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Meaning of Red Cardinals to the Native Americans

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Native American tradition holds the spiritual belief that spirits, or souls, inhabit the universe and each of its natural elements. The belief that all birds and other animals, known as power or medicine animals, are messengers from the Great Spirit has long been an element of shamanism. Cardinal medicine symbolizes relationships, courtship and monogamy in Native American lore.

Relationship Messengers

Cardinals are monogamous birds whose relationships with their spouses are harmonious, romantic and musical. The male and female sing duets, calling similar songs to each other. Native American lore says if a cardinal crosses your path or attracts your attention, and you're single, there may be a romantic relationship in your near future. If you're already in a relationship, you may experience renewed romance and courtship. If you or your partner have been unfaithful, monogamy is the cardinal's message.

The Powerful Magic of Medicine Animals

According to Native American legend, a power or medicine animal has magical abilities and is able to empower humans with the traits and characteristics of that animal. These animal guides may cross your path, gaining your attention, or they may appear to you in dreams. Medicine animals act as guides, teachers or protectors as they impart power, wisdom or virtue to the chosen person.

The Legend of the Maiden and the Redbird

The Choctaw People tell a story about a lonely maiden and a redbird that portrays the cardinal as a matchmaker. In his travels the redbird discovers a lonely maiden. She has many virtues. As the cardinal continues his travels, he encounters a lonely Indian brave and befriends him. The redbird tricks the brave into following him to the maiden's home. When the lonely pair meet, they discover companionship, friendship and romance.

Cardinals and the Number 12

The number 12 is considered a lucky number by many Native Americans. The number 12 also is associated with the cardinal. Cardinals are seen during all 12 months of the year. A cardinal's nest often contains 12 eggs. Native American lore holds that if you have encountered a cardinal, expect good luck to follow, possibly in 12 hours, 12 days, or at noon or midnight.