Swan Symbolism and Meaning (Totem, Spirit, and Omens)

Swan Symbolism and Spiritual Meaning

Found in almost every part of the world, swans are beautiful, mostly white waterfowls significantly larger than geese and ducks. These birds are well-liked by humans and are usually friendly with us. But what are the swans symbolic of?

Swans symbolize love, devotion, romance, clairvoyance, inner beauty, grace, and elegance. These birds are considered sacred in many cultures; to see them is a good omen and signifies peace and contentment. In some cultures, they’re also perceived to be shape-shifters.

This article will explore the swan symbolism by talking about the interpretation of their dreams and tattoos.

We will also discuss their significance in different cultures and their spirit animal and totem’s importance.


Swan symbolism

The swans hold a significant place in the world of symbolism. They have one of the oldest and most powerful spirits among all avian creatures.

Even their name was taken as it is from the Anglo-Saxon times and has not changed ever since.

When a bird is as ancient as the swans, it is not surprising that many diverse symbols have been attached to them throughout the history of mankind. Let’s explore all these symbols.

The symbolism of love and devotion

First and foremost, the swans represent love. They mate for life and are “lovebirds” in the true sense of the word.

Once a couple of swans mate, they stay together all their lives, raising clutches of cygnets year after year.

When one of them dies, the other partner mourns their death for a long time; some swans even choose to spend the rest of their lives alone rather than seeking another mate.

The swans also present us with the image of love and romance in one of their courtship rituals. In this ritual, the couple faces each other, arching their necks to bring their faces closer to each other, forming a perfect heart.

The symbolism of purity and innocence

Whenever you think of a swan, what’s the first image formed in your head? Of a white, stocky waterfowl, right? Well, you’re not alone.

Even though some swan species are black, most people associate swans with the color white. And since white is the color of purity and innocence, these birds represent the same.

The symbolism of peace and tranquility

It is no secret that swans are gentle and peace-loving birds that usually avoid conflict, be it with their own species or with a goose or duck. They have very little need for survival as well.

The graceful and serene appearance of these birds only adds to their symbolism of peace and tranquility.


What does it mean to dream of Swans?

So far, we have learned that swans have multiple symbols in the spiritual world. The same is true for their dreams.

If a swan appears in your dream, it could signify fertility, healing, purity, transition, and so on. Confusing, isn’t it?

Well, if you don’t want to feel confused about your dream, you should pay more attention to its subtle details. What did the swan look like? What was it doing?

The answers to these basic questions can help you learn the true nature and meaning of your dreams.

To help you out with your dream, we’re going to talk about some common swan dreams and their interpretations.

If you dreamt of a swan in a lake or a river, it is a good sign. This dream is symbolic of good fortune and new opportunities.

The swan in your dream is telling you to welcome any new change in your life with open arms, as they’re going to make your life better.

However, if the swan was a wild one, it means that you will have to put in a lot of work to win the opportunity because you’re not the only one fighting for it.

If you see a swan rowing towards you in your dream, it means that the coming weeks will bring joy and prosperity to your family. If you’ve been trying to have a child, your wishes might be granted soon.

Was the swan in your dream trotting on the ground? Such a dream has an interesting interpretation.

Because swans are waterbirds, their anatomy is designed to support life on the surface of water bodies. These waterfowl have short legs that make it awkward for them to walk on land.

To see such a thing in your dream signifies that you might have an awkward or embarrassing experience in a public place soon.

However, there’s no reason to worry. This experience will only open your eyes to the changes you should make in your personality.

Did you dream of a swan that was unusually tiny in size? If you have children of your own and see this dream, it indicates that your kids will achieve something you’re going to be proud of.

On the other hand, if you have no children and dream of it, it means that you’re soon going to make your parents proud.

Dreaming of a swan surrounded by ducks warns you not to underestimate anyone in life.

Such a dream is a sign that someone you had underestimated will surprise you very soon by doing extremely well at the job you didn’t think suitable for. This experience will be a lesson of humility for you.

If a flock of swans comes to your dream, it is a sign of a large celebration of an event in your family; someone’s christening or wedding is the most likely alternatives.

However, if you see only a couple of swans in your dream, it indicates that you will soon find plenty of time to spend with your other half. This time spent together will keep you both contented for a long time to come.

Did you dream of swans in a zoo? Your dream might be a sign that you crave peace in your life but cannot find it. You’re surrounded by difficulties from all sides, and its stress all weighs you down in life.

Dreaming of feeding the swans can have two different interpretations.

The first one is positive and indicates that the efforts you put into your relationship will move your partner deeply, and they would do their best to reciprocate.

Another negative interpretation of this dream is that you have started doubting your partner’s loyalty toward you.

However, the root of this doubt lies in your own insecurities and not in the fidelity of your partner.

To dream of yourself hunting the swans is a warning for you to be careful. Someone around you might be trying to trick you using legalities. Therefore, be careful before you sign anything.

