The meaning of the dream symbol: Bird

1. A bird may represent the sweet directness and simplicity of Nature, unpretentious and contented 'is-ness'. In this case, your dream may be telling you what you need to make room for in your life and in your fundamental attitudes. For example, the bird may be seen (or, indeed, heard) as calling you to an uncomplicated but holistic state of being, in which consciousness and body - spirit and matter - are completely attuned. This call will undoubtedly come if consciousness (brain) has become detached from the more primitive or primal layers of being (body, instinct, Nature).

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2. It may be that the bird signifies an entry into, or an invitation to enter, realms of spiritual power (symbolized by the sky). (In religious traditions that focus on a supreme sky-god - as in pre-modern Siberia - there is invariably a shaman, a person who is regarded as maintaining order and well-being in the human community and in the individual by maintaining a proper communication between the human world and the spirit world. The shaman is said to fly - to make contact with spirits or the sky-god himself - and his emblem is often a bird, sometimes worn in the form of a bird-mask.)

3. Because of its association with the shaman figure, a bird may symbolize some energy or function within your psyche that can bring you healing or wholeness or balance.

4. If the bird in the dream is taking wing, ask yourself if you, or some part of you, needs to take wing. Perhaps you are beginning to feel shackled by circumstances. Perhaps it is a particular component of your unconscious psyche that needs to be given its freedom - that is, accepted into consciousness and incorporated into your (external) life. (Sky is often a symbol of consciousness, contrasted with earth or sea, which may be symbols of the unconscious.)

5. If the bird is descending from the sky to you, you may need to consider another piece of bird symbolism. In mythology a bird, or a winged god (like the Roman Mercury), may serve as a messenger from the supreme deity. In psychological terms this may mean your dream is letting you know that your unconscious is offering you some great truth, some recipe for your healing, a solution of your problem(s), or the key to a new and fuller life.

Sometimes such a messenger bird is associated with the sun. The sun is a natural symbol of the source of truth (‘light') and of new life.

6. Possibly, a bird may be a sexual symbol. Freud saw it as a symbol of the male penis; and for men who are accustomed to speaking of attractive women as ‘birds’, a bird in a dream may presumably have sexual meaning.

7. A black bird, in addition to representing in a general way something in your unconscious, may symbolize the feminine in a negative aspect.

8. Carrion birds - vultures, crows, ravens and the like - are associated with death. Dreams do sometimes predict an event in the outside world, but such dreams are rare. If death is referred to in a dream it is more likely to express your anxiety about death - your own or someone else's.

Alternatively, the unconscious may be telling you that some phase of your life, some habitual attachment or negative attitude, has gone on long enough, and the time is ripe for a change. In other words, the dream is calling for the death of something within you, to make way for a new development in your life and/or in your personality.

Primarily, birds represent the spiritual longing of mind because of their ability to fly and their melodious song which may move our human spirit. However, there are also images of nesting in the bird archetype which may have references to our own family and homelife. In this case, it is important to observe the condition of the nest and the young within the nest. Is the nest safe? Are the chicks crying or chirping happily? Is the nest being built? All these answers are symbolic to the state of well-being in the home for the dreamer. Certain birds carry their own unique archetypical meanings.