The meaning behind the animals of the Hogwarts Houses – the Gryffindor lion
Each of the Hogwarts Houses is represented by an animal: Gryffindor has its lion; Ravenclaw, its eagle; Slytherin, its serpent; and Hufflepuff, its badger. With animals having different meanings to cultures, religions, and societies, I thought it would be interesting to explore the symbolism behind these four animals in a series of posts. I’ll start with Gryffindor’s lion. While the connection between Gryffindor’s rapport with bravery and the courageous symbol of the lion is obvious, there are a few other important meanings to note.
Lions historically represent courage, regality, and power. Much of this comes from being at the top of the food chain, but an interesting note to make is that they are partially nocturnal animals, hunting mainly at night. Nighttime is known to represent the subconscious and dream states. It is believed that the lion symbolizes having command of subconscious thought. When thinking of the nature of bravery, this makes sense. Bravery is mostly subconscious. No one sets out with the main purpose of being brave. It is something that happens in an instant of survival. Gryffindors, when faced with a situation, make sudden “brave” decisions. These impulsive decisions are often controlled by the subconscious. If you’ve ever experienced an adrenaline rush, you know the feeling well. You don’t have a memory of consciously acting, but your body somehow responds in the way it needs to without your full realization.
In Ancient Egypt, the goddess Sekhmet is depicted with the head of a lioness. Sekhmet was a rather destructive goddess, bringing plague but also healing it and serving as a warrior to Pharaohs. In later versions of the Sekhmet myths, however, she was a power to protect good and destroy evil, delivering justice. Gryffindors are big promoters of the importance of right over wrong.
Astrology tells us that those born under the sign of Leo the lion are fiercely loyal and will defend loved ones to the death. We see this with many of the Gryffindors throughout the books.
While there are many other meanings behind the symbol of the lion, I thought these three reaffirmed what Gryffindor is all about.