The first time I saw an alligator in real-life, I shivered. It was in Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay, Florida. I was only 14 at the time. Now I understand the symbolic meaning of alligators and crocidiles, I can understand why a shiver of energy went through me.
As a young boy, I had a recurring dream. Close to where I lived was a clearing with unkempt grass and a partly demolished brick wall. In my dream, the clearing was a pond. In my dream, I was being chased by alligators as I frantically swam to reach the other side. In some dreams, it felt as though I was not getting anywhere.
Although I don’t remember the minute details of the dream 30 years plus on, I do remember frantically swimming from these scaly predators. I don’t remember ever escaping from the pond, but I was never devoured either.
If I’d have known about the symbolic meaning of alligators at the time, it would have saved a lot of heartaches for me growing up.
Dreams, of course, reveal significant aspects of your psyche. Patterns that occur in dreams correspond to various aspects of physical and mental health. They indicate when people are anxious or depressed, suffered trauma or face difficulties in life.
I suspect in my case, the dreams emerged out of fear and anxiety. I was a very shy and quiet child. Even from such a young age I never felt as though I fitted in; even at home. Little did I know at the time, these early experiences would create problems in my adult life.
“There are certain events of which we have not consciously taken note; they have remained, so to speak, below the threshold of consciousness. They have happened, but they have been absorbed subliminally, without our conscious knowledge. We can become aware of such happenings only in a moment of intuition or by a process of profound thought that leads to a later realization that they must have happened; and though we may have originally ignored their emotional and vital importance, it later wells up from the unconscious as a sort of afterthought. As a general rule, the unconscious aspect of any event is revealed to us in dreams, where it appears not as a rational thought but as a symbolic image.” ~ Carl Jung, Man and his Symbols
The eminent psychoanalyst, Carl Jung believed the symbolism that surfaces in dreams are how the unconscious mind communicates to us.
Although Jung also thought universal symbols that are common to all mankind have an entirely individual key in dreams, the esoteric wisdom in world mythology seems to be part of the collective unconscious which Jung also believed influences dreams.
During my investigations of esoteric symbolism, I consistently find striking similarities between cultures from all over the world.
And when I say ‘striking similarity’ what I really mean to say is they are exactly the same. Take a look for yourself.
Various members of the Crocodilian family are central to the mythologies of numerous cultures. The crocodile, alligator, gharials and caiman can be found in various mythologies all over the world.
Furthermore, they are a complex symbol which has dual meaning. This causes confusion amongst many scholars and commentators.
The word crocodile in English has Greek origins meaning lizard. Therefore, in esoteric symbolism, when we talk about crocodiles and alligators, we can include various other members of the reptilian family.
The symbolic meaning of alligators and crocodiles also incorporated other reptilians such as lizards and snakes are prominent in world mythologies. Iguanas also make an appearance. Essentially reptiles have the same meaning as crocodiles and alligators – the potential to overcome material reality and discover your higher “spiritual” nature.
Ancient cultures recognised man’s potential to connect with a higher conscious mind. There is an energetic field which we can tap into and retrieve the information we need to guide us through life.
In my opinion, this intelligent force probably has something to do with quantum particles and string theory. Scientists have discovered a single photon permits a two-way conversation.
But that is an article for another day.
Ancient cultures seemed to be aware of this phenomenon thousands of years ago. They understand this knowledge was so critical to the evolution of mankind that they built clues into their temples so it would be preserved for future generations.
In the image below, you can see a lizard built into the central plaza of Machu Picchu – a city hidden in the Peruvian mountains, undiscovered, and thus not destroyed by the Spanish conquistadors.
The description is an indication that man had evolved from a being with a primitive reptilian brain to develop the Neocortex and an ability to analyse complex questions and achieve great feats.
Ancient civilisations from the Middle-East, Asia, Egypt and Mesoamerica also recognised this dual aspect of mind kind which they reflected in their mythologies with the archetype of crocodilians.
