Hawk Names in Mythology • 26 Greek, Norse, Celtic, and More Legendary Birds of Prey
Many cultures have hawks in their legends and tales. I’ve listed them here along with background on hawk names in mythology
Which god is represented by a hawk?
These gods and goddesses are represented by a hawk:
Which deities are associated with hawks?
These deities are associated with hawks:
- The Great Spirit (Native American mythology)
Hawk names in mythology
Some hawk names in mythology include:
- Bar Juchne
Hawks in Aboriginal mythology
Creator deity and hero Bunjil often takes the form of an eaglehawk. His name is also recorded as Wingeel, Pundjel, Bunjel, Pundjil, Punjel, Pun-Gel, Bun-Gil, and Pundgel. One legend tells that a great wind blew Bunjil and his people into the sky, where he became the star Altair, and his wives became the two stars on either side.
His shamans include birds such as Djart-djart the nankeen kestrel and Thara the quail hawk.
Bunjil took shelter in what is now called Bunjil’s Shelter, which is a popular tourist attraction and Aboriginal rock art site.
Kahu, the Swamp Hawk, also known as the swamp harrier and the Australasian marsh harrier, is a real bird of prey that appears in Aboriginal myth. According to legend, Crow tricked Kahu into jumping onto echidna quills. The quills stuck and grew into Kahu’s feet. Kahu was pleased because he was able to use his new talons to catch rats more easily!
Hawks in Arabian mythology
The mysterious anqa was a beautiful, colorful bird of prey regarded for her wisdom and moral advice. She ate nothing but elephants and large fish.
Hawks in British Mythology
Sir Gawain, one of King Arthur’s knights, means “hawk of May” or “hawk of the plain.” His Welsh name is Gwalchmai.
Hawks in Buddhist and Hindu mythology
Buddhist and Hindu hawk mythology has some overlap. Here are a few of their mythological hawks:
In Buddhism, Garuda, or Garula, are golden-winged birds and considered one of the lowest devas. They have kings and cities, along with magical powers that allow them to change into human forms. They live in groves of silk-cotton trees.
Garuda, also known as Tarkshya and Vynateya, is the king of birds in Buddhist mythology. He can appear as a giant bird or as a human with wings and some bird-like features. He has the power to swiftly travel anywhere, is ever watchful, and an enemy of the serpent.
In Hinduism, Garuda is a divine sun bird and king of the birds. He personifies courage, and his flapping wings can stop the spinning of heaven, earth, and hell. He’s often ridden by the Hindu god Vishnu.
His brother, Aruna, is also depicted as a hawk or eagle.
Today, the Brahminy kite and Javan hawk-eagle are considered the modern representations of the Garuda.
And the Garuda is the emblem of Thailand, and Indonesia.
The magical two-headed Berunda is an immensely strong bird. Its name even means terrible.
You might also enjoy these over 50 cool bird name ideas!
Hawks in Celtic mythology
In Celtic mythology, the hawk is known as Seabhag. The hawk symbolizes clear-sightedness and memory. It carries messages from the Otherworlds and is a sign to be aware and prepared to act quickly.
If you hear a hawk cry during a journey, be alert to upcoming situations that need boldness and decisiveness to keep from being thrown off balance.
In Celtic astrology, the hawk is the sign of people born between March 18- April 14.
The hawk is also the symbol of Bran the Blessed. The giant and warrior king Bran was the king of Britain and had many adventures.
Celtic hawk god
In Celtic and Irish mythology, Fintan mac Bóchra survived the Great Flood by transforming into a salmon, then an eagle, then a hawk.
Also known as Fintan the Wise, he is regarded as a seer, and knows all the history of Ireland, along with a magical hawk who was born at the same time as him.
Hawks in Egyptian mythology
There are many hawk names in mythology from Egypt.
In Ancient Egypt, the hawk was a royal bird. It was associated with the gods Ra, Horus, Khensu, Ptah, Mentu, Rehu, Sokar, and Keghsenuf. The hawk was also associated with the Great Mother Amenti. In Egyptian legend, hawks and falcons were often interchangeable.
The Sun God Ra was often portrayed as a hawk or falcon and ruled all parts of the sky, earth, and underworld.
The sky deity Horus was often depicted as a hawk or falcon, or a man with a hawk or falcon’s head wearing a red and white crown His name actually means bird of prey, or possibly “the distant one,” or “one who is above.”
Khonsu, also known as Chonsu, Khensu, Khons, Chons, and Khonsu, is the ancient Egyptian god of the moon. Like many Egyptian gods, he’s depicted as a hawk or falcon, or as a man with a hawk’s head.
His name means traveller, and he was also known as the Embracer, Pathfinder, and Defender. He provided protection from wild animals and healing aid.
Montu, also known as Mentu, Mont, and Ment, was the ancient Egyptian god of war. Similar to other Egyptian gods, he was shown as a man with a hawk’s head.
Montu is a manifestation of the destructive scorching rays of the sun
Seker, sometimes spelled Sokar, Sokaris, and Socharis, is a falcon or hawk god. It is thought that his name means “hurry to me.” Usually depicted as a mummified hawk, he is also sometimes called “he who is on his sand.”
This god is also connected with craftsmen, and is known for his silverwork. In the Underworld, he punishes evildoers.
Hawks in Greek mythology
Many Greek gods hold hawks sacred. Here are just a few of them:
The Greek god of the sun Apollo used a hawk as his messenger, and often turned into a hawk. Some of his priests were even known as hawk-keepers, and their sacred duties included caring for the god’s birds.
And in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, he tells the tale of Daedalion, who Apollo transforms into a hawk.
