Dove Symbolism: The Spiritual Meaning Of Seeing Doves

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Dove flying in air illuminated by sun rays.
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When thinking of a dove, one typically pictures a small white bird. This bird is actually a Release Dove and is bred for the albinism that creates the white color that occurs rarely in nature.

These birds are used in release ceremonies during weddings, funerals, and other public celebrations. These birds are often used as a symbol of love, peace, and messengers. The messenger symbolism comes from when they were used as carriers alongside pidgeons, because they are able to return home if released within a 600-mile radius.

Doves have a range of symbolic meanings.

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Native American dove symbolism

There were many different interpretations by different Native American tribes on what seeing a dove would mean.

These meanings stray further from the meaning we hold today of the dove.

For the Blackfoot tribe, the dove was a sign of protection and that there would be a safe return from battle. The war leaders would carry dove feathers as talismans to help bring their men back safely.

To some California tribes, the dove represented foolishness and naivete. 

The Aztecs had a closer meaning to ours today.

The Aztecs associated the dove with love as a dove along with their goddess Xochiquetzal that was depicted on wedding ornaments. 

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Dove meaning in dreams

If you are seeing doves in your dreams, there are several cool interpretations. 

The first is that the dove is delivering a spiritual message to us. If you are struggling with something in life, the dove may be a sign to be open to spiritual guidance on that issue. 

This is also a sign to be at peace and free from worry in our daily lives.

Whatever you are stressing about, a dove is a subconscious reminder that sometimes things are beyond our control and to return to a state of peace. 

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Doves as Spirit Animals

Spirit animals are seen as guides to give us love, strength, and support in times of need.

If you consider your spirit animal a dove, you may view yourself as aware and uneasy—like a dove.

Those with dove spirit animals desire comfortability and peace. They value good relationships in life that do not involve cynicism, chaos, or disparagement. 

In combination, a dove spirit animal is a sign that you are out of your comfort zone and may need to remove yourself to a place of peace and relaxation.

Doves as totem animals

As an individual totem animal, you see this animal as giving you power. 

A dove totem means that you are a super compassionate person. You are considered a lovable person and have to be aware of people who would like to manipulate that love.

Those with dove totem animals are wicked cool because you view the gentleness of a dove as something empowering to you. It's such a contrast to those who chose the biggest, strongest animals because that's how they'd like to be viewed.

And you want to be viewed in your strength as compassionate.

Doves as power animals

Power animals are viewed as guides who protect you. These animals provide existential definition from the many ways they are involved in one's life. 

A dove is a good power animal when you need peace and love in a situation. A dove is a great power animal to invoke energy from if you are a new, stressed mother or are fighting in a relationship. 

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Dove symbolism in literature

Authors use doves in their works as a symbol of purity, devotion, love, beauty, and faith.

In political works, the use of a dove is used as a symbol of peace.

The dove is used in contrast with hawks during times of war. A "war hawk" is someone eager to engage in war and a dove paired with an olive branch symbolizes those who want peace.

Dove symbolism in religion

In Christianity, the first appearance of the dove as a symbol in the Bible comes in the story of Noah's Ark. The dove appeared to Noah with an olive leaf from a branch in its mouth so that Noah knew that the waters had receded.

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In Matthew 3:16 a dove was used as a holy messenger that appeared when Jesus was baptized to communicate that Jesus was the son of God and loved.

This is where the religious symbols as a spiritual messenger derive from.

In Islam, doves are well respected because they are believed to have assisted the final prophet of Islam, Muhammad, when they built a nest and laid eggs, and spiders had made webs that the prophet could not be in the cave, saving him from his enemies.

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Dove meaning in Ireland

In Ireland, there is a massive Christian influence. They refer to one of three patron saints—St. Columa— as the Church Dove. 

In Irish lore, doves have a meaning of peace and are an oracle of God. 

They connect doves to their appearance in the Bible where the dove brings the olive branch after the Great Flood as a sign of peace.

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Why are dove releases not as popular?

Dove releases used to be way more popular, but there is a good reason why they aren't as common.

The Vatican used to release doves as peace gestures. However, in 2014 Pope Francis released two white doves next to children that were immediately attacked by a large black crow.

This led the National Animal Protection agency to write an open letter to Pope Francis to stop releasing doves as they are easy prey for predators.

They are bred for the unnatural colors that make them stand out to predators and do not have the flight speed to outfly their pursuers.

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Ciara is a writer for YourTango covering self, news & entertainment, and culture.