Symbolic Meaning of Lions

Written by avenefica on November 8th, 2007

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Known as regal beasts, it’s comes to no surprise that symbolic meaning of lions deals with:

  • Strength
  • Nobility
  • Determination
  • Intensity
  • Courage
  • Conquest
  • Pride
  • Protection
  • Authority

However, many are unfamiliar with the symbolic meaning of lions dealing with resurrection and conversion.  This meaning comes from the observation of newborn lion pups.  Newborn lions were once believed to be born dead, and only came alive when the father passed its breath upon the pup.  This was symbolic in Christian tradition as the father lion represented the Christ and his essence (breath) flowing into the children of the earth awakened their spirits to the light of God.

As an alchemy symbol, the lion takes on many representations.  In alchemical texts, a red colored lion indicates sulphur which represents the multiplicity of human nature and the eternal aspiration to reach enlightenment.  When illustrated in green, the alchemical lion indicates matter that which is the basic starting point of transformation.

African aboriginal legends state that the lion never closes its eyes when it sleeps.  This provides symbolism of cunning, strategy, intelligence, protection and wariness.

When the lion appears to us in dreams, it is often a sign that we have a need to place ourselves in a more prominent position.  Often the lion comes in our dreams when we are not being respected in our lives, and we need to advance ourselves in positions of respect and authority.

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Lions can also be dream symbols telling us we need to get in touch with our passions or emotions, and we made need to tame these emotions if they are running unchecked.

In esoteric studies, the lion makes its appearance in the Tarot where it is illustrated in the Strength card of the Major Arcana.  More symbolic meaning of the lion from the Tarot perspective can be found here: Tarot Symbolism of the Lion

As an astrological symbol the lion is identified by the sun sign of Leo.  In the Leo sign we find such attributes as:

  • Passion
  • Generosity
  • Loyalty
  • Influential
  • Leadership
  • Determination

I’ve created an entire webpage devoted to more information on the symbolic meaning of lions here.

Don’t miss this informative page on Lion Tattoo Symbolism here.

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19 Comments so far ↓

  1. simar says:

    i have been dreaming about lions attacking me again and again and me trying to defend by fighting back and some how escaping them.. it was funny at first and i liked it because i thought in my dream that we were playing now as the dreams have progressed i think they attacking me .. having this dream for past 3 mts , generally i can make out from oberserving my normal life how does the dream or co-incidences fit with me .. but this time im totally lost, any help will be very much appericated … thank you so much ,, and sorry for bothering you

  2. avenefica says:

    Hi Simar,

    No bother at all. Thanks for sharing your dream.

    As you may have read on my other Symbolic Lions page – these creatures are about truth, honor, dignity, strength, and will.

    When I’m completely “stuck” about a dream interpretation, I ask myself questions framed around symbolic attributes (such as these for the lion)

    Rapid-fire questions really help lift me out of my confusion….eventually a pattern starts to surface, and I can start to gain understanding of the dream.

    If lions were attacking me in my dreams, I’d ask myself questions like:

    Where is the weakest link in my life?
    Is there something I am afraid to admit?
    Am I respectfully standing up for myself and my rights?
    Am I treating myself and others in an honorable way?
    Do I lack confidence in an area of my life?
    Am I a victim?
    Who or what am I protecting?
    How do I feel about my level of generosity?
    Am I spending enough time on my priorities?
    Can I have more positive influence with others?
    Am I giving myself enough light & energy?
    Why must I defend myself?
    Are my passions out of balance?
    What situations am I running away from?
    Are there situations in my life that are controlling me (instead of me controlling them)?
    Do I feel threatened by someone or something?
    Do I need to employ more strategy in a situation?

    When creatures are attacking us in our dreams, it sometimes tells us there are parts within ourselves that going through some kind of conflict.

    I would encourage you to consciously communicate with these lions – both in your dreams AND in your waking hours.

    Communicate your concerns to the lion. Make it clear that your role is NOT that of victim. Rather, you are a partner in gaining higher understanding.

    By speaking to the energy of the lion in this fashion, you are effectually speaking to your own psyche – the lion is merely a symbol serving as a part of you.

    Use these lions to your advantage.

