Pigeon Symbolism and Meaning Explained (2022 Updated)
From Trafalgar Square in London to New York City, and everywhere in between, pigeons rule the world. They are one of the most common birds and they have been around for centuries, inspiring different cultures and religions. As a result, pigeons are steeped in mystery and have different hidden meanings depending on who you ask. Whether you like birds or think of pigeons as pests, you’ll be surprised by the symbolism behind them!
Our guide will take you through pigeon symbolism, to help you understand what a pigeon totem could be indicating or discover if your spirit animal is a pigeon.
Pigeons – Birds or Rodents?
Pigeons are a subspecies of a group of birds, including all manner of pigeon and dove species. The common domestic pigeon that we usually keep as pets or see in the wild, is called the rock pigeon. It comes in numerous different feather colors and patterns.
Some people love pigeons, keeping them as pets, while others view them as pests. In cities, pigeons are more likely to considered pests due to their droppings which cause damage to pavements, roads, and property. Furthermore, feral pigeons can also be carriers of disease.
On the other hand, pigeons out in the countryside may be considered game – meaning they are caught and eaten!
And one final note – a pigeon and a dove are not the same. They are different subspecies from the same family group. Their symbolism and meaning overlap, but definitely isn’t the same! Doves are synonymous with peace, love, and harmony. They are also far more significant in numerous religions – although the pigeon has a place too.
Pigeons have been featured in many films and books. And don’t be put off by Hitchcock’s The Birds. Pigeons have been portrayed as heroic in many films, and quite empty-headed in others – which is ironic as these birds are actually quite intelligent.
From delivering messages to assisting scientists, pigeons can be intelligent creatures. Furthermore, they are very good survivors.
The main characteristics and messages that pigeons symbolise are:
- Survival and inner strength,
- Communication and feeling comfortable in a large social circle,
- Determination, persistence, and eventual victory,
- Fertility and prosperity,
- Mercy and forgiveness,
- Harmony and the freedom to fly.
Doves, on the other hand, lean more towards peace and love.
Pigeons don’t just survive in the wild, they can thrive with very little. They multiple fast and seem to survive despite the odds – which is why they can symbolize both fertility/prosperity and inner strength.
Pigeon Meanings In…
Depending on where you see the pigeon or feel the pigeon, the meaning can be different. Context matters too, especially when you analyze pigeons in your dreams!
In dreams, the pigeon often represents optimism, opportunities, and creativity – usually in relation to a social aspect of your life.
Sometimes the pigeon will represent a friend or relative, or some action relating to them.
A stationary pigeon might be a reminder to check in with your social circle, or a sign that someone close to you needs your help to achieve harmony or your mercy. It can also be a sign that you need to focus more on a person in your life – draw from the pigeon’s determination and prosperity to help turn things around.
The actions of the pigeon can also be significant:
- Flying away – a person in your life may soon leave or harmony will become unbalanced.
- Flying towards or around – you long for freedom from a specific person or circumstance.
- Feeding – generally a negative sign. It can mean you are helping someone who doesn’t need help, or someone is taking advantage of your mercy and forgiveness.
- Chasing away pigeons or shooing them away – this can mean you are rejecting your pigeon spirit animal (see below) or are failing to live up to one of the pigeon’s symbols:
- You are ignoring social circles,
- You are giving up on something or someone instead of persevering,
- You refuse to show mercy or forgive someone in your life.
- Killing or shooting pigeons – you are going to lose someone in your social circle, probably on purpose or as the result of a heated argument.
While pigeons can be a sign of freedom, it’s the dove that usually resembles freedom, peace, love and harmony in your dreams. More often than not, the pigeon relates to more down-to-earth communication and social aspects of your life.
As tattoos, pigeons usually fall into two categories:
- Realism tattoos that admire the pigeon as a pet or as your spirit animal,
- Symbolistic cartoon pigeon tattoos that are accompanied by other symbols.
We’ve seen pigeons holding drinks, wearing hats and crowns, and even umbrellas in tattoos. These are usually personal, but also kind of cheeky and humorous. Their meaning is often light-hearted and personal to the man or woman with the tattoo.
Other pigeon tattoos that resemble deeper meanings tend to be flying or as part of a sleeve. A pigeon with a sunset or flower behind it is quite popular. You might also see names woven into the tattoo design – perhaps that person lost a loved one who had a pigeon spirit animal.
Like most tattoos, pigeon tattoo meanings could be linked to their general symbolism but are more like to just be very personal.
Have you ever thought of an animal, for example a pigeon, and then for the next week you see and hear things related to pigeons everywhere? This could be an animal totem. And it’s not just about walking past the same pigeon-popular park every morning. It also includes people talking about them in conversation, popping up in books, TV and films, and pretty much anywhere else in your life.
