With their bright red plumage and famously boisterous behavior, the Cardinal really is one of nature’s most impressive sights.
But, is there any meaning to seeing a Cardinal?
Here, we’re going to explore everything there is to know about the symbolism of Cardinals.
From their meaning in several different cultures and religions to their symbolism in dreams and their power as a spirit animal, we’re covering all the bases!
What Does It Mean If You See A Cardinal?
Before we start exploring the symbolism of Cardinals in different cultures, let’s take a look at the general meaning of seeing a Cardinal.
Most commonly, the sight of a Cardinal bird is often considered a symbol of hope, joy, and good luck.
Some people also associate the sighting of a Cardinal with the presence of a loved one who has passed away, who is believed to be visiting from heaven.
The red color of the Cardinal is also commonly seen as representing vitality and passion.
Cardinal Symbolism In Native American Culture
In Native American culture, the Cardinal is most often seen as a symbol of renewal, energy, and life.
It is also associated with the spirit world and is believed to carry messages between the physical and spiritual realms.
The bright red color of the Cardinal is seen as a reminder of the fire of the spirit and the power of life too, and in some Native American tribes, the Cardinal is also considered a symbol of courage and is honored for its ability to brave harsh weather conditions and continue to sing.
These interpretations and beliefs vary among different Native American tribes.
For example, in the Hopi tribe the Cardinal is seen as a messenger from the spirit world and is believed to bring good news.
While in the Creek tribe, the Cardinal is viewed as a symbol of strength and perseverance, representing the ability to overcome challenges.
Likewise, in the Sioux tribe tThe Cardinal is viewed as a messenger from the Great Spirit and is believed to carry important messages.
The Cherokee tribe believe the Cardinal symbolizes the sun and is associated with health, life, and vitality.
Cardinal Symbolism In Christianity
In Christianity, the Cardinal bird holds several symbolic meanings.
One of these is its bright red plumage, which symbolizes the blood of Christ and the sacrifice he made for humanity.
Its striking appearance and fiery color is also associated with passion, energy, and devotion, reminding Christians of their own spiritual journey.
The Cardinal is seen as a messenger of God in Christianity too, and is believed to bring divine messages and guidance.
Finally, the cheerful and vibrant nature of the Cardinal is often associated with the joy and celebration of the Christian faith.
Cardinal Symbolism In Catholicism
Cardinal symbolism also features quite heavily in Catholicism, and there are even positions within the Roman Catholic Church known as “Cardinals” who wear bright red robes and are solely responsible for appointing the next pope.
In Catholicism, the Cardinal’s bright red plumage and consistency in visiting feeders also symbolizes faithfulness.
Likewise, their coloring symbolizes the radiance of beauty and life. As well as this, the Cardinal’s famously cheerful song symbolizes joy and hope in the Catholic faith.
Cardinal Symbolism In Other Cultures
As well as Native American, Catholic, and Christian cultures and religions, the Cardinal holds some symbolism in other cultures.
The first of these is Ancient Greece, where the Cardinal was often believed to be an earthly representation of Apollo, the Sun God.
This is most likely due to its fiery behavior and bright red plumage.
The Cardinal also features symbolically in Roman mythology, and was believed to be a messenger of Jupiter.
Jupiter was the King of the Gods (much like Greek mythology’s Zeus).
He was also the protector of the Roman armies and was believed to be able to control thunder, lightning, and the sky.
The Cardinal As A Spirit Animal
There are many reasons why some people may associate with the Cardinal as their spirit animal.
Not only are they seen as a symbol of hope, renewal, and joy, but the Cardinal is also considered a sign of good luck.
Another reason why some people choose the Cardinal as their spirit animal is because it is believed to bring messages from spirit guides.
This makes it a great choice of spirit animal for people who can communicate with other planes and existences, helping to guide them towards the spirit they wish to contact.
Some people may also identify with the Cardinal as a spirit animal due to its bright and bold color, as well as its courage and tenacity.
Additionally, the Cardinal’s strong sense of direction is thought to represent a clear sense of purpose and the ability to move forward in life with confidence.
What It Means To Dream Of A Cardinal
As with dreams that feature any animal, dreaming of a Cardinal can have different interpretations based on cultural and personal beliefs.
One interpretation of dreaming of a Cardinal is new beginnings.
This is because the Cardinal is often thought to symbolize a new beginning or fresh start in your life.
In many cultures, Cardinals are also believed to be able to deliver messages from spirit guides.
This means that, as the Cardinal is often associated with spirituality and communication from beyond, dreaming of a Cardinal may indicate that you are receiving messages from your spirit guides.
