Aggressive, steadfast, and confident animals, geese have manifested different meanings throughout centuries and across various religious, spiritual, and socio-political spaces. What then is the spiritual meaning of a goose?
While symbolizing various things across different cultures, geese typically symbolize compassion, loyalty, protectiveness, and spiritual guidance. While these are positive traits, some communities view geese negatively, associating foolishness and gullibility upon them.
The various meanings attributed to geese from Western, Eastern, Christian, African, Celtic, Egyptian, and indigenous communities across socio-political, spiritual, and religious spaces; will be discussed in detail to decipher holistic meanings.
What Does A Goose Symbolize?
As highlighted above, geese symbolize various things across different cultures throughout the centuries; these will be individually explored to illustrate the cross-pollination of meaning attributed to geese.
Native American Goose Symbolism
Different Native American communities have widely differing symbolic interpretations of geese through mythology and folklore.
While some communities may attribute positive traits such as loyalty, friendship, and paternal instincts, others portray geese as foolish and gullible.
For those who find meaning behind the Native American Zodiac, goose appears between 22 December and 19 January. Consequently, those born under the sign are said to exhibit masculine traits.
These masculine goose traits include but are not limited to dependability, drive, focus, endurance, and perseverance. Furthermore, goose appears in the Northern portion of the medicine wheel, meaning they represent renewal and growth.
For some Northern Native American tribes, geese were symbolic of cooperation, as observed by their ability to instinctively care for each other and know the needs of others, despite being flock animals with numbers in the hundreds.
Finally, although the goose is seen as foolish and gullible by some, it is also seen as a wise guide to others. Consequently, some communities believe geese had a strong sense of direction and purpose that could be imbued upon others.
Christian Goose Symbolism
In Christian symbolism, geese hold similar meanings to other animals that flock, such as sheep.
Namely that geese represent the importance of fidelity, loyalty, devotion, and faith to God and his teaching. As they symbolize the importance of cooperation in achieving unified goals as per the guidance of God.
Christian geese symbolism becomes complex because of its intrinsic link to Celtic goose symbolism and the cross-pollination of these symbiotic communities (see below).
Celtic Goose Symbolism
Prior to the introduction of Christianity in Celtic society, ancient Celts viewed geese as symbols of loyalty to one’s home. Consequently, geese were seen as protectors and emphasized the importance of paternal love for one’s family and community.
Upon the introduction of Christianity, the dove symbolism typically associated with God’s love, faith, rebirth, forgiveness, and loyalty (as derived from the story of Noah and the flood) were replaced by the symbolism of geese in Irish and Scottish churches.
This is because Celtic society emphasized animal symbolism and believed that the ferocious nature of geese in pursuit of protecting their loved ones spoke more to the symbol of protection than dove symbolism did.
Furthermore, wild geese are untamed, independent, and free-thinking animals who are not afraid to speak their minds or stand up for justice when necessary. This promoted the idea of being vocal in defending one’s faith and preaching to others.
African Goose Symbolism
While geese have various meanings across African communities, the Wawa clan in southeast Nigeria has observed geese behavior to life lessons and parable-style teachings.
When geese fly, they do so in a “V” formation that allows the entire group to redirect airflow due to communal wing uplift and aerodynamics, which reduce drag on geese when needed.
By doing so, a flock of geese can travel a far greater distance in a shorter space of time than a single goose. All the while transporting themselves more efficiently and in a manner that deters predators.
The first lesson from the “V” formation is that cooperation, goal setting, and a sense of community can help people achieve targets they would not be able to achieve by themselves.
The second lesson from the “V” formation is how the lead goose will relinquish leadership when they are tired and make way for another goose to lead the front of the formation.
This tells us that leadership is a duty that requires sacrifice and letting go of power when it is believed another person can do the job more efficiently to benefit others.
It also stresses the importance that leadership is about taking increased headwinds when you can do so and surrounding yourself with trusted companions to take a well-deserved break when needed.
Finally, the honking of geese as they fly in formation is both a method of communication and encouragement to other geese. This stresses the importance of open communication and support rather than commands and strict hierarchy.
Egyptian Goose Symbolism
In Egyptian mythology, geese are intrinsic to their creation myth. Namely, the belief that the primordial egg from which the sun hatched was believed to have been laid and cared for by a goose (which some text described as a male goose.)
Later Egypt myths tell of the god Geb, a two-faced being, who represented the earth, and renewal.
This dichotomy was depicted with the forward-facing head of a goose to depict the future, while the rear-facing head of a lizard depicted the past.
Greek and Roman Goose Symbolism
Due to the ancient Romans’ cross-pollination and adoption of Greek beliefs, the symbolism attributed to these two ancient societies will be discussed together.
An ancient Greek myth attributes swans and geese interchangeably. In the myth, Zeus seduces the goddess Leda in the form of a swan. Zeus sends the resultant egg for Leda to rear to hide his wife Hera’s infidelity.
From the egg hatched Helen, who was said to be the most beautiful woman in the world and the subsequent catalyst for the Trojan War. Some other variations have replaced Leda with Nemesis, the goddess of fortune.
