Featured photo by Sylvia Maulding
- Physical Description: Doves are medium-sized birds with short stout bodies, short necks, and short beaks. Size varies according to the species as does coloring. The mourning dove, the most common species in North America, measures about 11 inches long, with a wingspan of 18 inches and a weight of approximately 5 ounces.
- Geographic Distribution: Doves are found worldwide except in the high Arctic, Antarctica, the Sahara Desert, and other harsh places. most live in tropical or subtropical climates.
- Environment: Doves prefer woodlands, forested areas, and fields.
Myths Folklore, and Cultural Associations
Stereotypically, the dove is portrayed as white and gentle, sweet, and loving. The dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit in Christian iconography. Some iconographers show Mary being blessed by a dove at the moment of Annunciation, and Jesus was blessed by the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove at his baptism. The dove is said to be so pure that it is the one form into which Satan cannot transform himself. Doves and pigeons were the only birds suitable for sacrifice by the Hebrews, as stated in Leviticus 1:14. the dove appears as a symbol of purity on the Holy Grail in Malory’s Morte d’Arthur. In Muslim lore, a dove murmured the words of God into the ear of Muhammad.
Today the dove is a symbol of peace, often portrayed with an olive branch in its mouth. This iconography is taken from the story of Noah releasing the bird to bring back proof that there was land again somewhere and that the floodwaters were receding. The dove is also seen as representing love; it was a symbol of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, and of Venus her Roman counterpart. Lovers are said to “bill and coo” like doves. The dove is a monogamous bird, which may be the source of its connection with romantic and eternal love.
In Slavic folklore, doves were believed to conduct the souls of the dead to heaven. For the Celts, the mournful call of a dove meant the peaceful passing of someone.
Omens and Divinatory Meaning
Doves call you to regain your serenity. Do you feel off balance, or out of step with the world? Are you harried or frazzled? The dove reminds you to take a deep breath and release all your tension and stress.
The dove also urges you to look at your relationships with your partner(s), romantic, work related, or otherwise. Are you in harmony with them? Is there friction? Reach out and smooth over any rough spots. Seeing a dove may be an omen of a new relationship, or a shift in an existing one.
Doves are associated with purity and innocence. Do you feel as if life has jaded you? Try to recapture a sense of innocence, of wonder and love for the world around you. Operating constantly with a cynical worldview is exhausting. In a situation that is frustrating or upsetting to you, a dove may be encouraging you to wipe the slate clean and start again.
As a symbol of the holy Spirit, the dove is associated with the mystical fifth element of spirit. Let you sighting of a dove remind you to reconnect with the spiritual aspect of your life; accept it as a blessing.
Associated energies: Peace love, serenity, blessing, patience, grace, hope, marital happiness, purity
Associated seasons: Year round
Element associations: Air, water, earth
Color Associations: White, ivory, buff, brown, grey
REFERENCE: Birds, a Spiritual Field Guide, Explore the Symbology & Significance of These Divine Winged Messengers by Arin Murphy-Hiscock
“A dove struggling in a storm grows stronger than an eagle soaring in sunshine.”― Matshona Dhliwayo
This quote makes me reflect on how adversity can either make you or break you. It also makes me think of the beguiling saying, “The weak shall lead the strong.” The eagle is such a powerful bird and yet bald eagles for instance have been under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Doves are also in danger from hunters who hunt them for sport. It’ll be a scary day when they rise up and attack back.
“When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence…”– J.B. Phillips, a British Bible translator, translates James 1:2-5
What does endurance look like?
That past snow storm in February made me wonder how the wildlife was going to survive. I think those from Canada or Norway have looked our situation and said, “That did NOT look like a lot of snow. Negative degree weather during the winter is rather normal for us.” 🙂 Many people have died due to the extremity of conditions they were not used to in my area. Others have demonstrated their resiliency and were resourceful, adapted, and survived the ordeal. As I’m typing this though, I hear the birds chirping outside my window and the previously dead trees sprouted new leaves. The Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research was able to rescue the turtles. Sometimes, we need a little help from each other.
The other day I received a comment a collared doves, and I was so curious to listen to them. They have such a calming coo. With all the things going on in the world and my busy schedule, this is just a nice step away from any sort of stress build up!