Coyote Symbolism & Meaning & the Coyote Spirit Animal

Coyote Spirit AnimalCoyote symbolism and meanings include cleverness, trickery, adaptability, and other qualities. Because their natural range encompasses Canada, the U.S., and Central America, coyotes are portrayed in the legends and oral history of Native American tribes throughout these regions. In addition, the coyote spirit animal is an important being in the spiritual belief systems of many of these cultures.

In this post, you’ll learn about coyote spiritual meanings and symbols, as well as Indigenous stories about these intelligent tricksters.

What does the coyote symbolize?

  • Cleverness
  • Instincts
  • Adaptability
  • Trickery
  • Fun and Playfulness
  • Opportunity
  • Teamwork
  • Singing
  • Affection

Native American Coyote Symbolism and Meaning

Native American Coyote Meanings

For Native Americans, the coyote is a clever being who possesses supernatural qualities. Like the raven or crow, he is both a trickster and a creator. Native Americans saw the coyote as both a savior and a villain, depending on the circumstances.

The Coyote Fire Legend

In one Native American creation story that many tribes share, the coyote is like the crow in that he is responsible for bringing fire to the people.

The coyote had no need of fire. However, one winter was particularly cold, and the coyote saw that the people had lost loved ones. They cried and cried and lamented bitterly about the cold. With nowhere else to go, they asked the coyote spirit for help. Taking pity on them, the coyote went in search of fire.

The coyote came upon a mountain and saw a glow up at the peak. So, he climbed the mountain in search of the fire. When he finally reached the top, he saw three fire monsters gathered around a fire pit. The coyote studied them for a few nights, learning their behaviors and habits.

How the Coyote Stole Fire…

Then, one night, as the fire monsters slept, coyote snuck up, stole a burning branch from the fire, and took off down the mountain. The fire monsters work up and, enraged, they chased the coyote in hot pursuit. The fastest fire monster got so close, he was able to grab coyote’s tail. But coyote managed to get away with only a singed black tip at the end of his tail.

As good luck would have it, coyote’s curious animal friends had followed him up the mountain to see what he was up to. And cougar was waiting nearby behind a bush. When the exhausted coyote reached her, cougar took the fire branch and began running. The coyote fell to the ground in exhaustion, and the fire monsters continued their chase, now after the cougar. The further the fire monsters ran, the more of their fire evaporated into the air.

Further down the mountain, the squirrel, having watched the whole scene, climbed down his tree. When the cougar reached the tree, the squirrel grabbed the fire branch and took off running and jumping from tree to tree, as the cougar collapsed in exhaustion. And this is how it happened, with each of the coyote’s animal friends stepping in along the way to carry the torch for the coyote. And eventually, they were able to deliver the fire to the people, as the fire monsters evaporated into the air.

Coyote Totem

The coyote totem is a good luck symbol for those who need to rely on their wits in order to handle a changing situation and other difficulty. The coyote is here to remind you that you even if you don’t feel it, you actually have the capacity to handle any situation you find yourself in. Instead of getting emotional or overwhelmed, the coyote spirit reminds you: Use your wits.

The coyote totem is also a powerful symbol to remind yourself to lighten up and stop being so serious. The coyote is fully aware of the problems in the world, but that doesn’t stop him from playing games and having a good time. 

Coyote Spirit Animal

Coyote Spirit Animal
Artwork: Natalie Wargin.

If a coyote crosses your path or captures your attention, whether in real life, art, literature, or the media – pay attention. There are no coincidences. The coyote spirit animal could have special messages for you.

According to Native American traditions, you don’t necessarily choose your spirit animal. Rather, they select you. This might happen during a vision quest or another powerful experience that affects the course of your life. For Native Americans, your spirit animal serves as a guide who can help you as you navigate your soul’s journey.

Only you can truly know if the coyote is one of your power animals. You may have been intrigued with coyotes your whole life. Or you may never have thought about them until suddenly one captured your attention in a powerful way. If the coyote spirit resonates with you, by all means, learn more about these intelligent and resilient canines. You will expand your level of consciousness.

