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. But first, here’s a quick list of common coyote meanings:

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:

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