Tiger Symbolism & The Spiritual Meaning Of Tigers

This big cat is a powerful, majestic creature.

tiger spirit animal Pexels & Unsplash

Tigers are one of the deadliest felines in the world and have inhabited the planet for more than 2 million years. Unfortunately, Panthera tigris tigris has been flagged as endangered by the IUCN since 2015 and only around 3,900 exist in the world today.

But these beautiful creatures are holding on with their strength and persistence. Because the tiger is more than just a predator to most species — the tiger is tempestuous, calm, warm-hearted, fearsome, courageous, and caring.


Tiger Symbolism & Spiritual Meanings Of Tigers

The tiger symbolizes strength, cunning, majesty, independence, and immortality. The tiger is courageous, powerful, and brave.

These large wild cats are also known to showcase primal instincts and be completely unpredictable. In many cultures, the tiger symbolizes the ability to trust in yourself and your instincts.

Tigers are solitary creatures but will interact with others for mating and occasionally sharing their kill. So, tigers also represent being alone and being okay with it, as well as being able to survive on your own.

However, the tiger is a dangerous feline due to its hunting prowess. There are areas within India that are too dangerous for humans to go to because the tigers actively hunt them. Therefore, the tiger also represents ferocity, deadly focus, danger, and fear.


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Tiger Encounters and Omens

Naturally encountering a tiger in the wild is extremely dangerous. However, encountering one may mean progress or moving forward in life.

A tiger is also a humbling reminder of where your place is and that there will always be someone stronger than you in the world. It's an ego check at its core. Approach new experiences with patience and humility.


What Different Color Tigers Symbolize

Black Tiger Symbolism

According to Asian culture, a black tiger is the ruler of winter and is in charge of water elements like ice and rain.

Blue Tiger Symbolism

Blue tigers are rulers of the Spring season and governors of the earth elementals, according to Asian beliefs.

Yellow Tiger Symbolism

The yellow tiger is the supreme ruler of all tigers in Asian culture. They are also representative of the sun.

Red Tiger Symbolism

The red tiger is believed to be the ruler of Summer and the governor of the fire elementals.

White Tiger Symbolism

White tigers represent power. They are symbolic of an army of sorts and the strength they contain.


However, they are also known to represent virtue, courage, and peace. There is a Japanese legend that a white tiger named Byakko was a supernatural, celestial being that was the guardian of the West and kept the peace.

Tiger Symbolism in Dreams

Tiger symbolism in dreams really depends on the kind of dream or interpretation you have. The dream interpretations range from symbolizing patience, power and persistence to fear, repression and loss of control.

Dreaming of being chased by a tiger

This dream has two popular interpretations. The first is that when you dream of a tiger chasing you, it establishes how you live your waking life. So, it represents how you chase your dreams or achieve your goals and indicates that you have great power and energy.

The other is a more negative interpretation stating that the tiger chasing you represents overwhelming feelings and that you are often frustrated on a daily basis.


Dreaming of a tiger hunting

If you are dreaming of a tiger hunting, you are very confident in yourself at this moment in time. This dream is associated with confidence levels and aggressiveness. It may also mean that you are protected from the problems that come with life.

Dreaming of a tiger attacking

This type of dream has several meanings, but there are three very popular interpretations. The first is that this dream is a warning that you are being too hard on yourself or your loved ones, and that you need to take a step back to relax.

The next interpretation is a positive sign that you have the capability to get things done, and represents willpower and persistence. The third interpretation is a sign that obstacles are in your future and that you need to be prepared for them.

Dreaming of a sleeping tiger

Sleeping tiger dreams are always a good sign. These dreams represent love and your pursuit of pleasure and relaxation. It also symbolizes your unique personality and your duality.


Dreaming of a roaring tiger

This dream has two very strong interpretations. The most popular interpretation of a tiger roaring dream is that it symbolizes the end of something. It can be anything from the end of a project you are working on or the end of a relationship.

The other interpretation is that it signals a promotion at work coming your way due to your hard and active work ethic.

Dreaming of a tiger cub

Tiger cubs are babies who need protection. They can't survive on their own. Dreaming of a baby cub signals that you need to go somewhere safe or that something needs attention in your life.

Dreaming of killing a tiger

Usually, dreams that involve death are a bit scary, but dreaming of killing a tiger is a positive omen. Killing a tiger in your dream represents your great potential and that, when applied, you can overcome anything life throws your way. It also symbolizes bravery.


Dreaming of becoming a tiger

If you dream of becoming a tiger, it represents you taking on the traits of a tiger. It symbolizes you growing into your own strength and trusting your instincts.

Dreaming of a dead tiger

If you dream of a dead tiger, it's a wake-up call that you need a fresh start. A dead tiger symbolizes your relationship has issues and that you may need a break.

Dreaming of a tiger in your home

Dreaming of a tiger in your home is a bad sign. It symbolizes overwhelming obstacles you have been facing or will face, as well as betrayals from your loved ones.

