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 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.


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purifiers exorcist liberator destroyer archetype

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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 couch spiritual directorStacey L. L. Couch is a Spiritual Teacher who specializes in shamanism, inter-spirituality, archetypes, and symbolism. She supports soul pioneers - those of you who are learning 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.