dove symbolism for peace and purity

Dove Symbolism & Meaning: Ultimate Guide

The dove symbolism includes peace, love, hope, freedom, purity, and a messenger of the divine. The Bible plays a significant role in the modern day meaning of doves and their connection to the olive branch. In the Old Testament, doves are mentioned multiple times, starting from Jesus’ baptism and continuing to the story of Noah after the flood. In this article, we will explore the dove symbolism, uncovering its fascinating impact on societies and cultures throughout history. We’ll also explore the meaning of different types of doves.


Peace is the most universal meaning of the dove. It originated from the the story of Noah’s Ark in the book of Genesis. According to the story, God saw that the world had become corrupted and filled with violence, and He decided to bring a great flood to cleanse the Earth. However, God found favor in Noah, a righteous man, and instructed him to build an ark to save himself, his family, and a pair of every animal species.

Once the floodwaters receded, Noah released a series of birds to assess if the land had become habitable again. First, he sent out a raven, but it did not return, which means that the land was still covered by water. Then, Noah sent out a dove, which returned to him because it found place for its feet. After a week, Noah released the dove again, and this time it returned with an olive leaf in its beak, indicating that the floodwaters had retreated and plant life was emerging.

The olive leaf brought by the dove became a powerful symbol of hope and peace. It meant that God’s wrath had ended, and a new era of tranquility and reconciliation was about to begin. The dove’s mission represented the search for a place of refuge, a safe haven where peace could flourish. Its return with the olive leaf became a timeless image of peace and the promise of a better future.

the dove with the olive branch as symbols for peace

The dove’s characteristics are another reason why it is associated with peace. They are gentle birds, with soft cooing sounds and graceful flight. They are also a powerful emblem of nonviolence and harmony for peace movements and anti-war campaigns, representing the desire for peaceful coexistence and unity among individuals and nations. The UN emblem features a globe held by olive branches, with a dove at the center, symbolizing the organization’s mission to foster peace and cooperation among nations.


Birds flying symbolize freedom, and doves represent this idea very well. Doves gracefully glide through the air, effortlessly moving in any direction they wish. They are the ultimate symbol of freedom and independence, surpassing the limitations of their environment.

Doves symbolize peace, and peace is a form of freedom in itself. In a peaceful world, we are free to express our thoughts and opinions without fear of persecution. We can engage in open dialogue and foster stronger understanding among diverse communities. This is where we can start to strive for a better world.

Read More: Wind Symbolism and Meaning in Cultures Around The World

Innocence and Purity

Doves have a special connection with innocence thanks to their pristine white color. Their white color represents their cleanliness, untouched by the evils and ugliness of this world.

Across different cultures and traditions, the color white has always represented goodness. White is both delicate and elegant, radiating beauty and grace. Some people even consider it to have a heavenly quality because white does not cause any harm or danger; instead, it delights in bringing joy to others. Therefore, the white color of the dove is a symbol of untouched beauty and unspoiled nature.

Dove Symbolism & Meaning: Ultimate Guide


Beyond the biblical story of Noah, the dove’s role as a messenger can be found in other cultures as well. In Greek mythology, for instance, the goddess Aphrodite was associated with doves. They were believed to carry messages of love and desire from the divine realm to humanity. Similarly, in ancient Roman culture, doves were seen as messengers of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. She is frequently depicted lying on her back or surrounded by these birds.

Dove Symbolism & Meaning: Ultimate Guide


Doves can fly high in the sky, leading some cultures to believe they connect heaven and earth. Their white colors and wings are linked to angels in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, who are pictured to have human-like bodies and white-feathered wings on their backs. Some people believe that encountering a dove in an unusual place or seeing one in your path means that an angel or a loved one who has passed away is watching over you and offering support.

