Eagle Symbolism & Meaning (Totem, Spirit & Omens)

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Eagle Symbolism & Meaning (Totem, Spirit & Omens)
Self

Eagles are the king of all birds, which makes eagle symbolism exciting to unpack. 

Here's everything you need to know about eagles and what they symbolize.

What does the eagle symbolize?

An eagle represents loyalty, freedom, honor, truth, devotion, courage, strength, hope, and a little psychic awareness.

An eagle is known for its keen eyes and for being the “king of the skies” and a messenger to the highest Gods.

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Native American Eagle Meanings

In a Comanche legend, a chief’s young son died. Devastated, the chief prays to the Great Spirit, asking to restore his son to life. The Great Spirit answered the prayer by turning his son into a magnificent bird. That’s how the first eagle was created.

Bald and golden eagles are highly revered in Native American traditions and are symbols of sacredness.

The eagle is a powerful animal totem. The eagle totem offers lessons regarding looking closely. By examining the smallest of all details, you can receive a grander perspective.

People who are guided by the eagle animal spirit guide are grounded, resilient, and in complete harmony with their spiritual sides.

Eagle power animals are symbols of vision and strength. Eagles see with a viewpoint that humans are unable to. 

The phrase “eagle eye,” for example, is used to describe someone who is so astute and has a powerful vision.

In Native American culture, feathers are considered to be sacred. An eagle feather found on the ground is considered to be a gift from the sky and the earth.

Bald Eagle Symbolism in The United States 

The American eagle — or the bald eagle — is the national bird of the United States. Bald eagles represent the strength and freedom of the United States.

It is a bird of prey that lives in North America. Bald eagles are not literally bald, though their white heads make them look kind of bald.

The name is derived from an older meaning of the phrase, “white-headed.”

Currently, bald eagles are protected under the National Emblem Act of 1940.

Eagle Symbolism in Religion

Hinduism

In Hinduism, Garuda, the King of Birds, is a divine eagle-esque sunbird that is symbolic of courage.

The Rigveda, an ancient Indian collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns, describes a Garutman as a celestial deva with wings.

Garutman is defined as the same as Garuda in the Mahabharata.

Garuda is described to be a fast shapeshifter that can take on any form and enter anywhere.

His wing-flapping can even stop the spinning of heaven, earth, and hell.

Garuda is also located on the faces of several early Hindu kingdom coins as a single-headed or three-headed bird that watches all sides. 

Buddhism

Garuda, also known as Garula, are golden-winged birds found in Buddhist texts.

They are sometimes depicted holding a serpent between their claws. In Buddhism, the Garuda are giant predatory birds with a wingspan of 330 yojanas.

A symbol of supreme intelligence and social organization, some of them also have the magical power to change into human form.

Christianity

In Christianity, biblical scholars theorize that a bald eagle is a metaphor for Jesus’ enlightenment.

An eagle flies higher than all other creatures. Perhaps, this is why the eagle is often symbolic of a higher perspective.

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Eagle Symbolism in Mythology

Celtic Mythology

Celts believe the eagle to be one of the oldest Earth-creatures, save for the salmon, of course.

In Celtic mythology, the character Prince Llew Llaw Gyffes turned into an eagle.

Roman Mythology

The eagle was special to the Roman god, Jupiter. Romans believe eagles to be storm birds that could create violent winds by flapping their wings.

A symbol of the Roman empire, eagles were also associated with war.

Nordic Mythology

In Nordic mythology, the World Tree Yggdrasill was a magical tree that connects the world of humans to the world of gods.

In Nordic stories, a hawk named Veðrfölnir sits between the eyes of an eagle and the World Tree Yggdrasill.

The eagle is unnamed. Historians suspect that the hawk and eagle are one.

Eagle Symbolism in Cultures Around the World

Ancient Egypt

Egyptians view the eagle as a symbol of protection. Nekhbet, the Egyptian vulture goddess, is also depicted as an eagle.

She is frequently depicted as spreading her wings over the pharaoh while holding the cartouche symbol in her claw.

Aztec and Mexican culture

According to Aztec legends, Huitzilopochtli, their patron god of sun and war, is represented by an eagle.

Aztecs believed that eagles helped lead the sun across the sky.

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The eagle is also the symbol of Mexico and is represented on the Mexican flag.

Taiwan

To Indigenous Paiwan People of Taiwan, the mountain-hawk eagle is a sacred bird.

It symbolizes beauty, bravery, and the sacredness of ancestral spirits.

Taiwanese people believe in four states of the afterlife. The person’s soul transforms from viper to mountain eagle to water, and then the soul is free.

China

In Chinese culture, the combination of an eagle and a bear are symbolic of strength.

Eagle feathers are also considered to have powerful qualities.

Lei Gong, the Daoist god of thunder, is half-man, half-eagle.

Japan

Amaterasu is the Japanese celestial sun goddess who possesses superhuman strength, vitality, stamina, and resistance to injury.

She hides in a cave, casting the world into complete darkness. In an attempt to lure her out of the cave, Amenohiwashi-no-kami, a diety, plays a musical instrument. As this occurs, an eagle flies over to him and sits on the edge of the instrument.

An eagle sitting on the instrument brings light to the world again.

Eagle Dream Interpretation

Decoding an eagle dream really depends on what emotion you felt in the dream.

If an eagle visits you in your dream, and you have intense anxiety or fear, it’s a sign that you are avoiding a situation that you need to address.

An exciting dream about an eagle can mean that you feel free.

Dreaming that you are an eagle in flight means that your soul has left your body — temporarily, of course.

Eagle Tattoo Meanings

There’s no better way to demonstrate your devotion to your partner or freedom than with an eagle tattoo.

An eagle tattoo can also signify your connection to your higher power.

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Izzy Casey is a writer who covers pop culture, entertainment, and news for YourTango.