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Dove Symbolism & The Spiritual Meanings Of Seeing A Dove

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dove flying in the light of god

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.

Doves are often used in release ceremonies during weddings, funerals, and other public celebrations. They are a symbol of love, peace, and as a messenger.

The messenger symbolism comes from when doves were used as carriers alongside pigeons, because they are able to return home if released within a 600-mile radius.

But there's much more to dove symbolism than their use as messengers.

Dove Symbolism & Spiritual Meanings Of Doves

In addition to being symbols of peace and love, doves symbolize purity, hope, the Holy Spirit, devotion, and gentleness.

These docile birds are known to be monogamous with their mates, for their gentle demeanor, and, as a symbol of navigation, for their ability to deliver messages, a practice that has been traced back to 3000 BC in Ancient Egypt.

Doves are also associated with the third chakra, which is connected to a sense of purpose, creativity, self-expression and ego.

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Dove Encounters and Omens

When you encounter a dove in the waking world, it's an extremely positive good omen, one that represents compassion for yourself and others, hope and faith, a sense of balance and peace, and deeper understanding.

Seeing a dove can also be symbolic of your personal connection to your own intuition, and seeking a sense of truth. As doves represent the Divine, so too do they represent allowing that divine love into your life.

When you encounter a dove, be sure to pay close attention to the empathy you feel towards yourself, as it will allow you to form deeper connections to individuals and the world around you.

What Doves of Different Colors Symbolize

Not all doves are white; in fact, doves primarily appear in brown and light gray colors. Others also have colors of muted green, and spotted brown and black.

White Dove Meaning

White doves are the most recognized color of this bird, and are symbols of divinity, purity, peace and love. White doves are said to appear when you are needing protection and solace, and are a sign that you need to show compassion to yourself and others.

Black Dove Meaning

A black dove, also known as a black cuckoo-dove, represents facing your fears head-on and accepting a big change coming your way. Black doves appear when you may be struggling to push forward among challenges.

Gray Dove Meaning

When you encounter a gray dove, it means you have gotten past a time of transition and are in a state of renewal. Gray doves also represent a psychic awakening of some kind.

Brown Dove Meaning

Known as a mourning dove or laughing dove, brown doves are symbols of fertility, motherhood, and a change in your family. This may include a life-changing event like beginning a family, or a member of your family experiencing their own big change.

Red Dove Meaning

Also called a red turtle dove, whether you dream of a red dove or see one in the waking world, this is a sign that you are currently in or about to experience stability in your home life.

Blue Dove Meaning

Blue doves, also known as blue ground doves, are symbols of intuition, communication and creativity. To see one in the waking world or in a dream means you are finally balancing your emotional energy and are grounded.

Dove Symbolism in Dreams

If you are seeing doves in your dreams, there are several interpretations. These include doves delivering a spiritual message to us, and bringing peace and freedom from worry into our lives.

If you are struggling with something in life, a dove may be a sign to be open to spiritual guidance on that issue. And whatever you are stressing about, a dove is a subconscious reminder that sometimes things are beyond our control and we should return to a state of peace.

Dreaming of a dead dove

Dreaming of a dead dove is symbolic of the end of one part of your life and to begin anew. Dead doves symbolize transition and change, and in order to achieve this new part of your life, you must welcome that change.

Dreaming of a dove following you

If a dove follows you in your dream, it means you are in the process of determining your life purpose. If you need a sign that it's time to pursue your goals, it's a dream like this that should make you even more sure.

Dreaming of two doves

Doves are notoriously monogamous, so if you dream of two doves, it means accepting yourself, healing your relationships (platonic or romantic), and letting go of any toxic bonds.

Dreaming of a dove feather

Feathers symbolize the protection and love of guardian angels, and one’s connection with the Divine. To dream of a dove feather means it's time to let go of any distractions you're facing in life, and discover your inner truth.

Dreaming of a dove cooing

Dreaming of a cooing dove means you must let your inner voice come through and stop silencing it. A cooing dove appearing in a dream is a sign that you may need to redirect your emotional energy and focus it on communicating internally.

Dreaming of a flock of doves

Dreaming of more than just two doves — rather, a whole flock of doves — is directly related to your romantic relationship. This dream means that you have a happy relationship and don't need to worry about a life filled with sorrow.

