Hawk Symbolism

Symbolism of Hawk in Literature

Hawk as symbolism is known to inspire many folklore and stories, especially Egyptian and Indian mythologies. Hawk is one of the birds that are on top of the food chain. Hawks are found in all the continents except for Antarctica. The symbolism of the hawk differs across cultures and colors. Hawks are symbols of strength, divinity, messenger, supernatural, etc. The word ‘hawk’ is borrowed from the Old English ‘hafoc’ and also from Proto-Germanic and Old Norse words ‘habukaz’ and ‘haukr’. The following is the analysis of a few hawk symbolisms.


The hawk, as a symbol of strength, is also considered a spirit guide for personal freedom, independent nature, and a force of self-determination. Hawk has protective powers and reinforces itself as an individual symbolizing motivation as well as strength. The Moche people of Peru believe that hawks represent brave warriors as well as strength. The aboriginal Australians believe fire hawks gave strength and brought fire to the people, and helped them hunt. In native American culture, hawks are considered supernatural powers and powerful beings to send messages to the spirit. In North America, the red-tailed hawk represents courage, leadership, intelligence, observation, wisdom, and strength. In South Asia, hawks are symbols of strength and mighty warriors.


The hawk is a symbol of a spiritual messenger because they fly high in the sky and have a high vision and keen power that observes what’s going on below. Native Americans view the hawk as a protector as well as a spiritual messenger. In Hindu culture, the Vedas represent the name of Shyena hawk, the ride of the Hindu fire deity Agni. they believe Shyena brings divine nectar to the earth to rejuvenate all life symbolizing messengers between god and men. In Celtic culture, hawks as messengers from the spirit world, and if it crosses your path, it means a person will achieve something important in their life.  In Christianity, according to the Bible, the hawk symbolizes a messenger from angels and the divine.


Hawk is a very smart and emotional bird, symbolizing independence and intelligence as they provide useful lessons in leading a positive life. In Nordic culture, the hawk represents high intelligence and wisdom.  The red-tailed hawk is also a symbol of intelligence and power

Guardian & Protection

Hawk is symbolic of a guardian to achieve a person’s goals. In Indian culture, hawks are regarded as the guardian of women in Hindu mythology and represent the lord Rama. In Ramayana, One of the Indian epics, the messenger Jatayu is a hawk who fights the demon king. Thus, it symbolizes protection.  Native Americans believe hawks are the east’s guardians and represent the purity of perception. In South America and the Caribbean represents, the red-tailed hawk is the guardian and protected from enemies. In ancient Egypt, the hawk is considered a solar bird that can protect souls and guide the people in the kingdom.

Clairvoyance (Spiritual awareness)

Hawks have incredible eyesight, and in a spiritual sense, they symbolize clairvoyance. According to ancient Egyptian beliefs, hawks are a symbol of Horus, a sky god, as he has the head of a hawk, and they also believe that after a person dies, their soul is reincarnated as a hawk. thus it represents the spirit or soul of a person. Also, White hawks symbolize clairvoyance as well as divinity.


Hawk in dreams is symbolic of a sharp mind and represents the intellectual nature of a person. Dreaming about the hawk is a sign of guidance to a person’s destination. if he/she dreams of a flying hawk, it is a symbol of success in their life. A white hawk represents the divine as well as clairvoyance. Also, a black hawk symbolizes a warning to a person encouraging them to examine their subconscious mind.


The hawk symbolizes independence and freedom. The black hawk is an excellent symbol of people who value independence, as it represents strength and inspiration for anyone working toward independence and fearlessness. According to the Bible, a hawk represents independence and freedom from oppression, especially when a person sees it flying; it also indicates experiencing greater intuition without any aid.

Examples of Hawk as Symbolism in Literature

Example #1

Hawk By Wendy Videlock

The forest is the only place
where green is green and blue is blue.
Walking the forest I have seen
most everything. I’ve seen a you
with yellow eyes and busted wing.
And deep in the forest, no one knew.

The above poem describes the first two verses, where the land looks blue and green from the perspective of a hawk. Here the hawk symbolizes vision and awareness.