It can also be a sign of danger within the home. This can be between individuals who live there or the house itself. It can even be a warning that a malicious spirit may be in the home.


Dreaming of capturing a tiger

This dream is an ominous sign and is often interpreted to mean a friend or someone very close to you will betray you.

Tiger Spirit or Totem Animal

Spirit and totem animals are often grouped together but they are actually incredibly different.

Spirit animals are spiritual guides intended to teach you lessons as you follow your life path, while totem animals, or animal totems are only invoked in times of need.

You will know if a tiger is your spirit animal if you have a profound experience with one or feel drawn to them in some way.

Those with the tiger spirit animal have a combination of strength, beauty, independence, and perception. They are masters of their domains which can range include a certain skill they have.


The tiger spirit animal ignites being spontaneous and acting fast when it is called for. Someone with a tiger as their spirit animal is also very reliant on their intuition.

People with tiger totems are said to be charitable, curious, dynamic, sassy, and intelligent. They are also known to have incredible communication skills.

tiger symbolism and spirit animalPhoto: Pexels & Unsplash


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The Year of the Tiger

In Chinese culture, there is a 12-year zodiac sign calendar with each year representing a different animal of the Zodiac. The tiger is third in line and is the animal for years 2022, 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950, 1938, and so on, repeating every 12 years.

The tiger Chinese zodiac sign represents bravery, cruelty, and being forceful. They are symbols of power and authority.

Those born in the Year of the Tiger are very independent and have great self-esteem. They often act alone, have endless energy, work hard and always get things done. The Year of the Tiger individuals are optimistic, enthusiastic, and are said to have very intense eyes.


Spiritual Meaning of Tigers in Christianity and the Bible

According to Christianity, the tiger symbolizes royalty, fearlessness, and wrath. However, the tiger is not mentioned in the Bible once.

The closest thing to a tiger would be a lion, which is a symbol of authority and royalty.

Spiritual Meaning of Tigers in Hinduism

In Hindu culture, tigers are the way gods and goddesses transported themselves. Tigers are brimming with appearances in Hindu myths and legends.

One popular legend is that of "The Vehicle and Durga."

This legend tells of Durga and her tiger that she uses as a way of transportation. Durga and her tiger symbolize a powerful union of the feminine force and Mother Earth, which can fight evil with no fear.


Spiritual Meaning of Tigers in Buddhism

Tigers are prevalent in the Buddhist religion. They represent strength, courage and perseverance, and appear often in the Jātaka tales, which document the former lives of the Buddha.

One of the most popular of the tales is that of "The Buddha and The Tigress." In the story, the Buddha sacrifices himself so the starving Tigress wouldn't have to eat her cubs. The story speaks about sacrifice and the value of natural living things.

Tiger Symbolism in Mythology and Folklore

Far East Asian Tiger Symbolism

The tiger is the emblem of courage, dignity, sternness, and ferocity in far East Asia. In Chinese culture, when by itself, the tiger represents Yin energy (the dragon represents Yang) and is viewed as a symbol of protection.


In China, the tiger has even been titled the "King of the Jungle" instead of the lion, and is associated with power and respect.

Korea, on the other hand, views tigers as symbols of superiority. They are also believed to be suspicious animals who can expel and fight evil spirits.

Russian Tiger Symbolism

Tigers go back all the way to the Indigenous people of Siberia and Eastern Russia.

These cultures view the tiger as the guardian of the forest. They are protective spirits who keep the forest healthy and nature in balance.

Celtic Tiger Symbolism

Tigers are not native to Celtic areas so they don't hold much symbolism. However, the tiger holds political meaning.


The term "Celtic Tiger" appeared in the vernacular in the 1990s because Ireland's economy was booming. This was how the power and energy of a tiger were ascribed to the nation, thus the "Celtic Tiger" was born.

African Tiger Symbolism

Tigers aren't native to Africa so they aren't present in any myths or legends. However, as the world expanded and knowledge of other cultures were transported across the continent, tigers gained a reputation in Africa.

Tigers symbolize feminine power, speed, beauty, protectiveness, aggression, ferocity, life and death, evil, and the destruction of evil.

Native American Tiger Symbolism

Once again, tigers are not native to the Americas, so there isn't any true symbolism or meaning attached to them. The closest big cat Native Americans would have seen were cougars, which were seen as bad luck.


Tiger Tattoo Meaning

A tiger tattoo can mean almost anything from being the person's favorite animal to being their nickname.

However, a tiger tattoo at its core is usually all about strength. Other popular interpretations include power, pride, independence, and even sexual prowess.

Tiger tattoos are meant to showcase that a person is aware they must trust in their own instincts, beauty, and danger.

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Deauna Roane is an associate editor for YourTango who covers pop culture, lifestyle, astrology, and relationship topics. She's had bylines in Emerson College's literary magazine, Generic and MSN.