Yesterday morning I took my pups to the beach for a day of adventure. At one point I looked up and saw a flock of 9 pelicans flying above us. I’ve only rarely seen pelicans at the beach here and never had I seen a whole flock. It was a very magical moment, especially being surrounded by very thick fog and walking on beautiful (and new here) black sand!
Birds in general are messengers of Spirit, but pelicans also have some very mundane symbolism. Their large pouches symbolize being able to take on a great deal, including information. It also represents the ability to travel lightly or with only what is necessary, as well as being able to use resources and abundance wisely.
As an animal that lives on land, flies in the air, and feeds/hunts in the ocean, pelicans represent mastering the elements and feeling comfortable with diving deeply into emotions and the unconscious realm.
Pelicans also symbolize nurturing, generosity, self-sacrifice, recovery from loss, control of the ego/selflessness, and Christ. This comes from a fable, in which the pelican represents Christ’s crucifixion and his sacrifice for humanity, the children of God. There are two variations on this fable that I know of: 1) A mother pelican tears open her chest to feed her hungry young her own blood, which nourishes them to grow, and 2) A father pelican returns to the nest to find that a snake had killed his young. He tears open his chest to wash them with his blood, and they come back to life.
The flock of pelicans I saw were in a perfect v-formation, traveling peacefully together. I felt that there were 9 of them was significant. The number 9 represents spirituality, karma, long journeys (including spiritual), selflessness, intuition, and inner/Divine wisdom. In the Major Arcana of the Tarot, the ninth card is The Hermit, one who journeys through life and this world guided only by the light, which represents his inner wisdom, the Light of his soul. Astrologically, the ninth house, besides representing spirituality, etc. is also the most auspicious house. The number nine often signals good luck and abundance.