What Does Octopus Symbolize? Understanding the Significance of this Mysterious Sea Creature

The octopus is an animal that has fascinated people all over the world for centuries. This strange and mysterious creature has been the subject of countless myths and legends, and has even inspired art and literature. Some people believe that the octopus symbolizes intelligence, adaptability, and creativity, while others see it as a symbol of mystery and danger.

The octopus has long been associated with various cultures and has appeared in many myths and legends. In ancient Greece, for example, the octopus was used as a symbol of the god Poseidon, the god of the sea. In Japanese culture, the octopus is known as the “tako,” and is considered a symbol of good luck and prosperity. Other cultures have different interpretations of what the octopus represents, but one thing is clear – this animal has captured the imagination of people everywhere.

So what is it about the octopus that makes it such a powerful symbol? Some people believe that the octopus’s unique abilities – such as its ability to change color and shape, and its incredible intelligence and problem-solving skills – are what make it such a powerful symbol. Others see it as a symbol of the unknown, as the octopus lives in the depths of the ocean and is still largely a mystery to us. Regardless of what you believe, one thing is clear – the octopus is a fascinating and complex creature that continues to captivate people’s imaginations to this day.

Octopus symbolizes intelligence

The octopus is a fascinating and enigmatic creature, known for its ability to change colors and shapes to blend in with its surroundings. However, the symbol of the octopus goes much deeper than just its physical appearance. Through the years, the octopus has been a symbol of intelligence, representing a level of cleverness and cunning that has been admired by cultures around the world.

Octopuses have the largest brain to body size ratio of any invertebrate, which has led many to believe that they are one of the most intelligent creatures in the ocean. They have been known to escape from tanks in aquariums, solve complex puzzles, and mimic their surroundings to evade predators. Their intelligence also extends to their hunting tactics, as they can use their arms to mimic the movement of prey and use tools to catch food.

  • Octopuses have three hearts, one of which is dedicated to pumping blood through their brain, helping them to think more efficiently.
  • They have the ability to learn and remember, as well as the capacity for problem-solving.
  • They are also known for their advanced communication skills, using changes in skin texture and coloring to express emotions and communicate with other octopuses.
Octopus IntelligenceOther Examples of Intelligent animals
Octopuses can solve complex puzzles to obtain foodDolphins are known to use tools to obtain food
Octopuses can mimic their surroundings to evade predatorsChimpanzees have been seen using sticks to obtain insects for food
Octopuses can learn and rememberCrows are known to use their intelligence to solve problems and use tools

Overall, the intelligence of the octopus is a symbol of ingenuity and adaptability. Its ability to solve complex problems and communicate with its environment has made it a model for human intelligence, inspiring some of the greatest minds in science and technology to try and replicate its brainpower.

Octopus as a symbol of adaptability

For centuries, the octopus has been recognized as a symbol of adaptability. In fact, it’s a particularly fitting symbol for this trait, since the octopus is a master of transformation and can quickly adapt to changing circumstances.

  • One of the key ways in which the octopus demonstrates adaptability is through its ability to blend in with its surroundings. The octopus can change the color and texture of its skin to perfectly match the rocks, coral and other materials in its environment. This allows it to avoid predators and sneak up on prey undetected.
  • Another way the octopus adapts is by using its flexible arms to navigate complex environments. The octopus has suckers or small suction cups on its arms which allows it to stick and climb onto almost any surface. The arms can also act as limbs, allowing the octopus to crawl along the bottom of the sea and fill crevices in the rocks.
  • Furthermore, the octopus can adapt its behavior based on the situation. For example, when threatened, the octopus can squirt ink into the water to create a smokescreen that confuses predators and allows it to escape.

One of the most remarkable examples of octopus adaptability is the way it is able to regenerate lost limbs. Unlike humans, the octopus has the amazing ability to grow back arms if they are lost, making it the ultimate survivor in the face of adversity. This gives it a significant advantage over other animals that may not be as adaptable.

In summary, the octopus is a symbol of adaptability because it is a master of transformation, can blend in with its surroundings, use its flexible arms to navigate complex environments, change its behavior to suit the situation, and even regenerate lost limbs. These qualities highlight the importance of adaptability in life and serve as a powerful reminder that we too can overcome challenges and thrive in changing circumstances.

