Animal Omens and Signs: Rabbits, Deer, Fox, Birds and More
The belief in animal omens and signs dates back to our ancient ancestors. Because of their connection with nature, certain animals meant good or bad fortune. In this article, we look at some of the most common animal omens and signs and learn how to interpret them. What does it mean if a rabbit crosses your path? What’s the meaning of a fox crossing your path? What if a family of deer are in your backyard? Find out here.
What Exactly is an Animal Omen? What About a Sign?
A sign or an omen is a message given to you through the means of a symbol of some kind. When we talk about animal omens and signs, we’re specifically referring to a supernatural or spiritual experience in which you are approached or encounter an animal that you wouldn’t otherwise. This animal omen or sign is a warning or message to you from the spirit world. So does that mean every time we see a blue jay fly by or a dragonfly in the garden that those are signs from our ancestors or guides? No. Not every animal encounter is a sign or omen. So how does one know?
As I said before, an animal omen or sign is an experience you won’t forget. The experience itself is abnormal and will leave you wondering why you had it in the first place. That feeling is how you’ll know it’s a sign and not just a regular occurrence. For instance, if a bird flies into your car window while you’re driving, THAT is a sign. If for three days in a row, you see a possum in different parts of your city in places where possums aren’t supposed to be, that is a sign. And if a crow pecks at your bedroom window, that is a sign. If a rabbit runs across your yard and into the bushes, a regular occurrence, this isn’t necessarily a sign. I hope you’re seeing the difference.
Black Cat Omens
Have you ever heard that a black cat crossing your path is bad luck? Black cat omens are a well-known example of an animal omen. A black cat omen in China means good luck! But a black cat in the United States has long been thought to be a bad animal omen so much so that black cats are the least adopted cat in the shelters. I’ve had black cats as pets, they were never bad luck! This superstition most likely originates with a fear of witches and their familiars, which is why we see black cats used as decoration on Halloween.
Woodland Animal Omens & Signs
Deer Omens & Signs
Deer are a magnificent species with much lore surrounding them. The meaning of a deer in your backyard varies but usually means spiritual change or renewal. Have you toyed with the idea of becoming spiritual leadership? The deer in your backyard means a time of spiritual authority is ahead. If a white deer is seen, this is a bad omen. Also, nearly any albino animal is a bad omen. Where did this belief originate? Noone’s sure because typically the color white is symbolic of purity and wholesomeness, but the idea of a white deer being a bad sign is prevalent in the United States. My theory is it relates to white animals being linked to the Celtic Otherworld in ancient times…and therefore the fae and pagan deities.
Rabbit Crosses Your Path
Rabbits are a favorite woodland animal, but if a rabbit crosses your path from left to right this is bad luck. Multiple rabbits in your yard is a sign of fertility – someone in the house will be pregnant soon. In the old days, rabbits were thought to be shapeshifted witches. According to Vance Randolph’s Ozark Magic and Folklore, if “the same rabbit crosses your path twice, it means you are desperately needed at home.” Rabbit’s feet have been carried as a good luck charm for centuries, so I’d venture to say rabbit signs are usually good luck.
When a Fox Crosses Your Path
The meaning of fox crossing your path is an increase in mental faculties—focus on learning and using your intelligence in tricky situations. Foxes were said to “charm” squirrels right out of a tree to catch their dinner. They were also considered nuisances because they’d steal the eggs or chicks right out of a henhouse. Moreover, the fox animal omen warns: don’t let yourself be “outfoxed.” The fox spirit also brings lessons of sexual empowerment, seductiveness, and learning to work in liminal spaces.
The Bear As An Animal Omen
First, if you see a bear in the wild, be sure you keep enough space between the two of you. Grizzlies are particularly dangerous, as well as mother bears. To that point, seeing a bear is a sign of a few things. One, it may be time to protect your children and family from an invading illness or intruder. Or two, it may be time for you to dive into the world of herbalism. Bears are often linked to herb medicine in indigenous cultures, and it’s said that bear medicine is strong medicine.
Prairie and Desert Animal Omens and Signs
The prairie has its own ecosystem and unique animals. The Natives held animal signs and omens as sacred messages from the Great Spirit.
Coyote as Animal Omen
If a coyote is seen, this is often a bad omen. Different Native nations believe the coyote was a trickster and a thief. The Navajo believed the coyote was associated with “evil magicians” or “witches” who would put the skins of a coyote on their backs and shapeshift into “skinwalker” form. Still there are other indigenous who see the coyote in a different light.
The White Buffalo
In contrast to the fear of white animals in the East, the birth of the White Buffalo was a good animal sign from Great Spirit to the Cheyenne and Sioux tribes. The White Buffalo Calf woman was an otherworldly spirit that came to the Natives of the Plains to teach the Seven Sacred Rites. Because of the association with this divine spirit, the white buffalo is a good animal sign.
The Javelina: Desert Animal Signs
The javelina or peccary is an animal seen in the Southwestern United States that is similar to a wild boar. They are tough animals that survive the harsh conditions of the desert. When seen, they strike fear in the hearts of passersby…particularly if that passerby is on foot and in close range. However, to the Natives, the javelina brought a message of honest confrontation. Moreover, the young men were made to face the javelina and face their truth through this animal sign.
The appearance of an antelope meant your ancestor had a message for you, according to the Plains Indians’ beliefs. The Hopi even had a deity associated with the antelope by the name Chop Kachina. The sight of an antelope was almost always a good animal sign.
Bird Omens & Signs
Owls as Omens
In the U.S., owls are frequently seen as a bad animal omen of an impending death in the family. In Mexico, La Lechuza is a shapeshifted witch. So whenever the call of an owl is head, people are fearful for their lives. While owls are often associated with illness or death, there are those who revere owls and see them as a good animal sign—one that brings wisdom and spiritual growth. Perhaps owls are merely trying to warn us of something they know is coming.
Buzzards and Vultures
Buzzards and vultures are regarded as portends of death, as they seen circling a dead animal or seen feasting on a carcass. Again, it all depends on how you want to see this animal sign—is it good or bad? From death also comes life. The Ozark people feared buzzards so much that they wouldn’t leave their houses if a buzzard was nearby. To the Natives, buzzards brought messages of blocked travel.
More Bird Omens
When a bird flies into your house its message depends on the type of bird and its behavior; however, the mountain-folk believed it was a bad omen. Roosters crowing at the back door is a bad omen—a portend of death; however, if the rooster crows at your front door you will have visitors before sunset. Finding feathers also has special meaning.
How to Interpret Animal Signs & Omens
Something to keep in mind when reading an animal omen or sign – not all animal appearances mean something significant. For instance – which of these scenarios seems more likely to be an omen? A. a crow flies in the sky above your car, or B. a bird flies into your house. I would say B is the more significant experience and is an omen or sign. Also, when reading animal signs, research the symbolism and superstitions of that animal, but be aware of the behavior of the animal AND your emotions at the time. Nearly every individual’s interpretation of these signs will be different from the next. And keep in mind, animal omens may come in the form of a dream too.