The Romans tell of a similar story but replace Hera with the goddess Juno, which in turn both came to personify goose symbolism of fidelity, marriage, eternal youth, protection, wealth, and good fortune.
Furthermore, geese were admired for their vigilance and inherent desire to protect others, as derived from the story of when a Roman legion was alerted to a nocturnal Gauls attack by the honking of a kindly goose.
Eastern Goose Symbolism
China made a point of domesticating wild geese, which they viewed as a vital part of their trade, both in terms of the actual trading of geese and their depiction as works of art.
As a result of the depiction of geese on earthenware with large, expressive eyes, they became sought-after pieces in trade on the Silk Road and gifts between lovers as symbols of love and commitment.
This symbol of geese as love and commitment results from geese being monogamous animals, similar to other species of birds.
Geese were also important subjects in Chinese poetry. They were often used as symbols of balance and equality, akin to Ying and Yang symbolism due to their seasonal migration behavior.
The depiction of flocks of geese was also a positive omen and emphasized the importance of community. In contrast, a lone goose symbolized the loss of a family member or a lover.
As a result of China’s influence on the Eastern world and their expansion into the Middle East via trade on the Silk Road, similar goose symbolism has been noted in other Eastern Communities, such as sub-continental India.
What Does A Goose’s Animal Symbolism Mean?
Over and above third-party observations and interpretations of geese are their inherent animalistic symbolism in the form of spirit, power, and totem animals.
Animalistic symbolism is considered a cross-culture interpretation from the physical world into the metaphysical world.
This is achieved by looking at the physical characteristics of plants and animals while looking to determine what meanings in spiritual/unknown spaces gave rise to these observable characteristics.
Goose Spirit Animal Meaning
Goose spirit signifies an animal that understands the importance of community, loyalty, justice and standing up for one’s beliefs. However, the existence of domesticated geese also speaks to abundance and prosperity in the home.
Goose spirit teaches us that loyalty is important, and in remaining loyal, one can achieve great rewards in life. While this loyalty is typically associated with the monogamous relationships between geese, it also extends to people.
This is because geese that have learned to be grateful, show appreciation, and do not act on aggressive impulses are rewarded with food and shelter. Therefore goose spirit teaches us the importance of trust and appreciation for all life.
Furthermore, while goose spirit encourages passionate displays of protection and speaking one’s mind in the face of injustice, it also reminds us to do so sparingly and keep one’s emotions in check to not cause undue harm to others.
As identified by the Wawa clan in Nigeria, the goose spirit understands the importance of sacrifice to lead others.
This sacrifice includes self-sacrifice, hard work for the benefit of the whole, and the importance of knowing when to relinquish power when one is exhausted, or the need for new leadership is to the benefit of one’s community.
Therefore, while goose spirit may appear head-strong and even arrogant, this is not the case. Rather goose spirit emphasizes the importance of being confident enough in one’s abilities and support group to step down and provide assistance to others when needed.
Goose Totem Animal Meaning
Those who encounter or are born under goose totem are generally good communicators that understand the need for open communication and encouragement.
While this may sometimes appear to fall into a commanding or overpowering voice, the intention is good-natured. As such, care should be taken to make sure that one’s actions correlate to the message they are trying to portray.
Those who embody the goose totem are also said to make loyal and compassionate friends as well as life partners. There is no doubting that once goose totem encounters a kindred spirit, they will remain fiercely loyal and protective.
Consequently, care should be taken to not allow the desire to protect and shelter others to override their own individuality or manifest into controlling behavior.
Finally, while some may undermine the wisdom of those that embody goose totem, there is ample evidence to suggest that they make good mentors, particularly for their friends and family.
As a result, when encountering goose totem, take the time needed to interpret what is being said and not dismiss advice given at face value.
Goose Power Animal Meaning
As a shamanistic power animal that anyone can call when needing guidance, a goose power animal should be invoked in instances where one feels they have become disconnected with their community, their family, or their friends.
This is because goose spirit helps us develop empathy toward others and communicate our concerns regarding other people, as well as assist those seeking help with methods upon which to rebuild relationships.
It must be borne in mind that when invoking goose as a power animal, the power of communication and renewed relationships do not materialize automatically.
Rather, as a power animal, the goose has a very good sense of direction, and it will guide you in the right direction. However, to get to your destination, you will have to mirror the actions of geese to achieve your goals.
Namely, you will have to forego individualistic pursuits and dedicate yourself fully to one’s community by providing active support to others, as well as a great deal of self-sacrifice.
Finally, a goose power animal may also be invoked as a method of harnessing prosperity, security, and protection for one’s close friends and family.
Once again, this prosperity will not be automatic; instead, the goose as a power animal will help guide you toward the correct path while assisting you in recruiting the support of others to the benefit of the wider community.
While it is difficult to paint a holistic picture of a goose’s spiritual meanings, looking at a cross-section of cultures and experiences suggests an entity that symbolizes love, compassion, loyalty, abundance, protection, and cooperation.