Coyote Symbolism & What It Means To See A Coyote

Photo: Warren Metcalf & sebartz / Shutterstock and Unsplash
coyote symbolism

Coyotes, whose binomial name is Canis latrans, belong to the canine family and are close relatives of the wolf.

Native to North America, coyotes have a reputation for being tricksters who prey on livestock and pets. But without them, the ecosystem would suffer; rodent and small predator populations would skyrocket.

And despite their reputation for destruction, coyote symbolism is deep, spiritual and meaningful.

Coyote Symbolism & Spiritual Meanings Of Coyotes

Yes, coyotes symbolize trickery, but coyotes are also associated with playfulness, cleverness, creativity, adaptability, and instinct. Coyotes also represent wisdom and teaching, as opposed to trickery, and this double meaning alludes to a balance between the two.

But this powerful animal also serves as a symbol of remaining vigilant. When a situation isn't entirely clear, coyotes bring what is hidden to light, forcing us to recognize our own defense mechanisms.

RELATED: Spiritual Meaning And Symbolism Of A Black Panther

Coyote Encounters and Omens

Seeing a coyote out in the wild can either be good luck or a bad omen. When you come across a coyote in the wild, it means that we must be aware of the consequences of our actions; if we do something bad to another person, it will eventually come back to us.

A coyote sighting is telling you to not only start fresh and let go of your fears, but, just like a coyote playing tricks, to enjoy your life and laugh a little bit more. Coyote encounters pertain to seeing life from another perspective, progressing through your stress, and obtaining balance.

When you see a coyote during the day, it means that you may not be taking your life progression seriously and need to focus on your goals. However, when a coyote crosses your path, it's also related to facing a great deal of danger.

What Different Color Coyotes Symbolize

Depending on their location, coyote fur can be brown, white, tan or gray. However, there may be instances where one dreams about a coyote in a non-traditional color.

White Coyote Meaning

A white coyote is a symbol of good, a common symbolism in Japanese culture. Where a white coyote represents good, black represents evil.

White coyotes are a sign of the forces above providing help in moving through a challenging period of life. It is said that you can call on a white coyote in times of strife.

Black Coyote Meaning

A black coyote is the counterpart to a white coyote; black coyotes symbolize evil and destruction. To dream of a black coyote means you are feared by those around you, and tend to resort to intimidation tactics to achieve your goals.

Gray Coyote Meaning

To dream of a gray coyote, specifically, is a symbol of intense inner desire. It's also a reassurance that you have the power to overcome any obstacles that come your way.

Red Coyote Meaning

A red coyote is a symbol of independence and freedom, and finding out new things that pertain to both yourself and those you hold dear. In dreams, red coyotes symbolize feeling unfulfilled in your career.

Blue Coyote Meaning

A blue coyote in your dream represents how others perceive you, and the reputation you hold. A blue coyote is also related to a harmonious working environment.

Coyote Symbolism in Dreams

Coyote dreams vary on their interpretation, depending on the circumstances of the dream and the person having them.

No matter the subject matter, pay close attention to how you feel during the dream — it's your subconscious communicating to you what you're struggling with in the waking world.

Dreaming of being chased by coyotes

To dream of coyotes chasing you symbolizes people in your life taking advantage of you. Be wary and vigilant about your circumstances, and trust your instincts.

Dreaming of running with coyotes

When you dream of running with coyotes, it means you must be careful about who you keep in your life. These individuals may end up betraying you and are dangerous to your overall well-being.

Dreaming of killing a coyote

Dreaming of killing a coyote means you may be falling victim to the lies and deceit of others. Instead of believing them, seek to find the truth; don't let them prey on your vulnerability.

Dreaming of a howling coyote

A howling coyote in a dream means that someone close to you is in need of help. Rather than ignoring their cries for help, lend a hand and do what you can to assist.

Dreaming of a talking coyote

A talking coyote is a reminder to laugh more and maintain your sense of humor. Don't let the serious aspects of life stifle your laughter.

Dreaming of a dead coyote

A dead coyote symbolizes your selfish tendencies and how they affect others. A dead coyote is also a sign that rather than helping someone in need in the future, you will turn the other cheek without helping.

Dreaming of a coyote pup

Dreaming of a coyote pup means you need to better adapt and deal with your current circumstances. You may need to get creative with how you survive and balance conflict with a new perspective.

Coyote Spirit or Totem Animal

A spirit animal is a guide who teaches you lessons while ensuring you stay on the right path in life. A totem animal is a spirit guide as well, but is a guide you invoke when you need help or guidance.

You cannot choose your spirit animal; however, you'll know if a coyote is your spirit animal if you resonate with this creature or have had a profound experience involving one.

Those with a coyote spirit animal are happy and approach all situations with joy. They easily adapt to their surroundings, and don't tend to take things seriously. However, these individuals are incredibly wise and don't blindly trust others.

A coyote spirit animal appears when you are taking life much too seriously, or when you are putting up a façade that needs to come down. The coyote reminds you to use your mistakes as learning experiences, to enjoy the good things in life, and that you need to learn to adapt to new situations.

Those with a coyote totem are jovial, wise, poke fun at themselves, value trust, and are cunning. A coyote totem is good luck, and appears to individuals who have a tough time adapting to new situations, reminding them that they can handle anything.

