The Ultimate Guide To Eagle Symbolism & Meaning

Inside: Discover the symbolism behind eagles, including the bald eagle, from the perspective of various cultures, religions, regions around the world, folklore, and a lot more!

Eagles are large predatory birds with wide wingspans and a powerful demeanor. The characteristics of eagles have been personified in a variety of ways for centuries.

They are usually considered good omens representing admirable qualities like strength and bravery.

The symbolism or meaning of eagles varies from culture to culture and by the type of eagle presented. Eagle symbolism remains an important part of cultures around the world today.

Symbolism by Type of Eagle

Each eagle species has characteristics that make it unique. These characteristics often relate to how each type is symbolized. 

Types of eagles are generally native to specific regions, making certain types of eagles relevant to specific cultures.

What Does a Bald Eagle Symbolize?

Bald eagles commonly symbolize attributes like strength, victory, freedom, pride, leadership, divinity, and loyalty. This strong symbolism can be related to their dominant, airborne nature and majestic appearance.

Being native to North America, bald eagles have been depicted primarily in Native American and modern American culture. 

What Does a Golden Eagle Symbolize?

Golden eagles are found all over the Northern Hemisphere and are considered the most widely populated eagle. Golden eagle symbolism exists in multiple ancient and modern civilizations.

Golden eagles symbolize many of the same attributes as bald eagles, like strength, bravery, and the divine. They also have been viewed as messengers and overall good omens.

What Does a Harpy Eagle Symbolize?

Harpy eagle perched on branch
Harpy eagle. Image by Wolfgang Lucht from Pixabay

The harpy eagle is found in parts of South and Central America. Brazilian tribes use the harpy eagle to symbolize skill and eagerness. Harpy eagles can also represent the personification of chiefs.

There are a few modern instances of symbolism for harpy eagles, including financial success and the specific strengths a person possesses.

What Does a White Eagle Symbolize?

A white eagle is not technically a species of bird, but as a symbol, it is commonly associated with spirituality. The color white has been used in many religions to represent purity and holiness. White eagles symbolize these attributes and symbolize one’s connection to spirituality in general.

What Does a Black Eagle Symbolize?

Black eagles are found in South and Southeastern Asia. Some Indian cultures view them as a representation of a god. Others use black eagles to symbolize the cycle of life. In general, black eagles are often used to symbolize rebirth, illusions, protection, and mysteries.

What Does a Brown Eagle Symbolize? 

Brown golden eagle with wings outstretched
(Brown) golden eagle. Image by Kevinsphotos from Pixabay

Brown eagles symbolize many of the things seen in other eagle symbolism. These include rebirth, perseverance, and bravery. The color brown is often used to symbolize a connection with the earth. Thus, brown eagles can also symbolize nature in general.

Eagle Symbolism by the Type of Source

What is the source of the eagle symbolism? That can impact its meaning.

Spiritual-Eagle

Spirituality is a term that generalizes beliefs based upon a world or existence beyond material things. In a spiritual sense, eagles represent growth, perseverance, and rebirth. They symbolize a positive omen, where seeing an eagle indicates being on the right spiritual path.

Spiritual-Bald Eagle

Bald eagles are commonly used as spirit animals, symbolizing leadership and independence.

Spiritual-Golden Eagle

Golden eagle
Golden eagle. Image by Steffen Wachsmuth from Pixabay

Golden eagles spiritually symbolize majesty, wisdom, and power.

Spiritual-Harpy Eagle

Harpy eagles spiritually symbolize protection, strength, and a good omen for finances.

Spiritual-Eagle Eyes

Eagle eyes have a spiritual meaning as well. Due to eagles’ excellent vision that gives them the ability to be such competent hunters, their eyes are spiritually symbolic. Eagle eyes can represent qualities like quick thinking, awareness, and accuracy. 

Prophetic-Eagle

There have been many mentions of Eagles in prophecies throughout history. In some religions, including Christianity, seeing an eagle meant God was on your side. Eagles can be prophetic of good fortune for those that encounter them.

Prophetic-Bald Eagle

A prophetic bald eagle represents salvation or power.

Prophetic-Golden Eagle

A gold eagle can be a prophetic source of good fortune, endurance, or a symbol of protection.

