Lizards represent many things to many cultures. This makes lizard symbolism not only diverse but also complex and intricate. In general, lizards hold similar status as snakes as they are viewed as similar creatures in many cultures.
To many they are a symbol of resurrection, rebirth, and regeneration thanks to their ability of many lizard species to regrow their tails and also their ability to molt (shed their skins).
Lizard as A Symbol of Birth, Death, Regeneration, and Survival
The ability of the lizard to drop its tail, and grow it back has led to it being a symbol of growth, regeneration, and survival. To many Native American tribes, the lizard survivability has made it an important symbol especially when it comes to the birth of a boy child.
Not only that, because lizards can molt and come out looking new, many cultures see them as a symbol that represents the cycle of death, and rebirth. In many Bantu mythology, the lizard brings/represents death, while the chameleon brings/represents eternal life.
Lizard as A Symbol of Protection & Healing
Many cultures see lizards as protectors and guards. This is particularly true when you consider many native American cultures. For instance, any Plains Native American tribes revered lizards for their ability to survive.
Umbilical cords were sewn into amulets that resembled lizards as this ensured the health, masculinity, and strength of baby boys.
Lizard Symbolism in Dreams
Different cultures have different views on lizards when it comes to dreams. In general,
- A dream about attacking a lizard is a sign of overcoming adversity.
- If you catch a lizard in a dream, it could signify success in your love life. Similarly, a failed attempt to catch a lizard in a dream could signify failure in your love life (such as being with the wrong person or having marital disputes).
- Seeing a beautiful lizard in a dream could indicate that you had the strength to overcome your adversities and adversaries.
- Encountering a big lizard in a dream means you may soon encounter an obstacle that would threaten to overcome you, and as such you need to be prepared and courageous.
- Being attacked by a lizard in a dream usually signifies hindrance from someone close to you such as a personal friend, or family member. Expect betrayal.
- If you dream of eating a lizard, it means that you are about to seize a glorious opportunity to make a lot of money or an opportunity that will change your life for the better.
- A dream about a crawling lizard usually indicates the presence of a sneaky person in your life. A lizard crawling into a hole usually signifies unsatisfied sexual desires. While a crawling lizard on the ground usually indicates that you are prepared for whatever life throws at you.
Lizard Symbolism in Celtic Culture
According to the Celts, lizards were a sign of guardianship and good fortune. These reptiles are said to guide people to the Spirit World. Also encountering a lizard on a trip foretells success with the task you seek to accomplish on the trip.
As many lizards can drop their tails in order to escape precarious situations, the ancient Celts recognized the survival nature of this reptile. As such, it is believed that this survivability could be transferred to humans.
Lizard Symbolism in Sub-Saharan African Culture
Lizards are often signs of death and other bad omens. In most Bantu cultures, the myth goes that the chameleon was sent by God to deliver news of eternal life to humans.
At the same time, the lizard was sent to deliver news of death. As such, as many Bantu people adopted Christianity as their religion of choice, the chameleon has come to be equated to Jesus Christ as a herald of eternal life.
The dragon Smaug from J.R.R Tolkien’s The Hobbit is based on the genus Smaug, which contains lizards commonly referred to as the Giant girdled lizard or the sungazer in its native southern Africa.
This heavily armored lizard lives underground just like Smaug the dragon. As many Tolkien nerds know, the creator of The Lord of the Rings series as well as The Hobbit was born in Free State province, South Africa.
Lizard Symbolism in Ancient Egypt, Greek, and Roman
The lizard symbol in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic means “plentiful”. The lizard is associated with the sun due to the lizard’s perceived behavioral patterns that mirrored the movement of the sun and the seasons.
It was believed that lizards climbed eastward facing walls and look to the west during springtime. The ancient Egyptians also believed that when the sun rises, the sight of lizards returns to them.
