Cow Symbolism

Cow Symbolism

Cows have been revered throughout history as symbols of nurturance, abundance, strength, and connection to the divine feminine. In myths and folklore across cultures, the cow represents qualities like patience, care, generosity, and motherly love. This guide will provide a deep dive into the varied symbolic meanings behind cows and cattle, with tips for applying cow symbolism to your life.

Cow Meanings in Mythology and Folklore

In Hinduism, the cow is considered sacred and symbolic of all living things. The Hindu god Krishna was a cowherd, and cows are linked to the mother goddesses, Lakshmi and Sarawati. Conversely, the ancient Egyptians sacrificed cows to appease Hathor, their cow goddess.

The ancient Celts also associated cows with motherhood due to their nourishing milk. Their cow goddess, Boann, was linked to fertility and abundance. In Norse mythology, the primeval cow Audhumla suckled the god Ymir, fostering life itself.

In African and Caribbean legends, there are tales of shape-shifting witch doctors turning into bulls. Cows in folklore can represent unconventional magic and shamanic power.

Common Cow Mythological Meanings:

  • Nourishment, nourisher of life
  • Fertility, abundance, prosperity
  • Motherhood, femininity, goddess energy
  • Magical power, spiritual wisdom

Cow Dreams and Vision Symbolism

Brown and White Cow

When a cow appears in your dreams or visions, it often represents nourishment, either emotional or spiritual. The cow encourages slowing down to feed what matters in your life. Its milk may symbolize caring for your inner child.

Seeing a whole herd of cows in a lush field indicates abundance, fertility, and harmony in your waking life. If the cattle appear sick or malnourished, you may need to examine areas where you are feeling ‘starved’ in your relationships or professional endeavors.

Here are some common meanings for cow dreams:

  • Being chased by a bull: Overcoming an intense fear or challenge
  • Milking a cow: Nurturing yourself or others
  • Eating a hamburger: Taking in a new perspective
  • Cow udders: Feminine power, fertility, abundance
  • Riding a cow: Going with the flow, being patient

Cow Spirit Animal Guidance

Cows on Farm Against Sky

When cow appears repeatedly in your life, it likely means you are entering a period of increased abundance. Cow as a spirit guide encourages you to savor the simple pleasures in life while pursuing your ambitions slowly but surely.

The cow spirit animal also signals a time for getting in touch with your inner wisdom. Meditating on cow symbolism can reveal the nurturing, intuitive voice within.

Here are some tips for connecting with a cow as your spirit guide:

  • Spend time in nature communing with cows to absorb their peaceful energy
  • Drink milk mindfully to take in cow’s nourishing qualities
  • Study bovine behavioral traits like patience and mothering to inspire you
  • Surround yourself with images of cows to invoke the spirit animal
  • Moo or chant softly to evoke cow medicine of calm and nourishment

Cow Tattoo Meanings

In tattoo art and body art, cows hold deep symbolic meaning around feminine power, motherly devotion, abundance, and divine blessings. Here are some common meanings behind cow tattoos:

Cow head tattoo: Wisdom, intuition, connection to the divine feminine

Cow skull tattoo: Death, impermanence, reverence for all life

Bull tattoo: Strength, virility, overcoming challenges

Cow and calf tattoo: Unconditional love, nurturing, motherhood

Cow milk tattoo: Sustenance, spiritual nourishment, caregiving

Cow goddess tattoo: Feminine power, fertility, prosperity

Sacred cow tattoo: Reverence for all living beings, Hindu faith

Cow Symbolic Meanings in Culture

Grayscale Photography of Three Cows

Cow symbolism varies slightly across cultures, but the overarching themes are similar. Here is how cow meanings take shape across different world cultures:

Native American Culture

The cow symbolized motherhood and provision to Native tribes who depended on buffalo for food, clothing, and shelter. The Navajo worshipped Changing Woman, who could shift into a white cow.

Celtic Culture

For Celts, the cow was linked to Boann, the goddess of fertility, water, and abundance. The ancient Celts banned the killing of cows and bulls was seen as a profound sin.

Hindu Culture

Hindus consider cows sacred beings symbolic of life and all creation. Cows represent a divine blessing, and Lord Krishna’s favorite form was a cow. Cows thus denote faith and spiritual purity.

African Culture

Some West African tribes associate cows with royalty. Cow tails are used in scepters, and furs in ceremonial dress. Cows represent rank, leadership ability, and power.

Chinese Culture

The cow symbolizes hard work, patience, and aid in agriculture and farming. Cows pulling plows depict perseverance and determination to the Chinese.

Cow Symbolism FAQ

Still, have questions about the symbolic meaning of cows? Here are some common cow symbolism questions answered:

What does a cow symbolize in dreams?

Cows in dreams often symbolize nourishment, abundance, prosperity, fertility, or overcoming a challenge. Pay close attention to what the cow is doing and how you feel during the dream.

What does a cow tattoo symbolize?

Cow tattoos generally symbolize qualities like femininity, nurturing, strength, motherhood, abundance, power, and faith. The meaning can vary depending on the type of cow depicted.

What does a cow represent spiritually?

As a spirit guide, the cow represents alignment with Mother Earth, abundance, patience, and tapping into your inner wisdom. Cow spirit encourages you to slow down and savor life.

What does a white cow symbolize?

A white cow is usually positive, symbolizing purity, grace, gentleness, and dignity. It may represent a fresh start or cleansing a spiritual blessing from the divine.

What does cow’s milk symbolize?

Cow’s milk symbolizes nourishment for the body and soul. Mother’s milk nourishes a child, so cow’s milk represents spiritual sustenance, maternal care, provision, comfort, and fertility.


The humble cow has been an impactful symbol across human cultures for centuries. By analyzing cow meanings in mythology, dreams, and spiritual contexts, we gain deep insight into the cow’s significance. Cow symbolic power revolves around nourishment, abundance, inner wisdom, patience, and connection to the divine feminine. Studying cow symbolism allows us to better understand our dreams and spiritual journeys by tapping into bovine medicine.

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