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Hippo Symbolism & Meaning

Are you hiding your feelings? Worried about navigating complex relationships? Hippo as a Spirit, Totem, and Power Animal can help! Hippo teaches you how to swim through the watery realm of emotion. Delve deeply in Hippo symbolism and meaning to find out how this Animal Spirit guide can support, encourage, and strengthen you!

Hippo Table of Contents

Hippo Symbolism & Meaning

“Did you ever see the Rhinoceros, and the Hippopotamus, at the Zoological Gardens, trying to dance a minuet together? It is a touching sight.”
— Lewis Carroll

Classic Greek art has renderings of the Hippopotamus dating back some 5,000 years. The Hippo’s Greek name means “Water Horse” or “River Horse.” When we consider this creature’s enormity this terminology was quite flattering. The Hippopotamus maneuvers quite well in the water, much of its weight displaced by the liquid. Even on land Hippo has cleverly designed feet that have four toes that make the Hippopotamus’ weight more easily managed. In thinking on this for a moment, there is the potential for greatness in every human soul. The question becomes can we embrace that humbly, and then put it to good use?

The Hippopotamus’ connection with the Water Element is quite obvious. When in water, Hippo has no qualms about protecting what they consider their territory. This doesn’t happen as much on land except when caring for young. Since Water represents our emotions, perhaps Hippo challenges us to consider why we are defensive about our goals or ideas? This protective nature isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s worth exploring.

Another symbolic attribute of the Hippopotamus is its ability to communicate LOUDLY. A Hippos’ mouth can open a full 180 degrees (wow!). Additionally, the Hippos’ teeth and jaws are well suited to frightening off intruders. Here Hippopotamus Medicine asks us about those words we suppress. Is it time to speak your mind and get things out in the open?

Some of the keywords and characteristics meaningful to Hippo Spirit include strength, emotion, forceful, strong-willed, agile, inventiveness, Power, grace, movement, wisdom, communication, creation, safety, responsive, intensity, vastness, and adaptation.

There are some interesting myths about Hippos that will help you separate truth from fiction for this great creature. For example, Pliny the Elder thought that the Hippopotamus sweated blood. Nonetheless, the red drips seen on the Hippo are actually a glandular excretion that conditions and soothes their skin. Additionally, if a Hippo gets harmed in a fight, the gel actually assists in healing with an antibiotic property.

Another misconception is that Hippo swims well. This creature does not have feet or tails suited to swimming. Instead, they stay in shallower waters where they can have feet firmly in the riverbed while their noses are above water. There are some rather amusing descriptions of how the Hippo hops along the river until they find just the right setup.

While you might look at the Hippopotamus and exclaim, “My what big teeth you have,” Hippos are predominantly vegetarian. If they are really, really hungry, they will eat scavenged meets. The Hippo’s teeth are primarily for self-defense.

Hippo Spirit Animal

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When Hippopotamus Spirit Animal arrives in your life, it will not be quiet or low-profile. It’s kind of hard to hide a four-ton Animal even in the Spirit realm. That size may feel daunting. Hippo is Powerful and somewhat bigger than life. In this sense, Hippo may be challenging you to tone it down or size it up!

As a Spirit Animal and guide, Hippopotamus sometimes comes to people to stir them up from complacency. Perhaps you reached a block and just gave up. Perhaps a new way of trying things frightens you. In either case, Hippo is not asking you to give up the methods that always worked for you, but even those won’t help if you are standing still. It’s time to commit and stop stalling.

Since Egyptian mythology tells us that the Hippo represents fertility and pregnancy, it makes sense that Hippo Medicine might come to those wishing to grow their families. In this role, Hippo not only provides you with positive energy and outlook but also protection. One does not mess with a baby Hippo in nature unless they want a proverbial whoop-ass. So, Hippopotamus may strengthen your maternal instincts too.

One of the dominant defenses for Hippo in nature is a thick skin. If you’ve become oversensitive and are seeing problems where none may exist, that’s why Hippopotamus presents herself. There are many times in life where we need to toughen up so that chaos doesn’t wipe us out.

Wise people tell us that Hippo Spirit Animal loves creative individuals. When Hippopotamus comes and walks with you be prepared for some surprising artistic expressions. While you open yourself for that productive, innovative energy, Hippo also helps you keep it in balance with your other responsibilities including self-care.

Finally, our Hippo teacher reminds us of the importance of honest communication. Share your story, express your ideas, shout your joy to the rooftops. Open your mouth, trusting in your instincts.

Hippo Totem Animal

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Those who have a Hippopotamus Totem Animal are highly dynamic. When you speak with this person, it appears that they just ooze capability. Hippo children develop emotionally and mentally very quickly, so be prepared! Your little one has no problem with secure boldness.

If the Hippo is your birth Totem, you may have cranky moments. There is no question that Hippo has little tolerance for people who stomp all over their boundaries. It will be a challenge for you sometimes to rein in that aggression.

The Hippo Totem also speaks of your dreams. You may find yourself caught up in your artistic vision exclusive of all else. Letting your imagination move with the river is fine. However, even Hippo has to come to land from time to time. Earth-Water balance, this is the Hippo in daily life.

One thing that the people around you know is that they should not ask your opinion unless they want the whole truth. Hippos do not “tickle ears.” When you offer practical advice, you expect some level of respect. When people continually brush off those ideas, you’ll back away and let situations take their course.

