Fish Symbolism & Meaning
Fish symbolism and meaning may go unnoticed because this stealthy but fleet animal swims in the depths, off your radar.
Swimming into Fish symbolism and meanings, it’s important to consider these creatures intimate and life-sustaining relationship with Water. While we all rely on water, Fish’s constant immersion in Water gives them an additional level of symbolism and meaning. Fish remind us of the importance of being steeped in this element, of really delving deep beneath the surface.
Fish Table of Contents
- Fish Symbolism & Meaning
- Fish Spirit Animal
- Fish Totem Animal
- Fish Power Animal
- Fish Celtic Symbolism
- Fish Native American Symbolism
- Fish Christian Symbolism
- Fish African Symbolism
- Fish Dreams
- Fish Far Eatern Symbolism
- Fish Tattoo Meaning
- Fish Spiritual Meaning
- Back to all Fish & Crustaceans
Fish Symbolism & Meaning
The Water Element connection gives Fish spirit the connotation of the subconscious, emotions, healing and purification. Water is also associated with love, relationships and family. As tears are cleansing, so too does the Water Element bring purification and healing.
Water washes away our fears and insecurities and is always in flow. The power of Water is often overlooked, until we consider the power of this element to wear away at a rock over time, or to bring ferocity as is the case with a typhoon or flood.
So, when we look at our relationship to the element of Water, we are also working with the symbolic meaning of Fish. This creature helps us to swim deeper into our subconscious and emotional layers that often become neglected in the course of our busy lives.
Water animals also have connections with purposeful movement and mindful independence, but for the rough currents that sometimes hinder a goal, just as they do in our lives.
When Fish begins appearing in your life, pay attention to how it presents itself.
It’s also worth noting that Fish lives almost exclusively in Water alone, as compared with other animals that can come up to land or fly and swim. This is in stark contrast to the way we humans live. Land, or the Earth Element is our natural home and we are constantly surrounded by the Air Element, as we need to be. While we can’t exist in Fire, we can certainly engage with it. Thus, we humans need to travel between the realms of these different elements. When we want to bathe or swim or drink, we can interface with the Water Element.
Yet Fish can only exist in Water. Thus, they are singularly devoted to one Elemental energy and are therefore ideal ambassadors of all that is associated with that element.
We may also often think of the meaning of Fish in relationship to our interactions with Fish. Therefore, in many tales, the Fisherman or Sailor is associated with the meaning of Fish. Yet when we take the time to connect with Fish in their own rite and not as an extension of what we need to take from them or their watery communities, new doors of awareness and perception can be opened.
Some of the interpretations for Fish include:
- The Unconscious or Higher-Self
- Intelligence and Thought Processes
- Stretching Limits
- Deeper Awareness
- Fertility, Birth, & Rebirth
- The Sacred Feminine
- Water Element
As with other large categories of Spirit creatures, the exact meaning of Fish varies not only from culture to culture but also depends on the exact species of fish.
In Greek mythology, for example, Aphrodite could turn into a fish, and in fact used that form to swim speedily away escaping harm. Aphrodite, or the Roman Venus, was also said to have been born of the Sea and therefore are associated with the Water Element.
Christians use a Fish to represent Christ’s charity and abundance.
Neo-Pagans frequently associate Fish spirit with the Great Goddesses, especially those Beings associated with rivers, lakes and oceans. Thus, as connected to the feminine element of Water, Fish is said to be associated with the Divine Feminine and Feminine energy.
This doesn’t mean women specifically, but the feminine polarity within all of us.
Fish Spirit Animal
When the Fish Spirit Animal comes to you as an animal spirit guide, Lightworkers tell us that it’s reminding you of the feminine portion of self. Are you hiding from your imagination and creative potential? Are you in need of nurturing or is there someone or something that needs your compassion, nurturing and attention?
It’s time to dig deep into things that you keep tucked beneath the surface of your life, explore and reconnect.
Nurture yourself as the Great Mother would, then swim freely with fish toward your next great adventure as a new you. Fish can splash into your awareness to remind you that your emotional life is valid and important. As we focus our attention to the Earthy plane of productivity and career or the Air energy of ideas, communication and electronics, we often neglect the Water realms of emotion, healing and connection.
