Lunar Animal Symbolism
Throughout nature, we find spiritual and energetic binaries that symbolize the natural balance present across all of life. The most notable example of this is light and dark, specifically with the sun representing light and the moon symbolizing dark. Additionally, the sun is accepted as a signifier of male characteristics, so naturally the moon stands for the female counterpart. Just as many animals and elements are associated with the sun, their natural complements are representative of the moon.
From an astrological perspective, the moon is associated with the Cancer zodiac sign, governing intuition, deep thinking, and emotions. In alchemy, water and the moon are viewed as soul mates, even though the moon has no water. Rather, it is viewed considering its reflective qualities, as well as its control over the movement of the seas in the form of tides.
Like the moon, lunar animals boast illuminating qualities. However, the moon does not produce light on its own at all: it merely reflects that of the sun. The moon and lunar animals are thus reliant upon the sun’s light for mirroring themselves to our human eyes. Because of this occurrence, the moon can be viewed as a symbol of subtlety, clarity, and reflection, among others.
While the sun blazes with fiery heat, the moon softly glows in the night, making itself open and available to caring for all. In this way, it further mimics maternal behavior. Lunar animals are categorized by identical criteria. Additionally, lunar animals are associated with other themes such as the cycles of time, an individual’s psyche, balance in life, renewal, mystery, and passivity, as well as perception, receptivity, and fertility.
By researching and exploring the symbolic meanings of animal totems, you can conclude which animals most emulate moon-like qualities. There are several creatures that are fairly obvious due to their nocturnal nature: the wolf, bat, owl, and moth. As the moon reigns over the night, any and all nocturnal animals (no matter how big or small) are part of her kingdom and thus fall under her rule. For these creatures, the mother moon acts as a guiding light in the perpetual darkness and provides nocturnal creatures with all of the skills and gifts that they require to survive and thrive during the night.
As an example, the wolf is an incredible communicator and ferocious hunter, especially during the night. While the darkness makes most creatures vulnerable, it empowers the wolf and its loyal pack. These animals have adapted to the darkness of night through an extreme heightening of all of the senses. Although wolves do have keen eye sight in the night, it is the development of its other four senses that allow it to thrive as a lunar creature. We can view its traditional “howling at the moon” as a grateful thanksgiving to mother moon.
The bat and owl are two other common lunar totems for reasons similar to the wolf. They emerge at night, while most of the animal kingdom sleeps. The spiritual and intellectual gifts that are provided by the moon are neither taken for granted nor wasted. Both creatures are thought to be symbolic of being in touch with one’s surroundings via heightened senses, but the owl in particular stands out as a nocturnal animal.
The “wise old owl” teaches us the power of intuition and is representative of natural and necessary change. Often times, we find changes in our lives to be difficult. But the owl, like the moon, reminds us that everything in life changes and is cyclical. Instead of being afraid, we can accept and even embrace this with grace and intellect.
Additionally, the moon is the queen of another entire realm of the Earth: that of water. Because of its association with water (specifically the seas but also lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams), the moon acts as matron over all aquatic creatures. Specifically, she is the guiding force for sea creatures which don shell coverings.
Other less obvious totem animals that can be classified as “lunar” in nature include the dog, cat, hare, crab, snail, dolphin, toad, and frog. Each offers its own spiritual meanings and guiding messages that reflect the qualities of the moon. Above all else, lunar creatures teach us the importance of maternal and feminine energies and how important it is to be in touch with all five of our senses.