pelican symbolism

PELICAN SYMBOLISM: Interpretations, Spirit, Totem and Power Animal

Image 1
Image 2
Image 3
Image 4
Image 5


The unique long beak and wide throat pouch of pelicans are well-known features. Since the Middle Ages, they have been held in great regard by many popular cultures. The pelican, a member of the huge water bird family, has a massive neck pouch that can contain up to three liters of water.

  • Majority of habitats: Coastal regions and warmer inland bodies of water such as rivers and lakes.
  • Migratory behavior: Pelicans migrate in flocks, hunt, and reproduce in colonies.
  • Food sources: They primarily feed on fish, crabs, turtles, and insects.
  • Breathtaking movements: Pelicans are impressive when diving headfirst for prey or flying with their expansive wings spread.

You may have a particular place in your heart for pelicans if you enjoy being near them, watching what they do, feeding them when you can, or just having a deep affection for them. The pelican may be your spirit animal if you see a lot of traits and qualities in common between yourself and the bird.

pelican symbolism

Characteristics And Personality

Social BehaviorPelicans live in flocks, migrating in V formations or single lines, symbolizing unity, dependability, and trustworthiness.
Birth TotemThose with pelican as their birth totem maintain harmonious relationships with emotions, balancing head and heart, and staying mindful.
Elemental SymbolismRepresenting harmony, pelicans embody the balance among water, air, and land – core elements of nature.
Hunting BehaviorPrecision strikes for prey symbolize deep emotional reflection.
Spiritual SignificanceAs spirit animals, pelicans signify grace, motherhood, sacrifice, and teamwork.
Cultural AssociationsPelicans hold significance in Egyptian, Christian mythology, and heraldic iconography.

Key Points

  • Pelicans are associated with wealth and giving in a spiritual sense.
  • The sight of a pelican can represent overcoming adversity, rebirth and reinvention, ties to family, the afterlife, self-care, staying away from commitment, luck and fortune on the straight path in life, unrequited love, and developing humility.
  • Pelicans stand for plenty and generosity, protection and care, adaptability and tenacity.
  • Pelicans are significant symbols in both classical mythology and Christianity.

Pelicans Symbolism and Meanings

Pelicans are adept at spotting opportunities when they present themselves. They locate a vantage point from which they may patiently and intently watch. When the time is right, they strike, skillfully grabbing their lunch.

  • Pelican’s dive symbolizes deep self-awareness.
  • Represents self-initiation, attention, perseverance, style.
  • Embodies community and partnership.
  • Forges strong cooperative relationships through group fishing.
  • Remarkable hunting coordination directs fish towards the flock.
  • Pelican gathers and stores fish in its pouch.
pelican symbolism


  • Pouch Symbolism:
    • Pelican’s pouch represents gathering water and ideas; small bills suggest lack of nourishment, large bills imply aptitude for information gathering.
  • Flight Symbolism:
    • With wings spanning ten feet, pelicans fly in V formation, symbolizing unity and progressive movement, covering up to 100 miles daily.
  • Maternal Instincts:
    • Known for nurturing and sacrificing for their young, pelicans embody maternal instincts and spiritual significance in various cultures.

8 Symbols of a Pelican Crossing Your Path

Fortune Is On Its WayPelican sightings signify good luck and prosperity, fostering abundance in various life facets like relationships and career growth.
More Family Time Is NeededEncountering pelicans hints at the importance of family bonds, urging individuals to prioritize quality time with loved ones for reconnection and nurturing relationships.
Keep Following Your PathPelicans symbolize trust and assurance in life choices, guiding individuals to stay committed to their paths with confidence and resilience.
Special Connection with the AfterlifePelicans suggest a spiritual connection, potentially signifying the presence of departed loved ones or messages from the beyond, prompting introspection and attention to spiritual guidance.
Improve Self-CarePelicans serve as reminders to prioritize self-care and well-being, urging individuals to rest, rejuvenate, and make healthier choices for their physical and emotional health.
Overcome AdversityEncountering pelicans symbolizes resilience and triumph over obstacles, inspiring individuals to face challenges with courage and perseverance, fostering personal growth.
Going through RenewalPelicans represent renewal and transformation, encouraging individuals to embrace change and opportunities for reinvention, fostering personal growth and revitalization.
Now Is Not the Time for CommitmentPelicans signify independence and freedom, suggesting a need for introspection before committing to relationships or life decisions, fostering patience and self-reflection.

