I want to start this article with an English saying, “to talk the hind legs of a donkey,” which describes the fantastic skills of a salesman or a social person.
Anyway, the point of this discussion is to help people understand the significance of donkeys truly is.
In a few words, donkeys used to be the emblem of power. Slowly, as the technology evolved and things moved further, donkeys became an object of ridicule. In fact, donkeys symbolize hard work, determination, and good manners.
Although some see donkeys as unintelligent animals, this perspective is wrong and unfair. Conversely, donkeys are the most intelligent animals in the world, with a high EQ and an emotional quotient better than dogs, gorillas, or chimpanzees.
Although stubborn, donkeys are fascinating creatures with lots of positive attributes. Let’s find out more about their symbolism, along with the spiritual meanings of donkeys.
The Symbolism Of Donkeys In The Bible
Donkeys have always been illustrated as humble creatures from the very first words of the Bible. Most references to donkeys in Christianity are found in the Old Testament, where they are described as metaphors or as an intellectual power (1). Additionally, donkeys are those animals that help humans who suffer and bring them hope.
Among the biblical phrases, donkeys are a representation of the “authority of God’s word.” Jesus is also pictured entering the Holy City on the back of a donkey. The wise animal represents here a symbol of peace.
Unfortunately, today there is a contrast between the biblical image of donkeys and how some people perceive these animals. Because yes, the donkey is a strong symbolic animal, representing hard work, good manners, and willpower. And even though they are mostly seen as simple mules, donkeys are pretty emotional and intelligent animals, with a vast symbolism.
Spiritual Meanings Of Donkeys In The World
Outside the Bible, Islam and Christianity generally, donkeys features are distinct based on different cultures and contexts.
For instance, donkeys are political symbols in Catalonia, Russia, Iran, and the U.S. Furthermore, the term “donkey” can be used as a rude word for a desperate soccer player or someone with no poker skills.
Nowadays, in Israel, “Messiah’s Donkey” is the central term of an arguable religious-political doctrine. On the other hand, donkeys are considered the endmost immoral animals in the Jewish religion.
Yet, spiritually speaking, donkeys represent the animal that will light up the load. Unlike the depiction in many allegories and literary works, many cultures consider donkeys a symbol of intelligence, mainly in animism.
Donkeys In Native American Symbolism
Native Americans have a legend about a donkey charged to carry the chief’s grandchildren on a journey. However, the chief’s daughter didn’t trust the donkey’s strength and preferred to take the grandchildren by ponies.
The donkey protested, and, eventually, the daughter saw the chief’s wisdom. And she has done well, as the chief’s decision became vital after the donkey saved the children’s lives.
Therefore, they see the animal as brave and intelligent.
Donkeys In Far Eastern Symbolism
In China, for instance, donkeys are famous for their stubbornness. For the Chinese culture, this characteristic comes with a negative connotation.
In other words, we can see a donkey displayed along with Hong (the rainbow dragon). However, Hong, who is considered the symbol of fortune, has only a donkey’s head.
Donkeys Symbolism in Film and Literature
Ancient Greece and Western cultures have created a more positive image of donkeys in the modern world. Besides the Bible, donkeys represent some key figures in the major works of Aesop and Homer.
Over the centuries, besides the Greeks literature (2), donkeys have been central characters in other literature works too. For instance, Shakespeare used in his “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” play the term “ass” as an offend. In contrast, donkeys in “Don Quixote” by Cervantes were presented as loyal companions and a symbol of devotion.
Moving closer to nowadays, donkeys are still present in film and literature. For instance, let’s take the famous “Winnie the Pooh,” where the donkey Eeyore is the most loved character. Furthermore, he is simply adorable for his melancholy and sad voice.
Another iconical representation of the donkeys is featured during the 20th century. In “Animal Farm” (1951), outlines the Benjamin character, a resilient donkey and a loyal friend to Boxer, the horse. He is also a wise spirit but a bit cynical about change.
In the film world, donkeys are the main characters of some Disney animations like “Pinocchio” or “Fantasia.” The donkey is also one of the main characters of the classic DreamWorks Pictures, “Shrek.” Known by the name of “Donkey,” he is simply the salt and pepper of all movies from the series.
Donkey Behavior: Facts And Meanings
Donkeys are surprising animals, mainly due to their excellent memory, as well as their impressive capacity for learning. Studies have found that these animals can learn at the same level as dogs and dolphins. This also means that donkeys remember both good and bad things.
When the world population was trading animals, donkeys used to be a status symbol for their owners. However, as previously said, with the rise of technology, donkeys’ sure and steady pace has turned into reasons of ridicule.
However, I want to continue this talk and change the general perspectives by rediscovering the powerful symbolism of these wise animals.
To clearly understand what donkeys symbolize, you need to learn more about their dominant traits and the logical part behind them. Two principal characteristics made donkeys popular among humans:
Most people associate donkeys with stubborn and foolish spirits. However, there is something more than meets the eye. Donkeys are not stubborn for no reason. They use their stubbornness as a protective shield when they fear.
People will often compare horses to donkeys; however, each animal has different characters and behave according to their instincts.
