The albatross is a mighty and majestic seabird, rarely seen by humans due to the fact that it spends around 80% of its life at sea.
With the widest wingspan of any bird on earth (which can reach 12 feet in the largest species), the albatross is able to fly at speeds of 80 miles per hour, and for distances as far as 800 kilometers a day.
It is no wonder that it holds such a legendary status in so many cultures.
Such a powerful flyer, this amazing creature sleeps in flight and soar for hours and even days without flapping its wings.
In fact, the albatross has unique elbow joints which lock when opened, allowing it to ride the wind streams effortlessly without expending energy unnecessarily.
Oftentimes, it can go an entire year without returning to land, and only drop to sea in order to catch its prey.
The flight patterns and behaviors of these birds fascinated engineers and scientists for centuries.
Researchers have discovered that albatrosses mate for life and can live for as long as 60 years.
Sailors have long trusted the albatrosses’ powers of navigation and have benefited from their ability to predict storms and changing weather.
And spiritual interpreters have acknowledged the mystery and magic that these birds exude.
Let’s take a closer look at the spiritual meaning and symbolism behind the mighty albatross.
Albatross Spirit Animal
People whose spirit animal is an albatross tend to be very independent souls.
Never afraid of their own company, these individuals are likely to have fewer, close friendships rather than many, less meaningful ones.
Although they are not socially awkward, large group situations simply don’t appeal as much as quiet one on ones.
Therefore, if you have a friend whose spirit animal is an albatross you are better off asking them for a coffee or a pint rather than inviting them to your games night.
Just like the albatross itself, people who identify with the spirit animal tend to make excellent life partners.
They are monogamous by nature and are affectionate lovers, however, their need for long-lasting companionship can mean that they are sometimes possessive and need frequent reassurance from their partners.
They are unlikely to be disloyal and take longer than most to get over past relationships. If you are dating an albatross person, bear in mind that they tend to make the most devoted and adept parents if/when the time comes.
If your spirit animal is an albatross you will most likely be a bit of a wanderer, and prefer to keep your options open in life rather than tying yourself down to one home, career, or job.
You most likely have seen more of the world than other people, and will probably have had more jobs than most as well.
Whilst you are free-wheeling and spontaneous in terms of travel, work, and housing, you anchor yourself in your human relationships.
Strong, time-honored bonds with select friends, family, and lovers are the rock that you can return to even when the storm is raging and the waves are high.
Albatross Totem Animal
Throughout different ages and cultures, a sighting of an albatross has been interpreted as a lucky occurrence. This is mainly due to how rarely it happens.
The scarcity of the species, combined with their prolonged journeys far out at sea, means that humans hardly ever see them in real life. So, if you are visited by a totem, you should consider yourself very privileged indeed.
When sailors saw an albatross whilst they were voyaging across the ocean, they welcomed the sighting. They believe the albatross could help them to navigate the unknown waters and guide them towards land.
The albatross is able to sense tiny changes in the atmosphere and directions in the wind. Thus, steer it away from storms and bad weather.
By following the albatrosses’ lead, sailors managed to avoid rough winds and storms as well. If you see an albatross totem it could be trying to guide you away from danger and towards a safer, calmer path.
Take heed and try to consider any decisions or changes that are approaching in your life; they may not be wise at this moment.
Albatross Power Animal
People call upon the albatross as a power animal when they are feeling lost or misguided.
As a power animal, the albatross can help you find the strength to get through rough or turbulent emotional tides. In the same way they have helped steer many ships through rough seas, they can also help you.
The calm, serenity of their flight, soaring high over the waves, provides a powerful example. An example of how you can rise above events in your everyday life. Despite seeming overwhelming and insurmountable.
The albatross connects to air and water. It harnesses the power of both these elements.
The erudite qualities of air, such as wisdom, serenity, and philosophy. On the other hand, the altruistic qualities of water, such as healing, kindness, and generosity.
If you feel that your life is lacking in any of these areas, then calling upon the albatross as your power animal can help rebalance your spirit.
Native American Symbolism
Native American culture often interprets the albatross as a symbol of greedy, aggressive behavior. The culture thought of how large, powerful creatures abuse their smaller counterparts and use brawn not brains to exert control.
This is evident in the Native American folk story of the Albatross and the Whisky Jack.
In the story, the local people observe a large albatross and a tiny, Whisky Jack flying in the sky.
At first, the locals admire the physical grandeur of the larger bird. They laughed at the Whisky Jacks’ weedy appearance by comparison.
However, as the locals throw food for the two birds, the Whisky Jack darts and pecks the food delicately. Whilst, the albatross greedily flaps and barks in order to get his fill.
The locals then revised their initial remarks. They saw how the smaller bird was more gentle-natured and beautiful on the inside. On the other hand, they saw the albatross, those physically stunning, was ugly on the inside.
