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Sloth Symbolism & Meaning

Need to look at a situation from a different angle? Looking to savor every minute of the day? Sloth as a Spirit, Totem, and Power Animal can help! Sloth teaches how to take on a new perspective and how to slow down to partake of everything life has to offer. Delve Deeply into Sloth symbolism and meaning to find out how this Animal Spirit can educate, guide, and inspire you!

Sloth Table of Contents

Sloth Symbolism & Meaning

Sloths seem to move so nonchalantly that you barely notice their presence. Taking their time is part of the Sloth’s DNA, as is apparently hanging from tree branches. Sloths are native to the jungles of Central and South America and parts of Brazil. In terms of evolution, these creatures are ancient and have had time to observe much of human history in slow motion!

Many consider Sloth to be really lackadaisical or indifferent, and perhaps a bit ignorant. That is not true. Sloth has an uncanny way of escaping predators safely. Their instincts are keen, as is their ability for camouflage since their movement isn’t startling. Sloth Animal Spirit offers these aptitudes to those he favors. It takes a little time, but you too can learn how to make the most of even bad situations without any ruckus. In terms of being slow, the Sloths eats leaves and trees, and have no need to burn off energy as other creatures. If you live in a tree, you wake up to fresh food – no need to run after lunch.

A natural physical attribute of the Sloth is that his head rotates nearly three-quarters of the way around, so he is perfectly capable of seeing the environment keenly. Symbolically the better we can see our world, the better the decisions and conclusions we make. Nonetheless, like in all else, Sloth does not come to these answers too quickly. Slow and steady makes for better results, particularly if trying to know people better.

An interesting factoid about Sloth is that unlike other animals they have absolutely no body odor. While they look dirty, the lack of scent is an incredible asset when hiding from creatures who depend on their sense of smell for hunting. And while they may not look like water creatures, Sloths love swimming and bathing. They can plunge into the depths with the deftness of an experienced scuba diver. Add to that; Sloth can hold its breath for as much as forty minutes! Tie this all together, and you have many meanings and correspondences for the Sloth including the air element, camouflage, cleansing, conservation (energy), ease, evolution, invisibility, pacing, patience, peace, protection, providence, reserved, skill, vegetarianism, water element, wisdom, and wits.

You might think from the Sloth’s behavior that they are perpetual nappers. It’s true that Sloths sleep a great deal in captivity. In the wild, however, they only sleep about as much as the average human – eight hours.

Sloth Spirit Animal

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If Sloth has gradually entered your awareness, he may have one or more messages for you. Perhaps the most common reminder from Sloth is the need for peace and relaxation. If you have been uptight, stressed out, anxious, haggard or just plain worn out, Sloth instructs that it’s time to stop. You cannot worry 24-7, and you can’t fix anything if your inner well is dry as a bone. Taking time out is not a sign of laziness, but rather a pearl of wisdom in knowing your limits and using your energy wisely. Save your energy.

Restock yourself with people and experiences that bring joy and comfort. Secondly, Sloth may represent a fight or foe that’s looming. Sloth prefers simply disappearing into the backdrop until the danger passes. In this case, that is your best course of action. Coming out of the trees more than likely leads to defeat or harm (or both). Just watch and wait where you feel safe.

Sloth Spirit Animal is a patient Guide, who also expects restraint, moderation, and composure from you. There is a joke about a person praying for patience with the caveat of, “give it to me now!”. Sloth does not work spontaneously or impetuously. While you work with Sloth, developments do not come quickly, but don’t distrust this course. There is a plan, and it will manifest in all due time.

Finally, as Sloth lounges in the trees, he has much time for contemplation and meditation. It’s time for introspection. To what do you give your constant thoughts? How do you act and react? Sloth Spirit Animal says know thyself. It’s always good advice.

Sloth Totem Animal

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Those with a Sloth Totem Animal seek harmony with others and their environment. They seem honestly appreciative of all the good things in life be they big or small. That outlook rubs off on others in very positive ways.

If Sloth is your birth totem, you naturally support and guide others as best you can, even when your own life has its challenges. You are upbeat, easy going and have a great intuition (to which you should pay more attention). Walking with Sloth means you are not an attention-seeker. You prefer working behind the scenes and letting others shine in the limelight.

Sloth people are shy and reserved. It can be hard for people to get to know you. Kindness and politeness are part of your make up, but anything really social isn’t attractive. It takes time for you to really open up and even then, personal information comes out in snippets. Remember this because other people get impatient over time. This feeling can easily increase because Sloth does not change his mind lightly. Pretty words do not move you. Rather, any idea must be presented with sound reasoning and solid study before you even consider it.

Balancing that a Sloth Totem person is the most patient friend you will ever find. If you are not ready – ok! If you are trying to heal, slowly is great! Sloth doesn’t expect you to move exactly at his pace, but they do understand the need for gradual transformation and will support you all the way.

