Doves in History
White Doves appear in the symbolism of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Paganism, and of both military and pacifist groups. From Judeo-Christian references to White Doves in the Bible to spiritual practices around the world, White Doves hold powerful lore and symbolic meaning. It’s common to think of Doves as harbingers of love and marriage. A pair of doves symbolizes love and fidelity. Sometimes after the wedding ceremony, a pair of doves is released, symbolizing their love and commitment. A pair of doves is often a symbol for harmonious family life and committed partnership and teamwork between partners.
Two doves symbolize enduring, ever-faithful love. The symbol probably arose because turtle doves mate for life and spend a lot of time engaging in affectionate behaviors. The two-dove symbol predates Christianity and can be found on ancient coins, monuments and catacombs. In pre-Christian symbols, the dove can represent love and fertility
In many cultures, the color white is associated with purity, beginnings and healing. White Doves in particular are said to be symbolic of the soul or spirit. This is because of both their color and their ability to occupy the skies, the terrain of Spirit.
Doves are commonly part of ancient and modern wedding ceremonies. A release of White Doves at the culmination of a wedding is a symbol of undying love for the newlywed couple in the future. Love, innocence, freedom, peace and serenity as well as good fortune and nurturing are all associated with the Dove. In marriage, the individual experiences a symbolic rebirth as part of a bonded partnership, releasing their past carefree, independent life.
Yet these majestic birds are also associated with Death.
The sacrifice of the self on behalf of the union to a partner, and Dove’s involvement is also reminiscent of other ceremonies in which Doves play a role. The connection between White Doves and death and the symbolism of rebirth and the continuation of life is established. White Doves are seen by cultures around the world to be symbolic of spiritual travel between Earth and the Heavens. Some believe White Doves carry the soul of individuals to the afterlife.
Some believe the White Dove to be emblematic of the Holy Spirit and therefore a constant reminder of the essence that connects humanity to God. So strong is the connection between the White Dove and purity, that Alchemists believe a White Dove flies down from Heaven to carry a wafer to a sacred well, ensuring the transition of purification of substances. This was compared to the process of purifying one’s own spiritual essence.
White Doves are therefore symbolic of transitions and of the most significant transition anyone can make, the journey from physical life to death and spiritual rebirth.
White Doves are associated with purity and this may also connect to the idea of one making a personal sacrifice, as in war, to create peace or progress. It is common to see a White Dove used as a symbol of peace, often accompanied by symbolism such as an olive branch.
This can relate to the story of Noah as well. It is said that as the flood was subsiding, a White Dove appeared to Noah with an olive branch in its mouth as a peace offering and guarantee that Noah and those he rescued would be safe.
A dove is a symbol of wisdom that may come into your life. There is no doubt that the symbolism of doves is very powerful.
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