Earthquake Symbolism (6 Meanings in Dreams and the Bible)

Earthquakes are symbolic of:

  • Change
  • Destruction
  • Uncertainty
  • Fear
  • Signs from God

earthquake symbolism

Because of its cataclysmic nature, an earthquake was also widely featured in the Bible. The earthquake is often a biblical metaphor for:

  • Destruction
  • Poverty
  • Famine

It’s normally used in its negative connotation, although it may also be used as a symbol of change.

> This Article is from our series on Weather and Natural Disaster Symbolism

Earthquake Symbolism and Meanings

What does an earthquake represent?

1. Change

An earthquake happens when tectonic plates start to move and crash against each other, which causes massive ruptures in the land, while the ground starts shaking. The stronger the two plates collide, the bigger changes happen on the ground. Normally, we can see this as changes in the landscape as well as cracks in the ground.

This is called a tectonic change, which has become symbolic of large-scale changes. When something big happens and big changes are made, we call them tectonic changes. This might happen in all areas of our lives, including our personal, professional, and other parts of our lives.

We may also observe this symbolic meaning in something that’s constantly changing and developing. For instance, when we are growing up, we are still changing and developing, which can be symbolized by the symbolism of earthquakes.

2. Uncertainty

Earthquakes are some of the most unpredictable natural disasters on Earth. They can’t really be predicted, and once a big earthquake happens, there will always be subsequent waves of the earthquake – although much weaker ones. 

Because of that, people are not always prepared when a big earthquake happens, which leads to mass destruction. Some measures can be taken to prepare ourselves against earthquakes – for instance, earthquake-proof buildings are usually reinforced in such a way that they’re not collapsing as easily.

3. Destruction

The stronger the earthquake is, the more damage it will create. This is something that’s hard to predict, but normally stronger earthquakes happen in areas where the tectonic changes are greater.

One of the biggest earthquakes happened in 1960 in Chile, which was responsible for up to 6000 civilian deaths, and caused mass destruction. It caused thousands of people to start their lives from scratch, and start rebuilding the damage that happened during the earthquake.

This has led earthquakes to become symbolic of the damage they create when they happen. We may link this earthquake symbolism to our personal lives, and it may also be appropriate to be used in any area where something is destroyed beyond the point of reparation.

4. Fear

On one hand, we connect earthquakes to mass destruction that causes fear and panic in many areas of the world. On the other hand, we also connect them to the act of shaking, which can be symbolic of fear.

This is especially true of the fear that we might lose something. For example, if you experience an earthquake in your dreams, you’re afraid that it might happen in your area soon. Alternatively, it can represent your fears about losing your mother, since we connect the Earth to the symbol of the mother, and an earthquake may represent that.

5. Immediacy

Earthquakes happen instantly and without too much prior warning. They’re almost instant, although they can last from a few seconds to a minute, if not longer. And because they come without a warning, they can be so catastrophic and highly damaging. 

This often creates an urgent situation where people scramble to get to safety. Many people still don’t know what to do to protect them, though, creating panic. This instant and immediate nature of an earthquake can be symbolic of other events that happen spontaneously and quickly.

6. Sign from God

In the past, humans didn’t understand why earthquakes happened, which led them to believe that they were sent from God in order to warn them or even fine them. They thought it was God’s way of telling them they did something wrong, and that they need to pay for it. It inspired a lot of fear.

This fear led the earthquake to become almost a god-like symbol. It was a common part of many religions and mythologies, too. For instance, in Greek mythology, Poseidon was also known as the “Earthshaker”, because he seemingly had the ability to shake the ground and create changes on Earth. 

There were also other myths about earthquakes, although they were most commonly connected to a deity. It led to many stories being created about how earthquakes happened, although we know today that they are created by tectonic changes deep underneath the Earth’s surface.

> See Also: Tsunami Symbolism

Earthquake Symbolism in the Bible

Because of this godlike nature of earthquakes, they were also common in the Bible, although here they mainly had a negative role. In most cases, the earthquake in the Bible is a symbol of destruction, poverty, death, and famine. It’s also commonly used with those symbolic meanings together.

There are many instances in the Bible where earthquakes are used in such a negative way. For instance, in Luke 21:11, the earthquake is seen as a sign of terror from hell and a power that cannot be coped with:

“There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.” (Luke 21:11)

In Mark 13:8, the earthquake is used as a symbol, or rather a consequence of nations clashing and society improving. There will always be difficulties in the world, and the most powerful nations will overcome them and become stronger:

“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.” (Mark 13:8)

Another instance where the earthquake is used as a powerful weapon of destruction is in Revelation 11:13, where the earthquake plays the role of this unstoppable power that causes damage and creates fear among the population:

“And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.” (Revelation 11:13)

So you can see that most of the time, the earthquake plays a prominent role as a destructive force in the Bible, as a force that is created by Hell. Because of those symbolic meanings, the earthquake is mostly seen as a negative symbol in the Bible, as a sort of a “necessary evil” that we have to go through in order to grow as a species.

There are many other great quotes involving earthquakes in the Bible that portray those meanings, too.

Earthquake Dream Meanings

What does it mean to dream about an earthquake? Read on to find out more!

It’s quite normal and usual to dream about natural disasters. Earthquakes are one of the most widely featured calamities in dreams, although they have some important meanings that you can take away.

  • Dreaming about an earthquake represents your fear of natural disasters, or of some unpleasant event that is coming soon and might change your life for good. You don’t like surprises though, and you like to be prepared for these big events, so this dream is telling you to prepare for such an event. This dream is especially common with people that have experienced an earthquake before.
  • Alternatively, it may represent your fear of the death of your mother.
  • Dreaming about an earthquake can also represent a change in your life. It will be a big, large-scale change that will change the way you live. You’re worried about this change, but now you’re able to prepare for it.
  • Dreaming of being caught in an earthquake represents your difficulties dealing with problems in your professional or personal life. This also includes your past traumas and experiences where you haven’t dealt with your problems in a good way.
  • If you’ve dreamt about an earthquake killing you, then you fear a change in your life. You’re scared to take a different step in your daily life, and you are not sure about the changes that might happen as you do that.

Conclusion

Almost all natural disasters have an underlying meaning, so we connect them to symbolic meanings often. Earthquakes are these destructive events that change the surface of Earth forever, so they’re symbolic of change. They’re an unpleasant yet unavoidable part of our lives, so we have to cope with them, even though they might surprise us. It’s widely featured in the Bible, too, where the earthquake symbolism represents destruction and change.

Natural disasters will always bring change with them. Many of them will change people’s lives forever. But an earthquake is perhaps the biggest symbol of change out of all of those natural disasters. It symbolizes tectonic, large-scale changes, which can be especially important if you’ve experienced earthquake dreams.

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