turkey vulture spirit animal

Spirit Animals: TURKEY VULTURE

Turkey Vulture Spirit Animal

Turkey vulture spirit animal relates to the raptor’s excellent sense of smell. She rides spiral thermals of wind and has the miraculous ability to neutralize lethal diseases. Native to the Americas, turkey vulture is a New World vulture who is connected with the power of the exorcist archetype. This article focuses primarily on the turkey vulture, and includes the symbolism of all vultures at the end.

Turkey Vulture’s Discernment

There is an old wive’s tale that if you find a baby bird outside of its nest that you shouldn’t handle it to put it back in the nest. Supposedly the mother bird will smell your scent on the chick and reject it. This is a myth! Most birds have barely any sense of smell. Putting a chick back in the nest is the first course of action in helping a baby bird. If the parents are alive and around, they will get right back to caring for their little one.

Turkey vultures, on the other hand, have an excellent sense of smell. A turkey vulture can smell the scent of dead and rotting flesh from miles away. I can’t say for sure that a turkey vulture parent would care or not about human scent on her young – turkey vultures are notoriously bold – , but the vulture is unique in her ability to pick up scents.

In spiritual terms, the sense of smell is synonymous with the gift of discernment. Discernment is the ability to sniff out the truth. It is knowing right from wrong. In a mystical sense, discernment is sitting with guidance to attain understanding. To discern something is to look into it and to truly know the nature of it.

The Spiral of Air & Turkey Vulture Spirit Animal

Turkey vulture spirit animal, with her ability to smell the wind, helps you sort through your thoughts. Air is symbolic of the mind. Your thoughts can be confusing whirlwinds at times. It can be hard to tell if your mind making something up or if it is true intuition. Turkey vulture rides the currents of the mind and helps you connect to the ground of knowing.

Summer is the season of turkey vulture. She rides with wings extended in a v-shape on thermals of hot air. Hot air rises off the sun-soaked earth in a spiral pattern, and turkey vulture is an expert at catching a ride on this invisible elevator. She circles upwards, teetering and relaxed. She rarely flaps her wings, but stays aloft for hours. Her migration between North and South America is spent casually riding these warm breezes.

The symbolism of turkey vulture reminds you to ride the currents of warmth in your own life. Allow yourself to benefit from what life has to offer and let go of the need to work so hard. Let life bring you warmth and sustenance. The currents will carry you where you need to go. Exercise a little patience and relax a bit.



Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.

Another Man’s Treasure

You know what they say about “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” As a scavenger, turkey vulture spirit animal is able to sniff out the nourishing gifts laid out like a banquet. We think of carcasses as waste left to rot. But, turkey spirit animal turns the tragedy of a life lost into the miracle of flight. She lets nothing on the carcass go to waste, and no matter how old the flesh is she will still eat it. She will not turn her nose away from any meal presented.

Turkey vulture spirit animal reminds you to of your own ability to reuse and recycle. She has a kinship with the dumpster diver who resurrects old clothes and the artist who repurposes bottle caps for mosaics. We speak of scavengers like they are the lowest of the low, but it is scavengers like turkey vulture that stem the blight of excess consumerism. Humanity and the planet benefit from practicing scavenging more often.

The Vultures are Circling

The vultures are circlingis a figure of speech that indicates there are people hovering, waiting to pounce and take advantage of a dire situation. When someone is called a “vulture” they are considered a greedy person that exploits others in a crisis. To put it bluntly, vultures get a bad wrap and it is not deserved.

Vultures are common birds of the battlefield and are associated with Ares the Greek god of war. As Jessica Dawn puts it in her book Animal Wisdom, “the bird’s function was to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of battle. By extrapolation, then, vulture can be raised after the struggles are over, to help clean up the mess.”

The turkey vulture has an important role in cleaning up ecosystems. Turkey vulture is a scavenger and she can eat carcasses of animals that are infected with botulism, anthrax, salmonella, and cholera. Her stomach acids kill the bacteria and transmutes the toxins she ingests. Turkey vulture effectively eliminates bacteria and toxins from the environment. This ties her closely to the exorcist archetype.

Nature’s Exorcist – Turkey Vulture Spirit Animal

Demons are described as causing a disease or even seen as the illness themselves. Here we have a bird that is known for literally killing off extremely deadly diseases. Turkey vulture spirit animal most definitely is an exorcist. The demons she neutralizes aren’t visible to the human eye, but they are extremely leathal.

The scientific name of the turkey vulture is Cathartes Aura. This can be translated as “golden purifier” or “cleansing breeze” (see https://www.sjpl.org/blog/home-defender-high-sierra). Both names are appropriate honorifics for the service turkey vulture provides.

Another synchronicity between the turkey vulture and the exorcist archetype is that the turkey vulture uses light to cleanse. You can find turkey vulture perched, her back saluting the sun, and wings held outstretched. She bathes in the ultraviolet, cleansing rays of the sun to bake off harmful bacteria. Turkey vulture’s black shiny feathers increase the efficiency of this process.

