Symbolic Meaning of Doves

Written by avenefica on November 6th, 2007

I’ve been asked about symbolic meaning of doves.  The following is my response:

Primary symbolic meaning of doves stem in ancient cultures due to their voices.  The dove’s cooing has lulled the ears of humanity for hundreds of years, and as such finds meanings such as comfort and reassurance.

The Native American (Pueblo, specifically) believed that the cooing of the Dove could coax the rain from the skies.  In fact, they believed the appearance of the Dove was a sign of rain to come.  Or, if during a dry spell, the Pueblo believed the Dove would lead them to water.

Other cultures such as the Ancient Celts, Picti, and Gauls believed the voice of the Dove was a mourning call.  When its cry was heard, this indicated a soul was passing from the earth in peace.

The Slavs believed the Dove carried the souls of the deceased to heaven. Gypsy folklore believes that Doves are soft, subtle messengers – winging their messages of love to our hearts from the spirit world.

In Christian traditions, the dove is considered a symbol of divinity as it is the representation of the Christ.  Also in ancient Christian lore the dove is considered a symbol for mother, specifically their virgin mother Mary.

By far, my research has lead me to conclude that the primary symbolism of the Dove is that of patience and tenderness.   Their voice along with the soft hue of their bodies, and the tender glow of their eyes – all lead to thoughts of softness, tenderness and symbols of love.

Please note that ultimately, symbolic interpretations are up to you to determine.  I can only give you traditional symbolism, cultural perceptions, and my own interpretations.   

That said, I’ve come to understand that our animal friends are just as willing and able to communicate as we are, but we must be open to their message.   Therefore, I would encourage you to invoke the spirit of the animals  directly and inquire as to the purpose of its appearance in your life. 

And lastly, because of all these softly inspiring attributes, the most withstanding meaning of Dove is hope.

More pages of interest for your contemplative moseying:

Dove Symbolism (full page on Whats-Your-Sign.com)

Bird Totems

Birds in Dreams

Celtic Bird Signs

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48 Comments so far ↓

  1. yehuda sarfati says:

    this information is completely a myth a dove symbolises an angel.

  2. avenefica says:

    Thank you for your observation.

  3. betty says:

    My lover and I were discussing whether we should stay together or not. At that moment a lone dove appeared at the window. I started crying. There’s a dove, only one. At that moment as we both looked moist eyed at the lone dove, another dove swept out of no where and the dove on the window sill took it’s place beside the second dove and flew away. Was this a sign? Does it say we should stay together or was it saying someone else would be coming into one of our lives?

  4. avenefica says:

    Hi Betty,

    Soft, gentle, loving, and trusting – doves are drawn to these energies.

    Rather than ask if the dove is a sign to take action, delve deeper into the qualities the dove represents.

    When we immerse ourselves in the higher energies of love, peace, and forgiveness – our answers fall before our feet.

    My love and light to you,
    A.

  5. Am francis by name meaning free and so far the doves ar always free so i belong to the free world which DOVEs also encounter. Am a DOVE cos am free from affliction.

  6. Maggie says:

    I’m cool

  7. Liset says:

    Doves are pure sent from GOD, the most respectfull animal there is. The Holy Spirit sent from above with Light and Divine Love.

  8. avenefica says:

    Hi Liset, Thank you for your observation.
    Namaste,
    A.

  9. Mary says:

    A White Dove was found in the back yard. It was wrapped in a towel and placed in a shed. Next day it had died – What does this symbolize?

  10. donna says:

    On saturday many doves appeared on my front porch. I live in ny and it was such a cold day. this has never happened before. my dad is very sick right now and i need to know what this represents in this time of saddness.

  11. icanrel8 says:

    Donna,
    doves mean hope and uplifting promise. front doors are symbolic of new beginnings and openings. how many doves were there? what do they mean to you? what feeling did you have when they appeared to you? they must mean something importent to you, or you wouldn’tve asked the question in the first place.