Horses are generally used for carrying purposes on plains and open landscapes. They need enough space to move, while donkeys are better in mountainous terrains. No matter the environmental danger, weather, or terrain inclination, they will take the risk.
Horses don’t need to be told twice to start running, while donkeys might take a lot longer to react.
Nevertheless, when they feel in danger, horses’ first instinct is to run. On the contrary, donkeys intuitively ignore the possible danger when they feel scared.
Thus, while donkeys might seem stubborn, they have more emotions than any other cattle animal. They are domestic animals with strong emotional bonds. Considering this aspect, it is not wise to keep donkeys as single animals.
Sixth-Sense and Self-Awareness
Some people say that donkeys pose the sixth sense. This is because of their funnel-shaped, enormous ears that can detect different sounds far better than our ears. It is believed that donkeys are always aware of what is happening around them and ready for anything to come. And this is not all.
People trust in donkeys’ instincts, and the information above is just a hint. If a donkey perceives a possible danger in the path ahead, they will be stubborn enough to stop and refuse to move forward. No matter how much humans would push or kick them, they will simply ignore and listen to their instincts.
Donkeys are not part of those animals who over-estimate their capabilities and become prey for humans. Donkeys are wise creatures, aware of their powers and limitations, so they will know what they can and cannot do. This primer intuition will save them from a lot of danger.
Donkey Symbolistics: Spirit Animal, Totem And Mythology
Donkeys are mighty animals and symbols of strong will and determination. They are very committed to their work; therefore, they don’t seem to get tired quickly.
Scientifically speaking, donkeys are resistant and sturdy, but they can still become exhausted. The only reason why they do not give up, even for extended periods of working, is that they will urge themselves to resist. Isn’t this a true life lesson?
Their stubbornness, along with their high level of intelligence and work ethics, make donkeys possess a fascinating instinct of self-preservation. Thus, they are cautious animals with a unique sense of self-care and are well-mannered.
Donkeys As Spirit Animals
Donkeys as spirit animals may look simple, but they are like a wake-up call to evade life’s glamorous and superficial aspects. Donkeys teach us to be more practical. Although these animals may be misunderstood, they are focused on their work and do their best without being distracted by external stimuli. However, this changes if they feel in danger.
In a world where people are distracted easily and have sharp focus, donkeys can be a true example of concentration.
Donkey – The Power Animal
Donkeys hold the weights for their owners or take parts in their burdens, being truly loyal animals and vital power creatures to rely on. The devotion to its masters makes donkeys a valid symbol of loyalty. Donkeys are like a reminder of the friendship’s fidelity.
The donkey is also a powerful animal to rely on when you cannot handle things anymore. They know precisely what life difficulties look like, how much work and responsibilities you need to take sometimes, and how to assume the consequences of your actions.
Last but not least, donkeys are the symbol of altruism and giving more than it takes. There are times when we simply need to help someone in need, although we might lose more than we want. Donkeys are the pure symbol of solidarity, an actual power animal.
Donkey – Totem Animal
First of all, what is a totem? A totem is a sacred object, a divine being, or a specific symbol for a family, a culture, or an individual. The totem animal is the symbol that follows you throughout your life, both in the physical and non-material world.
People born under the donkey totem are considered the most forceful spirits. These people have been crossing different hardships of life but still have the necessary power to overcome them and be happy.
These people have excellent instincts gained by their various experiences. Indeed, they might not be true leaders; however, they know enough about danger. Thus, they know how to make good decisions and find the ideal road for their life.
Adopting a donkey as your spirit animal can be an inspirational choice. Consider these mighty meanings:
- Hard work
Donkey Mythology and Folklore Symbols
We already know the religious contexts of a donkey. They have been the chosen animals for taking Christ into Jerusalem as a sign of humility.
However, in Greek mythology, people paid tribute to the excellent intuition of the donkey when Apollo commanded that Midas should get a donkey’s ears so that he could hear the divine music from the God.
No wonder donkeys are nowadays one of the most exciting animal emblems to turn the attention upon.
Donkeys In Dreams – Meaning
People have always been seeking the meanings of their dreams. Thus, when donkeys are calling in your sleep, it means you might need to re-judge your current plans and decisions. Have you been under someone’s pressure? Maybe you have judged your goals based on emotions.
The presence of a donkey in your dreams reminds you to double-check things and adjust them based on gut feeling. Put more emphasis on what you are doing and enjoy your well-being.
On the other hand, riding a donkey in your dreams means you should expect new journeys, maybe leaving the country and venturing into places that are difficult to reach. This is also the sign of good fortune or fulfilling some objectives.
Donkey Appearing In Your Path
When a donkey is crossing your path, there is one thing you should focus on: ignoring the appearance of things and concentrating on what goes on deep within.
This allows you to stay objective and assess the decision on your life based on facts, not emotions. Some might consider you stubborn or blunt, but remember, donkeys were called that too. Be wise and follow your path, exactly how these intelligent animals do.
In a nutshell
Donkey symbolism is quite rich; however, there are some main characteristics that we all need to agree with: donkeys are intelligent, aware, patient, assertive, stubborn ( when they feel in danger), and humble animals.
Also Read: Burro Vs. Donkey: The Same or Different?