Vulture Symbolism and Meaning – Totem, Spirit, Omen

Vultures are often misunderstood creatures. Seen by some as ugly and scavenging, these birds have a fascinating history entwined in culture and mythology from across the globe. From their powerful soaring abilities to spiritual symbolism – vultures can be seen as symbols of power, change, freedom, and wisdom. Discover more about the spirit animal meaning and symbolism of vultures through this blog post.

What Does a Vulture Symbolize?

Vultures symbolize renewal, strength, and survival or death itself. Their scavenging habits typically evoke a response of revulsion from humans, but their role in nature is vital; by consuming carcasses, they help to reduce the spread of disease and clean up the environment, acting as both scavengers and sanitizers.

Vultures are often associated with power and strength. In some cultures, they’re seen as a symbol of change or metamorphosis, as their swooping wings represent the majestic beauty of flight and freedom.

Vultures are also believed to have prophetic powers – able to predict the future and guide us on our paths. They’re a powerful symbol of wisdom, and their presence can be seen as a sign that we should trust our intuition.

In many cultures, vultures are believed to have special spiritual powers. They’re often associated with death and transition, as they often appear in the wake of tragedy – cleaning up the mess left behind.

turkey vulture circling

Vulture Facts

  1. Vultures have an amazing sense of smell, which helps them locate carrion (dead animals) from miles away.
  2. Some vulture species are monogamous and form strong pair bonds lasting for many years.
  3. All vultures have bald heads, so they don’t get their feathers dirty when feeding on rotting carcasses.
  4. When two or more vultures come together to feed, they engage in a ritual known as ‘mutual hopping’.
  5. Vultures eat dead animals’ bones, tissue, and organs, including hide, horns, and hooves!
  6. Most vulture species nest in trees or cliffs and lay one to three white eggs per clutch yearly; the incubation period is typically around five weeks before hatching occurs!
  7. Slower-flying Old World vultures use hot air thermals to help them soar for hours without having to flap their wings much or at all – some only need to flap once every hour!
  8. New World Vultures often hunt by soaring over open areas looking for food rather than relying on scent as most other scavengers do; this makes them excellent predators too!

What Does It Mean When You See a Vulture?

When you see a vulture, it usually means that something dead or dying is nearby. Vultures are scavengers and feed on carrion—the decaying flesh of dead animals—so they tend to congregate in areas where they can find food. In some spiritual traditions, vultures represent the cycle of life and death.

They are seen as messengers from God, reminding us that death is a natural part of life and that we should all be grateful for our precious existence

on this planet.

Vultures can also symbolize transformation and renewal; when one creature dies, another is born. Seeing a vulture could be interpreted as an invitation to embrace the death of something in order to create space for something new and better.

Is Seeing a Vulture a Good or Bad Omen?

In many cultures, seeing a vulture is seen as a bad omen.

The reasoning behind this superstition comes from the fact that vultures are scavengers and feed on the remains of animals.

As such, it is believed that seeing a vulture brings death, bad luck, and misfortune.

However, some cultures view vultures as symbols of good luck or protection.

In some Hindu cultures, vultures are seen as symbols of protection and good luck, while in ancient Egypt they were associated with the gods Horus and Ra.

What does it mean when you see a vulture

Different Types and Colors

Black Vulture Symbolism

Black vultures symbolize bad luck and can be considered an omen of death. Black vultures are associated with the powers of destruction, feeling of isolation, and foreboding. They are linked with the negative powers in our lives and are often seen as a sign of coming danger.

Turkey Vultures Symbolism

In contrast to the black vulture, Turkey Vultures symbolize good luck. It is associated with transformation and growth and is a sign of guidance. As scavengers, they are often seen as a reminder to take advantage of resources that can be found in every situation. The Turkey Vulture is also associated with purification and can be seen as a sign of hope in difficult times.

Bearded Vulture Symbolism

The Bearded Vulture is a symbol of strength and courage. It represents the ability to overcome obstacles and rise above the difficulties in life. This type of vulture can be seen as a reminder to stay strong and fight for what is important.

Vulture Eye Symbolism

The old man’s vulture eye in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” symbolizes the narrator’s inner darkness. The eye so repulses him that he kills the old man in desperation, trying to rid himself of this symbol of his dark nature.

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Symbolically, the vulture eye represents not only his inner demons but also those of humanity, suggesting that within us all lies this capacity for darkness. This serves as a reminder that we must stay vigilant in our fight against our dark impulses and not let them get the better of us.

Poe uses the vulture eye symbol to encourage readers to look inside themselves and discover their inner struggles.

Vulture Feather Symbolism

Vulture feathers are a symbol of protection, strength, and courage. In some cultures, they are believed to ward off evil and bring good luck to the wearer. Vulture feathers represent wisdom, insight, and the power to transcend boundaries and connect with the divine.

They also remind us that death is an important part of life and that we should be grateful for the time we have.

What Do Vultures Symbolize in Arts and Literature?

