Guinea fowl are commonly domesticated birds that originate from Africa and are still found in the wild there. Although they are kept much less commonly than chickens, guinea fowl are beloved by many farmers for their tendency to eat harmful ticks, and to guard and protect their home and flock against predators. (1) Indeed, there are many who see the guinea fowl as a farmers’ best friend of sorts- devouring pests and safeguarding chickens from hungry wildlife.
The guinea fowl also has an interesting claim to fame due to a study published in 2019. In this study it was determined that Vulturine Guinea Fowl are capable of amicable coexistence not just within their own flocks but between multiple flocks of birds. This level of cooperation is typically only seen in highly intelligent animals. In spite of the Vulturine Guinea Fowl’s particularly small brain, these birds are able to form, identify, and maintain complex cooperative relationships with guinea fowl from numerous different groups. Previously, such behavior was thought to be limited exclusively to large-brained mammals. (2)
Brave enough to take on predators, attentive enough to rid its flock of parasites, and cooperative enough to form multi-level social bonds; the guinea fowl may not look like much but this bird is much more than meets the eye. If the guinea fowl is your spirit or totem animal, or if you simply want to learn more about the symbolism, mythology, and folklore of this unique bird, read on to discover the wisdom of the guinea fowl.
Guinea Fowl Symbolism and Meaning
The guinea fowl is foremost a symbol of protection and motherhood. This is due to the fierce courage that the guinea fowl exhibits as a guard animal, and the gentle care with which these birds tend to their flocks.
Additionally, the guinea fowl represents cooperation, communication, and kindness. Guinea fowl form complex social relationships with one another in order to survive and thrive together. They are also often described as incredibly vocal and loud.
Due to their tendency to eradicate ticks, lowering rates of tick-borne diseases, the guinea fowl can be associated with medicine and healing.
Finally, guinea fowl are often associated with fertility.
Guinea Fowl African Symbolism
Among certain East African cultures, it is considered to be dire bad luck if a guinea fowl crosses one’s path on the day that a funeral ritual is meant to be performed. (3)
Many sub-Saharan African cultures see the guinea fowl as a hard working bird who represents resilience, endurance, and productivity. (4)
Based on the role of the guinea fowl in several myths, this bird can be connected with cleverness, cooperation, protection, and justice.
Guinea Fowl Christianity Symbolism
In Genesis, God creates the fauna of the earth: “And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.” (5)
Although “fowl” in the bible is generally used to mean birds of all kinds, this quote is still useful in associating guinea fowl with their possible biblical meanings. In this case, guinea fowl could likely be seen to represent prosperity, balance, and the natural blessings of the earth.
Guinea Fowl in Dreams
Dreaming of a guinea fowl is usually a sign of contentment and good fortune.
If you dream of a calling guinea fowl, this may be a warning that you have forgotten or failed to notice something important. It may also represent a need to stick up for yourself.
Dreaming of a group of guinea fowl can be a sign that you need to be vulnerable and put your trust in others in order to forge the meaningful relationships that you crave.
To dream of eating a guinea fowl represents an upcoming financial opportunity which should not be neglected.
Guinea Fowl Encounters and Omens
Encountering a guinea fowl often means that the guinea fowl has a message to convey to you.
One possible meaning of a guinea fowl encounter is that negative energy is draining your spirit and preventing you from achieving your goals. This is because the guinea fowl eats parasites. If a guinea fowl is drawn to you then it may be sensing a parasitic drain on your soul.
A guinea fowl encounter may also occur as an inspirational force to bring you courage. Guinea fowl often remind us that no matter what we’re up against, bravery and grit can carry us through the fiercest of storms.
Finally, because domestic guinea fowl have a habit of laying their eggs within multiple hidden nests, a guinea fowl encounter may be a reminder to seek out unexpected blessings and take heart in knowing that your next victory may be just around the corner.
Guinea Fowl in Mythology & Folklore
Guinea fowl feature in a few different mythological sources, although they are only endemic to Africa. This is due in part to the spread of folklore across cultures and in part to the widespread domestication of the guinea fowl.
One of the most famous stories featuring the guinea fowl originates from the 1883 collection of folk stories entitled “Nights With Uncle Remus.” This story collection is responsible for a number of Aesop-like fables from Africa becoming popular folk stories in the United States. This particular story, “Why the Guinea Fowls are Speckled,” tells the story of Sis Cow and a large flock of guinea fowl. Sis Cow is grazing alongside the guinea fowl when she becomes the target of a hungry lion. Fearing for her calf, she stands her ground and points her horns at the feline predator. Inspired by her strength, the guinea fowl blind the lion by kicking dust into its eyes. Sis Cow is grateful to the guinea fowl and offers to reward them however they would like. The guinea fowl ask her to camouflage their iridescent feathers. Sis Cow does this by flicking milk onto the birds with her tail until each one is covered in speckles. (6)
Guinea Fowl are extremely significant in many African cultures. They are widespread across Africa both as wild birds and as domesticated livestock. Their cultural importance is rivaled only by their vital role in ecology and agriculture.
