Elephants are iconic. When their trunks are raised, they represent luck- in India, by way of a gold charm cast in the form of Ganesha; in Thailand, as an elephant statue by the front door promising protection; and in North America, on coins, in necklaces, on any gold surface as a symbol of good energy and fortuneimage-6240078-10451141. You can bring their statues home as a giftimage-6240078-10451141, a way of imparting all of their positive chance on another. A representative of the luck and positive memories of other places.
Elephants, the largest land animals on the planet, also have an astonishing array of emotions: joy, grief, compassion, anger,
love. When a family member in an elephant’s kin group dies, it recognizes the body and mourns for it, like humans mourn the loss of those they love. This makes us reconsider the way we think about the emotional capacity of animals, seeing that unlike society often tells us, animals are not so different than us.
In Buddhism, animals are believed to have a conscious like our own, and both sentient beings are treated with equal respect. Elephants symbolize strength, and the mental capacity that each of us has to create good in the world. The Buddha himself was said to have taken the form of a white elephant in his mother’s dream before she gave birth to him. For Buddhists, learning to treat animals with compassion is the first step in treating human beings with compassion. Elephants remind us of our positive, inner instincts as animals ourselves.

This winter the mantra will be strength, in honor of the noble elephant. For motivation, Tame Impala’s “Elephant” is a thumping, wooly beat worth listening to while channeling the majestic creature within you.

-Averie Timm

December 2012