AdaptabilityOctopus Characteristics
Able to blend in with surroundingsChange color and texture of skin to match environment
Able to navigate complex environmentsFlexible arms with suckers to stick and climb onto surfaces, crawl along the bottom of the sea, fill crevices in the rocks.
Able to adapt to different situationsSquirt ink into the water when threatened to create a smokescreen that confuses predators and allows it to escape
Able to regenerate lost limbsGrow back arms if they are lost

Octopus as a Symbol of Regeneration

The octopus is a fascinating sea creature that has long been associated with regeneration. Here are three ways in which the octopus embodies this quality:

  • Regeneration of Lost Limbs: One of the most remarkable features of the octopus is its ability to regenerate its lost limbs. If an octopus loses one or more of its arms in a fight or to escape a predator, it can grow them back in a matter of months. This quality makes the octopus a powerful symbol of regeneration and resilience.
  • Regeneration of its Skin: The octopus can not only regenerate its limbs, but it can also regenerate its skin. This is a crucial ability because the octopus relies on its ability to camouflage itself to survive. Its skin can change color and texture to match its surroundings, allowing it to blend in and avoid predators. If its skin is damaged, the octopus can regenerate new skin cells that can match the surrounding environment.
  • Regeneration of its Life Span: The octopus has a unique life cycle that includes a period of intense growth and regeneration. The octopus goes through various stages of life, from egg to larvae to adult. During the adult stage, the octopus will mate and then die shortly after. However, before it dies, the octopus will lay a large number of eggs that will hatch into larvae. These larvae will grow into new adult octopuses, starting the cycle over again. This life cycle is a powerful symbol of regeneration and the cyclical nature of life.

The octopus’s ability to regenerate its limbs, skin, and even its life span makes it a powerful symbol of renewal and resilience. It reminds us that even in the face of adversity, we have the power to grow, heal, and start anew.

RegenerationThe octopus embodies the concept of regeneration, representing the ability to heal and start anew.
ResilienceThe octopus is a symbol of resilience, reminding us that we can overcome obstacles and bounce back from adversity.
AdaptabilityThe octopus’s ability to change color and texture to match its surroundings represents adaptability and the ability to adjust to new situations.

Overall, the octopus is a powerful symbol of regeneration and renewal that can remind us of our own ability to heal and start anew. Whether we are facing physical, emotional, or spiritual challenges, the octopus’s story can inspire us to embrace our own ability to regenerate, adapt, and thrive.

Octopus in Greek mythology

Octopuses have long been a symbol in Greek mythology, often representing powerful gods and goddesses. Here are just a few examples:

  • Poseidon: In one myth, the god of the sea Poseidon was angry with the people of Athens and tried to flood their city. But the goddess Athena was able to thwart his plans when she turned an octopus against him, causing chaos among his sea creatures and forcing him to retreat.
  • Gaia: The goddess of the Earth was sometimes associated with the octopus because of their mutual abilities for transformation. The octopus can change its color and shape to blend in with its surroundings, while Gaia had control over the changing seasons, the growth of plants, and the movement of the tides.
  • Ceto: This sea monster, often depicted with an octopus-like body, was the child of two primordial sea gods, Phorcys and Ceto. Ceto was known for her fierce anger and harsh punishments, and was revered by sailors who hoped to avoid her wrath.

As you can see, the octopus was an important symbol in Greek mythology, representing power, transformation, and the mysteries of the deep ocean.

Octopus in Japanese mythology

In Japanese mythology, the octopus is a fascinating creature that holds various meanings and symbolism. Here, we will take a closer look at what this creature represents and why it holds significant importance in Japanese folklore.

What does the octopus symbolize in Japanese mythology?

  • The octopus is a symbol of intelligence and adaptability in Japanese culture. Due to their remarkable ability to change color and shape to blend in with their surroundings, they are associated with flexibility and resourcefulness.
  • According to Japanese folklore, the octopus is also known for its psychic abilities. They were believed to have a connection with the spirit world and were often used by diviners to predict the future.
  • Another interpretation of the octopus symbol is its association with the sea. Japan is an archipelago and has a deep connection with the ocean and its creatures. The octopus represents the mysterious and enigmatic nature of the sea.

Octopus in Japanese mythology stories

The octopus has appeared in various Japanese mythological stories, such as:

  • The Legend of the Octopus Carp – This story tells of a carp that transforms into an octopus and frightens fishermen who try to catch it.
  • The Tale of Urashima Taro – In this story, an octopus helps the protagonist, Urashima Taro, retrieve a stolen item underwater.
  • The Myth of Takarabune – The Takarabune is a legendary boat carrying seven gods who visit Japan every year. The boat is always depicted with an octopus figurehead, symbolizing the sea and its creatures.

Octopus in Japanese art

The octopus is a popular subject in Japanese art, appearing in numerous paintings, prints, and sculptures. The artist Hokusai is particularly famous for his stunning ukiyo-e prints of octopuses, including the famous “The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife.”

The Dream of the Fisherman’s WifeAn erotic ukiyo-e print depicting a woman being sexually pleasured by two octopuses.
Octopus PotA porcelain sculpture of an octopus emerging from a pot.
Octopus KabutoA helmet made to look like an octopus, worn by samurai warriors.

In conclusion, the octopus holds significant symbolism and meaning in Japanese mythology and culture. It represents intelligence, adaptability, the sea, and even psychic abilities. Its appearances in art and literature showcase its importance and influence in Japanese folklore.

