Interesting Facts About the Meaning of Hummingbirds
The meaning of hummingbirds in ancient folklore can only be found in civilizations native to the Western Hemisphere. Hummingbirds are only found in the Western Hemisphere, so legends and folklore related to hummingbirds were not created by European, Asian, or African cultures.
There are several Mayan legends that convey the meaning behind the hummingbird. A few of the legends tell stories about how hummingbirds were made from the scraps of feather left over from other birds after their creation. The hummingbird in these legends is related to the sun, which figures very prominently in Mayan religion and culture. In one legend, the hummingbird’s beautiful colors can be seen only when it is in the sunlight. Another Mayan tale is about how the hummingbird is actually a disguised sun.
Interestingly, a Mojave myth also talks about the hummingbird and the sun. The legend tells about a time when humans lived in a dark underworld. A hummingbird was sent by those people to look for light. The hummingbird found a path to the sunlit surface and led the people there to live.
The Aztecs also found a relationship between the hummingbird and the sun. They believed that after a warrior was killed in battle he rose to the heavens and circled the sun for four years. After four years of circling the sun was over, the warrior spirits became hummingbirds. The warrior spirits were then free and joyful and still able to engage in mock battles, demonstrated by the quick movements of the hummingbird. The Aztecs also decorated cloaks and other ceremonial regalia with images of the hummingbird and the colors of the hummingbird, likely in honor of the warrior spirits.
Rain is also a common theme among legends relative to the hummingbird. Both Zuni and Hopi Tribes in the Southwest United States desert believe that the hummingbird was able to intervene with the gods in order to bring about rain. The Taroscan Tribe in Mexico tells of a woman who, during a drought, gave a hummingbird some sugar water. In gratitude, the hummingbird taught the woman to weave baskets.
Members of the Pueblo Tribe legend and traditions also associate hummingbirds with rain. Dances to bring rain are filled with symbols of the hummingbird. One Pueblo legend talks about how a hummingbird gathered clouds from all four directions: north, south, east, and west to bring rain to an earth filled with fire.
Several other legends of the meaning of hummingbirds see it as a messenger between worlds. An ancient tribe called the Cochti has a legend about a people that lost touch with Mother Earth. Mother showed her anger by withholding rain from the earth for four years. Hummingbirds were one of the only creatures that were able to thrive during the drought. It was discovered that the hummingbird was able to travel to the underworld where there was no drought.
In modern or new-age spiritualism, the hummingbird also has special meaning. Many modern beliefs also describe the hummingbird as being able to intervene with the spirit world and that the hummingbird acts as a messenger. Some people believe that when they see a hummingbird, that it is a spiritual sign and can bring healing, luck, and good fortune. It’s easy to see that the meaning of hummingbirds in modern belief is related to the meaning of hummingbirds in ancient legends. This is likely due to the beautiful colors and quick, nimble movements of the hummingbird.
The hummingbird is also often associated with joy and freedom. A hummingbird is constantly in motion and cannot survive in a cage. It’s darting motion and bright colors what associates it with joy and a positive outlook, or optimism.