Vulture Spiritual Meanings & The Symbolism of Seeing One (2024)

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A guide to the symbolism of vultures and buzzards

Co-authored byBailey ChoReviewed byJason Zuk

Last Updated: March 11, 2024Fact Checked

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  • Vulture Spiritual Meanings
  • |
  • Turkey Vulture Spiritual Meaning
  • |
  • Biblical Meaning
  • |
  • Cultural Significance
  • |
  • Dream Interpretations
  • |
  • Are vultures good or bad omens?
  • |
  • Totem Animal

The resourceful vulture has been a symbol of death and rebirth for centuries. Seeing a vulture or buzzard in your waking life may be a sign to let go of negativity and seize opportunities, but it can also serve as guidance when making difficult decisions. In this article, we explore the many different interpretations of vulture encounters and dreams, including what they symbolize and how they might bring meaning to your life.

Spiritual Symbolism of Vultures

Vultures are symbols of death, rebirth, purification, patience, protection, and new beginnings. Seeing a vulture is a sign to let go of the things that no longer serve you and embrace change. Vultures are considered a positive omen of new beginnings.

Section 1 of 7:

What do vultures mean spiritually?

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  1. 1

    Death and rebirth Vultures feed on carrion (the decaying flesh of dead animals), so most people associate them with death. In the spiritual realm, however, death is closely tied to rebirth, so seeing a vulture doesn’t necessarily mean something negative—it could be a sign of a spiritual transformation, allowing you to discover your authentic self and achieve your full potential.

  2. 2

    Purification Although vultures are considered “dirty” animals, they play an important role in cleaning up our ecosystem. Vultures eat the flesh of dead animals, preventing the spread of disease.[1] Due to their scavenging behavior, they’re linked to purification and cleansing, with many people referring to them as “Nature’s Clean-up Crew."[2]


  3. 3

    Patience When vultures spot a dead animal, they don’t automatically swoop in to feed—they wait for eagles to attack the carcass first so it’s easier to eat.[3] Vultures are patient creatures that respect the cycle of life, so they could be a reminder to be patient and trust the universe. Good things take time, and as long as you stay focused on your goals, you’ll be able to achieve them![4]

  4. 4

    Protection Black vultures roost in family units and feed their young for up to 8 months after they've fledged.[5] Because they’re family-oriented birds, seeing a black vulture could be a sign that you’re protected by God (or whatever higher power you believe in), and that you have all the skills and resources to overcome adversity.[6]

    • Alternatively, seeing a black vulture might mean you need to set boundaries and protect your well-being.
  5. 5

    New beginnings Due to their ability to soar into the skies, vultures are said to be messengers between the spiritual and material world. They can tell you when you need to move forward, or let go of the things that no longer serve you. In other words, seeing a vulture in person could be a reminder to embrace change and seize new opportunities.[7]

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Section 2 of 7:

What does a turkey vulture mean spiritually?

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  1. Spiritually, turkey vultures represent discernment. Turkey vultures have the best olfactory system in the entire bird kingdom, allowing them to smell carrion from miles away.[8] Their powerful sense of smell translates into the gift of discernment, or the ability to judge well. Seeing a turkey vulture is a sign to sniff out the truth and use your best judgment to make decisions.[9]

Section 3 of 7:

What do vultures mean in the Bible?

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  1. Biblically, vultures symbolize death, judgment, and God’s wrath. Throughout the Bible, vultures are associated with doom and impending judgment. A flock of vultures circling a carcass represents the fall of righteousness and the gathering of the wicked, so seeing this creature could be a sign to reflect on your spiritual journey and seek forgiveness.[10]

    • In Proverbs 30:17, the scripture states, “The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures.”[11] In this case,vultures represent the fallen world and a dishonorable death.
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Section 4 of 7:

Vultures in Different Cultures & Mythologies

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  1. 1

    Ancient Egyptians believed vultures were devoted mothers. In Egypt, vultures were associated with maternity, compassion, and protection.[12] Mut, the sky goddess and great divine mother, often wore a vulture headdress of the New Kingdom queens to symbolize these positive traits.[13]

