10 Heron Egret Symbolism Facts & Meaning: A Totem, Spirit & Power Animal

Herons and egrets are similar creatures. Both are long-legged freshwater birds, and both are known for their grace. There are technical differences between the two birds, but for the casual observer they’re one and the same. They also both symbolize the same set of traits that could teach us a lot especially in today’s harried life.

Heron Egret Symbolism Facts & Meaning: A Totem, Spirit & Power Animal

The heron is part of the symbolism of many cultures, and has appeared in many works of art. A cursory look would tell anyone that these birds are fragile creatures. They have no special physical features that would allow them to fight or outrun enemies, and their gentleness could be seen as a drawback in survival situations. And yet they thrive in great numbers in many places. A deeper look at their symbolism would tell us why.

Heron Egret Symbolism & Meaning

Herons are the picture-perfect depiction of calmness, and it is in this calmness that they have their most powerful advantage. Herons are typically smart, and they move with an uncanny efficiency. Their calm disposition enables them to clear their senses, sharpening them and alerting them to any danger that might be coming. Due to this, the heron can move out of trouble before it even begins, without wasting unnecessary energy in doing so.

Emotions and the turmoil of life may be inescapable, but there are times when they cloud our minds. When this happens, we tend to overreact to things, or worse we fail to act in time. Both ends of the spectrum waste our time and efforts, and don’t claim for us the ideal results we hope for. The heron teaches us that when we clear our minds and settle down in spirit, we are much more capable of receiving and reacting to important signals. Whether it’s opportunity or danger, a clear mind sees first and farthest.

Heron Egret Spirit Animal

When the heron appears as your spirit animal, it is trying to teach you the power of patience. We often say that patience is a virtue, but we rarely see just what advantage it brings us. The heron watches and waits until the perfect opportunity, whether it’s to hunt its next meal or to escape from would-be predators. It does not rush or use brute force. It is patient, but it is not simply the type of patience that waits for things to pass by. It is the patience that is active instead of passive, one that is ready to strike out when the right moment comes.

Heron Egret Power Animal

Because of its qualities that are beneficial to sportsmen and other people who value efficiency and effectiveness, the heron is an ideal power animal for many athletes. After all, the ultimate manifestation of human skill is not in extreme strength or speed, but in the ability to control one’s body in such a way that yields maximum results for the least action.

Heron Egret Totem Animal

People born under the heron totem are naturally curious, but they aren’t the most outward about it. They tend to be introverts, but you can see them going places and stoically observing things. This tendency also leads them to being generally innovative, and they’re able to see alternatives by considering all sides of the story.

They also tend to live freeform lives, without much of the rigid structures we often deal with. While this type of lifestyle can be dangerous when done by other people, heron people feel very secure in their internal locus of control.

Heron Egret Native American Symbolism

The Native Americans also appreciate the inherent patience, wisdom, and good judgment of the heron. This is something that is highly valued in their society, hence the heron has evolved into a symbol of good fortune and successful journeys (especially when the person who sees it has come to fish). On the downside, Native American literature tends to portray herons as loners on a perpetual quest to find their happiness.

Heron Egret Celtic Symbolism

The ancient Celts did not have frequent encounters with herons, thus they gave the symbol of grace to the butterfly. Like the measured and precise movements of the heron, the butterfly takes its time and carries itself with an unparallelled poise. The butterfly is also symbolic of man’s inner evolution, which is reminiscent of the wisdom and clarity of mind attributed to the heron.

Heron Egret Far Eastern Symbolism

To the Chinese, the heron is a symbol of purity, not just of the mind but also of the body. Their culture believes that everything springs forth from the mind, and so a patient and pure mind like that of the heron also begets physical benefits. Additionally, the qualities of the heron are believed to result in great strength and a long life.

Heron Egret in Dreams

When a heron appears in your dreams, it is time to look inward and consider if your circumstances have caused you to lay down your pride and dignity in exchange for material gains. Achievements in life are well and good, but they are only fulfilling if in the process of reaching them we remain true to ourselves and we attain a measure of progress. Patience takes many forms, and sometimes it means rejecting immediate opportunities in exchange of preserving one’s loftier ideals.

Heron Egret Encounters / Heron Egret Omens

When you see herons, you are being warned to use what you have prudently and efficiently. One’s energy isn’t the only thing that should be reserved for the most opportune times. Time, money, and other types of resources should also not be wasted.

