I got a question about symbolic pig meaning, and I was astonished after 15 years of building this website – I somehow neglected writing about the poor piggie! My bad!
But then, I started going through all my notes about animal totems and meanings…and I realized why I avoided writing about the pig as a symbolic topic.
Mainly, because the pig has gotten a bad rap. An overwhelming consensus among many cultural views pin the pig as unclean, greedy, untrustworthy, etc. What a bummer!
I can understand why and how the pig fell victim to a bad reputation from so many different cultures. Nevertheless, I’m not the most objective source for unbiased pig meaning. Why? Well, because some of my best friends are pigs! I mean, Babe! What’s not to love about that perky piglet?! Farmer Hoggett certainly had a soft spot for him! And Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web? What a cutie patootie!
Seriously though, much of the unsavory symbolism about the pig stems from religious views. Hey, that’s cool. I’m a lot of things, but one thing I am not is judgy.
So, that’s why I’ve pulled a myriad of cultural, religious, symbolic pig meaning from my notes and listed them here. All these cultural perspectives are ubiquitous…pretty much common knowledge. For example, most of us know the pig is considered not kosher for consumption by Jewish traditions and standards.
All this to say, I would be remiss if I offered the facts about pig meaning without offering some redeeming details to this remarkable creature.
Redeeming Pig Facts and Clarifying Symbolic Pig Meaning
Slobby Hoggy?: In fact, pigs are quite clean creatures. So what’s with all the trash-talk about the pig being seen as a filthy beastie? Well, pigskin is tender. Domesticated pigs struggle with more skin sensitivities than wild pigs. Pigskin is similar in many ways to human skin in that it burns, gets dry, and can get damaged in unforgiving environments. Solution? Mud. 9 times out of 10, a pig is rolling in the mud to protect its dermis. Mud is better than Coppertone to avoid sunburn. Mud is also a cooling agent as well as a natural moisturizer. In light of this behavior, we could counter the whole ‘slobby hoggy’ name-calling in defense of its natural tendency to be clean – but also clever enough to protect itself from skin damage.
That’ll Do Pig!: Speaking of clever, the pig is certainly that. Regardless of a popular notion that the pig is a stupid beast – it is actually quite intelligent. According to the Public Broacasting Service of the US, the pig is one of the most intelligent of domestic animals. They can be easily trained, and have been tested to the extent they’ve proven themselves as extremely perceptive, strategic and having high reasoning skills.
Pigging Out?: Part of piggy’s smarts plays a role in another unfortunate perception it has – which is greedy. Many cultures view the pig as a symbol of gluttony and greed. In truth, the pig is simply staying true to its survival instincts. In the wild, the pig might be lucky to find a meal – so it took every opportunity to eat whenever possible to stay alive. Regardless of centuries of domestication, the pig has held on tight to these survival instincts. Anybody who has suffered from hunger would be hard-pressed to ever miss a meal…especially if it is placed right under your nose – same holds true for the pig. It will eat just about anything, and as much as necessary to stay alive.
Pig Meaning in Myth, Culture, Religion
The symbolic pig meaning varies drastically according to the era in human history, religious beliefs and culture. Here is a sampling from different parts of the world regarding the beliefs and reputations surrounding the pig…
In earlier cultures such as ancient Egyptian, the pig (sow, specifically) was considered a Great Mother (sky goddess Nut) and was a symbol of fertility and abundance. The pig was sacred to Isis, who embodied creation and birth. Alternatively, the pig was also associated with Set who would take on the form of a wild boar and was symbolic of misfortune.
To the ancient Celts, the (sow) pig was also honored as a mother provider figure. Celtic lore tells of Manannan, who owned a heard of pigs that never dwindled – they were forever replenishing their numbers. As such, in Celtic symbolism pigs remained icons of abundance. Also in ancient Celtic beliefs, the pig was associated with Ceridwen (or Keridwin) and Phaea who were both fertility moon goddesses.
The pig was also a symbol of virility, strength, and fertility in ancient Chinese cultures. The boar is even among the animals in the Chinese zodiac where it is considered a symbol of sincerity, honesty, and determination.
The ancient Greeks would sacrifice pigs to deities who pertained to farming and agriculture (Demeter, Ares, Gaia) this was to bring about bumper crops and insure favorable growing seasons.
Native American cultures (plains tribes) associated the pig as a harbinger of rains and as such, the symbolic meaning of pigs here is also linked to abundance, fertility and agriculture.
On the other hand, the pig is a symbol of ignorance in Buddhism. Indeed, a black pig is illustrated on the Buddhist wheel of existence where it represents one of the three illusions of man in the Buddhist philosophy:
- Illusions of thought & desires
- Illusions innumerable as particles of dust and sand
- Illusions about the true nature of life
All of these are said to prevent man from attaining Nirvana in the Buddhist tradition.
In Hindu symbolism, the pig is linked to Vajravarahi, the female consort of Vishnu.
The pig is a symbol of sloth (laziness) and/or greed in ancient Christian symbolism.
Jewish, Muslims and Islamic cultures view the pig as unclean and they are forbidden to eat pork.
In dream symbolism the domestic pig indicates fertility, yet a wild pig is a symbol of lust & overindulgence. If in your dream you are feeding a pig, this is supposed to be a symbol of good luck. If you are being attacked by a pig in your dream, it may be a message you are being materialistic or holding onto things that need to be let go.
Totem Pig Meaning and Messages
Whether you regard the pig as a totem or not…it does have messages to share with you if/when you encounter the pig in your presence. Here are a few ideas about reminders and messages the pig offers us…
- Leave snap-judgments at the door: It should be pretty clear after reading this article on symbolic pig meaning that much of its negative connotations are unfounded and often caused by judgment or misperceptions. The pig reminds us that uneducated assessments and quick judgments are both unhelpful and unfair.
- Survival of the fittest: The pig often comes with a message about making the most of our resources and doing what we must to survive. Sometimes this can be a dirty business…and sometimes we can get a bad reputation by doing what we have to in order to squeak through tough times. Nevertheless, the pig urges us to learn the lesson of persevering to survive. Okay, so we might not need to roll in mud to ‘save our skin’ or gobble up anything and everything in case it’s our last meal…however, the pig reminds us to take advantage of what we have, and get clever about exploiting all of our potentials and possibilities.
- You be you: If there’s one major take-away point this article (and the pig) offers, it is the lesson of being ourselves. Is everybody going to agree with our style? Absolutely not. Will we come against opposition for being unique? Very likely. But the pig reminds us that we are created with remarkable talents, personalities, intelligence and gifts. Why hide all our glory for the sake of fitting in? Be like the pig…unapologetically beautiful in your own right and in your own way.
In conclusion, I hope this article on symbolic pig meaning offered some insight and clarity to this often maligned creature. I’m usually pretty objective when it comes to writing about symbolic topics…but the eternal optimist in me can’t resist coming to the defense of the noble pig.
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As always, thanks so much for reading and indulging me these hoggy reflections. If you liked this page, I’d be tickled-piggy-pink if you shared it on your social networks! Thanks!
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