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Donkey Symbolism & Meaning

Having trouble standing your ground? Are your burdens heavier than you can handle? Donkey as a Spirit, Totem, and Power Animal can help! Donkey teaches you how to balance your responsibilities and to remain surefooted when expressing your opinion. Dig deeply into Donkey symbolism and meaning to discover how this animal spirit guide can support, strengthen and inspire you!

Donkey Table of Contents

Donkey Symbolism & Meaning

Historians believe that Donkeys were domesticated by Nubians around 4,500 years ago. In that region they took over for the Ox as an important pack animal. This position in life lead to Donkey becoming an integral participant in mobilizing pastoral and agricultural communities. They could travel easily over long distances, and even two of the first Egyptian pharaohs valued them enough to give them honorable burials. So it’s not surprising to see Donkey symbolism and meaning tied together with the growth of civilization, travel, trade and general service. Their versatility and being a beloved beast of burden is legendary.

In the 2nd millennium BCE, Donkey made its way into Europe. In Greece, Donkey had quite the raucous God looking over him, namely Dionysus the God of wine. From the ancient Grecian hub, Donkeys made their way into Spain, France and Italy. Romans continued distributing Donkey throughout the realm.

No matter the region Donkey’s somewhat stubborn nature was actually an asset. This creature does not move if they perceive any danger. Donkey knows well what he can (and more importantly – can’t) do. As humans learned to trust Donkey’s intuitive senses it often kept them out of trouble. The lesson here from the animal spirit guide world is one of caution. When we have a challenge, look for a safe means of resolving it rather than simply running right ahead.

Donkey arrived in America on the 2nd voyage of Columbus in 1495. In the early 1500s Donkey’s came into Mexico where they became a proverbial landmark for missions and mines. Early prospectors depended on Donkey to reach potential digging places during the Gold Rush. Here we can see Donkey playing a role in both adventure and prosperity. Along the route Westward, many Donkeys escaped, which allowed them to establish themselves in a variety of places.

A Donkey’s ears are funnel like. They can hear sounds quite a distance away. For us, that represents active listening skills, clairvoyance and generally keeping our senses honed in so that we know what’s ahead.

There are some interesting superstitions about Donkey Spirit. A pregnant woman seeing a Donkey knows her child will grow up to be wise and attentive. And when Donkey brays while twitching his ears, expect rain.

Donkey took part in folk remedies too. Sitting on the back of a Donkey who circles nine times cures whooping cough. Hairs from a Donkey’s back had numerous applications including easing toothaches and curing scarlet fever. Carrying the right hoof of a Donkey safeguards a person against epilepsy. Who knew?

Donkey Spirit Animal

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Donkey as a Spirit Animal may saunter into your life when you have taken on too much responsibility. This animal ally naturally wants to help, but when you put too much on their backs they will fail physically. In human terms this also translates to emotional and spiritual damage. Learning to say no is an art form that honors your sacred self.

On the flip side, Donkey may be challenging you to become more responsible to yourself, others and/or a specific situation. If you’ve been shirking, Donkey will be happy to give you a push. Anyone who has been on the receiving end of a Donkey kick knows full well that this Spirit Animal is strong and well-aimed.

Donkey Spirit may also bray at your side with words of warning. Donkey sees and senses danger. You need to stop, reassess your surroundings and reconsider before taking any further action. No need to run head-long into trouble. Tune in those instincts and trust yourself more.

Despite what many people think, Donkey is smart. He loves to learn and may become a guide to students, particularly younger ones whose playful spirit attracts him. Here Donkey has come offering confidence, determination and focus.

Because of Donkey’s association with Dionysus, this Spirit Animal may be hinting at the need to get more in touch with your sexual, sensual self. Are you too withdrawn? Or, perhaps too overbearing? Donkey helps you sort out that push-pull in your own self-awareness.

There are a few other messages Donkey Spirit may have for you. First, are you giving too much stock to other people’s opinions about yourself, rather than how YOU feel? Are you letting people make your choices for you instead of trusting that you are doing the right thing? Is there a situation in which your helpful nature is being misused? These are the questions this creature and helpmate challenges us with so that we can make positive changes.

Donkey Totem Animal

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If you have been born with a Donkey totem there is no question that you have a stubborn streak a mile wide, but it’s for good reason. You learned early on that you must stand your ground, particularly if you think something or someone isn’t as it appears on the surface. When need be you have no problem courageously biting or kicking yourself out of harms’ way.

Donkey people tend to be independent and smart. They don’t suffer the company of fools well, if at all. Nor do they have patience for cruelty. Donkey Totems seek out gentleness in people. Kindness is a virtue, and they have a soft spot for anyone who is frail or small and unable to protect themselves adequately.

Spiritually Donkey people are often called as guides for others. As you help, you are also teaching. Your approach to people is very loving, but also wise. When a relationship gets out of balance you’ll walk away and not look back. It is very important that Donkey Totem walk in personal truth, not allowing abuse of your natural benevolence.

If you have family or friends with a Donkey totem be aware that they’re very insightful to the point of being a little too aware for comfort sometimes. It’s OK, though. Donkey will see those things you cannot and provide sound advice on improving your self-care.
In many instances Donkey people are unsung heroes who are not wholly understood by their peers. Your dedication is noble and your ability to navigate unusual situations quite impressive. Sometimes people perceive your slow, cautious approach as lackadaisical but nothing could be further from the truth. In time, your nay-sayers will see that yours is the path of safety and survival.

Donkey Power Animal

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Call on Donkey as a Power Animal when you need to stick to your decision. This creature provides support to stand true, refusing to move when you know full well so doing would be harmful. In the same vein, Donkey teaches you how to say “no” and mean it.