Similarly, in ancient Egypt as well as ancient Greece, these reptiles symbolize good fortune and wisdom. In ancient Greece, this is mainly due to lizards’ connection with both Hermes and Serapis.
In ancient Roman religion, the lizard represents sleep through the winter, and as such symbolizes the cycle of death and birth.
Lizard Symbolism in Mesoamerica Culture
The feathered reptile (sometimes referred to as a serpent or a dragon/lizard) is a supernatural being (god) present in Mesoamerican religions.
Quetzalcoatl, which is the Aztec god of wind, air, and learning, is a feathered dragon. This deity is synonymous to Q’uq’umatz and Tohil among the K’iche’ Maya, and Kukulkan among the Yucatec Maya. Also, the lizard or iguana symbolized wealth.
Similarly, the Mayan used the image of the lizard to signify fertility and abundance. The lizard symbol (called ‘Kan’) was used to signify harvest time. At this time, ritual dances were held. As such, the symbol of the lizard sign is a growing maize plant. The Lizard symbol is the fourth on the Mayan horoscope.
Lizard Symbolism in Native American Culture
To the Native Americans, lizards represent several ideals. In general, lizards are associated with protection, good fortune, rebirth, good luck, and prosperity. In folklore, their roles are generally positive.
Many California Native American tribes, including the Pomo, considers the Lizard to be an important figure in creation. The Lizard is believed to have created humans partially in his image. For many Plains Native American tribes, the lizard represents survival, masculinity, and healing.
As such, the umbilical cord of newborn male babies was sewn into an amulet in the shape of a lizard. Doing this safeguards the baby, ensuring he grows strong and healthy. Similarly, even today the Cheyenne consider it a bad omen to kill lizards. Southwestern Native American tribes view the horned lizard as a sacred medicine animal.
Similarly, southwestern Native American tribes including the Navajo have legends of the powerful Gila Monster hero. The Pueblo people, as well as the Hopi, have Lizard Clans.
Also within the Hopi people, the Monongya Kachina, which is a lizard supernatural being helps the Hopis with daily activities and serves as a link between mortals and gods. An Achomawi legend talks about a neighborly lizard who prevailed over greed.
Lizard Symbolism in East Asian Culture
In India, the lizard holds many different meanings. These meanings and symbolisms change form one region to another. It is believed that the lizard’s chirping is auspicious and holy.
In Hinduism, when a lizard falls on a person, it has the ability to predict the future depending on the body part the lizard falls on. Some of the more common predictions are as follows. If a lizard falls on the –
- Head – This signifies that the person has to prepare for a rebellion.
- Hair – This signifies that the individual will gain something soon.
- Upper lip – This signifies that the individual should expect a loss of wealth.
- Face – This signifies that the individual should expect a guest.
- Left arm – This signifies that the individual should expect sensual enjoyment
- Right arm – This signifies that the individual should expect illness.
- Naval – This signifies that the individual should expect to gain an object of great value.
- Back – This signifies that the person should expect destruction.
- Buttock – This signifies that the individual should expect a fortune.
- Feet – This signifies that the person should expect bad luck.
The symbolisms differ from one region to another. Some Hindu cultures, also believe the lizard to be the avatar of Goddess Lakshmi.
It is also believed that before reaching nirvana, in one of Gautama Buddha’s previous lives, he was a Bengal monitor lizard. A Thai Buddhist temple in Bangkok shows an incarnation of Gau-tama Siddhartha adorned with the head of a Bengal monitor lizard.
Lizards represent many things to different people to many all over the world, it is a positive sign. While to others, it is a negative sign. However, generally, the lizard represents regeneration and the cycle of death and rebirth (which is down to the lizard’s ability to molt).
But that’s not all. As an adept survivor, the lizard is a sign of survivability, resilience, and masculinity. It comes as no surprise that many Plains Native American tribes sewed the umbilical cord of a baby boy into the shape of a lizard to ensure that the boy survives infancy and grows strong and healthy.