Blackbirds are common birds native to Europe, North America and Asia and can also be found in Africa and Australia. Known as either the Common Blackbird or the Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula), these birds are members of the thrush family.
They can be both migratory or partially migratory and those that live in moderate climates tend to be resident, remaining in a fixed location.
Males are black with yellow bills and eye rings, whilst females and young are a mottled dark brown. One species, (of the same Passerine order found in North & Central America), the Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus), is black with red feathers on the wings.
Blackbirds are very territorial. Males obtain a territory of approximately 0.2 hectares and defend it with voracity for the remainder of their life. They are a diurnal species, foraging by day and night, connecting to the energies of the moon
Blackbird Symbolism and Meaning
The spirit of the Blackbird may either be a welcoming sign or one which brings bad news. These dark birds signify mystery and magic, and are thought to represent the Otherworlds (Borrington). As black is the color of mysteries, magic and death – it may encourage dark associations of death – messengers that may haunt the soul, or a curiosity into the mystical elements of the animal and spirit realms.
Blackbirds are considered to be ‘shapeshifters’, their iridescent blackness represents the unknown, secretiveness and also seriousness. They may be able to guide you through darkness, helping the curious seeker to discover the wise use of magic.
Charms, in the form of beautiful songs, are one of the great skills and teachings of Blackbirds. Shamans have utilised their songs to travel through and transcend to other realms (Borrington). This ethereal connection is recognised in various cultures – Latin-speaking cultures knew the channel between songbirds and magic, having developed the same root word for ‘charm’ and ‘song’.
With the Blackbird as our guide, we learn that mystery is always amongst us and is a natural part of our world. We can never know what might happen in life and so must be adaptable and somewhat protective of ourselves and our loved ones.
Therefore, the Blackbird suggests to us that we can choose to make the most out of all our situations, not being discouraged by life’s circumstances that seem to present darkness or fear. Instead, if we gather all our senses, we can decipher our way through the obscurity and find a solution.
Blackbird Native American Symbolism
Blackbird symbolism is found in various Native American cultures. One understanding of those groups native to the Plains areas, the Arikara and Mandans, is of the link and service to the spiritual Mother of Corn. Blackbirds were used as a feedback to how well they were managing their lands, crops and paying sufficient dues to the spirits associated with these life-giving activities. If blackbirds decimated the crops of the Sioux then they would be compelled to perform rituals to appease the guardians of the corn (Redish).
Other Native cultures, like the Hopi and the Cherokee, have considered the Blackbird as a connector to the underworld and to your true self. For these groups, the Blackbird is a Power Animal that can help you go deeper within yourself (Redish).
For the Chikasaw, Blackbirds receive the high title of being considered clan animals. While others used Blackbird medicine for Arapaho Sun Dance and divination rituals and their feathers and eggs for fortune telling (Redish).
Blackbird Christianity Symbolism
In the famous Anglo-Christian Christmas carol, ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, the ‘Four Calling Birds’ gifted on the Fourth Day are assumed to have been Blackbirds. Although they are not explicitly named unlike other bird species in the carol, we can assume based on the knowledge of the original lyrics. The word ‘Calling’ has actually been changed from ‘Colly’ which means ‘black as coal or soot’.
The meaning of the song verses was thought to be depicting the Catholic doctrine – Christ represented by the Partridge for example, however, the precise intention remains disputed and unknown
Blackbird Celtic Symbolism
Within the Celtic groups, the Blackbird represented the Underworld and was connected with the God and Spirit realm. Blackbirds had a sinister magical ability to send people to the grave, whilst also having such a beautiful song that it could bring the dead back to life
The Blackbird is often grouped with other black birds such as crows and ravens in folkloric tales. Birds were considered to hold a great deal of prophetic ability and were able to share communications with the Divine.
These myths are present in the stories of Goddess Queen Rhiannon, who considered the Blackbird to be an ancient creature that understood the nature of history and time. It is said that this Celtic Queen had herself three birds that lived with her on the Happy Isle of the Blessed and sang to her continuously, giving her great joy (Borrington).
Blackbirds in Dreams
It would be a wonderful thing to have singing Blackbirds in your dreams. There must be good news on the way to you as there could not possibly be anything sinister or troubling abound when this bird sings its sweet songs.
Be sure to recall the activities of the Blackbird you are witnessing, as a Blackbird crossing your path in a dream has great positive potential for you
A Blackbird, silently present in your sleep, may on the other hand, indicate something else, as it alludes to ancient magic and untapped potentials. It may mean that you’re lacking some kind of motivation or energy in your life, possibly pertaining to unfinished projects or other goals.
In the same way that the Blackbird was associated with temptation and lust within Christian cultures, so too can seeing a Blackbird in your dream be a manifestation of this kind of unmet energy in your life. The Blackbird has for long been the trickster, and so they may also be representing their good spirit in this way to share an important message with you
As always, the Blackbird is a representation of mysteries. This may be in the form of potential threats – someone hiding something from you, not sharing the truth or keeping their intentions and plans secret. The Blackbird here is an ally, warning you to keep your guard up until you have all the information.
Blackbird Encounters and Omens
A spiritual encounter with a Blackbird has been long thought to have certain meanings and possibly ongoing ramifications for your life, depending on how you understand them. In its true manner as the elusive shapeshifter, the Blackbird can indicate both the presence of unknown and mysterious elements and parallely, a deep self-awareness. The Blackbird may instigate a renewed understanding of yourself and your potential in this world. They remind us that life is essentially a series of gradually unravelling mysteries but within this we can find a deep sense of self-knowing and connection to ourselves and our environments.
