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Cardinal Symbolism & Meaning

Missing a beloved family member or friend? Need the confidence to be your most magnificent self? Cardinal, as a Spirit, Totem, and Power Animal, can help! Delve deeply in Cardinal symbolism and meaning to find out how this Animal Spirit Guide can support, strengthen, and inspire you!

Cardinal Table of Contents

Cardinal Symbolism & Meaning

The bright red color of this member of the Finch family, along with its sharp song, add to the symbolism and meaning behind Cardinal. The Bird is particularly focused on in Christian tradition where it represent the eternal nature of our soul and the sacrifice of Christ. It’s interesting that the Latin term for Cardinal means pivot or hinge. These Birds are named for the Cardinals of the Catholic church, with their brilliant red robes.

These birds are native to much of North America and the northern regions of South America. Because of their concentrations in these areas, most cultural associations with the three species of Cardinals stems from cultures in these regions.

They are such staples in many states this bird is the state symbol for several areas. They are regular fixtures across the United States.

Cardinals, in nature, mate for life. They’re also homebodies staying close to home throughout the year. This gives them strong ties to devotion, nurturing, and love. As Cardinals are ‘year-round’ Birds, their Numerology association is Number 12 – the number of perfection and completion. Seeing Cardinals is considered particularly fortunate for relationships because we want those we love to be with us through all seasons or ‘year-round’ .

Only the male of the species bears the intense red with which these creatures have become associated. Interestingly enough, the brighter the red in Cardinal Spirit’s feathers, the more apt he is to capture the lady of his dreams and mate. Who would have known that Cardinal is such a Romeo!

Beyond being Mr. Romance, the male Red Cardinal shows pluck in defending his home and what they consider personal “space.” Do not mess with this guy in his territory. Considering the symbolic value and Bird Medicine here, Cardinal becomes a fierce Guardian Spirit Animal.

The Cardinal song is delightfully varied. Bird watchers tell us they hear certain whistles that sound like the word “cheer.” What a wonderful message to spread throughout the woods and regions where Cardinal dwells – be of good cheer; this is an energetic, life-loving song that boosts any weary soul.

Cardinal couples sing together, as well as singing songs to each other. If you are in a relationship, this symbolizes both unity and diversity – the things so important to a healthy, loving balance. Sing together, particularly in difficult times. Sing to each other of your feelings, desires, and dreams. Remain faithful and attentive, and your relationship has a great future.

When you see two couples together, regardless of gender, it is a symbol of coupling, romance and love. If you are single, a new love may be coming into your life. If you have a partner, Cardinals remind you to align your shared visions.
Cardinals are also associated with home, friendship, and devotion to loved ones. Some associate Cardinal song with connection to Angels.

Lightworkers describe the Red Cardinal as a Bird with an objective. This Animal Spirit Guide reminds us to watch for the opportunity and think deeply about our purpose in the greater scheme of things.

The Red Cardinal bird, in particular, is considered feminine in nature, focusing our attention on the vivid side of the Goddess, the Sacred Feminine, and life-giving blood at the time of birth. Cardinals also represent the intuitive and inventive nature that we may otherwise overlook.

What does it mean when you see a cardinal?

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Cardinal is always considered a positive omen. When you see a Cardinal, you may be getting a message from your Angel guides (more on this later). You can also find merriment and happiness in your relationships.

Devoted friends and loyal partners are supporting your goals when Cardinal comes into your life. You may have reasons to celebrate. They bring blessings and good news. Often a new beginning is on the way, notice opportunities and don’t hesitate when a new door opens.

Detailed Cardinal Symbols and Meanings

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When you see a Cardinal, take note of the people in your life. This bird is an omen of friendship and suggests you may have more support than you realize. Cardinals can also suggest it’s time to open your heart and ramp up your social life. You may be missing out on time with friends. Pay attention to your social life when you see a Cardinal.

Cardinals are named for the Catholic clergy but the root of the term comes from a word meaning “hinge.” It is believed that the Cardinals are the “hinges” between humans and God, thus Cardinal birds are also considered this type of intermediary to the natural world.

