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

rooster standing

The ultimate symbol of the morning sun, the rooster is most recognized for its loud and proud call and its confident attitude. Roosters have been a part of humanity’s story for thousands of years. The domestication of chickens is thought to have occurred around 2000 BC, though new research suggests this may have been accomplished as early as 8000 BC. (1) This means that chickens and roosters are one of humankind’s oldest relationships. While chickens on the whole often represent prosperity, motherhood, and comfort, roosters hold very different connotations. Associated with masculinity, virility, fearlessness, and aggression, the rooster cannot be more different than its female counterpart.

Table of contents

Rooster Symbolism and Meaning

Roosters are famous for greeting the dawn with their “cock-a-doodle-doo” calls. The sound of this call has become synonymous with the break of day. Often roosters will even crow just before the sunrise, leading researchers to posit that these birds crow according to an internal clock. (2)

Roosters crow at all times of day for many reasons, but that ubiquitous morning crow has cemented these birds as symbols of sunshine, energy, early risers, and optimism. Each day is a new day and the rooster never hesitates to seize it!

rooster in front of a sunset

Roosters often serve as weather vanes atop houses, barns, and other buildings. The reason why so many weather vanes are shaped like roosters is unclear. The association of roosters with the morning is said to be a part of this tradition, as is a Medieval Pope who declared that church weather vanes should be roosters. In any case, the weather vane rooster represents vigilance, patience, and protection. (3)

The phrase “cocky” stems from the rooster or “cock.” This bird is so firmly associated with masculine lustiness, that this word originally meant “lecherous.” Nowadays, “cocky” or “cocksure” refer to the audacious overconfidence that roosters exude. (4)

Rooster Native American Symbolism

Native Americans did not generally have chickens until colonists and explorers brought them from Europe during the Age of Exploration. As a result, chickens do not appear in most Native traditions. (5)

So, to understand the role of the rooster in Native American cultures, we must examine the next best thing: turkeys.

Like the weather vane rooster, turkeys in Native American cultures have been thought of as rain spirits or as oracles capable of predicting the weather. (5)

rooster fight

The mighty turkey can, again like the rooster, also be a symbol of confidence and masculinity. Many gods exist which are characterized as turkeys, including an Aztec god associated with plagues, feasts, and revelry. (6)

Rooster Eastern Symbolism

The rooster is one of the twelve animals who make up the Chinese zodiac. Coming in tenth place in the legendary zodiac race, the rooster is said to be the sign under which active, talkative, ambitious, shrewd, and honest people are born. Alongside its many virtues, the rooster zodiac may also embody traits such as vanity, arrogance, and gullibility. (7)

People born during the year of the rooster are expected to be hard-working and motivated with kind and personable natures. The most recent rooster year was 2017, so the next year of the rooster is due in 2029. (8)

two roosters standing

In Japan, the rooster is a sacred bird closely associated with the sun goddess Amaterasu. Because the rooster is said to have coaxed the shy goddess from her hiding place and given light to the world, this bird is venerated and can be found roaming around the grounds of Shinto temples. (9)

One of the legendary “Yokai” or “strange apparitions” of Japan is a mysterious beast called the “Basan.” Basan are said to be larger than normal roosters which wander the wilderness in remote mountainous regions of Japan. The Basan’s comb and plumage resemble fire and the Basan has the incredible ability to breathe fire from its mouth. This bird is said to subsist off of charred wood. (10)

Rooster Christianity symbolism

In the Bible, roosters are largely characterized by a passage in which Jesus predicts his own betrayal by Judas and the cowardice of the disciple Peter. That passage is Mark 14:27-31:

“And Jesus said unto them, “All ye shall be offended because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.’ But after I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.” But Peter said unto Him, “Although all shall be offended, yet will I not.” And Jesus said unto him, “Verily I say unto thee that this day, even in this night, before the cock crows twice, thou shalt deny Me thrice.” But Peter spoke the more vehemently, “If I should die with Thee, I will not deny Thee in any way.” Likewise also said they all.” (11)

rooster portrait

Thus, the rooster represents Peter’s denial of Christ. The rooster in this passage is not responsible for these actions, though. It is merely a marker for the passage of time. So, the rooster represents the coming of the morning.

Many passages of the Bible refer to shepherds guarding sheep and to the congregation of believers as “the flock.” I suggest that the rooster represents this ideal and the protection of Christ. Roosters are vigilant guardians which watch over the entire flock of hens and chicks with the utmost vigilance and care. Their iconic crowing sound is often issued as a warning to protect their hens from danger. (12)

Rooster Celtic Symbolism

In the Celtic world, the rooster is an emblem of fertility associated with a number of deities. The French “Gallic” rooster is an age-old symbol of Gaul, which is modern-day France. The Romans associated Gaul with roosters because the Latin name for this bird is “Gallus.” (13)

rooster standing

So, roosters are often associated with the might of the Gallic warrior and with the national pride of France.

