Symbolism of the Pheasant

Written by avenefica on March 19th, 2008

Image of Pheasant from my friend Petra

Some attributes and symbolism of the pheasant include:

The pheasant is a native bird of China where it is revered for its beauty, and thought of as a solar animal.  Indeed, the Golden pheasant’s body is a shock of flaming red; its head a ruddy yellow.  So intense are these solar colors that there is some debate as to whether or not the Golden pheasant (image shown right) may be linked to the legendary phoenix.

Whatever the case, the pheasant represents yang energy and so it carries attributes of fire, life, summer, male, and action to name a few.

Also in China the pheasant is a symbol of nobility, and is associated with high-rank in political office and civil service. 

In Japan the pheasant is a divine messenger for Amaterasu, the great sun goddess.  Amaterasu is a focal point of the Shinto pantheon.  She is the ruler of the heavens, so her association with the pheasant made this creature an important symbol of power, abundance and promise.

Native American lore considered the pheasant a symbol of protection and concealment.  Presumably because regardless of their airborne capabilities, they prefer most of their time hunkered down in tall grass, concealed from sight.  Further, unlike most winged creatures, the pheasant nests on the ground rather than trees. 

Pheasants are considered symbols of sexuality because of the amazingly attractive male.  Furthermore, the male’s appearance is quite effective, and often wins him a harem of females. 

Lastly, the pheasant is a cousin of the peacock, and its symbolic attributes are similar to those of the peacock which can be found here.

Pheasants make excellent animal totems for many reasons.  Their energy stimulates sexuality, encourages creativity, and enhances energy.  I’ve gone into more detail about the symbolism of the pheasant  (including the types of people who attract pheasants as an animal air totem) here.

Post Script: Thank you Petra for this magnificent photo!

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3 Comments so far ↓

  1. Liara Covert says:

    I think its incredible how animal totems can change as we change. I wonder if you saw the movie The Golden Compass? If not, I would recommend it. You may have a unique view on the animal companions of each character in his scenario. Some people sense its a reflection of the psyche. Other people believe they are like totems, but they don’t change in the movie. They are linked with fear, rather than love, compassion, teaching and freedom.

  2. avenefica says:

    Hi Liara!
    I haven’t seen The Golden Compass, I will though, on your recommendation. It sounds intriguing….I like the suggested interplay of human/animnal energy. Thanks for the observation!

  3. Anne says:

    I was along a trail at a scenic dam site the other day and a “female” pheasant came out of the woods and crossed directly in front of me. I stopped and began talking to her and she stopped and churtled back. She began walking around me in a clockwise direction, churtling all the while. I stood there for several minutes talking with her. I began to move forward to walk on and the hair (comb) on her head stood up. I walked away and even jogged a little and she ran with me on the right side, then crossed in back of me and ran on the left side. I wasn’t sure at this point if she was angry and wanted to attack. So, I became a little fearful. After I ran/walked 20-30 yards or more, she stopped on the side of the road and watched me go. I turned around and she was standing in the distance just watching me. I waved at her and continued on my way. The more I think about this incident, the more I realize she was some form of animal spirit bringing me a message…any thoughts on this “female” pheasant?