Octopus in Polynesian Mythology

The octopus holds significant meaning in many Polynesian cultures, often representing strength, adaptability, and intelligence. In fact, it is one of the most prominent sea creatures in Polynesian mythology, with various legends and stories featuring the cephalopod.

In some of these myths, the octopus is depicted as a powerful deity or god-like creature, capable of controlling the ocean tides and manipulating the weather. The Hawaiian legend of Kanaloa, for instance, describes an octopus god who has control over the underworld and is capable of invoking storms.

  • In Maori culture, the octopus is associated with the trickster god Maui, who is said to have battled and defeated a giant octopus named Te Wheke-a-Muturangi.
  • On the island of Samoa, the octopus is considered a sacred animal that is protected by the god Tagaloa.
  • The Tuamotuan people of French Polynesia believe that the octopus is the god of fishermen and control the waters that the fishermen harvest.

Beyond its status as a deity, the octopus also symbolizes key values that were highly prized among Polynesian cultures. For example, the creature’s ability to adapt quickly to its surroundings made it a symbol of resilience and agility. Its intelligence and problem-solving skills also aligned well with the Polynesian value of ingenuity, which was seen as a critical quality to have in an environment that posed constant challenges and obstacles.

As a totem animal, the octopus remains an important figure in many modern Polynesian cultures, with many people still incorporating it into their art, crafts, and even tattoos.

Polynesian MythologyOctopus Symbolism
HawaiianControl over the underworld and invocation of storms
MaoriA symbol of perseverance and victory
SamoanA sacred animal protected by the god Tagaloa
TuamotuanThe god of fishermen and masters of the sea

The diverse range of octopus legends and traditions across Polynesian cultures further highlights the significance of this creature to the people of the region, and serves as a testament to the enduring impact of Polynesian mythology on the world of art, literature, and culture today.

Octopus Symbolism in Native American Culture

Octopuses have played a significant role in the mythologies and cultures of indigenous peoples across the globe. Native American cultures, in particular, have viewed octopuses as powerful beings endowed with magical abilities. Here, we take a closer look at the cultural significance of the octopus in Native American symbolism.

The Number 7

The number 7 holds great importance in Native American cultures, with many traditional stories and histories containing references to it. Some tribes believe that octopuses have seven arms, a notion buoyed by the fact that many species of octopuses do possess seven arms (in addition to their two longer tentacles). This link to the number 7 has imbued octopuses with a potent symbolism in Native American cultures.

The following are some native tribes and their relationship to the number 7:

  • The Ojibwe tribe views the number 7 as a spiritually significant number, associated with the Seven Grandfather Teachings.
  • The Navajo tribe links the number 7 with the seven directions: east, west, north, south, up, down, and the center.
  • The Hopi tribe incorporates the number 7 into their religious ceremonies and rituals, associating it with the seven worlds of their cosmology.

With its connection to the mystical symbolism of the number 7, the octopus in Native American culture takes on a spiritual and magical significance that persists to this day.

Octopus as a Totem Animal

The octopus has long been revered and feared in various cultures worldwide. It’s no wonder that it’s often considered a totem animal due to its complex nature and symbolism. When an octopus is your spiritual animal, you possess an array of admirable traits.

The Number 8

The eight arms of an octopus have long been associated with the number eight, which has significant symbolism in many cultures. In numerology, the number eight represents infinity, balance, manifestation, and abundance. It’s a powerful and highly spiritual number.

Additionally, the number eight on its side resembles the symbol for infinity, further reinforcing the associations with limitless energy and power. Its multidirectional shape is symbolic of harmony, interdependence, and versatility. It represents an individual who has the ability to embrace change, adapt to their surroundings, and manifest their goals through hard work and balanced perseverance.


Octopus in Popular Culture

The octopus is a fascinating creature that has captured the imagination of humans for centuries. In popular culture, the octopus has been used as a symbol in various ways, from representing intelligence and complexity to embodying fear and danger. Here, we will explore the different ways the octopus has been portrayed in various forms of media.

The Number Nine

The octopus has nine brains and three hearts, making it one of the most sophisticated creatures in the animal kingdom. The number nine is often associated with intelligence, as well as completion and fulfillment. In numerology, nine is believed to represent the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new one. This symbolism can be applied to the octopus, representing its ability to constantly adapt and evolve.