Many ancient Celtic deities are associated with fertility and virility. The sexual aggression of the cock is connected with some of these.

Rooster African Symbolism

In some African myths, the rooster is a hero who is responsible for separating day and night and bringing light to the world. One version of this story suggests that day and night once lived at odds with one another. Hoping the people would decide who was best, day and night asked humanity to vote on which they preferred. Exhausted from the summer sun, the people chose night. Angered, day ran and hid away from them.

The people soon began to regret their decision as they could not see in the dark, they could grow no food, and nocturnal predators kept catching them. So, the people wanted day to return. They asked the rooster, who had always treasured daybreak, to bring day back to the land. The rooster agreed and found where day was hiding. In exchange for returning light to the world, the rooster promised day that he would always greet him each morning with the enthusiasm that day deserves. (14)

rooster portrait

The Abaluyia tribe in Kenya believes the world was created by a great god named Wele Xalaba. Wele Xalaba created everything, beginning with heaven itself. He built himself a home in the heavens and then set about creating the sun, moon, and clouds. Shortly after this was done, Wele Xalaba created a gigantic red rooster who he placed amongst the clouds. Whenever Wele Xalaba’s rooster flaps its wings, lightning strikes on earth. When the great rooster crows, thunder shakes the skies. (15)

Rooster in Dreams

Rooster dreams can signify a number of positive things to come, but they can also warn us against falling prey to various foibles.

A rooster dream usually signifies protection, energy, optimism, and confidence. Dreaming of a rooster crowing in the morning is a sign that you should seize the day and make the most of your time. Dreaming of a rooster strutting amongst hens represents the importance of protecting the things that are dear to you.

Dreaming of fighting roosters is a sign that your pride may cloud your judgment. Try to remain level-headed even in situations that are high in emotion.

rooster standing

Rooster dreams may also be a sign of masculine energy. In men, such a dream can be an invigorating thing that signals one to take advantage of opportunities and embrace their strength. In women, such a dream can refer to balance and the importance of exploring all aspects of oneself.

Rooster Encounters and Omens

Encountering a rooster is often a sign that one is about to have a lucky day. Roosters greet the morning with enthusiasm and can be excellent reminders that attitude is key. Encountering a rooster at the start of your day is especially auspicious.

Encountering a rooster which is guarding its flock or feeding its hens is a sign that indicates a need to strengthen and nurture one’s close personal relationships. Romantic relationships, especially, rely on little gestures each day to remain strong and happy.

rooster and chickens

If a rooster wanders into your home or garden, it is a sign that evil energy is being driven out. Roosters are vigilant, protective, and relentless. Welcome the rooster with kindness and it will bring positivity into your space.

Rooster Mythology and Folklore

Roosters appear in the mythology of the Hindu religion in the form of the lord of Mars, Skanda, who represents masculinity. He rides a peacock and carries an emblem depicting a rooster. 

In Lithuanian Mythology, a household spirit known as the “Aitvaras” can appear as a piece of coal, a wooden peg, or even a snake. When living near humans, it often takes the shape of a rooster. Some legends state that when a black rooster lays an egg, an Aitvaras is born from it. (16)

rooster standing

The Chinese practice of Feng Shui recommends placing roosters in certain rooms in order to brighten the room and balance it.

In African mythology, Wele Xakaba created a large rooster and placed this in heaven. This huge red rooster became the source of thunder and lightning.

In Greek mythology, a young man named Alectryon, meaning “rooster” was assigned to stand guard at the door whilst the god of war, Ares, engaged in a love affair with the goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite. In the end, Alectryon fell asleep and the two unfaithful deities were caught. (17)

Rooster Spirit Animal

The rooster spirit animal is present in those who are real “go-getters.” An absolute type-A personality, the rooster pursues its ambitions with laser focus. Although the rooster is ambitious and clever, this personality type also tends to be emotional and sensitive.

People with the rooster spirit animal tend to have formidable tempers and are extremely protective over their loved ones.

The rooster spirit animal is bursting with masculine energy. Despite this, the rooster’s energy can be found in anyone who exudes confidence and optimism.

People with the rooster spirit animal don’t wait around for opportunities to come their way. Instead, they approach life with the frantic energy of someone who is hell-bent on forging their own path.