However, if someone else is hunting the swans in your dream, it means that you’re so used to carrying the burden of responsibilities alone that you’ve forgotten how to share them.

And now that you have people you can share it with, you feel hesitant in doing so. Some people might even call you “arrogant” for this.

Your dream is a sign that you must start trusting your loved ones to share your burdens with you. It might be difficult initially, but you’ll end up feeling more relaxed in the end.

To dream of a wounded swan is symbolic of your restlessness because of guilt or regret from the past. Perhaps you’ve wronged someone earlier and want to make amends.

In such a case, you must listen to your heart and go ahead and do it. You’ll certainly feel better afterward.

If you see yourself killing a swan in your dream, it indicates that you’re idolizing the wrong people in your life.

Perhaps their true identity remains hidden to you; if you keep following in their footsteps, you might not end up where you envisioned yourself to be.

Did you know that the color of the swan you dreamt of can also change the interpretation of your dream considerably?

A white swan in your dream is symbolic of purity and innocence; such a dream is symbolic of the purity of your heart.

Whereas a black swan comes in your sleep to tell you that you’re too harsh on yourself.

Your insecurities have made you believe that you’re worthless, but that’s not true. Once you learn to trust yourself, you’ll turn your life around.

A yellow swan in your dream is symbolic of your success. Your dream indicates that you’re soon going to achieve something surprising for a beginner like you.

This achievement will serve as a motivation for your future endeavors.

Lastly, seeing a grey swan in your dreams is a bad sign and indicates the troubling times to come.


Swan symbolism in different cultures and mythologies

Swans play a significant part in many cultures of the world. In this section, we will talk about how these waterbirds are perceived in these cultures and mythologies:

In the Greek mythology

In ancient Greek mythology, swans have a powerful yet deceptive symbolism.

Zeus, the King of all the Olympian Gods and Goddesses, was believed to take the form of these birds to fulfill his lustful desires.

Although Zeus was married to Hera, the stories of his unfaithfulness and infidelity were popular in entire Greece. His affair with Leda is one such story.

Leda was the wife of King Tyndareus, the ruler of Sparta. She was also considered the most attractive woman in Greece during her time.

Zeus, being the womanizer that he was, wanted to have an affair with her. When Zeus approached Leda, he was met with resistance.

Ironically, Leda’s resistance only made Zeus want her more; he was determined to find any way to make love to her, and he ultimately did.

There are multiple versions of how this story moves ahead. In some versions, Zeus transforms himself into a swan and comes to Leda, asking for protection from a cruel eagle pursuing him.

In the closed quarters with Leda, he somehow manages to seduce her and make love to her.

In other versions, it is mentioned that to escape Zeus, Leda transforms herself into a goose. However, she can’t resist Zeus when he comes to her as a swan, and the two make love.

In Irish legends

In the Irish culture, the swans have always been appreciated for their loyalty and faithfulness towards their partner.

Swans return to Ireland after migration at the beginning of Spring, which is why they’re associated with Imbolc, the first day of the Spring. For this reason, they’re also connected to Goddess Brigid.

In some of the Irish legends, these birds are also portrayed as shape-shifters. These swans, which were capable of transforming into humans at will, wore a chain made of silver or gold around their necks.

One such legend is titled “Tochmarc Etaine” or “The Wooing of Etain” in English. The story circles around Etain, a beautiful young woman who was the daughter of the mortal king Ailill of Ulaid.

Midir of Tuatha de Dannan was smitten by Etain’s beauty and charm and wanted to marry her. Etain accepts his proposal, and the two marry.

However, Fuamnach, Midir’s first wife, is extremely unhappy with their marriage and plans to cast a spell on Midir’s new bride as revenge. She turns Etain into a butterfly.

Like a butterfly, Etain wanders helplessly for years and ultimately falls into a glass of wine. That wine is then drunk by Etar’s wife. As a result, Etain is reborn as their daughter.

As Etain grows up, Etar marries her to the Eochu Airem, the High King. However, when Etain’s husband from the previous life learns about this, he wants her back.

Midir challenges Eochu Airem for a game of fidcheal and loses in all rounds except the last one, in which they bet for a kiss from Etain.

Midir wins the final round, and as they embrace each other, the couple transforms into swans and fly away, spending the rest of their lives together as lovebirds.

In Mongolian mythology

In Mongolia, there is a popular legend of Khori Tumed and the Swan-woman.

In the legend, Khori Tumed was taking a walk around lake Baikal at night, where he saw nine women gathered around the side of the lake.

However, just after a few moments, all of those swans took off their feather coats and transformed into beautiful, naked women, and bathed into the lake.

Something occurred to Khori Tumed, and he picked up one feather coat from the bunch and hid it away.

As all the swan women came out of the lake, they wore their feathers and flew away, but one was left behind. Without her feathers, she was stuck in her human form.

Upon finding her alone, Khori Tumed approached her and proposed to her. To his utter delight, she accepted, and the two got married. Soon, they had a family of 11 sons.

