The Meaning of a Coyote Sighting

Transformation Through Self-Reflection

The coyote is usually thought of as a trickster, a joker, and even a shape-shifter, but he is also revered, especially in Native American culture, as an important messenger of personal transformation through self-reflection. A coyote sighting is generally a message to take a look within, to not take life too seriously, to lighten up, and to learn to laugh at ourselves and even our mistakes. Coyotes also remind us that anything we do to others will come back to us—good or bad.

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What is a Coyote?

As we ponder the significance of a coyote sighting, it is important to remember that an animal spirit’s meaning tends to be connected to its unique characteristics. Coyotes are a member of the canine family, along with dogs and wolves. While they resemble both, there are key differences between the species: Coyotes are smaller and thinner than wolves but have longer ears. The face and body of a coyote is typically more elongated than that of a dog.

Coyotes are generally quite willing to communicate and interact with other creatures. They are not as territorial as wolves and are less likely to attack others in defense of their den. Coyotes are highly vocal and use their vocalizations to communicate greetings, warnings, and to establish their place in a social hierarchy.

A coyote “pack” is generally a family made up of a female, male, and their pups. However, other coyotes might join for companionship, and female coyotes who don’t have pups of their own may assist in raising the youngest members of the pack. This contributes to supporting the pack, leaving more time for other members to hunt. In general, coyotes hunt at dusk and in the early evening.

Coyote as Your Totem or Spirit Animal

Generally speaking, your totem or spirit animal is one who resonates with you in your mind, body, and spirit. You connect with your totem animal—when you see it or hear it, it makes you stop and take notice. It’s a feeling of having an affinity and understanding towards that particular animal or group of animals. Yes, you can have more than one animal you feel akin to in different ways.

If the coyote is your totem animal, you are able to accept and adapt to new and changing situations perhaps more easily than others. You have the wisdom of the ages, yet you know how to roll with the ups and downs of daily modern life. This is a blessing, especially in such an unpredictable and ever-changing world. Think of the many times that man has tried to rid himself of the coyote, but the coyote is cunning and able to adapt in order to survive. Coyotes are also very family and pack-oriented and they work together to live through even the greatest attempts to eliminate them.

A Shamanic View

Animals are messengers. The spirit world can send us messages through all of its creatures seen and unseen. However, it is up to us to notice when they have a message to convey, then to interpret its personal meaning. Thinking of the attributes of a particular animal may provide a clue as to how you can use that skill in your own life—patience, powers of concentration and quick thinking, to name a few.

Anyone can have a coyote sighting (or hear them) even if it’s not their totem animal. When you see a coyote, it can be a reminder to look at things you may have been avoiding. Imagine the coyote as a reflection of yourself. He says, “Look at me. I’m adaptable to my environment. I am serious and even cunning, yet playful and fun-loving.” He wants to remind you to see your full reflection and focus on your whole life instead of just one part. It’s no fun to be all work and no play, and the coyote knows this.

What is the Meaning of Your Coyote Sighting?

An encounter with a coyote is something worth pondering. This is true even if you encounter a coyote as an image or a sculpture. Spending some time in meditation or journaling can be helpful in understanding what Spirit is trying to teach you.

Coyotes are very willing to communicate with others and to form bonds necessary for survival. Are you doing what you can to make your wants and needs clear to others? Are you working to develop strong partnerships? These partnerships, by the way, do not need to be romantic in nature. However, they should be meaningful and serve the needs of both parties. 

Do you feel stuck in a rut? Are you someone who takes life too seriously and does not acknowledge the lighter side of things? Even if you are pegged with burdens and responsibilities, it’s okay, and even necessary, to enjoy life from time to time. Allow yourself to be silly and show vulnerability in areas where you might usually seek perfection.

Another thing to consider is that a coyote is often depicted as a trickster in lore and legend. This is not always a bad thing, but you might want to show some caution in your day-to-day life and decisions. For example, you might want to think over major plans regarding your job, purchases, or other important issues. It may be that someone is not telling you the whole truth or is even trying to manipulate you.

