Shark symbolism and meanings are all about finding inner strength and new opportunities. Explore the sign of the shark by discovering your inner power and your ability to create new paths for yourself by applying the teachings and spirit of this animal. This article defines the spiritual meaning and symbolism of the shark from Native American culture and Eastern ideologies, to other mythologies and folklores.
What Does A Shark Symbolize?
Shark symbolism is not about the ferocious creature depicted in the movies, a terrifying predator that hunts people for the pure sport of killing them. These creatures are in fact quite peaceful and mainly steer clear of humans, especially when traveling alone.
However, you should still be careful around groups of sharks, as they could become hostile if they are travelling with other members of the species. They could be hunting, mating or in a vulnerable state, such as a pregnant female. This ideology also applies to the symbolism of the shark spirit world and its meaning in other spiritual and native cultures.
The shark spirit enters your life to predict and protect you from any harm a person or situation may be portrayed upon you. Whoever hurts you will be frightened by the new confidence that this shark energy gives you.
Sharks have a keen sense of smell and therefore teach you to sniff out the things you want in your life. The sharks’ energy also has to do with continuous movement, as if you just can’t stop swimming.
The meaning of sharks in this present-day is that of a dangerous sea monster, although this is exaggerated in Hollywood movies such as Jaws. Sharks in fact aim to avoid people and the majority of shark attacks are because sharks can not tell the difference between prey and humans. In most cases of shark attacks, the shark bites only once, and then leaves the human as they don’t like the taste!
Shark symbolism represents:
Shark Symbolism In Ancient Cultures
While there is still a debate about how long it was since our ancestors first decided to explore into the open ocean, archaeologists suspect it was more than 100,000 years ago. This was most likely when our distant ancestors first saw sharks up close and personally, and so stories about these sea creatures were born.
Just a few hundred years ago, the first sailors told stories of mysterious dragon-like monsters with large, sharp teeth that they saw in the sea. These beasts were in all probability sharks. While some people, such as European sailors, feared these mystical animals, others saw them with much more admiration, including the indigenous inhabitants of the islands of the South Pacific.
The shark is not predominantly known in Native American mythology. There are some superstitions though, including seeing a shark near the beach, which suggests a big storm is on the horizon and may happen in the near future. The most common area to find groups of sharks among Native American land is along the northwest coast, where a small shark known as a dog-fish appears on their totem poles.
Shark symbolism in Hawaiian culture regards sharks as very high and powerful.
In fact, the ancient Hawaiians had several shark gods. One of the most well known shark gods in Hawaii is called Kāmohoaliʻi. Like some of the spirit animals of the Native Americans, Kāmohoaliʻi had the power to transform into different beings, that is, into different species of fish.
Hawaiians also viewed Kāmohoaliʻi as a spiritual guide who could lead lost ships back home with a flick of the tail. Legends tell the story of the shark god even bringing the first Hawaiian explorers to the islands from the mainland.
Shark symbolism amongst Hawaiians also believe that if a member of a family dies, the family can send the body out to sea and then their lost loved one would reincarnate into a shark. In a traditional, spiritual ceremony, the holy guide or kahuna told the family members that if they see a shark with specific markings that resemble the clothing of their departed loved ones, they should definitely feed this shark extra fish. The family will then also trust this particular shark to guide them on their fishing expeditions.
The residents of the island Fiji also have a shark god that is very important to them, called Dakuwaqa. This shark god is half shark and half human who helped fishermen find the best fish to catch. Furthermore, Dakuwaqa is known to protect fishermen in the sea from legendary monsters, omens and other dangers such as weather.
The Cook Islands are in the South Pacific Ocean, north-east of New Zealand, between American Samoa and French Polynesia. Inhabitants in these small islands also have a version of the Dakuwaqa from Fiji. The mythological story is called ‘Ina and the Shark‘ and tells a tale of a great love between Tinirau and Ina.
The story goes on to tell how they came together with the help of Tekea, the king of all the sharks. The sharks came to be known as the kings of all oceans and the story tells why they now have a lump on their heads.
Like other South Pacific Islanders, New Zealand Maori people viewed the shark as a trusted guardian of the sea. A legend tells the story of a sea voyage in which the travelers’ canoes are nearly swallowed by a giant sea monster called Te Parata. However, a giant white shark comes to rescue them. To this day, the confederation of the Te Arawa Māori views the shark as its guardian.
