Diving Into Symbolic Whale Totem Meaning
The whale is as deep in meaning as the water in which it swims. Whale totem meaning offers us a gift of understanding communication, family and appreciating the beauty of community. This article dives into whale meaning in culture, myth and natural symbolism. Read more for whale symbolism and totem meaning.
Where the edge of land ends and the fringe of vast oceans begins is a threshold of mammoth proportions. To garner in-depth understanding of symbolic whale meaning, we’ve got to pay homage to its environment, the oceans of our planet.
The oceans, and water, in general, holds age-old symbolism of emotional depth (I’ve written about potential water symbolism here, if you’re interested). As humans, we all experience an array of emotions.
Some are on the surface; we can experience these emotions easily because they float on top of our life-experience as driftwood on the surface of the water. We can observe these top-layer emotions clearly, they are familiar and we deal with them daily. Other emotions, however, run very deep within us. Some emotions we bury beneath the fathoms of our consciousness; these emotions are the leviathans of our being – the lumbering beasts we dare not let surface.
From this perspective, we can easily relate to the depth and breadth of water with the essence of emotions. Given its habitat is the water realms, the totem meaning of the whale largely deals with emotions too. The whale symbolizes emotional creativity, well-being, nurturing as well as emotional depth.
Those who are magnetized by whale energy will tend to be incredibly sensitive. The depth of feeling whale-totem-people endure can be overwhelming. Whale people are super-perceptive about the feelings of those around them, and this can manifest into an internal pressure that can be quite crushing. The whale can help with feelings of being overwhelmed and help to even out the onslaught of emotions picked up from other people too.
“We owe it to our children to be better stewards of our environment. The alternative? A world without whales. It’s too terrible to imagine”~Pierce Brosnan
If you are extraordinarily affected by the emotions of others, or your own emotions are so intense as to cause discomfort, your whale totem can help.
Why? Because whales are masters of:
- Navigation: Moving through emotional depths
- Communication: Effectively expressing emotional experiences
- Conservation: Using emotional energy for fuel and not being consumed by emotional floods
Whale Totems in Literature
I love poking through old myths and parables, especially when exploring totem meaning and the whale has plenty legends to its name. From Native American to Islam, the whale is featured prominently in ancient lore. Take the prophet Jonah. It’s a classic passage in the Bible.
I’m fortunate to know a several Biblical scholars, and I’ve talked to these folks (thanks to Robert, Jim and Diane!) about the deeper symbolic meaning of Jonah’s three days and three nights in the bellies of the megaketos (“great fish” in Greek), dag gadul (“big fish” in Hebrew), and the nun in Arabic – all terms describing the huge fish-whale who swallowed Jonah in the Biblical account. My Bible-savvy pals relate the story as an allegory of the deliverance of the Jews from Babylonian capture. The great mother of Babylon’s first queen (Semiramis) was Derceto, and the Babylonian sea goddess Derceto (a behemoth being of the sea) is the very same ‘great fish’ who swallowed Jonah. This perspective illustrates the Jews’ liberation from Babylonian captivity with Jonah being expelled from Derceto’s belly.
What intrigued me further was discussions deeper emotional allegory associated with Jonah’s account. Imagine the emotional duress Jonah endured. Charged with the task (from God, no less) to travel to Ninevah and speak to the people about the righteous path of God. Now, at the time, Ninevah was quite inhospitable, and it was highly unlikely they would be keen to hear what Jonah had to say. Knowing this, Jonah retreated from his responsibility, essentially hiding from his soul-purpose (God) and that’s when the mammoth beast of the sea swallows him whole.
We’ve all been in Jonah’s sandals. We’ve all had a scary task to set before us, a heavy task with potentially frightening responsibilities placed on our shoulders. When we turn away from these responsibilities (knowing what we should do, yet refusing) it churns up massive emotional upheaval. We become swallowed ourselves in an emotional quagmire. We stew in our emotional soup, until we reach a boiling point. We all struggle with emotional buildup over choices we need to make, or even those choices we cannot bear to execute. Some of us, after days and nights of stewing within the womb of the soul, finally emerge (spit from the whale, so to speak) with renewed determination and a rekindling of faith. Others of us return to the emotional abyss until we can process our fears and indecision into a more refined state of being.
This kind of emotional swallowing, digesting and processing is key to whale totem meaning. Luckily, the whale can facilitate emotional clarity, and help us navigate through the often ambiguous and confusing seas of emotion. Whales themselves are incredibly nurturing; we see this in how they raise their young as well as their close-knit connection to others in their community herds or pods. Whales, and those with whale totems have a natural affinity for helping, especially promoting well-being within their community. People who are attracted to the whale often feel devoted to a greater cause, and although they may struggle with their own personal emotions, they tend to naturally conjure healing powers towards others in emotional trauma. Does this sound familiar to you? If you have these tendencies, I encourage you to swim deeply with the whale in your meditations and prayers. Navigating the emotional waters with the whale by your side will afford guidance and clarity.
To me the sea is a continual miracle; the fishes that swim, the rocks, the motion of the waves. What stranger miracles are there?”~Walt Whitman
More About Whale Totems
Whales ask us to embrace the unknown, and that’s precisely why they are so connected to the emotional depths of the oceans. To be sure, our current circumstances are born from an emotional womb. In other words, our reality is intrinsically connected to our thought and our emotional choices. It can be frustrating and confusing to track down the emotional origin of the stuff that’s manifested in our lives, and the whale can help us understand, on a deeper level, the actions that have caused unrest in our daily life.
In many sects of Native wisdom, the whale is symbolic of the beginning, the creation of all life on earth as we know it. They aren’t the only ones. Countless cultures around the globe associate themes of creation, birth and rebirth with the whale. Other symbolic suggestions to add to whale totem meaning include:
- Deeper Awareness
- Cosmic Consciousness
- Emotional Rebirth and Understanding
- Nurturing and Devotion to Community
- Appreciation for Beauty, (especially song and dance)
- The Importance of Balance (emotional and otherwise)
I hope these philosophical ponderings about whale symbolism and whale totem meaning has inspired you to dive more deeply into the cetacean realms. Perhaps these insights might inspire you to meditate and soulfully contemplate the presence of the whale in your own life. To be sure, joining with whale energy in your devotionals will eventually lead you to a cohesive view – an expansive clarity into the deeper fathoms of your emotional worlds. As always, thank you for reading!
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