Monkey Symbolism and Meaning – Power Totem & Spirit Animal

Monkeys are among the most beloved and captivating creatures in the animal kingdom: playful, mischievous, bright-eyed, and seemingly filled with endless curiosity. In folklore and spiritual traditions across a variety of world cultures, monkeys are more than “just” animals. They have tremendous power as spirit animals, totems, and symbols that reflect some fascinating qualities related to confidence, influence, and success. Here we’ll take an engaging look at monkey symbolism throughout history, including its link to ambition, leadership potential, and changing attitudes toward life’s problems.

What Does a Monkey Symbolize?

Monkeys are widely viewed as symbols of mischief, mischievousness, and intelligence. They have also been seen historically to represent joy, good luck, and longevity. In many cultures worldwide, monkeys symbolize playfulness and are associated with curiosity and cleverness – traits often seen as desirable or necessary for a successful life.

The monkey spirit animal is a symbol of:

Curiosity and exploration

Monkeys always explore and learn, ready to take on new challenges and experiences. They symbolize our willingness to seek new opportunities and go after the things that matter most.

Social awareness

The monkey spirit animal is associated with social intelligence and group dynamics. They remind us of the importance of tuning into the needs of others and building strong relationships with those around us.

Adaptability to any environment

Monkeys are supremely adaptable and capable of surviving in various climates and habitats. This capacity can translate into success in our lives, encouraging us to be flexible and resilient in facing adversity.

baby monkey

Dexterity, agility, and playful nature

Monkeys are incredibly agile and active animals known for their impressive athleticism. They can symbolize our physical prowess and vitality, inspiring us to stay active and enjoy life’s joyful moments by awakening our inner child.

Problem-solving skills and resourcefulness

Monkeys are intelligent creatures, and they often find creative solutions to the challenges they encounter. Their spirit can remind us of our capacity to deal with life’s obstacles inventively.

Lightheartedness and intelligence

Monkeys have a unique spirit, embracing playfulness and mischief without taking life too seriously. They can inspire us to cultivate a greater balance between work and play and a greater appreciation for the lighter moments in life.

monkey jumping from one tree to another tree

Self-confidence and charisma

Monkeys are known for their self-assured nature and impressive influence over others. When this spirit animal appears in our lives, it can remind us of our potential to be powerful, magnetic beings.

Monkey Facts

  1. Monkeys are omnivores meaning they eat both plants and meat
  2. Most monkeys live in tropical and subtropical climates
  3. Monkeys have a long lifespan of up to 40 years in the wild
  4. There are over 260 species of monkeys worldwide
  5. Many different types of monkeys display complex social behaviors such as grooming, playing, and forming alliances
  6. Monkeys communicate through a wide range of vocalizations, including barks, screams, hoots, grunts, and whistles
  7. Some species use tools to help them forage for food or even create shelter
  8. Some primates, such as tamarins, can produce poison from special glands which may be used as protection against predators
  9. Many monkeys look similar, but some have unique features like prehensile tails which can be used for grasping things

What Does It Mean When You See a Monkey?

Seeing a monkey could signify good luck, success, and insight into the future. In some cultures, it is believed that seeing a monkey is a sign of abundance and prosperity coming your way.

In India, monkeys are believed to bring good luck to the household that they inhabit. It is also said that when you see a monkey, it could be an indicator of upcoming changes in your life.

Meaning of Different Colors

Golden Monkey Symbolism

A golden monkey often symbolizes wisdom, luck, and wealth.

It is said that those who possess a golden monkey are wise and lucky enough to achieve their goals.

Red Monkey Symbolism

Red is seen as the color of passion, love, and life. It can also represent danger or caution depending on the context in which it is used.

Red is often used to warn of impending danger or to create excitement and energy.

Therefore, a red monkey can symbolize passion, vitality, courage, and power.

monkey symbolism

Black Monkey Symbolism

Black is seen as the color of power, strength, and mystery. It often symbolizes authority, sophistication, and elegance. A black monkey can represent strength, power, boldness, and determination to succeed in life despite any obstacles that may come it’s way.

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White Monkey

White is seen as a sign of purity, innocence, and simplicity. It can also connote protection, spirituality, and a sense of calm. Therefore, white monkeys symbolize inner peace and tranquility. It may also represent innocence, hope, and a fresh start in life.

Meanings of Different Kinds of Apes And Monkeys


A chimpanzee is a symbol of intelligence and joy. They are curious, and social animals, often seen as playful creatures. In some cultures, chimpanzees are believed to bring good luck and act as guardians against bad fortune.


In other cultures, they represent strength and courage. The chimpanzee has also been known to symbolize justice, compassion, loyalty, and family.


