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.
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 circling” is 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.
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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.
About Author, Stacey L. L. Couch
Stacey L. L. Couch is a Spiritual Director who teaches about archetypes and symbolism. Her speciality is working with soul pioneers - those of you who are making it up as you go along the spiritual path. She works with beginner and life-long spiritual seekers. Through working with Stacey, lost seekers find their way home and professional spiritual guides receive mentorship. Stacey empowers people with the ability to explore their purpose and calling. Wisdom found in story, mysticism, and nature provide guidance and healing in her work. She is the author of Gracious Wild: A Shamanic Journey with Hawks. She values mindfulness, wonder, and compassion in her daily spiritual practice. Learn More about Stacey.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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
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,
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.
Hello Alexandra, What a beautiful synchronicity and message from the tribe of the turkey vultures. Thank you so much for sharing your lovely story. I’m glad to know that you are being watched over in such a sweet way. With Blessings, Stacey
I was driving home from work and as I came up the hill I could see approximately 80 to 100 turkey vultures circling over my house. About half started to fly off due North and the others pealed off about 1-3 at a time to follow the others. I walked around the property to see if there were any dead animals (we get a lot of deer – 9 in the yard today), however there were none. By the time I walked back to the house the turkey buzzards had all flown away to the North.
What do you think is the proper interpretation of this unique event?
Hello Tsuki, Wow! That’s a lot of turkey vultures! It sounds like they were riding a thermal that had formed above your property. Thermals are vortices of warm air and can symbolize an upward evolution. The spiral has a lot of significance as an image of evolving through a similar issue on new/advanced levels. The north on the medicine wheel symbolizes a time of release and endings. It is the time of winter and spiritual union. You can read more about that in this article of mine: https://www.wildgratitude.com/medicine-wheel/ . The combination of the turkey vulture’s association with death and rebirth along with the direction of the north, point to the death stage of that cycle, but the spiral is there always reminding you that rebirth is just around the bend, that you are transforming towards the heavens in the cycle of life. Sending blessings to you in this time, Stacey
9:00am May 9 2023. I was looking out my window of my apartment. I live on 5th floor. I just out of nowhere I saw 2 Turkey Vultures on the roof. WOW! I couldn’t believe how HUGE n there tiny red bald head. I’ve never ever seen them that close. It was startling at first.
Then I was just amazed how beautiful they were. I felt like something happened to me that I never felt before I had seen them.
April 3rd I just lost my only sister. We weren’t close, but we loved each other and we’d talk every so often. I’ve been sleeping and feeling terrible, but at that moment the birds appeared I felt it was a message from heaven. I’m gonna be ok. Thank You
Hello Nancy, It definitely sounds like a healing message of purification. I read something recently about grief ending when our love for someone does, which is never of course. And, I hope the magic of the turkey vulture spirit animals continues to clear away troublesome emotions and allow for your movement through this challenging time. Sending Blessings, Stacey