  2. 2

    Native Americans view vultures as symbols of death and suffering. For most tribes, vultures are a negative omen of danger. They’re considered aggressive troublemakers that lie, cheat, and hoard community resources, and they’re even believed to bully other birds.[14]

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    Some Tibetan Buddhists rely on vultures to dispose of monks. If the body is exposed to the elements, it’s taken to a cemetery, tied to a stake, and undressed. Corpse-cutters throw pieces of flesh to vultures, or pound and mix the deceased’s bones into feed.

    • According to Tibetan Buddhist beliefs, there is no need to fear death, so human bones and skin are often used in rituals to dispel any fear.[15]
  4. 4

    Some Zoroastrians dispose of the dead by feeding them to vultures. Zoroastrians believe burying or cremating the dead is polluting, so they expose the corpse in sunlight and allow vultures to do the work for them. This practice is only permitted in India, through the use of dokhma—a circular stone tower that’s open to the sky and allows the proper drainage of body fluids.[16]

  5. 5

    According to Greek and Roman myths, vultures were used as medicine. Vulture feathers were believed to have “obstetric value,” and women often used them to ease childbirth.[17] Vultures were also considered a talisman for happiness, even becoming one of the symbols of the founding of Rome.[18]

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Section 5 of 7:

What do vultures symbolize in dreams?

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  1. Dreaming of a vulture represents change and the release of old patterns. Oftentimes, vulture dreams help you understand your hidden thoughts and emotions in waking life, plus symbolize the parts of yourself that you wish to change. Dream meanings depend on the details of your specific dream scenario, but dreaming of a vulture usually asks you to reflect on the past and make positive changes:[19]

    • If you dream of a vulture flying toward you, it’s a sign of good luck and prosperity.
    • If you dream of a flock of vultures, it might mean your loved one will receive lots of money.
    • If you dream of a vulture attacking you, it could be a sign that someone you love will betray you.
    • If you dream of a vulture eating your enemy, it signifies you’re able to overcome any obstacle that heads your way.
    • If you dream of a vulture eating you alive, it could mean you’re feeling overwhelmed by change and need to let go of negativity.

Section 6 of 7:

Are vultures good or bad omens?

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  1. Generally, vultures are believed to be a good omen. It’s easy to assume vultures are bad omens because of their association with death, but they’re actually quite adaptable and resourceful. Vultures can soar great distances without expending much energy, and their bald heads help prevent rotting flesh from soiling their feathers.[20] By adopting the positive traits of the vulture, you can overcome obstacles with ease.[21]

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Section 7 of 7:

Vultures as Totem Animals

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  1. If the vulture is your totem animal, you’re insightful, patient, and social. You’re not afraid to go after what you want in life, and you can find a creative solution to any problem. Even if things take longer than expected, you stick around until the end. With that being said, it’s important not to be overly optimistic because ignoring red flags can ultimately waste your time and energy.[22]

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      About This Article

      Vulture Spiritual Meanings & The Symbolism of Seeing One (25)

      Reviewed by:

      Jason Zuk

      Intuitive Psychic Medium

      This article was reviewed by Jason Zuk and by wikiHow staff writer, Bailey Cho. Jason Zuk is a Psychic Medium based in Tampa, Florida. He has almost 20 years of experience and has worked professionally as a psychic medium for six years. Jason works with people to confront obstacles and challenges so they can reach personal clarity. He is the Producer and Host of the podcast, The Social Psychic Radio Show, which is a seven-time Award Winning Podcast ranked in the Top 2% of all podcasts globally. Jason is also the Producer and Co-Host with Megan Kane of his second show, Psychic Visions Podcast, which is signed with ElectraCast Media. Jason received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Tampa, a Juris Doctorate from Nova Southeastern University, and an LL.M. (Master of Law) in International & Comparative Law from Georgetown University. This article has been viewed 12,230 times.

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      Updated: March 11, 2024


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