When you experience a pigeon totem like this, it can be a sign that you should take note of. Generally, the pigeon totem is a guide that comes to you when:
- Someone in your life is taking advantage of your mercy and forgiveness,
- You need to revaluate your social circle and maybe even expel betrayers,
- You have an opportunity to grow, show kindness, and be patient – with great rewards.
The pigeon can be a guiding animal. As a bird, it is a symbol of freedom as it can fly away. It also is a symbol of perseverance and hard work. But above all, the pigeon is a symbol of survival. The pigeon totem has likely appeared because you need guidance to take you from a dark place in your life to a harmonious place.
Your pigeon totem will show you what you need to do to prosper. Ignoring the pigeon totem and taking no action could result in stagnation or even disaster. The pigeon knows how to survive – will you listen to its advice?
Your spirit animal embodies who you are, heart and soul. If your spirit animal is a pigeon, you likely have these traits:
- Positivity even when the world is against you,
- Generous, kind-hearted and ready to forgive,
- Determined and persistent (and sometimes stubborn),
- Social and “up for anything”,
- A true survivor who generally plays their cards well.
Although the pigeon is a common bird around the world, people with the pigeon spirit animal have some admirable and uncommon traits. These people tend to make good parents and are amazing friends. They are a hardworking and positive force in the world. When you ask for a favor or want to go on an adventure, someone with a pigeon spirit animal will be ready to go with you!
The pigeon spirit animal also knows when to show mercy and forgiveness. These are kindhearted people and often loyal. However, they are also very persistent and determined. When they have a goal in mind or a specific idea, they are relentless in their approach to it. Some people may interpret this as stubbornness.
When disaster or discord occurs, the person with the pigeon spirit animal will still be standing when the dust clears. They may lose from time to time, but the pigeon is a survivor and, in the end, prosperity and fertility are destined for them.
Pigeons in Religion and Culture
The common domestic pigeon, as well as doves and all the other pigeon varieties around the world, have been with us for centuries. Although only brought to America from Europe in the 17th century, they’ve been inspiring ancient cultures elsewhere since records began.
You can find pigeons depicted in scrolls and paintings that have survived from ancient Egypt. Pigeons were a common site along the Nile and played an integral role for the people in Egypt around this time.
For Egyptians, pigeons were a source of food and also highly prized for their droppings which were used as fertilizer. The pigeons were kept in pigeon towers, which are those amazing tall buildings will all the holes in them.
Furthermore, it’s said that Ramses III gave 57,810 pigeons to the Temple of Amun. While priests were forbidden from eating pigeons, it was perfectly fine to give them as gifts to the gods. Although the pigeon wasn’t a sacred animal in ancient Egypt culture, it was definitely an important creature.
Don’t you see all creatures in the skies and on the earth glorify Allah, even the birds on the wing? Each ones knows its prayer, and its manner of praise. And Allah is fully cognizant of what they are doing.
In Islam, pigeons are respected animals. They aided Muhammed in time of need and they also have significance in two holy cities. This is a great example of a religion and culture that sees pigeons as respectable and admirable creatures, rather than pests.
During World War One and World War Two, pigeons played their role. Homing pigeons became important messengers that took messages from the front line. Some pigeons even received medals for their work and saved the lives of American and British troops.
This is another example of how intelligent the pigeon can be. Often seen as rodents and a nuisance (especially by drivers), pigeons can actually be a great help to civilization.
This video makes fun of pigeons, but it also demonstrates how they can be useful. The eyesight and determination of the pigeon could be used to help save lives. This also shows the social aspect of pigeon symbolism – pigeons and humans working together.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can send messages and save lives with a wild pigeon! Homing pigeons and war pigeons were domestic breeds that were trained especially for the role.
Along with red buses, black taxi cabs, and the London eye, pigeons are a common site that the tourists love. In Trafalgar square, there were once hundreds of pigeons that gathered to be fed by tourists.
However, since 2001 policies and laws have been put into place to prevent tourists feeding the pigeons. As a result, their population in Trafalgar square has declined. This was not received kindly by some Londoners. There were even families who had been selling bird feed for Trafalgar square pigeons for generations, now without a job.
Pigeons in London are still around, however. Just like the Mary Poppin’s song Feed the Birds you can find pigeons loitering by cathedrals and important monuments across London.
In this regard, they really are a historic symbol of Britain.
In conclusion, the common bird that was once called a “flying rat” is actually a noble and kind-hearted animal. The symbol of the pigeon is one of survival and determination, but also harmony and mercy. If you have a pigeon spirit animal, do not be disheartened! Likewise, if you begin to see a pigeon totem in your life, it would be wise to heed the warning and take action. Like the pigeon, you will survive to see another day.
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