  12. avenefica says:

    Hi Donna,
    “icanrel8″ has a good point, and I too would encourage you to mine the golden nuggets of meaning this experience holds for you. ‘Tis true, doves offer energetic matches to hope, promise and higher inspiration. They also speak to us of rejuvination, and trasformation. Again, I agree with Icanrel8, front doors are symbolic of introductions, new openings, beginnings. The meaning is within you Donna, contemplate the energy that surrounds you, and the purpose of this very special message that has come to you, and only you.
    My thoughts are with you and your father.
    Namaste & bright blessings,
    A.

  13. keith says:

    One week out of hospital for open heart surgery, under a oak tree I had a dove follow me to a chair and when i sat down it flew up to the arm of the chair and walked on my arm. A table was near and this dove stayed on the table and would walk up my arm allowing me to touch its feet and wings. The Dove even took water from a bottle. After 30 minutes it flew off. To see if their was a history of this happening I called the owner of the property who said nope never happened before, he also paints murals on bikes and he said he just had a bike come into his shop that had artwork on the back fender stating,”From the wings of doves, God will send his Love”…….There was my answer..I took it as a get well card from God.

  14. avenefica says:

    Hi Keith,
    Thanks for sharing this inspirational story with us! Incredible, and a true testimony that we’re all (human and non-human alike) in this elegant experience of life together. If I may, in return, share something with you: Symbolism of the Oak tree. It’s a Celtic perspective, but valid nonetheless.
    Thanks again,
    Namaste,
    A.

  15. The Dove says:

    I like the symbolism !

    In Judaism, Christianity, and Islam a white dove is generally a sign for peace. The Torah, The Old Testament and The Qur’an describe a story in which a dove was released by Noah after the Great Flood in order to find land. The dove came back carrying an olive branch in its beak, telling Noah that the Great Flood had receded and there was land once again for Man. (Genesis 8:11).

    The motif can also represent “hope for peace” and even a peace offering from one man to another, as in the phrase “extend an olive branch”. Often, the dove is represented as still in flight to remind the viewer of its role as messenger.

  16. Frank says:

    I had a dream about my ex from many years ago and this upset me for days, when finally I broke down in tears and pleaded with god to send me a sign if she still cared about me. About an hour and a half later a dove landed in a tree near to where I was sitting, looked at me, and bobbed his head over and over. I knew immidiately what this meant, here was my sign. It gave me great comfort and renewed confidence. I am now going to follow up on my lost love.

  17. Therese says:

    I was stopped at a stoplight when a single grey dove landed on the front hood of my car. It just stood there, and when the light turned green I slowly proceeded forward, and it then flew off. What does that mean?

  18. Jay says:

    Can a dove also mean hope?

  19. avenefica says:

    Hi Jay,
    You are absolutely right. The dove IS a symbol of hope. I added a sentence to the post, as it certainly needs mentioning. Thanks much!

  20. MV says:

    Hi there,

    Hope you would be able to assist in the meaning of below:

    Two evenings ago I dreamt of a flock of doves flying towards our apartment. For some reason I tried to close our bedroom window to try and keep them out, however just at that moment they were at the window and a few managed to get in before I could close the window. I then woke up.

    Yesterday I emailed my aunt (my mother’s sister) to advise her that I transferred the money for my grandmother’s old age home as I do every month in helping with her rent. My aunt replied that other family of our’s visited my grandmother over the weekend and she is not doing very well.

    Then today, I was driving home from work (on a busy highway), calling my aunt (same one that emailed me yesterday) on my handsfree kit. Just as she answered a dove flew infront of my car and crashed in to the top bit of my front car window. I looked in my rearview mirror and all I could see is feathers flying everywhere. There are still some feathers stuck between the window & where the roof start.

    All of this left me wondering if these appearances of doves in my dream & real life in such a short period of time could have a symbolic meaning, and if so what it could be? Trying to “keep doves out by shutting the window” and even a dove crashing in to my car does not seem like they are symbols of “peace” at all???