Cardinals can have eclectic friendships of their own, often flying with birds from other species. They remind you that you don’t have to just stick to people who think like you. You can invite an eclectic array of friends to join your “flock.”
Red Cardinal symbolism is meant to remind you to remain open minded and be a good friend to people from various walks of life. Cardinals are known to be assertive birds. They introduce themselves to their various neighbors in both the bird and human realms. They have no problem getting their voices heard and encourage you to do the same.

Cardinal reminds you to be an active member of your community. Don’t isolate yourself from others. All work and no play can make you feel alienated. Cardinal flies into your life to remind you that you are an essential part of your circle of friends. Be open to new social events and stop being a wallflower when Cardinal comes into your life.

Be bold, like Cardinal’s striking markings. Open up to others and pursue a more active social life. Cardinal helps you put yourself out there and pursue new friendships.

Research suggests the bright red plumage of male Cardinals can be so striking, it’s the reason many bird watchers get their start. Cardinals thus are also a symbol of image and appearance. They know how to get attention and encourage you to show off your bold and colorful nature.

Though male Cardinals have dramatic coloring, both male and female Cardinals go out in style with their feathery tufts on top of their heads. Look your best and make a first impression unlike anyone else, Cardinal tells you.

As if all that isn’t enough, their beautiful song is another reason Cardinals get so much attention. If you see Cardinals come into your life, you can be assured it’s time to show off your talents too.

No need to dress down and blend in. When Cardinal comes into your life it’s time to strut your stuff. Dress up and give yourself a special makeover to play up your best features. Take time to indulge in your favorite hobbies and don’t hide your many talents from others.

Cardinals also symbolize the importance of home and family. We often think of birds as migrating seasonally, but not Cardinal. This bird sticks close to home and asserts its territory. Cardinal sends a message to remember where your home is and not let anything deter you from making yourself at home.

Cardinals are also phenomenal nesters. The female Cardinal leads the way looking for nesting spots while her partner follows behind. When she is satisfied with a place she’s found, the male gathers materials but she handles the construction of the nest.

When Cardinal comes into your life, pay attention to your roots and anchor yourself in your home and community. You may love traveling, but Cardinal reminds you of the importance of having a home that is your center.

Cardinal is also a symbol of romance and partnerships, as stated earlier, they mate for life and are devoted creatures. But they are also harbingers of good luck. When Cardinal comes into your life, you can be sure positive changes are coming.

Cardinal is also a symbol of the power of music. They have almost thirty unique songs and both the male and female sing for different reasons. Cardinal reminds you that music can be healing.

When you see Cardinals, it may be time to pay attention to the power of sound and vibration, especially for healing. Use chanting, drumming, and singing to bring new energies into your life.

If you are musically inclined, bring song and music into your life more often. Play an instrument or offer a song to help you engage with the spiritual realms. You can also create a special playlist with specific intentions when Cardinal comes into your life.

Cardinal Spirit Animal

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When the Cardinal Spirit Animal wings its way into your life, you may be on the event horizon of a new relationship complete with romance and some sensual overtones. There’s music in this partnership, so tend it joyfully. Alternatively, Cardinal may show up at the beginning of pregnancy as a guardian and guide to handling your new role as a parent effectively.

As with other Birds, Cardinals teach us about the wind and where it takes us. There are times to fly and times to stay firm; wisdom comes in knowing the difference.

The distinctiveness of Cardinal’s song also brings lessons about finding your own distinctive voice and keeping it true to self.

Another lesson of the Cardinal Spirit Animal is about recognizing your power and place. Cardinal is a blessing to those struggling with insecurity and those striving for self-empowerment. Cardinal shows you how to fight the good fight until you reach your goal.

You may have a flair for dressing up and stepping out on the town, as much as you also love your home life. Cardinal as a Spirit animal gives you a desire to be seen and heard. You are a facilitator who enjoys networking and knows how to bring others together.

