GIFTS: Protection. Approaching problems from a different perspective. Fighting for what you want. Being at home in emotions.
CHALLENGES: Walling yourself off completely. Aggressiveness and defensiveness. Being too emotional, “crabby,” moody.
Spirit Animal Crab offers the gift of protecting your vulnerabilities. A crab’s shell protects it from the elements and from predators. Spiritually, we may be taught that we need no protection. Realistically, in the physical world, there are times that you need a buffer between yourself and the world. It’s okay to need a bit of protection at times. It’s okay to create an environment in which you can feel safe. /crab models how to take your protection with you so that you don’t stay hidden away in your fortress.
While hermit crabs are not taxonomically true crabs, they fit in with Spirit Animal Crab to offer the gift of leaving your safety behind. When hermit crabs outgrow their current shell, they must emerge from that shell and look for a new one while completely exposed and vulnerable. If they do not come out of their shell, they will die—even though they also risk death while being exposed.
The lesson for you is that forever hiding your vulnerabilities is like dying—if not physically, certainly spiritually. It is soul-crushing never to emerge from your defenses. Crab teaches that exposing your vulnerabilities is necessary and worth it for growth—your own personal and spiritual growth. Crab teaches finding strength in your vulnerability, the strength that comes from the courage to be raw.
Crab is an excellent representation for all 7 of the primary fears in the sense that your fear tends to build a shell around you to “protect” you.
- If you believe you aren’t good enough, your shell may manifest as procrastination. (Fear of inadequacy)
- If you believe you are flawed and need to be fixed, your shell may manifest as an eating disorder. (Fear of losing control)
- If you believe that you are worthless, your shell may manifest as an inability to say “no.” (Fear of worthlessness)
- If you believe that change brings disaster, your shell may manifest as stubbornness. (Fear of change)
- If you believe that your value is based on how much attention you get, your shell may manifest as a relentless pursuit of attention. (Fear of lack or want)
- If you believe that you have to have it/do it/be it all right now, your shell may manifest as an impatience with where you are in life. (Fear of missing out)
I skipped the 6th primary fear, the fear of vulnerability, for emphasis because Crab is an almost perfect symbol of this fear. When you believe that criticism or ridicule can be fatal, your shell manifests almost as a tangible shell. You build a wall around yourself so that no one can see your “weaknesses,” the things that actually make you human. You hide your emotions and your True Self within your shell as you show only a neat little façade to the world.
The danger in using Crab energy is that you (whichever primary fear you have) may forever stay within your shell. But that is not Crab’s real medicine. Crab’s gift is the shell—to protect you from real danger—not forever hiding out in your shell.
Another gift is defending what’s yours. Crabs can be aggressive with each other and against potential threats, as they protect themselves and their families. However, crabs will also work cooperatively with each other to provide protection and food for the family.
The message here is not to stay hidden away in your shell, but rather to take advantage of the protection your shell offers you so that you may go out into the world and defend what’s yours.
Crab is a symbol of the lunar cycles, which affect the tides and water levels across the planet. As water is a symbol of emotions, Crab also teaches fear-less-ness in truly feeling what you feel and expressing what you feel.
The word “crabby” comes from expressing displeasure or irritability—showing how you really feel instead of keeping it bottled up inside. It’s okay to be crabby sometimes; it’s human to be crabby sometimes.
Remember, too, how Crab walks—sideways. Use Crab medicine to approach fear or a problem from a different direction. Do not avoid your fear. Rather, change your approach to it.
Crab offers the gift of approaching problems sideways. Crab doesn’t approach things head-on; it comes at things from the side. When you are stuck on a problem, call in Crab and come at it from a different angle. Imagine describing a house based solely on how it looks from the side or back. Crab teaches you to look from different perspectives. When everyone else is coming head-on, your sideways approach may be the one that makes all the difference.
P.S. I keep this precious hermit crab my son made for me on my desk to remind me that it’s okay to have a protective shell and also that you have to come out of your shell in order to grow. As Hermit Crab gets bigger, it must leave its shell behind and risk being vulnerable. Growth (expansion, evolution) only happens when we’re vulnerable.