What does dove mean?
The term “dove” actually refers to a whole family of birds that includes both doves and pigeons. There are many species of doves of a variety shades of brown, gray, rose and slate blue. Dove species include mourning doves, rock pigeons, Eurasian collared doves, white winged doves, and band-tailed pigeons. One of the well known species extinctions caused by man was that of the passenger pigeon. Hunting and habitat destruction by European settlers wiped out some 3 to 5 billion birds around the turn of the 20th Century.
The white doves we frequently associate with the name of dove are rare in the wild and are white varieties of normally pigmented rock pigeons or ringneck doves. There is no actual species of white dove or pigeon. White doves are mostly bred and raised in captivity to serve as pets, release doves or racing pigeons.
What does dove mean? Dove spirit animal is most often associated with love, purity, nurturing, spirituality, and peace.
Dove Medicine is Love Medicine
The phrase “lovey-dovey” explains well the unabashed way that dove nibbles at her mate’s neck and erupts into a synchronized dance of beak grasping and head bobbing with him. We have borrowed a lot from dove, saying that lovers “coo” over each other. Male mourning doves are the ones that do the cooing to attract mates.
The Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite (Venus in Roman mythology) is often depicted holding a dove in her hand or surrounded by a flock of white doves. Aphrodite’s seven daughters were called a “flock of doves”. Kamadeva, the Hindu god of love is known to ride a dove.
Dove chooses one mate for life and forms strong pair bonds which contributes to her associations with romantic love.
We tend to downplay the importance of the honeymoon period of relationships, calling the lovey-dovey mood an infatuation that will not last, but dove teaches us that this outward sign of affection strengthens bonds and is critical for a successful relationship. If you find yourself swept up gazing into your lover’s eyes, dove totem animal is in your corner. Dove spirit animal is a great companion as we abandon ourselves to romance.
The love of the doves extends beyond that of romantic love into the excellent care doves give their young. One example is that both mother doves and their mates produce “crop milk” for their young. The milk is secreted from the lining of the dove’s crop (organ in the throat), regurgitated and fed by mouth to the chicks. This is a relatively rare ability in the bird world with only flamingos and a few penguins able to do the same. Dove parents are also very attentive and often raise multiple broods in a year.
When considering what does dove mean, ask what you are nurturing right now? How can you partner with others to be more successful?
Purity & Dove Spirit Animal
The color white is symbolic of purity, so it follows that white doves are too. This link between doves and purity goes back to biblical times: “Even while you sleep among the sheep pens, the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver, its feathers with shining gold,” – Psalms 68:10. In this passage, we are “my dove”.
St. Teresa of Avila affectionately called the soul a “little dove”. A person who is called a dove, is often seen as innocent, sweet and pure of intention. It is a compliment.
This is an interesting paradox to consider given that white doves are typically a strain of rock pigeon. Rock pigeons are the exact same species of pigeon that lives in cities. These are the pigeons that people call flying rats. It never ceases to amaze me how much power is in a name. Change the color and name and the exact same bird with the exact same habits turns from clean to filthy.
Consider your reputation right now. Are you trying to portray the image of purity? Do you want people to think you are honest and impeccable? Are you having issues with others seeing you as disgraced or dishonorable? Or do you know of your own baseness and you’re trying to hide it? When dove spirit animal comes on the scene, it is time to consider your struggle between beauty and ugliness and realize that we all both. The potential for either good or bad is within us no matter what color we wear.
Dove Spiritual Meaning
In the same way that butterflies are seen by human souls in Japanese mythology, doves are seen as symbols of the spirit in Christian theology. Even further, the dove is representative of the Holy Spirit as seen when a dove descended from heaven during Jesus’s baptism.
The love and strong pair bonding of dove is often used as a metaphor for spiritual devotion and union.
Do you feel the presence of the sacred in your own life? Are you waiting for a visit from your Creator? Dove spirit animal reminds us that communications from Spirit can come in very obvious forms. Do not dismiss a sign just because it is clear as day. If a sign does not come, know that blatant divine favors are not given out like candy. Some of us will only receive an unmistakeable sign once in a lifetime. Dove spirit animal is here to help us maintain our faith no matter how few or far between gifts from God are.
Peace and Pacifism
Dove brought Noah an olive branch to show that the great flood had ended. Since then, images of dove holding an olive branch demonstrate the peace that comes when the flood waters of emotion subside. Water is symbolic of emotion and wars are sparked by an excess of emotion. Where can you extend an olive branch in your life?
Remember that what is in one is in the whole. Whatever feelings of vengeance you harbor are contributing energetically to the larger conflicts between nations. Your forgiveness is needed.