The acidity of the turkey vulture’s urine has the power to kill bacteria. She pees on her own legs to clear the dangerous microbes she picks up when walking on carcasses. Sounds gross I know, but when we are talking about decontamination, it is very efficient.

Whenever you are in need of a clean up crew to decontaminate your own energy field, call on turkey vulture spirit animal. She naturally has the ability to transmute the harmful emotions and thoughts that can infect your system. She can clear out the refuse and neutralize negativity leaving a cleansing breeze in her wake.

Vulture Spirit Animal

There are 23 species of vulture worldwide including the magnificent California and Andean condors. Many civilizations have worshipped vulture spirit animal. The Inca built enormous monuments to the Andean condor. A sacred bird in Incan cosmology, the condor is symbolic of death and rebirth.

Egyptian mythology associates multiple gods and goddesses with vulture spirit animal, most notably, Ma’at. The goddess Ma’at weighs the hearts of the dead to determine their fate in the afterlife.

Vulture is literally and symbolically associated with death, the afterlife, and resurrection. An awesome ally to call on when you are going through a metaphorical death of your way of life, vulture spirit animal can help you digest the experience and come out stronger and more clear on the other side.


Explore your relationship
with purification and cleansing…

purifiers exorcist liberator destroyer archetype

The “Purifier Archetypes” Online Class

All three archetypes clear out the status quo to make way for an expansive, naked awareness. They purify us along the spiritual path and address the fears we encounter. The exorcist transmutes demons into allies and separation into union. The destroyer embraces the cycle of destruction to unlock hidden potential. The liberator uses wisdom to free us from attachment and suffering.



Stacey Couch

About Author, Stacey L. L. Couch

Stacey Couch is a Spiritual Advisor who supports creative seekers learning as they go on the spiritual path. She serves beginner and life-long students of the soul. Her compassionate and collaborative approach honors the humanity and value of each person. Wisdom found in story, mysticism, and nature provide guidance and healing in her work. Through meeting with Stacey, lost souls find refuge. Connection to the Divine is realized. Belonging comes. She is the author of Gracious Wild: A Shamanic Journey with Hawks. Learn About working with Stacey
8 replies
  1. lynncarberrymartin
    lynncarberrymartin says:

    I first learned of the turkey vulture’s ability to decontaminate in Stacey’s Destroyer course.
    When I learned that they could even consume and purify a carcass from anthrax, I became enamored with this powerful animal. Such power and strength, yet so graceful when they fly. Now I am on the lookout for them. Thanks for new info! Great Destroyer course full of info that you have probably never considered before.

    • Cassandra
      Cassandra says:

      There are turkey buzzards where I live by the Colorado River in the Tri-state area. Where Nevada, Arizona, and California merge along the River. And they have their favorite trees that they roost in at night in the apartment complex where I live in Laughlin, NV.

  2. Julia DeVonne
    Julia DeVonne says:

    Wow, this was really beautifully written.

    I found a magnificent feather that looked like a quill on the path I was walking while attempting my version of a Native American Vision Quest.

    I am spending most of my time writing a novel, so it seemed like a special gift of encouragement.

    I checked online to try to figure out what kind of feather it is, and it seemed to match the turkey vulture most closely.

    I love watching them glide in the updrafts so effortlessly, as you described.

    I’m trying to bring more attention to the beauty and messages in nature on Twitter @JuliaDeVonne4 .

    Thank you for writing this, Stacey.

    • Stacey Couch
      Stacey Couch says:

      Hello Julia, It is lovely to meet you and thank you for sharing your experience with turkey vultures. I look forward to staying in touch and seeing what other beauty in nature speaks to you. With love, Stacey

  3. Riyah
    Riyah says:

    This was an incredibly insightful description! very thankful to have come across it after a very large vulture flew directly overhead not 20 feet above me this morning as I was meditating. Lots of resonance and synchronicity in the timing of this message. thank you for the balance of history, myth, and I’m sure spirit guidance that brought through this explanation. Much appreciated!

    • Stacey Couch
      Stacey Couch says:

      Hello Riyah, What a perfect meditation companion! I always feel like the vultures are sweeping my energy field clear when they fly overhead like that. They are so big! And so powerful. I’m grateful to hear your story and hope to stay in touch! In Gratitude,Stacey

  4. Anne Swanson
    Anne Swanson says:

    I was on the 2 day of 21 days of a spiritual fast. I was walking my dog yesterday and 50-75 of these magnificent creatures were flying overhead at all kind of heights, gliding on the wind drafts. After reading your description, so much of my spiritual restlessness was addressed.
    There were countless synchronistic messages, symbols, and discernment!
    Thank you for this resource,

  5. Alexandra E
    Alexandra E says:

    Stacey, I was recently on a retreat and my room was accessed by a small deck and sliding glass doors. I went to my room one afternoon and there were 5 perched there. I have 5 people in my immediate family, although my husband unexpectedly died in 2020. I was completely startled because I’ve never been so close to such a large bird, never mind 5. They flew overhead for about 5 minutes, simply beautiful. The next morning when I looked out my window, there were 9 in a large tree. Your words gave me peace.


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