They presumably made this link because crocodiles live and hunt in both land and water. This ability also reflects man’s capacity to transcend both “worlds” – the physical (land) and the astral (water).
This process does not relate to the mainstream idea of reincarnation as is commonly taught, but the purification of bad habits, attitudes, limiting beliefs, and personality traits that cause problems in our lives.
Water is also related to emotions in symbolism. On a deeper level, this relates to the toxic chemicals that build up in your body and the suppressed emotions that prompt you to have odd feelings and tempt habitual behaviours.
Moreover, emotions “lead you into temptation.” The reptilian part of the brain, which has an obvious link to the symbolic meaning of alligators, primarily governs your survival instincts. Today, the subconscious is mostly concerned with emotional survival.
The process of “reincarnation” involves changing your thought, emotions and actions. By doing so, the subtle energies that create our reality, change the experiences we have in life.
Practising personal development is required to improve how you channel energies.
Energy is responsible for the whole of creation including, your personality, characteristics, gait, how you feel, how you maintain strength, how you nurture inner peace etc. Everything.
Characteristics displayed by reptiles are reflected in the celestial deities of old together with iconic figures like Jesus, Mohammad, Krishna and Buddha Gautama.
Rather than taking these parables literally, it is pertinent to recognise religious characters teach us how to perform the process of transformation 0 birth, death and rebirth.
Whether these enlightened beings existed historically or not is irrelevant. The fact remains that their stories serve critical importance in the evolution of mankind and the sustainability of the planet.
If you neglect to rise above your animal nature, you will remain obsessed with material possessions, worldly attachments and uncontrollable emotions. You will live on the land – in ego consciousness which lusts with desire.
Desire, said the historical Buddha, is the cause of all suffering.
Because of their ability to live on land and water, native American tribes revered alligators as a symbol of power and high status. In many native legends, reptiles are used as mediators between the two worlds.
The “two worlds” are the physical realm and the realm of the superconscious – the mysterious world of quantum particles.
In rational terms, the physical realm relates to the conscious mind and the astral realm is the unconscious mind.
“In the [conscious] mind, what there is, is ignorance. Real wisdom is not in the mind, it is beyond the mind [the unconscious]. The mind is ignorant, and therefore it falls into so many serious errors.” ~ Samael Aun Weor
Alligators and crocodiles were worshipped throughout numerous cultures for this precise reason. Their ability to submerge themselves under the water and remerge on land is analogous to man’s ability to look into your unconscious mind and bring suppressed emotions to the surface – the conscious mind.
In doing so, you express revitalised energies in the physical world and nurture the rebirth of your true nature. Your true nature is what you must strive to develop.
To be natural is a wonderful thing.
Water’s symbolic connection to emotions, both suppressed and expressed, is interesting when you consider the nature of alligators. Crocodilians are not fond of dirty water.
Furthermore, crocodilians have no fear. This enables them to remain calm and patient – positive qualities we all need to nurture the things we want to manifest in life and enable us to overcome temptations in the knowledge the compulsion will subside once your subtle energies shift into a different cycle.
Crocodiles were both revered and feared in ancient Egypt. These creatures have a penchant for aggressive and violent behaviour. The ancient Egyptians connected crocodiles with the military, whereas their association with the water positioned crocodilians as a symbol of power, virility and fertility.
In Egyptian mythology, the symbolic meaning of alligators is reflected in the god, Sobek. Typically depicted with a human body and the head of a reptile, his presence in the Egyptian pantheon is unmistakable.
Sobek was regarded as the God of the Nile because he controls the waters and was responsible for making the soil fertile. Many scholars fittingly associate Sobek with the root word s-bAk which means”to impregnate”.
My interpretation of water in esoteric symbolism reveals how energy is guided by consciousness. Nature must have a conscious mind otherwise it cannot know how to grow.
Energy is the source of all creation. Soil represents Earth, which, in turn, is symbolic for the body and your experience of this physical reality.
The symbolic meaning of alligators in Egyptian myth explains how Sobek emerged from the primaeval waters of Nun to create the world. The Nile was formed from the crocodile’s sweat. In another myth, Sobek hatches from an egg but the meaning is essentially the same.
