Associated with determination, strength, and leadership, the ram is a potent symbol as well as an extremely impressive animal. Through domestication, humanity has formed a close relationship with sheep and rams. The impact of this relationship is found throughout human cultures; from biblical iconography to the Greek zodiac, the ram is as influential as it is formidable.
In many cases, rams are used to symbolize the strength and fortitude of the human spirit. Read on to learn all about the steadfast ram and the wisdom it has in store for you!
Table of contents
- Ram Symbolism and meaning
- Ram Native American Symbolism
- Ram Eastern Symbolism
- Ram Christianity Symbolism
- Ram Celtic Symbolism
- Ram African Symbolism
- Ram in Dreams
- Ram Encounters and Omens
- Ram Mythology and Folklore
- Ram Spirit Animal
- Ram Totem Animal
- Ram Power Animal
- Ram Tattoo Meaning
Ram Symbolism and Meaning
Sheep were among the very earliest livestock animals to be domesticated by humans thousands and thousands of years ago. (1) Ever since this early domestication, sheep have played an essential role in agriculture and have influenced human cultures through this special role.
In most cultures, sheep represent tenderness, docility, and gentleness. Sheep are fluffy and demure and have connotations of comfort and restfulness as well. These connotations, though, are usually limited to ewes, or female sheep, and lambs. Although rams are, themselves, sheep, their symbolic meaning tends to be a bit more masculine. (2)
Rams engage in contests for dominance against other rams. The winners gain the right to breed within the flock. Rams are protective, aggressive, and stubborn. In the wild, rams are often seen scaling rocky cliff faces. (3)
Because the dominant ram is the leader of the herd, rams are often associated with leadership and guidance. Some even see the powerful curling horns of the ram as crown-like and representative of the ram’s sovereignty.
Like all sheep, rams are associated with the spring season, renewal, rebirth and prosperity. Unlike ewes and lambs, though, rams are associated with virility, masculinity, endurance, hard-headedness, conquest, and grit.
Ram Native American Symbolism
Sheep are an essential part of many Native American cultures. In some regions, sheep and mountain goats are associated with the sky, in others they are considered sacred for their role in the Native American diet. (3) Amongst the Navajo, sheep and rams are revered for their role in traditional wool-based crafts. A celebration known as “Sheep is Life” is held on a yearly basis to celebrate these crafts and the roles of sheep and rams in sustaining them. (4)
Although the sheep is not as common as a symbol for Native American tribes apart from Navajo, the Bighorn sheep rams and mountain goats are very common symbols in numerous cultures. In fact, early rock carvings and pictographs from the Anasazi population remain. These petroglyphs are found throughout the western regions of the United States. (5)
Both rams and ewes from this species carry massive horns, and this is one of the features that is often represented and venerated in Native American artistic depictions. Although they were hunted for meat, the Bighorn sheep were highly respected and looked at as an essential totem animal whose spirit assisted and provided for the tribe.
In some traditions, ram horns are associated with fire due to their usage as tools for carrying fire over distances. The Pikunii people used ram and buffalo horns as vessels in which to transport fire from one camp to another. (6)
The spiraling shape of the horns of the ram is associated with continuity, rebirth, renewal, and the many cyclical processes of life.
Amongst the Hopi people, the god of fertility is sometimes depicted as a Bighorn sheep ram.
Ram Eastern Symbolism
The ram is one of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, although it is commonly referred to as a goat or a sheep. In much of the Eastern world, the ram is associated with masculinity and youth. Female sheep, on the other hand, are more closely connected with prosperity, respect, and prudence. (7)
The ram zodiac sign is said to imbue those born beneath it with traits such as gentleness, extraversion, frankness, honesty, resilience and stability. It is thought that red and brown are lucky colors for the zodiac ram, whereas the color blue is likely to bring bad luck to those born under this sign. (8)
The symbolism of sheep is also associated with parental respect, similar to the lamb that kneels to take their mother’s milk. Tibetan Buddhists see the ram as a symbol of determination to control the three poisons: ignorance, desire, and hostility. Despite this, rams may also symbolize the pursuit of earthly pleasures, especially lust. (9)
Chinese people usually see the sheep as an auspicious animal and, subsequently, the year of the sheep is usually expected to be a year of prosperity.
Ram Christianity Symbolism
Surprisingly, the ram symbolism in the Bible is not quite as common or potent as the ever-present iconography of the lamb. Despite being far more frail than its adult male counterpart, or indeed because of this frailty, the lamb is one of Christianity’s most common and sacred symbols. (10)
Jesus Christ is referred to in the Bible as the “Lamb of God,” who has redeemed all of the world’s sins through his sacrifice. The meek lamb conquered evil by sacrificing his own life. This meaning is certainly connected to the stereotype of the “sacrificial lamb,” an animal who is vulnerable and pure who is sacrificed to God. The biblical horn, also called the “horn of salvation,” also refers to Jesus, and it highlights the idea of salvation through strength.