Example #2

Hawk and Junco By Kenneth W. Porter

Breathless we watched a high hawk wheel
Slip down the whistling air to lay
Something among the stubble-hay
Then strike and stamp with beak and heel
At last he rose and soared away.
Laying a course across the brown
Meadow, we found the plundered prize –
The little tuft of blood-stained down,
The pink skull void of brain and eyes;
We knew a song had left the skies

Here the author has described watching a hawk’s hunting skills, including its agility and strength. Hence, here the hawk represents strength, wisdom, and intelligence.

Example #3

Hawk’s Eyes By Yvor Winters

As a gray hawk’s eyes
Turn here and away
So my course turns
Where I walk each day

In this poem, the gray hawk represents keen eyesight and observation.

Example #4

To a Marsh Hawk in Spring by Henry David Thoreau

There is health in thy gray wing,
Health of nature’s furnishing.
Say, thou modern-winged antique,
Was thy mistress ever sick?
In each heaving of thy wing
Thou dost health and leisure bring,
Thou dost waive disease and pain
And resume new life again.

In this example, the author mentions the gray hawk, comparing it with the divine and the cycle of life. Here the hawk symbolizes healing, strength, and transformation.

Example #5

Thoughts Like Hawks By Leonard E. Nathan

The hawk goes round,
The hawk goes round again,
Again. When will he ever stop
Blackening the clear air
With his easy circle,
Circling immense
And empty heaven,
Emptier for
His dark drifting and drifting there?

Down he goes
Just beyond the pines,
Leaving heaven to itself;
But, like an after-image,
The black ring hangs
A moment more;
And he shall be back
To claim it too
Out of the innocence of blue.

In this poem, the poet is mesmerized by the speed of the hawk. When it flies, it leaves an impression of a black cloud. The poet also includes the hawk’s excellent hunting skills. Here, hawks are symbols of knowledge, speed, cunningness, and strength.

Example #6

A Dangerous Path By Erin Hunter

The cats at the edge of the clearing were staring up at the sky, their eyes huge with fear. As he looked upward, Fireheart heard the beating of wings and saw a hawk circling above the trees, its harsh cry drifting on the air. At the same time he realized that one cat had not taken shelter; Snowkit was tumbling and playing in the middle of the open space.

“Snowkit!” Speckletail yowled desperately.”

In this passage, the speaker is observing the cat left alone in an open ground, where the hawk is likely to hunt or lift it up to eat it. Hawk is described as a ruthless hunter symbolizing fear and strength.

Example #7

Annihilation By Jeff VanderMeer

Ghost bird, do you love me?” he whispered once in the dark, before he left for hs expedition training, even though he was the ghost. “Ghost bird, do you need me?” I loved him, but I didn’t need him, and I thought that was the way it was supposed to be. A ghost bird might be a hawk in one place, a crow in another, depending on the context. The sparrow that shot up into the blue sky one morning might transform mid-flight into an osprey the next. This was the way of things here. There were no reasons so mighty that they could override the desire to be in accord with the tides and the passage of seasons and the rhythms underlying everything around me.

In this example, the author hopes that the ghost bird is a hawk. Hence the hawks are a symbol of messenger and spirit guide in this passage.

Example #8

Main Street By Sinclair Lewis

I’m not a humming-bird. I’m a hawk; a tiny leashed hawk, pecked to death by these large, white, flabby, wormy hens.

In this example, the author uses an ironic situation where hens are attacking the lonely hawk. Here hawk symbolizes loss and desperation.

Example #9

H is for Hawk By Helen Macdonald

Civilisations rise and fall, but the hawks stay the same. This gives falconry birds the ability to feel like relics from the distant past. You take a hawk onto your fist. You imagine the falconer of the past doing the same. It is hard not to feel it is the same hawk. I once asked my friends if they’d ever held things that gave them a spooky sense of history. Ancient pots with three-thousand-year-old thumbprints in the clay, said one. Antique keys, another. Clay pipes. Dancing shoes from WWII. Roman coins I found in a field. Old bus tickets in secondhand books. Everyone agreed that what these small things did was strangely intimate; they gave them the sense, as they picked them up and turned them in their fingers, of another person, an unknown person a long time ago, who had held that object in their hands. You don’t know anything about them, but you feel the other person’s there, one friend told me. It’s like all the years between you and them disappear. Like you become them, somehow.

In this example, the author describes hawks as ancient creatures with a connection to the past as well as the spirit world. Here, hawks are symbols of spirituality, memory, and mystery.