Fish is helping you to break this cycle. Sitting with your feelings may be just what the doctor ordered. That is, if Fish Spirit Animal is seen as a doctor.
Fish Totem Animal
Those born with a Fish totem are so fiercely independent that they’re often tempted to swim upstream.
People with Fish energy adapt to a variety of circumstances easily.
They have not simply a strong affinity for water, but need to connect with living water regularly for their well-being. People with Fish Animal Totem may be naturally compassionate and desire close connection with others, yet they won’t give up their personal curiosity and desires nor will they let other confine them.
They can play well with others though, just like Fish swimming in a school to survive. They may be naturally gifted counselors, healers or psychics as well. Their keen perception helps them survive. They can sense when the tides are changing and use their entire body as a tuning fork, so to speak, helping them sense the currents of energy all around.
If you have a Fish Totem it’s likely that you strive to develop your spirit and your mind. You may have prophetic dreams or intricately correct gut instincts.
More information about your totem depends on the species of fish.
For example, the Angel Fish is a guardian for others, Betta Fish are loners, Koi have good luck, and Sharks embody intense work ethics.
Fish Power Animal
Seek out Fish medicine (energy/spirit) when your life has become stagnant or when you need to amplify your instincts.
Fish makes a good companion when endeavoring to learn about divinatory arts. Also, if you find yourself growing too tied to one person or thing, Fish inspires renewed movement and liberation.
Fish can remind you of the importance of working closely with others as well as the importance of swimming to new waters when you need to. Work with Fish to enhance your psychic abilities, when you need to work on emotional healing, or when you have a relationship or romance that needs deeper healing.
Let Fish remind you of what nurtures you and sustains you. Fish can also help you express your intuition in more creative ways, as well as exploring and healing the depths of your subconscious.
Fish Celtic Symbolism
What does a Fish symbolize in Celtic culture?
The main Fish figuring into Celtic lore is the sassy Salmon who gained wisdom, creativity, and future-sight by eating magical hazel nuts that He found at a sacred well.
Because of this story, the Ogham features Salmon in a special place, presenting it as a Fish of great mystical ability. Communing with Fish spirit would give you the knowledge needed by sages and seers alike. Finn Eces, the renowned Poet known for his sage wisdom, finally catches the mythical Salmon of Wisdom after spending seven years pursuing this elusive fish. When he does, he gifts it to Fionn Mac Comhaill, who was his servant.
Fionn is instructed to cook the Fish but not to eat it. Fionn accidentally eats a tiny bit, as he touches the Fish to see if it is cooked and in doing so, burns his finger. He raises his finger to his mouth by reflex. But this reflex causes him to go against Finn’s wishes.
The meaning of Fish in Celtic lore is associated with wisdom, language, connection with Source and nurturing. Fish is also associated with fertility in Celtic lore as in so many other cultures. Finn Eces realizes his servant now has the gift of wisdom and so he allows him to eat the rest of the Fish. Fionn, with his newfound wisdom, becomes the leader of his people.
From this we have the association between wisdom and Fish.
In the Celtic Animal Zodiac, people born between August 5 and September 1 bear the sign of the Salmon. The energetics of this Astrological sign including having great self-preservation skills.
Salmon people search long and hard for the perfect environment where they can mate – this is their safe “pool” in which the proverbial “cold fish” can love and cultivate their family.
Mentally Fish people have a hard time slowing their thoughts making meditation an excellent pastime. Fish is also significant to Celtic people because of the role Fish played in their survival. Sailing, fishing and exploring the sea is a common theme in Celtic lore.
Fish Native American Symbolism
What does a Fish symbolize in Native American culture?
The exact answer will vary depending on the specific type of Fish and also the particular Native tribe. As there are differences and nuances from one group to the next. It is important to consider which culture you are studying in order to ascertain Fish meaning, spiritual significance, and role in folklore.
Salmon plays a key role in Native American symbolism too particularly among the Northwestern tribes.
Here you will find dozens of rituals that honor Salmon along with some other food fish like the giant halibut.
Some legends depict Fish as clever shape shifters or magicians that control the Water Element. Thus, Fish Spirit Animal can be seen as a guide to help you remain adaptable and to change to fit in with your environment.
