Peacock symbolism and meanings include beauty, masculine power, sisterhood, protection, vision, renewal, good luck, and other special qualities.
Peacocks are native to India, Asia, and Central Africa1. However, people all over the world have been dazzled by peacocks for centuries. Thus, peacocks appear in the mythology and folklore of many diverse cultures.
In addition, the peacock spirit animal is an important figure for those who feel a special kinship with these magnificent birds. In this post, you’ll learn about peacock symbols and meanings, the peacock spirit animal, peacock mythology and folklore, and more.
Table of Contents
- What does a peacock symbolize?
- Detailed Peacock Meaning and Symbolism
- The Peacock in Mythology and Folklore
- Peacock in India and Hinduism
- Peacock Symbolism in China
- Peacock in Buddhism
- African Peacock Folklore
- Peacock in Ancient Egypt
- Greek Mythology
- Peacock Meaning in Christianity and the Bible
- Peacocks in the Yazidi Faith: Melek Taus
- Peacock Symbolism in Islam
- The Peacock in Alchemy and Carl Jung
- Peacock Spirit Animal
- Peacock Power Animal
- Peacock Totem
- Peacock Dream Meaning
- Peacock Tattoo
- Organizations that Protect Peacocks
What does a peacock symbolize?
- Spectacular Beauty
- Masculine Power
- Vision and Awareness
- Renewal and Immortality
- Good Luck
Detailed Peacock Meaning and Symbolism
For those who are captivated by these marvelous birds, the peacock could easily win the prize for the most beautiful bird in the world. And as if their vivid, iridescent feathers weren’t mesmerizing enough, the peacock possesses the perfect little crown of feathers on top of his head, completing his fancy look.
Needless to say, the peacock’s spectacular beauty has captivated photographers, artists, and avian aficionados around the world for centuries.
Peacocks are not born beautiful, however. They become so. Thus, as a symbol of spectacular beauty, the peacock reminds us that true beauty is achieved through transformation and growth. For us humans, our own beauty shines as we evolve emotionally, mentally, and spiritually – or in the other ways we choose to improve our lives and those of others.
Studies show that even the least flashy of peacocks can be quite successful at attracting a mate. In fact, some biologists theorize that they do this with the beauty of their song.
Thus, the peacock spirit animal shows us that we all have the capacity to create beauty in our own lives and the world. It’s a matter of tapping into our unique gifts and letting our inner beauty radiate outward. The peacock also reminds us to seek out and appreciate the spectacular beauty that is all around us.
It is the male peafowl, otherwise known as the peacock, who commands awe for his spectacular plumage. He reminds us that masculinity in its highest form of expression is a beautiful thing.
In the human world, as women continue to fight for equality, it’s important that we never forget men’s and boys’ rights to shine too. The peacock is all about celebrating the gifts that men bring to the world.
One of these gifts is the brotherhood of men. Male peacocks tend to hang out together. They remind us of the importance for men to bond, to form brotherhoods, to challenge each other, and to bring out the best in each other.
Peacocks may get most of the attention, but the role of the peahen is indispensable. After all, it is the peahens who take care of the nest and raise the peachicks. How do they do it all? With the help of their peahen sisters, of course! In fact, peahens help their fellow peahens to care for and raise their chicks. Thus, peahens are a celebration of sisterhood and the spirit of women supporting women.
Peacock Symbolism: Protection
As much as they are beautiful, peacocks are also known to be incredibly territorial, even aggressive. In fact, they will attack their own reflection in a glass window if they mistakenly think another peacock is encroaching on their turf.2
The peacock reminds us of the importance to protect those we hold dear and that which we love. After all, the idea of protectiveness extends far beyond protecting things like property, valuables, and even your safety. For example, sometimes we have to remind ourselves to be more protective of our time. Life is full of time bandits that can waste our time and take our focus away from what really matters.