Finally, because of the Red Cardinal’s symbolic meaning of ‘blood ties’ when this animal ally appears to you in person, dreams, movies, TV, songs, books, magazines, or even in conversations with others, it could absolutely be a visitation from a loved one who’s crossed over.

Cardinal Totem Animal

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Those born with Cardinal as a Totem Animal have the Medicine of uniqueness. There is no way Cardinal people can hide in a crowd. Either they dress festively with a love of bright colors, or their voice is so distinctive you cannot ignore a word.

If you have Cardinal as an Animal Totem, you have a strong sense of honor and know how to pick yourself up after setbacks. You have a natural aptitude toward innovation and determination. Whatever “it” is – you stick things out until the very end.

Like the Cardinal Spirit, you love your home. You have little patience for anyone who abuses your hospitality or overstays a welcome. Anyone deemed dangerous to your territory is NOT welcome. Cardinal people have both fortitude and courage to back up their song with actions. You are generally happy, and other people enjoy your upbeat attitude.

You have strong boundaries and know when to cut ties with toxic people. You are discerning and only allow people into your life if they truly are on your level. You can also be exceptionally lucky and prosperous. You can be nurturing and establishing a secure home life is important to you.

Cardinal Power Animal

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There is any number of great reasons for calling upon Cardinal as a Power Animal. People just settling into a new home or workspace find that Cardinal an excellent Animal Spirit Guide for traversing and protecting their territory effectively.

Align with Cardinal as a Power Animal if you need to fortify your home. This creature can help you establish comfort and security, or help you find a home that suits your needs.

Cardinal also helps you make connections in your community. When you need to advocate for your home and community, Cardinal is your ideal helper.

If you are someone who struggles with seasonal emotional swings, Cardinal is a year-round helpmate that helps you adjust to the ebb and flow in both weather and life. The Cardinal Power Animal assists with other matters of health and vitality too.
Those who find themselves hesitant to speak to potential partners can reach out to Cardinal for both confidence and the right song for wooing (or minimally getting one foot in the door).

If you’ve been down on your luck, working with Cardinal can help turn your luck around and bring good fortune into your life. You can have a complete reversal of fortunes when Cardinal is working with you.

You can also enhance your instincts and psychic abilities by working with Cardinal. This bird can also help you enhance any number of talents. When you need to make your voice heard or show off your skills, it’s time to work with Cardinal.
You can also forge a stronger connection to loved ones in spirit when you work with Cardinal.

Other goals for which Cardinal Power Animal lends energy include clarity, joy, uniqueness, improved communication, dutifulness, and preparedness.

Blue Cardinal Meaning

You may think you’ve spotted a Blue Cardinal, but this is a misconception. There are no Blue Cardinals but Blue Birds with crested heads who resemble these birds.

The Blue Jay and Stellar Jay are often mistaken for Blue variations on the Cardinal but this is an incorrect assumption.

Native American Cardinal Symbolic Meanings

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Among Native Americans, most Birds have strong ties to other realms and, as such, become messengers from the Great Spirit or the Ancestors. Cardinal in Native Lore represents loving relationships and devotion. The southeastern tribes associate Cardinal with the Sun and good fortune. And some tribes tell us that Cardinal is the harbinger of rain.

Cardinal is considered positive and lucky for the most part. The Cherokee associate this bird with the Sun. One myth tells of a Red Bird that is the daughter of the Sun.

Cardinals are important guardians in Pueblo tradition. They are associated with the Southern direction. Other cultures such as the Aikimel O’odham, consider the Cardinal to be a predictor of rains and lightning. They are believed to predict various weather phenomenon and show signs to communicate changing weather to others.

Native American Cardinal Meaning and the Number 12

Some Indigenous cultures viewed numbers one through twelve and particularly 3, 4, and 7 as being fortunate. Cardinals lay a total of twelve eggs, usually four at a time on three occasions annually. Since they don’t migrate, their life cycles and habits helped people keep time and thus they are associated with the passing months. Some Indigenous people see Cardinal as a significant timekeeper and also as a symbol of abundance and the number twelve.