Some tribes use Fish as a clan animal including the Ojibwe, and there is a Fish Kachina in Hopi tradition. The Creek, Chickasaw, and Ho-Chunk tribes also revered Fish as important Clan symbols.
In particular, the Salmon, Sturgeon and Halibut were significant animals in these cultures and their images often adorned the crests of these groups. Other tribes in eastern North America such as the Iroquois, Lenape and Caddo, held a special reverence for Fish. This is easily noted in their practice of the Fish Dance as an important ritual.
Fertility and luck were considered blessings from Fish. To the Kwagliuth people, twins were considered an especially fortunate symbol associated with Fish.
Fish Christian Symbolism
What does a Fish symbolize in Christian lore?
The meaning, spiritual and symbolic, of Fish energy is often associated with Christ’s energy and mission. Not only does the Bible reference Fish as a source of sustenance, as in the story of the loaves and Fish, but also the actual Fish symbol has become emblematic of Christ.
The story of how the meaning, spiritual connection and symbolism of Fish came to be associated with Jesus is an interesting example of how cultures evolve and intermingle. In the earliest days of Christianity, most practitioners of this faith were considered an obscure cult. Since the message Jesus shared, that humans can connect with Divinity without the need for the Emperor or other authority figures, came as such a threat to the power structure of the time, worship was largely a matter of underground sects.
As is often the case for emerging or persecuted cultures, early worshippers had to disguise their traditions and symbols by encoding them with popular symbols of the time. For instance, the Greeks used the symbol of the Fish for their own. In Greek, the word Ichthys, which means Fish, is also the name given to a symbol created by two arcs inverted that form the shape of a fish.
Early Christians even used the term as an abbreviation for Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter which stands for “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. Thus as a matter of survival, early Christians used this symbol to both blend in with previously recognized non-Christian symbols with their own meaning given to the Fish as a representative of Christ.
Early Christians would use the Ichthys or Fish symbol to mark their meeting places or to denote tombs of Christians, setting them apart from other gravesites.
Fish’s spiritual association with Jesus can be tied to the role of Fish as a source of nurturing and survival and also because of the ability of Fish to delve beneath the surface and connect with the element of Water, which is associated with purification.
Some associate the meaning of Fish symbolism in Christianity with the sacrament of communion. Although communion wafers are not made from Fish, the act of consuming the symbolic body of Christ can be linked to the act of being nurtured. Stories in the Bible associate Fishing as a means of survival with the growth and survival of Christianity. A reference in the Bible refers to Christ’s followers as the “Fishers of Men.”
Just as Fish needs to navigate through the deep, dark waters, some believe that followers of Christianity are on a mission to find their way in a world immersed in sin, and thus following a similar path of navigating to righteousness.
Fish African Symbolism
In traditional African cultures, Fish is associated with fertility and abundance. This is a universal meaning likely tied to the role Fish played in human survival and nurturing. Yet in African cultures, Fish is also associated with creativity and can indicate that you may be embarking on a new phase in your life.
A prominent deity, Mangala, is associated with Fish in the Mande culture of Southern Mali. Mangala contained four quarters with the building blocks of all creation. Four days of the week, to represent time, four cardinal directions and four elements.
According to the Creation Myth, Mangala compressed the building blocks of all life into a tiny seed. The pressure of bearing all of creation in one tiny seed was too much and so Mangala is said to have destroyed this initial creation and revised his plan.
Having learned that the process of creation is too much to bring to bear for one seed alone, he next created more sets of seeds. Some were placed into an egg. Others were placed into the form of a Fish. Though this alone doesn’t complete the creation process as Chaos interferes and from the original womb, a destructive force interferes with Mangala’s creation.
In spite of the destructive side of this creation story, the Sun, Earth and Humans are created in the process.
Fish is also associated with the life giving forces, as this myth implies, the process of birthing and the counterpart to the womb. Fish is sometimes associated with the Divine Feminine as well.
Tilapia is significant as it is associated with the spectrum of colors reflected in this Fish’s scales. Tilapia has been associated with Sunrise and therefore also with the power of Solar Deities. Tilapia hide their young in a protective manner and this too came to inform the meaning, spiritual and symbolic, of Fish.