Spirit Animal

  • Seize Opportunities: Embrace fortuitous openings and exercise patience in decision-making.
  • Active Team Player: Engage with like-minded individuals, build friendships, and accept and offer support.
  • Optimism vs. Pessimism: Assess your outlook and know when to release burdens to invite better opportunities.
  • Self-Compassion: Prioritize self-care, forgiveness, and addressing personal needs for holistic growth.
pelican symbolism

Pelican Spirit Animal Positive Powers:

  • Grace: Symbolizes elegance and charm, living life with sophistication and style.
  • Kindness: Represents love and compassion, helping others with humility and optimism.
  • Motherhood: Signifies selflessness and care, being protective and nurturing towards loved ones.
  • Self-sacrifice: Going the extra mile for others, being a pillar of support and understanding.
  • Resourcefulness: Showing strength and persistence in overcoming challenges.
  • Teamwork: Valuing collaboration and support, working together towards common goals.
  • Transition: Guiding through change and uncertainty, embracing growth and adaptation.
  • Protection: Being vigilant and loyal, safeguarding loved ones from harm.
  • Traveler: Embracing adventure and exploration, seeking new experiences and horizons.

Pelican Spirit Animal Negative Powers:

  • Sacrifice: Balancing selflessness with self-care, avoiding exploitation of kindness.
  • Sensitive: Maintaining boundaries while offering support, avoiding emotional exhaustion.
  • Solidarity: Finding balance between socializing and solitude, practicing mindfulness for clarity and self-reflection.

Totem Animal

Pelican Totem TraitsDescription
Emotional Awareness and FocusPelican Totem individuals navigate life with emotional intelligence, mindfulness, and intense focus.
Balanced Head and HeartThey maintain equilibrium between intellect and emotions, excelling in information gathering and sharing, making teaching a suitable career.
Selflessness and CommunicationPelican Totem bearers prioritize others’ needs but may neglect their own, excelling in group communication and social efforts coordination.
Minimalist Travel LifestyleEmbracing minimalist travel, they carry essentials to prioritize experiences over material possessions.
Meditation and Water ConnectionMeditation aids in self-reflection and emotional connection, crucial for their well-being, as they resonate with the Water Element. Silence in meditation offers renewal and divine connection.

Power Animal

Use your inner Pelican Power Animal to help you make the right decision when you need a reliable buddy at a difficult period in your life. Pelican energy is serene even when you’re feeling uneasy. Its energies guide you and point you in the direction of the ideal individual for the job at hand.

  • If you’re a perpetual student or delving into higher studies, your Pelican Power Animal aids in sorting and storing vast amounts of information for future use.
  • Pelican assists in navigating group dynamics, especially during awkward moments, offering support to regroup and recover gracefully.
pelican symbolism

Cultural Myths

Early Christian

Early Church Reverence:

  • The early church revered Pelicans, particularly focusing on the female as a powerful mother figure.
  • Associated with a story of self-sacrifice during famine, where a Pelican used her blood to nourish her young, symbolizing devotion and sacrifice.

Pelican as a Global Symbol:

  • Ancient Egyptians depicted Pelicans in tombs, associating them with death and safe passage through the afterlife.
  • Medieval bestiaries and heraldry portrayed Pelicans as pious creatures, linked to sacrifice and safety.
  • The limerick by Dixon Lanier Merritt humorously highlights the Pelican’s remarkable bill and feeding behavior.

Alchemical Symbolism:

  • Pelicans were significant in ancient alchemy, symbolizing self-sacrifice in the pursuit of the philosopher’s stone.


In alchemy, the pelican symbolizes transformation and purification, representing the process of distillation where substances are purified and reintegrated into a higher form. This symbolism reflects the idea of extracting essence, purifying it, and achieving spiritual enlightenment through sacrifice.