Choctaw Red Bird Legend

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The Choctaw people view Cardinal as a symbol of marriage and matchmaking. Their Cardinal lore comes from a story of the Red Bird. In Choctaw lore, there was a woman who lived alone and was attentive to her home.

One day, she became lonely for a partner and sat outside her home crying. A Red Bird heard her cries and came to her to see what was wrong. She told the Red Bird about her longing for a partner to care for. The Bird empathized with her plight and came to see her again and again.

Soon the Red Bird became a companion who visited and gave her someone to talk to. When he wasn’t visiting, the Red Bird flew around to nearby villages. In his travels, the Red Bird found a young man who was also lonely. Red Bird began singing to reassure the young man.

Soon, the Red Bird became tired by his many ventures from the young man and young woman. The Red Bird fell ill and the young man went to him and the Red Bird, in his weakened state, fell to the ground and began hopping. The young man followed him and Red Bird led him to the young woman. The young man realized the Bird brought him there for a reason and Red Bird knew his mission was complete.

Cherokee Cardinal Legend

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The Cherokee people have a story about how Cardinal got his bright red color. They say that it all began with a test Raccoon had for Wolf, who this creature enjoyed teasing. When Wolf wasn’t looking, Raccoon pulled Wolf’s tail, insulted him, and ran away.

Wolf turned but could see no one. Raccoon had already scurried out onto a long branch of a nearby tree. But Wolf saw Raccoon’s reflection in the river but thought he was seeing Raccoon and dove into the water in pursuit. Wolf had to swim hard to make it to shore. When he emerged from the river, he laid down, exhausted and fell asleep.

Raccoon returned to his tricks. He rubbed dung on Wolf’s eyes closed to seal them shut, then crept away. When Wolf awoke, he couldn’t open his eyes and began to howl in fear.

Nearby was a brown bird who heard the commotion and came to Wolf’s aid. The Bird asked what is wrong and Wolf howled that he couldn’t open his eyes. He promised to reward the Bird if he could help Wolf open his eyes.

The Bird pecked the dung away from Wolf’s eyes. Wolf could then see the Bird for the first time. He invited Bird to follow him to a bright red rock and instructed the Bird to use water to stir up the color and paint himself red. This is how Cardinal came to be bright red.

Cardinal Dream Meanings

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When Cardinal appears in dreams, it’s usually regarded as a positive message, one that urges you to follow your dreams and passions. Something good is on the horizon. Some dream experts also feel Cardinal may represent a loved one who has passed over sending you a message.

Cardinal dreams help you process the loss of a loved one. Dreams often have personal meanings and a variety of factors should be taken into consideration when interpreting a dream.

Pay attention to the feelings that accompany your dreams about Cardinal. You can gain additional insights by considering how many Cardinals appear in your dream and bringing the power of Numerology into your dream interpretation. Take note of what the Cardinals in your dream are doing.

If they are singing, you may be guided to follow your heart and use your voice to make sure your message is getting across. If you dream of a Cardinal flying, pay attention to the direction it is headed. You are being guided toward something new.
A Cardinal flying North may bring you in touch with your inner power. The eastern direction suggests a new dawn is coming for you. A Cardinal flying West encourages you to align with your creativity and commune with your loved ones in spirit. A Cardinal headed south is directing you to express your passions.

Cardinal Angel Messages

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“When cardinals appear, angels are near.”

Cardinals are one of many creatures seen as messengers from the spiritual realms. Perhaps it is their winged bodies or their ability to soar through the Heavens, but people worldwide often see Birds in particular as Messengers from the Angelic and spiritual realms.

But Cardinals have a special place among the animals considered messengers. There is an old saying, “When Cardinals appear, Angels are near.” There are other variations of this quote including “When Cardinals appear, Spirits are near” or “loved ones are near.” This speaks to the pervasive belief that Red Cardinals are here to connect us to our Spiritual Guides and that Cardinals can actually be messengers from Ancestors in spirit. Seeing a Red Cardinal meaning departed loved ones or Angels are nearby is a pervasive belief found in many cultures.

