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Dove Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)

two doves

The dove’s soft graceful looks, white plumage, and gentle cooing calls all make it a symbol of grace, peace, gentleness, and divinity. Dove symbolism, as we all very well know, is peace. 

But, apart from peace, the dove actually represents many other things. Let us find out what do doves represent.

Table of contents

Dove symbolism and meaning

Universally, dove bird meaning is purity. It is the living thing of the three-dimensional world that has been chosen to represent the human concept of enormous quality: sacredness. Across cultures, the dove represents purity, gentleness, devotion, beauty, and faith. 

On an international level, peace dove represents hope and peace, and that has resonated well across the vast majority of religions and cultures. 

It fits into the cognitive framework that allows for global optimism to be shared by many people. Dove symbol is also love. This symbolic representation of the dove has been seen in many major works of literature and art.


This bird is also considered as the dove holy spirit. Pigeons and doves have carried messages for thousands of years. People believe that this bird is very close to the Gods. It has, therefore, come to represent the worship of the deity. 

In many motifs and artworks, white doves are seen flying out of depictions of warfare and bomb blasts. Perhaps, in these cases, apart from peace, the dove represents the martyred soldiers’ soul. The dove is also a symbol of protection. 

It can represent the agent of God sent to protect humanity from violence. The dove always snuggles close to its partner. It is a gentle-looking, rounded bird, and for these reasons, dove significance represents femininity and love. (1)

Dove Native American symbolism

Doves and pigeons are very important symbols in Native American traditions and culture. Pigeons or doves (both being essentially the same bird) mate for life. Hence they represent monogamy and enduring love. 

This is the reason why the Natives used these birds in fertility magic. Doves also represent the Goddess of Love. They were also used for delivering messages. Since the early times, the dove delivered messages to humans from God – including dove and olive branch in the Bible. 

The Native Americans, therefore, believed doves to be the Great Spirit’s deliverance and the symbol of forgiveness. (2

Doves were the first birds to be domesticated. Since doves nurture their young with their milk, they are a symbol of regeneration and fertile powers of the Great Goddess. There are many kinds of doves and the red dove is their ruler. 

This red dove also pacifies other wild doves. The Native Indians also associated doves with the Holy Ghost or the spiritual component of the Great Spirit. Doves were even linked to longevity as they lived nearly seventeen years in captivity. 

The dove is a meek, gentle, simple, innocent, fearful, and peaceful bird having no gall at all. It does not harm other birds or animals and feeds on pure seeds. They live near a man’s dwellings and love being in their company. For these characteristics, dove and no other birds were chosen for sacrifice. 

Dove Christianity symbolism

Dove’s meaning in the bible is purity and peace. According to the story of Noah’s Ark, Noah sends forth a dove that returns to the ark with an olive branch from God, which indicated that the floodwaters had receded, and God had forgiven man. 

In the Law of Moses, the Holy Spirit dove was considered very pure and hence used as an offering for purification after the birth of a child. 

For the same reason, Joseph has been seen with two pigeons in the basket at the scene of the Presentation of Christ. 

In Luke 2: 22, 24 ‘And when the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.’ 

As an emblem of purity, the doves sometimes appear on the top of Joseph’s rod to depict him as the chosen husband for Mother Mary. 

Why is the Holy Spirit a dove? In John 1:32, the dove symbol of the Holy Ghost is the representation of the Trinity, the Baptism, and the Annunciation to Mary. 

Seven doves represent the seven spirits of God or the Holy Spirit. Doves are also connected to saints. St. Benedict saw the soul of his dead sister fly to heaven in the form of a white dove. (4)

Dove Celtic symbolism

Doves are companions of Venus – the Roman Goddess of Love. Among the Celts, doves are believed to have healing characteristics. 

In Ireland, one of the three patron saints – St. Columa – is referred to as the Church Dove. There is the influence of Christianity here and that is why; Celts also believe doves to be symbolic of the Holy Ghost. 

Celtic dove meaning is also peace and care for all living creatures. It is also the oracle of God. Dove is also mentioned in connection with the great massacre – the slaughter in which CuChulainn was killed.

Many Welsh poets have depicted the dove as a lover in their poetry. The dove announces peace at the end of the Great Flood. He brings an olive branch as a peace offering from God and embodies the Holy Ghost in the New Testament. 

The dove and the olive branch continue to maintain this symbolism of peace to date. The Dove has significance with many Celtic saints, including Welsh St. David. 

It is said that the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descended to his shoulder after a reluctant though outstandingly eloquent address to a synod of Bishops. Portrayals of saints often commemorate this event. (5)

Dove in dreams

Dreams about birds are among the most common of all dreams and universally, all birds represent spirituality. However, specific birds can also have other interpretations, as well. 

The white dove meaning is peace, love, femininity, and hope. It is also the symbol of the Holy Spirit as per Christianity. 

