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Spiritual meaning of cows

spiritual meaning of cows

What does it mean if you see a cow in the fields, or if a cow appears your dream? Here, Annie Ridout shares the spiritual symbolism of cows, inspired by the Hindu faith…

I was out running one morning, thinking about my career and asking nature for some answers.

I write books, as well as articles for newspapers and magazines.

And I love this work.

But I sometimes feel like I’d like to also be working with the land in some way.

Or to have a part-time job that brings in a more regular income.

So as I set off for my run, I said – in my head; addressing nature – give me a sign that will help me on my way.

As I pushed through the kissing gates onto a path running alongside open fields, I saw a cow in the distance.

It was far away, but I felt like that cow was looking right at me.

A lone cow, lying on the grass, staring deep into my eyes (and soul).

I stopped a moment and stared back.

I wondered what this message could be.

And then I set off on my way.

Now, cows and I have a slightly difficult relationship.

When I was travelling around India, aged 18, for six months, I saw a lot of cows.

They are sacred in India, for those following the Hindu faith.

And they are everywhere.

Sauntering down the high street; lying out on beaches.

It’s incredible.

But one morning, as I walked down the beach, I had an incident with one.

I was walking into a cafe and saw this big beautiful white cow.

I got pretty close as by this point, about five months into my time in India, I felt quite comfortable around them.

Alas, my complacency was wrong. And the cow head-butted me in the thigh.

It was really painful and caused sciatica that still exists today (a lot of years later).

From that point, I developed a slight fear of cows.

When I was on my honeymoon and we had to walk through meadows to get to the pub, I noticed a herd of cows coming for us.

We ran.

And got away.

But it cemented my fear.

So that morning when I was out running and saw a cow, my initial reaction was: have you been put here to ward me off something?

However, it felt like a peaceful cow; not a scary one.

I looked up the spiritual symbolism of cows and found a website that said the cow represents Mother Earth ‘as it is a source of goodness and its milk nourishes all creatures.’

It went on to say that Krishna, a Hindu deity, ‘is often portrayed in stories recounting his life as a cowherd and referring to him as the child who protects cows.’

On reading this, I felt two things.

Firstly, that perhaps I should be spending more time working with the land.

But also, I felt I was being drawn back as mother to my children.

I’ve spent their short lives (I’ve been a mother for eight years and have three children now) working, alongside raising them.

And I wondered if the message to take from the cow in that field was: remember to be mother to your children; remember the value of that role.

Maybe it means there isn’t space for anything else, career-wise, just now.

But that I should be out in the garden, planting seeds and turning over the soil, with my children.

I like that reading.

We need to remember the role, and value, of both mother and Mother Earth.

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