Symbolic Chameleon Meanings
Symbolic Chameleon Meanings
Once upon a long, long time ago, I worked in a pet store. It was my very first ‘real’ job, and I loved it. The store carried innumerable exotic animals.
From tarantulas to octopus, scorpions to chinchillas, snakes to skinks…you get the idea. I worked there for several years. As a result, I worked every job in the store – from cleaning out the aviary to working the cash register.
One of my jobs entailed cleaning the reptile tanks, provide fresh water and feed crickets to the scaly babies in the store. You might guess where this is going…I fell in love with the chameleons! These little guys were the most charming lizards in my mind. Why? Plenty of reasons.
Namely, most of the lizards in the pet store seemed very primal, with baseline personalities. Not the chameleon. These guys seemed to have a shining personality. They were always willing to be held, never minding a perch on my arm. Where other lizards seemed to resort to their survival instincts, and scurry in their tanks to escape my reach…chameleons exhibited fearlessness that encouraged human contact. It was almost as if the chameleon was as curious about me, as I was of it. It was an enchanting experience to hold, and behold this creature while it beheld me.
There’s tons of symbolic chameleon meanings to discover. They have so much to teach us, starting with that element of curiosity I observed while working with them.
“Move like a chameleon, look in front, and watch behind.”~African Proverb
Core Symbolic Chameleon Meanings
One of the most common and obvious features of symbolic chameleon meanings is its ability to change color. The correlation and lesson for us humans is this: Change and adjust with our environment. Most folks (including myself until I did some research) think the chameleon changes color to mimic its environment as a measure of camouflage. This is true. However, the chameleon also changes color according to its mood, temperature and even in mating.
Initially, I wasn’t sure about the symbolic message of changing ourselves to blend in with our environment. This concept smacked of the “shrinking violet” syndrome. You know what I mean…blending in so as not to be seen, not wanting to rock the boat, or avoiding confrontation altogether. But when I learned the chameleon expresses its mood with change of color, that made me smile. Why? Because the symbolic lesson the chameleon teaches is not always adjust for the sake of blending in (hiding from threat). Nope – the chameleon beckons us to don every color of the rainbow with a goal to express ourselves creatively and with flair.
Further, the chameleon reminds us that we are our best barometer. Meaning, our internal intuition and instinct is our natural gauge. When we check in with this internal gauge – really listen to our inner knowing – then we can adjust our energy to achieve homeostasis, relief, security, healthy personal expression and more. Thank you, chameleon, for serving as a marvelous metaphor for this profound ability inherent within each of us!
Chameleons are highly visual. In fact, they are primarily visual hunters. Their eyes move independently. This means, they can have one eye on the prize (a tasty treat), and the other eye focused forward to keep them balanced and coordinated. Humans can take a cue from this on a symbolic level.
Am I suggesting we literally cross our eyes? No. But I am suggesting we expand our metaphorical vision. In other words, we can keep our psychic eye focused on higher ideals, higher vision, higher goals. Simultaneously, we can keep our worldly vision honed on the path that leads us to these higher visions. If the chameleon can focus one eye on its prize while keeping another eye on its foundation – so can we. We can pay attention to our footing – that which grounds us – this might be our values, our family, our work. Simultaneously, we can focus on the loftier views in our souls – the prized vistas of dreams and inspiration.
Chameleons embody that famous quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Adopt the pace of Nature. Her secret is patience.” How so? Well, as far as lizards go, the chameleon is quite slow. It doesn’t skitter around in a flash, but rather takes its own pace. It doesn’t rush, it doesn’t scramble. Why not? Well, it seems the chameleon instinctively knows that all things come in their own good time.
Chameleons are known for going long periods without food. Their slower pace allows them to conserve energy. In essence, this quaint creature understands that the next opportunity is coming – so why rush? This is a huge symbolic lesson for us modern-day humans. The chameleon reminds us that Nature provides. It reminds us to stop pushing and rushing to grab and get. Rather, be connected, stay tuned with the rhythms of Nature – our opportunity will come – if only we are patient and confident our reward will come to us in that perfect moment of calm expectancy.