The protective peacock also reminds us to protect ourselves (and those we love) emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. There’s an old saying that goes:
“Some people make life happen, while others let life happen to them.”
Peacock people are the types who make life happen foremost by being protective of who and what matters in their life.
When peafowl flock together in a group, there are a few different names used to describe them. These include: a party, an ostentation, a pride, and a muster. In other words, a group of peacocks is an awe-inspiring sight. Peacocks like to show off, especially when they are in the presence of other peafowl and when they’re looking for a mate. Hence, the peacock is the ultimate symbol of showmanship.
The peacock spirit animals says: “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.” And even if you feel like you don’t have it, “Fake it ’til you make it!”
Hiding who you are, what you feel, what you know, and what you’re good at is a squandering of your unique gifts and purpose. What if the peacock never showed his gorgeous plumage? The world would be missing out on something divine. The peacock reminds you that you were meant to shine!
Because he is so showy, the peacock is also a symbol of pride. However, he reminds us, pride has positive and negative connotations. On the one hand, we should all be proud of who we are and where we come from. In addition, we should be proud of our hard-won accomplishments. Furthermore, we should be confident that we matter and that we have a purpose here on Earth. But using our gifts to make others feel inferior or to inflate our egos is not honoring that purpose. Instead it’s a grasping to feed our egos. As the spiritual teacher Wayne Dyer once said, “Ego stands for edging God out.”
Thus, the peacock gives us a gut check: Is our pride serving the purpose of being a gift to the world or does it take energy away?
Peacock Meaning: Vision and Awareness
In cultural myths (which we’ll get into in more detail below) the spots on the peacock’s feathers were viewed as all-seeing eyes. Thus, peacock meaning also includes vision and far-reaching awareness.
Peacock people are the types who can see the big picture and put things into context. They also have the ability to view situations from different perspectives. They might also be described as psychic because they have foresight and can “see” things that others do not.
If you are a person who has such gifts, the peacock reminds you to use them to create more positivity and beauty in the world.
Unlike the majority of birds, the peacock is not monogamous. When it comes to mating, he likes to keep his options open. This is also true for the peacock when it comes to eating: they are omnivorous birds. A peacock will eat flowers, fruit, seeds, insects, frogs, lizards, worms, snakes, and whatever else he can get his beak on.
Peacocks are also fairly versatile when it comes to the climate they can live in. While they thrive in warm, tropical conditions, they have a fairly high tolerance to colder temperatures. In fact, there are feral colonies of peacocks in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand.3
For all of these reasons, the peacock is a symbol of versatility. The peacocks embodies the notion that variety is the spice of life. If a peacock makes themselves known to you in a way that rivets your attention, whether in real life, art, or the media, it can be a sign to embrace change and to create some new experiences in your life.
Renewal and Immortality
Every year, after the mating season, the peacock sheds his beautiful feathers in a process called molting. In this way, he is like a snake shedding their skin. The peacock then grows new feathers in time for the mating season the following year.4
Because of this quality, the peacock is a symbol of renewal, rebirth, and immortality. They remind us to shed the old and make way for the new. In life, we all experience loss in some way. As painful as it can be, it can also help us to evolve spiritually because it challenges us to be strong and to ponder the bigger picture. The peacock reminds us to have faith after loss because beauty and joy in life do come again.
Peacock Symbolism: Majesty
With his jewel-colored feathers and the tufted crown-like crest atop his head, the peacock is also a symbol of majesty and living in an exalted state.
If a peacock shows up in your life, it can be a sign that you need to honor your own majesty. What exactly is this majesty, you might ask? It’s a fulfillment of your own potential as a human being in this lifetime. In other words: your higher self. We all have a dark side. It’s inherent in human nature. (The peacock has a dark side too!) The challenge of being human is to recognize our negative aspects and to do our best to let our better selves shine forth.
The peacock is also a symbol of wealth and good luck. In fact, some believe that peacock feathers dispel negative energy and bring positive energy into a space. (However, it should be noted that only peacock feathers that the peacock sheds are good luck! Stealing them from a peacock before he is ready to shed them is bad karma!)
