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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 with greater ease! Delve deeply into Hippo symbolism and meaning to find out how your 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 five thousand years. Hippo’s Greek name means “Water Horse” or “River Horse.” When you consider the creature’s enormity, the technical terminology is flattering. You might not think so, but the Hippopotamus maneuvers well in the water with much of its weight displaced by the liquid.

Hippo is massive, but the creature has nature-designed feet with four toes making its weight more manageable. Here, Hippo’s message seems clear; you have the potential for greatness if you remain wise as you undergo spiritual pursuits or seek to strengthen your emotional foundations. The question becomes: What are the best ways to embrace all your talents and put them to use better your life and the lives of others?

Hippopotamus’ has an intimate tie to the Water Element; when within its element, the creature has no qualms about protecting its territory. Water represents emotions, and it is with this connotation in mind that Hippo, perhaps, challenges you to find out why you get defensive about your goals or ideas.

Another symbolic attribute of the Hippopotamus is its ability to communicate loudly. A Hippo can open its mouth a full 180 degrees, and the Animal has impressive teeth and jaws for frightening off intruders. Here, Hippopotamus Medicine asks you about the words you suppress and why. Ask yourself, “Is it time to speak your mind and get things out in the open? What is it that’s holding you back?”

There are some interesting myths about Hippos; Pliny the Elder thought the sweat of the Hippopotamus was blood. The red droplets seen on the Hippo are a glandular secretion for conditioning and soothing its skin. When another creature harms a Hippo in a fight, the red secretions help Hippo heal, thanks to antibiotic properties. Hippo’s teachings urge you to recognize things are not always what they seem, and your eyes can deceive you.

Although it may seem that Hippos are adept swimmers as the Animal spends so much time in the water, the creature does not have feet or tails suited to swimming. Instead, Hippo stays in shallower waters where it can set its feet in the riverbed while poking its nose above water. There are some rather amusing descriptions of how the Hippo hops along the river until it finds the right setup.

While you might look at the Hippopotamus and exclaim, “My what big teeth you have,” Hippos are vegetarian. The Hippo’s teeth are for chewing and self-defense. Hippos therefore symbolize the bearing of your teeth when you need to defend yourself, whether that’s with your words or actions. The Animal’s large teeth also connotes ideas or projects you can sink your teeth into; Hippo says, “Take a bite out of life!”

Hippo Spirit Animal

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When the Hippopotamus Spirit Animal appears in your awareness, it’s not a quiet arrival. It’s hard to hide a four-ton creature, even in the Spirit realm. At first, the Animal Spirit’s size may intimidate you, making it difficult for you to feel comfortable as you work with the creature’s energy. Here, Hippo challenges you to size up a situation you’ve been avoiding and to stand strong in your convictions.

As a Spirit Animal Guide, Hippopotamus sometimes comes to people to help steer them out of stagnation. Perhaps you reached a block and just gave up when obstacles seemed too difficult to overcome. Maybe a novel way of trying things frightens you. In either case, Hippo is not asking you to give up your tried-and-true methods, but nothing will happen if you don’t try at all. It’s time to commit and stop stalling.

Egyptian mythology depicts the Hippo as representing fertility and pregnancy, so it makes sense Hippo Medicine might come to those wishing to grow their families. In its role, Hippo provides you with protection, positive energy, and a brighter outlook. One does not mess with a baby Hippo in nature unless they want to pay some serious consequences. Here, Hippopotamus comes to encourage you to tune into your parental instincts.

In nature, one of the dominant defenses for Hippo is a thick skin. If you’ve become oversensitive and see problems where none may exist, Hippopotamus Spirit presents itself as a shield. There are many times when you might need to toughen up, so chaos doesn’t wipe you out on an emotional or energetic level. As an Animal Ally, Hippo helps you in developing a thicker skin so you can allow hurtful words or negative conditions to roll right off your back.

Hippo Spirit Animal has a natural attraction to creative individuals. When Hippopotamus comes and walks with you, prepare for some surprising inspiration leading to a unique means of artistic expression. While you open yourself for productive, innovative energy, Hippo helps you keep it in balance with your other responsibilities, including self-care.

Your Hippo Teacher reminds you of the importance of honest communication. Share your story, express your ideas, and shout the joy you feel from the rooftops. Open your mouth, share your opinions, and trust in your instincts to guide you in finding the perfect words for every occasion.

Hippo Totem Animal

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Those who have a Hippopotamus Totem Animal are dynamic. When you speak with a Hippo Person, the individual just oozes capability. Hippo Children develop a deep sense for their likes and dislikes along with an impressive intellect, often at earlier ages than their peers! If you’re the parent of a person with a Hippo Birth Totem, prepare yourself; your bold, daring little one has no problem testing boundaries and pushing the limits!

If the Hippo is your Birth Totem, you may have cranky moments. There is no question Hippo has little tolerance for people who stomp all over their boundaries. Likewise, it is sometimes a challenge for you to rein in your aggression when someone crosses you.

The Hippo Totem speaks of your dreams and how you achieve them. You may find yourself caught up in your artistic vision, exclusive of all else. Letting your imagination go with the flow, just like the current of a moving river, is fine. But even Hippo must step foot on land from time to time. Sticking to an Earth-Water balance is part of Hippo’s daily life, so finding a balance between being grounded or practical and reaching for your loftiest of dreams is paramount.