One Zimbabwean fable featuring the guinea fowl treats this bird as a cunning trickster who rewards the hard working and punishes the malicious. In this story, an industrious and good-natured woman named Pitipiti loves her husband dearly, but has slowly lost his affection due to her inability to produce children. Because of this, Pitipiti’s husband weds a new wife who immediately begins bearing offspring. The new wife sneers at Pitipiti and treats her very cruelly. Pitipiti is grateful, though, because she still has a tract of land to farm for herself. One day, whilst farming, a guinea fowl asks Pitipiti if she’ll adopt him as her son. Pitipiti agrees, but only if it is kept a secret. She and the guinea fowl grow fond of one another, and when the guinea fowl sees the new wife’s cruel behavior, he devises a plan. He sings a song to call all of the other guinea fowl to eat the new wife’s crops. In a panic, the new wife kills the guinea fowl and cooks him for dinner. She and Pitipiti’s husband eat the guinea fowl, but soon after begin to hear its song from within their bellies. Frightened, they try to cut the guinea fowl out of their bellies. The guinea fowl emerge, and return to eating the crops whilst the husband and wife die of their injuries. Impressed by her clever son, many men offer to marry Pitipiti and work the land with her. (7)
Guinea fowl are believed to have been domesticated by ancient Egyptians, and appear on the walls of the Painted Tomb at Hierakonpolis. (8) It can be assumed, based on the meanings of other birds in Egyptian mythology, that guinea fowl would have likely been associated with the soul and the realm of the sky.
Due to a particular myth, the guinea fowl, particularly the Helmeted Guinea Fowl, is associated with the Greek goddess Artemis. Artemis is a virgin goddess associated with the hunt, nature, wild animals, chastity, and the moon. (9) Although guinea fowl are endemic to Africa, they were already a common domestic animal in ancient Greece.
In this particular story, a heroic hunter named Meleager was in Calydon when the Calydonian king scorned the goddess Artemis by refusing to offer a proper sacrifice to her. Enraged, Artemis set a fearsome boar, known as the Calydonian boar, upon Calydon. Many hunters tried to fight this boar, but only Meleager succeeded in slaying it. Artemis, was still angry though, and she inspired the men of Calydon and the demonic race of the Curetes to war over the skin of the slain boar. In the course of this war, Meleager slew his own uncles. Because of this, Meleager’s own mother cursed him to die. Upon Meleager’s death, his sisters wept and mourned without end. Pitying their torment, which she herself had indirectly brought about, Artemis transformed the sisters of Meleager into Helmeted Guinea Fowl. She placed these guinea hens on the island of Leros and forbid her followers from eating them. (10)
The scientific name of the Helmeted Guinea Fowl is “Numida meleagris” after the story of Meleager and his sisters. (11)
Guinea Fowl Spirit Animal
If the guinea fowl is your spirit animal it means that you’re probably a deeply nurturing person who feels happiest when protecting and caring for others.
People with the guinea fowl as their spirit animal are social butterflies who always try to see the best in others. They are usually gregarious and outspoken with a tendency to be a bit dramatic. People with the guinea fowl as their spirit animal treat everyone like their own family.
If the guinea fowl is your spirit animal, you may find that you don’t always make the safest choices. For people with this spirit animal, recklessness and courage are a double-edged blade. It is important that people with this spirit try to be realistic and take appropriate cautions.
Guinea Fowl Totem Animal
People with the guinea fowl as their totem animal are naturally born healers. They may gravitate towards healing and caretaking professions such as medicine or nursing.
The guinea fowl totem is strongly associated with medicine because of the guinea fowl’s positive health effects on the flock. In addition, people with this totem animal tend to have high empathy and emotional intelligence. They are very in tune with the emotions of others, and so find healing to be a natural use for their gifts.
People who have the guinea fowl as their totem animal may struggle due to their emotional sensitivity. Although this sensitivity is a strength, it may also lead them to be easily hurt and to feel all of their emotions with extreme intensity and passion.
Guinea Fowl Power Animal
The power of the guinea fowl is cleansing and renewal. The guinea fowl’s power is most useful in situations that cause significant spiritual or physical fatigue.
People who harness the power of the guinea fowl can endure almost anything thanks to the spiritual rejuvenation that the guinea fowl brings. Although it may not be painless, call upon the guinea fowl to help you drain out the negative influences from your life.
Guinea Fowl Tattoo Meaning
A guinea fowl tattoo may be a symbol of protection, prosperity, fertility, or courage.
A guinea fowl tattoo may also represent emotional intelligence, sociability, or communication.
The guinea fowl may resemble your run-of-the-mill chicken, but this feathered fighter is full of surprises. Be it on the farm or the savannah, the guinea fowl is chock full of bravery and is never afraid to stand up for its flock. Furthermore, this bird’s small brain contains untold social genius. The cooperative nature of the guinea fowl is unmatched by all but the smartest of mammals.
If, like the Greeks, Egyptians, and countless African cultures, the guinea fowl is an inspiration to you, then take strength from this bird’s indomitable spirit. Although we cannot say for certain whether they came from Sis Cow’s milk, this bird has most certainly earned its spots!