Tyger, Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye.
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
~ The Tyger by William Blake
I remember being about 10 years old, and having a huge poster of a white tiger on my wall. I would lie on my bed and stare into its eyes, mesmerized.
I don’t know what ever happened to that poster, but the tiger has continued to haunt me; both through dreams and synchronicities.
Tigers have much in common with their smaller relations, the cat. Both represent sensuality, beauty and power. But the tiger takes it to the next level; raw, dangerous and passionate.
The tiger is patient, powerful, energetic, intuitive, sensual, creative and nurturing. Tigers are known to hunt in the dark, patiently stalking their prey, and they are strong enough to drag their kill to a place of safety, even when it weighs well over a hundred pounds. Tiger mothers are nurturing, and look after their young, with no help from papa tiger, for over two years, ensuring that they are exceptional hunters before they leave the safety of the den.
Because of its nocturnal nature, tigers are said to be connected to the full and new moon, and intuition. They also represent female sexuality.
Unlike their kitten counterparts, tigers are excellent swimmers and don’t mind the water one bit (another intuitive dream symbol). And other than raising their young, tigers are solitary creatures.
Shere Khan – from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, appears as a lame tiger, filled with arrogance and a sense of entitlement. He tried to hunt the child, Mowgli, but failed. Shere Khan then turned to manipulation and trickery, but this, too, failed, and Mowgli eventually killed him.
Tigger, from A. A. Milne’s book, the House at Pooh Corner, is on the opposite end of the tiger scale. Cheerful, to the point of being exasperating, Tigger represents the playfulness and ability to be in the moment embodied by tigers.
Tiger mythology is very popular among the countries of the east, and has even managed to appear, though minimally, here in the west, where its counterpart, the lion, tends to rule as king of the beasts. The ancient Mayan text, the Popol Vuh, mentions Balam-Agag (nocturnal tiger) and Iqui-Balom (moon tiger). The Aztecs saw the tiger in the west as the setting sun.
The ancient Egyptians believed that the White Tiger was the guardian of the west, while the Chinese believed that tigers ruled the five directions: The Red Tiger ruled the south, summer and fire, the Black Tiger ruled the north, winter and water, the Blue Tiger ruled the east, spring and vegetation, the White Tiger ruled the west, autumn and metals, and the Yellow Tiger ruled the sun and all directions. In ancient China it was also believed to fight off evil spirits. It has also been known to represent anger (Buddhism)
As with any dream, if you are dreaming of tigers, you want to first ask yourself how you felt through the dream.
Were you afraid? Did you feel as if you were being stalked? Did you grab a tiger by the tail, and take on more than you can handle – worried that if you let go you’ll be eaten?
Were you excited? Did you ride the tiger and conquer your fears?
Tiger dreams could be trying to tell you that it’s time to tap into your inner power, and discover a new passion or go on a new adventure.
Are you Shere Khan, acting out of fear and manipulating your circumstances, not worrying about who gets hurt along the way, or are you Tigger, playfully bouncing from moment to moment, day to day, ready for your next adventure?
Whatever your passion or creative endeavor, the tiger symbol is saying to release your fears and do it with your whole heart. Go get ‘em tiger!