Prophetic-White Eagle

A prophetic white eagle may represent the holy spirit in Christianity or hope in other belief systems.

Prophetic-Eagle Eye

An eagle eye can be a symbol representing a prophet or seeing life with clarity.

Eagles in Dreams

Eagles in dreams are often interpreted as spiritually significant. An eagle appearing in a dream may symbolize fulfillment, freedom, overcoming obstacles, or completing one’s goals.

Examples of common dream scenarios involving eagles include:

  • An eagle flying above you symbolizes freedom or success.
  • An eagle looking at you in a dream symbolizes luck or being on the right track.

A dream involving a specific eagle:

  • A bald eagle in a dream symbolizes freedom and success.
  • A gold eagle in a dream symbolizes holiness or a connection to the divine.
  • A white eagle symbolizes a connection to spirituality.
  • A black eagle symbolizes rebirth or overcoming struggle.

Eagle Symbolism in Death

Eagles may mean different things, depending on the context of the death.

A Dead Eagle

Finding a dead eagle can symbolize: 

  • The end of success, luck, or the attributes the eagle symbolizes while alive.
  • The cycle of life.
  • Growth and rebirth – moving on from the past and starting a new chapter.

Seeing an Eagle After Someone Dies

After the death of a person, seeing an eagle is considered a good omen. The eagle in this situation can symbolize a guardian angel watching over the deceased person. It can also symbolize the deceased person themselves in some religions with a form of reincarnation.

Eagle Symbolism in Religion

Religions throughout history have used eagles to symbolize a God or positive attributes. Many religions still being used today treat eagles as symbols of divinity and holiness.

Christianity

spiritual meaning through christian bible

Eagles in the bible represent a connection to God. Moses can be quoted in Deuteronomy 32:11 saying God is “…like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions.”

Other passages depict eagles as a symbol of strength. In Psalm 103:5, it is said that “…who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

The eagle is a positive example throughout the bible. In analogies, positive traits are related to eagles in a context of strength or morality.

Hinduism

In Hinduism, the eagle symbolizes the vahana, or mount, of Lord Vishnu. The deity Garuda is represented as an eagle and is considered the king of birds. Garuda symbolizes power and victory.

Seeing an eagle is regarded as a positive omen in Hinduism. It generally means good fortune is coming your way, particularly regarding finances or social status.

Buddhism

Similar to Hinduism, Buddhist texts reference Garuda with eagle symbolism. However, the Buddhist texts describe Garuda as being intelligent, large, eagle-like beings. They are considered divine and closer to God than humans.

Islam

In Islam, eagles are viewed as a direct creation of Allah. They are used to symbolize success in battle, nobility, and protection. An eagle can also represent a strong warrior that displays bravery on the battlefield.

Muslims may interpret seeing an eagle in a dream or vision as a symbol of improving one’s status or honor.

Mythology and Folklore in Different Cultures

Because eagles can be found around the world, different cultures have different depictions of them. Each culture has unique folklore regarding eagles and their cultural significance.

Native American

dream catcher representing bird meaning to native indians

Native Americans viewed eagles in general as being sacred and close to God. Some tribes use their feathers for ceremonial attire in honor of their majestic presence. According to the chief of the Osage nation, known as Standing Bear, Native Americans consider eagles holy and representative of God.

Native American-Golden Eagle

Gold eagle feathers are the most coveted feathers for Native American ceremony attire. Symbolic of strength, bravery, and wisdom. 

Like bald eagle feathers, golden eagle feathers have been used for ceremonial attire. Golden eagles’ feathers are even more coveted, however, given to warriors for acts of bravery. Golden eagles also symbolize a connection to God for many Native American cultures. 

Native American-White Eagle 

The name White Eagle is symbolic of a spiritual guide for Native Americans. 

United States

Bald eagle closup looking straight into the camera
Bald eagle. Image by Peter Kraayvanger from Pixabay

The founding fathers of the United States made the bald eagle the national bird in 1782. Bald eagles appear on US currency, logos for government institutions, and in patriotic situations. President John F. Kennedy once wrote: “The fierce beauty and proud independence of this great bird aptly symbolizes the strength and freedom of America.”