Coyote Legends

Coyotes are shapeshifters in some legends, and changing the shape of your outlook on life can certainly shift your perspective overall. The coyote energy will keep showing up until you work on taking a more balanced approach to life. The Great Spirit sends us the help that we need most when we need it.

Not all Native American stories see the coyote as only good or only evil, but most believe he represents a balance. Balance cannot exist without both good and evil, life and death, beginnings and endings. We must be our true selves and embrace this natural balance to life. Ignoring such an important lesson can force a false mask. To wear a mask, to appear as we are not, or to show a false face, prevents us from connecting with God or the Creator.

The Navajo believe that if you have a coyote sighting, it is a warning to turn around; traveling on, as intended, will not lead to good things.The Shoshoni believe the coyote symbolizes endings—which make way for new beginnings. In other words, coyotes symbolize a natural balance in life. The Comanche have an ancient story about a monster who stole all of the buffalo and a young boy. In order to stop the boy from crying, the coyotes howled and, in turn, the buffalo scattered. Soon they covered the land again. Thus, the coyote saved the life of a young boy and the buffalo population, as well.

A Mirror Image

In some stories, the coyote is revered as smart, cunning and knowledgeable. In others, he is a trickster who is also sometimes silly and laughable. As humans, we are also all of these things, thus the coyote is a mirror image of ourselves. Maybe you’ll look at coyotes differently now, seeing yourself reflected in their strong attributes and cunning skills.

Do you like these animal articles? What animal would you like me to cover next? Let me know if the comments below!

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41 thoughts on “The Meaning of a Coyote Sighting

  1. Richard Colby

    3 day after my partner of 35 years died I heard at night a coyote howling .now 10 years later I feel my partner in my dri it feels so real is he contacting me.

  2. Mary Jab

    I knew that there is a family of coyote living down the hill of my property. My son seen them and my husband heard them but I have not seen them nor her or him personally. I know my dog has seen him or her and knew that they were around our property.
    One early morning my dog ran as fast as he could to the steel fence that we have overlooking downhill. I decided to follow him. We are both standing behind our fence and I am 20 feet away from my dog. I saw the coyote standing opposite my dog maybe 10 ft away behind the fence, They are staring at each other. I have a great pyranesse mix with a golden retriever dog so that means he is a big dog. The coyote looked at me and and I looked at him or her. I was surprised that he stood still looking at me. I did not get scared looking at him or her. I was not sure if it is a boy or a girl. Staring at her I knew she was a mature girl coyote. She is medium built and my dog is bigger than her. I raised my hand and shouted at her to go away. She stared at me for a while. I have to repeat again to tell her to go. Her look stuck on me. She was not startled as I was telling her to go away. I was not afraid either when I looked at her in fact to me for the first time I saw the coyote as a beautiful creature. The coyote’s image kept popping in my mind however I was also worried about my dog. Even though the coyote was smaller than my dog I am thinking that she might bring the other coyotes to attack my dog in my yard. All along my thoughts are busy on how to protect my dog from her until I read the article above. What if my sighting of the coyote was a message about me and my life? Now I am seriously reflecting on myself. I am turning 60 next year and my boys just finished college. Both of them have decent jobs and working on their careers and their independence. My life is in transition, me and my husband will be empty nesters soon……..sorry this is too long….Am I thinking this coyote encounter too much? Does the encounter really means something? Only time will tell….

  3. Sherri

    One wk before my mom got sick I was walking my dog in town, a coyote was 20 ft from us , we both froze starring eye to eye , we stood almost ten minutes before another walker startled him. One wk later my neighbor text me said you have a coyote in your yard , he had followed me. Wk after that another neighbor text he was in our yard , next evening he crossed the road in front of me while I was walking. Bye then my mom was on hospice very sick so I packed my bags to stay with her. My husband arrived that evening to mow her lawn and said … there is a coyote in her yard just hanging around! He had followed me! Husband saw him one more night. My mom passed away and we haven’t seen the coyote since , I think he was an omen warning me if her death.