All life comes from either an egg, the waters of the womb or a seed. Each of these life-giving devices is found in mythologies in relation to stories of transformation – including the egg-shaped rock when Jesus is resurrected!
Interestingly, in the Middle Kingdom, Sobek was also associated with the sun god, Horus and iconography emerged of the god pictured with a falcon’s head (Horus) on the body of a crocodile.
In this regard, the symbolic meaning of alligators has an association with healing and the third eye which Horus is famously connected to.
It is with this ‘inner-eye’ that you are able to see your negative qualities and suppressed emotions.
One way to achieve this is by observing the unconscious mind and bringing the impure aspect of the Self to the awareness of the conscious mind.
Impurity is caused by false beliefs, impressions and images born from the programmed thoughts we continuously develop as we experience life.
The information we absorb through the five senses is stored in the subconscious. Sometimes this is a good thing. Learned experiences enable us to function appropriately.
However, information stored in the unconscious that the conscious has not realised is the cause of all your problems.
“Man becomes whole, integrated, calm, fertile, and happy when (and only when) the process of individuation is complete, when the conscious and the unconscious have learned to live at peace and to complement one another.” ~ Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols
Set, the brother of Osiris and uncle of Horus, was the father of Sobek. The crocodile god’s mother was the equally destructive Neith. In other words, the crocodile man was born from the union between the god of war, chaos and storms, and the goddess of war and hunting.
Here we see the confusion in the conflicting interpretation of the crocodile. But like all symbols, there is a positive and negative meanings. The simple reason for this is that nature is governed by various laws, one of which is the law of duality.
Sobek was also depicted as being unpredictable and was thus associated with the forces of chaos. Like crocodiles in the real world, he was overtly sexual which reflects the inability of mankind to control emotional urges.
His ambiguous nature is depicted in the myth of Osiris’ brutal death. When the god’s body parts were thrown into the river, Sobek ate the limbs only to be reprimanded for dishonouring a god.
To redeem himself, Sobek helps to reassemble Osiris. In another myth, Horus transforms into a crocodile. This reflects man’s healing powers and ability to “ward off evil” – code for keeping the dark side of your nature under control.
In another myth, Sobek’s protective qualities are revealed when he saves Horus’ children from drowning in the Nile.
He is also associated with the primordial sun god God Ra who is also associated with the third eye and self-realisation. In Egyptian iconography, Sobek is sometimes pictured with an ankh to reflect his ability to undo evil (disease) and cure illness.
In Hindu traditions, the crocodile is an aquatic mythical creature depicted as a half-animal half-fish. It is the vahana (vehicle) of Ganga, the goddess of the river Ganges, and Varuna, god of the sea.
The English translation of the Sanskrit word, ‘Makara’ means sea dragon or water monster. It is generally depicted in Hindu iconography as a Gharial (crocodilian) and a terrestrial animal, either elephant, deer or peacock. Each of these animals is related to transformation.
In his book, ‘The Handbook of Tibetan Buddhist Symbols’ Robert Beer describes the Makara as:
“An ancient mythological symbol, the hybrid creature is formed from a number of animals such that collectively possess the nature of a crocodile. It has the lower jaw of a crocodile, the snout or trunk of an elephant, the tusks and ears of a wild boar, the darting eyes of a monkey, the scales and the flexible body of a fish, and the swirling tailing feathers of a peacock.”
The symbolic meaning of alligators in Buddhism mirrors Hindu symbolism.
Occidental symbolism also links water with emotions. In Hinduism, the sacral chakra is represented by the crocodile. The sacral is the energy centre in the pit of the stomach from which all emotions are said to originate.
The ancient yogis of India said the sacral chakra produces developmental energy and is the power centre of creation (represented by fertility gods in mythology).
Again we see how the power and strength associated with crocodiles and alligators are used to symbolically teach mankind that we must also foster these qualities to achieve great things.
