The Heron: Symbolism and Spiritual Meaning

The Heron is a bird of great spiritual meaning, often associated with spirituality and wisdom. This article discusses the importance of the heron in symbolism and its spiritual implications, as well as some other interesting facts about this beautiful creature.

Herons are described as medium to large-sized fresh water and coastal birds of the Ardeidae family whose main characteristics are long legs and long necks that can bend into an S-shape. They are found in most regions of the world except in areas with climates of extreme cold, areas in high mountains, and dry deserts. More specifically, Herons can be found in the wetlands where they feed near the edges of the water. Their diets consist of fish, reptiles, amphibians, and other aquatic life. Herons are known for being solitary creatures unless it is mating season.

While these are all interesting scientific facts, did you also know that across different cultures herons have certain spiritual symbolism and meanings associated with them?

Today we are going to take a look at some of those meanings, including what it could mean if a heron makes an appearance in your dream.

What birds can have their bills more peculiarly formed than the ibis, the spoonbill, and the heron?

Alfred Russel Wallace

The Heron Meaning

The Heron is often associated with spirituality. It has an extremely long lifespan, as well as having the ability to fly on one wing – a symbol of freedom and independence in many cultures.

A powerful totem animal for those who have lost their way or are seeking guidance, herons represent the deep-seated need within all living things to find a balance between intellect and instinct. The heron’s association with water (it feeds by standing still at the edge of ponds waiting for prey) also points to this duality; it embodies our own journey through life: we must sometimes travel blindly when faced with difficult decisions.

Herons are also symbols of serenity and calmness. We, as humans, need to realize that in order for us to reach our full potential and identify new opportunities in our lives, we also need to have these qualities within. A life of chaos and uncertainty is not going to breed success, abundance, or positivity.

The heron is also a symbol of determination and wisdom. Herons can often be found on the edge of the water, patiently waiting for the next fish or reptile to make an appearance. When that opportunity comes along, they strike quickly and with confidence. Its determination, patience, and confidence are something we should strive for, especially when it comes to being successful in business, in personal relationships, or in life in general.

The heron’s swift call to attack should remind us that it is important to take action when we see an opportunity so that we can continue to progress and level up in life. When we pass on opportunities, whether it be from fear of not being comfortable with change, we can miss out on a lot! More importantly, remaining in the same place with the same habits creates a stagnant environment that does not serve our higher purpose.

The Heron’s Meaning in Different Cultures

Across the world, the heron is a spiritual symbol, representing wisdom and knowledge. This may arise from its solitary nature, which lends itself to introspection as well as taking time for solitude in order to gain enlightenment.

Native American Culture

Many Native American tribes see the heron as a sign of good luck and patience. Native American fishermen from the northwest coast often believe that if they spot a heron, it is a sign that their fishing trip is going to be bountiful. This makes sense considering what an amazingly patient fisherman this bird is. Since the heron also has such amazing judgement when it comes to its hunting skills, it is also seen as a symbol of wisdom.

However, there are some Native American cultures that use the heron as a symbol of a restless loner. Even though these birds are monogamous and work together with their partner in building a nest and raising their young, they still prefer their own space and time alone.

Heron Native American Symbolism

Christian Culture

In Christianity, the heron serves as a symbol of good luck and long life. This religion sees herons as birds who are patient, peaceful and content in their lives. There are also several Hymns that praise these attributes. Christians believe that the happiness and gratefulness the heron displays should serve as inspiration to how they should be grateful towards the gift of life that has been given to them, as well.

Celtic Culture

Celtic folklore and religion provide us with quite a few mentions of the heron as well. The Celtic people saw this bird as a symbol of independence, perseverance, and long life.

There are also connections between herons and the Celtic gods. Herons are said to be the reincarnations of the goddess, Rhiannon, who was very beloved by the Celts and served as a protector who would help lost travellers find their way home. She was the goddess of lakes and waters. This very reason is why this particular bird is referred to as “The Lady of the Lake.”

The Celtics also designed specific Celtic knots with the heron image that stood as a representation of peace and harmony (read here about animals representing peace). It is akin to the Chinese Yin and Yang symbol of balance and how dark cannot exist without light, sadness without happiness, etc.

Japanese Culture

In Japan, the heron is a symbol of purity, longevity and peace. It represents the spiritual journey to enlightenment as it sequentially goes through physical death, purgatory and rebirth from water.

Herons in Japanese art are shown with their necks gracefully curved back in flight or standing on one leg while nesting – both reflecting dignity. A heron nest was offered as a special gift because its beauty suggested that love will endure no matter what obstacles life may throw at you. The gentle sound of raindrops falling into shallow pools near their nests were said to be “the voice of God”.

Greek Culture

In Greece, the Heron is seen as a symbol of good luck and fortune. The mythological story tells that the herons acted as intermediaries between Zeus, who sent them to earth every day with messages for mankind from his realm on Mount Olympus, thus giving its message importance.

In Greek culture, Heron symbols are often used in celebrations such as weddings because there was a belief that it brings about peace and happiness in family life. They were also considered bringers of souls into heaven after death.

Heron Spirit Animal

The Heron as Spirit Animal

If you have discovered the heron as your spirit animal, there are several reasons for this.

Independent Spirit

One of the first reasons you might have this bird as your spirit animal is because you are more of a loner with an independent spirit, who can still find their happy place in a group. The heron prefers to be a creature of solitude, especially when it is time to find a meal. However, it thrives and becomes social during the mating season where spending time with their partner and building a nest becomes a team effort. They are glad to put in the time and effort to complete the task at hand because they know it takes two to achieve this goal. You probably possess the same qualities where alone time is preferred but you can also adapt to working as part of a team if necessary.