Vultures often symbolize death, looming over a scene like an omen of what’s to come. In modern times, they appear regularly as black omens on dusty roadsides in westerns. Additionally, vultures appear frequently in gothic literature as sinister portents of bad news or ill luck for its characters.

vulture on a book

Sometimes, vultures can symbolize scavenging or opportunistic behavior; the notion of the “vulture capitalist” is one commonly used example. However, much like other symbols, the exact meaning depends largely on context—vultures can just as easily represent hope or rebirth alongside their darker symbolism.

No matter its context or tone, vulture symbolism holds a place in our collective imagination that reminds us of mortality and our humble place in a greater universe.

Vulture Spirit Animal

The power of the vulture spirit animal lies within its ability to look deep into the soul. When this creature appears in our lives, we must lose our carnal attachments and look deeper into things. It asks us to pay attention to our intuition, the small whisperings from our inner selves that can often be hard to hear beyond all the noise.

vulture spirit animal

By allowing ourselves to rise above and observe with powerful eyes like the vulture spirit animal, we can gain clarity about our inner worlds and find growth in understanding who we are and how we connect to everything around us.

Vulture Totem Animal

The vulture totem animal is an incredibly powerful symbol for many indigenous cultures across the globe. They are viewed as symbols of death, purification, and transformation, reminding us that embracing and adapting to change can bring about important growth in life.

vulture totem animal

The teachings of the vulture totem bring a deep understanding of honoring one’s ancestors and the sacredness of time, balancing past and present. To have it as a totem reminds us that when circumstances seem bleak, solutions are still possible if we remain open-minded and accept reality with grace.

Vulture Dream Meanings

Vulture Dreams symbolize transformation and new beginnings, advocating for us to act as watchful observers of our lives. They may warn us of possible neglected opportunities or a period of renewal.

It’s important to pay attention to the context in which the vulture appears – if they appear with food in their talons, this could mean that we are being asked to nourish our physical bodies and soul.

Vulture Meaning in Tarot

Vultures in tarot represent transformation, often symbolizing the essence of things and rising above it all. The power of vultures lies in their ability to soar high, overlook obstacles that stand before them, and gain an understanding of the world from a different perspective.

Seeing reality from a higher angle can open up the mind and free it from old concepts and belief systems, allowing for greater personal growth. Vultures can also represent going through phases of deep transformation, where you must accept the death of certain parts or aspects of your life to be reborn into something new.

Vulture Meaning in the Bible And Christianity

In the Bible, vultures symbolize God’s judgment and faithfulness. From the Old Testament, it is seen that God often uses vultures to fulfill his punishment against those who have sinned or refused to obey him. Additionally, when one turns to the Christian faith, the presence of vultures can often be interpreted as a sign of protection and provision from God.

Vultures in the Bible are portrayed as wise watchers known for their patience since they will wait for days for carcasses to appear on which they can feed from. This has led them to become connected with survival and perseverance during times of struggle and suffering – especially during times of temptation when we must make wise decisions despite difficult circumstances.

Vulture Mythology, Folklore, and Symbolism in Different Cultures


In African cultures, vultures are often seen as a symbol of power, protection, and strength. In mythology, they represent divine intelligence, being able to use their keen vision to see through obstacles and discover hidden truths. Vultures have also been linked with death in many traditional African cultures.

They were believed to carry the souls of the dead to the afterlife and were seen as a protective force, guarding against evil spirits. In folklore, vultures were considered wise and powerful animals that could bring both good fortune and danger. They were often connected with dark magic, witchcraft, curses, and prophecies.

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Ancient Egypt

Vultures have a long history in Egyptian mythology and folklore, where they are associated with protection and death. The ancient Egyptians believed vultures were the protectors of the dead and carried away their souls to the afterlife.

The vulture was also an important part of royal regalia, often appearing alongside the cobra on the forehead of a Pharaoh to symbolize protection.

ancient Egypt style vulture

Vultures were also closely associated with female deities, particularly Nekhbet, who was one of two patron goddesses of Egypt and often depicted as a vulture. The other patron goddess, Wadjet (also known as Uto or Buto), was often represented by a cobra. Nekhbet was believed to bring good luck and protection to the Pharaohs, making her a powerful symbol of strength and resilience.


The vultures portrayed on the Stele of the Vultures have long been seen as symbols of power and victory. In Mesopotamian mythology, they were associated with divine justice. They could be seen as messengers from the gods, delivering judgment upon those who had wronged others or acted immorally. In this way, they could serve as a warning to those who would seek to do evil.

Moreover, vultures were seen as protectors of the deceased and guardians of the afterlife. In Sumerian literature, for example, it is written that the gods sent vultures to welcome and escort the souls of kings into the realm of the dead. This symbolism has been depicted in other Mesopotamian artifacts, such as seals and cylinder stamps, where vultures are seen as protecting divine figures.