Image: Warren Metcalf & sebartz / Shutterstock and Unsplash

RELATED: Horse Symbolism & The Spiritual Meanings Of Seeing A Horse

Spiritual Meaning of Coyotes in Christianity and the Bible

In the Bible, coyotes are represented in a few ways. Coyotes steal other animals' prey and avoid traps, due to their intelligence. However, for the Israelites, these clever creatures are viewed in a negative light.

Isaiah 43:20 says, "Wild animals will say 'Thank you!' — the coyotes and the buzzards / Because I provided water in the desert, rivers through the sun-baked earth / Drinking water for the people I chose." This depicts coyotes as being more thankful than the Israelis he brings water to.

Coyotes aren't respectful creatures, but in this context, this disgraceful animal behaves better than his own people.

Coyote Symbolism in Mythology and Folklore

Native American Coyote Symbolism

In Native American culture, coyotes are seen as a supernatural creature who shape shifts; the coyote is both a wrongdoer and a creator. The Native American coyote is a symbol of intelligence, wisdom, secrecy, and cunning.

Each tribe has their own meaning associated with this creature.

While the Arikara tribe relates them to a coyote god named Chirich, the Blackfoot tribe views coyotes as demigods who created the world and gives wisdom. Coyotes represent suffering and death in the Maidu tribe, but is a companion of the Creator in the Pawnee, Ute, Chinook, and Tohono O'odham tribes.

There are also multiple legends associated with the coyote. In a Tohono O'odham tale, the Coyote helped the god Montezuma survive a global flood that wiped out humanity. The Creator then repopulates the earth, with Coyote and Montezuma instructing people how to live.

The most popular legend is "The Coyote Fire Legend."

This folklore explains that Coyote brought fire to the people. During one cold winter, Coyote saw human suffering, and the people asked Coyote for help. He then went to look for fire, eventually seeing a glow at the peak of a mountain.

Coyote climbed the mountain looking for fire, and saw Fire Beings hoarding a fire for themselves. He studied their behavior for days, paying attention to how the Beings guarded the fire one at a time. Coyote returned to the people, and let them know about the Fire Beings and their inability to share. His friends, Chipmunk, Frog, Squirrel and Wood offered to help him.

Coyote went back up the mountain, and as the Fire Beings were switching who guarded the fire, Coyote managed to steal a burning coal and ran down the mountain. As the Fire Beings chased him, Coyote threw the coal to Squirrel; a coal touched his back and tail, which is why it's arched.

Squirrel threw the coal to Chipmunk, who ran away but was clawed by a Fire Being, leading to the white stripes on its back. Chipmunk threw the coal to Frog, whose tail was grabbed by a Being, but Frog jumped free and lost his tail. Finally, Frog threw the coal to Wood, who kept the flame safe.

Wood wouldn't give the coal back to the Fire Beings, even after they sang, yelled, and promised Wood gifts. The Fire Beings returned to the mountain, and Coyote took Wood to the people and showed them how to get fire from Wood.

Celtic Coyote Symbolism

In Celtic coyote mythology, this creature is seen as brave, strong and loyal because of their close relation to dogs. Though coyotes aren't native to Europe, the Celts saw coyotes as spirit guides who keep people grounded, and their howls were omens of war.

Some coins depict the coyote almost swallowing the Moon, symbolizing the eclipse. Other myths involve the coyote acting as a guide in the Underworld.

African Coyote Symbolism

The coyote spiritual meaning in African mythology and folklore describes this creature as being able to consume spirits of the dead.

Coyotes are also related to the Egyptian god, Anubis the god of death who is depicted with a coyote head. This depiction started when coyotes ate corpses after bodies weren't buried properly.

In Egyptian legend, coyotes carried Horus, the god of war and sky, on their back to help him pass over water. Horus, who also represented the Sun, was said to have burned the coyote's back, which is why it's said to have black stripes on its back.

In Ethiopian legends, before the Great Flood, Noah refused to put coyotes on the Ark because they were inferior.

Another African tale tells of a lion and a coyote who went on a hunting spree. The coyote offered to prepare the meat for the lion's family, while the lion continued to hunt. But because the coyote is a symbol of trickery, the lion returned home to find his family starving, and the coyote eventually killed the lion after hiding on a cliff.

Far Eastern Coyote Symbolism

In both Japanese and Korean folklore, the white coyote is a symbol of good and is seen as a positive omen, as a stark contrast to the black coyote, which represents evil. In Korean culture, coyotes are brave and loyal creatures.

Ancient Civilization Coyote Symbolism

In the Mesoamerican city, Teotihuacan, warriors dressed up as coyotes to invoke its power. In fact, coyotes were seen as war symbols in Aztec culture.

In Aztec mythology, the god Huehuecóyotl was the god of music, dance, and carnality, and was depicted in ancient texts as a man with a coyote head. Huehuecóyotl was said to have brought war to the world by seducing the goddess of love, Xochiquetzal.

Coyote Tattoo Meaning

While people get tattoos for personal reasons, the symbolism of a coyote plays an important role. Those who get a coyote tattoo may do so because they are wise and intelligent, or respect the coyote's adaptability in any situation.

One might also get a coyote tattoo because they are confident in their abilities, are true to themselves, appreciate their own sense of humor, or are showing appreciation to Native American culture.

RELATED: Deer Symbolism & The Spiritual Meanings Of Seeing Deer

Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who has written hundreds of articles about relationships, trending news and entertainment, numerology and astrology. Follow her on Twitter for more.