Red Cardinal Spiritual Meaning

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What are Red Cardinals known for?

The spiritual meaning of a Red Cardinal has to do with claiming your message and giving yourself permission to take up space. Self-love and willingness to nurture yourself and show empathy to others is also part of the spiritual meaning of this creature.

Red Cardinal meaning is emblematic of the power of the Root Chakra which also relates to survival, passion, and strength. This bird is associated with vitality and life-force energy.

Red Cardinal encourages you to follow your passions. They also hold the spiritual meaning reminding you about the importance of community. Cardinal asks you to find the balance between stark individuality and dedication to family, home, and community.

The symbolism of a Red Cardinal brings luck and protection to your home while boding well for romance. You are likely to find a devoted partner and enjoy the comfort of family and home when Red Cardinals are around you.

What Does it Mean When You See a Red Cardinal?

Seeing a Red Cardinal is a special omen that change and new opportunities are on your horizon. You may be reassured of protective spirit guides around you when you see a Red Cardinal as well.

Red Cardinals are an indicator that loved ones who have passed on are surrounding you and encouraging you. You are being guided to flaunt your unique style and stand up for yourself when Red Cardinal comes into your life.

When you see a Red Cardinal, set down your roots. Pay attention to your home. You may need to relax and spend more time with your family or community. Red Cardinal appears to remind you to be discreet and pay attention to the people who love you unconditionally.

Red Cardinals encourage you to bring passion and excitement to your romantic life. You may meet a soulmate or love interest soon. An existing relationship may become more committed and dynamic soon when you see a Red Cardinal.

Red Cardinals encourage you to spice up your love. You may attract someone new by being true to yourself. Show your unique beauty and confidence and the person who is meant to be your partner for life is sure to notice you.

Red Cardinal Superstition

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Many cultures have unique superstition and lore about Cardinals. Some say that seeing a Red Cardinal in the winter means abundance is coming in the spring. Others say that the song of a Red Cardinal is an indicator your grief and sadness will soon give way to happiness.

As mentioned previously, Red Cardinals are said to be a symbol of loved ones in the spirit realms surrounding you with their protection and support. Others believe that a Red Cardinal is the “SOS” signal of the Bird kingdom, indicating help is coming.

Cardinals are associated with good luck and prosperity. It is believed that when Red Cardinals are around you can be assured of protection and prosperity. Home and family life will be in the spotlight when this Bird comes into your life, according to lore.

Red Cardinal Meaning Death

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The association between Red Cardinal and loved ones in the spiritual realms leads some to wonder if this bird is a harbinger of death on the way. Yet this is not typically the case.

One of the rare beliefs related to Red Cardinals and death is the superstition that if a Red Cardinal taps on your window it means someone you know is going to die soon. Yet usually, a visit from a Red Cardinal is associated with a visit from a loved one who has already crossed to the afterlife.

What Does a Dead Cardinal Mean?

The sight of a dead bird can be shocking, especially a Cardinal, as these birds are already bold and noticeable. But seeing a dead Cardinal isn’t always a bad omen. Their lifespan in the wild is brief, approximately three years. You may also want to investigate to ensure there are no environmental hazards causing the bird’s death.

Rather than panicking when you see a dead Cardinal, find a way to honor the spirit of the bird for making its presence known in your life. It is a sign that new changes are on the horizon and you can close the door on an aspect of your past that you’ve outgrown.

Red Cardinal Tattoo

Deciding to get a tattoo of a Red Cardinal is a great way to show your devotion and connection to the spiritual realms. You can wear your animal guide on your body with this tattoo. This tattoo suggests a close connection to your spouse or soulmate.

A Red Cardinal tattoo also signifies connection to home and family. You show the world you are a bold and courageous person when you wear an image of the Red Cardinal on your body as a tattoo.

