Lizards have manifested different meanings throughout centuries and across cultures in various religious, spiritual, and socio-political spaces, a versatile, mysterious, and elusive animal. What then is the spiritual meaning of a lizard?
While symbolizing various things, lizards usually symbolize a symbiotic relationship with the environment and one’s shortcomings; therefore, while some cultures depict lizards negatively, many cultures learn from lizards that success necessitates a level of sacrifice.
As a result of the cross-pollination of meanings attributed to lizards from Western, Middle Eastern, Eastern, and indigenous communities across socio-political, spiritual, and religious spaces will be discussed to decipher holistic meanings.
What Does A Lizard Symbolize?
As highlighted above, lizards symbolize various things across different cultures throughout the centuries; these will be individually explored to illustrate the cross-pollination of meaning attributed to lizards.
Native American Lizard Symbolism
The diversity and abundance of different lizard species across Northern and Central America mean that indigenous communities have been exposed to various species with unique characteristics for centuries.
As a result of their diversity and inherent characteristics (shedding skin, changing colors, venom, etc.), lizards have come to symbolize growth, change, cycles, duality, mystery, and rebirth.
Furthermore, the nature of lizards has led to the symbolization of patience, subtlety, sensitivity, psychic abilities, intuition, and quickness; this mysticism surrounding lizards has also led to their role in dream states and interpreting these dreams.
In Latin American culture specifically, the mysticism of lizards in the waking and sleeping world is extended to include a spirit animal of great importance since ancient times.
This mysticism is the assistance of interpreting important events in your life and the need to shower yourself with self-love and care through transitional periods; therefore, before doing anything, one must consider the effects on their life and be positive in eradicating anything that may challenge rightful thoughts of the future.
Biblical Lizard Symbolism
In contrast to Native American symbolizes which generally see lizards in a favorable light, biblical texts often associate lizards as unclean due to their cross-pollination with other Abrahamic religions in the middle east.
The unclean association with lizards generally seems to result from dietary concerns of consuming lizards that morphed into depictions of lizards as mischievous or evil beings.
In fact, some of the worst figures in biblical texts, such as Satan, have been depicted in reptilian forms throughout history and in a different medium (dragons, snakes, lizards, etc.) This is largely due to the depiction of lizards as elusive, clever creatures with nefarious desires.
Curiously, some Christian spaces do not share this sentiment, with some Polynesian cultures (having adopted Christianity) viewing lizards in a more positive light to their Middle Eastern and Western counterparts.
Celtic Lizard Symbolism
While lizards, as we know them, had limited significance to Celtic society, oftentimes not seeing them as much more than ingredients for poultices and potions, the evolution of the images of lizards into dragons form a cornerstone of Celtic mythology.
Nowhere is Celtic pride and the fixation on dragons more apparent than the red dragon or wyvern as seen on the Welsh flag. While formally introduced in 1959, the use of dragons as symbols of royalty, power, and strength dates back to 655AD.
Dragons, while originally adapted from the banners of Roman invaders to the British Isles, are used as a symbol of communal strength and pride and metaphorically to embark wisdom and life lessons onto the greater community.
For example, the Arthurian legend of Merlin witnessing combat between a red and white dragon came to symbolize the ongoing conflict between the Welsh (red) and English (white).
Consequently, depicting a lizard or dragon as a positive image contrary to its negative depiction in other nations has been a method of Celtic pride, nationalism, and individualism throughout the centuries.
Sub-Saharan African Lizard Symbolism
Many African cultures depict lizards in various ways; few places as much significance on lizards as Zulu communities in Southern Africa., which in turn has led to wider depictions of lizards of harbingers of death, disease, and decay.
The negativity surrounding lizards comes from the creation myth of Unkulunkulu, a self-creating deity known for his ferocity and pride.
In mythology, Unkulunkulu, as the maker of all things, was responsible for accidentally bringing death to humanity. He sent a chameleon to earth with a message of eternal life and a lizard with the announcement of death.
Being a slow lumbering animal, the chameleon arrived late, with the lizard having already delivered his message. Consequently, lizards are seen as a bad omen, while other reptiles such as chameleons are attributed to other meanings.
In light of Unkulunkulu’s answer of immortality being lost, there was great symbolism placed on marriage as an institution for carrying on one’s legacy and to respect the will of doctors in guarding people against disease.
What Does A Lizard’s Animal Symbolism Mean?
Over and above third-party observations and interpretations of lizards lie their inherent animalistic symbolism in the form of spirit, totem, and power animals.
Lizard Spirit Animal Meaning
Those with a lizard as a spirit animal are in tune with concepts of birth, death, decay, regeneration, and cylindrical reasoning and patterns; this helps one not fear loss and understand failure as a platform for new opportunities.
Consequently, sacrifices for strong familial relationships are also attributed to those who identify with lizards as a spirit animals.
Lizard Totem Animal Meaning
Having a lizard as a totem animal means having a reliable messenger from the spirit realm, which is adaptive and flexible, often coming in times of need and in unexpected ways.
Lizards, being adaptable animals that take very good care of themselves, invite us to do the same, not foregoing the fact that sacrifice and swiftness are cornerstones of achieving future success.
Lizard Power Animal Meaning
As a shamanistic power animal that anyone can utilize, invoked the lizard as a power animal imbues one with an ability to let things go and to embrace the consequences of their actions.
Letting go of things should not be done flippantly but should be done to preserve a better future for oneself. Like how a lizard may lose a tail to avoid danger, so should these abilities be invoked in times of strife and transition.
While it is difficult to paint a holistic picture of the spiritual meanings behind lizards, looking at a cross-section of cultures and experiences suggests an entity that symbolizes the need to accept loss to achieve something greater for oneself.