In Japanese culture, there is a mythological legend about a goblin named Tengu who has a very long snout. Tengu is also a shapeshifter who can immediately transport to different locations. Above all, Tengu hates boasting and arrogance, especially when it comes to Shinto or Buddhists monks. Hence, Tengu is a kind of torturer and is comparable with the goblin shark (Mitsukurina owstoni), which in Japanese is called tengu-zame.
Chinese mythology relating to sharks have unfortunately tragically put them in danger of extinction. Many centuries ago, sharks were close to impossible for the traditional fishermen to catch. Therefore, when they were caught it was considered a rare and special event.
Traditional shark fin soup originates from the Ming dynasty in the 14th century, when hard-to-catch fish was served to royalty on special occasions. However, by the 18th century, fishing practices became more advanced, and so even non-royals were able to afford to consume shark fin soup as a special delicacy.
The fascination of the elusive shark eventually made its way into Chinese folklore. The by-products of sharks such as oil and flesh began to be used in Chinese medicine, with practitioners claiming that eating shark fin soup would increase sexual potency and prevent disease, among other things.
None of these medical benefits have been scientifically proven to date. Today, overfishing and the consumption of shark fin soup and any shark products are one of the biggest threats to sharks.
There is an old Tanzanian Folktale called ‘The Monkey, the Shark, and the Washerman’s Donkey‘. The story is about a friendship between the monkey and the shark and the tricks they play on each other.
The Celtics discovered that the dorsal fin of a shark closely resembled the sacred sickle of the Druids. Because of this, shark symbolism amongst the Celtics represents successful hunting, gathering, and survival.
In Ireland, the Gaelic word for shark translates to ‘loving’. In Scotland, the basking shark is full of stories of myths and legends. Fishermen believe that this animal sinks the boats to drown them.
Shark liver oil was used as a medicine in these parts of the world, especially for Rheumatic diseases. Today sharks are protected by UK law due to the massive decline in their populations.
Shark Symbolism In Religions
What is shark symbolism in the Christian Bible? The symbol of sharks in Christianity is associated with the devil. Some Christians illustrate the shark as a water demon and an unclean animal, that is not intended to be eaten. The spiritual meaning of the shark is used as an analogy with the sinner who can still receive God’s grace if he repents.
There are not any specific mentions of sharks in the Bible, but Leviticus 11:9 says “…creatures living in the water of the seas and the streams you may eat any that have fins and scales…”.
Shark Symbolism In Dreams
The dream of sharks evokes the feeling of fear. The shark in your dream is a representation of a bigger challenge or an alarming situation that you are about to experience. The dream gives you a warning so that you can better prepare yourself for what is about to happen. Don’t let fear overwhelm your emotions, take the challenge as something that will make you stronger in the future.
Dreams about sharks also pose as a warning to the dreamer. It may not be exactly what they warn you about, but take it as a sign that you need to be careful with a big decision you have to make. Don’t be in a rush and constantly weigh the pros and cons.
Dreaming of sharks is a sign that you may have a toxic person in your life who is robbing you of your positive energy. The person doesn’t care if they hurt you, as long as they are happy with what they are doing. Pay attention to this person and make them aware of their hurtful actions so they can change before it’s too late. And don’t be afraid of dropping this person from your life.
Shark dreams generally reflects your emotions. The shark in your dream could represent strength and power. As previously mentioned, the dream could also serve as a warning of a betrayal that you will experience in the near future. During these times, you may feel weak and helpless. To avoid this, seek the advice and help of your family and friends that love you. They will always be there to help you overcome the challenges you face.
Shark Spirit Animal & Totem
If the shark is your spirit animal, you have the ability to quickly search for what you desire in life. As top predators of the oceans, sharks move through the depths of the ocean with ferocity and authority. This is how the shark spirit animal reminds you that once you’ve decided something, providence will prevail to make it happen. All you have to do is focus on what you want to achieve.
When a shark approaches you, whether in real life or through the arts, the media or elsewhere, you should pay attention. There are no coincidences with the shark spirit animal. The sharks serves as a guide and brings you messages from the spiritual world to guide you through your individual experiences on earth.
Native American traditions believe that you do not necessarily choose your spirit animal yourself. Instead, they choose you. Your spirit animal may visit you in a dream, appear in thought or make you feel a connection when you see them.
The shark spirit animal appears when you have to face your own fears and the people who normally knock you down. The shark is one that does not allow itself to be undermined and does not allow criticism and judgment to lower its self-esteem.
This shark spirit gives you the power and strength you need to defeat every evil and harmful person who does not allow you to expand to your full potential. It is an independent spirit that does not take orders from anyone.