Dig Deeper, Tell Stories, Make Alliances (Badger Symbolism)
By Trish Phillips
The Lakota believe the badger is an earth animal; it lives in a den and digs in the earth. Early Irish history refers to the badger as an unclean animal that bites and is found in rocky, mountainous places. Later, a gambler with a badger’s tooth in his pocket was considered unbeatable.
Throughout history, badger is subjected to atrocious behavior. The verb ‘to badger’ comes from the European custom of badger-baiting and means ‘to persecute’ or ‘to annoy.’ Likewise, post-Columbian America and Europ subjected badger to periods of persecution and extermination. Farmers in the western United States regularly destroy badger nests, so that the holes do not trip cattle – forgetting the badger’s role in rodent control.
The badger is the giant of the weasel family. It is 20-34 inches long and weighs from 8 to 25 pounds. Badger fur is a mixture gray, black, brown and buff. All have a white stripe from nose to shoulder, shich is symbolic of the keeper of much light and knowledge of animals and earth. The tail is short, bushy and yellowish in color; the feet are dark.
The badger is a carnivore and feeds on small mammals, rodents, insects and reptiles. The badger appears fat, but it is muscular and powerful. The outer skin is very loose; other animals have difficulty injuring it. Its own jaws are exceedingly strong – the symbols of powerful expression. While old tales would have us believe the badger is ferocious, it would rather retreat to a place of safety – or dig a new one and throw the dirt into the face of its attacker. However, when cornered without a place to hide, badger makes a formidable adversary. It will use its claws and teeth to its best advantage.
The badger is basically unsociable. It only joins with others to mate.
Symbolism and Power
All of these traits can be viewed symbolically:
- The white stripe is symbolic of how open it is, providing knowledge and enlightenment to other animals and the earth.
- The strong jaws tie the badger to the mysteries of the “word” – in particular the magic of storytelling. Badger reminds us to remember stories and give them away to people when they are needed.
- The remarkable digger hints at the ability to see beneath the surface of all things and people. Also, the closeness to herbs and roots make badger dynamic healers.
- Loners and solitary, badgers teach us to be self-reliant and comfortable with ourselves.
- Bold and ferocious when cornered, badger reminds us to never surrender.
The badger imparts persistence, determination and endurance. Badger also gives mental energy and fighting spirit. It would rather die than give up, so badger teaches us how to stick to a project and see it through to completion.
Calling upon the badger energy will supposedly allow the healing to penetrate deeper into the system. Many motions of Reike healers are similar to those used by ancient badger medicine people. In addition to healing energy, badger power includes prophecy. Badger knows both past and future while it maintains a firm grip on the present.
The badger is the boss everyone fears. The person is gruff but gets the job done and is unwilling to quit.
If a badger has come into your life, it is time to do some examination. Are you or those around you not digging deep enough? It may indicate a need to get beneath the surface. It may reflect a time of greater connection to the earth and its animal spirits. It may be telling you to draw upon the stories that intrigued you and held your attention during childhood. They may be symbolic of things going on or about to go on in your current life. Whenever badger shows up, there are opportunities to develop self-expression and reliance. It is time to begin to tell a new story about yourself and your life.
The lesson of the badger is about developing your fighting spirit, invoking your warrior courage and steadfast persistence while continuing to hang onto your wants and desires. Ask for badger help when:
- You are learning to bite down on what you desire and hang on.
- Your present state of mind, body and personal affairs are lethargic (or over-aggressive).
- You need to form alliances with different people so that everyone can benefit.
Access badger power by…
- Practicing storytelling to get your point across.
- Digging below the surface to examine the core of a problem or obstacle.
- Acquiring communication skills for dealing with strangers.
- Walk your own path at your own pace without concern for what others may say.
Power Animals: How to Connect with Your Animal Spirit Guide, Steven D. Farmer, Ph.D., pp. 55-59.
Animal Wisdom: the definitive guide, Jessica Dawn Palmer, pp. 63-66.
Animal-Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small, Ted Andrews, pp. 339-340.