Greek god of hawks
In Greek mythology, Circe is associated with hawks. In fact, historians believe her name comes from the word kirkos, or circle, for a hawk’s spiraling flight pattern. Many call her the circling one or She-falcon.
Beautiful enchantress Circe is a daughter of the sun and has vast knowledge of magic and potions. She’s known for transforming her enemies into animals. In the Odyssey, she transforms Odysseus’s crew into hogs.
Hawks in Japanese mythology
The golden-winged karura from Japanese mythology is the equivalent of Hinduism’s garuda.
The karura breathes fire and eats dragons and serpents.
Hawks in Jewish mythology
The colossal legendary raptor known as Bar Juchne was said to have a wingspan so large that it blocked out the sun. According to the Talmud, a Bar Juchne egg fell from its nest and destroyed 300 cedar trees and flooded 60 villages.
Scholars compare Ziz, also known as Renanin, or Sekwi, to the Simurgh from Persian myth, the Sumerian Anzu, and the Greek phoenix. This bird may be a raptor, and is also sometimes depicted as a griffin
As Leviathan is the king of fishes, so the Ziz is appointed to rule over the birds… The Ziz is as monstrous of size as Leviathan himself. His ankles rest on the earth, and his head reaches to the very sky… His wings are so huge that unfurled they darken the sun. They protect the earth against the storms of the south; without their aid the earth would not be able to resist the winds blowing thence.– The Jewish Aggadah
Hawks in Magyar mythology
Turul is a large falcon, hawk, or eagle that helped shape the origins of the Magyars. Today, it’s the national symbol of Hungary. The Turul is considered the ancestor of Atilla the Hun.
In Hungarian legend dating back to the year 860, Turul appeared to Emese, a descendent of Atilla, in a dream signifying that she would bear a line of great rulers. Later, she birthed Amos, and Turul protected Almos, the first head of the unified Hungarian tribes. Amos’s son Arpad founded Hungary.
Long live the Hungarians, never let them fall!
The turul bird guards its nation and defends them from all.Sources: hunmagyar.org/mondak/turul.html, turul.info
Hawks in Native American mythology
The legendary thunderbird is found in art, songs, and oral histories of Native American tribes across the United States. It creates thunder by flapping its wings, and lighting by flashing its eyes.
In Algonquin mythology, the thunderbird controls the upper world, and the panther or great horned serpent controls the underworld.
In Ojibwe myth, the thunderbird not only fights the underworld spirits, but punishes humans who broke moral rules
And according to the Monominee, the thunderbirds dwell on a great mountain in the western sky. They control the rain and hail, and are messengers of the Great Sun.
In other tribes, such as the Ho-Chunk, a man who has a vision of a thunderbird during a solitary fast will become a warchief of his people.
Which Norse god is associated with hawks?
In Norse mythology, Habrok is the “best of hawks.” His name means “high pants,” possibly because of his long legs.
Vedrfolnir is a hawk who sits between the eyes of an eagle in the crown of Yggdrasill, the World Tree in North mythology.
His name translates as storm pale,” “wind bleached”, or “wind-witherer”
There is much to be told. An eagle sits at the top of the ash, and it has knowledge of many things. Between its eyes sits the hawk called Vedrfolnir […]. The squirrel called Ratatosk runs up and down the ash. He tells slanderous gossip, provoking the eagle and Nidhogg.’
Prose Edda, Gylfaginning
Historians theorize that Vedrfolnir flies about and brings knowledge back.
Read more quotes about these beautiful birds in Red Tailed Hawk Quotes
Hawks in Persian mythology and history
Abu Talib Muhammad Tughril ibn Mika’il, known as Tughril, founded the Seljuk Empire in the 1000s.
His name refers to a bird of prey, most likely the crested goshawk.
The enormous mythical bird of prey, the roc, comes from Persian mythology. It’s often said to be white and was reputed to carry away elephants, and is in four tales from the Arabian Nights.
In one of the legends of Sinbad the Sailor, the roc accidentally carries Sinbad to its nest on top of a mountain after a shipwreck. Sinbad finds a roc egg as large as 148 chicken eggs. Eventually, he escapes by using his turban to tie himself to the roc’s leg. The roc flies so high that Sinbad loses sight of the earth! Eventually, Sinbad escapes when the roc flies near another island.
Hawks in Philippine mythology
The giant Minokawa is so large that it can swallow the sun and moon. In Philippine mythology, it’s used to explain the occurrence of eclipses. This fantastical bird of prey has feathers as sharp as swords, eyes that reflect like mirrors, and its beak and legs are like steel.
Hawks in Polynesian mythology
In Polynesian mythology, the hawk serves as a prophet with healing powers.
These next two mythological birds are from Maori legends in New Zealand.
In Maori mythology, Hakawai, sometimes called Hokioi, was a mythological bird that was heard but never seen.The enormous multicolored Hakawai descended to the earth at night to hunt. Overall, its black feathers were tinged with yellow and green, and it had red feathers on top of its head. He was a servant of the wind god, Rakamaomao.
The monstrous Poukai was large enough to kill moa birds that weighed over 500 pounds as well as humans! In Maori legend, Pungarehu killed a Poukai with a stone axe to help a race of fairies.
In another legend, Hau-o-Tawara led a band of 50 men to kill a Poukai. They trapped it in a hole, and then climbed Mount Tarawara to kill its young.
Wrap up- Hawk names in mythology
Many people around the world associate the hawk or other birds of prey with an important aspect of their culture. I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about these hawk names in mythology. I certainly was fascinated researching hawk names in mythology as there is not much out there in one source!!