Eagles are considered the kings of all the birds, and with their majestic countenance and their powerful presence, it’s not hard to understand why.
Eagles have come to symbolize many things to various cultures around the world – so for those who want to find out more, in this post, we talk about the spiritual meanings of seeing an eagle in real life or in a dream.
what does the eagle symbolize? (Spiritual Meanings)
Before we talk about the symbolism eagles have according to different cultures, let’s think about the characteristics eagles have that have given rise to the kind of associations we have with them.
When we think of eagles, we think of noble birds. Their serious faces seem to suggest great wisdom and responsibility – these are not frivolous animals.
We also think about their great power as well as their ability to strike their prey with great speed, qualities that have been revered by many peoples around the world.
Eagles are known to soar high up into the sky, and for this reason, they are associated with freedom and individuality.
However, at the same time, they mate for life, and the males also help with rearing the chicks, which means they have come to represent faithful relationships and homemaking. Their practice of constructing huge nests that they add to each year reinforces this impression.
Another characteristic of the eagle is its keen eyesight. It is no coincidence that we use expressions like “eagle-eyed” to describe someone who doesn’t easily miss anything – in fact, eagles’ eyesight is up to eight times better than ours.
For these reasons, eagles are associated with clear vision, clear thinking – and even psychic foresight. They are also associated with leadership, which is part of the reason why they are often called the kings of the birds.
However, their prowess as ruthless hunters has also seen them associated with war, martial matters and oppression.
Eagle symbolism in different cultures (Spiritual Meanings)
Most species of eagles are found in Europe, Africa and Asia, but some are also present in North America. They are large, impressive birds, and they have acquired a deep symbolism for many cultures around the world, so let’s look at this now.
Although the various Native American tribes have many different traditions and beliefs, the eagle is one of the most important animal symbols to many of them. In general, it represents traits like strength, wisdom, leadership and courage. It is also a powerful medicine animal.
The eagle’s ability to soar means it is seen as being close to the Creator, and it is also thought to act as a messenger for the Creator.
According to the Cherokee, the eagle is an important symbol of war, and one eagle’s feather is considered more powerful than a horse. In many tribes, eagle’s feathers are sacred and were often given to warriors who showed courage and valor in battle.
To the Zuni, the eagle was the guardian of the sky, with the mountain lion, the badger, the wolf, the bear and the mole being the guardians of north, south, east, west and the Earth, respectively.
The Pueblo and Hopi people also believed the eagle was the guardian of the sky, and they perform an eagle dance to honor it. For the Pawnee, the eagle’s tendency to construct great nests meant they were seen as symbols of fertility.
Native American mythology
Eagles also feature in the legends of several Native American tribes. The Comanche tell of a chief whose son died, and in his grief, he prayed to the Great Spirit. His prayer was answered, and his son was brought back as an eagle. This story is the origin of the Comanche eagle dance.
The Navajo have a different legend. According to their story, a great hero killed a monster, but in the nest, he discovered two babies. He realized that if he left them, they would also grow up into monsters that would terrorize the land, so instead, he brought them up himself.
As a result, the babies became an owl and an eagle instead.
The Pacific Northwest tribes have a story of how a warrior gave a salmon to an eagle. In return, the eagle brought salmon, sea lions and whales to the people to feed them during a famine.
Another Native American legend tells of the thunderbird, a great eagle-like bird that could summon thunder and lightning just by flapping its wings.
The Aztecs had a legend involving an eagle. In the distant past, they were a nomadic people, but the god Huitzilopochtli told them to look for an eagle perched on a cactus eating a snake and to found a village there.
This they did, and the village grew into what is modern-day Mexico City. To this day, the eagle is the symbol of Mexico.
The United States
Mexico is not the only country to use an eagle as its symbol. The United States has the bald eagle as its emblem because it is a native species that represents power, freedom and independence.
Ancient Greeks and Romans
To the Ancient Greeks, the eagle was associated with Zeus, who took the form of an eagle to control thunder and lightning. The eagle was also a symbol of the triumph of good over evil.
To the Romans, the eagle also represented victory, and in time, it came to symbolize the Roman Empire itself.
According to Celtic legend, the eagle was the second oldest of all animals after the salmon. It was associated with authority, leadership and higher thinking.
According to Nordic belief, an eagle sat on the branches of Yggdrasill, the World Tree, where the world of men meets the realm of the gods.
In the Old Testament, God sometimes takes the form of an eagle, and at other times, the eagle is the symbol of the Israelites’ freedom from Egypt.
The eagle is also mentioned as one of three animals and man that surround the throne of God – along with the ox and the lion.