Mourning Dove Symbolism
In the United States, the main species of dove we have is the mourning dove. Mourning doves are also known as “turtle doves,” which we hear about a pair of in the famous “Twelve Days of Christmas” song every holiday season. The morning dove’s slow and melodic song eases the pace of the otherwise chaotic and fast-paced birdsong that fills our world. To us the song may seem sorrowful, but for the male bird singing the song it is full of the excitement and anticipation of another year with his beloved. It is a song filled with longing and love.
About Author, Stacey L. L. Couch
Stacey Couch, Certified Shamanic Practitioner, works as a publicist and journalist for Mother Nature and is the author of Gracious Wild: A Shamanic Journey with Hawks. She empowers people with the ability to explore life’s big questions by calling on nature, story and synchronicity as a source for guidance and healing. With over ten years of experience in the field of shamanism and thirteen years experience working with wildlife and rescue animals, Stacey has a unique blend of rational and mystical perspective that makes the world of shamanism easily accessible to others. She values mindfulness, wonder, and compassion in her daily spiritual practice. Learn More about Stacey.
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.
Hello. I love reading about the dove. Sure hope this finds you and chris in a peaceful life
Hi Sally! Peaceful and beautiful life is. Happy Holidays to you, John, and Haylee.
Thank you for your timely post about the dove, Stacey. Just this past week I stayed a couple nights at the Come On Down Ranch in Oracle, Arizona and the room I stayed in had a sign on the outside that stated “La Paloma” with a painted picture of a bird. I soon learned that the room I was staying in was assigned a Spanish phrase that actually means “Dove.” Since learning this I have been curious about the messages and symbolism of the dove so it was so cool to get your email today notifying that you had posted about just what I was curious to know. I love the synchronicity; makes me feel all lovey-dovey inside.
Me too Sarah! What a beautiful chain of events leading you deeper into the sacredness of dove medicine.
Just now for the fifth time in Texas a dove has landed on my shoulder. The flock to me. It’s strange but cool
Hello Patrick, Strange yes, but also very cool! When we have an animal encounter more than once this can take on additional significance and power for us. If nothing else, it sure gets our attention! When reading through my article on dove symbolism, what stands out to you? Are you drawn to the conversation about love or spirituality or peace and pacifism? Is there something you are drawn towards or that you don’t like? Sit with what perks your interest. You may want to consider doing a life evaluation. For example, if the aspect of love in regards to dove spirit animal draws you, reflect on how you’ve viewed love over the course of your life. Are you more loving or less loving than you used to be? Do you love and accept love differently than you used to? Also, assess how you’d like to be in regards to this aspect. If you’re drawn to the spiritual message of dove, what would you like your spiritual life to look like compared to how it is now? These inquiries will help lift you further into the divine blessing of dove medicine. Many Blessings, Stacey
I have a dove that lives in my garden and I feed it
I noticed after I read this article you were in Oracle. I moved to Oracle a couple of years ago. I love it here. It attracts such an eclectic breed of humans.
There is one that I have seen but it has 2 pink spots on its right wing
This information is very timely for me as I encountered a white dove just last week while sitting on a park bench. Don’t recall ever really seeing one at this park before. In my meditations, I often think of the word peace, so when I saw this dove, I felt it was a positive synchronicity. When I got home from the park that day, I also googled dove symbolism. Now, you have written this wonderful piece on doves. Thank you very much!
You are very welcome Patrice. It is amazing how chains of synchronicities can lead us deeper into the mystery so that we can understand more of the essence of peace. Many Blessings, Stacey
Personally, I believe this article is awesome and is true because about four month’s ago I had my last dinner with my parents. When I came home there was a Mourning Dove on my doorstep so I picked it up and gave her some water. My younger brother who helped me packed my stuff tried to touch the Dove but it would fly away. It seemed as if it knew who she was her mate was and that was me Jonas. So I carried the dove and let it go because my roommate did not want a bird in the house but it went in the garage and stared at me the whole night while me and my brother packed my stuff in the truck. To make story short, the dove accompanied on my three day journey to my new City San Diego California. On my journey, she imitates me and also tried to drive. She only ate or drank when I am doing so. I let her go after five days in Ramona, California because I thought it was time for her to bless somebody. Spiritually, what exactly does this mean? I know it goes to show that I have encountered the whole spirit but what is my destiny? Ever since I have been having lots of vision, wisdom and control of nature is becoming real such thoughts I have become real not right way but overtime. Thank you and God Bless.