  4. Grace

    In 2009 my grandfather passed away. At his funeral when we gathered around his headstone a coyote approached us and watched quietly, unphased for several minutes. I was relatively young but remember an overwhelming sense of my grandfathers presence in that moment. It’s been on my mind a lot lately and this article has confirmed to me that the coyote was his spirit signaling to us that the end of his life was the beginning of something beautiful. So appreciate this article and the similar story I read above in the comments. Consciousness is ongoing and powerful.

  5. Katie Fields

    I was taking a spiritual walk down by the river near my house. I felt very attune with the nature around me. I heard a rusting of feet near by and I stopped dead in my tracks. I looked to my left and saw a coyote looking back at me. I froze and we held eye contact. Then I bowed still looking at it. I then turned away and we both continued down our paths like nothing had happened. I was kind of afraid that it might chase me but it didn’t and so I knew that what I did was the right thing. Yet, in the back of my mind I knew I couldn’t return home that way so I went home down a different path.

  6. Robert

    I’ve seen many animals, I was an over the road truck driver, I just saw my first coyote and it was jet black. Apparently that’s rare; it was so awesome.

  7. Zoe

    I Was walking my dog today around 6:30 am & saw a coyote coming towards us on our part of the street . When I yelled & waved my hands it took off in opposing direction, around some bushes& trees in a grassy area . When I ran around the corner of these bushes to see were it had gone it was gone but, there was a hawk up in a tree branch.
    Strangest thing ?

  8. Jenna Taylor

    My boyfriend and I were having a serious discussion about our relationship around three in the morning in his car and we both happened to look up and see a coyote crossing out paths. It was really odd timing considering we had just decided not to break up. I’ve been trying to decipher what it could mean for a little bit and this helped!

  9. Jennifer

    Your article was very helpful.i had 3 coyotes pass in front of me on my way to the market from left to right. The first one had crossed the street, the second stopped to guide/wait for third. They each looked my way! I felt an amazing energy! This has to do with 2 male suitors. I’ve been alone for a very long time & ready to make a little room in my heart. So I’ll just have to lighten up and not take myself so serious! Life is an adventure, I’m gonna jump back in.

  10. Bel

    How Interesting, i live in Arizona and i drive through the Pima Reservation in the mornings to get to work. I have never seen a coyote before, and where I drive through it’s pretty urban, so it was so weird to me that I saw it cross the roadway I was on. The coyote even stopped and looked at me as I drove by, now I did get a little concerned because many people say it’s bad luck and that you’re suppose to leave it an offering or watever. But I ain’t got time for that, I was going to be late lol. This is such a relief, I asked one of coworkers who is Native American, specifically of the Hopi tribe, what that meant and she didn’t even know what that meant, all she told me was that i should’ve ran it over! Why would I run over an animal! Which is why I decided to do my own looking into it, because that was such bs to me. I’m glad I did!

  11. Kim

    In the moments of my Grandpa passing away- outside his window of the hospice he was in, a coyote showed up and remained for a few minutes. The area on the outside of the window was a small, enclosed courtyard. Then, at his funeral, in a totally different city, a coyote showed up- just walking slowly ignoring any people that were around. He kept stopping and looking up at our group. He eventually walked out of sight. We all believe that this was my Grandpa’s spirit… Could there be any other meanings? It was too unusual to be just a coincidence.

  12. Rebecca

    On Sunday night early Monday morning July 15th into 16 2018 I had a cat pass away with no warning at all. I discovered him and went out back to smoke a cigarette. I live in a rurel part in oklahoma and seen something coming thru my yard out of the corner of my eye. I thought it was a deer because that is a common sighting around my yard but I looked and it was a coyote. It stopped and looked at me. I got up and it took off of course. It freaked me out but after telling a friend he told me it was a messanger. Telling me something. I’ve never ever seen these animals so close to my house before ever. I hear them all the time but never see them. Thank you for this article I feel as if he was coming to kind of comfort me which I didn’t think that at the time it kind of scared me but I couldn’t help but get up n want to get closer for I am a lover of all animals big and small. My little kitty is missed with all my being and his best friend is grieving him leaving to the point I’m worried she will die from a broken heart and don’t know yet what I’m going to do. It’s only been three days since his passing waiting on necropsy results to maybe get answers as to why he passed out of nowhere. Thank you for the article. I am a Leo born in 1975 and wonder what my spirit animal is? If I had to guess it would be the cat. I love them! All cats big n smell. They are cool little creatures.