Dove Symbolism and Meaning In Christianity

Before being seen as a symbol of peace, the dove was more commonly associated with the soul and the Holy Spirit. In the New Testament of the Bible, during the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit is described as descending upon Jesus in the form of a dove. This event is seen as the divine affirmation of Jesus’ identity and mission, marking the beginning of his public ministry. The dove is a visual manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s presence and an important symbol within the Trinity.

the Dove as the Holy Spirit ascending upon Jesus

Dove Symbolism and Meaning In Native American Culture

Doves and pigeons have various roles in Native American mythology. The Blackfoot tribe believed that doves protected warriors and ensured their safe return from battle. War leaders carried dove feathers as charms to bring their men back safely. In some Eastern Algonquian tribes, turtledoves were connected to the spirit world. If their cries were heard at specific times, it was considered a sign of death.

Certain California Indian tribes viewed doves as symbols of foolishness and innocence, while the Cherokee associated mourning doves with acorns because their cooing cry sounded like the Cherokee word for “acorn,” gule. The Aztecs and other Mexican Indian tribes regarded doves as symbols of love, often depicted on wedding ornaments and associated with the goddess Xochiquetzal.

There is a Cheyenne proverb that associates the dove with purity and peace: “If a man is as wise as a serpent, he can afford to be as harmless as a dove.” The proverb is similar to Jesus Christ’s statement: “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

dove symbolism in Native American culture

Dove Symbolism in Islam

Doves and pigeons are highly regarded and favored in Islamic culture because they are believed to have helped the final Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, by distracting his pursuers outside the cave of Thaw’r during the great Hijra.

The great Hijra was the migration of the prophet Muhammad from the city of Mecca to the city of Medina in 622 CE under threat of persecution. When the Prophet sought refuge in the cave, a pair of pigeons and a spider appeared at the cave entrance. The spider spun a web, and the pigeons built a nest and laid eggs. This led the Prophet’s pursuers to believe that there were no disturbances inside the cave, as the animals wouldn’t have settled there if something was amiss. Thanks to this, the Prophet and his companion Abu Bakar were not captured.

Mourning Dove Meaning

When a mourning dove appears, usually it is connected with loss and grief. However, Christians perceive it differently. To them, the mourning dove symbolizes the eternal promise of Jesus Christ. It is sent to console those grieving, affirming that their loved ones have embarked on a new existence in another realm.

The mournful cooing of the dove serves as a call to seek inner peace and is even considered by some as a direct message from God. During times of crisis, the mourning dove’s presence is seen as a blessed reminder of God’s grace, love and safeguarding.

the mourning dove as symbols of death

White Dove Symbolism

Most of us are familiar with white doves. These are commonly released at Olympic Games starting from 1896. This is a symbolic tradition to represent world peace that the games hope to encourage. However, over time, concerns arose regarding the welfare and safety of the doves. As the number of participating countries increased, so did the number of doves released, leading to issues with properly caring for them.

Due to these concerns, the practice of releasing doves at the Olympic Games has been discontinued. In recent Olympic Games, alternative symbolic representations of peace and unity have been used, such as the lighting of the Olympic flame or the raising of the Olympic flag.

White doves symbolize new beginnings, peace, fidelity, love, luck, and prosperity. Their release enhances the significance of not just the Olympic Games but also many other ceremonies, rituals, and celebrations, adding power and meaning to these occasions. Releasing doves elevates the spirit, representing new beginnings and genuine celebrations. The symbol of the pure white dove holds universal meaning, transcending cultural and traditional boundaries.

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White Doves Appear In Dreams

A dove is a symbol of purity and positivity. It represents tranquility, peace, calmness, acceptance, serenity, and wisdom. It is linked to well-being, prosperity, positive thinking, love, and spirituality. Dreaming about the presence of a dove is always a positive indication. The dove brings important and positive news. It also signifies honest women with virtuous hearts. According to Persian tradition, seeing doves in a dream predicts the acquisition of good friends.

Dreaming of doves is connected to feelings of peace, satisfaction, and well-being. If the dove appears alone, it might indicate minor setbacks in your romantic life, but they won’t have a significant impact on your relationship. When a dove brings you a message in the dream, it suggests the possibility of encountering small challenges ahead. However, the significance of these challenges depends on your emotional state in the dream. It’s important to pay attention to specific details in this situation.

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