Symbolic Meaning of Woodpeckers
To be sure, the woodpecker is an attention-grabber, and those who claim this amazing bird as their totem will attest to its ability to shake up awareness.
Nothing breaks the silence of a hiking in the woods like the urgent, rapid-fire percussion of a woodpecker's rapping against a tree.
When I hear the woodpecker knocking, I think of opportunity. You know the old saying "when opportunity knocks, answer the door." That's precisely what I'm driving at here.
Woodpeckers are extremely opportunistic themselves. Each tree is a door, revealing tender morsels of food (grubs and ants are their favorites). Other trees will yield against their beak-hammering to provide great mansions for their young.
A Quick-List of woodpecker symbolic meaning include themes such as....
When the woodpecker comes tapping into our awareness, it's also a signal to use our heads. Just as the woodpecker uses its head (beak) to hammer out solutions (food, shelter), we too can use our intellect in finding solutions to our own barriers.
The symbolic meaning of woodpeckers also point to a need for creative vision. Being opportunistic, woodpeckers can see value everywhere, even in dead trees. Have you ditched an idea or given up on a project? The woodpecker may be trying to tell you to breathe new life into your project, just as they build new homes into dead trees.
Further, the symbolic meaning of woodpecker indicates a return to our roots, or having trust in our basic (gut) feelings. Dr. Carl Jung observed the woodpecker as a symbol of a return to the womb of creativity. In this observation the tree is symbolic of a womb; earthy, grounded, sturdy and secure. The woodpecker's home within the tree is analogous of a fierce determination to return and protect that which is sacred to us.
When this bird comes pecking, it is a call for us to return to our roots, back to the womb of our ideas and use our intellect and discernment to follow through with our plans.
This analogy is doubly profound in the case of red-headed woodpeckers as the color red is associated with the root chakra. Prime, protective energy. Another clear sign for being aware of our core impulses, and our basic beliefs.
Native North American wisdom recognized the protective home-based themes of the woodpecker too. Prairie tribes had a myth that the title of protector of humankind was once vied for by the turkey and the woodpecker. The woodpecker won the title because of her ability to make such marvelous nests wherein the spiritual seed of humankind would always be sheltered from predatory threat.
The woodpecker may also remind us to be mindful of our words. It has a narrow tongue, extremely effective for picking up food in narrow places. This is symbolic for using a narrow route to get the most profound effect. The woodpecker asks us to use fewer words to make a stronger impact in our statement.
As we continue to explore the symbolic meaning of woodpecker, we see communication is a strong theme. In fact, when I hear the woodpecker, I think of Morse code, and I try to figure out what kind of rhythmical message the woodpecker is sending me.
It wasn't until years later I did some research on the bird that I discovered, indeed, the woodpecker actually does peck out signals to their kin as communication!
Drumming has historically marked the beginning of events such as processions, honorable ceremonies, even war. Perhaps this is why the woodpecker (and its beak-drumming ways) was often associated with Roman battle, war and victory.
Native North American wisdom also prescribes drumming as a means to journeying (transcendentalism), and so many tribes considered the woodpecker as an other-worldly messenger, and a prophet.
In Roman mythology, the woodpecker is associated with Mars, which is a planet of energy, and initiative. The zodiac sign of Aries might be drawn to the woodpecker as a totem animal because of its association with Mars too (Mars is the ruling planet for Aries).
These two (woodpecker and the Ram which is the zodiac animal for Aries) have the propensity of initiation (trail blazers, starting new projects) in common. The woodpecker is the first to initiate communication. Consider the silence of a winter day cracked wide open by the echoing beat of a woodpeckers beak.
Also, the symbolic meaning of woodpecker deals with progress because she doggedly hammers at her purpose until she sees to the other side of the obstacle. Aries are equally determined in their purpose, often ramming through astounding odds to obtain their goals.
Concepts of determination and drive in the symbolic meaning of woodpecker can be stretched further when we consider the woodpecker's love for the oak tree. Oak trees are symbolic of stability and strength of character, read more about their meanings here.
Also in Roman myth the woodpecker was noted as befriending the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus (who, interestingly were fathered by Mars, the god of war). Legend states the both the wolf and the woodpecker fed the twin boys in their infancy while they were sequestered in the wild to avoid demise (as typical Roman myth, it's a long story, you can read it here).
And so, when the woodpecker comes calling, it may be a sign to take some action. Here are a few suggestions...
I hope you have enjoyed these thoughts on the symbolic meaning of woodpecker. Be sure to check out the links at the end of this page formore symbolic meanings of awesome animals and birds. 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!