Dove Symbol and Spiritual Meaning

dove symbol
The dove symbol stands for freedom, peace, and love. In the Christian tradition, the dove represents the Holy Spirit. Besides Christianity, the dove has been a part of different religions, mythologies, and folktales for centuries.

Dove Symbolism

Since ancient times, people have seen the dove as a docile creature, a peace symbol with positive qualities. Encountering a dove was considered a positive omen. It represents compassion, faith, and hope, and different symbols are associated with it.

The following are some of the main symbols associated with the dove, along with their meanings.

dove symbol
Doves serve as a symbol of peace for numerous religions and cultures throughout the world.

Dove As A Love Symbol

Doves are known to mate with only one partner for life; therefore, they are regarded as a symbol of pure and eternal love. Due to their monogamous relationship, people across many cultures, especially the Native American people, respected doves reflecting the purity of love.

Native American tribes like Mexicans and Aztecs associated dove with their fertility goddess, Xochiquetzal. They used images of Doves in their wedding decorations.

Also, in Greek mythology, Aphrodite, the Goddess of love, was seen surrounded by doves. Venus, the Roman Goddess of love, was depicted similarly.

In addition to romantic love, seeing a dove is also regarded as a reminder of the presence of your loved ones in your life, both alive and dead.

dove symbol
The Greek Goddess of Aphrodite is often depicted alongside doves as an image of love.

Symbol Of Good Fortune

African people have often regarded the dove as the symbol of fortune, good luck, hope, and help. There are multiple folktales in the native African culture surrounding the dove. In most of these stories, the dove brings light, hope, and good fortune into their lives.

Symbol Of A Long Life

People in China see the dove as representative of long life. Dove is a common symbol in their Feng Shui, decor pieces, and art pieces, and it’s used to convey the meaning of eternal life.

Symbolizing Repentance In Judaism

Hebrew people practiced sacrifice rituals to repent for any sins or wrongdoings. While rich people sacrificed big animals like cows or sheep, low-income families sacrificed two doves. The practice of sacrificing doves continued till the 70 A.D, till the Jewish temple in Jerusalem was destroyed.

The Dove As A Christian Symbol

In Christianity, Dove was a symbol of hope, rebirth, and regeneration. There are two mentions of the dove in the Bible- the story of Noah’s Ark and the story of Jesus’s Baptism.

The Biblical story of Noah was part of the Old Testament book of Genesis. Noah built a great boat that saved him and his family from the flood. They stayed in the boat for 40 days till the flood stopped. But there was no dry land to be seen, so Noah first sent a raven to find out if there was any dry land.

But the raven didn’t return, and then he sent a dove which returned with an olive branch. It was a sign that the water had dried and plants were growing again, making the dove the symbol of hope.

According to the Biblical accounts, when John baptized Jesus, the Holy Spirit appeared as a dove. In these accounts, it was not simply the bird dove, it was the Spirit of God that descended on Jesus to convey the message that Jesus was God’s son and he loved him. The same story was also mentioned in Genesis 8:11 and Luke 3:22.

dove symbol
The dove is an incredibly common symbol in Christianity, most often associated with the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Dove Meaning In Hindu Mythology

Dove was seen as a symbol of love in Hindu mythology as well. The dove was associated with Kamadeva, the God of love and desire, who was portrayed riding a dove and parrot.

In contrast, Yama, the Hindu God of Death, carried doves and owls as his messengers.

White Dove Symbol

The white dove is the symbol of peace, purity, and divinity. Like a white lotus or lily, a dove stands for purity from the profane or anything impure.

Mourning Dove

A mourning or brown dove is the symbol of motherhood, fertility, and change within the family. It represents a big change or the beginning of something big in the family.

The mourning dove also represents communication with the spirit. People believed that with the appearance of a mourning dove, there were chances of growth or positive news.

Even though people also associated the mourning dove with death or unwanted circumstances, it’s pretty unusual.

dove symbol
As opposed to the white dove of peace and love, the mourning dove is brown and represents change.

Dove Spirit Animal

Dove was also seen as the spirit animal that protects and guides us when we need help. Spirit or totem animals guide us when we feel lost or clueless in any situation in life. They remind us that no matter how dark energy may seem now, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

Celtic Dove Symbolic Meaning

In Celtic, religion considers the dove as a holy, divine, and sacred symbol. They are seen as the messengers of the divine. But ironically, Celts used doves for sacrificial rituals as well.

dove symbol
A celtic dove symbol.

The Epic of Gilgamesh

The story of the Epic of Gilgamesh was very similar to the story of the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark. Gilgamesh was a Mesopotamian epic written around 2100 BC. In Gilgamesh, Ea or Enki, the water God, tells Utnapishtim that there will be a great flood and he must prepare a big boat to save all living creatures.

Utnapishtim follows God’s command and builds a boat similar to Noah’s. When the flood ends, Utnapishtim sends a dove and swallow to find dry land, and they both return.

Interested in learning about how other animals are used in religious and cultural symbolism? Check out this article on animals that represent strength.


Vanessa's liberal arts background has prepared her well for Symbol Scholar. A self-proclaimed theology nerd, Vanessa has interests in world religions, Reformation theology, history, and more. When she's not working, Vanessa enjoys spending time with her family, reading, exercising, and watching professional basketball.

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