Hinduism and Buddhism
In Hinduism and Buddhism, the Garuda, a mythical eagle-like creature is an important symbol. The Garuda is a powerful deity that has the power to stop the spinning of Earth, Heaven and Hell. Vishnu also rode a Garuda.
The Garuda is incorporated into the Pancasila emblem of Indonesia, and it is also the name of the national airline.
In Islamic thought, the eagle represents warlike ferocity, nobility and power.
Pre-Islamic Arabic beliefs
In the pre-Islamic world, a myth told of the roc, a huge eagle that was strong enough to carry away an elephant. Sinbad the Sailor also met a roc when it tried to destroy his ship for disturbing its eggs.
According to a Sumerian legend, a king named Etana built a shrine to the god Adad, and a tree grew near to the shrine. An eagle made a nest in the tree and a snake lived beneath it, and they became good friends.
One day while the snake was away, the eagle ate the snake’s babies, so the sun god Shamash punished the eagle by clipping her wings and putting her in a hole.
However, Shamash took pity on the eagle and told king Etana about what had happened. Etana also pitied the eagle, so he rescued her from the hole and nursed her back to health.
In return, the eagle flew up to heaven and begged the god Ishtar to favor Etana with a child since he and his wife remained childless. Ishtar granted the wish, and soon after, Etana’s wife became pregnant.
The eagle was important to the Ancient Egyptians too, symbolizing protection. The goddess Nekhbet was depicted as an eagle with outstretched wings, protecting all beneath them. She was also responsible for protecting the Pharoah.
In China, the eagle and the bear together represent strength. A Taoist deity, Lei Gong, was also often depicted as being half eagle.
Seeing an eagle is considered auspicious in Japan. This is related to a legend about the sun goddess Amaterasu, who hid in a cave, bringing darkness to the land.
However, when Amenohiwashi-no-kami played music, an eagle landed on his instrument, and Amaterasu came out of the cave, bringing light back to the world.
In Mongolia, eagles symbolize courage and boldness.
Spiritual Meanings of Seeing An Eagle
If you are lucky enough to see an eagle in real life – or if one comes to you in a dream – it is likely that it carries a message that shouldn’t be ignored. Here are some of the most common interpretations of what it means when you see an eagle.
1. Freedom and independence
Eagles soar high in the sky, epitomizing freedom and independence, and one spiritual meaning of seeing an eagle, either in real life or a dream – can be related to freedom.
It could mean that you yearn for freedom, in which case, you need to think about how to achieve it and make the necessary changes in your life.
Alternatively, it could mean that you not giving someone else the freedom they need to live and breathe, so the dream is telling you to step back a bit and give them some space.
2. New beginnings
An eagle can represent new beginnings in your life. It could mean that something new is going to start in your life that you are worried about, and the message is that you should face the future with courage because everything will turn out for the best.
Another possibility is that you need to initiate change somehow yourself, be it in a relationship, your career or anything else. The message is telling you not to hesitate because the time to make that change is now before it’s too late.
3. Push yourself to new levels
If you are feeling unsure of yourself, an eagle may be a sign that you should push yourself to reach new levels. You won’t be able to fulfil your potential if you have no ambition, so aim for the sky and see what you can achieve.
4. You as an eagle – release hidden talents
Dreaming of being an eagle yourself can give you a similar message that you need to release your hidden talents. Perhaps you are not making the best use of your skills, and dreaming that you are an eagle can be a message that you shouldn’t let your abilities go to waste.
5. Be truthful to yourself
Sometimes we can lie to ourselves or pretend to be someone we are not, and seeing an eagle may be a message telling you to be true to yourself and to others. There’s no point living a lie, so be yourself – and learn to love yourself as you are.
6. Pay attention to spiritual matters
Eagles are considered close to the spirit world in many cultures, so seeing one may be a reminder that you need to pay more attention to the spiritual side of things.
We all need to balance the material with the spiritual if we want to lead healthy and fulfilled lives, and seeing an eagle can be a message that you are too focused on merely physical things.
7. Trapping an eagle – don’t oppress other people
If you dream of trapping an eagle, it may mean you are oppressing others. If this is the case, you need to learn to let them live their lives without trying to control everything they do.
8. A flying or perched eagle – good fortune to come
If you see an eagle flying high in the sky or sitting on a high perch, it is likely to be a message that good fortune is on its way to you.
9. Feeding an eagle – develop your skills
A dream of feeding an eagle may be a message that should concentrate on developing your skills so they can be of use to you when the time comes.
A powerful symbol that has been adopted by many peoples around the world
The eagle has been used as a symbol by many peoples around the world and represents qualities such as power, foresight, freedom, independence, wisdom and leadership.
If you see an eagle, either in real life or in a dream, it could carry an important message – and by using your intuition and searching deep within yourself, the spiritual meaning of that message will be revealed.