When a coyote crosses your path…

If a coyote captures your attention in a powerful way, it could mean that you should study the coyote’s qualities and consider how they reflect on your own life and outlook. For example, you may be resisting being in a new situation or environment. The coyote can remind you of how adaptable you are.

The coyote also shows you how to pivot. If one thing doesn’t work out, you can pivot. There are always other opportunities.

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

Coyote Power Animal

Coyote Howling

Smart, instinctual, flexible, and highly adaptable, the coyote power animal reminds you to make the best of whatever situation you find yourself in. Even if you feel like you’re totally out of your element, the coyote power animal can help you to thrive.

Summon the coyote power animal when you:

  • Enter a new situation or foreign environment and you need to keep your wits about you.
  • Are undergoing life challenges and need to remind yourself that you’re a survivor and that you have what you need to succeed.
  • Have gotten too bogged down in life’s responsibilities and need to remember to have a good time.
  • Need to remember that you are not alone. You just need to enlist friends and family, or the right team, to make things easier.
  • Want to play a practical joke on someone you love!

Coyote Dream Meaning

Coyote Dreams
“Coyote Dreams.” Artwork: Gennine.

If you dream of a coyote, it can be interpreted in a number of ways, and the analysis is unique for each of us. What’s important is to consider the emotions you felt in your dream.

Coyotes are survivors and clever tricksters. They are also heavily dependent on their packs. So, if the dominant emotion you felt in your dream was confusion, it could mean that you need to step back and take some time to analyze and understand a certain challenge in your life. It may also mean you should enlist the help of friends, family members, colleagues, or fellow members of an affinity group.

The emotions you feel in the dream can guide you into understanding what it is that your subconscious is grappling with. Then, you can use your conscious to make sense of it.

Once you identify your feelings in the dream, consider the different meanings applied to coyotes. Hopefully, this will provide you with insights into how to approach an issue in your life.

Coyote Tattoo Meanings

Coyote Tattoo

Coyote tattoo meanings can signify any of the coyote’s compelling qualities. For example, it can mean you’re a survivor and/or a person relies on your wits. It can also demonstrate your reverence for Native American culture and the coyote as a creation deity and the bearer of fire. A coyote tattoo can also denote self-confidence, showing the world that you are a person who unapologetically knows who they are.

Obviously, tattoos are extremely personal, but hopefully the coyote symbols shared in this post will bring more meaning to your coyote tattoo.

Organizations that Protect Coyotes

Coyotes Playing

Because coyotes are so resilient and adaptive, their populations have managed to survive where other wild animals’ have not. However, many people feel threatened by coyotes, which puts them at risk. Coyotes are known to prey on people’s pets, as well as animals like chickens, ducks, and sheep. Thus, people shoot, trap, and poison them, or otherwise try to drive them away from their natural habitats.

Education can help us to live more harmoniously with coyotes while protecting pets and other animals. Here are some organizations that focus on protecting coyotes and educating the public about these intelligent animals:

26 thoughts on “Coyote Symbolism & Meaning & the Coyote Spirit Animal”

  1. I had a crazy experience at 2am today in Middletown, CT. A coyote was in the road right across from my house, for like 10 minutes, howling it’s butt off. Just sitting there, howling, No cars came by at all. I turned on my outside xmas tree & light but couldn’t get a pic. It was soo loud, later it ran up the street towards the park. My neighbors dog started barking too. It was so unusual I looked up coyote symbolism and found this website. Thanks. I’m in the middle of a career change and contemplating moving, so it all makes sense.

    PS, I’ve seen bobcats on my trail cam in my backyard (in response to Mark’s post)

  2. Every time i am going through a major life change, i end up seeing a coyote out of nowhere. I live around Chicago area. even the suburbs you dont really see coyotes often. But i always end up seeing them when I need them. I feel such a strong connection. Amazing.

