Badger Symbolism, Meanings & The Badger Spirit Animal

Badger Symbolism and Meaning

Badger symbolism and meanings include tenacity, cleverness, security, friendship, and gratitude. Because badgers can be found in North America, the UK, Ireland, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, they are subjects in the cultural mythology of many of these regions. In addition, a badger spirit animal appears in the belief systems of many of these cultures.

What does the badger symbolize?

  • Tenacity

  • Cleverness

  • Security

  • Friendship

  • Gratitude

Badger Running

Detailed Badger Symbols and Meanings

Tenacity

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Stop badgering me!” But why is the badger used in this expression vs. any other animal? The reason is that badgers are tenacious. Like bees and beavers, badgers are diligent and hardworking, and they don’t give up until the task is done.

Badgers dig complex tunnel systems where they live. Plus, they’re capable of digging extremely fast when chasing prey. In addition, badgers are known to have a resistance to snake venom, so even if bitten by a snake, they are undaunted in their pursuit.

Thus, badgers are helpful symbols of persistence and tenacity. Badger people are the types who focus on a goal and don’t give up until they achieve it.

Honey badger and oryx
A honey badger battles an oryx in Etosha National Park, Namibia. Photo: Dirk D. Theron.

Cleverness

While they’re not given the accolades that ravens and dolphins get for their intelligence, badgers are actually very clever animals. They display a resourcefulness that goes hand in hand with their tenacity. Thus, badgers use their wits to get what they want.

This video from the BBC features a badger named Stoffel. He demonstrates just how clever and tenacious badgers are:

Thus, the badger spirit animal is a helpful symbol for situations where you need to use your wits to solve complex problems. In addition, badger energy reminds you to never give up, even when things get especially difficult.

Security

Nocturnal animals, badgers enjoy spending their days snoozing in their dens, also referred to as their setts. For badger people, home is sanctuary. In addition, badgers are very tidy animals, as they create a separate room in their den that they use as the bathroom.

In this video from the BBC, a wildlife artist sets up hidden cameras so he can study how badgers live. You can see that badgers enjoy being cozy and cuddling in the security of their dens.

Because of their need to burrow, badgers are symbols of security. The badger power animal reminds you to fortify the foundations of security in your life: your health, your relationships, your finances, and your home. When you create security for yourself, you can thrive. Then, you are best set up to fulfill your purpose in the world.

Friendship

Badger and Fox

While some badgers are solitary, others are known to live in communal dens of a dozen badgers or more. Furthermore, badgers are known to play and hunt with animals of different species. For instance, in the previous video, you may have seen the badger playing with a fox.

In this video from the Peninsula Open Space Trust, a coyote playfully encourages a badger to go with him through a wildlife corridor tunnel. When you watch the video, you can’t help but wonder what kind of nighttime shenanigans the two will be up to.

Because of their rare ability to create cross-species relationships, badgers are also symbols of friendship. These omnivores are highly adaptable. They can live in a variety of terrains and they eat a wide range of foods. Not to mention, badgers have been known to eat rotting fruit, which causes them to become intoxicated.

Thus, a badger person is the kind of friend who is easy going, gets a long with a variety of people, and is someone you can take anywhere. The badger person might even be one of your drinking buddies, which can obviously have both positive and negative connotations!

Gratitude

Like crows, badgers understand the concept of reciprocity. This quality enables them to successfully hunt with coyotes. The coyote will locate prey, and the badger helps by digging to root them out.

This sense of give and take is why badgers are also symbols of gratitude. In fact, there’s a Buddhist story later in this post that tells the tale of the badger’s sense of gratitude.

So, the badger spirit animal is a helpful totem for remembering to express gratitude in your prayers, your daily life, and in your relationships.

Some people need to feel a sense of loss before they fully appreciate the people and things in their life. The badger spirit reminds you to not be that way. Practice gratitude for all that you have now, even the simplest things, such as being able to breathe, being able to rest when you’re tired, and enjoying a meal with someone you love.

Badger Symbols and Meanings in Mythology and Folklore

Badger symbolism and meaning appear in the folklore of a variety of cultures. Here are a few of those stories:

Native American Badger Meanings

Hopi Badger Kachina
Hopi badger kachina, Kachina Country US Art.

In Native American cultures, badgers were viewed as diligent and hard working. In fact, the famous Lakota Sioux leader Sitting Bull was originally named Jumping Badger by his family because of his deliberate and focused manner.