  21. DrDove says:

    I came to this site by accident. However, “accident” more likely means meaningful coincidence in this case. I was saddened to read MV’s post. It suggests to me that people are attempting to express their love (and even need) for MV, yet he or she is rejecting these gestures. There are more important things than rent checks and cell phones. A personal visit to the grandmother would in all likelihood be healing for both parties. Consider taking her a gift of something white.

  22. obalola says:

    A little while ago, a young woman walked up to me, she seemed happy, and gave me a small plastic dove and three small ?rocks and told me to pray for world peace. She left the things with me and walked away.
    She told me to keep the things somewhere in my house. Does this mean anything? Should I do what she said? I am a little concerned. Any suggestions?

  23. Destiny says:

    i caught a live dove in my dream they were 2 but i caught one on my palm, the dove later flow from my palm due to lack of carelesness…2 one morning i was walking outside my back door and i almost heat a dove with my foot and it flow…..what does that mean

  24. pfs says:

    A gray dove flew into my back sliding door this morning at 9:44AM and fell to ground on it’s side. It’s right eye looked hurt (blood) and after 15 minutes it straightened itself out and laid upright then moved (crawled) towards the wall of the house. I called the rescue group in our community and they came to give her antibiotics and check her out. I don’t know how she is. What does this mean?

  25. Liz says:

    I was parked in a parking lot and had just completed a telephone conversation had turned on the engine to head home when I was aware of something on my front car windshield. It was a single grey dove which looked quite comfortable. I started to open the door to shoo it away before I drove off, but it jumped onto my canvass top and then flew off into a nearby tree. This has been on my mind so much and I am wondering if it has a meaning. Anyone know?

  26. I was leaving work one day in a tree were I park were fifty or more doves.. When I walked up some flew off but the majority stayed and started cooing..I stayed there for a few minutes maveling them they just seemed to look at me cooing as if the were trying to tell me something…Im a Christian person who strives on doing whats right and letting people be them selves..I had been getting a lot of flack for people who think im fake but I am what I am what you see is what you get..This gave me hope to keep pressing on im a leader not a follower..I choose God…

  27. Tatiana says:

    Hello, I love your site! I had a question..A few months back I was reading up on what the dove symbolizes, and I came across a page that said -aside from it being holy and motherly- “a one winged dove symbolizes the passage to death” or something along those lines. Is that true? I really like that idea.

  28. need answers says:

    My step – father just passed but he was more of a real father to me than my biological father ever has been or ever will be. Any way he just passed very unexpectedly just prior to his passing we had a string of bad luck that is still continuing. I have recently seen 6 doves that come and roost in the trees in my back yard. They seem to be here every day is there a message they are trying to bring me?

  29. Tracy Moury says:

    On June 30,2009 my Mom passed away after being ill for many years. Last spring around March/April 2010 a dove showed up at my back porch. Made a nest beside my door in a wall hanging. She stayed all summer and to our surprise allowed us to pet her. She had babies that we got to watch grow and fly away. Just today she came back to the same next. A year later. We are amazed and so happy to see her again. She has brought us such joy.

  30. joyce a. scalla says:

    what does it mean when you see a dove, lands on the side walk and walks right next to you??

  31. carol miller says:

    we have 2 doves that have been here in our trees cooing for 2weeks now my friends have noticed them too very rare here for them to be here.in this part of of the state its cold.

  32. braxton withers says:

    hi, just yesterday my mom told me that while she was at my aunts house two doves landed on the gate and my mom aunt both said ” mourning doves ” at the same time. My mom and aunt and uncle and grandma have been fighting for sometime. Also two of my family members died from cancer. We then both concluded that the two doves were them, and that they were trying to get my mom and aunt to be friends again… I think it succeeded.

  33. Mary says:

    on mother’s day my mom was sad that i am getting old and still not married. her other 2 childern were married with children and i am the only one left. after dinner i went to my room crying for 2 hours because i felt that i am a disappointment to my mother and didn’t know how to please her. I couldn’t believe that on mothers’ day i made her sad. I finally fell asleep on my soaked pillow and when i woke up i was still in tears. i got up and headed to the gym and when i opened the front door there were 2 grey doves in front of me on the step. They didn’t fly away until my neice came running. It seemed that they have been there all night as the step was filled with their droppings. then i looked to the side and saw $5 on the ground. i was shcoked, all this at my front door, what does it mean?

