Nightingale Symbolism & That means (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)

The Nightingale is a fowl that’s well-known for its evening tune. The truth is, the phrase “Nightingale” comes from previous Germanic phrases that means “evening” and “to sing.” Featured in lots of songs and poems, the diminutive Nightingale appears to have a bewitching impact on mankind. (1)

Nightingales had been as soon as regarded as members of the thrush household. These days, nevertheless, these birds are classed as Outdated World flycatchers. The tune of the Nightingale is broadly admire. In tales and myths, the Nightingale is usually portrayed as a fascinating however considerably forlorn songstress. Regardless of generally being portrayed as feminine, the Nightingales that are heard singing by moonlight are literally male.

From basic fairytales to Greek myths, the Nightingale’s lovely voice and delicate presence is a supply of each admiration and inspiration. On this article, we’ll have a look at various Nightingale tales as we discover the deep symbolism connected to this charming little fowl!

Nightingale Symbolism and That means

Nightingales are most frequently related to each magnificence and melancholy. Maybe as a result of their songs break the silence of the evening, Nightingales are offered in lots of tales as mournful birds. The Nightingale can be fairly often related with artistry. Poets and musicians are sometimes in contrast with Nightingales. Percy Shelley even compares poets to Nightingales in his “Protection of Poetry.”

“A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its personal solitude with candy sounds; his auditors are as males entranced by the melody of an unseen musician, who really feel that they’re moved and softened, but know not whence or why.”

— Excerpt from Percy Shelley’s “Protection of Poetry” (2)

The next poem is, maybe, one of the vital well-known poems in regards to the Nightingale. John Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale is a bit too lengthy to incorporate right here in its entirety, nevertheless the excerpts included under reveal how entranced Keats is with the melodious voice of this fowl.

Nightingale Singing in Thicket
Picture by Wikimedia Commons consumer Nikola Veljković. Provided through Wikimedia Commons underneath Inventive Commons 4.0

“Thou wast not born for dying, immortal Chicken!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing evening was heard
In historic days by emperor and clown:
Maybe the self-same tune that discovered a path
By means of the unhappy coronary heart of Ruth, when, sick for residence,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The identical that oft-times hath
Appeal’d magic casements, opening on the froth
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

Forlorn! the very phrase is sort of a bell
To toll me again from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the flowery can’t cheat so effectively
As she is fam’d to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Previous the close to meadows, over the nonetheless stream,
Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried deep
Within the subsequent valley-glades:
Was it a imaginative and prescient, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?”

— Excerpt from “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats (3)

Nightingales are additionally typically related with themes of springtime, rejuvenation, and romance. Shakespeare makes use of the Nightingale to signify the nighttime in Romeo and Juliet.

“Juliet: Wilt thou be gone? it isn’t but close to day:
It was the nightingale, and never the lark,
That pierced the fearful hole of thine ear;
Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate-tree:
Consider me, love, it was the nightingale.
Romeo: It was the lark, the herald of the morn,
No nightingale: look, love, what envious streaks
Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east:
Evening’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.
I have to be gone and reside, or keep and die.”

— Romeo and Juliet, Act III Scene 5 (4)

On this passage, Romeo and Juliet argue over whether or not the birdsong they hear is the nighttime tune of a Nightingale or the daybreak refrain of a lark. Upon realizing that it’s a lark in any case, the lovers are pressured to confess that it’s morning and Romeo can be found if he doesn’t flee. Whereas the lark represents the hour at which they have to say their goodbyes, the Nightingale represents the time by which they’re secure to remain collectively. Thus, the Nightingale represents love, romance, and hope.

Nightingale Singing
Picture by J. Dietrich. Provided through Wikimedia Commons underneath Inventive Commons 3.0

In fairytales, Nightingales typically act as symbols of affection, sacrifice, gentleness, and friendship. The Nightingale is typically used as a logo of selflessness as effectively.