The Native Americans also believed that badgers had special powers. Because badgers burrow underground, Native Americans viewed them as the protectors of medicine roots. Badgers were also known to be resistant to snake venom, which added to their allure as medicine animals.

For the southwestern Zuni and the Hopi tribes, the badger is one of six directional guardians:

  • The mountain lion is the protector of the North.
  • The bear is the protector of the West.
  • The wolf is the guardian of the East.
  • The mole is the guardian of the inner Earth.
  • The eagle is the protector of the Sky.
  • And the badger is the guardian of the South.

The Badger and the Bear

The Lakota Sioux have a legend about a badger family and a bear that’s similar to another Native American story about bees and the first people. Both are cautionary tales about selfishness and greed.

In the story of the Badger and the Bear, a badger mother and father work diligently to create a cozy den for their family. They hunt for food and ensure they have an extra stash so their children will be well-fed throughout the winter.

One evening while they’re cooking dinner, a sickly bear comes to their den and begs for food. The badgers are initially afraid of the bear, however, they take pity on him and feed him.

The Return of the Bear

The bear returns the next night begging for food, and again the badgers feed him. Soon, night after night, the bear returns and the badger family shares their food. Over time, the bear becomes stronger and stronger, and he stays longer in the badgers’ den. In addition, the bear becomes larger and takes up more space. As he grows, he becomes increasingly greedy for more food. Eventually, the bear takes up so much space that he turns the badger family out of their den.

With his family now homeless, the father badger builds a new shelter for them and does his best to care for and feed his family.

One evening, he sees that the bear has killed a buffalo. However, the bear doesn’t offer to share any of it with the hungry badger family. The father badger watches the bear gorge himself on the buffalo then fall asleep. So, he sneaks up and collects some blood from the buffalo.

The Brave

Using the buffalo blood in a ceremony, the father badger begs the Great Spirit for help. The Great Spirit hears his prayer, and from the buffalo blood, a strong brave emerges with a magic bow and arrow.

He tells the badger to lead him to his old den. As the brave walks up, the bear awakes. Realizing the brave is an avenger sent from the Great Spirit, the bear runs away into the woods. Thanking the brave and the Great Spirit, the badger family moves back into their den.

Badger Totem

The badger totem is a helpful symbol for manifesting things in your life that the badger symbolizes. This includes improving your work ethic and your resolve. It also includes fortifying those things in your life that make you feel secure. In addition, the badger totem is conducive for building both friendships and synergistic partnerships with people who have gifts and skill sets that are complementary to yours.

Celtic Badger Symbolism

Badger in Forest

The Celts had a number of superstitions when it came to badgers. Like cats, badgers were seen as symbols of both good luck and bad. For example, a badger crossing an area you just passed was considered good luck. However, if one passed in front of you, it was a sign of bad luck, and even possibly death.

In fact, the combination of a badger crossing your path and an owl screeching at the same time meant none other than imminent death. Undoubtedly, badgers’ nocturnal nature was the reason that the ancient Celts associated them with death.

However, badgers’ courage and tenacity were not lost on the Celts. Thus, badgers also symbolized bravery and even virility. So, the poor badger was exploited for his body parts in superstition-based practices. These ancient beliefs were not unlike the reasons that rhinos and other wild animals are still hunted today.

Japanese Badger Mythology

The Mujina

In Japanese mythology, the badger was a trickster animal and a shapeshifter. The Japanese tell tales of Mujina, who are mythological animals that have badger-like characteristics.

The Mujina can shapeshift into human beings as well as faceless ghosts. In fact, one character they turn into is a boy in a white kimono who comes out at night and sings songs.

While the Mujina are not outwardly aggressive, they love to play tricks on people. They especially enjoy making fools of those who have been up to no good.

Badger Meaning in Buddhism

In Buddhism, badgers are symbols of spiritual generosity and gratitude. One popular story tells the tale of a badger and a monk.

The Badger’s Money

A monk went up to the mountain to live in retreat in a small hut and to meditate and pray. One cold winter’s night, a badger came to the door of the hut asking if we could come inside to warm himself. Because he was at peace, the monk was not frightened and he let the badger into the hut. When the sun came up in the morning, the badger left. But when the cold evening came again, the badger returned and the monk graciously invited him back into the hut.

The badger began to return every evening, and he and the monk became friends. After some time had passed, the badger asked the monk how he could repay him for his generosity. The monk said he lacked for nothing.