Overall, you are someone who enjoys your independence, and this can help you in many ways. Being so independent gives you the opportunity to explore more of your abilities and what you really want out of life. You do not need approval from others, and you certainly are not concerned with having a “normal” life. You enjoy discovering all your unique talents and abilities and are resourceful with how you use them.

While You See a Chance, Take it!

The heron as your spirit animal is also a reminder that when an opportunity comes up, you should “strike while the iron is hot.” Waiting or delaying decisions could result in missed opportunities. If you are currently in the process of making a decision, it is best to make it sooner rather than later.

Don’t Rush Into Things

In the same sense, the heron also symbolizes not being too hasty or make ill-informed decisions. When this bird is hunting for food by the water’s edge, it waits patiently and calmly. It knows when the right time to strike is and doesn’t ruin its chances of a successful hunt by being careless. So, while you shouldn’t pass up opportunities that seem like a good idea, you also shouldn’t just jump into situations blindly without having some sort of background or knowledge of what you’re getting into; it’s all about timing.

Great Determination

Another quality you might possess as someone who has the heron as their spirit animal is a great determination. Even though the odds might be against you and life can sometimes be a battle, you never give up. Those who have the heron on their side are more likely to face challenges head-on and come out of those situations even stronger than they were before because of their determined spirit. So, if you’re currently going through a difficult time, do not worry. Your determination and spirit will guide you through. Remember, it’s the struggles in life that give you character and teach you some of life’s most important lessons.

heron totem animal

The Heron as Totem Animal

The Heron represents a totem animal for many people. Totems can be natural things such as animals, plants, trees, and stones; or they can also represent qualities that we aspire to have in ourselves. Some of the common types are wisdom totems (such as herons), healing totems (like turtles), protection totems (eagles) and power/strength totems like bears.

Each type has its own spiritual significance which is important when considering your totem animal’s meaning to you personally. The heron stands tall with long legs and neck often looking down at what it sees before it on the ground below due to their excellent vantage point from atop poles or treetops where they build their nests. Being your totem animal means that you are a contemplative person and may be inclined to get lost in your thoughts. You also enjoy being alone, but still crave companionship when the mood strikes you.

As herons soar high above their surroundings they see what others don’t, have an overview of things that escape us on earth, and can become seers as they observe new landscapes from their unique vantage point. They live largely solitary lives until it’s time for mating which is during the breeding season where males will compete with each other for females by performing elaborate displays at lakesides or ponds with large numbers of them gathering there before pairing off (sometimes up to five feet away) since these birds mate while standing erect rather than sitting down as most animals do.

Heron in Dreams Meaning

And now that we have a good amount of background on the heron and its symbolism, what does it mean if you see one in your dream?

Since dreams can be interpreted in many different ways, it’s always important to look at what you are currently dealing with in your life. This will serve as an excellent indicator of how you should interpret the dream.

Heron in Dreams Meaning

In general, a heron in your dream represents independence, permanence, tact, and planning. As long as you’re being smart and informed in your decisions, you are going to be successful!

Another possible meaning of a heron dream is that you possess and should exercise your ability to explore your subconscious or deep inner thoughts that we aren’t always aware of when we’re awake and going through our day. In other words, you are searching for spirituality.

If you want even more insight into the meaning of your dream, then recalling the color of the heron will provide you with just that:

  • A black heron indicates that even though you are avoiding opportunities because you’re concerned you might fail, you need to put those fears aside and make things happen!
  • A blue heron is a sign that before you make a decision, you should seek some input from those who are important to you. Their advice will prove extremely valuable and help you plan what your next steps should be.
  • A white heron often comes to you in your dream as your spirit guide and is trying to advise you on something.

As you can see, the heron has played an important role among several cultures and has gained its place in the spiritual world as an advisor and a guide. We, as humans, should consider the qualities of this bird and apply them to our lives. If we want to be successful in our careers and our relationships, it’s important for us to act as the heron does-with patience, wisdom, and determination.


The heron is a fascinating bird that has been celebrated in cultures all around the world for centuries. It’s also one of my favorite animals! I hope this post sheds some light on what these beautiful creatures have meant to people throughout history and why they are so important to our spiritual well-being today. Keep an eye out next time you see a heron flying by, or when someone tells you about their experience with them – it may be that they represent something much deeper than just another animal passing through your day. If anyone would like help interpreting any other symbols from nature, please reach out to me! As always, thanks for reading, and enjoy your week ahead.

We also compared the crane vs heron, check it out. Sometimes the heron gets mistaken by an egret – also see our post: egret symbolism.

[Video] The Heron Totem

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4 thoughts on “The Heron: Symbolism and Spiritual Meaning”

  1. I had a Heron in my campsite all 4 days and I have one near my boat in the Marina, so it is obvious to me that they are my guides. However, what does it mean when the Heron is, literally, attacked by 4 Ravens? This happened at my campsite. The Heron got really angry and flew off chasing them before returning to the campsite.

    • The ravens may have been nesting and would see the heron as a threat to the eggs/chicks! I have seen ravens attacking and chasing a hawk away from their nesting ground.

  2. I have been looking up herons forever and I cannot find one site that tells me what it means when you see a pair of blue herons flying over you. I didn’t just see what they were a pair. Then when I got home I was sitting in the kitchen looking out the back window and two more blue herons flew by and this was way past the time that I had seen the other birds and nowhere near where I had seen the first pair! That has to mean something!


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