Lizard symbolism is widespread and fascinating. In some cultures, the lizard represents shining light. From the Roman goddess Minerva to the Moche people of Peru, the lizard has a wide range of meanings and significances. To the Romans, the lizard was a symbol of destruction, death, and chaos. To the Greeks, the lizard was representative of divine wisdom and good fortune.
Table of contents
- Lizard Symbolism and meaning
- Lizard Native American Symbolism
- Lizard Eastern Symbolism
- Lizard Christianity Symbolism
- Lizard Celtic Symbolism
- Lizard African Symbolism
- Lizard in Dreams
- Lizard Encounters and Omens
- Lizard’ Mythology and Folklore
- Lizard Spirit Animal
- Lizard Totem Animal
- Lizard Power Animal
- Lizard Tattoo Meaning
Lizard Symbolism and Meaning
Some lizard species are capable of sacrificing a part of their tails. When the lizard is trapped or threatened by a predator, its tail falls off allowing the lizard to escape the threat. This ties the lizard symbolically to the idea of sacrificing one part for the sake of the whole.
Lizards and humans have had a close relationship since times immemorial. Some lizard species are kept as pets, including geckos, iguanas, and bearded dragons. This is a part of why so many cultures attach so much meaning to the lizard.
Lizard symbolism plays an important role across different cultures. Because of this, lizards are present in countless human artworks.
The lizard hibernates through winters and reawakens in spring. This symbolizes resurrection and rebirth.
In Egyptian hieroglyphics, the symbol of the lizard was representative of plentiful abundance.
A lizard in one’s house is often seen to represent an old friend or acquaintance.
In some Hindu superstitions, lizards’ chirping is seen as auspicious or holy. (1)
Lizards have even found their way into Shakespeare. In Macbeth, the witches boil up a magical brew using “lizard’s leg” as an ingredient. (2)
The Italian word for lizard is “lucertola,” which means the “shining light.” As mentioned above, the lizard can symbolize light and magic. (3)
Lizard Native American Symbolism
Lizard symbolism is very prominent in a number of Native American cultures. For the Native American Anasazi, Hohokam, Mimbres, and Mogollon cultures, the horned lizard was a common artistic motif. The imagery of the horned lizard was commonly featured on decorated pottery. (4)
In many tribes, including the Hopi, the lizard was associated with sacred medicine and powerful healing energies. (5)
The symbolism of lizard is often linked to strength; both physical and spiritual. The Piman people called upon the potent healing power of the lizard to “cure” them of persistent illnesses. Cures were affected by singing songs in praise of the lizard spirit and also by placing a lizard upon the patient’s body.
In mythology, the Mayan lizard god was believed to have created the Earth. The Mayans connected lizards with cosmic power beyond the confines of time and space.
In many Native American traditions, lizards were connected to dreams and prophecies. In some of these traditions, the lizard is associated with Dreamtime and intuitive psychic abilities.
The Native American lizard symbol often represents changes, cycles, duality, and mystery. Lizard icons also stood for subtlety, sensitivity, psychic abilities, intuition, and quickness.
Because lizards often use stealth to catch their prey, the lizard can also be connected to patience, camouflage, and hidden danger.
Some lizards, like the spiny-tailed iguana, were also sacrificed in some Mayan rituals and thus held special significance through these rituals.
Lizard Eastern Symbolism
In Chinese culture, lizards, crocodiles, alligators, and other reptiles are associated with the powerful symbolism of dragons. On the plains of Northern China, where rains are very important for crops and also rather scarce, the people pray to lizard rain deities.
In as early as 6th Century BC, people celebrated rain rituals using lizard icons and images followed by a procession of dancers.
As part of the rainmaking rituals, people placed water lizards in wooden jars. This connected the lizards to alligators, which were in turn linked to the rain Gods. Ten young boys would then incessantly beat the jars for days and nights with green bamboo sticks until it rained.
The sleek and sinuous lizard is regarded as an erotic animal, and therefore a symbol of sexual activity in Japan. The lizard’s graceful shape appears to justify its use in the small – scale applied arts of Japan.