    I hope this helps you on your path – my thoughts are with you.

    Namaste & brightest blessings,
    A.

  3. lani says:

    A few years ago I had this dream, but recently it has been coming back to me, like a broken record – or I am being stalked by this dream…Anyway, I have never understood the meaning or why it keeps coming back, so here it is -
    It’s nighttime, with only the glow of the full illuminating the Savannah before me, with a single tree – and a mountian looming over all – I walk out upon the land, heading towards the tree – I notice, as get closer a shape laying on the ground – when I reach the tree I see that the shape is in fact a sleeping male lion – alone. It does not stir, and I am not afraid – I approach bending down to touch him, then I lay my head on his mane, and go to sleep.
    That’s the dream, any thoughts?

  4. lani says:

    I’m sorry – I left out the word Moon – there was a full moon in the dream – sorry

  5. avenefica says:

    Hi Lani,

    I’m fascinated by the “yin-yang” elements and the seeking of balance between the two hemispheres of energy your dream represents.

    Lions in alchemical symbology represent the sun – your dream scene takes place ‘neath the observing full moon.

    This holds symbolism of prime dualities:

    Night/Day
    Black/White
    Sun/Moon
    Dark/Light
    Above/Below
    Earth/Sky

    Etc, etc. Additionally, a Lion/solar emblem paired with a full moon speaks symbolically of a need to be forthright, courageous and oustpoken in your strength (lion) while there may be an urging to be reserved, introverted, or keep the light within you in hiding (moon influence).

    Mountains in our dreams symbolize conquering, overcoming, hard work, willpower, and ascending above petty circumstances. Climbing the Mountain implies hard work in learning a new skill. Descending the Mountain implies stepping back from a situation, taking time to think about your actions, getting a second opinion. A Mountain range in your dream represents a new adventure, and is a message encouraging expansion in your life.

    Trees in dreams are symbolic of connection, communication, and a deep sense of groundedness.

    I would encourage you to observe the meanings of these various symbols within that “yin-yang” context.

    What polar opposites might you identify with in your psyche that either need to be mounted(harkening to the dream mountain symbolism)?

    What kind of deep roots or connections (recruiting the tree symbolism) can be drawn between the opposites?

    Namaste,
    A.

  6. madrafel says:

    ok.. i am a leo . in this dream i was in a persons field at night and lions wher everywher i diddnt know weather to be afrade or at ease the lions wher focused on other small prey and then slowly ther attention turned towards me they did not lunge at me but did start nipping i was fending them off with my hands from all angles untill apparently the owner of them shooed them away .bye the way when the man helped me it was the lions the man and me in a house all the sudden so after the man tammed them he had to leave for what i dont know. left in the house now alone i was a little worried the lions might come back. sure enough they did befor they cam at me 2 very odd looking people came in i only got a glimps of the man i talked too he was sevon feet tall maby 350 o 400 pounds crazy lookin mug i told him he needded to tame the lions he noodded and started shooing them but 2 lions got to me again anyways . i just held them back with my hands kind of like the first time in the field. a lions mouth on each hand and i just kindoff held them back moving ther heads to steer them from my neck or head then i woke

  7. madrafel says:

    i was never bitten

  8. petros says:

    Hello.i wonder if you have any thoughts on the following dream.I dreamed that i had two White lions as pets!they were very playfull although because of their strength during play they cause me some minor scratches.they were permanently trying to eat my real pets (my two white cats!)but i kept interfering so no damage was done.
    i am aware of a lot of the information on symbolism of lions (strenth,purity etc..)to traditional explanations (legal matters,confict etc..).however i dont have anything on White lions.
    any thoughts,comments,information would be greately apreciated.
    with kind regards
    petros
    p.s. forgive my spelling…

  9. claudia says:

    Why do sensei in Kung-fu use lions? Where can I find the picture of the tatoo sensei’s get in the ceremony of the iron pot when they make their status official?

