swan meaning

Swan Meaning and Symbolism

Last Updated on October 1, 2020 by Avia

Swan Meaning and Swan Symbolism

Exploring the Depths of Swan Meaning

Our first symbolic clues about symbolic swan meaning can be taken from observing them in nature. They are waterfowl, closely connected with water, even nesting near the water.  Water is symbolic of: Fluidity, Intuition, Dreaming, Emotions, Creativity.

In this respect, we can intuit the swan’s appearance in our lives as an arrow pointing to our dreamier depths and feelings. Furthermore, we get the sense of balance from swan meaning as it lives harmoniously amongst three of the four Aristotelian elements. Grounding herself on earth, lofting to great heights in the air, and winding through waters with magnificent elegance.

swan meaning swan symbolism
About swan meaning and swan symbolism

“Since love grows within you,

Beauty grows within you too,

Because love is the beauty of the soul.”

~St Augustine

The swan may also bear messages of love and relationships. They pair for many years. Sometimes swan unions are sustained for a lifetime.

Did you know the swan meaning and symbolism is closely linked with motherhood? Yep. They are also symbolic of love, devotion and partnership. This is likely because swans mate for many years, sometimes for life.

The expression of love is the swan’s care for her young. Swans are fiercely protective of their babies, and are phenomenal mothers. This makes the swan a symbol of love in motherhood.

When the swan glides upon the waters of our awareness, it might be a symbol of love, and a reminder of the blessings found in our relationships. 

Swans speak to us about grace and beauty – yeah, sure. But a symbolic aspect often overlooked is the swan ferocity. Swans can be incredibly protective. This is symbolic of circling our wagons – protecting our family, friends and/or that which we hold very dear. 

Having the courage to protect what we love is a great lesson from the swan, and should not be overlooked. Regardless of how the swan may present herself as an elegant, proper creature – swans can be plucky when the occasion presents itself.

swan meaning
Swimming into symbolic swan meaning

Swan Meaning in Cultural Symbolism

The concept of partnership is further expressed on a divine level in Hinduism, wherein the swan graces vibrant traditions as the Hamsa bird. In the Saundarya Lahari (translated: “Waves of Beauty,” it’s a text filled with beautiful mantras from the Hindu perspective) two swans (Ham and Sa) pair together, swimming around in the divine mind “living on honey from the blooming lotus of knowledge.” Isn’t that a lovely concept?

In the Celtic mind, swans and geese were observed in the context of movement. Specifically, the keenly observant Celts noted their transitory nature and the swan pattern of migration. Consequently, the sign of the swan urged Celtic intuition to consider changes of mood (water) and heart (love).

Swan meaning is also linked to Celtic deities with solar associations, like Belanus and Lugh. As solar animals, the swan represents the rising glory of a new day as well as the farewell of an old day with the setting sun.

swan meaning
Swan meaning in myth and culture

Fittingly, the Celtic goddess Bridgid is also associated with the swan as her grace is expressed with equal elegance in the form of writing (poetry) and song.

Celtic myth also indicates when inhabitants of the Otherworld required passage to the physical land of life you and I experience every day, they would take the shape of the swan. Furthermore lore states they would travel out of the Otherworld in pairs, thus reinforcing the theme of union, bonds and partnership.

In Celtic art, gold and silver chains are often depicted around the swan’s neck. I’ve read where this is symbolic of supernatural appearance of divine energy or the descent of gods to earth. 

I like to think the chains are symbolic of a harmony between cosmic forces; gold representing the sun, and silver symbolic of the moon. Perhaps the Celts recognized the essence of gods within the guise of the swan, and honored that power in the bird.

We see further themes of transformation and deific embodiment in Greek myth wherein Zeus (Jupiter in the Roman pantheon) transformed himself into a swan in an effort to slake his uncontrollable passion for Leda.

Swan Meaning and Swan Symbolism Keywords

swan meaning and swan symbolism
Swan Meaning – Keywords
  • Love
  • Grace
  • Union
  • Purity
  • Beauty
  • Dreams
  • Balance
  • Elegance
  • Partnership
  • Transformation

Swan Meaning in Dreams and Folklore

Symbolic swan meaning continues the theme of transformation in the tale of the Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Anderson. Mislabeled from birth, the little duckling lives his life with the heroic heart of a swan. Indeed, after growing strong under the nurturing of kind humans, the duckling is set free, and sees its image for the first time in a reflective pool of water to discover he had “transformed” into a lovely swan.

Who doesn’t love this little fairy tale? It reminds us of our inherent glory, power and beauty (as the duckling was always a graceful swan). At the same time, the tale encourages us to have faith and have a persistent heart while pursuing the gifts that are our birthright.

In dreams, the swan asks us to spread our wings and take flight into our waking dreams. She also encourages us to strengthen our relationships, as well as make new, long-lasting bonds with people whom we admire.

swan meaning
swan meaning

“Like any gift, the gifts of love and grace can be yours if you accept them.

Giving yourself permission to accept these things is a gift too.”


Swan Color Meanings

White swans in dreams and in general, are symbolic of cleansing and purifying ourselves and our lives. They are a sign of hope and promise. White swans are also a symbol of new beginnings – getting a fresh start. The white swan is a sign of pure potential – it represents that clean slate upon which anything can be created.

Black swans indicate deep mysteries within us that are longing to be set free to express themselves creatively.  Black swans indicate the action of diving into dark spaces of our emotions and our psyche.  Remember, swans stand for intuition and dreams. Combined with the color black, this swan might be a sign it’s time to shine some light on our shadow selves. Or, they may indicate a message to embrace our dark side.

I hope you have enjoyed this page on swan meaning and symbolism. Keep swimming with the creative flow by visiting the related pages on meaning and symbolism at the end of this page.

I hope you have enjoyed these thoughts on swan meaning and symbolism. Be sure to check out my other articles listed on this page. As always, thanks for reading!

May all your bee encounters allow you to float into new wisdom.



swan meaning as a love symbol

Swan Meaning as a Love Symbol

There are many animals that represent love in historical cultures around the world. The swan is one of them because it often mates for life. This article offers a whole list of animals and birds that are symbolic of love, including the swan. Check out more about the swan as a symbol of love here.

animal symbolism goose meanings

Symbolic Meaning of the Goose

Far from being a ‘silly goose’ – this bird has got some serious meanings associated with it. Heavy concepts like: Loyalty, Protection and Determination. Check out some surpriseing symbolic meanings for the goose here. 

symbolic bird meaning

Symbolic Meaning of Birds

Symbolism has gone to the birds! In this case, that’s a very good thing! This article offers a whole flock of links to lots of birds and their meanings. From the raven to rooster, you are bound to find a totem of interest. Get all symbolic bird meanings here. 

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