A Gift for the Villagers

Nevertheless, evening after evening, the badger continued to ask the monk how he could repay him for his generosity. Finally, one evening the monk said, “The villagers have agreed to give me a sacred burial when I die, and it is my wish to repay them somehow. If I had any money, I would donate it to the temple to help the villagers.”

The next night, the badger did not return to the hut. The monk regretted mentioning the money to the badger because he feared it may have put some kind of pressure on the badger who did not have any money. Three years passed and the badger still did not return. The monk missed the company of his old friend.

Then, one night, the badger did return to the monk’s hut. This time, the badger was carrying a bag full of money. He said to the monk, “I am sorry I have been away for so long. I went out into the world to earn the money so you could give it to the villagers as your gift.”

Humbled by the badger’s hard work and generosity, the monk said, “Please keep your money, and you can donate it as your gift to the villagers once I pass.”

The Badger in Hindu Mythology

In Indian mythology, the Rompo is a creature that has the head of a rabbit, the hind legs of a bear, and the front legs of a badger. A similar creature also appears in African folklore. A somewhat frightening creature, the Rompo is associated with death and battlefields. Like ravens and crows, it was known to feed on corpses, thus is associated with death and transformation.

Badger Spirit Animal

Badger Spirit Animal
“Bluebell Moon” by Amanda Clark, Earth Angel Arts.

If a badger makes themselves known to you in real life, art, literature, or the media, pay attention. There are no coincidences. Your spirit animal serves as a guide, bringing you messages from the Universe to help guide you on your soul’s journey.

If a badger crosses your path or makes themselves know to you:

  • It could mean that you need to fortify those things in your life that make you feel secure, whether it’s your relationships, your work and finances, your home, or your health care.
  • The badger spirit animal could be telling you that you need to “dig in” and be more aggressive about achieving an outcome that you seek.
  • It could be a reminder that you need to build more reciprocity in your life. This could mean that you’re giving too much in a relationship without receiving the return you deserve. Or it could mean you’re being a bit of a taker and it’s time to give back more.
  • The badger spirit animal is also a powerful symbol for cherishing your friendships and reminding you to nurture them.

If you’re curious about other animals who might be your spirit guides, you can take UniGuide’s spirit animal test in my overview post about spirit animals.

Badger Power Animal

American Badger

The badger power animal can be an especially useful symbol in situations where you need some additional energy so you can be more tenacious when it comes to achieving your goals.

Summon the badger power animal when you:

  • Are feeling like giving up on a situation or venture, but know it’s in your best interests to hang on and keep trying.
  • When you have a big task ahead of you and need to summon discipline and focus to get it done.
  • Want to build more balance and give-and-take in your relationships.
  • Are feeling overwhelmed. The badger reminds you to retreat to your den for a bit, get cozy, and recharge.

Badger Dream Meaning

What does it mean when you dream of a badger? Dreams and dream interpretations are personal, so there is never one cut and dry answer. However, analyzing the emotions you felt during the dream can shed light on what the dream is trying to tell you.

For example, if you feel a sense of anxiety or even annoyance in your dream, it could mean that an issue is “badgering” you, yet you’re not actively addressing it in your conscious, wakeful state.

Retreat

Another interpretation of a badger dream could be that you need to burrow a bit, that something is causing you to want to retreat. Delving into why you feel these emotions can help you to identify whether this is a healthy reaction, or whether it’s avoidant behavior that you need to overcome.

Our dreams are our subconscious or our super-conscious sending us messages that we might override or ignore while in our conscious state. Yet your emotions are a common thread that your conscious and subconscious states share. Hopefully, insights into badger symbolism and meanings can shed light on what your dream means.

Badger Tattoo Meanings

Badger Tattoo

Certainly a badger tattoo is not as common as a snake or a wolf tattoo, but the uniqueness of it is what can set it apart. A badger tattoo can be a positive symbol that tells the world that you are a focused, tenacious person who doesn’t give up easily. It can also mean that you live by a code that values reciprocity and gratitude. While tattoos are personal to each individual, understanding commonly shared badger symbols can bring more depth and meaning to your tattoo.

Organizations that Protect Badgers

While badger populations in the UK and America are stable, other species, such as the hog badger of Central and Southeast Asia and the honey badger of South Africa, are vulnerable. Around the world, badgers are vulnerable to poaching, badger baiting (in which they are terrorized by hunters and dogs), and poisons, traps, and snares. If you care about badgers, please do what you can to protect them. Here are some organizations that focus on badger conservation and protection:

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