The Blackbird might appear and be most readily recognised when you have unanswered questions or feelings of self-doubt. In this case, they are likely here to remind you, as a symbol of the spiritual power of your intuition, that you hold all the answers that you may need already inside of you.
A dead Blackbird appearing in your life may be a message from the spirit world that a death or symbolic ending is going to occur in your life. This may be the ending of a relationship or some important circumstances finishing in that form. It may be an incredibly positive metaphysical death experience, such as the termination of a harmful financial or relational situation and so can be considered as a good death omen.
Blackbirds Mythology and Folklore
Native American Mythology:
From the Mississippi valley people, the creation story of the unique Redwing Blackbird is remembered. A destructive tribe member was found by Blackbird to be burning up the marsh lands. Blackbird, knowing the importance of these areas, tried telling them to stop what they were doing or risk burning the entire world. The man angrily threw a shell at Blackbird, wounding his wing. The evidence of this outrageous burst can still be seen today on the underside of the Red-winged Blackbird’s wings.
The religious texts of these cultural groups do not portray the Blackbird in a positive light, linking it with lustful pleasures and desires. In one Biblical story, Saint Benedict was given temptations by the devil, disguised as a blackbird. With only a white bird considered pure, one Jewish tale creates distance from the Blackbird when saying: “he who has sinned and changed his way, becoming the light in darkness”
The ancient culture of Egypt considered the Blackbird as a representative of the great cycles of life. With the Blackbirds coming and going every year, seemingly dying out and being reborn, they associated this bird with the sacredness of rebirth and renewal.
The Blackbird in Japan has been associated with the God Izanagi and was thought to help guide souls to heaven or to their next incarnation. They were considered to be good luck signs especially for happy marriages but not if they were to make a surprise appearance at your doorstep.
Blackbird Spirit Animal
Alignment with the spirit of the Blackbird will help us to trust in the path we choose in life. This spirit animal is about exploration and learning, to help us gain insight into the mysteries of life by being open minded in times of uncertainty. They can also remind us of our own power and autonomy in life – that we get to choose how and where we want to go.
If you already find yourself feeling elements of the Blackbird spirit animal, you may find that have a high level of intelligence, understanding and knowledge of many spiritual truths. You have a strong sense of your intuition and can recognise your boundaries. If you consider establishing a greater connection with the spirit of the Blackbird’s, you too will be blessed with a more refined capacity to seek your truth and use your natural ability to find answers within life.
Similarly, if you are spiritually aligned with the Blackbird, you may be slow to trust and open up to people and others must clearly show themselves as allies before you can open up your world to them. This is because Blackbirds are defensive of their possessions and territory. This behaviour can teach us to appreciate what we have and hold that dear.
The song of the Blackbird, though seemingly lighthearted and pleasant, presents us with the quite serious message of the power of speaking out and speaking our truth. We must remember that the Blackbird’s song, that we find so lovely and aesthetic, is primarily for the defense of their territory. By working with the intention of the Blackbird’s spirit, this knowing can enhance our own capacity to use our voice to sculpt a path towards our true intention and to ensure that our innermost needs are being met.
Blackbird Totem Animal
People who hold the birth Totem of the Blackbird, are shy, creative, mysterious and know their boundaries. They tend to be quite active at night and can be identified usually as somewhat serious, keeping a bit of mystery and parts of themselves hidden. They are usually the more sensible ones of the flock whilst also being essentially curious and seeking adventures. They always keep a lot of time for earnest contemplation and love to create and express themselves, especially through music
This reflectiveness and knowledge of their own psychology, means that they are also naturally sensitive to others, encouraging them to also look within
Even with this propensity to gain supporters, Blackbird types can be shy and unwilling to socialise beyond a known close circle. If you have this Totem, you’re likely not a stranger to magic and mysticism. Your natural gift of inward sensitivity can be felt by others and they may be easily persuaded by you.
Blackbird Power Animal
Blackbird can be called on as a Power Animal when you are in need of particular spiritual assistance. Call on Blackbird when things important to you are in danger. This Power Animal can help you symbolically to reclaim your territory. Blackbird’s energy is especially potent when what is in danger is your family and loved ones and when a truth is being hidden from you.
When your situation in life is changing too fast, Blackbird can help you feel more adaptable. Reach out to this animal spirit if you are lacking in self-control as Blackbird’s cautiousness and knowledge will help you make better judgements.
If you feel you need support in making connections with the spiritual realms, Blackbird can help you gain entrance into the realm of otherworldly beings, spirits and ancestors. These sacred territories are where Blackbird can be your expert and animal guide the way that Shaman’s have used this Power Animal spirit to enter trance for millenia.
Blackbird Tattoo Meaning
Bird tattoo meaning is very much dependent upon the details of the image itself. Whether birds are flying, perched, alone or in a pair or flock. All these factors can influence the meaning and perception of the tattoo. Blackbirds, representing mystery, magic, the unknown, and spiritual perception – continue to encourage these thoughts when in tattoo form. A symbol of a higher path of knowledge and ethics, the Blackbird connects us to the heights of universal and spiritual life
The Common Blackbird has been present in the mythologies of many cultures around the world and has therefore evolved various symbolic meanings. In lies the mysterious, shy and territorial bird who sometimes provokes fear of death or ideas of temptation. What these traditions have in common though, is an understanding that the Blackbird holds a certain mystical power and is a knowledgeable messenger between the various connected spiritual realms.
The Blackbird can teach us to be adaptable, sure-footed and trusting in our intuition and our voice – this bird reminds us to be careful in letting unknown people or energies into our safe space. And although the Blackbird is often quite a serious and defensive character, the song of the Blackbird has lightened the spirits of countless beings that have been blessed to experience it.