Hello Jonas, Thank you for sharing your story. For the sake of our readers, I do need to mention that by law we are not allowed to take wild birds into our care without a federal permit to do so. I want to recognize the tenderness of your story Jonas while also pointing out that it can be very stressful for wild animals to live in close contact with us. Relocating animals from one place to another can be very hard on them because they have to reorient to find new food sources and roosting spots. A relocated animal is very vulnerable to predation. I know these things from direct experience with dozens of wild animals of different species. I strongly advise against taking wild animals into your personal custody without formal training in their care (and a permit) and I also advise against relocating an animal. I am always advocating that we use both the left (rational) and right (intuitive) sides of our minds in anything we do. What this means for your story Jonas is that both are true… the other world connection you felt with the dove that lent a magic to your time together and the stark reality that she is a wild creature with survival needs. Spiritually, from my perspective, your story demonstrates a calling into balance of worldly, mundane existence and spiritual, ethereal existence. If we find ourselves too far out into the mystical realms we cannot be of any use here. We have to see to our daily needs and the needs of those around us – both animal and human.
Your question of “what is my destiny?” is a lifelong question, one of those big questions that changes the course of our lives. I could write books on the discovery of destiny and never reach the end of the search for an answer. My recommendation to you is to settle into the moment with what is and allow your destiny to unfold before you. God Bless you too and may you settle into your new home with ease, Stacey
Thank you for your posting. My very close friend had pass away on the first week of August 2016. I went to her funeral, the very next day when I woke up I noticed 2 birds near my bathroom window on a electrical wire it was very unusual so I told a pic of it on my cell phone. I when online and found out they were mourning grey doves, it was such feeling that I could not explain. On August 16 my 10 years old son was attacked from behind from a student he could not see, I have been calling the school and the police officer to find out who this student that harmed my son, The mourning doves had reappear on August 18 and this time there were more than 10 of them on the same wire. Just this morning I have noticed 2 doves on the electrical wire again. I am wondering are these doves telling me to stop persuading and just have my son transfer school. I have lived here for over 16 years, I have seen many birds, but never doves and the weird things is that they’re on the wire more then 20 minutes before they fly away.
Hello Jane, I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your friend, and I am encouraged to hear that you are receiving support from the mourning doves. The animals come when we need them. I suppose I understand where you are coming from with the idea to transfer your son to another school, but remember that pacifism is not resignation, it is not giving up. Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. were pacifists and they never gave up. Your decision to continue speaking up or to remove yourself from the situation is not as important as what you decide to do inside yourself. Seek love, peace and forgiveness inside. Forgiving is not letting others off the hook, but allowing yourself the opportunity to break free from the poison of resentment. Ask in your prayers to learn more about the nature of forgiveness. Even when it hurts, open your heart to love. The doves can help. Once you come to peace inside, the outside path will become clear. Many Blessings, Stacey
I own one and it’s from the wild and I dident buy it it was hurt in my garden and I raised it
After a shamanic journey healing i had today the lady said she saw a white dove with a gold ring in it beak flying above my head, what could this mean?
Hello Karly, You’ll want to take the qualities of dove I outline in this article and pair those with the meanings of “gold” and “ring.” Gold symbolizes what is precious to us and has value. It can also be about turning a situation or part of ourselves into gold. A ring symbolizes continuity as well as commitment. It can also symbolize coming full circle or life without beginning or end. What has eternal value for you and how can you devote yourself to it? Many Blessings, Stacey
I have always thought of doves spirits from Heaven. When my mother in law passed we had ring neck doves to appear in our yard. They all left the day after we buried except for two they stayed and followed my husband and I down the road for about a week. Then they left. My mother passed and we had one lone ring neck to come about a week before she passed. After we laid her to rest it stayed for about a week then it left. My husband Aunt passed and we had 2 come up and stayed with us for about a week. In June of this year I lost a friend we had 2 to appear before she died and they left about a week after. We had one to come up in August this year and our niece passed away well this time it has not left. It is living in our barn with the chickens. My dad is not doing well and every time I see her she acts as if she knows what I am saying. I ask her is she her to take my dad and is she my comfort from God. I know this all sound strange and my husband didn’t believe it until this year. But I always believed.
Hello Janet, That doesn’t sound strange to me at all! We are way more connected with the natural and supernatural world than we realize. Once we open our eyes and start watching, we see just how intimately linked all of it is. Your story reminds me of the wonderful way that Spirit moves through all things. Thank you for paying attention and for believing! Many Blessings to You, Stacey
3 days ago I was crying and praying for help for my son who is depressed. In my prayer I asked my late parents and mother in law to help as he loved them dearly. A half an hour later a white dove flew onto my patio where I was sitting, it kept pointing it’s head as if it wanted to look through the window and seemed interested in something inside my house. It then flew up and perched on my front door security gate for 5mins looking into the house. It was only when my son approached it about a meter away did it fly away. All this time the dove did not appear to be concerned by my presence.I definitely saw it as a sign from my deceased loved ones for my son. What could this mean?
What a beautiful, vulnerable story of loss and hope. Thank you for sharing. The presence of the doves has a deep symbolism that can be explained in many ways. I encourage you to continue exploring the meaning it carries for you. I will offer the first stone or two on the path here. You asked for help and then had your prayer answered immediately. It was as if your parents and mother in law answered to say, “We hear you and we are here.” The immediacy of the response is so amazing. The qualities of peace and love with the doves could easily show the graces your loved ones are sending from the other side for both you and your son. Many blessings to you, Stacey
Such a beautifully written explanation of Dove! I cried with relief!