Similarly, the symbolism of the shepherd and his flock are very prevalent in the Bible and in biblical traditions. Throughout the Bible, Christ is envisioned as a dutiful shepherd leading the flock of believers to salvation.
As far as the ram is concerned, this animal is often connected with royalty, leadership, protection, and regality.
Additionally, the horn of the ram is connected with ceremonies and rituals. In the story of Abraham and Isaac, a ram is supplied by God as an alternate sacrifice to die in place of young Isaac once his father has proven his faith in God. (11)
Ram Celtic Symbolism
Although the depictions of the ram in Celtic art are relatively rare, the symbolism of the ram remains strong. The almighty Celtic God of animals and the wilderness, Cernunnos, is sometimes depicted with a ram-headed snake. (12)
An important creature in Celtic mythology and folklore, the ram was one of the animals kept and treasured by Brigid, the goddess of fertility, motherhood, and protector of the domesticated animals.
This flamed-haired goddess was also the patron of poetry, serenity, and invention. Cirb, a powerful ram, is often present in depictions of Brigid due to her connection with animals and agriculture. Cirb is sometimes referred to as the “King of Sheep.” (13)
Due to this association, it is evident that the ram symbolism’s meaning is strongly connected to the idea of authority, kingship, and protection, as well as prosperity, guardianship, and the spring season.
The sea god Manannan owned seven magical sheep that could produce enough wool to clothe all people worldwide. As a symbol of sustenance, the sheep became an unofficial symbol of Ireland. Believed to be a symbol of fecundity and rebirth, the ram is also associated with renewal and virility.
Sheep were also important for druids, and one of their legends, “The Story of White and Black Sheep,” teaches the importance of finding the balance between the material and spiritual worlds.
Ram African Symbolism
The significance of the ram on the African continent is linked to some of this magnificent animal’s traits. The ram will fight with bravery against a foe, but he can be domesticated by mankind and taught to respect human dominance. This associates the ram with moth might and humility.
This powerful token strength is depicted within the Adinkra symbol known as Dwennimmen. This term means “ram’s horns.” It is a stylized drawing of a bird’s eye looking at two rams butting heads. (15)
Nigerian people still invoke Ebune the Ram, the herald of spring renewal. During this ceremony, people wear ram masks which have a white line running down the head’s central axis.
This line symbolizes the border between life and death, linking the meaning of ram to the idea of rebirth and renewal. (16)
An ancient proverb from the Igbo people of Nigeria states that the ram will always dive into a fight head first. This is taken as a sign that some situations require a leap of faith.
The masks’ horns are often colored in red and yellow. Red horns symbolize decisive action while yellow stands for changing through healing, medicine. While the ferocity of the ram is certainly admired, African traditions tend to venerate the ram for its connection with the spring season, medicine, healing, prosperity, and fertility.
Ram in Dreams
Since the ram is a masculine symbol associated with strength and power, dreaming about this fantastic animal might indicate stubbornness or a desire for dominance or control.
Associated with fertility, the ram spotted in your dreams could represent the sexual drive and the natural urges that lie within every person.
If a charging ram has begun appearing in your dreams, this might point towards energy, impulsiveness, or even aggression. Make sure that you channel your energy into productive pursuits instead of bottling it up or venting it in inappropriate settings.
A dream featuring a white sheep foretells restfulness and good days ahead. A black sheep or ram symbolizes the unknown or something unpredictable. Although we tend to shy away from such things, they often represent opportunities to grow or succeed.
If your dream involves a flock of sheep grazing, this tends to represent stability and serenity.
Sheep bleating in your dreams point towards gossip, and it is a sign that you should refrain from sharing your inner thoughts with untrustworthy people. A similar interpretation can be applied if you dream butting rams chasing you. Both of these dreams could be interpreted as cautioning you to be more selective with regards to your friends and confidants.
A dead sheep or ram in a dream may represent bad news to come.
Ram Encounters and Omens
With regards to omens and superstitions involving rams and sheep, the first thing that comes to mind is the well-known expression, “the black sheep of the family.”
Used to describe someone who does not fit in with the others, the black sheep is often interpreted as a sign of bad luck. Scottish shepherds sometimes believe that a black-faced sheep’s birth can bring misfortune for all of the flock. A black sheep encounter, however, can also be reminder to be oneself and not worry too much about conforming to the standards of others.