When your burdens seem to heavy to bear, Donkey can be a great helpmate. She will gently take some of that weight for you. This animal spirit guide stays nearby until you come to a place where you are finally free.

If you find that you constantly ignore your gut instincts and pay the price, Donkey is your go-to Power Animal. Donkey spirit calms your spirit and teaches greater self awareness. In that stillness listen to your Higher Self and begin believing in your psychic perception. This is particularly true for those who have on-going abusive or toxic relationships. Learning Donkey’s self-preservation skills goes a long way in every situation in life.

Finally, a Donkey’s bray is LOUD and absolutely unmistakable. Invoke Donkey medicine when you need to be heard!

Native American Donkey Symbolic Meanings

Because Donkey was an animal brought into the Americas, we don’t see much about this Spirit Animal in Northern Tribes. We did find one story about Donkey’s protective nature. It begins with a chief’s daughter who had a wonderful family. After having children of her own, her grandmother made the children saddle bags and bought them a donkey.

The grandmother wanted the children to carry the babes in his saddle bags on each side of his back. Unfortunately, the children’s father had other notions. He got a pony, put the saddle bags on it and commanded that the donkey carry the pots and pans. The woman complied.

She began piling kettles, and tent poles and all manner of household goods on the donkey’s back. The donkey did not like this and began to bray and kick. The grandmother saw this and chastised the young man. “I told you the donkey was for the children of the chief. He will not be dishonored with pots and kettles.” She fetched the packs with the children and returned them to the Donkey who immediately calmed.

The day after they began traveling they were set upon by some enemies. The man slapped the ponies who fled. The battle was long but eventually the enemy fled as well. However, no one could locate donkey and the children. After much searching, they returned to the village in mourning. Much to their surprise, the good donkey seeing danger had taken the babes to the wise grandmother’s tepee where they remained in safety.

Donkey as a Celtic Animal Symbol

The Irish have a strong relationship with Donkeys. These creatures were central to the rural life of many people. Donkeys cleared fields, ground corn, transported people and even became family pets. Even into the 20th century many Irish homes depend on Donkeys for these tasks due to the lack of piped water, electricity and cars. In this way, Donkey has come to represent survival and adaptation.

In Scottish heraldry the Donkey (Ass) represents humility and patience.

Donkey Dreams

Dreaming of the Donkey represents a process that you must work through until it is done. There is, however, a cautionary message here that you not take on too much at once. If the Donkey in your dream has a rider, there is someone in your life who is letting everyone else do the work for them. If you are the rider, it symbolizes that you are humble, gentle and modest.

Sometimes a Donkey dream implies you being stubborn in some way. The question to ask yourself is if you need to give a little more or stand your ground. A braying Donkey may mean that someone is insulting you publicly using lies and deceit while pretending to be a friend.

Far Eastern Donkey Symbolic Meanings

Donkeys were common in Northern China as they transported goods and plowed fields. In this region the Donkey represents the ascetic hermit who is determined and steadfast. Stories tell of the Daoist Immortal Zhang Guo Lou as riding on a paper Donkey (being so made he could easily fold it up into his traveling bag).

A Korean Folk Tale: Yun’s Donkey

A government minister known as Mr. Yun was ready to retire. He left the capital city to move to a local province where he grew up. In this travels he met an elderly man trying to sell his Donkey. The price of a thousand coins was exorbitant considering the creature had but one eye. The old man pleaded saying that he needed the money to rescue his son from danger and the only thing he had of value was the Donkey.

Mr. Yun could not but have sadness for the old man, so he bought the one-eyed Donkey feeling it would not only save the son but also this elderly fellow. So off Mr. Yun went, continuing to his home town with the Donkey in tow. Some years later Mr. Yun’s son had to travel back to the capital for an exam using the one-eyed Donkey for transport. Along the way there was a big house that gave him a resting space over night. When the owner saw the Donkey he wondered at such a strange steed, so of course Mr. Yun’s son retold his father’s tale.

Upon rising the homeowner came to the son and apologized. He said the Donkey ran off in the night and offered the boy his horse instead. The homeowner only asked that he bring the horse back after his test. So, after taking his exam the young man returned. As he approached there he saw the Donkey and his father with Mr. Yun. The homeowner cleverly had the Donkey, which he hid, took him to Mr. Yun and brought him back for a celebration. You see, the homeowner was the son of the elder from whom Mr. Yun bought the donkey originally. In gratitude for that kindness the homeowner gifted Mr. Yun a great sum so he could live comfortably all his life.

So it is that appearances aren’t everything. The one-eyed Donkey was quite the hidden gem.

Donkey Symbolic Meanings Key

  • Hard Work
  • Fortitude
  • Dedication
  • Faith
  • Responsibility
  • Offering Service
  • Intelligence
  • Versatility
  • Speaking Up
  • Being Heard
  • Standing Your Ground

2 thoughts on “Donkey Symbolism & Meaning

  1. Arosa says:

    Dreamt of walking train tunnels when I came upon a sweet donkey who couldn’t find his way out. The poor thing looked hungry and I told him I knew the way out and if he followed me I’d find him food and water. He was even stumbling a bit and I was very concerned as I didn’t know how long he’d bee wandering those tunnels. I got us out to a place that had beautiful green grass and a creek gently bubbling by and he immediately chomped on the grass. I found something to put water in for him to drink from because I didn’t want him to fall into the creek in his weakened state. I stayed with him until my dream shifted to something else.

  2. KK says:

    So Interesting and well researched! I have 13 donkeys on my farm and have raised them for 30 years.

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