Despite having a loving husband and family, the swan woman longed to return to the sky. But her husband wouldn’t return her wings, afraid she would leave.

However, in the end, he could bear to see the woman he loved so unhappy and decided to let her go.

Before flying away, his wife blessed not only their sons but their entire tribe, protecting them from all evil for all eternity.

In the Native American culture

The swans are not mentioned abundantly in the Native American culture.

Even in the stories that talk about these birds, they’re presented as foolish and gullible, like most other waterfowls like geese and ducks.

In Hinduism

The swans occupy a highly-revered place in Hinduism. These magnificent birds are referred to as “Hamsa” or “Hansa” in Sanskrit and are mentioned in many stories and legends of the religion. They symbolize elegance, knowledge, and self-realization in the culture.

Firstly, these birds are considered the ride of Lord Brahma, one of three supreme Gods of Hinduism (Trideva). Brahma is the God of all Creation in Hinduism and is often seen riding seven swans.

Additionally, these birds are also the vehicle of Goddess Saraswati, the deity of art and knowledge.

Moreover, due to their association with knowledge, the Sanskrit name of swans is also an honorary title of “Paramahamsa.” This title is given to the supreme Hindu spiritual teachers.


Swan totem

The swan totem will come into your life when you’re too sensitive and are, therefore, hurt very easily. Their totem is here to teach you that sensitivity should be used as a strength, not a weakness.

Their totem will also approach you when you face difficulty in making the right decisions in life. It usually happens because you’re unable to see the bigger picture of life and act accordingly.

Their far-sighted totem will lend you more clarity about your life, which can help you grow on the right path.

Lastly, the swan totem is symbolic of inner beauty. These totems will come to you when you’ve lost self-confidence and are highly insecure about your appearance. They will teach you how beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.

According to them, it’s what’s on the inside that’s more important than what’s on the outside. If you’re beautiful from the inside, you have everything you need; outer beauty is fleeting and deceptive, while inner beauty is eternal.


Swan spirit animal

Are you someone who has a gift of foresight? The spirit of the swans might be governing you.

The swan-spirited people are wise and clairvoyant, and these traits lend them a calm, serene personality with a touch of mystery.

Despite their enigmatic nature, you will often notice that others are drawn to them.

These people are charming but in a subtle way. They’re generally the quietest people in the room, but when they speak, they’re certain that they’ll have the attention span of everyone.

Because swans spend a majority of their life in water, their spirits are deeply connected to the water element.

Like water, they are adaptable to change and keep moving onwards in life despite all difficulties.

And while their growth might not be visible up close, you will always find them closer to success in the long run than others.

Swan-spirited people are not much of a talker; they firmly believe in prioritizing actions above words. If these people work with you, you might notice how they’re known just for their work.

The swan-spirited people are easy to spot in their friend circle: they will always be the most graceful person on the table.

Not only are their beautiful/handsome, but they also have a gentleness about them that makes them irresistible to many. They’re well-spoken, well-mannered, and treat everyone nicely, be it a waitress or a President.

Swan-spirited people stay as far from the materialistic race as possible. While they do earn generously, money is only a means to a comfortable life for them and nothing more. They always go for higher pursuits in life.

Some of them study medicine to help others recover, while others pursue philosophy or psychology to understand the way of the world and the true nature of men.

These people truly appreciate art; they prefer visiting museums and art galleries to bars and pubs.

Many people of our generation might even call them “old-school,” but they’re not concerned about it. Everything about them screams sophistication and class.

As lovers, the swan spirited-people are incredible partners. They are romantic, devoted, and loyal. Just like their spirit, these people are not interested in fooling around and fall in love only once in their lives.


Swan tattoos: meanings and interpretations

When it comes to getting inked with a bird tattoo, the swans are a popular choice due to their diverse significance and symbolisms.

Swans are the embodiment of grace, purity, gentleness, and elegance. Their spirit is pious and sacred, giving them incredible strength.

If you’re someone who believes in the strength of being gentle and innocent, the tattoo of a serene swan is just right for you.

Because swans are love birds, many couples get their tattoos to officiate their love for each other.

The tattoo of two swans, huddled together, with their necks forming a perfect heart, can be a perfect representation of your love.

It might surprise many, but the tattoo of black swans is equally famous among people. But what do black swans represent?

While in truth, black swans are just another swan species with a black body. However, in the world of symbolism, these birds are considered to be the antithesis of the white swan; they stand for the opposite of everything the white swans represent.

If you’re someone who is attracted to the dark world or even consider yourself to be an outcast, the black swan tattoo would look great on you.



In this article, we explored the symbolism of swans in the dream world and different mythologies. We also discussed the swan totem and the symbolism of swan tattoos.

Swans are symbolic of inner beauty and peace, elegance and grace, love, devotion, and faithfulness, clairvoyance, and insight. Although a dream where you see a swan can mean many things, we have narrowed it down to the most common specifics and meanings.