What The Penguin Symbolizes: Spiritual Meaning, In Dreams & More

Penguins are fascinating animals surviving in some of the harshest conditions on our earth. They are awkward on land and transform into graceful and skilled hunters in the sea. They are the greatest divers on our planet. These tenacious beings are also incredibly family orientated. No wonder people seek the spiritual meaning of these birds.  

The spiritual meaning of the penguin is related to their courage and ability to thrive even in the toughest situations, handling problems as they occur. In addition, their commitment to family and community symbolizes values such as loyalty, devotion, faithfulness, and stability.

With the growing turbulence in today’s world, it is understandable to feel drawn to the penguin. Our energy seeks ways to ride out the storms. So much of this time has required time in solitude, denied access to our friends, family, and communities. We’ve adapted, found ways to reconnect. Such is the life of a penguin.

Penguins In Mythology And Their Spiritual Meaning

Penguins are not popular in mythologies. However, the Maori named their small yellow-eyed penguin Tawaki after a god from their legends. Tawaki walked the earth as a humble human until the day he “ascend a lofty hill, and someone who was cutting brush wood, saw him throw aside his vile garments, and clothe himself with the lightning.”

Tawaki is a clever and tenacious god loyal to his father and avenges his death. In one story, Tawaki challenges his brother to a contest to try to reach heaven from earth. He not only achieves his goal but manages to reach the highest of all ten heavens.

These tales of Tawaki, the god, often display bravery, cleverness, and fortitude. They also involve adaptability, transition, and change. Thus, it makes sense that the spiritual meaning of a penguin reflects both the attributes of the mythical god Tawaki and the animal named after him.

For the spiritual meaning of penguins is found in their:

  • Courage
  • Tenacity
  • Adaptability
  • Calmness in harsh conditions
  • Their loyalty to family and community
  • Cleverness
  • Dual nature

Penguins Symbolize Courage

Penguins are not terribly big. The smallest breed is the blue penguin, only 10-12 inches tall. Even the largest breed, the Emperor penguin, only averages 4 feet tall. To forge for food, they must dive into the water where they are hunted by:

  • Fur seals
  • Leopard seals
  • Orcas
  • Sea lions
  • Sharks

Diving into the water can be scary, but they do it for the survival of themselves and their families. However, they usually find it a pleasurable experience once they take the plunge. Because the water isn’t only a source of food, but where penguins find their grace, speed, and agility. In short, it is in the sea where they soar and truly come into our own.

We commonly find ourselves in situations that require us to be brave. Like the penguins, there are real dangers out there. But like the penguins, we must face them. When we embrace our courage, we not only find our ability to survive but may find our talents and our wings.

Penguins Symbolize Adaptability And Tenacity

Penguins dwell in the Southern Hemisphere and have adapted to live in a wide range of climates, from the harshest Antarctica winters to the sunny beaches of South Africa. They have learned to carry on, regardless of weather conditions, and make nests from their very feet when no other safe option presents itself.

But even living in the warmth of Africa comes with its problems. The same waters these penguins roam are also the breeding ground for the Great White Sharks and where orcas hunt. Thus, the punky little penguins have to keep going, despite the ever-changing challenges.

Thus, penguins are a symbol of adaptation and carrying on, despite it all. They remind us to be flexible and stay calm, even when faced with daunting challenges, such as a shark-filled sea. Even faced with these significant obstacles, from trying to keep our families warm in harsh conditions, we must make a plan and keep living life forward.

Penguins Are Symbols of Loyalty, Family, And Community

Penguins are loyal to their families and their community. The female Emperor penguin will have to leave her mate and egg for nine weeks to hunt. But she always returns with a belly full of food for her baby and gives time off for her mate to then hunt.

During the period the female Emperor penguins are gone, the males must work together as a community for the colony to survive. They rotate in a spiral, taking turns bearing the worst of the weather and coming in to enjoy the warmth of the center, all while protecting the eggs.

Thus, even in solitude, the penguins remain an intrinsic part of the families and communities. Nobody is ever truly left behind unless in death. They are loyal, working together to survive and thriving in conditions where most living creatures cannot.

Sometimes in life we are called to live alone. But even then, we are still part of a greater community. Loyalty, commitment, and working together are inherent to success even when called to live apart and act independently.

Penguins Symbolize Cleverness

Penguins are both the hunters and the prey. They survive by being clever and thinking fast in order to get out of problems.

Penguins Symbolize Duality

Penguins are black and white. These intriguing birds live in the harsh climate of Antarctica and the warmth of Africa. These birds are awkward on land but are the epitome of grace in the sea. But this dual nature isn’t contradictory but an acceptance.

A Penguin Is A Reminder To Define Your Own Gender Roles

Penguins work in a team with their mates. Both nature and hunt for their young. Most penguin breeds share the role of sitting on the eggs, too. It is only the Emperor penguins where the males look after the egg exclusively after the female transfers it to his feet. Thus, penguins show us the real value is working as a team, not defining the work by gendered roles.

Penguins And Dreams

Penguins easily slip between land and water. This has led them to being viewed as those that easily travel between realms such as dreams. A penguin’s presence in a dream is complex and nuanced but full of brightness and meaning.

Penguins often appear in dreams when life feels heavy and are a reminder to find balance. That situations can be survived and may not be as bad you think. That facing your fears and moving forward will bring new lightness into your being.


Penguins have spiritual and symbolic meanings tied to surviving and moving forward in harsh conditions. They are reminders to find a balance between living in a community and individualism. Even when apart, we are not alone and can still work together as a team. They are a bright symbol that even in hard times, lightness can be found.

Other Popular Spirit Animals

See if you relate to any of these popular spirit animals.