Octopus Love

As a child I was fascinated by the octopus. I loved to draw them and I was intrigued by their watery nature, beautiful colors, and reclusive personalities. Then came a time when I wasn’t thinking much about the octopus.

Cardboard Octopus: Monk by Nubry

Cardboard Octopus: Monk by Nubry

About six years ago I was choreographing a dance about animal heaven. In working with the dancers I asked each one to think about the animal that rules their head, their heart, and their loins. Then I asked them to think about how their animals transferred into movement. After working on this awhile I asked each dancer what their animals were. One of them said hers was the octopus…but I can’t remember if that was her head, heart, or loin animal. I was taken aback for a moment, and immediately challenged with how one creates believable octopus movement without being in the water. This dancer went on to tell me her favorite animal is the octopus and ever since that moment my relationship with the octopus has been back on, big time.

The octopus has steadily become more and more of an obsession of mine. I collect all things octopus, like art, jewelry, figurines, etc. and I convinced my husband that I absolutely had to have a very large, rather expensive but amazing octopus stuffed animal. But in spite of my octopus fascination only recently have I realized that the octopus has become a spirit animal of mine, and possibly even a totem.

Because of my late start in deeply exploring my relationship with the octopus I do not have a particularly developed idea of just what this animal means and what she has to teach me. However, octopus (and alligator…had to throw that one in there) have moved to the top of my spirit animal list and I am excited to delve into the symbolic meaning of these animals and learn from them.

I have discovered that the octopus is a very complex spirit animal. She interacts with the universe on many levels and has a lot to teach. According to whats-your-sign.com (which is an absolutely fantastic website in my opinion and I highly encourage people to visit) some of the symbolism tied to octopus are: will, focus, magic, reason, illusion, defense, mystery, strategy, potential, knowledge, diversity, creativity, flexibility, expansion, complexity, intelligence, adaptability, insatiability, and unpredictability. Whew. That’s quite a list.

So let’s think about the physical characteristics of the octopus. It has eight legs, or arms. But let me pause to point out that scientists have recently been thinking that the octopus actually has six arms and two legs. It uses its legs to push off and uses its arms to manipulate and explore things. The octopus can even do tasks like open jars and remove lids from tanks, making it a fabulous escape artist, which I will discuss in a moment. Regardless, the octopus has eight appendages which also equate it with the symbolism of the number eight and spiders. In addition, these eight tentacles represent the symbolism of spirals or whirlpools.

The octopus can spit ink when in danger. This ink is a fantastic cloaking devise enabling the octopus to make a quick getaway. This ability to create an inky distraction speaks of illusion, as does the octopuses ability to camouflage. On the whats-your-sign website the author makes a beautiful statement about this metaphor for illusion. She states, “The octopus reminds us that nothing is as it seems. Behind our physicality there is a vast reality imbued with subtle wonder and shimmery brilliance.” Nice.

The only hard thing in on an octopus is its powerful beak and the octopus can fit through any space that its beak fits through. This allows it to fit into some amazingly tight spaces and also helps with its escape artistry. Aquariums have found that their octopi regularly escape from their tanks. Some have supposedly escaped their tanks, gone to a tank containing something tasty like crabs or mussels, had a snack, and then returned to their own tank. This is pretty amazing to me. Beyond the amazement that the octopus is able to escape, have a snack, and return, I am amazed that the octopus can actually hang out on dry land long enough to navigate to a different tank.  This all speaks to the octopuses’ ability to reason. They are an extremely intelligent animal and not only have the power to reason, but they can also strategize and remember. And here I have to mention the story of Paul the octopus, who correctly picked the winning soccer teams leading up to the World Cup. He did get a few wrong, but he was about 90% accurate. That’s pretty impressive. To pick the team Paul was offered two mussels, each with the national flag of the competing teams. Whatever mussel Paul chose was his predicted winner of the game.

Another amazing feat of the octopus, it can detach a tentacle when threatened and grow it back later. This tells us that we are able to cut things loose, like excess baggage. It causes me to examine my life and ask what are the most important things/factors to me and what can I let go of.

There is so much more to the octopus that I haven’t even touched in this post. All I can say is if you are intrigued please explore this amazing animal. Again, I highly recommend whats-your-sign.com as a great jumping off point.

I could go on forever about octopus. She is a very complex symbol and guide and I am happy to really begin studying her and letting her into my life on a deeper level. Whats-your-sign.com addresses this complexity by stating, “It should be clear the octopus has expansive worlds of knowledge, experience and vision to offer us. Indeed, those who have been touched by her wonder are left with an insatiable desire to know more-“. Yep. I would have to say that is very true. I want to learn more and I am excited and maybe a little nervous about entering her watery depths to see what she has to teach me.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cin
    Jul 28, 2012 @ 05:42:51

    I don’t like tentacles and since that tidbit came out everyone I know has been shoving Octopi on me. So much it became one of the symbols in my wedding. Now maybe I am pondering if this is a shadow totem forcing me to deal with somethings I dislike and dread…

    Great post.


  2. Pixie
    Jul 28, 2012 @ 20:52:58

    I love the Octopus, I’ve always been intrigued by them though I don’t have the same relationship with them you do.

    I also wanted to share this inspiring blog award with you:



    • chinacat27
      Aug 04, 2012 @ 02:41:35

      Thank you so much! I’m honored! I will pass it on, I just have one little issue…I don’t regularly read that many blogs, and the one’s I do already got the award 🙂 But I’ll figure something out…


      • Pixie
        Aug 04, 2012 @ 11:21:30

        Well you can re-award them if you want or branch out. lol I didn’t re-award because I read so many blogs – which made it really hard to pick seven.

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