Lizards are also symbols of love in the East. Used in the imagery of netsukes, or intricately formed wooden tools or objects, the lizard is a love-provoking amulet.
In ancient times, people would distill love potions from lizards because of the lizard’s symbolic association with love. This drink was also sold at druggists in small earthen pots with the dosage marked on the pot.
Lizard Christianity symbolism
The spiritual meaning of the lizard in the Bible is generally unclean. Biblical traditions often associate reptiles with sin, deception, and impurity. Although Polynesians and Maoris associated lizards with God, early Christianity associated the lizard with the devil.
Lizards of various kinds abound in Egypt, Palestine, and Arabia; some of these are mentioned in the Bible under various Hebrew names.
The Hebrew word for lizard means ‘creeping things which creep upon the earth.’ In Leviticus, it is stated that the Israelites considered them to be unclean.
Lizards are mentioned in Proverbs 30:24 as one of four things on earth are small but exceedingly wise. In this proverb it is said that the lizard can be caught by hand yet is found in the king’s palaces. (6)
The wisdom of the lizard in this passage is a fascinating departure from the negative connotation that reptiles largely hold in Christian symbolism. The lizard is wise because it can go unnoticed in palaces and overhear the plans being made by the king. This small creature represents the wisdom of subtlety. Tiny yet mighty, the lizard can survive even in places where other creatures cannot. Lizards are at home in inhospitable desert conditions.
Lizards adapt well because they depend on their instincts. Like the lizard, we must learn to be small, inconspicuous, and yet be wise. We should, like the lizard, work quietly and powerfully and do the work of the Lord.
Lizard Celtic Symbolism
The Celts believe that the Night Goddess Evaki stole sleep from the lizard’s eyes and gave it to all living creatures. Thus the Celtic superstition of a lizard within the house indicates sleeplessness or insomnia.
The Celtic Wicca also use lizard wisdom and lizard symbolism in potion-making. Lizards are sacred to dreaming. You can call upon lizards for prophetic or meaningful dreams and visions.
Lizards are sacred to Abas, Atum, Itzamna, and Tate Rapawayema. Similarly, Monitor lizards are sacred to Ascalabus and Sir Monitor Lizard. Lizards are also symbols of agility and conservation.
In Celtic mythology and folklore, lizards and other reptiles are sometimes used as adversaries in stories. Frogs, snakes, birds, and lizards are some pre-Christian era symbols used extensively in witchcraft.
Newlyweds are said to listen for the call of a gecko on the night of their marriage to bring their union prosperity and good fortune. The ancient Europeans and Greeks also saw lizards as symbols of hopefulness and wisdom. The Romans viewed lizards as symbols of rebirth.
In Celtic folklore and mythology, lizards can also be treated as benevolent characters rather than adversaries. Some Celtic legends and stories regard lizards as dragons and traditionally, they are symbols of wealth, nobility, and good fortune.
Lizard African Symbolism
Most Middle Eastern and African cultures see lizards as forces for good. African myths and folktales even feature prominent lizard characters. Two especially interesting lizard mythology tales come from Africa and Australia.
African Bantu tribes tell the story of a chameleon sent by God Unkulunkulu to tell the human race that it will live forever. Unfortunately, the chameleon is delayed and another lizard goes in its place to tell humans that their end is coming soon. (7)
Other tales and legends state that the lizards were responsible for splitting the human race into males and females and also for their artistic expression.
Lizards and geckos are common in African households. As a result, lizards inside of the house are commonly treated as omens; both positive and negative.
Africans believe that the animal world swarms with symbols. In some tribes, including the Bamileke, the lizard is similar to the toad and forecasts death. (8)
The chameleon, however, is a symbol of resurrection. The Egyptian hieroglyphics symbol that resembles a lizard means “plentiful” or “many.”
Also, because of its fondness for the sun, the symbolism of the lizard is closely linked to light. In hot areas and deserts, lizards are associated with light, heat and the unforgiving sun. Lizard icons and lizard omens can have negative associations because their frequent appearance coincides with drought and periods of heat.