On the flip side, the symbolic meaning of alligators forewarns us of hidden dangers harboured in the subconscious. Jung understood the ‘Shadow’ can be dangerous.
“It is a frightening thought that man also has a shadow side to him, consisting not just of little weaknesses- and foibles, but of a positively demonic dynamism. The individual seldom knows anything of this; to him, as an individual, it is incredible that he should ever in any circumstances go beyond himself. But let these harmless creatures form a mass, and there emerges a raging monster; and each individual is only one tiny cell in the monster’s body, so that for better or worse he must accompany it on its bloody rampages and even assist it to the utmost.” ~ Carl Jung, On the Psychology and the Unconscious
Interestingly, the astrological sign associated with the Makara is Saturn. In Roman mythology, Saturn is a primordial god, or primordial energy, which needs attention in order to nurture to maturity.
Saturn, Cronos to the Greeks, also represents the best and worst aspects of human nature and is sometimes depicted with wings and described as the “winged serpent.”
In parts of southern India, we find the Makara representing the fifth stage of development – symbolised with the head of an elephant, an animal symbolically associated with patience, power and prosperity.
Here you can see how the similarities in the symbolism of ancient India and Egypt are practically identical. Whilst it is easy to see how that would happen given it is known the two cultures were influenced by the same philosophies found right the way through Middle-Eastern territories, the same meanings also appear in mythologies on the opposite side of the planet.
From Egypt and India, we visit Mexico, the land of the ancient Maya in which we find the crocodile has identical meanings as other cultures – even though mainstream history protests the Americas were only discovered by the rest of the world in the late 15th Century.
The stark similarities in the meaning of Mesoamerican mythology and the symbols they use suggest otherwise. This can mean one of three things:
The first two suggestions fly in the face of modern science, or at least, it would seem, the greater percentage of the scientific fraternity.
If the history we are told is correct, the third option is the only realistic conclusion. Whilst it is undoubtedly true that esoteric symbolism was formulated by observing nature, how likely is it that cultures from different parts of the world all interpret nature in precisely the same way through symbolism?
Let’s take a look at the symbolic meaning given associated with crocodiles in Mayan traditions and later, the Aztecs. You will see that Mesoamerican ideology shares a very close relationship with both Egypt and India.
As a matter of fact, reptiles were revered in all three cultures and primarily associated with fertility, emotions and nobility.
The importance of crocodiles to Mayan cultures is evident in the historical records. Archaeological digs at El Tigre in the jungle of Campeche in Mexico recovered masks that were probably used for ceremonial purposes.
Crocodile heads (and serpents) were also integrated into the architecture of pyramid temples.
Known as the ‘Plumed Serpent,’ Kukulkan (better known through his Aztec name, Quetzacoatl) represented the most important aspect of Mayan civilisation and is said to have established the rules of law, agriculture, literacy, the arts, medicine, architecture, construction, hunting and fishing.
In Aztec mythology, the crocodile emerges as Cipactil (sea monster) and Tlaltecuhtli (earth monster). They are typically depicted squatting and have vicious claws, a gaping mouth and crocodile skin.
Quetzacoatl and his sidekick Tlatlecuhtil decide the cosmos cannot survive whilst such a ferocious creature existed and vows to destroy her. During the battle, the sea monster loses her jaw and is unable to sink below the water.
The story is a symbolic representation of bringing suppressed emotions in the unconscious to the surface – the conscious mind. This is the process of self-observation and self-realisation.
Like all other “primitive” cultures, the Mayans recognised the conscious mind is superimposed by information from the unconscious. They showed this by their concept of the three realms; Upper World, Lower World and the Natural World.
The natural world is, of course, Earth and includes our physical reality. The Mayan belief system suggests our natural bodies interact with the sacred “supernatural” – the cosmic intelligence which I believe are atomic particles.
Ancient cultures were much more connected to nature, had greater depths of intuition and recognised that mankind and the universe are interconnected. This is the level of understanding that we need to recover if we’re going to save the planet.