Nightingale Native American Symbolism

Nightingales should not discovered within the Americas. For Native American peoples, the most definitely wrongdoer behind a midnight birdsong would most likely be a mockingbird. Many tribes affiliate mockingbirds with intelligence and safety.

Nightingale Christianity Symbolism

Shockingly, regardless of rampant connections between Nightingales and humanities and literature, biblical connections to this fowl are seemingly nonexistent. The Nightingale simply doesn’t come up in Christian iconography very a lot. I’m tempted to level out a tenuous connection between the mournful nighttime tune of this fowl, together with the misperception that night-singing Nightingales are feminine, and the Virgin Mary. This connection stands out to me due to Mary’s frequent affiliation with grief, mourning, and compassion.

Nightingale Celtic Symbolism

Celtic mythology treats songbirds as emissaries from the Otherworld. The haunting tune of the Nightingale reinforces this concept whereas additionally connecting this fowl to the birds of Rhiannon. Rhiannon, a Welsh goddess of femininity and queenship, is claimed to enchant guests to the Otherworld together with her choir of magical songbirds. (5)

Nightingale in Goals

Dreaming of a Nightingale could point out love or longing. A Nightingale’s tune is alternatively related with triumphant love and wistful loneliness. So, a Nightingale dream could signify both one’s affection for a big different, or one’s loneliness and want for such a connection. A Nightingale dream can signify an unrequited love as effectively. (6)

Dreaming of Nightingales may symbolize artistry or expression. Nightingales are sometimes regarded as muses or as inventive masters of tune. Dreaming of a Nightingale could signify a want to precise oneself by way of artwork.

Nightingales are intently related to nighttime attributable to their behavior of singing by way of the evening. Dreaming of a Nightingale could merely be an indication of a restful and rejuvenating sleep.

Nightingale Encounters and Omens

Encountering a Nightingale could also be seen as an indication that springtime is close to. Nightingales are sometimes related with the rebirth and renewal that the beginning of springtime brings. A Nightingale encounter may signify relaxation and therapeutic. Together with the approaching spring, Nightingales are related with the soothing peace of the evening. Their songs are generally regarded as lullabies that convey relaxation to slumbering individuals.

Nightingale on Branch with Lichen
Picture by Flickr consumer Katya. Provided through Wikimedia Commons underneath Inventive Commons 2.0

A Nightingale encounter could signify a want to attach with others on a deep degree. Nightingale songs are sometimes related to longing. Listening to a Nightingale singing could imply that you just really feel a deep want to have your individual tune answered in form by somebody who understands you.

Nightingale in Mythology & Folklore

Probably the most well-known Nightingale story comes from The Little Mermaid‘s creator, Hans Christian Andersen. Andersen wrote The Nightingale in 1844 and its themes are nonetheless strongly related to this fowl to today. The Nightingale is ready in China and follows the story of a spoiled emperor who discovers that his personal backyard is residence to the best singer anybody has ever heard. When the emperor hears rumors {that a} Nightingale in his backyard can sing so effectively that it makes individuals neglect their troubles, he orders it dropped at him. The Nightingale sings for the emperor and he’s moved to tears. He provides the Nightingale a reward, however she refuses as she is happy sufficient to have made the emperor cry. (7)

For some time, the emperor retains the Nightingale in his courtroom and he or she is a serious sensation. Ultimately, although, she begins to overlook the backyard. On the similar time, the emperor is presented a jeweled mechanical Nightingale which might sing tirelessly. He begins to favor this new toy and doesn’t actually discover when his Nightingale pal escapes again to the backyard. When it’s seen that she is gone, the Nightingale is banished as punishment. Earlier than lengthy, although, the mechanical Nightingale begins to develop repetitive and ultimately breaks down. The individuals of the courtroom are pressured to confess that the actual Nightingale’s music was unmatched in its pure magnificence. Round this time, the emperor falls ailing and is believed to be on his dying mattress. Earlier than the emperor can die, the actual Nightingale returns and sings for him. After all of the methods he has uncared for her, she continues to be grateful for his appreciation of her music and he or she agrees to sing at his window every evening forevermore. The tune of the Nightingale heals the emperor who’s grateful for his winged pal. (8)

This story is without doubt one of the main the explanation why Nightingales proceed to be related with each unconditional love and therapeutic. Regardless of being uncared for, underappreciated, and banished, the little Nightingale continues to be filled with gratitude for the best way that the emperor first responded to her tune. She selflessly chooses to assist him despite the fact that he had betrayed her.