Egyptian Influence:

  • In Egyptian mythology, pelicans were associated with the god Horus and Ra, the sun god, symbolizing rebirth and regeneration.

Aboriginal Culture:

  • Pelicans hold significance in Aboriginal culture, symbolizing family, community, and cooperative behavior, serving as models for human interaction and compassion.

Native American

  • The pelican was given various totems by Native American tribes, ranging from a Rain Bringer to a Death Bird.

Pelican symbolism catholic

The pelican, which symbolizes self-sacrifice and redemption, is frequently connected to Christ and the Eucharist in Catholic symbolism. The old concept that pelicans will pierce their own breasts to feed their young with their blood is the source of this symbolism, which compares Christ’s death on the cross to

provide spiritual sustenance for believers. As a result, in Catholic imagery, the pelican came to represent Christ’s love, sacrifice, and the Eucharist.


  • The Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana are the two main symbols of the pelican in modern American culture.


  • The indigenous clans of Australia believed them to be Firestarters who introduced humanity to fire.


Is “Alcatraz” someone you know? The Spanish word “Alcatraces,” which was the pelicans’ historical name, is where this English name originates. The brown pelicans that made their nests on the islands were specifically mentioned by name.

Because the word “albatross” is derived from “alcatraces,” some people in various parts of Spain also thought the two might be related. But as of yet, there isn’t any scientific evidence for it.

pelican symbolism


Similar to other animal symbols, pelicans also appear in literature and dreams with symbolic meaning

Dream Symbolism

Dream ScenarioDream Interpretation
Flying pelicanSomeone may try to claim something rightfully yours, stay composed and give your best effort.
Catching a pelicanAnticipate disappointing news, focus on the positives in your life and trust in the timing of events.
Pelican floating on waterSymbolizes peaceful flow in upcoming weeks, everything will align with your plans, enjoy the harmony.
Killing a pelicanSignifies standing by your choices confidently, remain true to yourself without feeling the need to apologize for your beliefs.
Pelican attackingIndicates unintentionally crossing boundaries with someone close, reflect on recent interactions and offer apologies if necessary.
Flock of pelicansPositive indication, signifies strong support from friends, family, or colleagues, embrace their belief in you and your ideas.
Pelican surrounded by other birdsEmphasizes the importance of compromise in relationships, while maintaining personal principles.
Pelican swallowing a fishCaution against lending significant amounts of money or sharing private property details, stay wary of potential deceptive individuals.
Pelican feeding its chicksEncouragement to focus on nurturing relationships or taking on caregiving responsibilities.
Pelican flyingRepresents the desire for freedom and the need to embrace opportunities while rising above challenges.
Pelican diving into waterSuggests exploring emotions and uncovering hidden aspects of oneself.
Injured or struggling pelicanReflects feelings of vulnerability, prompts attention to emotional well-being and addressing challenges.
Pelican in dreamsMessages of kindness and care, symbolizing selflessness and the importance of generosity, nurturing instincts, desire for freedom, creativity, and adaptability, as well as vulnerability and emotional well-being.

Pelicans in Literature

  • In John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Satan is compared to a “foul and ominous bird of night,” which is thought to be the pelican. It has associations with evil and gloom because of this.
  • Shakespeare emphasizes ideas of sacrifice by referencing the pelican’s beak cutting her breast in Hamlet.
  • It is portrayed in Percy Shelley’s poem “The Pelican” as a grieving mother figure who finally deserts her young.

Tattoo: Pelican Symbolism

Pelicans are big, strong birds, and their tattoos reflect that. Tattoos of pelicans can represent many different things to various individuals. The pelicans are the ideal tattoo design for someone who believes that air and water are their components. Because their spirits are adept at both air and water, you can harness their power.