In Mesopotamian mythology, the Vulture was seen as a powerful angel of death that connected day and night. It was believed to have the ability to bring forth life and take away souls, signifying its importance in the cycle of life. The goddess Maat was often depicted as a vulture carrying an ankh, representing her role as the personification of order in the universe.


In Greek mythology, the vulture is a symbol of death and decay. It was believed to be an instrument of divine punishment sent by Zeus. Within ancient Greek culture, it served as a representation of ruin and destruction in folklore, myth, and symbolism.


In Roman mythology, vultures were revered as sacred creatures due to their ability to locate and consume the dead. Vulture symbolism was deeply embedded into Roman culture, with many gods associated with them and their characteristics seen as divine gifts. They were said to be messengers of the gods, bringing knowledge and a sense of order and clarity.

In folkloric tradition, vultures were seen as a messenger of bad news and misfortune, but they could also be viewed positively as a protector or guardian.


In Celtic mythology, vultures have a deep spiritual meaning and are associated with great life-changing events with immense power and potential. They are often seen as a sign of transformation, death and rebirth, endurance, and strength.

celtic style vulture

In many stories, vultures appear when an individual is going through a major transition in life: they are seen as a reminder to stay strong and trust in the journey that life brings.

Native American

In Native American cultures, vultures have complicated symbolism. In most tribes, they are viewed as symbols of death and decay and an omen of danger or strife. Other tribes believe that vultures can bring good and bad fortune depending on their behavior.

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In some tribes, they are considered messengers of the gods and bringers of wisdom. In others, they are seen as protectors who can guide a person on their spiritual journey.


Vultures were seen as a symbol of transformation and renewal in Mayan cultures. It was believed that vultures could take death and transform it into life through their power of cleansing.

This is especially true for the King Vulture, which was associated with Maya funeral traditions. It was considered a celestial being that brought peace and solace to the deceased. Other cultural beliefs about vultures included their power to grant wishes and protect from negative energies.


Cozcacuauhtli (translated as “vulture”) is a day associated with spiritual wisdom and clarity, associated with the goddess Itzpapalotl. In Aztec mythology, the vulture symbolizes Itzpapalotl’s ability to purify and rejuvenate.

aztec style vulture

The bird symbolizes strength and resilience, as it can fly high above the rest of the creatures. Vultures have long been believed to sense death and disaster before others, symbolizing spiritual wisdom.


In Tibetan culture, the vulture is a sacred bird because it’s believed to have the power of healing and cleansing. Vultures symbolize wisdom, strength, and protection in Tibet. They are a sign of luck, good fortune, and positive energy. Vultures are also said to live longer than any other bird species, which is why they represent longevity in Tibetan culture.


In Chinese mythology, vultures are symbols of good fortune and luck. In addition, they represent prosperity, long life, wisdom, strength, courage, and power. It is believed that seeing a vulture will bring good luck to the person who encounters it.


In Hinduism, vultures are seen as symbols of transformation and energy. The mythical bird is believed to have the power to turn death into a new life as it scavenges through carcasses, feeding on the remains.

The vulture is also seen as a messenger of the gods, carrying messages to them from the mortal world. The bird is even said to be an avatar of Lord Sani (Saturn) himself, providing him with a vehicle for travel. In some Hindu cultures, vultures are revered as deities, and offerings are made to them during certain festivals.


In Buddhist mythology, the vulture is said to embody the Dharmapala, or guardian of Dharma. This idea originated in India and is still prevalent in Tibetan Buddhism, where any bird of this type is seen as a protector of Dharma.

This can be seen in several forms, including the protective presence of birds at sacred sites or temples and the belief in the power of vultures to ward off evil.


What does a vulture skull symbolize?

A vulture skull symbolizes death, decay, and destruction. It can also be seen as a reminder of mortality, and that life is fleeting.

What does it mean when you see three vultures?

Seeing three vultures together can be seen as a bad omen or a warning to prepare for the unexpected. It can also signify good luck, depending on the culture or belief system.

Final Words – Vulture Symbolism

Many cultures have long seen vultures as symbols of transformation, wisdom, strength, and protection. From their power to cleanse the dead in Mayan culture to representing prosperity and good fortune in China, vultures are an important part of our spiritual understanding.

While they can be viewed with a sense of foreboding or fear by some, vultures also represent positive energy that we should embrace and strive for in our lives. No matter what your cultural background is or beliefs may be, it’s clear that there’s much more than meets the eye when it comes to these fascinating creatures’ animal symbolism.

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Christina Johnson

About the Author

My name is Christina, and I am the founder of centerspirited. Being a physiotherapist for several years I have found that many people, including myself, don’t achieve well-being only from a physical point of view. I’ve always viewed a person’s body, soul, and emotions as a whole construct of beauty. Always being a yoga enthusiast, I finally became an instructor myself. On a secret mission to capture spirituality in all of her beautiful shapes, I found myself being guided on a way through ayurvedic nutrition and lifestyle. Through this platform, I will hopefully be able to help other beautiful souls out there find their inner peace and bond with their spiritual selves.