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
- Rooster Native American Symbolism
- Rooster Eastern Symbolism
- Rooster Christianity Symbolism
- Rooster Celtic Symbolism
- Rooster African Symbolism
- Rooster in Dreams
- Rooster Encounters and Omens
- Rooster Mythology and Folklore
- Rooster Spirit Animal
- Rooster Totem Animal
- Rooster Power Animal
- Rooster Tattoo Meaning
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!
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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 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.
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)
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.