Heron Egret Mythology and Folklore

The heron appears as a messenger of the gods in Greek mythology, particularly of the goddesses Aphrodite and Athena. In the Egyptian mythology, a heron’s cry signaled the beginning of creation. In the same vein, some African mythologies hail the heron as a medium through which one can communicate with the gods. The heron is among the animals that tell us to stop, look, and listen before taking action. This is something that is sorely lacking in this fast-paced world, and something we could all learn from.

Aesop, a Greek storyteller kept a fable about the heron and the fox. When the fox invited the heron to dinner, only a shallow plate was provided putting the heron in difficulty because of its long beak. In revenge, when the heron invited the fox, the food was placed in a bottle with a long narrow neck. The story teaches that a person should do something nice for someone who has done something nice for him.

The heron is also a subject of Native American folklore which usually teaches about patience. One story is about a Blue Heron who came to help the weasels get passed the river for they were asking nicely. However, a rude wolf nearby demanded to be taken by the heron. Despite the attitude, the heron decided to take the wolf. Flying the wolf halfway across the river, the heron instead drop the wolf down the river which drowned it to its death. Another Native American myth is about the race of the hummingbird and the heron. At that time, both love to eat fish. Thinking that there are not enough fish for the both of them, the hummingbird suggested they have a race for four days in which the heron agreed. Whoever wins the race will possess all the fishes in the rivers and the lakes. The finish line is the old dead tree next to a far-distant riverbank. The next morning both went for the race with the hummingbird zipping and flying round the heron who is steadily flying forward. The hummingbird is also easily distracted with the flowers along the way, tasting the nectar from one flower to the other. Every time the heron is far ahead, the hummingbird zooms very fast catching up with him. When it gets dark, the hummingbird always finds a nice spot to spend the night while the heron kept flying steadily all night long. One morning on the last day, the hummingbird woke up refreshed and energized. Happily flying towards the riverbank and enjoying the scenery, the hummingbird finally gets a view of the old dead tree. As he gets closer, the hummingbird unfortunately saw the heron already perched at the old dead tree. The heron won the race. Since then, the hummingbird eats from nectar of flowers while the heron dines on fish.

There is a very well-known story in the Maldives about a heron on the beach. Suddenly, the heron’s dropping was washed by the sea. Confronting the sea for taking his droppings, the sea was surprise so he has given the heron a wave in exchange. Later, there were fishermen who pushed their boat into the sea. This made the heron upset and demanded for his wave. So in exchange, the fishermen gave the heron a fish. While settling on the beach, came youngsters on drums, who were hungry and took the fish. After hearing the heron complain, the youngsters left him an old drum in exchange. Wary to lose his drum, the heron went to the tree on the highest spot to hide and play the drum by himself. While playing heartily, the branch of the tree broke and the heron fell breaking his neck. The story focuses on the value of creating a balance between the individualistic gains and joint benefits as a team. The heron in the story was more concerned about his own goals than sharing with others.

There is a story which is originally from India about an evil heron. Long ago, the small pond where a crab and a group of fishes were living started to shrink because of the dry season. When the heron noticed their alarming condition, he sat at the edge of the pond acting and talking as if he was concerned about their condition. He was eventually able to convince the fishes to help them move to a big lake behind the forest. One by one, the fishes were being flown to the forest but eaten by the heron with their bones scattered under a tree. With all the fishes gone, all that remained in the pool was the crab. Due to the persistent talks from the heron, the crab agreed to be taken only if he allows the crab to hold his neck so he can have a better grip and will not fall. While flying, all the crab heard from the heron was mockery, and even showing him the scattered bones of the fishes. After telling the crab that he will be the heron’s next meal, the crab started to pinch the heron’s neck that he hardly can breathe. The crab demanded to put him down before he frees the heron’s neck. In fear, the heron immediately obeyed the crab. Upon landing, the crab immediately cut the heron’s neck that it died instantly.

3 thoughts on “10 Heron Egret Symbolism Facts & Meaning: A Totem, Spirit & Power Animal”

  1. Jonica Bradley says:

    I am writing a piece about seeing an egret for my blog. I would like to link this post in the body of my story. May I?

  2. Sheri says:

    My husband and I saw 8 Trumpeter swans at Lake Phalen this past spring in St. Paul, a great, blue heron at Casey Lake Park, and just yesterday, my husband saw two Trumpeter swans at Casey Lake Park in No. St. Paul yesterday. Additionally, yesterday, Monday, May 10, 2021, I saw a white egret on Beaver 🦫 Lake in St. Paul, MN.

  3. Gogo says:

    Well articulated, clear and makes perfect sense

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