Greek Mythology:

The Greek fantasy of Philomela and Procne is one which options the Nightingale. In line with legend, Philomela was the sister of Procne who was the spouse of a person named Tereus. Tereus was the son of Ares, and the king of Thrace. Tereus and Procne had a son and dominated over Thrace collectively. At some point, Procne got here to Tereus and begged him to permit her beloved sister, Philomela, to return to Thrace and go to them. Tereus agreed and Philomela got here to stick with them in Thrace. Whereas Philomela was visiting, Tereus started to harbor lust for his sister’s spouse and determined to lure her into the woods in order that he might rape her. After assaulting Philomela, Tereus reduce out her tongue in order that she might inform nobody what had occurred to her. Philomela was intelligent, although, and he or she wove the occasions right into a tapestry which she dropped at Procne. Procne was enraged and the sisters swore to get their revenge. They slew Procne and Tereus’s son and fed him to his father. When Tereus discovered that he had eaten his personal baby, he chased the sisters down and tried to kill them each. Of their panic, Procne and Philomela begged for help from the gods. The gods took pity on your complete ill-fated household and remodeled every of them into birds. Procne grew to become a swallow and Tereus was remodeled right into a Hoopoe. Philomela, who had as soon as had her voice stolen from her, grew to become the Nightingale in order that she might sing once more. (9)

Nightingale Spirit Animal

In case your spirit animal is the Nightingale then you might be possible an artist at coronary heart. Folks with the Nightingale spirit animal are sometimes blessed with inventive expertise. They have a tendency to really feel a serious drive to precise their concepts by way of creating one thing thrilling and new. The Nightingale spirit is creative and drawn in direction of experimenting with new concepts.

Picture by Flickr consumer gailhampshire. Provided through Wikimedia Commons underneath Inventive Commons 2.0

In case your spirit animal is the Nightingale then you could appear secretive and mysterious to others. Individuals who don’t know you effectively could fail to notice your true nature. The reality is that the Nightingale spirit, whereas not precisely a social butterfly, longs to attach with others on a significant and intimate degree.

Nightingale Totem Animal

In case your totem animal is the Nightingale then you might be somebody who’s selfless and compassionate. Folks with the Nightingale totem are gifted with the uncommon capacity to forgive totally. Whereas forgiveness will not be simple to do, the Nightingale totem is aware of how liberating it may be to let go of anger and select to see the nice in others.

The Nightingale totem animal enjoys soothing the ache, struggling, and guilt of these round it.

Nightingale Energy Animal

The ability of the Nightingale is relaxation. The tune of the Nightingale is sort of a lullaby which brings serenity and therapeutic to everybody who hears it. This fowl has the superb energy to speak to everybody round that all the things can be okay. The Nightingale energy animal is an unimaginable antidote to nervousness.

Folks with the Nightingale as their energy animal are pure healers who take nice pleasure in comforting others.

Nightingale Tattoo That means

A Nightingale tattoo could symbolize artwork, creativity, love, longing, grief, or triumph. Any individual who chooses a Nightingale tattoo would possibly achieve this to precise a love for poetry or literature. The Nightingale is without doubt one of the hottest avian topics of poetry and appears to have been a favourite of William Shakespeare.

A Nightingale tattoo may signify selflessness or sacrifice.


The Nightingale could be the most symbolism-rich fowl in all of literature and poetry. To be fairly frank, there may be far an excessive amount of materials regarding this beautiful little songbird for us to scratch the floor in a single article. From love and romance to loneliness, the Nightingale’s tune has an uncanny capacity to talk to the human coronary heart and encourage a variety of feelings.

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