Symbolic Chameleon Meanings in Legend and Lore
The Bayaka people of Zaire lend Arebati, their sky-god attributes of the chameleon. Arebati is credited for the creation of the Bayaka people. With the chameleon as Arebati’s animal consort, the lizard is considered a life-giver, and sacred. The Bayaka consider the chameleon as nearest to god because it climbs high in the trees.
The Bayaka legend of chameleon-creation goes as such: One day, while sunning in a particularly lovely tree, a chameleon heard the tree mumble something. When the chameleon asked the tree what it was saying, the tree refused to repeat its message. So, the chameleon used its magical powers and split the tree in two. From the fissure came a flood of water – the first water to touch the earth, which created the oceans and continents. One half of the tree became woman, the other half became man. Impressed with the life-giving tree, the chameleon bestowed the tree with fruit. From the ripened fruit came all manner of creatures which populated the earth.
Another legend featuring the chameleon is about Unkulunkulu, an African creator-god. Unkulunkulu entrusted the chameleon to deliver a hopeful message to humans. He wanted them to know they were immortal, that they will have life after death on earth. A grass lizard overheard this conversation between Unkulunkulu and the chameleon. Wanting to impress the god, the grass lizard sped to earth to deliver the message. Being a slow-goer, the chameleon didn’t get the message to the people in time – the grass lizard got to the humans first.
This wouldn’t have been a big deal…but the grass lizard got the message wrong. It told humans that there was no life after death. Basically, when you croak, it’s all over folks. When the chameleon finally got to the people and told them the good news of their immortality – the people didn’t believe him. Their disbelief in the chameleon disappointed Unkulunkulu, and he retracted his gift of life after death to those who did not believe. To those who did believe, however, they were granted immortality. Moral of the story? Grass lizards don’t always get all the details right, and if a chameleon tells you something important – even if a bit delayed – trust the little fellow! LOL. 🙂
Symbolic Chameleon Meanings as a Totem
If the chameleon is your totem, you are assured incredible insight. You are afforded the ability to see far-off challenges, yet also have the vision to see the solution to these challenges. As a chameleon person, you are adept at multi-tasking. You can easily type a memo, talk to your boss, check your latest Facebook stats and enjoy a cup of coffee…all at the same time! 🙂 You don’t necessarily do all this stuff quick-as-a-whip, but you can definitely function on many different levels simultaneously.
Chameleon totems remind us to keep our pace, and not get too ahead of ourselves. If the chameleon is your totem, you tend to be sure-footed. You like to anchor yourself to something solid, and stay there until you know it’s absolutely safe to move onto something else. If you’re a risk-taker, the chameleon will help you to check, check and double check your facts before taking action.
Of course, we can’t talk about chameleon totems without addressing the ability to change our colors. As mentioned, the chameleon changes color for many different reasons. The chameleon has “crayon cunning” – meaning – this creature knows exactly which colorful hue to pull out of his internal crayon box to suit the situation. With the chameleon as your totem, you’ll have the same instinct. Maybe you need to brightly color your attitude to express your mood or woo a partner. Or maybe you feel you should color your energy to match your environment. Whatever the occasion, the chameleon totem-ally will remind you of your internal compass and guide you to the right tact.
I hope you’ve found this article on symbolic chameleon meanings both entertaining and inspirational. The chameleon certainly taught me several lessons, and I’m grateful to this remarkable reptile for all the wisdom it bestows.
If this article intrigued you, don’t stop here! Do more research on symbolic chameleon meanings, and totemism to gain more information about this marvelous creature. The more you connect with the chameleon through research and/or meditation, the more this lovely lizard has to share.
As always, thanks for reading!
Bright chameleon blessings,
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