Lizard in Dreams
Seeing a lizard in a dream can have a wide range of meanings. In some cases, a lizard visiting your dreams means that you have enemies. For a girl, a lizard dream can indicate that somebody will question her virtue. In general, dreaming of reptiles points towards a problem with the more slippery and elusive aspects of your personality.
Dreams about lizards symbolize the primitive part of human nature. Dreaming of lizards can indicate a situation in which you lack proper empathy or concern for others.
Dreaming of a lizard can be indicative of peace, stillness, or patience. When you dream of a lizard swallowing, devouring, harming somebody it may indicate that your worst instincts are dominating your behavior.
If you dream of fighting and defeating a lizard, it can mean that you have fought to dominate your base nature.
Dreaming about lizards can be a warning that an enemy is conspiring against the dreamer, and to take caution and remain vigilant. Killing a lizard in dreams can mean that the dreamer will be criticized for decisions they have made.
Lizard dreams can also mean that the dreamer will overcome an enemy. For the Navajo, a horned lizard was a symbol of strength and protection, so dreaming of one meant that nature and spirit guides were favoring the dreamer.
Lizard Encounters and Omens
The meaning of a lizard encounter can change based on the circumstances. Lizards in the house are commonly interpreted as omens. A falling lizard or lizard jumping can also mean different things.
If a lizard falls on the left side of a woman and on the right side of a man, then it is very auspicious.
The clucking sound of a lizard is auspicious in some parts of the world. The appearance of a lizard on the thighs can be auspicious but on the knees can mean imprisonment.
The meaning of a baby lizard sighting is usually a positive sign. To find a lizard with two tails is often considered to be extremely lucky. In Southeast Asia, geckos and lizards found in bed is an omen that brings good fortune.
Dreaming of lizards can also that a serpent is approaching. In Africa, the fire skink lizard is a bad omen and when people see one, they abandon their plans.
In Pakistan, people dislike the agama lizard because their head bobs are seen as a ‘mockery of their prayers.’ The people of Madagascar do not kill lizards as it tends to be a sign of bad luck. In New Mexico, people believe that lizards are reincarnations of medicine men.
In Wisconsin, unknown tribes even built an effigy of a lizard about 250 feet long. It is preserved in the Lizard Mound County Park. (9)
It is said that a lizard falling on the head from the trees above is a good sign. It can indicate an upcoming promotion.
Lizard Mythology and Folklore
Mythological lizards date back thousands of years and span a number of different cultures.
Ancient Egyptians carved Nile monitors and even preserved lizards in mummies. Some even carried lizard charms in boxes. (10)
In Roman mythology, the god Mercury was often depicted in chariots pulled by lizards. Aboriginal tribes in Australia who dreamed of lizards made lizard totems to attain supernatural powers.
According to Aboriginal lore, two monitor lizards painted each other – one did a great job by painting rosette patterns, but the other simply threw a bucket of black paint on the other.
As mentioned above, in African Zulu mythology, the lizard or chameleon is sent to give the message of eternal life to humankind.
According to this legend, the chameleon stops to eat along the way and the messenger of death reaches humanity before he can. To compensate for this loss of immortality, the Sky God made the concept of marriage and children so people could live forever through their children.
Europeans were impressed by the chameleon’s ability to change colors. Resultantly, they also believed that it lived only by eating air.
Native Americans also have many legends and stories about lizards.
For them, the lizard was a healing spirit that brought with it strength and sacred healing. Lizards also gave rise to the myth of the Lizard Man of the Scape Ore Swamp in South Carolina. This green slimy lizard man is reported to jump out of the woods and scare people. In some sightings, it was capable of chasing vehicles at high speeds. (11)
Lizard Spirit Animal
If the spirit animal of the lizard is your guide then you are deeply connected to the element of fire. The color red is also connected with the lizard spirit.
Through the lizard spirit guide, you can draw upon a number of strengths and abilities. The lizard can provide fearlessness, patience, agility, and serenity.
If the lizard is your spirit animal then you have the ability to wait for a great opportunity very patiently. With the lizard’s spirit in your corner, you can inspire courage and gain great success in business matters. However, like the lizard, you are a lone ranger. The lizard spirit is typically introverted and unsociable.
