The elephant has long been held as a totem, or charm. Because of the strong family bonds that exist among the family members within the elephant species, totems are said to improve the love and respect among members of the family of anyone possessing the elephant totem. This should be manifest in the care for the young, elderly and sick of the herd or family, as well as the sense of strength within one's self. They are, therefore, honoured as key players in reestablishing family ideals and thereby improving those of the entire society.
The trunk plays a major role in superstitions regarding elephants as well. Most avid collectors, and even those with only vague superstitions, know that the trunk of an ornamental elephant should always be facing upwards in Western cultures and downwards in Eastern cultures for it to bring good fortune on the house in which it resides. In Western cultures, it is believed that an upward trunk ensures that good luck and prosperity do not run out, while a downward trunk signifies mourning.
The elephant has become a religious and cultural symbol for many reasons. Its ethereal presence has haunted men through the ages and forced a sense of awe and respect by its quiet mastery of the animal kingdom and undeniable connection to the human being.
Of all elephants, the white elephant is considered the most sacred. It is said that mothers of great teachers and masters will dream of white elephants. One story of Buddha's mother tells how she dreamt a white elephant had entered her womb.