Celtic

celtic symbol celtic meaning

Celtic mythology describes eagles as one of the oldest types of animals. They are used to symbolize wisdom and the overcoming of obstacles.

Zulu Culture

The Zulu people view the eagle as a symbol of creation and of God’s power. Eagles are held in high regard and are a clear representation of divine creation.

Ancient Egypt

The primary depiction of an eagle in ancient Egyptian mythology is as the Goddess Nekhbet. She appears as an eagle and represents protection, especially of the pharaoh. 

Other general symbolism of eagles in Egyptian folklore includes using them to represent fertility and rebirth. 

Mesopotamia

In ancient Mesopotamia, the sun God was depicted as being an eagle with two heads. This two-headed deity represents duality.

Mesopotamian art depicts eagles as a vehicle to the Gods or the afterlife.

Greek

Status of Zeus from the Greek Mythology
Zeus. Image by Peter Kraayvanger from Pixabay

In Greek Mythology, the eagle is often associated with the God Zeus. It is viewed as a symbol and an extension of him. In the story of Prometheus, an eagle symbolizing Zeus was said to eat the liver of Prometheus repeatedly in the afterlife.

Ancient Greek stories also depict eagles as being messengers to the Gods.

Roman

The eagle was an important symbol of ancient Rome. The Roman legion had a specified carrier, known as the Aquilifer, that would carry an eagle symbol into battle.

An eagle was viewed as a prestigious animal, symbolizing bravery, strength, and the Roman Empire itself. 

Nordic Culture

In Norse mythology, Odin was often represented as an eagle. He was able to turn himself into an eagle at will. 

Nordic cultures use the eagle to symbolize attributes like power, bravery, and triumph.

Arabic Culture

The Eagle of Saladin is displayed on the coat of arms of multiple Arabian countries like Egypt, Yemen, and Iraq. It was also once the symbol of the United Arab Republic. 

Arabic culture generally views the eagle as a symbol of strength or nobility.

Taiwan

Similar to Native American cultures, indigenous Taiwanese groups use eagle feathers for ceremonial purposes. The eagle is viewed by them as sacred. It symbolizes bravery and ancestral importance.

Chinese

The eagle appears in some Chinese artwork as a symbol of strength.

There are various examples of eagles in Chinese folklore and mythology. They include

  • Depicting the God of thunder as a half-man half-eagle.
  • Symbolizing an eagle with a bear as a hero.
  • Depicting an eagle in a tree as a symbol of old age.

Japanese

In Japanese folklore, eagles symbolize the power of nature. Existing since ancient times, they represent the resilience and prowess of the natural world. Additionally, a god appears like an eagle in Shinto mythology. 

Mongolia

The Kazakh Nation of Western Mongolia uses golden eagles as hunting companions. They can train the birds to hunt prey and bring it back to them, exhibiting a symbiotic relationship.

In Mongolian culture, eagles have represented strength and bravery for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

Aboriginal Australian Culture

A God of Aboriginal mythology known as Bunjil is depicted as an eagle. He is known as the ancestral wedge-tailed eagle or the creator. According to legend, Bunjil created land, animals, and people. 

Eagles in Aboriginal culture are viewed as sacred animals symbolic of the divine.

Aztec/Mexican Culture

The Aztecs were a warrior society that associated the eagle with a warrior. There is even a day in the Aztec calendar named eagle as a tribute to Aztec warriors. The Aztec God known as Huitzilopochtli was also depicted as an eagle. The Aztecs used eagles as a symbol of victory and bravery.

Legend says that the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan was built in a place where an eagle was seen eating a snake. This symbol can be seen on the Coat of Arms of Mexico, signifying the continued importance of eagle symbolism to Mexican culture.

Shamanic

In some Shamanic traditions, eagle feathers have been used in medicines. The feathers are viewed as having healing properties

Other Shamanic beliefs involve viewing eagles as sacred symbols or representations of the divine.

Spirit Animal-Eagle

Having an eagle as a spirit animal can mean a person is a leader, a strong individual, or a messenger.

Spirit Animal-Golden Eagle 

A golden eagle spirit animal symbolizes leadership and freedom.

Spirit Animal – White Eagle

A white eagle spirit animal symbolizes being a messenger or having a connection to the divine.

Other Eagle Symbolisms

There are also different types of symbolism depending on if the eagle is a totem or omen.