I have a bird garden. I made a somewhat safe haven for the birds to come and eat, drink, bathe, play and hide. This morning, for the first time, a flock of Doves came by, they had rings on their necks. I have had a horrid year and part of it was that 3 of my rescued Pugs crossed over. 2 had heart failure and 1 cancer. All 3 crossed within about 8 months, then my other rescues cancer came back, she had been in remission. My dogs are my life!! I had to go to the hospital I was so sad. I became extremely mad at God Spirit (whom I devoted my life to). Reading your words have helped me so much.
Thank you! Much love too you.
Hello Wendy, Thank goodness relief is at hand for you. I am so sorry to hear of your losses this year. I lost both a horse and a dog this year too, and am still mending my heart. Our pet companions are family. Losing them can feel like losing part of ourselves. Be mindful and know that your spirit is still needed here, so don’t let your heart wander off to the other side with your beloved pugs permanently. For now, your home is here. Remember to come back into this life and this moment. Their spirits are helping from the other side. We tend to see the other side as some place far from here, but I believe it is close at hand, and so are our loved ones! Blessings to You my Dear and thank you for all you do for the animals, Stacey
Stacey!!!! Just after I posted too you I heard my email alert, I received an email from Central Coast Pug Rescue!!!!!! I couldn’t believe it!!! I don’t think I’ve ever received an email from them?? Not that I can remember?
I know it was a “message” from God Spirit and my Pugs!!! WOWWW!!! SUCH a beautiful morning!!
That’s wonderful! I’m so glad for you that you’re feeling the support streaming in.
When my friend told me that she wanted to have a white dove release for a funeral, I wanted to learn more. It is so interesting to read that these birds are seen as symbols of people’s spirits. This would give such a deep meaning to her release at the funeral and make a nice touch for those mourning.
It sounds like you found exactly the confirmation and message you were seeking Alexandria. Many Blessings to you, Stacey
Stacy – On 6/26/17 my precious daughter chose to leave this world. After her passing, a rock dove/pigeon landed in my yard (I sit on the porch and watch the birds attracted by my bird feeders). I have never, ever, seen a rock dove/pigeon in my yard until my daughter’s passing. The rock dove/pigeon came one more time and that is the last. Your thoughts?
In Love & Light
Hello Victoria, I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your daughter. Rock doves (now classified as “rock pigeons”) are in the dove family and carry all the qualities of dove spirit animal described above. What comes to mind as I read your story and think of the rock pigeons finding your yard for the first time is the homing ability of pigeons. This could be about you finding your way back home after such a devastating loss or even about your daughter finding her way home. Either way, it seems that dove spirit animal can bring a sense of peace and clarity in this turbulent time. Many Blessings, Stacey
“What is in one is in the whole.”
How true this is. Thank you for your wisdom on this symbolism.
You’re most welcome Aubrie! Have a wonderful day.
Hi Stacey, I pair of mourning doves is nesting in a hanging plant just outside my window. It is so special to see them exchange turns sitting on the eggs. Wondering if there is anything I can do for them. Thinking of putting out a bird feeder. We also have a lot of squirrels and I am so worried they will find the chicks.
Should I be looking for some kind of symbolism? I believe in birds as divine messengers.
Hello Mary, What wonderful neighbors you have! You may try putting out a feeder, but a ways away from the nest as not to attract attention to the nest. You could also put out a birdbath. Your appreciation for them is another way of caring for them. This energetic exchange is not to be overlooked. In terms of the symbolism, yes, see what stands out from this article and applies to your life right now. Spend some time thinking about your own associations with dove spirit animal and how this relates to a question you’ve been asking lately about a problem you might be having. Many Blessings, Stacey
I seen two doves in 3 years fly over my car while my boyfriend was driving, what’s the meaning
Hello Britney, The number two can symbolize many things including opposites, twins, pairs, and balance. Consider looking at if you are feeling pulled in two directions to create harmony and peace in your life. This article on the mediator archetype might help: https://www.wildgratitude.com/mediator-archetype/. Many Blessings, Stacey
Hi my friend Stacey!! I enjoy ur piece on Dove spirit animal. Keep it up
Joseph from Nigeria
A mourning dove landed on my deck and sat with me and my cat for a long time…my cat did not offer to hurt him at all; I think he was as facinated as I was (haha). I walked around the deck several times getting my camera and taking photos of him and he did not mind at all. It was a beautiful experience! and very emotional.
I’m always seeing doves wherever I go. Now I know it’s a blessing to see these beautiful birds and hear their cooing. I’m forever grateful for this article.