  34. Danny Dietz says:

    About 2 weeks ago I was headed up the hill in my van and just out the passenger window a white dove appeared and flew in perfect tandem with me for what seemed like several minutes. We would turn our heads and look at each other as though we were trying to carry on a conversation.So I’m watching this dove stay with me around the twists and turns of the mountain road all the while fascinated with the way it looked in flight and dumbfounded as to why it was traveling with me.
    Well, 2 days ago my wife and I learned that the baby we were expecting died in utero at 4 mos. The doctor estimated that it died about 2 weeks ago. I believe the little guy was telling his daddy I’ii be waiting for you in heaven. Oh, and the road we were traveling on lead to Paradise, Ca.

  35. Mike says:

    We live in the country on a lake, pretty rural area in northern VA. A couple weeks ago, a white dove showed up on our porch. My wife though maybe it was hurt and took it to an old duck pen that we have. We’ve never seen a white dove around here before. She tried to let it out and it hung around and then just went back in the pen. She lets it out every day and then it goes back in before sunset every night. Now she feeds it as well, has gotten very used to us. Any thoughts on symbolism of this?

  36. Dafni says:

    After reading all above,I feel the need to express my firm belief in the divine symbolism of the “Dove”.In my life the turtle dove appeared when I was 9, my dog Astrid kept on killing doves and placing them on our front door mat, that year my father committed suicide,since then when ever a dead dove has made an appearance in my life wether killed by a cat or natural death , It is always followed by an end something ends ,a life,a job a friendship.When I was pregnant with my son a turtle dove made her nest above my window,I knew instinctively that everything would be ok.
    Sometimes when I am driving, a dive cross flies the front of my car, I always slow down because I tend to be a fast driver.Recently, doves have been very present in my life again, I lost my brother and acceptance of his death is very difficult because we had very bad communication between us.Yesterday two dove flew in and out of my house ,I felt as if my soul lifted…..sometimes the universe send us messages ,we should all try to open our love,hope and belief in something greater then us.
    Light and Love to all of you.

  37. Jewel Storck says:

    As I was drifting off to sleep last night I saw a gray, what seemed to be an exausted, dove fly and land on my head. I picked it up and went to set it out the bedroom window onto the roof. Before I got to the roof I freaked out and woke up. I had only laid down for 45 min. I had two people on my mind. One My daughter who is not in my home. Two a friend with whom I’ve been intamate with. I am courious as to what this could mean. Any help would be greatlly apprieciated. I have looked for help on several sites and found very little to help. Thank You.

  38. Alex says:

    One of my best friends had surgery recently to remove a brain tumor. She’s only 12. The entire time she was in the operating room, a white dove was outside both of her parents’ (they’re divorced) houses, in front of window in plain view. The doves didn’t fly away until the surgery was complete. It was successful and she’s healthier than ever again.

  39. Taylor says:

    Almost a year ago my dog died after a brutal attack from another dog.He lived for 3 day after the attack. right after we buried him a dove flew into our backyard and stayed there for about 10 min. This had to be one of the most symbolic things ive ever seen.

  40. Codie says:

    10 years ago, I had a dream in which I was with my mother and my grandmother (who has now passed), and we were trapped in a war zone. I can vividly remember the bombs and fire, the helecopters zooming above us. Terrified we were running as fast as we could to escape. Then the air was still and everything was silent, and light. I look up above me, and a great white dove descended down, and rested on my shoulder. I can still hear her whisper my name into my ear, where I wake up, sobbing. Without a doubt in my mind, this was the Holy Spirit intervening in my life, bringing me peace and promise. Ever since then, I have doves all around me. If I am having a particularly bad day where I just want to break down and cry, somehow, a the dove comes into my life at that moment and brings me joy.