Totems

Eagle totem pole
Eagle totem pole. Image by ELLE RITTER from Pixabay

Eagles have been used on totems by indigenous tribes to represent positive attributes like intuition, strength, and bravery. Either bald eagles or golden eagles can be seen on totems, largely symbolizing the same traits. 

Omens

Eagles are almost universally seen as good omens. Representing the correct spiritual path, leadership, and rebirth.

However, as discussed above, a dead eagle may connote the loss of the good attributes represented by the eagle.

Tattoos

A man with an eagle tattoo on his chest
Eagle tattoo.

Tattoos of eagles can represent a variety of meanings. Someone may get an eagle tattoo for religious reasons, associated with the eagle’s divinity. Another person may get an eagle tattoo because they are patriotic and eagles appear in various countries’ flags and images.

Eagle Feather Tattoo

An eagle feather tattoo can be linked to Native American beliefs regarding them as sacred. A feather tattoo can symbolize honor or courage.

Eagle Snake Tattoo

An eagle and snake tattoo can symbolize the duality of wisdom and passion. The eagle represents wisdom while the snake represents passion.

Eagle Eye Tattoo

An eagle eye tattoo may represent intuition or the ability to see life with clarity. 

Eagle Fighting Snake Tattoo

An eagle fighting a snake tattoo can represent two sides of a struggle, where the eagle is successfully defeating the snake. This symbolizes overcoming a threat or being powerful.

Eagle Flying Tattoo

An eagle flying tattoo can represent protection or freedom. 

Black Eagle Tattoo

A black eagle tattoo can represent rebirth or overcoming challenges.

Eagle Tattoo for Guys

Men generally get eagle tattoos as a means to symbolize patriotism, courage, freedom, and strength. 

Specific Eagle Symbolisms

There are different types of symbolism, depending on what the eagle is doing, or which type it is.

Eagle Wings

Eagle wings may symbolize protection and divinity. Often guardian angels are depicted with them. As a symbol, eagle wings are generally meant to portray being lifted spiritually. 

An Eagle Eating a Snake

An eagle eating a snake may depict overcoming difficulties or a power struggle. The snake is seen as a foe of some kind while the eagle is seen as being victorious over it. As mentioned above, this symbol appears on the Mexican coat of arms.

Golden Eagle Pendant Meaning

Eagles appear in jewelry as a physical representation of the symbolism found in relative cultures and religions. A golden eagle pendant may symbolize freedom, bravery, or wisdom.

Eagle Eye Necklace Meaning

An eagle eye necklace can symbolize intuition, wisdom, or accuracy.

More Eagle Symbolism

What Does It Mean When You See An Eagle …

When you see an eagle it’s a symbol of rebirth and the coming of spring.

When you see 3 eagles it’s a good omen, something significant is going to happen.

When you see an eagle flying it means you are on the right path.

When you see an eagle flying up it’s a symbol of freedom and overcoming obstacles.

When you see an eagle flying down, it’s a symbol of rebirth.

When you see an eagle flying over you it means you need to reassess the situation. It can also mean you are protected.

When you see an eagle with wings spread it’s a symbol of protection or hope for the future.

When you see an eagle landing it means something new may be coming into your life.

When you see an eagle in a backyard it’s a symbol that spring has arrived and the eagle may be hunting.

When you see an eagle circling it means the eagles are watching you or watching over you.

When you see an eagle sitting on a house it means your house is protected and your property watched over.

When you see an eagle feather in your yard it’s a symbol for rebirth and new life.

When you see an eagle after someone dies it means a guardian is watching over the dead.

When you see an eagle and snake it signifies a power struggle.

When you see a bald eagle it symbolizes freedom, courage, strength, wisdom, or the divine.

When you see a dead eagle it’s a symbol of the cycle of life.

Is Seeing an Eagle Good Luck?

Most cultures view seeing an eagle as good luck and a good omen overall. It can be a reminder that you are protected or on the right path in life.

Conclusion

Eagles represent a variety of bird species located in many regions around the world. Cultures have been using them as symbols in mythology and folklore for centuries. 

Eagles are still used as symbols in religions and government organizations today. Their strong and distinct characteristics make them ideal symbols to personify positive human traits.