Rooster Totem Animal

The rooster totem animal represents fearlessness. Although they may not look like the fiercest of animals, roosters are known for their aggressive personalities. Cock fighting is an age old sport, now rightfully banned in much of the world, which often results in bloody carnage. The rooster should not be underestimated.

rooster standing

The rooster totem animal exists in those who are passionate, stubborn, and completely unafraid to face situations that would send others packing. The rooster may not be as strong as other animals, but this bird knows that confidence and follow-through are often more formidable weapons than claws or teeth.

Rooster Power Animal

The rooster power animal represents optimism and opportunity. The rooster reminds each of us that our fate is what we make of it. Waking up each morning is a chance to greet the day with vigor and work hard so that you can wake up the next day one step closer to your goals.

rooster standing

The rooster power animal is an especially helpful animal to call upon when you fall into a slump. Routines can be really healthy, but they can sometimes lead to burnout. The rooster power animal reminds you to check in and make sure that your routine is still contributing to the future you want. Make sure that each day has a little something to look forward to within it and you’ll look forward to the next morning that much more!

Rooster Tattoo Meaning

Rooster tattoos are a classic amongst sailors. Chinese sailors traditionally had pigs and roosters tattooed on their feet. The reason for this is debated, but may be due to a belief that the rooster and pig tattoos would be eager to reach the shore and would help the sailor swim. Some suggest that the buoyant creates in which these animals were stored also contributes to this tradition. In any case, these tattoos are intended to be a good luck charm which protects against drowning. (18)

illustration of a rooster

This tradition is quite fitting for the personality of the rooster. Whether at sea or on land, a rooster tattoo may represent good luck, protection, or positive energy.

Conclusion

Carpe diem meaning “seize the day” is often used as a slogan to remind people to make the best use of their time on earth. An alternative version of this phrase could be “cock-a-doodle-do.” The rooster’s relentless energy is the perfect reminder that each day is a new opportunity to achieve, to thrive, and to make new memories.

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5 thoughts on “Rooster Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)”

  1. I am a christian,and have been praying
    for various things and fasting. On day 41 and 42 I dreamt the same dream.
    A big hen lives its house to another where a big white rooster violently mates with her until she is drained of all energy. She immediately goes back to her house.
    Please help explain this dream to me

    1. A rooster crowing is a universal symbol of awakening. This can be an excellent chance to discover a new path or examine an opportunity that you may be inadvertently ignoring.

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

  2. i was preparing for a wedding set up at my boyfriend lodge..setting up for the function then a Black Rooster small one appear at the wedding reception floor…no bride or groom i saw and then i woke up..please what can this mean…

  3. strangest thing happened I’m an entertainer and I believe I’ve always belonged in the country music industry but never made it I decided to move to St Louis and I’m talking about right in the city I’m kind of confused about what happened this evening on the night of August 21st. Two roosters appeared in my yard just as it got dark one rooster was a black and white rooster and they started paying real close attention to my 1987 Chevy and I was about to put a transmission into it the black rooster jumped up on top of the driver’s fender and just sat there facing the windshield the white rooster tried to jump up on the same side with the black and whiterooster would not move
    So the white rooster walked around to the back passenger side fender area of the rear of my truck where there was a plastic 50 gallon garbage can without a lid the white rooster jumped up on top of that edge of the rubber 50 gallon trash can and just posted up there but before they jumped up on my truck both roosters jumped up on my deck of the outside of my porch fence railings and stood on the outside of the ledge of the porch and landed right where my feet were standing like the black and white one is trying to touch me so my dog at that time tried to nip at the rooster so I went and put my dog away the house I went to the other side of the porch in the white rooster jumped up just as the black and white rooster did on the edge of the outer side of the railing porch and stuck his head through the dividers like he wanted to touch me after several hours watching the roosters I decided to walk up to them so I walked off of my back porch and over to the truck of the driver side fender and the rooster which was the black and white one let me come very very close to him almost touching him every now and then stand up then the other rooster crowd two or three times before I was coming into the house I also went over and sat down beside the fender and make sure I had there where the white rooster was perching on the big rubber trash can up against the truck I’ve tried to look for all the answers but I just couldn’t seem to find any it’s been several hours now and they were both still in the same position the same place they were on the white rooster started growing somewhere around 2:30 or 3:00 in the morning and I think he crowed two to three times and now I can’t go to sleep it’s like they’re guarding my truck I didn’t notice them being out there until I started worrying about someone coming on my property and stealing my transmission from my old 87 Chevy so I brought the transmission in the house and the roosters are still in the same place they were and have been for hours now it’s a little after 4:00 a.m. And the roosters are still in the same spot they were if you have any answers for me please contact me by email at up_ [email protected] God bless you my name is Paul I go by J.C. also JC stands of Jesus Christ.

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