People in your circle know full well they should not ask your opinion unless they want the total truth. Hippo People do not “tickle the ears.” When you offer practical advice, you expect some level of respect. When people brush off your ideas without due consideration, you will back away and let situations take their course while offering no further input or help.

Hippo sticks out in its environment, but the creature seems comfortable with its stature. People walking with a Hippo Totem can find real peace with their uniqueness and even celebrate it.

Those with a Hippo Totem know when they need space. Sometimes they will retreat where they feel safe, which is often somewhere they can recharge their batteries. For many, you’ll find solace in an area where there’s a waterscape–a pond, river, or ocean. Water is Hippo’s healing Element, and serves to do the same for you, allowing you to let go of negative feelings or thoughts that might block your growth or success.

Your Hippopotamus Energy gives you a good deal of bravery, but you’re a pacifist at heart. Living in harmony with others pleases you. Conflict gives you an upset stomach. If you can avoid fighting, you do. Like the Hippo, you want peace, and will do whatever you can to ensure tranquility.

Hippo Power Animal

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Call on Hippopotamus as a Power Animal when you have hit a creative wall. Your aspirations linger until you can resolve the issue. In your life, blockages come in many forms. Your Hippopotamus Power Animal stresses bringing color back into your daily existence; your Animal Ally even sweats in bright colors! Invoke the creature when you want to use the power of color to make positive psychological changes in your life.

Invoke your Hippopotamus Power Animal when you’re prioritizing your needs. Perhaps something happened, and you got off track with ongoing self-care. As your Animal Ally, the creature helps you put yourself center stage, so you have little trouble putting your needs first. If your energy wanes, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and overlooked, Hippo also supports you in clearing out emotions or the mindset that’s dragging you down.

Hippo Celtic Symbolism

Pictish carvings in Scotland are like the Roman images of Sea Horses. It’s uncertain, however, if the pictures portray Hippos. Irish myths include stories of a River Monster named Nechtan. Some historians think Nechtan is a Hippo or a Crocodile. The etymology behind Nechtan may have ties to Neptune in Rome and Nodens in Italy. Nechtan oversaw the Well of Wisdom in which the Salmon of Wisdom lived.

Hippo Egyptian Symbolism

Egyptian mythology has many tales of Hippopotamus. The Goddess of Fertility and Pregnancy, named Taweret, had the head and body of a Hippo, legs and mane of a Lion, and a Crocodile tail. Red Jasper images of the Goddess appeared as early as 3000 BCE on amulets to keep evil spirits away from mothers and children. The tradition remained in practice for thousands of years, even into the Roman era. Taweret’s popularity was so great, the city of Thebes bears Her name.

Taweret married the God Set, who ruled over storms and wind; because of His relationship with Taweret, Set could shape-shift into a Hippo and several other fearsome Egyptian creatures. Other names for Taweret include Mistress of Pure Water and Lady of the Birth House.

Taweret is mixed and mingled with other Hippo Goddesses known for protection. They include Reret (the Sow), Ipet (the Nurse) and Hedjet (the White One). The Goddess’ Sacred tools include a carved wand. Her governance involved rejuvenation, pregnancy, midwifery, and purification of the dead. Overall, Egyptians saw the Hippopotamus as a creature of life because they lived at the banks of the sacred Nile. The creature’s habit of going beneath the water then reappearing became a symbol for rebirth.

Hippo Africa Symbolism

An African legend tells us God made Animals, placing them all over the earth. When completed, God realized He left the Hippopotamus behind in heaven. The Hippo came to God to discuss its fate. God felt there was no space on earth where Hippo would feel at home. But Hippo persisted. The creature begged God to let it live on land and water, the first by night and the second by day. Hippo promised only to eat grass, grazing the savanna after dusk.

God still wasn’t sure about the idea. So, Hippo made yet another promise. The creature swore it would never eat Animal flesh, and if God ever thought Hippo was being dishonest, the creature would present its feces as proof. God accepted Hippo’s pact. Even now, Hippo passes its excrement while eating, so God can see it is honoring the oath it made with Him.

The second story of Hippo explains why it lives in water, as the first folktale, but with a twist. It begins in the African bush. The Creator made many land Animals, but not so many living in the water. The land Animals often had firm skin or other protections from the sun. Hippo wasn’t so fortunate. The bigger the creature got, the thinner its skin. So, Hippo suffered in anguish from sunburn.

Hippo went to the Creator in significant pain, begging Him to let it 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 feared the Hippo would eat all the food. Hippo explained it 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 see no bones or Fish scales inside. Even now, Hippo honored its word, opening its mouth wide for inspection.

Hippo Dreams

When Hippopotamus appears in your dreams, it portends a time of clearing emotional turmoil. If the Hippo stares at you, there are strengths in your character you do not recognize: Ones helpful to your current situation. Embrace your power.

Seeing a baby Hippo portends a significant announcement or event forthcoming. If the baby or surroundings bear vibrant colors, you will find inspiration in an unexpected place. When the baby appears with a group of Hippopotamuses in your dream, it counsels you to relax more and pay attention to your feelings.

Hippo Symbolic Meanings Key

  • Adaptation
  • Communication
  • Emotion
  • Grace
  • Inventiveness
  • Movement
  • Responsiveness
  • Strength
  • Willfulness
  • Wisdom

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