The dove has always been a symbol or type for the Holy Spirit in my thinking. My key Scripture references are with two figures of the OT and NT:
- Moshe (Moses) and the dove he sent out after the flood, looking for land, and she came back with an olive branch in her beak – now pretty much a symbol for peace, and
- Yeshua, after being baptized by John, he came out of the water and the Spirit in the form of a Dove descended on him and he was lead into the desert for 40 days where he wrestled with all the temptations of man, offered to him in the person of HaSatan
In recent reading and writing I came across some more historical information with respect to the symbolism of the Dove in various cultures and times. In the book The
Magdalene Legacy it says that it is common in artist’s paintings to put symbolism and narrative art depictions in their works that provide a message. Another item of Magdalene association (in another post I spoke of the red egg and its message) is:
“a white dove which is similarly included in many Holy Grail representations.”
The Magdalene related painting, The Holy Grail by Dante Gabriel Rossetti is one such illustration and the author tells us that:
“In ancient times the dove was associated with the goddesses Ishtar, Astarte and Aphrodite. The white dove signified feminine purity and with a laurel sprig in its beak is a symbol of peace.”
These goddesses were all about sexuality, birth and procreativity. This is the same meaning of the red egg that Mary M holds in her hand in the painting of her with the Emperor Tiberius.
Dove association with the goddesses is thousands of years before its use in the biblical era, which erased any hint of the feminine attributes replacing it with the clearly masculine attributes.
He goes on to mention that later in Christianity it is a eucharistic emblem used in Christian art to exemplify the Holy Spirit.