It was the human world in which the Maya placed crocodilians, a region that floated on the primordial sea. Sometimes the Earth was depicted as the scales on the back of a crocodile.
The primordial sea represents the cosmic intelligence – Supreme Consciousness, the “God” that is everywhere in nature. Earth is symbolic of our conscious reality.
Mayan scholars have noticed the crocodile is associated with the Upper World (heaven) and the Underworld (Hell). Heaven and Hell represent the two aspects of human nature, our capacity for intelligence, and our capacity for ignorance.
“Here, two important elements meet, earth and water. Thus, the crocodile clearly is a fertility character. It is an animal that lives in the water and on the land; he impregnates one with the other and creates life” ~ Teri Arias Ortiz
Ancient cultures associated crocodilians with all three worlds because they emerge from water (the unconscious mind), on to land (the conscious mind). The three realms are lower conscious (animal nature), conscious (ego nature), higher conscious (natural Self).
There are three parts of the brain; the reptilian mind (animal nature/basic instincts), the paleomammalian mind (ego nature/emotional drive), and neo-mammalian mind (enlightenment/True Self).
Mayan mythology associates the gods of the Underworld with rain and fertility. They typically inhabited caves (the womb), places of transition between day and night (enlightenment and ignorance), and life and death (the process of transformation).
The symbolic meaning of alligators in Mesoamerica is also associated with the creator God, Itzam Na, who appears in Mayan iconography as the skeletal representation of crocodiles.
Itzam Na is also associated with life and death, day and night, reflecting the dual aspects of the conscious and unconscious mind. The name literally means caiman (a crocodilian) or lizard.
It is not a coincidence that the primitive, most underdeveloped part of the human brain is still referred to as the reptilian brain.
As I briefly mentioned earlier, esoteric symbolism relates to aspects of nature that are reflected in man. Ancient sages developed the meaning of symbolism by observing animals, plant and trees.
Despite what historians want you to believe, ancient cultures were not primitive peoples!
Incidentally, zoologists didn’t discover crocodiles have a complex system of communication until the 1960s.
Essentially crocodilians use their senses to communicate. Snakes do the same, and as you may remember, share the same symbolism with crocodiles.
In myth, the symbolic meaning of alligators, crocodilians and reptilians are associated with the Underworld which represents lower conscious nature. The Upper World represents a higher conscious nature. Both interact with the Physical world which relates to the conscious mind.
In essence, crocodiles transcend and interact with all three worlds just as your lower conscious and higher conscious interact with your conscious mind.
You may be asking yourself right now, what is the third world that crocodiles transcend? What is their higher conscious nature? Why did ancient sages relate crocodilians to higher conscious nature?
There are two reasons.
Crocodiles have a ferocious nature and a timid nature. There is the true story of a man that rescued a crocodile and became friends with it. The crocodile stays loyal to him and the trust is so strong, they can swim together.
The two aspects of a crocodile’s nature, reflect the same aspects of human nature and consciousness. The law of duality is what makes you creative and destructive.
The second reason why crocodiles are linked with higher conscious nature is because you learn from your mistakes. It is the reptilian brain that generates cravings – the need for emotional survival.
If you remember the Egyptian myth of Sobek eating the flesh of Osiris. This shows the need for survival, physical and emotional. But when he is reprimanded by the gods, Sobek helps to recover Osiris’ body parts and repair him.
Here we see that when we recognise our mistakes, weaknesses, and other things about our nature that do not serve us, we learn something about ourselves and act accordingly to put it right.
It is by acting on newly found knowledge that you acquire wisdom – higher conscious nature, enlightenment of the True Self.
Thirdly, the appearance of reptiles in world mythologies indicates the newly acquired consciousness is potentially in danger of being destroyed by instincts which surface from the unconscious. According to Jung, “serpents usually occur when the conscious mind is deviating from its instinctual basis”. The same rule, therefore, has to be applied to crocodilians.
If you’re the type of person that is depressed right now, changing your habits is the best way to cure yourself. By performing old habits in a new way, you transform energy in a different way also.