  3. I live on a golf course and have never seen a coyote. Then, on the last full moon, one walked into my yard, stopped at my bedroom window, then moved on. I haven’t seen him/her again since but I felt such a strong energetic shift.

  4. I live in California but on a recent visit to Sedona we were driving in town. My daughter, grandson and myself. My daughter said look at the deer walking along the sidewalk. Got a little closer and it was a coyote. The three of us saw it. Then all of a sudden it disappeared. No place for it to hide. Just gone! This has disturbed me ever since. Any thoughts?

    • Well, they don’t call the coyote the trickster for nothing! You can chalk it up to their stealth. However, Sedona is a very special place metaphysically speaking. They coyote may have been a ghost. If you all saw him/her, I think you need to concur on what you form you saw the coyote in. It sounds like a cool experience and Sedona is such a magical place!

  5. For over a month, during my 5am walks, I’ve been asking my spirit animal to appear. 2 days ago I encountered what looked like a coyote, but my ignorance assumed was a BIG fox-ridiculous given I’ve been fascinated and saddened by their forced urbanization; suspect the American junk diet, not just the fact humans are food source, is the culprit for their “aggressive” behavior, I seriously thought my state had none 🤦🏼‍♀️ (all 49 do I now know)- From about 30 feet We stared at each other a few minutes, and (s)he then walked right, sat, then left sat, staring.
    Eventually, and simultaneously, we resumed our initial activities-“fox” bolted into the woods.
    Later, I realized COYOTE, not fox. Probably best I’d not known, as I may not have had the calm vibe to appreciate the experience.
    I’m going to claim this as my spirit animal. I’ve been really trying to balance out positivity, gratitude, joy and high vibes with 3D BS like the corporate states of Amurika’s f#&kkkkery, climate change and so on. I’ve been asking source/spirit/mama earth/multiverse/God/atomic particles… whatever youuuu prefer to call it or absence of it, to please help me remain informed and aware of the physical world issues, but without falling into despair. Coyote hits the mark.

  6. I was recently made aware that Coyote was one of my shield animals. I grew up on a ranch in Wyoming where we heard the coyote packs calling to each other nearly every night. A t the time they were hunted for bounty but I loved to here their songs. I learned to join in in a limited way, enough so that they would answer me.
    I once saw a coyote trotting across a grassy swale. As I watched a rifle shot rang out and the coyote leaped up and fell down apparently dead. The hunter came out of the brush and aprouched cautiously. About ten feet from the “dead” coyote it leaped to its feet and raced off as the startled hunter stood stunned. I have always admired that clever creature!

    • Oh my God, that story is wild! The trickster in a nutshell. Wow. I am glad the coyote wasn’t harmed. I like the idea of the “shield animals.” I have not heard that term but it makes total sense. You have a good one on your side!

  7. I live in rural Southern Nevada about 70 miles from Las Vegas. At 2 am, two nights in a row, I had coyotes just feet from my house. I could hear them chattering to each other but not howling. It was such an amazing experience.

    • Hi I live in south eastern Ohio and about 5 weeks ago I was out riding my bike at night and I heard this weird screeching howl and I looked up and saw a pack of coyotes up on top of my hill it was amazing my dogs started barking at them and they stopped and looked at me then they all just instead of running waked away I also have had one other experience with coyotes once I was driving to school and I looked over and saw a pack of coyotes and we went down the hill and there was a whole bunch of deer and it was just cool to be that close to all of those coyotes in there early morning hunting time