Gorillas are typically associated with strength, courage, and leadership. They also symbolize resilience in the face of adversity, patience, intelligence, and wisdom. In some cultures, gorillas are seen as a sign of fertility and abundance.


Orangutans are often used to symbolize peace, tranquility, patience, and creativity. They are also seen as symbols of courage and strength in facing adversity, representing the ability to overcome any challenge. In some cultures, orangutans are seen as a sign of good luck, and it’s believed that they can protect against negative energy.


Baboons are often seen as symbols of strength, power, and courage. They also represent protection, intelligence, and a sense of community. In some cultures, baboons are seen as guardians against bad luck or evil spirits.

What Do Monkeys Symbolize in Arts and Literature?

Monkeys are popular in arts and literature, often appearing as characters or symbols of luck, mischief, and intelligence. In some cultures, monkeys represent wisdom and spiritual growth. Monkeys are also seen as fun-loving pranksters that bring good luck to those around them.

monkey with a book

In literature, monkeys can represent a variety of themes and personalities. From the curious creature in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book to the mischievous monkey-like characters in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, monkeys have long been used as symbols of playfulness and cleverness.

Monkeys have also been used to represent power and strength, as in Edgar Allen Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue, where a monkey is a mastermind behind a string of murders.

They are also popularly seen in Asian art and literature, often appearing as luck symbols.

Monkey Spirit Animal

The monkey spirit animal has long been associated with a mischievous and sly attitude, but there is more to this animal than meets the eye.

Its mischievous behavior is only a front that hides its intelligence – the monkey is known for its ability to take lessons from life’s experiences to plan and stay one step ahead of any situation.

monkey Spirit  animal

Those who identify strongly with the monkey spirit animal can also relate to its natural curiosity and strive to view life from different perspectives, keeping their mind open and always learning new things.

With so much wisdom tucked into the spirit of this furry friend, it’s no wonder many find comfort in having this spirit by their side.

Monkey Power Animal

The monkey power animal is an excellent guide for those seeking adventure and looking to explore the unknown. This spirit helps to bring courage and energy to new situations, helping you stay confident while taking risks and trying new things.

The monkey also encourages you to think outside the box, embrace change, and be prepared for anything that comes your way. By working with this power animal, you can stay agile and resilient in challenging situations while remaining true to yourself.

The monkey’s boundless energy and enthusiasm will help to bring joy and a sense of playfulness into your life.

Monkey Totem Animal

The monkey totem is a symbol of knowledge and cleverness. It is a powerful animal guide that can help us take the initiative to get things done. Monkeys are regarded as symbols of mental enlightenment and success, always inspiring us to stay curious and aim for the highest heights.

monkey totem animal

Living in harmony with the monkey totem means understanding our communicative powers and using them wisely with subtlety, intelligence, and courage, allowing us to bring about positive changes in all areas of life.

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The monkey totem indicates that we must enhance our capabilities and use our resources in resourceful ways.

Monkey Dream Meanings

Monkey dreams represent mischievousness, agility, and adaptability. It may also represent an imbalance in your life caused by stress or confusion.

sleeping woman dreaming of a monkey chasing another monkey

Monkeys are often seen as symbols of playfulness, so it’s important to seek out moments to have fun and not take things too seriously. Monkey dreams can also symbolize that you are “monkey-ing around” too much and ignoring important tasks.

Monkey Meaning in Tarot

One of the most interesting symbols in many Tarot or oracle card decks is the monkey – a symbol of trickery and creativity.

In many cases, the presence of a monkey in a reading can signify that some degree of cunning or quick thinking will be required as part of coming to grips with an upcoming challenge or period in life.

monkey tarot card

But regardless of their form, monkeys are also linked to ingenuity and playfulness, indicating that there will likely be time for serious decisions and moments of joy throughout the process.

Monkey Meaning in the Bible And Christianity

In Christianity, the monkey can represent a warning against foolishness and lack of self-control as it is viewed as an impulsive animal whose decisions are ruled by emotion. The negative symbolism is reinforced by its associations with mischief, trickery, and restlessness.

On the other hand, depending on the context in which one encounters a monkey in Christianity, it can also symbolize strength, agility, and resilience—positive qualities key to spiritual growth.

Monkey Mythology, Folklore, and Symbolism in Different Cultures


In Nigeria, the most famous is probably the Igbo people’s story of Anansi, a spider-man who often takes the form of a monkey.

According to legend, Anansi used his wit and cunning to trick other animals into giving him their food or skills. He was known for his mischievousness but also his wisdom and intelligence.

Ancient Egypt

The ancient Egyptians regarded monkeys as symbols connected to the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.

ancient egypt style monkey

They believed that, like humans, monkeys could become reincarnated after death. The baboon was considered a manifestation of Toth – the god of wisdom and knowledge.