  13. Dena Benton

    Ive seen a coyote crossing road in front of my car at night. Then 2 other times I’ve seen a very large beautiful, male wolf at night. 1st was with my son at night, wolf passed in front of us with a pond btwn. 2nd was night wolf was stalking a cat, I was alone. I yelled waved arms stomped feet to run it away but it never even looked at me. His focus was on the cat. I ran back in the house. 2nd time he was closer to me.

  14. Damian

    I really enjoy these animal articles! Please keep them coming! I hike in the mountains a LOT (especially at night) and run into so many animals in the wild; coyotes, mountain lions, bobcat, eagles, hawks, crows, deer, even bears. I feel a definite affinity with these beings and have never ever felt threatened or intimidated by any of them. It’s important to be able to look into the eyes of another living, breathing, thinking animal and see its true nature and recognize it as an equal and respect it as such. Thank you!

  15. Sarah Baisley

    Thanks, that is my rising sign. Can you write about my sun sign, mountain lion and where we can find out more about the animals signs?

  16. Dorene

    It’s so funny that this one was posted and this morning a coyote runs out in front of me. I grew up understanding that coyote is a trickester and that people are telling stories about you if he stops and looks at you.

    I think it is great that people pay attention to the animals and care for them because I believe they are our ancestors…loved ones that have passed on; bringing us messages. They are not here…in our way! They are not to be moved or relocated because they interfere with our plans, they are here to tell us the Great Spirits plans and to help us through times; when we are taking life too seriously or as reminders to give thanks and appreciate what is right in front of us or to let us know that we are on the right path in life!

    Thank you for sharing this and the weekly mantras.

  17. Marie

    Very interesting. I would like to know about butterflies. I had the same one follow me through my mowing the lawn for several weeks in a row this summer. It was always beside the lawn tractor, following me. Then one day it disappeared and I never saw it again. I know it was there for a reason.

  18. Ann

    I would like to know about a heron.

    I enjoyed your article about the coyote very much. I tend to believe that all things are a mixture of good and bad, and that nothing is ever black or white.

    Thank you.



  20. Peggy

    Wonderful article! I would like to know why I am so obsessed with animals in general. Of course I love cats & dogs but all living creatures that cross my path in some way always remains. The other day I picked up a huge slug off the pavement with a tree branch & relocated it to its natural environment. See raccoons hit off to side of road and I can barely stand it. I go out of my way to help or save an animal and even have my eyes pierced looking for them in case they need help even when I don’t see them. I could go on & on with all this but I wonder if there is a special meaning or perhaps I am some sort of savior for them maybe I was an animal in another life?

    1. BrieAnna

      Thats how i am to. Im too caring to go out and help others. I have a problem of seeing them hurt, i can’t handle medical side of the wounds. But i love to see thru to the end.

  21. Heather

    Thank you! I enjoy learning about native traditions. I’ve had many sightings throughout the last 7 years. For a stretch of 4.5 years, I had visitords showing up in my backyard and very close to the steps of my porch. My small jack Russel was my messenger of these creatures and I’m thankful to Harley, RIP my buddy. First a large black snake, then a coyote, and last an owl. Of course, after the last sighting, I was forced to move out. I have now been noticing hawks…anything on these four animals would be lovely.

  22. tracy

    I would like to know about the Horse- and how do I find out what animal is my Spirit animal? I was born in the Chinese Zodiac Year of the Horse. Horses are my passion and life!

    1. BrieAnna

      i just did to, weird. And it feels like my totem is horse, coyote, owl, dog, cat. But my spirit is horse.

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