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Dove Symbolism: What Does It Mean When You See A White Dove

The whole world knows white doves mean peace. These gentle, white birds feed primarily on seeds, fruits, and plants. They are friendly, harmless creatures. But did you know that some ancient cultures, beliefs, and religions see white doves meaning differently?

Dove symbolism appears in ancient religions, including Christianity, Islam, and Paganism. They are seen either as divine messengers or omens of death. The most popular white dove meaning is peace. Let’s find out what other beliefs teach us about white dove symbolism.

First, let’s take a quick look at the different dove symbolism of various cultures and religious beliefs. Then we shall go deeper to discuss the white dove meaning of this symbolism.

We will only look at dove symbolisms in Christianity, Celtic, and Native American cultures. You will learn what it means to see doves in your dreams and dove encounters.

Dove Symbolism and Meaning

White doves are sacred symbols in most world religions. They often come as divine messengers bringing the good news of peace and hope as in the bible story of Noah and the ark. There is always a divine essence of the white dove portrayed in these religious beliefs.

Christians consider the white dove to be the symbol of the Holy Spirit. Meanwhile, ancient pagans also believed that doves were close to the gods. It connotes the worship of such deities.

Ancient Greeks, the Aztecs, and other Mexican Indian tribes see doves as symbols of love. In Mesopotamia, they associated the animal with the goddess of love, sexuality, and war. Aphrodite often appeared in ancient Greek poetry with doves.

Some Native American tribes see doves as symbols of protection in battle. Warriors carry dove feathers as talismans to ensure their safe return from fighting in the war. Soldiers see white doves’ meaning in communication as the bird is closely related to the homing pigeon.

Now that you have a basic idea of the dove symbolism in these popular cultures and religious beliefs, it’s time to go deeper to understand the meaning of these symbols.

Dove Native American Symbolism

Dove Native American Symbolism
Dove Native American Symbolism

Native American dove symbolism is not so much different from the Christian belief. They also believe that the dove is the image of the Great Spirit that brings them deliverance and forgiveness. It is a sacred symbol for these Native American tribes.

Dove Symbolism varies in every Native American tribe. Besides being used as an amulet, they also see it as an omen. It brings a message of death. Other tribes identify it as a symbol of foolishness and naivete. Hence, they often use the innocent white bird as a religious sacrifice.

Doves and pigeons play a significant role in Native American traditions and religious beliefs. Some tribes use them as clan animals. Here are a few of these tribes that use doves as spirit animals:

• Blackfoot Tribe – The war leaders of this tribe carry dove feathers as talismans to ensure their protection and safe return from war.

• Eastern Algonquian Tribe – These people consider turtledoves as omens of death.

• Cherokee Indians – They associate doves with acorns because of their cooing cry. which sounds like the Cherokee word for acorn.

• California Indian Tribes – These people think doves are symbols of foolishness and naivete.

Love, fertility, and long life are notable dove symbols for Native Americans. The bird can survive a life in captivity for nearly seventeen years.

Expert Tip: Unlike many other passerine species, doves feed their young with milk. Both male and female dove looks after their squab. The pigeon dance is a famous tribal dance of the Cherokees.

Dove Christianity Symbolism

Dove Christianity Symbolism
Dove Christianity Symbolism

The Bible speaks of white doves meaning God’s messenger of hope to Noah in the ark. The story goes that after forty days of the terrible flood. Noah sent out a dove twice to see if the flood had subsided. When the dove returned with an olive leave in its beak, he knew that the land was finally dry.

In the gospels, the white dove symbolizes the Spirit of God described by Matthew and Luke in the event of the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, Mark and John also speak of the same white dove meaning the Spirit of God descending on Jesus Christ. The white dove is also a sacred symbol in Christianity.

The gospel story goes that a man named John was baptized in the Jordan River when Jesus came to him. John testified that after he baptized Jesus, he saw the spirit coming down like a dove and resting upon Jesus accompanied by a voice from heaven saying that he is the son of God.

In this sense, Christian dove symbolism reflects a divine image. The symbol of white doves meaning peace comes from the Christians. From the story of Noah in the Old Testament, early Christians held the practice of using the image of the dove with an olive branch to portray baptism.