In nature, Sloth hangs upside down in a tree. So, it’s natural that you would see things quite differently than others, even to the point of seeming topsy-turvy. Yet there is strength and power in that perspective. Being a little odd is actually quite charming, and your mindset challenges people around you to think a little differently.

Sloth Power Animal

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Seek out Sloth Power Animal when:

  • Adapting to a specific situation.
  • Learning flexibility.
  • Changing your perspective.
  • Remaining aware of your surroundings.
  • Seeking wisdom.
  • Needing rest and retreat.
  • Improving your meditative skills and the ability of self-reflection.
  • Backing away from a potentially dangerous situation; opting for peace.

Amazonian Sloth Symbolic Meanings

Since the Sloth only lives in rain forest regions, it’s there that we begin exploring his folk tales. By far the most common story is of the Mapinguari, a terrifying creature who roars. Sometimes referred to simply as Beast, this animal-monster most likely alludes to the Giant Sloth who was bigger than an elephant. Human interaction with the last of this species created legends worthy of any night around the tribal fire.

Depictions of the Mapinguari vary. Most commonly it appears to have a bear’s body, backward feet, the face of a monkey and sometimes only one eye. Behind him flies a cloud of beetles. In some classic renditions, the Mapinguari can speak. How? Well, a Shaman discovered the secret of living forever. However, the cost was high. He transformed into this monster.

Mapinguari stood about 7 feet tall, standing on two legs. His hair is thick and matted, and it protects him from all weapons. If we were to draw a comparison, this Sloth-ogre resembles Sasquatch in North America and the Yeti of the Himalayas. Mapinguari seems to have an important task in life. He hunts down humans who do not obey jungle taboos and rituals. The transgressor is consumed quite promptly.

Scientists feel that Mapinguari is a species of Sloth extinct for thousands of years. Fossil evidence of this towering mammal has been uncovered throughout areas where Sloths still abide. Because the Amazon has many unexplored regions, some believe that a Mapinguari or two still hide in the greenery. Those who have encountered our modern Mega-Sloth say he clears huge paths through the jungle and has an aroma that renders men faint.

While we might dismiss these stories, there appears to be evidence that something is “out there.” Thundering roars, clawed trees, and large backward-facing footprints have been gathered and cataloged. Another indication of possible truth here is that every tribe, even those who have no contact between them, have myths with noteworthy similarities, giving rise to even more questions.

Brazilian Sloth Symbolic Meanings

There is a story in Brazil that explains why Sloth hides from the Jaguar all the time. It begins in a deep jungle in South America with a particular Sloth who took laziness as a personal point of pride. One day he ran out of food and just hung in a tree pondering how to get some without really working.

Our Sloth found his four neighbors – a jaguar, boar, snake, and mouse. As each of them passed his tree, he would talk to them. When mouse walked by, he asked for a bit of his food that would be paid for the next day. Snake likewise came by and came to the same agreement. Of course, this little trick continued with the boar and jaguar. By day’s end, Sloth had quite the feast, eating all night and the next day only stopping to sleep.

Knowing that the animals would come back soon for their payment, Sloth cleverly tied a rag around his head, put himself to bed and pretended he was very ill. Each by each the animals came upon Sloth and felt sorry for him, so they did not ask for repayment. As each creature entered the area of the Sloth, others would hide under the bed. Well by the time the boar squeezed under there was little room left.

All the creatures realized each other’s presence. The snake ate the mouse, boar chomped up the snake, Jaguar devoured the boar, but the Sloth was able to sneak out silently. To this day Sloth avoids Jaguar who is seeking his repayment.

Sloth Dreams

There are various interpretations for a Sloth appearing in your dreamscape:

If you can barely see the Sloth hiding in the trees, it signals a time when you need to back down, back away and find some cover. Alternatively, a fully exposed Sloth speaks of becoming more assertive in your actions.

A Sloth that appears totally rigid indicates your ambitions may be lacking. Even if you move forward one small step at a time, it’s progress.

When a Sloth is peeking at you in the dream, you have an opportunity to show a little gentleness or sweetness to someone on in need.

As a generalization: Sloths can symbolize areas in your life where you have gotten lazy. Is it because it seems too difficult? There may be a solution right in front of you if you just look a little harder.

Are there two or more Sloths in the image? If so, look for someone who can help you turn things around. You need a little inspiration and motivation that seems lacking within.

If the sloth in your dream is in a hammock, or in another lounging position, you are yearning for a get-away. You can’t keep up those stress levels forever.

Sometimes Sloth symbolizes a person in our life who isn’t being active enough in the relationship, leaving you feeling neglected.

Learn more about Sloth Spirit by reading Sloth in Dreams on!

Sloth Symbolic Meanings Key

  • Camouflage
  • Cleansing
  • Conservation (energy)
  • Ease
  • Evolution
  • Invisibility
  • Pacing
  • Patience
  • Peace
  • Protection
  • Wisdom

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