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Pelican Symbolism & Meaning

Pelicans know how to assess an opportunity when they see one. They find a perch where they can observe with intent and patience. When the right moment arrives they strike, catching their lunch adroitly. Sensitives tell us the diving motion of a Pelican speaks to us of going deep into our own emotions and self-understanding. There is no question the Pelican is a symbol for focus, persistence, and self-initiation with style and flair too.

In nature and spiritual realms, Pelicans value community and teamwork. They fish in groups, creating strong cooperative bonds for the benefit of the whole. Watching the hunt is awe-inspiring. Part of the flock flap their wings near the surface of the water, moving fish in the direction of the other part of the throng. It leaves nothing for the Pelican to do other than scoop up the fish in its pouch.

Pelican Table of Contents

Pelican Symbolism & Meaning

The pouch on Pelicans is a distinctive feature, and it’s not just used for gathering food. They gather water in it. Metaphorically, a small-billed Pelican represents a lack of nutrition in your body, mind, or soul. The oversized bill then becomes an emblem of hedonism, self-gratification, or unhealthy hoarding often stemming from insecurity. On a more positive note, a large-billed Pelican can be a token of a unique aptitude for gathering important ideas and information.

Wings on a Pelican span ten feet. In flight, their wingspan makes for a striking image against the sky. As they move, Pelicans may take to a V formation, each knowing its place in the greater whole. They are aerialists adept at gliding and soaring, using thermal airflow to go upward to 10,000 feet, and travel as much as 100 miles in one day. The Pelican Animal Helper understands the journey, the importance of progressive movement in our lives, and the importance of a support unit.

Your winged ally has impressive maternal instincts, being among the most recognized nurturer in nature. Stories claim the Pelican makes great sacrifices for their children, making sure they have proper care and protection. And while Pelicans appear little in Native American stories, some claim having the bird come to you grants special spiritual abilities. In other settings, such as the California tribes, Pelican controls storms.

Pelican Spirit Animal

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When the Pelican Spirit Animal calls itself to your attention, it’s time to sit up and take notice. A fortuitous opening presents itself. The counsel from Pelican is remaining patient. Don’t dive too quickly or wait too long. You may feel a little insecure about the situation, but you have the chance to apply skills and talents, honing them even further.

The Pelican Spirit Animal is an active team player. It will not allow you to sit on life’s sideline, unmotivated. You need to get out there, among like-minded people and build new friendships. Accept support; give support. The groups you form during your work with Pelican will become some of the most important in your life.

Pelican asks: are you the half-full or half-empty person? What is in your beak, and when do you need to empty it? By letting go, you fill your cup far above the halfway mark with better things. Let nothing weigh you down when you’re reaching for the stars.

Your Pelican Spirit Animal knows you are compassionate. You see needs in people’s lives and respond. But do you respond to your own needs? Have you forgiven yourself from past misdeeds and mistakes? Tackling these two questions is part of Pelican Medicine, and only you have the answers.

Pelican Totem Animal

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You can recognize individuals born with a Pelican Totem Animal by the ease with which they move through life. They are in touch with their emotions, remain mindful of each moment, and have an intense focus. Working with groups is the key to ensuring success for Pelican people.

If Pelican is your Birth Totem, you are always in control never having your head or heart outweigh one another. Throughout life, you in-gather all manner of information and have a tremendous aptitude for processing it, then putting it to work in sensible ways. You love sharing what you learn with others, making a career in teaching ideal. Your penchant for communicating in groups makes you an ideal candidate for coordinating important social efforts, like charities.

Walking with a Pelican Totem is beautifully selfless, but there are drawbacks. You have a tendency to put your needs, even important ones, second. People appreciate your kindness and efforts, but your closest friends and allies whisper about taking time out when you need it.

Many people with a Pelican Totem love to travel, but you will never see them with 100 check-in bags. If you’re going on the road, you take only what you need. For you, the adventure ahead is all-consuming and you don’t want a lot of unnecessary “stuff” weighing you down.

Meditation is an excellent practice for folks with a Pelican Totem as it turns your sights inward. Being a bird of the Water Element, staying in touch with what you feel is important to your well-being. Practice stillness, find silence, and in silence lies renewal and the voice of the Divine.

Pelican Power Animal

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When you are going through a dark time in your life and need a tried-and-true friend, invoke your inner Pelican Power Animal for determining the best choice. Pelican energy remains calm even in the middle of your disquiet. Its energies give you guidance and lead you to the perfect person for the task at hand.

If you are a perpetual student, or recently embarked on a field of higher study, your Pelican Power Animal is a great helpmate. Sometimes it feels like there is too much information. The Pelican Power animal helps you sort and file every tidbit for future use.

One of the best applications for your Pelican Power Animal is adjusting to group dynamics. No matter how much you enjoy socialization, there will always be awkward moments where you feel foolish, klutzy, or incompetent. There is always a way to recoup and regroup. Let Pelican help you.

Early Christian Pelican Symbolic Meanings

The early church revered Pelicans, focusing on the female as a powerful mother figure. The association began in a story where a great famine came to the earth. A Pelican with little ones cut open her own breast, using her own blood for nourishing the babies. They survived; she did not.

Over time, the story became a symbol of Christ’s blood sacrifice for his unconditional love toward humankind. The church identified Pelican with the attributes of devotion, harmony, peaceful communities, and safety as well.
Pelican as a Global Animal Symbol

Christians weren’t the only ones who wrote of Pelicans with respect. In ancient Egypt, Pelicans had ties to death and the afterlife, being painted within tombs and appearing in the margins of funerary documents. Egyptians believed the Pelican could provide safe passage through the underworld.

Medieval bestiaries and heraldry depicted the pious Pelican, wounding herself in sacrifice. More than likely the stories came from Pelican’s behavior. It presses its bill onto its chest for emptying a full pouch.
1910 Dixon Lanier Merritt wrote a charming limerick about the Pelican:  

A wonderful bird is the Pelican,

His bill will hold more than his belican,

He can take in his beak

Food enough for a week,

But I’m damned if I see how the helican.

Pelican Dreams

If the Pelican in your dream has an empty beak, disappointment lies in your future. Your current efforts and energies will not manifest your desires.

Pelicans flying above you in a dream warn of potential threats you may not see. Look a little deeper.

When Pelicans fly straight and true in your dream, it reflects a keen mind. You’re smart, hardworking, and the word underachievement isn’t in your vocabulary.

A Pelican floating on water in your dream means you intend to keep a promise made, even though you worry about it. If the water is stormy, however, it means ignoring underlying feelings. You must confront them before moving on.

Seeing a Pelican with her babes in your dream symbolizes motherhood. If you have been trying to have a child, the signs are all positive. The idea applies to figurative mothering, such as delicate care toward a project or job.

Groupings of Pelicans reflect the need for taking time and pleasure with friends and family. Take care of your work-life balance so you don’t miss treasured moments.

One Pelican taking to the air in your dream shows you are rising to the occasion and embracing your life’s mission.

When the Pelican swallows a fish in your dream, beware. Do not lend money or any property of value right now.

Should the Pelican in your dream spread its wings you are about to find inspiration in an unlikely person or place. In turn, whatever you bring forward from the moment is a great accomplishment.

Pelican Symbolic Meanings Key

  • Benevolence
  • Focus
  • Grace
  • Information Gathering
  • Motherhood
  • Nurturing
  • Resourcefulness
  • Self-sacrifice
  • Team Work
  • Weather Magic

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