Other aspects of crocodilian nature observed by zoologist is their promiscuity (fertility and virility) a hierarchical social system (nobility) and their preference to stay faithful to their partners.
Each of these qualities is required for personal growth. Listen to your higher conscious mind and you will create better outcomes in your life.
A crocodilian’s penchant for violence and ferocity is a clear link with the military. The war you fight is against your lower conscious nature, the battle to overcome bad habits. Gods and demons fight all the time in ancient myths.
Crocodilians are also very protective of their young. The ferociousness to protect their offspring from danger is why alligators were called “land monsters” in ancient myth.
The attribute of power is derived from the crocodile’s physical, mental and emotional strength. Crocodiles lay motionless in the water for hours waiting for their prey. They are very patient.
In mankind, patience requires a strong mental and emotional attitude.
A crocodilian’s destructive nature and creative nature positions these creatures as a symbol of regeneration; the birth, death and rebirth of energy. The reptilian link bears a relation to primal energy.
When you examine the symbolic meaning of crocodiles from an exoteric perspective (bites of information made known to the public), it offers little insight or help.
Once you understand the symbolic meaning of alligators, you are better placed to make an informed decision whenever such matters appear in your life.
So…back to my alligator dream.
When you interpret dreams or symbols, you should always look for hidden meaning. The best way to do that is to observe what is happening in your life at the time dreams and symbols surface.
I don’t remember exactly what was happening in my life around the time I was dreaming of crocodiles. However, I do remember the type of boy I was, so am able to understand why crocodiles appeared in my subconscious.
Essentially, I was not getting the emotional support I needed as a child so my reptilian brain grew stronger than my neomammilian brain. For many years, well into my adult life, I was emotionally insecure, lacked confidence in myself and was consistently self-destructive.
I’m not going to pretend that I have fully recovered from the affliction I developed as a young boy, but I am pleased to say I am making good progress and have successfully identified a series of repressed emotions and subconscious programs that were destructive.
Your capacity for personal growth (fertility) can only be achieved through applying the right thoughts, emotions and actions (creative and destructive energies).
Sometimes actions require courage and patience (strength and power). Crocodiles have no fear and will lay still in the water for hours waiting for prey.
This clever hunting ploy was originally thought to be laziness. It’s actually the deceptive nature of crocodilians – just as your lower conscious nature can also deceive you.
When you feel the deceptive qualities of the crocodile, you create disharmony with yourself.
When you deceive or are deceived, it does not sit with your True Nature. Your prana – vital energy – typically manifests as nervous energy or some other fear-based emotion.
When I was growing up, I was shy and quiet. I lacked self-esteem and my mind would often go blank when I was under pressure. My parents and teachers always seemed disappointed in my achievements because they expected more.
My first teacher compared me with “an absent-minded professor” and I was a highly creative child. Yet I was only an average student. I was a round peg in the square box created by the education system.
Because I never received any emotional support I withdraw deeper into myself. Fear manifested as social anxiety in my teens, twenties, and early thirties.
Because I had low self-esteem and lacked confidence, I didn’t think anybody liked me. That wasn’t the case, but it was the story I told myself. To compensate, I always tried to please others and did what they wanted to do.
As a result, I did not mature well as an adolescent. I did even know what I liked to do or listen to. I didn’t into music until I was 16 because I didn’t hear anything I liked on the radio and there was nobody close to me that influenced my music tastes. Today, I am passionate about music and have an eclectic taste.
The esoteric symbolism in ancient myth teaches us about our True Self. To peel back the layers of social conditioning and reveal your true nature, you need to recognise the aspects of ego that are subconscious programs.
Personal growth requires you to develop the ability to discriminate between the lower conscious mind, the higher conscious mind and the Supreme Conscious.
Your higher and lower conscious is your personal mind. Sigmund Freud called these aspects of mind, ego and superego. Supreme Consciousness originates from a secret Universal source and tells us everything we need to know. Learn to trust it and you have a built-in guide that will steer you through life and attract everything you need.