Vultures don’t have the best reputation: people associate them with negative things like darkness and death. The way they are portrayed in books, movies and the media doesn’t help either, as they often appear as a bad omen and an omen of bad things to come.
Although most people fear vultures because they are scavengers that feed on dead animals, there is more to this fascinating creature than meets the eye. Read on to learn more about vultures and what they symbolize.
Vultures may be symbols of death and decay, but the evolution of their symbolism proves to be an extremely interesting topic. Whether you want to get a vulture tattoo or are simply curious as to why you ended up dreaming of one, knowing their meaning will surely help you put things in perspective. These birds aren’t as pretty as macaws or as elegant as pigeons, but their strange habits and remarkable intelligence make them just as interesting.
Fun facts about vultures
With more than 23 different species worldwide, vultures have been classified into two: New World and Old World species. Half of their total population is not doing well, as they are considered threatened, endangered or critically endangered from extinction due to habitat loss and poaching.
One of the most interesting features of vultures is the way they feed. They can easily clean an animal’s body in less than an hour. They even go so far as to eat the bones of their prey, without wasting any of their food. Their stomachs have acids strong enough to destroy lethal bacteria and break down the hard bones of the carcasses they eat.
Vultures also have excellent eyesight, being able to spot a carcass at a distance of up to six kilometers as they fly over the plains. Adding to their excellent adaptability is their ability to keep their bodies cool while flying over arid lands. They do this through a process called urohidrosis, in which they urinate when temperatures are too high.
What meanings are associated with the vulture?
Vultures represent various meanings, such as motherhood, protection and opposition to the status quo, as well as negative concepts, such as bad luck, danger and guilt.
Although they have a bad reputation for their nasty habit of feasting on dead meat and even using vomit to defend themselves from attackers, they are extremely intelligent animals that symbolize various values and ideals. Here are some of the symbolisms of the vulture, both negative and positive:
- Motherhood and family: it may seem strange that the vulture is a symbol of motherhood and family, but it becomes clear why when we observe how vulture parents act and how they care for their young. Black vultures, for example, are believed to mate for life and lead monogamous lives. Vultures are also devoted parents. They feed their chicks bits and pieces of bone to ensure that they receive much-needed calcium. Mother vultures are very protective and will do whatever it takes to keep their chicks safe.
- Bad luck and danger: In Native America, vultures have been considered bad omens because they are believed to have aggressive and deceptive personalities. In a legend that tells of the Bakairi people, the animal is portrayed as a villain. Legend has it that the twins Keri and Kame became heroes when they managed to steal the sun and moon from King Vulture. They created the earth and put the stolen sun and moon in the sky so that the Baikari people could live more comfortably than when they still lived in the sky.
- Cleansing and reincarnation: In Tibet, people consider vultures as sacred birds because of their eating habits. Unlike other predators, these creatures feast on carcasses, which they believe help cleanse their lands. This belief is so ingrained in their culture that they even have a festival for this bird. They perform a ritual in which they offer a human sacrifice to the vultures, believing that anyone who is eaten by this bird will have the opportunity to live another life.
- Death, destruction and guilt: In dreams, vultures are believed to be an ominous sign of death or demise. Some say that when you see this bird in your dream, it could mean that you or someone close to you could die or fall ill. Others say it could also be your subconscious trying to help you deal with feelings of denial or guilt.
- Money and good luck: To dream of a vulture does not mean that all hope is lost. In fact, it can be a sign of good luck in some contexts. For example, they say that seeing a dead vulture could mean that your finances are about to improve. You might get a promotion, a raise or even a better job offer from another company.
- Intelligence and adaptability: People who have vultures as totem animals are said to be excellent at using their energy efficiently. They are also very patient and insightful, and can easily adapt to most situations. This belief may have its origin in the fact that vultures are indeed intelligent. In fact, in Celtic lore, vultures are considered exceptionally intelligent because they know how to consume their energy efficiently.
The Vulture in mythology
Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and stories often depict deities with symbolic headdresses that help distinguish them. Among the various symbols used in these accessories, vultures are one of the most popular. Although many knew them as carrion birds, they were considered symbols of maternal instinct and femininity.
