Symbology of the Dove


The Dove represents the wayfarer of the sky, a being who though it belongs to the earth is capable of dwelling in the skies. The former explanation of the bird represents the idea of a soul whose dwelling place is heaven, and the latter represents the dweller on earth being able to move about in the higher spheres; and both these explanations give the idea that the spiritual man, dwelling on the earth, is from heaven. They also explain that the spiritual man is the inhabitant of the heavens and is only dwelling on earth for a while.

In the Bible John bore witness “I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” – Gospel of John 1:32-34

The dove is the symbol of peace as well as the Holy Spirit. As a peace symbol it recalls the Arc of Noah. Gen. 8:10-11. “He waited another seven days, and again he sent out the dove from the ark and the dove came back to him in the evening, and there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf; so Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth.” It is only when the waters subside that the dove appears. It represents God’s kindness and his forgiveness of a world whose sins had brought so great a calamity. The Hebrew word for dove is Jonah.

The dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. Matt. 3:16 “And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.”

In the Pistis-Sophia the Holy Spirit visited Jesus while he was a child and mysteriously merged with him. The Holy Spirit is also called Zoe, Mother of the Living, and is sometimes described as feminine, and often symbolized as a dove.

In a dream vision Mary sees a white dove descending from heaven and entering her body. The white dove was depicted in the Gospels as a symbol of the Holy Spirit and assimilated by the Christian image of the Holy Ghost – a dove with seven rays emanating from it. Seven was the number of the goddess Sophia, the original Gnostic conception of the female Holy Ghost who descended on Mary at her impregnation. Sophia was made masculine early in the Christian era but her dove, and all doves, were always called “she” even in Christian writings. The dove symbolizes the perfect purity of the Holy Spirit which the Church calls the “Immaculate” so that it was thought that the Holy spirit was incarnated in Mary’s body at the moment of the Annunciation. In this role, the dove was nearly always shown in a way whose significance could not be mistaken. More at

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