Powerful and Adaptable
Elk are powerful, adaptable animals that have played a significant role in cultural mythologies. Elk encounters are, for most people, rare, which means that an elk sighting is often an indication that Spirit is trying to communicate with you. By deciding to acknowledge and honor this message, you choose to participate more fully in what Spirit has in store for you.
What Is an Elk?
The elk is a large mammal that is part of the deer family and is native to North America and Northeast Asia. The original name for this animal is “wapiti,” given to it by the Shawnee and Cree peoples. When English explorers first encountered the elk, they thought it resembled an animal that they called “elk” in Eurasia.
It turns out, however, that Eurasian “elk” are actually moose. Because of this confusion, it is always wise to clarify your elk definition when speaking about this animal. The North American elk’s scientific name is cervus canadensis.
A Mighty Herbivore
The elk is second in size only to the moose in his class of animals, called Cervidae. This class includes moose, elk, and deer. He is mighty and strong, yet he is not a meat eater. He is an herbivore and represents a clean, uncomplicated life that consists of eating well, surrounding himself with trusted friends, and setting and accomplishing goals.
A Community Creature
The elk is a community animal, not a solitary one. While you will occasionally see a solitary elk, most live in herds. Typically, herds consist of either all female or all male elk. This symbolizes the importance of having same-sex friends and companions in life. Of course, when it’s time to mate, the elk takes the time to mingle, but afterward, they resume their fraternity/sorority lifestyle. Larger, more dominant bulls will often have a harem of 20 or more cows that they are not interested in sharing with others.
It has been noted that elk can contract infectious diseases which they may inadvertently spread to domestic livestock. Efforts to control these infections haven’t always been successful. Elk can also be vulnerable to poachers who prize their antlers for use in traditional medicines.
Pride, Power, and Perseverance
The elk represents dignity, power, inner strength, and passion. If you experience an elk sighting, it’s a message to stay steady on your current course. An elk sighting is also a reminder to be diligent and see things through. If you do, you will earn the respect of others for standing your ground. An elk sighting lets you know that because of hard work, you’re about to come into the life of plenty you’ve envisioned. This is a great reward for a job well done.
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The elk can visit you in dreams (or in person) when you are experiencing a competitive-type relationship with someone. The elk’s presence suggests that perhaps you can work together (as elks like to be part of a group). However, if that’s not possible, the elk can present a formidable opponent. They’re not so much aggressive as they are persistent. That’s because they’re able to maintain high energy for a long period of time. In other words, you can far outlast an opponent if you’ve built upon your strength and stamina. But, you are strongest when you combine forces.
The Elk in Culture
When it comes to spirit animal “medicine,” Native Americans widely believe that each animal can teach us about the ways of life—values, culture, hunting, family, etc. The elk teaches pride, strength, stamina, and agility. The Shawnee called the elk “wapiti” which translates into “white rump.” The wapiti is a symbol that it’s time to take the next step in life and do it with courage.
To the Lakota, the elk was an important part of their spiritual beliefs. When a male Lakota was born, he was presented with an elk tooth representing longevity of life. Later in life when a male was ready to find his “other half,” if he had an elk sighting in a dream, he would paint an elk on his courting clothes, indicating a high sexual prowess. To the Lakota, the spiritual elk represented strength, power, and virility.
The elk also serves as the official state animal for Utah and he adorns both the state seal and flag of Michigan.
The Norse people of Scandinavia believed that by observing and listening to animals they could adopt and develop their traits in themselves. For the Norse people, who called the elk “King of the Forest,” the elk was a symbol of inner strength, wisdom, and grace, and having a white elk sighting was a sign of divine protection.
The Elk as a Totem Animal
If the elk is your totem animal, you are a master at keeping a steady pace in life. If life were a race, your ability to pace yourself would not necessarily mean you’d be the first to cross the finish line, but you would certainly arrive there with the same strength you began with while others burned out. You are confident in your endeavors, and meeting your goals is far more important than just being the first to accomplish them. You also probably prefer to do things in groups rather than alone, and it’s likely that you work at keeping your body strong and healthy by eating good food, which may not include a lot of meat, if any.
In Spirit, you are likely someone with many friends and close family who care for you and who see you as a special person in their lives. You are courageous and unafraid of the obstacles others see as daunting. In other words, you don’t give up easily.
The Elk as a Cautionary Tale
Because elk can be susceptible to infectious illnesses, an elk encounter may be a way of suggesting that you need to look to your physical and mental health. This is particularly true if you are in a position where you could potentially spread a physical illness to others.
Another thing to consider is that your elk-sighting may also be a gentle reminder that we are connected to others, even if we don’t wish to be or never planned to be. Keep in mind that negative attitudes and moods can, if kept unchecked, spread to others. Don’t be the person who brings down office morale or who leaves your club in disarray after an important meeting.
Just as viruses and bad attitudes can be contagious, so can gossip. An elk sighting could be a reminder that spreading gossip or negative news can get out of control, harming others and yourself. Focus on the positive aspects of the elk: a strong, powerful, steadfast creature that does not need to use trickery or tall-tales to get ahead.
On a different note, because the elk’s antlers are prized by some, elk have been the target of hunters. Watch what you let people see about you: maintain appropriate boundaries and be aware that not everyone who has an interest in you is necessarily concerned about your interests.
Now that you know more about the elk, are you looking forward to your next elk sighting?
If you’d like to read our other animal sighting articles, you can find them here.
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