Symbolic Meaning of the Stork
When I was a kid, I had a run-in with a stork. I was fiercely navigating a paddle boat in the kiddie pool at a children's zoo when I looked up and came face-to-beak with a behemoth stork. Let me tell you, that experience completely freaked me out and left me unhinged. I still have dreams about that gigantic bird staring me down, and spreading its mammoth wings - as if to swallow me in some creepy avian embrace.
I can't say it's a marring memory. Yeah, it makes my hair stand on end to this day, but I wouldn't call it a negative experience. Mostly, it is an appropriate response to a truly regal and impressive bird. At least, that's my symbolic story about the stork, and I'm sticking to it. Lol.
In truth, the stork really is a regal creature, and has an amazing story to tell us on a symbolic level. Here's a list of symbolic highlights the stork represents...
Firstly, let's address the origins of the iconic stork carrying a newborn baby bundle in its beak. There are a few potential reasons for this. One is the migratory return of the stork at springtime, a time of renewal and rebirth of the earth. Our ancestors observed the stork returning at a time of earth's resurgence, and established reasoning that the stork was also the bringer of new birth.
The meaning of the stork as a baby-bringer may also be associated to its affinity to water. Water is highly symbolic of feminine energy. It's also symbolic of renewal, rebirth and creation. In ancient earth-worshipping wisdom, ponds and lakes were a symbolic parallel to the womb. This is a large-scale illustration of birth. European folk tales attest to seeing a 'bird-man' emerging from the earth's womb to bring forth new life. A large bird, walking on two long legs - its beak full and coming forth from a symbolic, watery womb - the comparisons can be easily drawn.
Another fairytale comparison comes from old country folk beliefs that the spirit of unborn children dwelled in bodies of water where the stork was known to stalk. Waiting to be plucked by a stork passing by, these babies were then delivered to new mothers.
So we see in addition to a symbol of birth, the meaning of the stork also deals with motherhood. In fact, the Greek etymology behind the word stork is "mother-love". This effectually continues the link between storks, babies and mothers.
There is a German fairy tale that further substantiates the stork as a mother bird. A German peasant woman found a wounded stork, and restored it to health. In gratitude, the stork returned to her and gave her a magical donnerkeil which is a stork-stone, also known as a lightning stone. In this era, lightning is a symbol of fertilization and the stone is a symbol of a seed or egg. Hence - birth and motherhood.
Colonists of North America observed storks lining their nests with maple leaves. Since then, maples leaves, and the stork have been symbols of love and welcoming a new child in the home (nest).
The stork is a sacred symbol to Juno, a Roman goddess of hearth and home (Hera is her Greek counterpart). Don't get the wrong idea about Juno...she's not a demure homebody. What I mean by a homestead goddess is a deity that is a fierce protectress of the home. She is a warrior for safety and security of the home, and Hera (her Greek counterpart) is recognized to this day as responsible for keeping the home fires burning. In this light, we see the stork as a symbol of protection.
In reality, the stork is a steadfast protector of their own nests. Their enormity aided in protecting their nests, as the stork unfurls its (up to) 10 foot wingspan (eegads!) to scare off potential predators. I certainly wouldn't mess around with that! Additionally, storks are predominantly monogamous, preferring one mate over its lifetime.
Maternity issues aside, the symbolic meaning of the stork also revolves around prosperity and long life. In Chinese wisdom, the stork is a symbol of longevity due to the belief that the stork lives to a long, ripe old age.
Storks are also a symbol of good luck in Asian cultures. This is commonly attributed to the stork diving into the waters and retrieving tasty treats. This is a symbolic message of fishing for prosperity from unseen sources...searching beneath the surface of the water, to uncover hidden treasures. Storks were viewed to be incredibly lucky at fishing cool stuff from dark, watery depths.
In Christianity, the meaning of the stork deals with purification. This idea comes from the expertise the stork has at catching (and eating) snakes. Serpents in Christian symbology are commonly thought to be in league with the devil. Hence, a snake-eating stork is akin to cleansing the world of sin and/or the devil's influence.
When the stork emerges from the waters of our consciousness, it comes with messages like...
When the stork appears in our lives, it represents these kinds of encouragements. There is more to the symbolic meaning of the stork, and I hope this post encourages you to do your own research about the stork as a totem and/or guide.
If you liked this article, you may also be interested in the stork's kissing cousin... check out the symbolic meaning of the heron on my blog. Also, be sure to check out the related links at the end of this page for more totemic insights. Thanks for reading!
An Important Note About Signs, Symbols and Their Meanings
Signs and symbols cultivate their meanings according to culture, context, passage of time in society as well as mass societal opinion. What's cool and highly important is that signs and symbols earn their most powerful meanings from our own personal perspectives.
This website strives to provide you with the best, time-honored information when defining signs and symbols. However, in the final analysis, "Beauty (and symbolism) is in the eye of the beholder."
Having said that, it's in our best interest to invest the time to do personal research on symbolic events happening to us. This website is just one perspective in an ocean of variety and diversity in the realm of symbolism. So dive in! There is a whole universe of deeper meanings to explore! You can start your research by clicking on the links at the end or to the side of this page. Odds are good I've got a follow-up article about this symbolic topic. ;)
As always, thanks for your willingness to learn more about the language of symbolism. It's a language that is universal and everywhere. It's super-groovy to travel with you on your symbolic path, and maybe offer a little translation along the way. Thanks for reading and exploring!