  8. Hi Kristen! I hope you receive this message and thanks so much for reaching out. I live in the heart of LA where coyotes are rarely ever seen. However, a few weeks ago I was sitting in my car in my driveway at night with my window fully down when a coyote mysteriously walked up to my window and greeted me by looking straight into my eyes and then smiling. Then it just slowly walked away. It was very mystical to me because I was not afraid and it was not aggressive.
    Moving forward to this morning at 3am I woke up to open my bedroom window due to being hot an by the way my bed is directly under my window. 10 minute later I hear loud noice of someone walking though the planter below my window. I thought it was a person and it startled me. When I sat up and turned around, there was a coyote galloping from my window to the sidewalk. I think I may have startled it away when I turned around. Just after that, I look down out my window and see small furry animal curled up into a oval shaped ball. I had no idea what it was and if it was okay because of the way it was curled up , not moving and in plain sight rigth next to the planter on the lawn. I looked away for a a couple moments and when I came back it had moved, I realized it was a sleeping baby coyote!!!!
    I was in awe at this that this little baby coyote was snuggled up under my window right under my bed. I was wondering what your thoughts on this are? I feel like it is the same coyote and it possibly trusts me and left its baby there as a safe place. Both times, the coyote has come to my window, first in car and then in bedroom. Now, she leaves her little baby to sleep. Would love your input and thanks again for this amazing and helpful post. PS my family is of native american background and I also feel a strong spiritual connection to the situation.

    • Hi Cheyenne, Thank you for your detailed message. That’s an incredible story, espcially as coyotes have their litters in dens and, in my experience, they are fiercely protective of them, especially in urban settings. Here in the Bay Area, that’s usually the only time that hikers and dogs have run-ins with coyotes – during breeding season. I hope the coyote pup is ok! My feeling is that you are sensing things clearly, which is that this wild animal trusts you.

      I was hiking once with my late dog Roo in Lands End in San Francisco – a rugged, natural part of the city at the ocean’s and Bay’s edge. There are a lot of coyotes there. Roo was part border collie and red heeler. She was fluffy and reddish brown in color and looked sort of like a cross between a fox and a coyote. We were walking on the path and suddenly a large coyote came out from another path and faced us – about four feet away. Roo and he just stared and stared at each other in silence. No growling, no fear, nothing. Just a peaceful observing. He looked at me and then back at Roo a few times, and it was like time stood still. Eventually a jogger came and the coyote trotted off into the bushes.

      It was just a profound experience and connection. It felt like an affirmation. He recognized his own kind (in Roo) and that he saw both of us as trustworthy. So, your coyote trusting you with their pup – I think it’s an honor and an affirmation that you have some special gifts.

  9. Last night I dreamed which I don’t do or haven’t done in a long time.
    My dream. It’s night time I’m walking out my backdoor onto the deck and as I turn to go back in I see a coyote laying down in my driveway I thought it was a wolf at first but then thought no that’s a coyote. My first thought was people shoot those. I considered it for a brief second then decided no, it’ll run off. But as I stood there and watched it and made noise to get it to run off it yelped and jumped and limped basically anything it could do to get untangled from the clothes line that was wrapped around its front paw. Seeing that and deciding I’m probably going to get messed up. I’m still going to try and help it. It laid down and I unwrapped his paw while he watched me very carefully and after I was done. He gently started walking away. I started to go back up the steps and I notice 3 more over by and on the wood pile and i ask them where they came from. Then as I turn towards the yard there’s a lot more probably close to a dozen. And a big white one is at the tree line watching over as they all start to come out of the woods.
    Indians are also coming out of the woods I talk to the chief and let him know they are all welcome and I see everyone playing and enjoying themselves coyotes included. Then I see the white one heading towards the woods away from the direction they came.
    The coyotes and Indians are leaving.
    I ask the chief where they are going and his response was “on to the next”
    I don’t know what any of this means but I needed to share it.

    • Wow. That’s a powerful dream. I believe you are channeler, or a medium. In my opinion, it’s a validation for you. It’s like you were given the test: Friend or foe. And you proved friend by helping the coyote. Such a cool and profound dream! Thank you so much for sharing this.