Ancient Greek

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In Greek mythology, the Cercopes were depicted as two humorous creatures who resided either deep within Thermopylae or on Euboea.

However, beneath their mischievous facade lies a compassionate soul; they don’t hesitate to lend a helping hand when required by humankind.


The Romans kept apes as pets and objects of amusement or satire. They also believed that apes held a special place in the underworld, where they could serve as protectors from evil spirits. F


The Celts associated monkeys with the realms of nature and magic. They believed that these creatures had a connection to the Otherworld, as they were known for their ability to cross between the physical and spiritual worlds.

Native Americans

In Native American culture, the monkey is often seen as a symbol of dishonesty and thievery.

The Hopi people of Arizona depict him in their stories as a deceitful creature who will steal anything he can get his hands on. He is also seen as a symbol of mischievousness and trickery, often playing pranks on other animals.

Maya And South America

In South American mythology, monkeys are divine creatures, prominent in mythology and a source of wonder. They represented both the sacred and the underworld and were seen as symbols of an earlier creation.

In some Maya stories, the monkey is described as a trickster who meddles with humans’ lives by playing pranks or stealing their food.


In the Nahuatl language, the monkey is recognized as Ozomatli; an illustrious symbol representing the eleventh day of ancient Aztec calendars.

aztec style monkey king

This day sign is associated with strength, intelligence, and creativity. It was believed that the monkey could move between worlds, connecting humans to ancestral knowledge.


In Japanese culture, the monkey has positive religious associations as one of the animal reincarnations of the Buddha. It is also a sacred messenger or otsukali in Shinto, acting as a mediator between the kami spirits and human beings.

In traditional Japanese theatre, such as Noh and Kabuki, monkeys are often used to represent mischievous yet wise characters.


In Chinese culture, the monkey is associated with good luck and fortune. It is seen as a clever animal that brings success and happiness.

Fables about wise monkeys are popular in China, depicting them as tricksters who use their cleverness to get out of trouble or help others in need.

chinese monkey zodiac sign

The monkey is also recognized as a Chinese zodiac symbol, representing cleverness and agility.


In Hindu mythology, the monkey is associated with Hanuman – the monkey god of strength and courage. He is known for his heroic deeds in saving Rama’s wife Sita from Ravana, as described in Ramayana. Hanuman symbolizes loyalty, faithfulness, and devotion to one’s cause.


In Buddhism, the monkey is a symbol of enlightenment and transformation. It reminds us that we all have the potential to reach our highest self if we are willing to work hard and be patient.

The monkey symbolizes regret, duty, loyalty, and the assurance of deliverance for those who crave it with all their heart.

Monkey Tattoo Meaning

The monkey tattoo is a powerful symbol of spiritual transformation and growth. It reflects the Buddhist idea that even those with seemingly insurmountable obstacles can overcome them through devotion and hard work.

The monkey is often associated with honesty, innocence, fickleness, and faithfulness. In some cultures, it is seen as a sign of good luck or protection. People who choose to get a monkey tattoo are often looking for strength and courage in difficult times.


What does it mean when a monkey smiles at you?

When a monkey smiles at you, it can symbolize a wide range of things depending on the context. In Buddhism, it’s often seen as an expression of gratitude for being saved from suffering and a reminder that repentance, responsibility, and devotion are necessary to reach salvation. It can also be seen as a sign of good luck or even prosperity.

Are Monkeys good for feng shui?

Monkeys are associated with many positive characteristics in feng shui, such as intelligence, adaptability, and resourcefulness. They’re thought to bring luck and prosperity to those who display them in their homes or businesses. Monkeys can also be used as protective charms against negative energies and bad vibes.

Final Words – Monkey Symbolism

The monkey is a powerful symbol with deep spiritual meanings, representing courage, strength, loyalty, and devotion – reminding us that we can overcome any obstacle if we work hard enough. The monkey also signifies luck and fortune; it has been a protective charm against bad vibes for centuries.

Whether you’re looking to improve your luck, adopt the monkey totem animal or just want extra protection from negative energies, even the monkey tattoo could be a perfect choice! With its rich animal symbolism and positive associations, there’s no doubt why this animal remains one of the most popular symbols today.

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Christina Johnson

About the Author

My name is Christina, and I am the founder of centerspirited. Being a physiotherapist for several years I have found that many people, including myself, don’t achieve well-being only from a physical point of view. I’ve always viewed a person’s body, soul, and emotions as a whole construct of beauty. Always being a yoga enthusiast, I finally became an instructor myself. On a secret mission to capture spirituality in all of her beautiful shapes, I found myself being guided on a way through ayurvedic nutrition and lifestyle. Through this platform, I will hopefully be able to help other beautiful souls out there find their inner peace and bond with their spiritual selves.