The albatross does not appear in Christian teaching. However, in western culture, it connects to the figure of Christ in art and literature through the idea of sacrifice and burden.
The famous epic poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, written in 1834 by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, captures this poignantly.
In the poem, an albatross appears on a ship of stranded sailors who are lost at sea.
It guides the ship out of danger and all the sailors rejoice. However, the ancient mariner shoots the albatross with a crossbow and the fortunes of the ship take a dramatic turn.
The ship is cursed, and the mariner is forced to wear the dead albatross around his neck, secured with a noose. This marks out his guilt and make him feel the consequences of his actions.
In this way, the symbol of a dead albatross is seen as a very bad omen, and it is said that you must ‘hang an albatross around your neck’ if you must shoulder a burden and take responsibility for your own guilt.
Pariahs and outcasts are often said to have an albatross about their neck.
And those who commit senseless acts of violence, as the ancient mariner did when he shot the beautiful bird, are also linked to the albatross.
So what does the appearance of an albatross in your dreams infer? Well, that really depends on the context and behavior of the albatross you encounter in dreamland.
The flying albatross indicates that your subconscious mind feels assured and inspired.
A feeding albatross can be a rather aggressive and visceral sight.
If it appears in your dreams it could mean that you are feeling unfulfilled and bitter about missed opportunities.
It could also mean that you need to invest more in those around you and feed your friendships.
A nesting albatross will appear in your dreams when you are feeling most serene, relaxed, and reassured.
Albatross make fantastic parents, and seeing one in your dreams could be a sign that your subconscious mind is feeling settled enough to start a family.
A dead albatross is generally a bad omen and signifies that acts of selfishness, greed, or violence are in the air.
Whether it is your own anger that you are sensing, or the threat of someone else’s, be on your guard if you see a dead albatross in your dreams.
Far Eastern Albatross Symbolic Meanings
In Chinese culture, the albatross is seen as an idiot bird who is vulnerable to prey and is all bulk and has no brains.
Albatross Tattoo Meaning
If you spy an albatross on someone’s body you may wonder what caused them to choose it as a tattoo. There are a few different reasons why a person might opt for the albatross as a tattoo design.
Travelers and wanderers often choose an albatross tattoo as a symbol of their wanderlust.
The love of life on the road and the endless possibilities that an unanchored existence can provide are all encapsulated in the image of this mighty bird.
Sailors often choose to get an albatross tattoo in order to be able to connect with its expert navigational powers wherever they may go.
It is also thought to protect and keep seafarers safe from storms and accidents whilst on the ocean.
Those who have a burden or cross that they must bear often choose an albatross tattoo as a physical depiction of their own guilt.
The act of having the albatross etched onto their skin is cathartic and liberating for them.
Hawaiian Symbolic Meanings
The albatross is hugely significant in Polynesian culture, and the chiefs of many Mauri tribes are said to have inherited the qualities of this regal bird through ancient bloodlines.
For this reason, Mauri chefs often wear white albatross feathers in their headdresses, to signify their majesty, wisdom, serenity, and leadership.
Mauri also offers albatross feathers as tokens of good luck and prosperity to loved ones and acquaintances.
The Polynesian respect for the albatross is captured in their ancient folk story about an albatross and a water monster.
In the story, the albatross was a gentle creature named Rereroa. Rereroa loved to soar high in the sky and mind his own business.
Meanwhile, far below there lived a sea monster named Awarua, who had small winds and a huge flat body.
Awarua was clever and powerful and physically agile, but he could not fly.
He used to stare up at the albatross, gliding on the wind. Further, he wishes that he could experience the freedom and exhilaration of flying.
One day, Awarua asked Rereroa if he would teach him to fly.
Rereroa knew it would be difficult, but he used his patience. Together with serenity, and wisdom, he taught his friend all he knew.
It took great dedication, diligence, and self-belief, and the training sessions did not always go smoothly. Many locals believe that the top of mount Mana is flat due to a collision that occurred during one of Rereroa’s flying attempts.
However, at last, Awarua managed to teach his friend how to fly, and in doing so demonstrated the supreme goodness, guidance, and generosity that the albatross is capable of.
- Guidance through troubled times
- Power and might
- Luck and prosperity
- Protection from storms
- Burden and guilt
- Penance for sins
- Needless loss
- Greed and stupidity
- Freedom from earthly ties
- Nomadic life and ideals
- Lost souls
- Loyalty and faithful love
- Majesty, reality, and noble mindedness
The albatross is a truly regal, rare, and remarkable creature, and the significance of these birds in dreams, folklore, spirituality, and culture is powerful and poignant.
As a symbol of strength, serenity, and knowledge, the albatross soars high, and we can learn so much through following the guidance and example set by the prince of waves.
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