The lizard spirit animal encourages the spirit to be fearless in all pursuits. With the lizard as your guide, you must take risks in order to achieve what you want.
To best utilize the power of the lizard spirit, engage in your passions without letting them consume you. Thanks to the lizard spirit, you are blessed with an intrepid nature. You work for what you want and can take leaps and jumps if needed.
Be careful though. Even when passions consume you, like the lizard, you could fall. So learn to remain calm and still. The lizard’s energy isn’t about taking uncalculated risks. Instead, develop the patience to take risks at the right time.
Lizard Totem Animal
The lizard is a powerful totem in Native American and Aboriginal tribes. Throughout the world, the lizard symbolism is connected to the sun and light. This meaning is important to understanding the lizard as a totem animal.
As a totem animal, the lizard is often connected with dreams and visions.
The lizard is the happiest when basking in the sun, so, like your totem, make the sun your ally. Take in the sunrays when you can. This will energize and strengthen you.
The lizard totem is powerful for people connected with young children, such as school teachers. The lizard totem is capable of invoking creativity and artistic abilities. South American tribes often used lizards or snakes as totem animals.
As a totem, the lizard is an ally that helps you deal with the ever-changing experience of life on Earth. Lizards have adapted quite well in a variety of ways to avoid being preyed on. The lizard totem represents adaptability.
Through varying techniques or illusions, the lizard adjusts to the current conditions and blends in its surroundings. The lizard totem is capable of deflecting negative energies and safeguarding the spirit.
Lizards can also blend in with their surroundings and camouflage themselves. This helps ward off predators. At the same time, the lizard is capable of patiently waiting for its prey and striking when the time is right.
If the lizard is your totem then patience is your strength. Distraction and camouflage are the characteristics of lizards that link this totem to dreams and illusions.
Lizard Power Animal
Lizards like to bask on warm stones, absorbing the energy of the sun. If the lizard is your power animal then your spiritual power is tied to the sun and warmth.
And with its ability to detect vibrations in the ground and its keen sense of hearing, the lizard power animal can keep you safe from harm. The lizard is a powerful protective force.
As a power animal, the lizard has the power of dreams and prophecies. In addition, the lizard can encourage you to face challenges with strength and courage.
In North American cultures, the lizard is an envoy of the sun. Aborigines used lizard totems to keep them safe from enemies. They also used it to divine water during summers and droughts.
In Mexico, lizards are thought to be the reincarnated spirits of medicine men and shamans. So, if the lizard is your power animal then you may be able to wield shamanic healing power.
In Africa, a lizard mask is sometimes worn during special ceremonies and burials. This is because of the lizards’ association with reincarnation. A lizard can easily grow its tail back. This means it is capable of regeneration. If you call upon the power of the lizard then you may have the ability to emerge from any negative situation with newfound wisdom and strength.
Lizard Tattoo Meaning
Although lizards are common symbols worldwide, they feature most prominently in Polynesian tattoos. The lizard tattoo is popular because it is considered the creator of the world.
A lizard tattoo in the East, particularly in China and Japan, brings good luck and fortune. Chinese consider the lizard to be baby dragons, which are symbols of luck.
A lizard can regenerate itself. So a lizard tattoo can be symbolic of emerging stronger after trauma. In many cultures, the lizard is a symbol of regeneration and rebirth. It is also linked to feminine power.
Lizards also have the ability to make dreams come true. In Australia, Aboriginal cultures use the imagery of lizards to divine the location of water. To Native Americans, lizard medicine is thought to bring strength and power. A lizard tattoo can reflect this meaning.
Select your tattoo carefully. Discuss your vision with an experienced tattoo artist so you can get the exact tattoo you desire. If the lizard is meaningful for you, then it may be just the right choice for a tattoo.
Lizard symbolism is linked to sun, light, regeneration, and renewal. It is a symbol of good fortune in some cultures, while also representing impurity and danger in others. Lizards are patient, determined, and have the ability to blend in with their surroundings. If the lizard is a guiding force in your life, then we hope that this article is a useful resource for you!