Swamp Buffalo

Swamp BuffaloBurden

* This essay focuses primarily on the feral water buffalo in Australia, but some of the lessons apply to water buffalo elsewhere also.

Swamp Buffalo illustrated by Ravenari


Burden. Trying to let go of burden. Personal crosses. Being a burden to others. Being hunted. Feeling unwelcome. Being out of place. Knowing when you don’t belong. Wetland energy.

General Description:

Water or swamp buffalos were introduced into Australia in the 1800s as a source of meat. Swamp buffalos have caused extreme and extensive damage to the top-end of Australia, contributing to erosion, changing waterways, threatening frog, bird and aquatic animal populations. They have been culled extensively and successfully throughout Australia.

Feral swamp buffalos prefer swamps and inland waterways as their habitat and consume grasses, herbs and wetland plants. They can live for over 20 years. Swamp buffalos in Australia are predated upon by crocodiles and dingoes. The wild buffalo is considered one of the most dangerous bovines, it is aggressive, bad-tempered and will charge.

Lessons and Challenges:

The swamp buffalo in Australia is a very destructive feral animal in the Northern end of Australia. It fouls up water-holes and its heavy hooves do far more damage than the gentler hooves of the feral one-humped camels. As such, the swamp buffalo is enthusiastically culled, and carries the burden of trying to live in an area where it clearly doesn’t belong, and isn’t wanted.

Swamp buffalo as a feral animal guide represents the concept of burden. Even in its indigenous countries, swamp buffalo is literally a ‘beast of burden,’ known for its ability to be able to carry a burden well, and shoulder it as necessary. The presence of swamp buffalo indicates that at this time, you are carrying a burden of some kind on your shoulders. It could be related to current circumstances, an internal feeling, or the sense that you are carrying a spiritual weight.

There is a sense of carrying a personal cross, at this time. It may be that the burden you are shouldering is entirely self-generated, and of your own making. It is something that you may need to carry in order to learn more about yourself, or something that is simply weighing you down. The presence of swamp buffalo indicates you will not experience release from this personal cross any time soon.

Feral swamp buffalo, in its attempt to make Australia a home and forget its domesticated heritage, also represents a desperate need to try to let go of that burden. In reclaiming a wild – rather than domesticated – existence, it learns how to let this go. It may be at this time that you are trying to release burden, or feeling a sense of anxiety in relation to trying to ‘get rid of’ your problems. The energy of swamp buffalo indicates that things are more complicated than getting rid of what you no longer want.

Along with feeling a sense of burden, it is possible that you are also a burden to others at this time. It may be that you are out of place in your current communities or subcultures, that you are being made to feel unwelcome, or alternatively that you are alienating others. You may need to remove yourself from some communities or social groups for a while, for the benefit of all involved. Chances are that you instinctively know that there are some places in your life right now, where you do not belong.

There is a sense of being out of place. We all hit a point in our lives where we feel ‘alien,’ even in an environment that still provides companionship, food, water, etc. When we feel lost, there is often a reason behind it. Sometimes it is self-generated and based in insecurity; and sometimes it is because we literally don’t fit in an environment and feel unwelcome because of it. Swamp buffalo draws your attention to why you feel out of place.

Watch out for other people having a vendetta against you at this time. It may come in the form of gossip, bullying or outright attack. You may feel as though you are being hunted. Remember that if you are feeling unsafe, to let others that you trust know about it. Consider removing yourself from any situations where you feel exposed to harm.

Swamp buffalo is an excellent guide for accessing wetland energy. Swamp, or wetland energy can be very challenging for people to wrap their heads around, and in popular media and many fairytales, swamps are places of harm, uncertainty or challenge. Wetlands are also places of incredible growth, initiation and regeneration. Consider working with the symbolism of the wetland or swamp, researching them, or visiting them if there are any nearby.

The Shadow Aspects:

Those who fear or dislike swamp buffalo may find themselves completely unequipped to deal with genuine rejection. We can’t make everyone like us, no matter what we do. When we are rejected, how do we deal with it? Making a fuss, or using it as an excuse not to live our lives to the fullest or to be ourselves can be detrimental to our wellbeing and also reinforce the idea that rejection is purely negative. Rejection can be hurtful, but it is important that we shoulder its weight so we can best understand how to learn from such a situation without sacrificing who we really are.

Swamp buffalo challenges you to accept that you don’t belong in one or many aspects of your life. You may not belong to your job, you may not belong to your particular circle of friends, or even to your partner. The reasons are usually the same – either you are harming others by being in a certain environment, or more often, they are harming you. Confront all aspects of your life and see which ones aren’t helping you. If they are harmful or negative, then you don’t belong in that environment.


Like all animal helpers, this animal will only appear when right and appropriate, and cannot be forced to visit you, commune with you, or share messages with you. Swamp buffalo can be a challenging, stubborn and even recalcitrant energy; even in its natural habitat. It is not as vocal as some of the other animal guides, and also not ‘clear.’ There is a sense of wading through muddy waters in order to reach points of clarity, though the journey is definitely worth it. Along with the message of ‘burden’ in general, there is a feeling of heaviness at times when dealing with buffalo.

I wouldn’t recommend buffalo as a beginning animal spirit to work with, unless you’re feeling really game, or alternatively have an extremely strong pull in this direction. Swamp buffalo can be extremely helpful in teaching you how to shoulder a burden with dignity, even when you don’t like it. It can also reinforce strength in those who are going through spiritual or emotional moments of weakness.