A Turkish superstition involves a ram mating ceremony. If a girl is put on the back of a ram, the lambs born of it will be female, while if a boy rides the animal, the lambs will be male.
In Feng Shui, the ram is considered an auspicious animal associated with family and nurturing. However, it is sometimes thought that children born during the year of the Sheep will have a difficult life because humans eat sheep.
A ram encounter is often a sign of tough times to come, however these encounters also signify a light at the end of the tunnel. Rams remind us to endure difficult winters in order to reap the benefits of plentiful springs.
Ram Mythology and Folklore
The ram is an important figure among different cultures and mythologies and is associated with many powerful deities.
Ancient Egyptians esteemed the ram as a symbol of war, bravery, and fertility. Many gods from their pantheon were depicted wearing ram horns or had ram heads. One of the first deities was Khnum, the ram-headed god who created children’s bodies from clay. (17)
Heryshaf, a creator and fertility god revered in the ancient Heracleopolis, was also represented as a man with a ram’s head.
But maybe the most important Egyptian god who adopted the aspect of the ram was Amun-Ra. Amun-Ra was a powerful sun god who wielded great influence amongst the Egyptian peoples,. He is considered the chief of the Egyptian pantheon.
One of the essential legends from Greek mythology involves Jason and the ram with the Golden Fleece. The ram with the golden fleece was Poseidon’s son, and after he was sacrificed to his father, he returned among the gods as the constellation of Aries. The fleece preserved from the sacrifice was offered to Ares, the almighty god of war.
The zodiac sign Aries is often associated with headstrong qualities. Aries is the first sign of the zodiac and is associated with energy, leadership, virility, confidence, and courage. (18)
Ram Spirit Animal
The ram spirit animal is most potent in those with a lot of inner fortitude. The ram spirit animal is connected with courage, self-reflection, strength, and growth.
People with the ram spirit animal have a tendency to be stubborn, however, thanks to the ram’s dedication to personal growth, people with this spirit animal usually become far more wise with age.
The ram is adventurous and often appears fearless, but remember that each brave ram was once a frail and vulnerable little lamb. People with the ram spirit animal desire protection just as much as they long to protect others.
The ram spirit animal can often come with a bit of hot-headedness. As tempers rise, people with the ram spirit animal may lose their sense of what’s important. Staying grounded is very important for those who embody the ram’s spirit.
Ram Totem Animal
People born under the ram totem are creative, bold, and self-motivated. The ram personality is all about seizing opportunities and making the most out of your time on earth. The ram animal totem often belongs to the most adventurous explorers, those determined to succeed where others are afraid even to try.
The sign of the ram is associated with kingship and authority. People with the ram totem are natural leaders. This leadership skill can, however, be accompanied by arrogance. The ram totem is often found in those who are uncomfortable being followers and who hate relinquishing control.
Where the sheep totem is gentle, compromising, and nurturing, and the lamb totem is pure, innocent, and compassionate, the ram totem is protective, fatherly, and utterly unyielding.
Ram Power Animal
The ram power animal is great for summoning courage. Invoke this power animal when you need to quell fear or endure a particular hardship. The ram allows you to dig in your heels and stand your ground no matter what life throws your way.
When relying upon the ram power animal, it is important to analyze whether your cause is truly just or wise. It is rarely a good idea to fight relentlessly when you know that you cannot win, or when you know that you are wrong. For the ram totem to be worthwhile, a measure of wisdom and self-awareness may be necessary.
Ram Tattoo Meaning
The ram is a fantastic idea for a tattoo design. However, before choosing this popular option, you may want to look into the symbolism associated with this animal to ensure that it suits your purpose.
It is common for ram tattoos to consist of the ram’s head alone. This makes sense as the horns are the ram’s most striking feature. A ram’s head tattoo may represent fortitude, thoughtfulness, or grit.
If you decide on the Aries ram symbol, you should know that the zodiac’s first sign is an emblem of authority and leadership. The Aries symbol inspires many of those born under this zodiac animal to get an Aries themed tattoo.
Be aware that in certain Christian communities, certain styles of ram tattoos may be interpreted as representing the demonic. Sheep, lambs, and rams, are positive symbols throughout the bible, though, and if depicted with those meanings in mind, will be unlikely to resemble satanic symbolism.
If you decide to tattoo a black ram animal, the message would be that you are a freethinker, standing for what you believe in. The ram zodiac symbol tattoo is perfect for you.
The ram is a useful animal to look to for those who need an infusion of courage or fortitude. Rams remind us to never give up, never give in, and never surrender. For the ram, attaining new heights and protecting the vulnerable family is more important than anything else. For people who share these values, the ram is a powerful guardian!