  41. btaylor says:

    Hi. I was searching for answers on my dove this morning. My little girl is 6yrs old playing her games online in the kitchen when I went to recycle on my balcony. We both saw the dove flew by so close to the living room window. Then it took off. I was pretty amazed she knew what a dove look like. It wasn’t a white one. I just wanted to know what that means. Thanks so much for the understanding on Doves. :)

  42. Nancy says:

    THIS ONE IS AWSOME!
    On the day of my father’s wake, March 18, 2012, I saw TWO BEAUTIFUL MOURNING DOVES together walking carefree around the colony of CATS in the parking lot that I feed! I NEVER see any birds walking around the cats! My mother died 42 years ago, my father never remarried.. my mother was the love of his life. When I saw the two morning doves, I instantly thought that a message was being sent to me that my father is now together with his wife (my mother!).

    I searched for the meaning of this symbolizim (see link)http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_do_two_doves_together_symbolize

    and this is what it said:

    “DOVES are a rare breed. they choose ONE mate to be with for their lifetime. If the other dies (like my mother) the one left will not find another mate. They will spend the rest of their lives alone. (like my dad for 42 years1) Therefore the SYMBOL OF TWO DOVES MEAN an everlasting LOVE.
    When I saw these two beautiful mourning doves walking carefree around all those cats… I knew my dad was finally with my mother!
    and it gave me a sense of peace when I went to the WAKE that afternoon.

  43. Patti says:

    In the middle of a 12 year breakup with my spouse and a dove has built a nest in a ceramic sun’s palms wall plaque that I have mounted by the front door. This morning her partner was with her, sitting on a very large white egg.
    I am hoping this symbolizes I am moving int he right direction.

  44. alison connolly says:

    This morning a beautiful white dove flew into my garden .It was quite a surprise as i have many birds coming regularily but never doves.It was searching for food so i threw some nice seedy bread out and it ate it like it was starving.It wasnt at all scared of me and came right up and around my feet.It stayed for a long time and seemed when it was full that it just wanted to rest.It kept closing its eyes.I thought it would fly away but it has settled on my rooftop to rest.I think its just lost and exhausted..but nevertheless it made me feel very happy.I hope it finds its way home .

  45. Sandy Dean says:

    I seen 13 doves on a cold winter morning (this was way out in the country) in February, in Northern N.Y., that night I got a phone call my father had died in N.C., 7 years later I was in S.C. in July I seen 8 white doves I got a phone call that my beloved grandmother had died in Vt.

  46. Gina Dolecezza says:

    Thank you for your website I just happen to stumble upon it and I love it!

  47. Noelle says:

    Thank you for the symbolic knowledge pertaining to doves. About 2 weeks ago, town workers cut down a beautiful tree in my front yard which was just about to flower after such a long and stressful winter. I was very saddened and upset, but the tree was on town property and they legally could do such a terrible thing. Two doves remained on the wires for hours over the space whee the tree had lived. I hoped the workers hadn’t destroyed their nest, but could only think they had. Well, last night while gardening in the front yard, I noticed only one dove perched on the wire. That’s because the other one was snuggled in her nest right next to my front door. Finding her filled my heart wih happiness. Tending to worry, I wanted my friend and I to put a wire fence around this smaller tree so they would be safe. Geno said that the nest is well hidden, birds know what to do, they will be safe. We are blessed to have a dove family right at our front door.

  48. Kat says:

    Thank you for your lovely site. I often reference it when I see some natural marvel and sense it is a meaningful occurence brought to my attention as a messenge of something or other.

    I just visited a beautiful little old medieval chapel, named St.Catherine’s- my name is Catherine- which sat on a hill overlooking a sea on an ancient pagan site. Inside the abandoned chapel I encountered two white doves who waited for me to enter the chapel and open the door, after which they flew into the chapel and I discovered they had a nest with two baby doves that they were feeding. It was a site that was possibly originally linked with ancient rituals connected to death and burial.

    I wondered if there was any symbolism connected with a family of doves or four doves?

    Many thanks

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