The Peacock in Mythology and Folklore
The beautiful peacock has inspired storytellers in their native lands and beyond for centuries. Here are some of the stories about peacocks in cultural mythology and folklore:
Peacock in India and Hinduism
As the national bird of India, the peacock is an important figure in Indian and Hindu culture.
For the Dravidians, an ethnolinguistic group of people from India and other parts of southern Asia, the peacock is sacred and symbolizes Mother Earth herself. Thus, the peacock is an important totem animal for many Dravidian tribes, who consider peacock feathers to be sacred. So, you will find them in temples and in use in important spiritual ceremonies.5
Called Mayura in Sanskrit, the peacock is associated with a number of Hindu deities. These include Lakshmi, the goddess of good fortune and wealth, and Murugan (or Kartikeya), the Hindu god of war. In fact, Murugan is sometimes depicted as riding a peacock. As is the deity Mayuresvara, who is an incarnation of Ganesha, the god of good luck.
According to Hindu mythology, the peacock originated from the feathers of Garuda, a mythical bird who is the mount of the god Vishnu.
In the Hindu epic the Ramayana, when the god Indra (the older brother of Vishnu) is unable to defeat the evil king Ravana, he takes shelter under the wing of a peacock. In gratitude for the peacock’s protection, Indra bestows on him a thousand eyes so he can see everywhere plus fearlessness when it comes to snakes.6
The peacock is also associated with the mythical bird, the phoenix, which appears in Hindu and other cultural stories. In fact, some say the phoenix is part peacock.
Peacock Symbolism in China
In China, the peacock symbolizes beauty, majesty, divinity, protection, and the triumph of good over evil. In Chinese myths, the peacock is associated with the goddess Guan Yin. Just as the peacock can kill and devour snakes, Guan Yin has the power to turn evil into beauty.7
Peacock in Buddhism
In Buddhism, the peacock’s ability to regenerate his feathers is symbolic of reincarnation and our ability to learn and transform. In addition, the peacock opening his feathers is compared to a lotus flower as it opens its petals. Both symbolize the ability of our consciousness to expand as we become enlightened. Thus, in Buddhism, peacocks also symbolize bodhisattvas, who are those who have attained enlightenment, or prajna, but who postpone nirvana so they can help others attain enlightenment.
African Peacock Folklore
In Central Africa, where the peacock is native, peacock feathers are sacred. Thus, they were traditionally worn by chieftains.8
The Yoruba People of West Africa associate the peacock with the goddess Oshun, who rules love, sensuality, fertility, water, and purity. One African legend tells the tale about how the peacock saved the world.
A long time ago, the people grew tired of serving Olodumare, the creator. They believed they no longer needed his help and that they would be better off without him. After all, he was very far away in the heavens and they were here on Earth. Thus, they plotted to overthrow him.
A Bird as Brave as He Was Beautiful
Angry at the people’s lack of graciousness, Olodumare stopped supplying the Earth with rain. As a result, plants, insects, and animals began to die. Soon the people themselves grew thirsty and hungry. As they, too, began to get sick and die, they decided they must send someone to the heavens to beg Olodumare for forgiveness.
Every bird volunteered, but after much discussion, they realized the distance was too far. Finally, the peacock offered to fly. At first, the people laughed, saying the peacock was too pretty and pampered to make the journey. However, the peacock persisted.
So, the peacock flew and flew to reach Olodumare in the heavens. The journey was so perilous, that he lost all of his feathers along the way. By the time he reached Olodumare, he was merely a skeleton of the gorgeous bird that he once was.9
However, Olodumare was able to see the sincerity in the peacock’s eyes and was impressed that he was willing to sacrifice his majestic beauty for the good of the people. He also saw that the peacock embodied the goddess Oshun.10 Thus, Olodumare restored the peacock’s feathers, making him even more beautiful than he had ever been. Olodumare also blessed the peacock with a beautiful voice and made him his official messenger to the people.