Musical talents and a gift for healing are also associated with a Red Cardinal tattoo. You can express your unique style and flair for getting attention with this bold image.

Red Cardinal Quotes

“When a Cardinal appears, it is a visitor from Heaven.”

“Cardinals appear when angels are near.”

“If a Cardinal should appear, a loved one came to bring you cheer, a visitor from Heaven is near…”

“The Cardinal is at his wit’s end, it is true he had not far to go,” Lord Byron

“Like a Bird singing in the rain, let grateful memories survive in times of sorrow.” Robert Louis Stevenson

“Feathers brightly colored red, angels from heaven it’s been said. Those we’ve lost come from above. To lend us strength and show their love.

Far Eastern Cardinal Symbolic Meanings

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In the Far East, particularly China and Japan, the “Red Bird” appears as the mythical Phoenix, the Bird of Fire, Transformation, Rebirth, Fidelity, and Integrity. The Red Bird heralds the coming of new horizons, be it the end of a war or the anointing of an honorable ruler. In China, specifically, Cardinal (Red Bird) guards the southern quarter of creation where it stands watch over evil influences.

How You Can Help Cardinals

Cardinals are abundant because of their popularity. People are willing to feed them even through the cold winters and so they are not endangered because of conventional reasons. However their biggest threat is habitat loss. This is particularly true in the western regions of the United States.

Environmental toxins and changes in land use threaten these birds’ habitats. You can help them survive by setting up bird feeders and allowing them to nest near your home.

You can also protect them by placing decals or stickers on your windows so that Cardinals are not inclined to accidentally fly into the windows on your home.

The Audubon Society and other similar organizations work to protect Cardinals. You can support these organizations so they may continue their important campaigns.

Cardinal Symbolic Meanings Key

  • Good Cheer
  • Pride
  • Hopefulness
  • Bold Energy
  • Powerful
  • Supportive
  • Brilliance
  • Root Chakra
  • Magnificence!
  • Strong Family Ties

7 thoughts on “Cardinal Symbolism & Meaning

  1. Alicia says:

    Thank you for your in-depth piece on the Cardinal.

  2. orlando says:

    thank you i jusr seen 2 of them flying around i was sitting next to, in Florida and i just got the answer to my question

  3. Jennifer crystal Crafton says:

    I have had cardinals follow me while out traveling . my new neighbor now my best friend is a bird watcher. She told me after living in that house for six years she never once saw a cardinal. When I moved in about 8 months ago, my daughter was selling fun raiser coupons and happened upon my neighbor. She said a cardinal flew over after she left. Then the cardinal would only show up when I came around. You know after we got acquainted. The cardinal has since stopped flying by, but I love crystals and silver rings and such. I found a silver ring.with a coral cardinal inlay with turquoise leaves. Also I found helping clean out my friends garage a cardinal wind chime it was broken I took the cardinal and kept it. I don’t know what it all means but I keep a watch out now for cardinals. I just thought it was interesting. Be blessed

  4. staci says:

    Love your article. I have had a cardinal tapping on the windows for the last two days. He even woke me up this morning with his insistent tapping on my bedroom window even with the blinds were shut. . As I walk though the house he comes to the window I am in front of taps, but if I try to go closer to him he flys away. Any idea what this might mean .

  5. Joe says:

    One just brushed my face

  6. Larry Masters says:

    My sister Carol died yesterday, a year ago on the same day July 20, 2019 another sister, Phyllis, died. Yesterday, late afternoon, while sitting on my front porch, two male Cardinals landed in a nearby tree then landed on the ground, after which they flew up to a power line, before finally leaving. Both are my older sisters, who most of my life, along with another older sister, still living, looked after me and watched over me. I believe they were both checking on me and letting me know everything will be fine.

  7. Jackie says:

    Dozens of cardinals male and female visited me today. They came by a window where I sit every morning having tea. They are still in the bush outside my window. I got several photos. It is very lovely and exciting. I’ve never seen this many at one time. Their red feathers are bold against the grey of winter.
    Thankful to see them today in such abundance.

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