The Spiritual Meaning Of Doves + What To Do If They Keep Appearing
Have doves started appearing in your life or in your dreams? This gentle bird typically represents peace, love, renewal, and spirituality. Read on to learn more about dove symbolism and what it means if you see this bird often.
What the dove symbolizes.
"Doves are often seen as symbols of peace, spirituality, hope, renewal, transformation, and love," explains Johanna Aúgusta, numerologist and owner of the Ministry of Numerology. "They can also represent compassion and kindness to others during difficult transitions."
According to Kathy Harmon-Luber, author of Suffering to Thriving: Your Toolkit for Navigating Your Healing Journey, "Some associate doves with motherhood, the divine feminine, and goddesses."
And if you've ever wondered why doves are often released at weddings and ceremonies, it's because they represent love, too. "Doves mate for life and are considered a symbol of lasting love," says Harmon-Luber.
Seeing two doves together is usually a sign of good luck in the love and relationships department. If you're in a relationship, it could show you that all is well. If you're single and looking, it could symbolize that love is on its way.
Dove meaning in different cultures.
Love, peace, and harmony are the dove's most universal symbols. However, different cultures and religions have their own unique interpretations of the bird.
In Native American culture:
In some Native American cultures, doves are considered sacred messengers between humans and the spiritual realm, says Aúgusta.
According to Charlotte Kirsten, M.A., a cultural symbolism expert and psychological astrologer, "The famous Cheyenne proverb, 'If a man is as wise as a serpent, he can afford to be as harmless as a dove,' illustrates this. For certain tribes, a dove's feathers are worn as protective talismans, believed to ward off evil spirits and offer spiritual protection in times of adversity."
In Chinese culture:
"In China, doves are symbols of enduring love, faithfulness, and eternal bonds, both romantically and platonically speaking," explains Kirsten. "Male doves are believed to help their female partners incubate and care for their young, which further bolsters their image as devoted, caring birds."
In Incan culture:
In ancient Incan culture, doves were symbolic of those who were no longer on Earth. "The Incas viewed them as a representation of their dead ancestors," says Aúgusta.
Ever wondered about the dove symbolism in the bible? "In Christianity, doves are seen as messengers from God and a sign of the Holy Spirit," Aúgusta explains.
According to Aúgusta, "Buddhists believe the dove embodies compassion and kindness."
In ancient Greece and Rome:
"Doves were associated with Aphrodite and Venus, goddesses of love in ancient Greece and Rome," explains Aúgusta.
In ancient Mesopotamia:
Aúgusta explains doves were symbols of fertility in ancient Mesopotamia.
Dove color meanings.
A dove's color will also impact its spiritual meaning in the following ways:
"White doves embody the meaning of purity, peace, love, and connection with the Divine," says Harmon-Luber. A white dove also represents innocence, explains Kirsten. "It not only encourages us to rise above what hurts us, but it reminds us to connect with the inner child within and tap into that ever-expanding childlike curiosity and joy."
"A gray dove represents the bridge between the old paradigm and the new," says Kirsten. "[A gray dove] often appears when we're at a standstill in our lives and need to release ourselves from self-imposed limitations." According to Aúgusta, gray doves can also represent love and partnership.
"Blue doves carry the meaning of romance, affection, sexuality, and love," says Aúgusta.
Multicolored dove (fruit dove):
A "fruit dove" is a rare type of multicolored dove native to Southeast Asia and Oceania. "These birds are fiercely territorial and are always on high alert for other species invading their space," says Kirsten. She explains that they can stress themselves out by being so "on" all the time. "Seeing any multicolored dove acts as a gentle reminder to let go of imaginary fears," she adds, as well as surrender the need for control.
Black & red doves:
"These tend to represent negativity, mourning, transition, depression, or anger," explains Aúgusta.
5 spiritual lessons from the dove:
Practice being present.
"Doves remind us that we have the opportunity to be fully present in every moment and to choose inner peace," says Harmon-Luber. "When a dove appears, we're reminded to practice mindfulness [and] find opportunities for cultivating presence and inner peace."
Be open to synchronicity.
Doves also remind us to pay attention to synchronicities from the spirit world. Similar to owls, doves are considered to be messengers from divine or spiritual realms. "For centuries, doves were used as messenger birds, and their excellent navigational skills meant that they could roam hundreds of miles from home and still find their way back," adds Kirsten.
Have trust and faith.
These regal birds encourage us to "trust in the unknown and forge ahead even when the path is foggy," says Kirsten.
Follow your purpose.
Doves are also heavily connected with finding our "soul purpose" in this lifetime. The message is often, "no matter how far we stray from our 'path,' we'll always be gently guided back to what matters most," says Kirsten.
Practice unconditional love.
"Doves remind us to practice unconditional love toward our global community, to retain innocence and gentleness, and to not lose hope," says Harmon-Luber.
If doves are appearing in your dreams.
Dreaming of a dove can provide important insights into your waking life.
"In dreams, doves represent tapping into one's own intuition as well as the emotional language of others to find inner balance, healing, peace, and joy," says Kirsten. "You're more likely to see a dove in a dream state when something is weighing on your mind, especially where relationships are concerned." She explains that dreaming of a dove may represent that "not all is lost" in a relationship.
The color of the dove will also influence the meaning of the dream, just like in waking life. To help you with your dream interpretation, Aúgusta offers up what different colors of doves may symbolize in your dream:
- Dreaming of a white dove could signify spirituality or peace, indicating that you are on the right path and connected with your inner wisdom.
- If you dream of a gray or mourning dove, this might signify a love interest or partnership in your life.
- Alternatively, if the dove appears black or red in the dream, it could be a sign of transition or change and may indicate that you need some healing or support at this time.
Writing down your dreams in a notebook or a dream journal right when you get up is a helpful way to capture as many details and dream symbols as possible before your recollection of your dream begins to fade away.
And if you can't remember the details, Harmon-Luber offers the following technique to help go back into the dream and reconnect with the symbolism of the dove:
- Sit quietly in a safe place where you won't be interrupted. Breathe deeply, and relax.
- Recall your encounter with the dove, and imagine that the dove is before you now. Ask if it has a message for you.
- Gently breathe and see if you hear, see, or sense any wisdom coming through.
- At the end of your time together, be sure to thank the dove, and consider making an offering of reciprocity to nature.
She shares that it can take practice to connect with this realm, so don't worry if messages don't come through for you right away.
What to do if you keep seeing doves.
So, what does it mean when a dove visits you over and over again? "If you are seeing doves everywhere, the universe is trying to get your attention!" explains Harmon-Luber. The message might be to have a more gentle or loving demeanor or may offer confirmation that you're progressing on your spiritual path, she says. Seeing doves can also be a reminder "to listen to your intuition and embrace your feminine side."
It's important to consider how you feel and what you're thinking about the next time you see a dove. "Pay attention to what thoughts pop up when seeing these doves. This will give you a good indicator as to what message or opportunity you were meant to connect with," says Kirsten.
For Aúgusta, "If you see a lot of doves in your life, it may be a sign from the divine or a higher power that you are on the right path."
Lauren David is a Chilean-American freelance writer. She writes about gardening, food, health and wellness, and sustainability. She has been published in Allrecipes, Greatist, The Healthy, The Kitchn and more.
When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time in her garden, experimenting with ingredients in the kitchen, or spending time by the ocean. See her portfolio on her website.