symbolic meaning of lions

Symbolic Meaning of Lions

Last Updated on November 1, 2022 by Avia

Strutting Into Symbolic Meaning of Lions

This article on the symbolic meaning of lions and lion totem meanings explores a range of influences the lion has upon us. These kings and queens of the jungle have epic lessons to share. From taking pride in family to taking advantage of every moment to devour the good life – lions are powerful totems and teachers.

The symbolic meaning of lions, as one might imagine, primarily deals with strength, so you’ll see the theme of power repeated often in this article.

But first, I want to address a myth floating around in the animal kingdom about lions.  They are neither nocturnal, nor diurnal. Those are just fancy words that mean lions aren’t primarily day-walkers or night-walkers.

In truth, lions are crepuscular.

Talk about fancy words! If you don’t know what crepuscular means, that’s okay…I had to Google it too.

Animals like lions who are crepuscular are creatures who are most active during twilight. This means lions do their best and busiest work during the times of dusk and dawn. This is big juju. Countless cultures – from Celtic to Native American – view twilight as magical, mystical moments in time. Why? Because it is liminal. That’s just another fancy word that means “neither here, nor there.” Liminal is the space in-between.

On a deep, symbolic level, the space in-between represents 100% pure potential. It’s a place in time where anything can happen.  So here we have the first lesson from the lion.  As you are working, try to put yourself in a suspended state…a state of mind that is open to all ideas and opportunities. It’s a cool way to produce inspired, creative work. The lion knows this for sure! Some of the lion’s best pickings for food and survival show up at twilight. The lion utilizes the best moment for its ultimate benefit. As humans, we should do the same. Before taking one step into a task or project – we must put ourselves into a ‘twilight mindset’ to prepare ourselves for optimal results.

meaning of lion totem
Exploring the symbolic meaning of lions

The symbolic meaning of lions illustrates mad skills when it comes to getting what they want. Lions show us how to effectively attack our dreams and passions. This quote pretty much sums it up:

“You just have to go forward with full confidence

and be courageous.”

~G. Douglas

Further to this point about keen crepuscular concepts is that the  lion is considered by many ancient cultures to be a solar animal symbol.   And yet, it is also hailed as a lunar animal.

Specifically, the male lion represents the sun in various cultures, and the female lioness is associated with the moon.

This symbolic insight. Along with their twilight tendencies speaks volumes about lion-lessons of harmony and equity.  In essence, the symbolic meaning of lions revolves around bringing balance into our lives.

In other words, the lion asks us to creatively moderate. Don’t overdo it. Rather, keep a chill mind, employ sound judgment and pay attention to optimum timing when going about life activities.

Keywords Symbolic Meaning of Lions

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

And of course, this quick-list of lion meanings would be remiss if I didn’t mention this phenomenal feline as a symbol for strength.

meaning of lions and lion totem meaning
More about meaning of lions and lion totem meaning

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

Meaning of Lions in Various Cultures Around the World

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.

As you might expect, the lion is a symbol of authority and strength in African cultural history. There are also African legends in which the lion is presented as a great diplomat. Stories describe the lion as a great orator and communicator. The lion often employed skill and strategy to negotiate harmony amongst all the animals in the African savannas. The African lioness (female) is associated with the moon, and is a symbol of fierce motherhood and protection of her pride.

“The bond that links your true family is not just one of blood,

but of respect and joy in each other’s life.”

~Richard Bach
meaning of lions
Further thoughts about the meaning of lions

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.

Leo’s tend to be 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.

Leo sun-signs are very loyal people, and will defend friend and family honor to the death. Leo personalities can come on strong and serious. Interestingly, this assertiveness tends to mellow in maturity. In fact, Leo’s often get quite playful and more easy-going in older age. Leo’s also have an amazingly strong sense of family and community. Not all Leo’s show pride for their pack the same, but to be sure (whether they show it or not), Leo’s gain a strong sense of identity within a group like family, friends network, work group, etc.

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.

Closing thoughts about the symbolic meaning of lions

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.

There is a reason lions are highly featured in so many cultural myths. Not only do they have a powerful presence, they are also honored for their fierce pride. Lions remind us of finding strength in support groups as well as deriving a sense of dignity and respect when with our tribe – whether that be our community, family or circle of friends.

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, believe in yourself and your abilities.

♦  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 also time to step up and honorably 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.

May all your lion encounters roar with powerful meaning.



Take Away Tips About the Symbolic Meaning of Lions

meaning of lion totem

Packed with pride.
Most cats in the animal kingdom tend to be solitary. Not so with lions. Lions will hang out in a group known as a ‘pride.’ When the lion shows up in our awareness, it might be sending a message of community, teamwork and/or family connection.

meaning of lion totem

Make love, not war.
Contrary to popular belief, lions don’t go around picking fights in the savannas of Africa. They actually prefer to be passive, and often avoid getting into conflict. But if they must defend, they will do so to the tooth. This is a lesson to us that says: “Choose your battles wisely.”

meaning of lion totem

Be loud, be proud!
Lions are not modest. They claim their territory with confidence. They roar about how badass they are. They aren’t shy about their love for their family. Lions remind us to be the same. Be unapologetically bold and proud of who you are and what you love!

meaning of lion totem

Twilight insight.
Lions aren’t busting their chops during the day. They aren’t party animals at night either. Lions are most active at twilight…those times around dawn and dusk. This is symbolically powerful. Twilight is a spellbinding time. Lions remind us to do our best work in magical moments when we are most inspired.

knowing your animal totem

A Collection of Animal Totem Meanings

Animal totems play huge roles in our lives. They aid in self-discovery and capture our imagination, giving us incredible avenues of self-expression and awareness. From armadillos to zebras, click here to get a whole list of animal totem meanings.

lion tattoo ideas and lion meanings

Symbolic Meaning of Lion Tattoos

There’s no denying it, the lion is a ferociously vital symbol, conveying courage, strength, pride and royalty among many other traits. This article offers more cultural perspectives about the meaning of lions for tattoo ideas. (WYS) is a trusted Etsy affiliate & Amazon Associate. We also promote certain products we've tested and approved. As such, the website features sponsored products for Amazon or Etsy or other afiliates. Should you make a purchase from a link on this website, WYS may receive a small commission. This website also hosts advertisements. Please see our policy page for further information. Thank you for your purchases, as it contributes to keeping this website online and running.