Peacock in Ancient Egypt
In ancient Egypt, peacocks symbolized protection, healing, and well-being. The Egyptians associated the large circle on the peacock’s feather with the Eye of Horus, also a protection symbol. They also associated the peacock with the phoenix and their avian creator deity, Bennu, who created order out of chaos and who could self-regenerate.
The ancient Greeks were possibly first introduced to the peacock by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC. They were so impressed with the beautiful bird that they soon incorporated him into their creation myths.
In one story, the goddess Hera became aware that her husband, Zeus, had eyes for one of her priestesses, a maiden named Io. So, Hera sent her servant Argus, who had 100 eyes, to guard Io from the lecherous Zeus.
Intent on his conquest, Zeus had Argus killed so he could court Io. Hera still managed to intervene. But in thanks to her slain servant, she transferred Argus’ eyes to the tails of peacocks, so they could continue to watch over everything in the world.11
Peacock Meaning in Christianity and the Bible
Depending on the translation, the peacock is mentioned once in the Bible. In the Book of Kings, the peacock is included in King Solomon’s spoils of wealth:
“The king had a fleet of trading ships of Tarshish that sailed with Hiram’s fleet. Once every three years the ships returned, loaded with gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks.”12
While they were symbols if wealth and prosperity in the Bible, the peacock came to have deeper symbolic meaning for Christians. As they regenerated their feathers, they became symbols of Christ’s resurrection and immortality.
Peacocks in the Yazidi Faith: Melek Taus
For the Yaziki People of northern Iraq and Kurdistan, the peacock has important spiritual significance. According to one of their creation stories, God created the world and entrusted it to seven sacred beings, or angels. One of these was Melek Taus, or the Peacock Angel.13 Thus, the peacock, though not native to their homeland, is a sacred bird to the Yazidis, adorning many homes, graves, and temples.
Melek Taus is a somewhat controversial figure to those outside of the Yazidi faith, however. The Yazidis believe that God created Melek Taus in his likeness, before he created the other archangels. Thus, Melek Taus was not to bow down to other beings. However, people of traditional Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faiths believe that all archangels were supposed to bow to Adam, when he was crated from clay.
Peacock Symbolism in Islam
In Islam, the peacock has some controversial meanings. In some Islamic stories, the peacock is portrayed as a bird who has the power the move in and out of Paradise. However, because the peacock (the Yazidi’s Melek Taus) refused to bow down to Adam, he was not to be trusted. In fact, by some accounts, the peacock who was tricked by the devil, who came in the form of a snake. According to the tale, the snake appealed to the peacock’s vanity. Falling for the devil’s spell, the peacock showed the snake how to enter the gates of Paradise, where he soon corrupted it.
By other accounts, the peacock is viewed as a symbol of good luck and majesty in Islamic culture.
The Peacock in Alchemy and Carl Jung
The peacock also captivated the imaginations of alchemists. Alchemy was an early form of chemistry, which focused on the transformative properties of matter. In fact, early alchemists were obsessed with the idea of transmuting things from their current state into something better. The most widely-known example of this is how they tried to turn metals, like copper and lead, into gold. Alchemy also incorporated other philosophical beliefs of the times, including medicine, spirituality, magic, and astrology.
To alchemical philosophers, the peacock symbolized the ultimate in beauty and renewal. Peacocks were known to kill and devour snakes and digest their venom without getting sick. Thus, for alchemists, in the same way the Chinese viewed the goddess Guan Yin, the peacock embodied the potential to transmute poison into something beautiful.
The 16th century German alchemist Heinrich Khunrath incorporated the peacock into his illustrations and writings. For him, the peacock’s predominantly green feathers were representative of the goddess Venus.14 Thus the peacock was the ultimate symbol of divine beauty, life, and renewal.