  • In Jim Henson’s “The Dark Crystal,” one of the main characters, Chamberlain, is a Skeksis that has nine fingers, further emphasizing the importance of the number in relation to intelligence and power.
  • In Hindu mythology, the goddess Durga is often depicted with eight arms, with the ninth arm holding a weapon. This represents her strength and ability to combat evil.
  • The Enneagram Personality System, which is based on nine different personality types, uses the octopus as a symbol for the type known as “The Peacemaker,” who has the ability to see and understand multiple perspectives.
Culture/MythologyOctopus Symbolism
JapaneseThe octopus is a common symbol in Japanese art, representing intelligence and mystery.
MaoriThe octopus is a symbol of strength and adaptability in Maori culture, often depicted in tattoos and carvings.
GreekIn Greek mythology, the octopus is associated with the sea god, Poseidon, and represents protection and defense.

The octopus has continued to capture the attention of popular culture and remains a fascinating and complex symbol in various forms of media. Its portrayal in different cultures and mythologies only adds to its mystique, making it a creature worth exploring and studying further.

Octopus Tattoo Symbolism

Octopuses are fascinating creatures with an innate ability to adapt, transform, and survive even the most challenging situations. As a tattoo design, the octopus symbolizes a variety of traits and concepts that resonate with many people. From intelligence to mystery, the octopus tattoo has an appeal that transcends cultures and nationalities. In this article, we will explore some of the most common interpretations associated with octopus tattoo symbolism.

The Number 10 and the Octopus Tattoo Meaning

The number 10 is a powerful symbol in many cultures, and its association with the octopus tattoo meaning is no exception. In numerology, the number 10 represents completion and perfection, corresponding to the ten arms of the octopus. The octopus’s eight arms, along with its two tentacles, create the perfect symmetry that signifies balance, coordination, and harmony.

  • As a tattoo design, the octopus with ten arms can represent the culmination of a journey, the attainment of a goal, or the achievement of a dream.
  • The number 10 is also associated with rebirth and renewal, which can be linked to the octopus’s ability to regenerate its limbs and change its appearance to suit its environment.
  • Some people believe that a ten-armed octopus tattoo can protect them against negative energy, evil spirits, and harmful influences.

Of course, not all octopus tattoos need to have ten arms, and some artists may choose to depict the creature with fewer or more limbs, depending on their style and the desired effect.


The octopus tattoo is a versatile and rich design that lends itself to many interpretations and meanings. Whether you are drawn to the creature’s intelligence, adaptability, or mystique, an octopus tattoo can be a powerful symbol of personal growth, transformation, and resilience. Remember to choose an artist with experience and skill in creating this complex design, so you can wear your octopus tattoo with pride and confidence.

IntelligenceThe octopus is known for its ability to solve puzzles, escape from predators, and manipulate its environment.
AdaptabilityThe octopus can change its color, texture, and shape to blend in or stand out, depending on the situation.
MysteryThe octopus has inspired myths, legends, and folklore for centuries, often associated with the unknown, the arcane, and the occult.
RegenerationThe octopus can regrow its limbs and regenerate damaged tissues, symbolizing the power of renewal and resurrection.
FreedomThe octopus has no bones and can squeeze through tiny spaces, representing the ability to escape confinement and limitations.

Whichever interpretation you choose, make sure to research the symbolism behind your octopus tattoo thoroughly, so you can own and embrace its powerful meaning fully.

FAQs about What does Octopus Symbolize

1. What does the octopus symbolize in mythology?

The octopus is a common mythological symbol in many cultures, including the Greeks, where it was believed to have immense power and intelligence. They often represented calamity or representation of the unknown.

2. What does the octopus symbolize in popular culture?

Octopuses have been featured in many popular culture works as a symbolic representation of power, adaptability, and intelligence. They are often portrayed as mysterious creatures that possess otherworldly abilities.

3. What does the octopus symbolize in spiritualism?

In spiritualism, the octopus is often seen as a symbol of regeneration and transformation, as they have the ability to regenerate their limbs. They also symbolize intelligence, intuition, and adaptability.

4. What does the octopus symbolize in Chinese culture?

In Chinese culture, the octopus is a symbol of fortune and is believed to bring good luck in business and financial endeavors.

5. What does the octopus symbolize in Native American culture?

In Native American culture, the octopus symbolizes creativity, intelligence, and adaptability. They are often referred to as the “shape-shifters of the sea” and are associated with transformation and change.

6. What does the octopus symbolize in Japanese culture?

In Japanese culture, the octopus is a common symbol of intelligence, resourcefulness, and complexity. They are often seen as a good omen, representing good fortune and luck.

7. What does the octopus symbolize in art?

In art, the octopus often represents fluidity, flexibility, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. They are also sometimes seen as a symbol of danger or chaos, particularly in surrealistic and abstract art.

Closing Thoughts

Thank you for taking the time to read this article about what the octopus symbolizes. As we’ve explored, the octopus is a complex and multifaceted symbol with many different meanings across cultures, mythology, and art. Whether you see it as a symbol of intelligence and adaptability or as a representation of chaos and danger, there’s no denying that the octopus is a fascinating creature with a rich history of symbolism. Be sure to come back and visit us again for more articles on symbolism and meaning!