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Dove Spirit or Totem Animal

Spirit animals are our guides who point us in the right direction and teach us lessons; totem animals are spirit guides we call upon when we need help. But both spirit animals and totem animals are meant to protect, guard, and help to find our higher purpose.

While you cannot choose your spirit animal, you'll know if you have a dove spirit animal if you resonate with these gentle creatures, or have had a profound experience related to one.

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If you have a dove spirit animal, you may view yourself as aware and uneasy, just like a dove. You desire comfortability and peace, and value good relationships in life that don't 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.

A dove totem, on the other hand, means that you are a compassionate, lovable person, and you have to be aware of people who would like to manipulate that love.

Those with dove totem animals view the gentleness of a dove as something empowering to you. And you want to be viewed in your strength as compassionate.

Photo: Rene Baars / Shutterstock

Spiritual Meaning of Doves in Christianity and the Bible

In Christianity, doves are symbols of peace and a sign of challenges coming to an end. Doves also represent a time of rebirth and forgiveness.

The dove is a symbol in the story of Noah's Ark. Noah sent a raven to find dry land, which didn't return; he then sent a dove, who did return, but Noah then realized he could not dock the ark.

The white dove then appeared to Noah with an olive branch in its mouth so Noah knew that the waters had receded. But it's also a symbol of the Holy Spirit; the olive branch is a metaphor for peace.

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 also in Genesis 8:11 and Luke 3:22.

Meaning of Doves in Islam

In Islam, doves are well respected because they are believed to have assisted the prophet of Islam, Muhammad, at the cave of Thaw'r. Muhammad and Abu Bakr, his father-in-law, were running from Quraysh warriors, who came across the cave, deciding to hide.

Two doves built a nest and laid eggs, while spiders wove webs at the entrance, serving as a distraction to Muhammad's enemies, who believed the prophet could not be hiding in the cave, as the nest and webs were not disturbed.

Meaning of Doves in Judaism

In the Talmud, doves are compared to the spirit of the Divine hovering over water, just like a female dove hovers over her young, tending to them in a gentle and compassionate manner.

Doves are also referenced in Isa 29:4, Zohar II: 8a–9a, Commentary to Jonah 1, and Song of Songs Rabbah 2:14.

Dove Symbolism in Mythology and Folklore

Native American Dove Symbolism

In Native American tribes, there are many different interpretations of what seeing a dove means. These meanings stray further from the meaning we hold today of the dove.

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

In Algonquian tribes, if a dove cooed, it was a bad omen that someone would die soon. In the Pueblo tribe, doves were thought to bring rain. And to some California tribes, like the Miwok, the dove represented foolishness and naivete.

Celtic Dove Symbolism

In Celtic lore, doves are oracles of God, messengers of the Divine, and are symbols of peace and healing. Celts did often use doves for sacrifices, however.

Celts also referred to patron saint, St. Columba, as the Church Dove, and believed that these birds were symbols of the Holy Ghost.

Asian Dove Symbolism

In China, doves are symbols of unconditional love and fidelity in relationships. According to tradition, a jade scepter with a dove depicted on one end was given to individuals who reached age 70; the scepter is also known as a "dove staff," or gē zhàng.

In Japanese mythology, however, the god of war, called Hachiman, used a dove as his messenger. Along with folklore, in Japanese culture, doves were symbols of honor for those who perished in Hiroshima.

Ancient Greek Dove Symbolism

Ancient Greeks regarded doves as symbols of immortality, rebirth, and love. Doves brought ambrosia, which represented longevity, to Mount Olympus, where the gods and goddess would drink or eat it.

Greek goddess Aphrodite was also often depicted with doves surrounding her.

Aztec Mythology Dove Symbolism

In Aztec mythology, doves were associated with Xochiquetzal, the goddess of love and fertility. Legend has it that Xochiquetzal came to earth after a catastrophic flood, but appeared in the form of a dove.

Hindu Mythology Dove Symbolism

In Hindu mythology, doves are associated with Kamadeva, the god of love and desire. Kamadeva is often depicted riding a dove or parrot.

Dove Tattoo Meaning

While tattoos are used as artistic and personal expression, individuals who get a dove tattoo usually do so when they greatly value peace, harmony and love. A dove tattoo also represents a connection to a higher power, or that you are in control of your own life.

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Ciara Litchfield is a writer and first-generation college student covering news and entertainment, pop culture, and self-esteem topics.

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