  10. Hi there, I really enjoyed your article!! It was just what I was looking for. I’m sure a lot of people will think I’m crazy for admitting so many things about spirits but I’m going to share it anyways. I live on an old family ranch that I am rebuilding with my mother. It has been in the family for over 80 years. I have quite a few dreams that often come true, I am very connected to my spiritual side and often see spirits and animals running on my property that others do not. I have an Indian spirit friend that talks to me at night while I feed the horses. One night I dreamed of a beautiful coyote walking up to me in the horse lot and curled up by my foot on the ground. He looked up at me and I began to pet him asking if he needed my help. Shortly after my dream, my neighbor told me about a coyote he saw running around in my pasture during the day. We live in Oklahoma and it can get pretty cold at night. I bought sight of him one day and noticed how skinny he was, so I started leaving food for him. One night, my Indian friend told me that the coyote was not to be trusted but he needed my help. So I went out to buy bigger bowls for food and water. The coyote now comes up to the horse lot at night to eat after I have locked everyone up for the night, and with him part of his pack. I noticed right away that he is the only one that stands out from his pack, he is the only one with the identical colors and markings as the one that came to me in my dream.
    So a long with a skunk, possum, bob cat, and many others, I now feed a pack of coyotes. They are beautiful creatures and I would be so sad not to see them walk down the horse lane at night to fill their hungry bellies.

    • Hi Kiana, Wow – you have a special connection to that one. That’s really fascinating. You can see how canines became domesticated with human beings thousands of years ago. I feel badly for wild animals as they’ve lost so much habitat (thus food) to human beings. We have a lot of coyotes in the San Francisco Bay Area – even some in Golden Gate Park. They seem to be well-fed here! I have met a number of them who do not look skinny! Thank you for sharing your story. Coyotes are spectacular, I think – so smart and adaptable, and playful too. Have a good one!

  11. Well, I read your article on Bobcats and Coyotes. Enjoyed them both. I get coyotes pretty much every year in residential South Windsor, CT. I live in a condo and been here a long time in town and over the last 4-5 years, there showing up all the time usually 1 or 2 coyotes in the winter near our dumpster (not to far from me) and sometimes in the summer; always at night.
    One night while heading to the dumpster (last year); two of them came out of know where, giving me that coyote stare; head down; moves to the right-left and vice-versa. They have a unique movement. Needless to say, I was nervous this close. I started to back up slowly to a good distance and bent down instead of running. Not sure why – I guess I love animals and respect them.
    For about 10-15 seconds or so, were staring at each other, then all of sudden they turned around and took off. What a moment!
    We have Bobcats in CT too, but only about 1,000+ – I read they are making a come back in the state since there now protected from trapping/hunting since 1972.
    I never seen a Bobcat but would love too. Glad there coming back in CT too.
    I think the coyote may be my spirit animal !!
    Thanks for the articles, enjoyed them.
    Mark Leavitt
    S. Windsor, CT

    ps. I notice the textbox for web site, I put in my web site that I redesigned from early 2000’s about my encounters in the ocean with a portuguese man of war (amazing creature) at Myrtle Beach, SC that put me in the ER for about a day and two other encounters shared as well by Ken and Elizabeth. I think you will enjoy it.

    • Hi Mark, Thanks for sharing this. I would like to add more to the coyote article. It is a huge topic as there is a lot of coyote mythology and they are so adept at survival and so smart. We have a lot of them in the Bay Area even in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, so I see them quite frequently. But not everyone gets the opportunity to be as close to them as you and to look each other in the face. Obviously, the are very powerful spirit animals in Native American culture. Bobcats too. I hope you get to see a bobcat. They are very much like domesticated cats, just a bit bigger. I would like to see a lynx too!

      • Yes, it was something very special that I will not forget. BTW, sorry for late reply, it just dawned on me to check right now while reading about Condors and Indian culture worship on the internet – not sure if an email went out on a reply and I missed it. In any event, thanks for your comment. It’s incredible that GGP has them and you watch from a distance and see them. Pretty cool. If I get to see a Bobcat in CT in the wild, will let you know…ha ! Please send out an update via email if you write more on the coyote too via email address.
        Take care.
        Mark L.


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