Dreaming of a pair of doves symbolizes the need for a lover or a partner. It is representative of the fact that one is yearning for love and companionship. Mourning dove symbolism is sometimes a bad omen. 


This is particularly true if the mourning dove suddenly appears out of nowhere or is seen in unusual situations or places such as sitting on a bed. Many people believe that dreaming of a mourning dove is probably the foretelling of death in the family or of a close friend.

Almost all bird dreams symbolize a desire to reach beyond the earth and touch spiritual realms. Birds are also sexual symbols. Men still call attractive women ‘birds’. According to Freud, birds represent the penis. 

Dreaming of a flock of birds may be your wish to be a part of a group. Almost all bird dreams represent your desire to run away or fly from all things that are banal and commonplace. (6)

Dove encounters and omens

Doves and pigeons are the same birds. But among them too, there are many subspecies including feral and domestic doves, wood pigeons, and turtle doves. In all, there are nearly 140 different species of doves.

What do doves represent? All dove encounters symbolize peace. But this theme of peace can be very broad in the sense that it has to be connected with communication, understanding, and sympathy. Swarms of pigeons in the cities may be filthy. 

They are discouraged from nesting as they dirty apartments and even carry diseases. However, seeing a dove meaning may be a sign that people should come out of their isolation and socialize.


The dove asks us to live each day in peace and contentment. It asks us to forget those petty quarrels and, instead, seek deeper connections with the people around us.

The feral pigeon, on the other hand, asks us to work on a deeper level on the self. For the individual who keeps seeing feral pigeons, needs to work on oneself on a deeper level and strive to become more content with his/her life. This way, he/she can become the archetype of peace.

The wood pigeon and turtle dove also more or less convey the same meanings, but turtle dove symbolism is more about love, relationships, and family, whereas the woodpigeon speaks to the creation in general. (7)

Dove mythology and folklore

The dove is the symbol of innocence in Egypt. It is symbolically associated with the Tree of Life, sitting in its branches and appearing with the fruit of the tree. As a symbol of the female creative principle, the dove was identified with Astarte, Venus, and Virgin Mary.

In China, the bird symbolizes a long life. During the Han dynasty, it was customary to gift an elderly person with jadestone scepters adorned with pigeons on one end. 

This meant that the recipient would be able to digest his/her meals, as well as the pigeons, digested their grains. In Japan, the dove was the messenger of the Emperor Ojin Tenno, later deified as the war god, Hachiman. 


Although it is depicted having a fierce face, dove symbolic meaning here is that peace will soon follow the war. In Hindu mythology, the name of the goddess Parvati signifies dove. 

Also, the Hindu God of death – Yama- carried owls and doves as messengers. In some Eastern languages, the word for dove is synonymous with yoni – the matrix – and some writers imagine that the cooing of the dove is similar to the libidinous invitation in Hebrew. 

Hebrews offered white doves in temples for purification and the birds also served as a symbol of Israel. (8)

Dove spirit animal

What does it mean when a dove appears as your spirit animal? It may be trying to tell you to show kindness and help others through any small deeds. It also represents the soul of someone who has recently passed, that it is making a smooth and peaceful transition. 

The dove spirit animal is also showing you a glimpse into the future. It is an indication that you are experiencing deep spiritual renewal. 

his is a good time to stay at home and enjoy your domestic side. It is also a time to take care of yourself and focus on yourself. Call on the dove when you are feeling troubled, worried, anxious, or distraught.


If you are anxious about your partner’s love for you, the dove can help. Call upon the mourning dove spirit animal when someone close to you has died and you wish to connect with them somehow, spiritually. 

If your spirit animal is a dove, you are a calm, beautiful, optimistic person. You are trustworthy and are also in reliable relationships. Your partner can trust you and you are bound together for life. 

You love staying home and get involved in various domestic pursuits. You have strong maternal instincts – no matter whether you are a man or a woman. (9)

Dove totem animal

If a dove totem animal shows up, you have loved ones in heaven protecting you. You are a beautiful, peaceful soul with a deep spiritual connection. Remember: always come back home and home is where the heart is. 

Dove medicine is heavenly peace. They connect us to God. They are messengers of God and their message usually is: no matter what is happening, peace will always follow. 

When doves appear, it is a sign of your innocence and grace. Know and trust that your loved ones are watching you always. Dove totem animal brings peace, joy, and harmony. It tells you that new beginnings and ventures wait. 

It will eliminate all doubts and fears you may have about change. The dove represents your connection to heaven. It tells you: you are looked after by the Universe. Remember: peace and love are the center of your being. And those two things are all that you need in any situation. (10

Dove totem is an ally that will help you remember the peace and love inside you. What does it mean when a dove visits you? Pay attention to how the sound of your voice may be affecting others. 