Nile Perch are also important enough to have found their way into depictions in ancient art. This particular Fish is associated with intense and destructive symbolism as they eat their own and can be aggressive. In Egypt, Fishermen are associated with near magical abilities to successfully traverse multiple worlds.
By some accounts, Isis was also known of as the Great Fish of the Abyss in Egyptian culture.
Fish naturally corresponds to the subconscious and thus to the realm of dreams. What you dream and the larger context is always significant. When you dream of a dead Fish, you may have to contend with a situation that you find unpleasant or repulsive.
Are you seeing a Fish out of water in your dream? This may be an indicator of how you’ll feel about a situation that is unusual or uncomfortable for you in the near future.
If you catch a Fish in your dream, you may be on your way to making a great “catch” insofar as a great connection with a new partner or ideal career opportunity.
Fish dreams can indicate that something is “Fishy” or not feeling right to you, intuitively. A Fish can also connote success, fertility, abundance or emotional healing. Are you being called to swim upstream or delve into emotional waters?
Dreams in which you consume a Fish can have various interpretations. Some ways to make sense of these dreams can be to examine if you need to digest deeper emotions or digest a need for deeper healing. Like the figure from Celtic myth, you may be shown a path to wisdom when you dream of eating Fish.
Fish Far Eastern Symbolism
The Chinese often give Fish as gifts, particularly Koi, for weddings as a symbol of devotion and a happy marriage. They are also an emblem of fertility.
Goldfish in particular are associated with prosperity, wealth, luck and abundance.
In Buddhism, Fish is one of the 8 symbols for the enlightened Buddha (specifically a pair of golden fish).
In Japan, Namazu is a mythical Catfish that can cause earthquakes. Interestingly, Greeks saw Poseidon not only as God of the Sea and Water but also of Earthquakes.
Kuan Yin is associated with the nurturing element of Water and can sometimes take on the guise of a Fish. Kali, the Indian Goddess of destruction and justice, is also associated with Fish.
Fish Tattoo Meaning
Fish meaning, spiritually speaking, may come into account when someone chooses a Fish tattoo. Fish Tattoos can be a symbol of femininity, creativity, nurturing, the subconscious, fertility or sustenance.
Someone who sports a Fish tattoo may have no conscious awareness of the meaning of Fish Spirit Animal. Nevertheless, they will still connect with the mysteries and subconscious power of the deep.
A Fish tattoo may represent a love of fishing or spending time in or around water. Like the Fish, the bearer of a Fish tattoo may feel most in their element when they are in the water swimming or boating on the surface of a lake, enjoying the serenity of water.
If you are a Pisces, if you are always responding to the emotions of others or if you need a reminder of healing your own deeper emotions, Fish tattoo can be your ideal reminder of the powerful nature of Fish. Without even equating Fish with Spiritual, someone may have chosen a Fish tattoo to coincide with their connection to all things.
A Christian may also choose a Fish tattoo because of the close connection between Fish spiritual meaning and references to Jesus.
Fish Spiritual Meaning
Fish meaning, spiritual and symbolic, is usually directly related to the importance of the Water Element. You can associate Fish Spirit Animal and Fish symbolism with the power of delving deep into the realm of emotions and the subconscious and connection to the Divine feminine, fertility, sexuality, healing and relationships.
Among the Norse, Fish represent determination and flexibility. Fish can also represent our independence and our need to connect with others intimately and in groups. This is best embodied by the symbolism of Pisces, the Astrological sign depicted as two Fish swimming in opposite directions. Pisces, and people with Fish Totem energy, desire independence but they also crave deep and meaningful connection. They know that boundaries and separation are an illusion. Water doesn’t allow for separation, it connects everything.
Yet they also have a deeply imaginative nature, suggesting the balance of the mental capabilities of the cognitive realm and the deeper emotional nature of the subconscious and watery realm.
Fish may ask you to reconcile conflicting inner drives or to maintain your independent sense of intuition even as you may need to be part of the community. The link between Fish and intuition is also established with the connection between Water and Fish with the Sacral Chakra and therefore also with security, emotional healing, nurturing and emotional foundation.
Fish Spirit Animal can help us, through understanding the larger spiritual meaning, to remember that we are all connected on the deeper emotional levels. That no matter our differences, we can all empathize with each other on a purely emotional level.