You will also see this dove symbol etched with the word peace on their tombstones.

Dove Celtic Symbolism

Celtic people believe that doves have healing powers. It appears in their folklore as a feminine symbol of soul, wisdom, rebirth, and harmony. Like Aphrodite, the Roman goddess Venus also takes doves as her companions.

Christianity also had influenced Celtic beliefs. Hence, Celtic people also consider doves as messengers of God and a symbol of the Holy Spirit. They also see the white dove meaning the olive branch as a symbol of peace.

Celtic dove symbolism agrees with the Christian belief. It is a peace offering from God to Noah during the Great Flood, revealed in the New Testament as the image of the Holy Ghost. Dove symbolism is significant for many Celtic saints.

Dove in Dreams

Dove in Dreams
Dove in Dreams

Dreaming of birds may have several interpretations. White doves meaning in dreams could be a good or bad omen. It usually has something to do with your spirituality.
Most bird dreams reflect the desire to reach the height of the heavens and touch the spiritual realms. Thus, dove symbolism in dreams could mean spiritual freedom.

Dreaming of birds is a sign for you to connect with your spirit. When you dream of a pair of doves, it means that you are yearning for love and companionship. You are looking for a lover or life partner. Dreaming of a flock of birds reveals your desire to belong to a group.

Yet, you should also be aware that seeing a mourning dove in your dreams could mean the loss of a loved one. You see, doves could be omens telling you what might happen in the future. When a mourning dove appears in your dreams, it could be a premonition of death in the family or of a close friend.

Dove Encounters and Omens

Dove Encounters and Omens
Dove Encounters and Omens

Generally, dove encounters bring a message of love, hope, and peace. The essence of a white dove is holy, as in the Christian belief of the Holy Ghost. But doves also have different species that may give you a special message.

The domestic rock dove is also called the release dove. This white pigeon appears in many public events and ceremonies. It represents the biblical white dove meaning God’s message of peace to Noah in the ark.

All dove encounters are a symbol of peace. The feeling is undeniable whenever you see a white dove. But the gentle nature of all doves can give us the same sense of peace and contentment. The mourning pigeon does not always have to be a bad omen. It could also mean a loving message from God.

When you see this gentle bird in times of great distress and suffering, be glad. It is a grace from God. Dove encounters can mean many things. It is also good to note that doves and pigeons are two different species. However, there is not much difference when it comes to their symbolism.

Expert Tip: Doves and pigeons are there to remind us to look deep into ourselves and discover that peace within. There may be other species of these birds that convey a different message, but the overall message of this humble, white bird is peace and love.

Doves Mythology and Folklore

Doves Mythology and Folklore
Doves Mythology and Folklore

Most dove symbolisms derive meaning from mythology and folklore. Although Christians believe the Bible stories of Noah and Jesus are true, the Old Testament narrative comes in the form of legends passed on from several generations of the Jewish people. Other beliefs also have their tales to tell about the white dove.

Here’s how the dove commonly appears in popular myths and folklore:

• The Epic of Gilgamesh is an ancient Sumerian poem that tells a story similar to the biblical event of the Great Flood in Genesis. Enki instructed Utnapishtim to build a giant ship to preserve his life from the great flood. Like Noah in the ark. Utnapishtim also released a raven and a dove to find dry land.

• Ancient Egypt sees doves as a symbol of innocence. It often appears with the goddesses of love in Greek and Celtic myths. Japanese myth speaks of doves as the spirit of the war god Hachiman. He was the emperor of Japan who used the dove as his messenger.

• Judaism envisioned souls like birds or doves. The Midrash depicts this image frequently. Jewish myth speaks of the Palace of the Bird’s Nest, which is the dwelling place of the Messiah. An enchanted makes its nest on a tree near this palace.

• The legend goes that this heavenly place consists of a thousand halls of yearning. No one may enter this place except the Messiah. He comes into these halls of longing to weep and raise his voice towards the throne of God.

• The enchanted bird sings a sublime song that takes it and the Messiah to God’s glorious throne. When God hears the beautiful music, he swears to them that he will destroy the wicked kingdom of Rome and give all His children all the blessings destined for them.

The white dove meaning seems to have similarities in both religion and folklore. The Talmud describes the Spirit of God hovering over the waters like a dove flying over her young.