Observe yourself and notice if your voice is soothing, gentle, or harsh. The dove may be teaching you to align your voice to a sweet low sound that still has the power to get things done. 

Dove power animal

If the dove is your power animal, you have dedicated your life to bringing peace and serenity into the lives of people around you. Your presence fills people with hope, peace, and serenity.

You are evolved spiritually, but, at the same time, you are very grounded and down-to-earth. You love to volunteer your time at senior centers or kids’ homes and have strong nurturing instincts. 

You are gentle and passionate, and irrespective of whether you are a man or woman, you have strong maternal instincts. Ask for the dove power animal to help you if you are feeling anxious or distraught. Or if you have lost faith and your spirit feels down. 

two doves

You can also ask for the dove power animal to help you connect with a deceased loved one. Seeing a white dove may mean that you have finely tuned emotions, a high moral code, and a great capacity to act and react. 

The totem animal reflects the power of your inner beauty—purity, love, peace, and serenity radiate from you. 

You set rigorous standards for yourself and surround yourself with protective strength that sees you through your goals. You tend to be an introvert, but once you find your partner, you will be committed and dedicated to them for life. 

Dove tattoo meaning

What do doves symbolize as a tattoo? The tattoo of a woman holding male genitalia with dove wings is an image that is commonly worn by a passive homosexual. A dove tattoo also represents victory and peace.

Many people go in for the tattoo of a dove and olive branch. This is symbolic of the Bible’s meaning of dove, where it represents God’s love and forgiveness. 

White or grey dove meaning in tattoo symbolism is peace, grace, and beauty. Because of its graceful and gentle cooing, it has always been a tender symbol of love since early times and till the present date. 

If you are drawn to a dove tattoo, you may want to remind yourself of the peace and love within you. You are a spiritually enlightened soul that is in touch with your Inner Wisdom. 

The dove tattoo can also be a reminder to love and accept yourself as you are and that all that you seek is already within you. Tattoo art draws on all these themes favoring the symbolism of peace and tranquillity.

Since dove tattoo meaning can change based on different factors like colors and exact representation, it is best to discuss your vision with an experienced tattoo artist.


We hope this guide helps you decipher your own dove meaning and dove symbolism. The gist of dove symbolism is grace, love, beauty, and peace. 

It can also mean innocence and femininity. Seeing a dove means you must help others in whatever way you can and always use love and peace in all your interactions.


10 thoughts on “Dove Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)”

  1. Thank you for explaining the meaning and symbolism of doves. My mom is thinking about releasing white doves at my dad’s funeral. It seems like it could offer the symbolism that she’s looking for.

  2. I had a pair of mourning doves make a nest on my back porch, they safely hatched and raised their baby. They allowed me to be near while I was entering and exiting my home.

  3. Deidre Nelson

    Yesterday whilst gardening, a dove landed on the fence near me ( I thought because I had dug up lots of worms) then today another landed on the porch rail. So beautiful and I love seeing them. I hope they or it is ok. Seems like odd behavior. I heard them chatting most of the day yesterday as I was gardening.

  4. When having a reiki massage done today I set my intentions of peace and love. When she started energy work she had mentioned I will get visualizations and that I will notice them and let them pass sort of thing. I was constantly seeing this beam of white light, a white dove that was flapping it’s wings, I would try to let go of the image like she said but the dove kept coming to the edges of my view. I never said anything during though once everything was done we talked about what happened. I mentioned a white bird and she said yes a white dove. Somehow we had visualized a dove together without speaking. Quite a trip now to read this here. Spiritual enlightenment is a journey.

  5. There’s these doves that comes to my porch almost every morning.. anytime I see them i tell myself there’s hope for me. One came straight into my living room this morning. Is there a meaning to it ?

  6. There are some days when this brown dove coos constantly in the balcony early in the morning and wakes me up…it’s exactly the days i really need sleep…they drive me insane…and every time they show up, that day is ruined by my noisy crazy neighbor😞…i dont know what does it mean…Is it a sign? Is there any meaning that explains the brown dove being like this

    1. Hailey Brophy

      Doves are usually symbols of peace and serenity. Maybe these doves are appearing to try and warn you that your peace will be disturbed by your neighbor, and that a calm and serene approach is the best path?

      I hope this helps!
      — Hailey Brophy
      Writer @ World Birds

  7. I had a big group of Dove’s come out of know where and sat on the power line above me. They were making the same sounds for like 10 minutes. Ive not ever seen this many together or heard the sounds they made. It was beautiful.. is there a specific meaning for this?

    1. What an interesting encounter! Cooing doves often indicate gentleness and peace. So many gathered together might have been a reminder to stop and smell the roses and enjoy a peaceful day.

      I hope this helps!
      — Hailey Brophy
      Writer @ World Birds

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