Hippo certainly “sticks out” in her environment. Yet this creature seems amazingly comfortable with that stature. Those people walking with Hippo Totem are able to find real peace with their uniqueness and even celebrate it.

Those with a Hippo Totem know when they need space. Periodically they will retreat somewhere they feel safe, somewhere they can recharge their batteries. For many, this is a waterscape – a pond, river or ocean. Water is Hippo’s healing element.

Your Hippopotamus energy gives you a good deal of bravery, but generally, you’re a pacifist at heart. Living harmoniously with others pleases you; conflict gives you an upset stomach. If a fight CAN be avoided, you will do so.

Hippo Power Animal

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Call on Hippopotamus as a Power Animal When:

  • Your creativity needs a boost.
  • Your goals have gone by the wayside.
  • You need emotional healing or better ways to connect to your emotions with positive results.
  • You feel blocked in some area of your life.
  • Your life seems drab and you yearn for something “colorful.”
  • a You’ve overlooked your self-care protocols to the point of ignoring essential needs.

  • Self-trust? What is that?

Hippo Celtic Symbolism

Pictish carvings in Scotland are remarkably similar to the Roman images of Sea Horses. It’s uncertain, however, if these were meant to be Hippos. We do know that Irish myths include stories of a River Monster named Nechtan. Some historians think this could be either a Hippo or a crocodile. Also, the etymology behind Nechtan probably has a connection with Neptune in Rome and Nodens in Italy. Nechtan oversaw the Well of Wisdom in which the Salmon of Wisdom lived.

Hippo Greek Symbolism

Depictions of Hippokampoi dot the ancient Greek lands starting around 4 BCE. This creature had the head of a horse and a serpent-like tail. Folk beliefs claim these are actually the adult version of a seahorse. The Sea gods and nymphs employed by Poseidon for drawing his chariot.

The depiction of Hippocampus transformed into Medieval heraldry, especially favored during the Renaissance.

Hippo Egyptian Symbolism

Egyptian mythology is filled with tales of the Hippopotamus. The Goddess of fertility and pregnancy, named Taweret, had the head and body of a Hippo, lion legs and mane and a crocodile tail. Red Jasper images of this Goddess appeared as early as 3000 BCE on amulets to keep evil Spirits away, particularly form mothers and children. This tradition remained for thousands of years even into the Roman era. Her popularity was such that the city of Thebes was named after her.

Taweret was married to the God Set who ruled over storms and wind. Because of their relationship Set could shapeshift into a Hippo and several other fearsome Egyptian Animals. Other names for Taweret include Mistress of Pure Water and Lady of the Birth House.

Taweret mixed and mingled a bit with other Hippo Goddesses known for protection. These include Reret (the sow) Ipet (the Nurse) and Hedjet (the White One). Sacred tools of this Goddess included a carved wand and attributes included rejuvenation, pregnancy, midwifery and also the purification of the dead.

Overall Egyptians saw the Hippopotamus as a creature of life because they lived at the banks of the sacred Nile. Their habit of going beneath the water then reappearing became a symbol for rebirth. Sadly, this icon did not seem to apply to Hippo’s longevity. The last of the Hippos in Egypt disappeared in the early 1800s.

Hippo Africa Symbolism

An African legend tells us that God made Animals placing them all over the earth. Just when he thought he was done, God realized left the Hippopotamus behind in heaven. The Hippo came to God to discuss his fate.

God felt that there was really no space on earth where Hippo would feel at home. Nonetheless, our stalwart Hippo persisted. He begged to be put on land and water, the first by night and the second by day. Hippo also promised only to eat grass, grazing the savanna after dusk.

God still wasn’t sure about this idea. So, Hippo made yet another promise. He would never eat Animal and if God ever thought he was fibbing Hippo would present his feces. God accepted this pact. To this day Hippo passes his excrement while eating so God could see he was honoring his oath.

The second story of Hippo also endeavors to explain why he lives in water. It begins in the African bush. The Creator made many land Animals, but not so many that lived in water. The land Animals often had strong skin or other protections from the sun. This was not so for Hippo. The bigger he got, the thinner his skin. He suffered terribly from the burns.

Finally, he went to the Creator in great pain begging him to go live in the water. The Creator showed kindness and approved with one caveat. Hippo had to get permission from the river Animals.

Hippo complied asking the otter, crocodile, and eagle to come to live in the water for comfort. The river Animals were concerned about Hippo eating all the food. Hippo explained that he eats only grass and plants.

The creatures of the river were still somewhat skeptical. To ease their fears, Hippo promised to open his mouth wide daily, so they could clearly see no bones or fish scales in his mouth. So, to this day, Hippo keeps his word dutifully, opening his mouth wide for inspection.

Hippo Dreams

When Hippopotamus appears in your dreams, this symbol can mean various things:

  • A time of clearing emotional turmoil.
  • Seeing a baby Hippo portends a major announcement or event forthcoming.
  • A group of Hippopotamuses in your dream counsels you to relax more and pay attention to your feelings.
  • A vibrantly colored dream of the Hippo represents your creative Spirit. Inspiration is just around the corner.
  • If the Hippo is staring at you, there are strengths in your character that you do not recognize. It’s time to embrace your Power.

Hippo Symbolic Meanings Key

  • Adaptation
  • Communication
  • Emotion
  • Grace
  • Inventiveness
  • Movement
  • Responsiveness
  • Strength
  • Strong Will
  • Wisdom

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