  10. iris says:

    Hello,
    I was meditating,and coming out of the blue forest, a red flaming lion suddenly attacked me. I wasn`t scared, but i saw it biting and cheweng me, so i was shocked(and came out of the meditation). When I went back, I was prepared to meet it, so even, when it tried to attack me, he couldn`t. So we went by the road and up a mountain, until we reached a flowing river. I asked, why the lion had attacked me, and it said, that it was in pain. After that he went to the river and when i hugged it, it started to die. I tried to heal it, but it died and while i was crying i saw a yellow lion near me and the red lion in the river vanishing into yellow sparkles.
    I still havent figured out what the whole thing meant, but i somehow feel like something is gone(allthough death is transformation).

  11. 65brandy says:

    I had a dream about a Lion. It roared. Before that people were being shot and taking a number. These people had to register to get killed. many were lined up with children their. I know this has something to do with prophesy.

  12. sarah says:

    dear Avia
    I have had several dreams about lions.
    Lions coming into my house (MANY of them)
    They come in through windows and doors.
    I have to leave but not immediately.
    They are not malevolent. They are not coming to ‘get’ me.
    They are just there, in my house.

    This was OK, till a friend phoned me and said:

    She came to visit me, and there were lions everywhere, all around the house, on balconies etc. She was initially concerned about their presence, but relaxed because I treated them as perfectly natural in my house – almost like pets.
    (I advise Claire on a business basis)
    Many people refer to me as a lioness. They see me as strong in business, protective of my staff, yet a leader.
    All my atrological ‘houses’ are ‘in Leo’. People often guess my star sign is Leo. Yet I am a cancer – very home loving.
    My home is very important to me. I am very happy with my current home.
    what do you think, please?

  13. rushi says:

    Hi.. i had this really weird dream that really shook me last night. i dreamt that i was giving the stray dog outside some food, and a lion came charging out of nowhere. It ripped the doors, and i had no place to hid so i went to the bathroom and tried to sit on the towel rack which was the tallest place i could reach.. and then the dream changed… could you please tell me the meaning of the dream coz it really psyched me out

  14. avenefica says:

    Rushi, I recommend Liara Covert: http://blog.dreambuilders.com.au/services/ or Michele Knight: http://www.micheleknight.co.uk/ for an interpretation.

  15. Margie says:

    Hello, I cannot find the interpretation of dreaming with a male lion that is actually kind, and is loving me. In the dream he is literally in my home, like a pet. He is friendly, and at one point is very affectionate to me. I cannot find “any” interpretation to this type of dream.

  16. avenefica says:

    Hello Margie,
    I’ve written some thoughts about potential lion meaning that might assist in interpretation of your dream. Here’s the link: http://www.whats-your-sign.com/symbolic-meaning-of-lions.html

  17. jennifer says:

    Hi! this is one closest, best page i’ve read for my strange lion dream. still, i have found nothing that hits mine exactly- my lion is not affectionate but not threatening. he came up to me, looked into my eyes & gently clamped his mouth over my arm, without hurting me at all. i felt bad for him- in my dream i was convinced that he was hungry & went off to search for food for him. i felt confused, not afraid the entire time. i didn’t understand why this magnificent, but thin lion was in a tiny backyard with two dogs. for some reason, my first thought was that it has to do with me feeling lifeless, uninspired & tired lately. i’m sure you can add much more to it, if you are so inclined.

  18. Lavanya says:

    I had a dream in which there were lions chasing at first i saw one lion by seeing lions i started running and hiding myself along few other people around me after sometime i saw few police people saving people from lion they are showing the way to go,shile going i saw few more lions coming to attack me i was running alone and on the way i saw a lion attacked a police man who is trying to save i was worried i going to be killed by lion mean while i saw vehicles passing as asked for lift non of them gave me,i asked one of the police man to stop the vehicle so that i can ask for lift he dont respond to me i tried and stoped one of the jeep and got into it it took me some which at last i came near to my house in the jeep a person got attracted to me and started saying i want u in my life i was avoiding him but he is not at last i left him and went on my way
    please tell me the meaning of the dream

  19. annie says:

    I had a dream where I was in a type of conference or group and we had several animals like zebras and monkeys so on the next conference/group we wanted more animals so they came out of a box and I saw a lion come out and it looked at me and smiled, it let me touch it and It hugged me, it was as if it already knew me. Im not sure what it ment but I have been facing problems, but it will help if anyone knew what it could mean.

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