  • Pelicans symbolize sacrifice, embodying the pursuit of greater good even at personal cost, making a serene flying pelican tattoo ideal for those who resonate with this philosophy.
  • Pelicans also signify harmony, being protective and socially conscious, making them a perfect tattoo choice for expressing similar feelings towards one’s community, with the option of each person getting a small pelican tattooed on their arm or ankle.
pelican symbolism

Practical Applications :

Pelican Symbolism
Reflect on whether you need to revive any ‘dormant’ parts of yourself.
Examine ways you can balance individual needs with caring for your ‘flock’ or community.
Tap into the pelican’s determination and resilience in the face of challenges.
Practice prudence and budgeting of your resources as the pelican does.
Allow times of solitude amid group endeavors to reconnect spiritually.

Pelican as Messenger

It’s a unique indication if pelicans appear in your life as messengers. These birds convey sentiments of compassion and love. The pelican advises you to concentrate on assisting others because of its nurturing disposition. These messengers serve as a gentle reminder to act with compassion and altruism.

  • Take care of relationships, akin to pelicans caring for their young, as suggested by your dream.
  • Embrace independence, symbolized by the pelican’s flight in your life, urging graceful navigation of obstacles.
  • Investigate your feelings deeply, prompted by a pelican diving into your thoughts, uncovering personal facets.
  • Exercise resourcefulness, akin to the pelican’s presence, inspiring original problem-solving and adaptability to circumstances.

Consider vulnerability if a pelican in your messaging seems to be suffering. Recognize your feelings and take care of any issues you may be having.

Pelican meaning slang?

In slang, the term “pelican” usually refers to a big bill or nose; it’s frequently used in jest or ridicule to characterize someone with a noticeable facial feature. The wide beak of the bird can also be used metaphorically to represent someone who gossips or talks too much.

Changes in Symbolism Over Time

  • Because of their religious associations, pelicans in Europe during the Middle Ages primarily represented the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
  • On the other hand, pelicans are now used as secular representations of qualities like environmentalism, plenty, community, and nurturing.
  • Feminine nurturing traits have taken the place of previous links with masculine warrior traits.
  • Originally honored in Christianity and heraldry, pelican imagery is currently utilized in conservation initiatives.
pelican symbolism


Pelicans are the perfect example of steadfastness, sociability, and adaptability due to their alluring beauty and rich symbolism. Meetings with them frequently indicate how crucial it is to include these attributes into one’s life. With their rich cultural history, pelicans are a universal emblem of plenty, community,

sacrifice, and isolation that offer spiritual and human nature lessons. With their unique appearance and gregarious manner, pelicans are powerful representations of humility, selflessness, unity, and generosity that teach us important life lessons.


  1. What does the pelican symbolize in different cultures?
    • Across cultures, pelicans stand for plenty, community, sacrifice, and isolation. In Christianity, they stand for selflessness, but in the mythology of ancient Egypt, they are associated with maternal care and protection.
  2. What does it mean if you see a pelican in your dreams?
    • A pelican in your dream can represent encouraging ingenuity and flexibility, exploring emotions profoundly, pursuing independence, gracefully conquering hurdles, or strengthening connections.
  3. What virtues are associated with pelican symbolism?
    • Pelicans are seen to represent the values of humility, sacrifice, charity, and unity; they are also thought to be examples of selflessness in providing care and unity in social situations.
  4. How can pelican symbolism be applied practically in daily life?
    • In practical terms, pelican symbolism promotes introspection on elements that are dormant, striking a balance between personal demands and community support, perseverance in the face of adversity, wise resource management, and discovering spiritual renewal in solitude amidst social interactions.
  5. Why are pelicans considered remarkable symbols in spirituality?
    • Because of their ingrained cultural meaning, pelicans are exceptional spiritual symbols because they stand for important ideas like abundance, community, and sacrifice. Their calm demeanor provides insightful perspectives on human nature and spiritual development.
  6. Where did the symbolism of pelicans originate?
    • Early symbolic representations of sacrifice and rebirth were inspired by the sacrificial story of pelicans feeding their young with their blood.
  7. In what ways are pelicans symbolic in different cultures?
    • Based on tribal stories, symbolism extends from the firestarter in Aboriginal communities to the resurrector in Ancient Egypt.
  8. Can a pelican be indicative of more than one thing?
    • There are many ways to interpret pelican symbolism, ranging from abundance and meditation to selflessness.

Similar Posts