Nekhbet the vulture goddess of Upper Egypt, also known as the vulture goddess, was known to be the protector of Egyptian civilization and its rulers. She was often depicted with her wings spread over the pharaoh while clutching other emblems with her clawed hands. Worshipped by many as the mother of the pharaoh, people began to strongly associate the vulture symbol with royal women, queens and other goddesses.
The vulture crown was worn by the rulers and principal wives of the pharaohs. The crown represented a vulture with its wings hanging on both sides of the wearer’s head, symbolizing the protection Nekhbet offered to the wearer.
Mut, another Egyptian goddess, was also depicted with a distinctive vulture headdress. It is believed that she was associated with the animal because her name meant mother and vultures are like mothers harboring their children. Like Nekhbet, Mut was considered a fierce defender of her young.
Joining the ranks of the well-known Egyptian deities associated with vultures is Satet, goddess of war, fertility and hunting. She also wore a vulture crown, but hers was unique in that it had two huge antelope horns attached to it. Although the symbolism of the vulture as protective mother remains unchanged, the antelope horns complement it as a sign of spiritual love, giving the majestic Nile River its vital energy.
The spiritual meaning of the vulture in the Bible is that of an impure animal because they feed on carcasses. These birds are linked to the realm of death, and leaving bodies in their care was a sign of exclusion from society and from God.
In Christianity, the meaning of the vulture symbolizes judgment, shame and a diseased spiritual condition.
Babylon the Great is illustrated as a place for evil, demons and vultures. These birds are even linked to the Devil, who diverts you from the path of life and hunts you when you stray from the spiritual ways of Christ.
The circling vulture is a symbol of the devil waiting to devour his prey.
Jesus refers to the vultures as the birds that will pick up the carcasses, cleansing the birds from among the right people at the end of time, in the book of Revelations.
Ellen Trechend is a monster with three vulture heads in Irish mythology. This creature destroyed Ireland until the hero Amergin mac Eccit killed it.
In Celtic Ireland, shamans held a ritual called“sky burial,” in which corpses were left in a high-altitude region to be eaten by vultures.
These birds are also depicted on the walls of megalithic structures and symbolize the spirits that carry the dead to the Other World.
It is believed that the cairns where these things happened were built to help the shamans create this bridge between this world and the spirit world.
In Ireland, the law forbids the killing of vultures, the spiritual significance of the vulture is also one of cleanliness in this region, as it eats rodents and is not a threat to domestic and farm animals.
But what does the vulture symbolize in Celtic tradition? They consider it an intelligent bird that knows how and when to consume its energy. It is a symbol of rest and replenishment of energy. It is associated with the Sabbath which is the first day of the week.
What does it mean to dream of a vulture?
The meaning of seeing vultures in dreams is good luck, of something good that is about to happen to you.
You may dream of vultures circling and wonder: “Why are vultures circling in the sky? Vultures circling in the sky speak of something terrible about to happen, the loss of something valuable in your life, and a warning for you to be prepared.
what does it mean when you see a flock of vultures? A flock of vultures means that someone you know will make a lot of money.
But the meaning of the flock of vultures can also be that you help someone with those finances.
what does it mean if a vulture crosses your path in your dream? If vultures circling, you should be prepared for something terrible. It is a harbinger of great misfortune.
To dream of vultures attacking you speaks of the disappointment that someone close to you is going to bring you. A vulture attacking is an illustration of a person who gossips everything you tell him.
A dream with vultures, that is, with the presence of a dead vulture, is a sign of financial gain.
what does it mean to see a black vulture? Black vulture symbolism in dreams has to do with listening to your conscience and not doing the things you know you shouldn’t do.
Symbolism of the Vulture as a Power Animal or Totem
The vulture spirit animal is associated with harmony, purity and cleanliness for the reason that it eats the dead and does not let disease spread.
The vulture spirit animal makes its appearance in your life when you are suffering to remind you that by suffering, you will grow and evolve into a higher being. This animal can also help you achieve clairvoyance and see auras, enlightening you spiritually.
The significance of the vulture as a spiritual animal is to act quickly upon spotting opportunity, using the bird’s keen eye. The vulture is also a reminder to pay more attention to yourself and take care of your own needs, just as the vulture keeps itself clean by not having feathers to infect on its head while eating.