indicates lions drew the chariots for these gods and goddesses. Here, the symbolic meaning of lions revolved around protections and they were viewed as guardians of the dead as well as guardians of palaces, doorways, shrines and thrones. They were also ultimate protectors of hearth and home.

In Hinduism, the lion is an avatar (embodiment or personification) of Vishnu.

In Buddhism the Buddha sits upon the lion as a throne of consistency, strength and wisdom.

In alchemy, the symbolic meaning of lions is associated with the highly idealistic and prized attributes of gold.

Lion Symbolism in Heraldry

The symbolic meaning of lions in England is shown in heraldic art where it is a common emblem of English sovereigns because of these lion-like traits:

  • Honor
  • Courage
  • Royalty
  • Strength
  • Leadership
symbolic lion meaning. Image by David J. Crotty

Lion Meanings in Astrology

As a zodiac symbol - those with the sign of Leo likely possess some lion's personality traits such as:

  • Fiery
  • Loyalty
  • Passionate
  • Intuition
  • Generosity
  • Territorial
  • Controlling
  • Self-confidence

Those born under the sun sign Leo are fiercely independent, confident and in control.

They are creative and influential forces and have the internal power to make positive (or negative) changes in their lives and the lives of others around them.

They are very loyal people, and will defend friend and family honor to the death. My friend Goran Jonsson has perfectly captured the strength and ferocity the Leo represents in his zodiac pendant shown left.

Lions as dream symbols indicate we may feel as though we are being preyed upon, or we are in a position to defend ourselves. Dreaming of lions may also be a sign of our need to get in touch with our emotions, and tame them if necessary.

In esoteric studies, the lion makes its appearance in the Tarot where it is illustrated in the Strength card of the Major Arcana.

When we observe the lion in nature, we detect an easy strength and a natural dignity. The lion is born powerful, and power comes naturally to it. There is no false bravado as the lion has no need of it.

When the lion comes to us it is a sign for us to step into our natural birthright of power. Each of us is born powerful and divine. The lion reminds us of this.

Symbolic Messages the Lion Offers Us

  • Have courage, have faith

  • Stand tall, remember your birthright of power

  • Hold your head high - even in times of conflict - conduct yourself with dignity

  • It may be time to defend something that is dear to your heart - defend it fiercely if you must

  • Perhaps it's time to show your authority (not in a dominating way) but lead others with a loving heart

As with all signs and symbols, the symbolic meaning of lions should be special and personal to each of you. This only provides you with a brief summary of the various symbolic meanings available. Ultimately it is you who determines your own unique and symbolic relationship with the lion.

Special thanks to David J. Crotty for the use of his lion picture (center image).

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!


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