Dreaming of Cardinals: Discover the Spiritual Meaning and Interpretation

Northern Cardinal in flight
Rob Palmer Photography/Shutterstock.com

Written by Alanna Davis

Updated: November 14, 2023

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Dreaming of Cardinals is often a spiritual sign of a lost loved one. It can also mean new beginnings and good luck.

Cardinals are beautiful, bright red birds that have a wealth of spiritual meanings. They have captured the attention of many throughout history, with different groups deriving different meanings from their appearances. Depending on what’s going on in your life when you see one, there may be a different message being sent to you. Let’s explore some of the many spiritual meanings and interpretations of cardinals

A Visit From a Lost Loved One

Male Northern Cardinal on a tree branch.

A cardinal sighting reminds us that those who have passed on never truly vanish.

The most common symbolism associated with a cardinal is that it represents a visit from a lost loved one. Cardinals are often touted as “messengers from heaven.” If you’re grieving a loss, this could be their way of visiting you in your period of mourning. People view cardinals as symbols of hope and beauty. They serve as a reminder to those who come in contact with them that eternal life exists. Victoria McGovern authored a popular poem about this very topic, aptly saying that “Cardinals appear when angels are near.” 

Endurance and Perseverance 

Male Northern Cardinal (cardinalis cardinalis) on a Spruce branch covered with snow

To help cardinals during winter, you can set up bird feeders to help them find food amid the snow.

Some of you may know that cardinals do not migrate South for the winter. Instead, these hardy birds remain home all 12 calendar months, braving any storms that might come their way. When we see a cardinal outside in the snow, it reminds us that we are capable of enduring whatever life throws at us. If a cardinal visits you at a time in your life when your self-confidence is shaken, it might be a message to have faith in your own capabilities. Don’t be afraid to stand out and be yourself. If something so small and delicate as this tiny bird can persevere through the harsh snow and stormy weather, then we can certainly persevere through our own hardships in life.

A Call to Action

cardinal perched on a bird feeder

Cardinals prefer seeds that are high in fat and protein.

Cardinals are songbirds, and some believe that they spread the word of God’s message! Seeing a cardinal may be a time to revisit your spirituality and invest more in your relationship with God. The song of these birds might be calling you to a more religious life. On the other hand, it may be a gentle reminder to give thanks for all God has given you. When you hear a cardinal singing, it’s a good time to explore opportunities to glorify God in your daily life.

Good Luck and Fortune

northern cardinal in snowy flight

The cardinal is the state bird of North Carolina.

Seeing a cardinal nearby could be a sign that good luck is coming your way. In fact, there is a Native American spiritual belief that you will be blessed with good fortune within 12 days of a cardinal sighting. This is a time to maintain focus on your goals and pursue them with ferocity. After a cardinal sighting, keep an eye out for opportunities that present themselves to you that may help you achieve that which you desire to achieve.


Male Northern Cardinal by a Bird Feeder

The cardinal is one of the most common birds in North America.

The appearance of a cardinal can be looked at as a sign to slow down and be present in the moment. When we see one, it’s natural to stop what we’re doing and take a while to appreciate the visitor. While we’re doing this, we should remember that God is always with us, even if it doesn’t always seem that way. It is an opportunity to give thanks for all that we’ve received in our lives and say prayers for those who are in need of them. It is important to take time out of our busy day to express gratitude, and these small songbirds have a way of reminding us of this. 

New Beginnings

Male Northern cardinal in Missouri snow

If you see a cardinal during a time of hardship, it may be a sign that the worst of it is over.

In Latin, the word for cardinal roughly translates to “pivot,” or “hinge.” This means that the time you see a cardinal can represent a critical moment in your life. There may be an opportunity to get a fresh start, whether that be in your career, in your family, or in creative endeavors. If you find yourself at a crossroads in life when you see one, take stock of the options that present themselves to you. Each of the directions on a compass, North, South, East, and West are known as the cardinal directions. Whichever path you decide to set out on may be decisive in determining your future.

A Symbol of Love

Pair of cardinals perching on a tree branch in the snow

Some cardinal couples mate for life.

Cardinals are considered monogamous birds and stay faithful to their partners. Because of this, many view them as a symbol of devotion and deep romantic love. If you have a partner in your life, this may be a time to invest more in your relationship. If you’re single, this could be a sign that love is on the way. Even if you’re not looking for romantic love, a visit from a cardinal could symbolize a loyal friendship or partnership on the horizon as well. 

Final Thoughts

Cardinals are a powerful animal totem and spiritual messenger that represent hope, creativity, new beginnings, and the importance of perseverance. Next time a Cardinal gives you a visit, take some time to reflect on why this may be. Regardless of the reason, cardinals are bringers of hope and positivity. They serve as a good omen for all who encounter them. 

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About the Author

Alanna is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering insects, animals, and travel. In addition to writing, she spends her time tutoring English and exploring the east end of Long Island. Prior to receiving her Bachelor's in Economics from Stony Brook University, Alanna spent much of her time studying entomology and insect biology.

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