The Cardinal’s boldness and confidence may also be reflected in dreams as encouragement for you to be more confident and courageous in your waking life.
Likewise, the Cardinal’s bright color and cheerful song can evoke feelings of joy and happiness, making it a symbol of positivity and optimism in dreams.
Of course, it’s important to remember that dreams can have different meanings for different people, and the interpretation of a dream involving a Cardinal will depend on your personal experiences and beliefs.
Cardinal Tattoo Meaning
So, what does a tattoo of a Cardinal symbolize? Well, as with all tattoos, a Cardinal tattoo can have various meanings depending on the context and personal significance of the individual who gets the tattoo.
One of the most common reasons someone might choose to get a tattoo of a Cardinal is due to their association with spiritual communication and messages from the great beyond!
A Cardinal tattoo may represent a connection to the spiritual world or a belief in the afterlife.
The Cardinal is also often seen as a symbol of hope and renewal, making it a popular choice for tattoos that commemorate a new beginning or a fresh start in life.
In some cultures, the Cardinal is considered a bringer of good luck, making it a popular tattoo choice for those seeking to attract positive energy and good fortune.
Finally, for some, a Cardinal tattoo may commemorate a personal experience or memory associated with the bird, such as a childhood spent in the countryside surrounded by Cardinals.
Ultimately, the meaning of a Cardinal tattoo is unique to each individual and can reflect personal beliefs, experiences, and memories.
Cardinal Tarot Meaning
In tarot, the four Cardinal suits are Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles, each of which symbolizes different aspects of life.
In tarot readings, the appearance of a card from one of the four Cardinal suits can have different meanings based on the interpretation of the reader.
Typically, the four Cardinal suits are associated with the following aspects of life:
- Wands: Creativity, inspiration, career, and spiritual growth.
- Cups: Emotions, relationships, love, and feelings.
- Swords: Thoughts, communication, logic, and intellect.
- Pentacles: Material possessions, money, health, and stability.
The specific meaning of a Cardinal suit in a tarot reading would depend on the context of the reading and the question being asked.
Tarot readings can be interpreted in many different ways, and the interpretation of a Cardinal suit can vary based on the specific card and its position in the spread.
Symbolism Of Cardinals In Literature
There are several representations of Cardinal symbolism that can be found in literature as well.
“The Cardinal” by Henry Carlile
The first of these is “The Cardinal” by Henry Carlile. In this poem, the Cardinal symbolizes grace and beauty as the poet compares a woman in a red dress to a Cardinal. It reads:
“Not to conform to any other colorAuthor Name
is the secret of being colorful.
He shocks us when he flies
like a red verb over the snow.
He sifts through the blue evenings
to his roost.
He is turning purple.
Soon he’ll be black.
In the bar’s dark I think of him.
There are no Cardinals here.
Only a woman in a red dress.”
“Confessions of a Bird Watcher” by Chard Deniord
Another example of Cardinal symbolism featured in literature is in the poem “Confessions of a Bird Watcher” by Chard Deniord. In this poem, the Cardinal symbolizes wonder and beauty, as the poet goes on to describe the bright red Cardinals feeding in the depths of winter. It reads:
“The windows are dressed in feathers where the birds have flown against them,
then fallen below into the flowers where their bodies lie grounded, still,
slowly disappearing each day until all that is left are their narrow, prehensile bones.
I have sat at my window now for years and watched a hundred birds mistake the glass for air and break their necks, wondering what to do, how else to live among them and keep my view.
Not to mention the sight of them at the feeder in the morning, especially the Cardinal in snow.”
The Cardinal By Howard Moss
The final example of Cardinal symbolism featuring in literature is “The Cardinal” by Howard Moss. In this poem, the Cardinal’s seasonal routine is symbolic of time, while the poet uses its red coloring as hyperbolic replacements for love and beauty. As section of the poem reads:
“With summer eggs the birds repeat themselves:
Nest-building territories, wars of air,
Under the eaves another nursery.
Of pipes and whinneys, of voiced demands.
One night a Cardinal let go with song
Standing on a tree for long, red minutes,
And singing its heart out (so we thought) its red
More plush with every breath, with every change
Of light, the summer evening coming on
Before it silently flew into the trees”
The Cardinal has many different symbolic meanings across many cultures and religions. From love and beauty to an omen of good luck, and even a messenger of the spirit world, this famous little red bird has been revered as a symbol of many different things for centuries.
Of course, as with all symbolism, the true meaning of seeing a Cardinal will be a personal thing to you.