Ancient Greek and Roman mythology identify the dove with goddesses and the female creative principle. Jewish custom uses white doves as ritual sacrifices for purification.

Dove Spirit Animal

Dove symbolism deals with your spirituality. When a dove appears to be your spirit animal, it means you are going through spiritual renewal. You might feel drawn to make small deeds of kindness to help others.

You will know when a person has a dove spirit animal. They are beautiful, calm, and optimistic. They are reliable life partners, and you can easily trust them. When you have a dove spirit animal, you will have strong maternal instincts regardless of your gender. You are a home buddy and love doing house chores.

Your dove spirit animal can help you when you feel anxious, worried, or agitated. The dove spirit animal may also represent the soul of someone who recently passed. You may call on this animal if you wish to connect with the spirit of a loved one who had just died.

Dove Totem Animal

Dove Totem Animal
Dove Totem Animal

A totem animal is much like a spirit animal. It is a sacred object that symbolizes the spirit of a tribe, clan, family, or individual. Native American tradition believes that each person can have nine different totem animals as spirit guides throughout their lives.

While some people may have different totem animals throughout their lifetime, only one totem animal remains in your life. This totem animal is your guardian spirit. You share a special connection with this animal. You will feel fortunate to have a dove totem animal. It means the Universe is looking after you.

It is your connection to heaven that brings you love and peace. Doves reflect innocence and grace. When you have a dove totem animal, it means you are a peaceful soul with a deep spiritual connection. Your loved ones are always watching you in heaven.

Expert Tip: The dove totem animal is your advocate for change. It will help you to remember the peace and love within you.

Pay attention to the sound of your voice when a dove visits you. Your spirit guide may be telling you to change your tone.

Dove Power Animal

Your totem animal is also your power animal. It gives you the strength to face the challenges that come in your life. When you have a dove power animal, it means you have great spiritual strength. Love, purity, and peace radiate within you. You are a gentle and compassionate person.

Your presence brings serenity and peace, and you bring hope to the lives of people around you. If you have a dove power animal, you are a strong-willed person. Meanwhile, you are well-grounded, down-to-earth, and humble like the dove. You have a great capacity to respond to different situations.

People with dove power animals have strong maternal instincts. They love to volunteer in senior care centers and kid’s homes to nurture these people. They are committed to making people’s lives happy.

Dove Tattoo Meaning

Dove Tattoo Meaning
Dove Tattoo Meaning

A tattoo is a form of art and art is a form of self-expression. A dove tattoo can mean different things to every person. But overall, dove symbolism remains faithful to popular spiritual beliefs.

Why would you want to get a dove tattoo? For most people, getting a dove tattoo is a sign of self-acceptance. You get an indelible mark on your skin that constantly reminds you of your true spiritual identity.

Perhaps dove tattoo meaning depends on a person’s beliefs and convictions. A reformed Christian may want to get a dove tattoo with an olive branch to express his faith. This image reminds him of God’s love and forgiveness. Women may likely get a dove tattoo meaning strength and inner wisdom.

A dove tattoo reminds them of the love and peace within them. When you feel drawn to get a dove tattoo, it could mean that you have reached spiritual enlightenment. Dove tattoo meaning varies with each tattoo artist.

Although common themes are beauty, grace, peace, and tranquility, you may have a different inspiration for getting your dove tattoo. Artistic factors like color and imagery affect the essence of your dove tattoo.

Dove tattoos range from simple to complex designs. If you want to get the exact expression of your dove symbol, it would be best to discuss it with an experienced tattoo artist.


The white dove is the universal symbol of peace. Whether you are a Jew, Muslim, Christian, or some other religion, the image of the magnificent white bird somehow brings a heavenly essence to anyone who sees it. The tender white dove must be a real divine messenger.

Dove symbolism is a deep and captivating subject to study. What we have discussed here is only the tip of the iceberg. Drop us a line or two in the comments if you think we have missed something significant. We love to hear your thoughts on white dove symbolism.

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About Grace Hocker

Hi, my name is Grace and I am a pet lover. Ever since 5 years old, I've owned some sort of pet from Bearded Dragons to Rabbits. I have dedicated my life to helping pets, and am here to help you get the best for your pet!