The psychologist and philosopher of symbology Carl Jung studied Khunrath’s writings. Jung observed about Khunrath’s theories and illustrations that, for the alchemist, the peacock symbolized the Holy Spirit because he embodied “all colours,” or the integration of all matter. Jung also observed that the peacock, as referenced by Khunrath, embodied the colors of the rainbow as referenced in the Bible.15
After God “washed away” humanity’s corruption with the Great Flood, he manifested a rainbow16 in the sky to demonstrate his mercy. (Genesis 9:13–17).17
Peacock Spirit Animal
As is clear in the rich mythology and folklore of the peacock, and the views of alchemists, many people viewed the peacock as a divine bird with enormous spiritual power. If a peacock makes themselves known to you in a powerful way, or if you already know the peacock is one of your spirit animals, by all means learn as much as you can about these special birds. When the peacock is your spirit animal, you have a majestic guardian on your site.
Peacock people embrace the beauty and magic in life in vivid detail. You exist with an expanded awareness of life and its connection to the spirit world. In addition, you are most likely a person who has eclectic taste. If a peacock makes themselves known to you, it can be a sign to live more fully and to expand the diversity of your experiences so that you can embrace more of what life has to offer.
If you’re curious about other animals who might be your spirit guides in addition to the peacock, you can take UniGuide’s spirit animal quiz and read more in the spirit animal overview post.
Peacock Power Animal
As the name implies, a power animal can empower you with their most dynamic traits. So, if you want to transform or improve an area of your life, mediate on the peacock power animal. For example, you can summon the peacock power animal in situations where you:
- Feel you need more positive masculine energy, confidence, and pride.
- Are going through a loss and want to find the beauty and magic in life again.
- Want to broaden your horizons and find new activities and experiences to enrich your life.
- Hope to bring good luck into your life or that of a loved one.
Animal totems embody the protective powers of the animal they represent. Thus, the peacock totem animal serves as a helpful symbol to bring more protection and protectiveness into your life. It can also be a helpful reminder to stand tall and be proud of who you are and what you’ve gone through in your life. In addition, the peacock totem is an all-around good luck talisman and a symbol of renewal and the transformation into something better.
Peacock Dream Meaning
If you dream of a peacock or peacocks and you wonder what your dream means, consider first the emotions that you felt in your dream. While dream meanings and interpretations are personal to every individual, one thing we all have in common is that our sub-conscious emotions don’t lie to us.
For example, if you experienced angst in your dream, it could mean you need to be more protective in an area of your life. Peacocks are aggressively territorial. Thus, the angst you feel could mean your boundaries are being overstepped in some way.
On the other hand, peaceful or exhilarating dreams about peacocks can mean that you should incorporate more of the peacock’s positive qualities into your life. This could mean bringing more showmanship, celebration, and majesty into your life. Or expanding your social circle so that you have more supportive people around you whose company you enjoy.
Once you understand the emotions you felt in your dream, consider some of the symbols and meanings you learned about peacocks here, in conjunction with how you feel about peacocks in general. As you can see from this post, throughout history, people have had profound feelings about this exceptionally beautiful bird.
A peacock tattoo can be rich with meaning and cultural significance. From an alchemist’s viewpoint, it can demonstrate your optimism and ability to take any experience or situation and turn it into something more positive and beautiful. A peacock tattoo can also demonstrate that you are a person who is working to expand your awareness and spiritual consciousness. Of course, it can also mean that you honor the beauty and magic in life!
Organizations that Protect Peacocks
Around the world, peacock populations are in decline. In some areas, their populations have declined by more than 50 percent. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the peafowl is listed as a vulnerable species.18 And the green peafowl of Southeast Asia is an endangered species. Peacocks and peahens are threatened due to loss of the natural habitat, hunting, predation by other animals, and smuggling for the exotic pet trade and for their feathers. If you care about peacocks and peahens, please do what you can to protect them. Here are some organizations that are working on peafowl conservation: