The Meaning And Symbolism Behind An Eagle Facing Left Or Right

The majestic eagle, with its keen eyesight and powerful talons, has been used as a symbol for centuries across many cultures. One interesting aspect around depicting the eagle is which direction it faces – left or right.

As a reader curious about the significance and meaning behind the eagle’s orientation, you likely have questions around if the direction matters and what each direction represents.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The direction an eagle faces carries important symbolic meaning. A left-facing eagle signifies a preference for peace while a right-facing eagle symbolizes a state of war.

Background on the Eagle as an Iconic Symbol

The eagle is a powerful and majestic bird that has been revered and admired by various cultures throughout history. Its symbolism is deeply rooted in mythology, folklore, and religious beliefs. The image of an eagle has been associated with strength, courage, freedom, and wisdom.

It is often seen as a representation of power and authority.

Brief History of Eagle Symbolism

The eagle has been a symbol of power and strength in many ancient civilizations. In ancient Greece, it was associated with Zeus, the king of the gods, and was believed to be a messenger between the gods and humans.

In Native American culture, the eagle is considered a sacred bird and is believed to possess spiritual powers. It is often seen as a symbol of the connection between the physical and spiritual worlds.

The bald eagle, specifically, holds a special place in American culture and symbolism. It was chosen as the national bird and symbol of the United States because of its majestic appearance and its association with freedom.

The bald eagle is often depicted on the Great Seal of the United States and is seen on the country’s currency, official flags, and other insignia.

Use in Flags, Seals, and Other Insignia

The image of an eagle facing left or right is often seen on flags, seals, and other insignia. The direction in which the eagle is facing can hold different meanings and interpretations.

When an eagle is depicted facing left, it is often seen as a symbol of looking towards the past or the west. This can represent a connection to tradition, history, and the values of the past. It can also symbolize protection and defense.

On the other hand, an eagle facing right is often seen as a symbol of looking towards the future or the east. This can represent progress, innovation, and a forward-thinking mindset. It can also symbolize vision and foresight.

It is important to note that the specific meaning and symbolism behind an eagle facing left or right can vary depending on the cultural context and the specific design of the insignia. The interpretation of the symbol may also depend on the individual or group using it.

Meaning of a Left-Facing Eagle

Connotes Peace, Protection, and Good Fortune

When an eagle is depicted facing left, it carries several symbolic meanings. One of the most prominent interpretations is that it connotes peace, protection, and good fortune. Throughout history, the eagle has been revered as a powerful and majestic creature, often associated with strength and wisdom.

In many cultures, the left-facing eagle is seen as a guardian or protector, watching over individuals and bringing them peace and prosperity.

Connection to the Past and Ancestors

The left-facing eagle also holds a symbolic connection to the past and ancestors. In some Native American tribes, the eagle is considered a sacred bird and is believed to possess a strong spiritual presence.

When the eagle faces left, it is seen as looking towards the past, representing a connection to ancestral wisdom and guidance. It serves as a reminder to honor and learn from the experiences of those who came before us.

According to an article on All About Birds, the direction in which an eagle faces can also be influenced by artistic choices or cultural traditions. It’s important to note that while the left-facing eagle may hold certain symbolic meanings, interpretations can vary depending on the context and cultural background.

Meaning of a Right-Facing Eagle

When an eagle is depicted facing to the right, it holds a significant meaning and symbolism. This orientation is often associated with several characteristics that define the majestic bird.

Symbolizes War, Strength, and Aggression

A right-facing eagle is commonly associated with war, strength, and aggression. In many cultures and societies, the eagle has been revered as a symbol of power and dominance. Its fierce and determined appearance, with its sharp beak and piercing eyes, represents the strength and aggression needed to protect and defend its territory.

The right-facing orientation emphasizes these qualities, as it conveys a sense of forward movement and action.

Throughout history, empires and nations have adopted the eagle as a symbol to represent their military might and determination in times of war. For example, the Roman Empire and the United States have both used the image of the eagle facing to the right in their national emblems and military insignia to symbolize their strength and power.

Action Orientation Towards the Future

Another interpretation of a right-facing eagle is its action orientation towards the future. The right-facing direction is often associated with progress, advancement, and moving forward. Just as an eagle soars through the sky with its wings outstretched, a right-facing eagle signifies a forward-thinking mindset and a focus on achieving goals and success.

This symbolism can be applied to various aspects of life, such as personal growth, career development, and even societal progress. It serves as a reminder to embrace change, take decisive action, and strive for greatness.

Examples in Flags, Heraldry, and Native American Culture

The Great Seal of the United States

The symbol of the eagle facing left or right holds deep significance in the United States, particularly in the Great Seal. The Great Seal, adopted in 1782, features an eagle facing right, clutching an olive branch in one talon and a bundle of arrows in the other.

The eagle’s orientation represents the country’s desire for peace, but its readiness to defend itself if necessary. This symbolism reflects the nation’s values of diplomacy and strength.

Heraldic Eagles in Coats of Arms

The use of eagles in heraldry and coats of arms is a common practice in many countries. The direction in which the eagle faces can convey different meanings. An eagle facing right is often associated with forward movement, progress, and future aspirations.

On the other hand, an eagle facing left can represent looking back at the past, tradition, and heritage. These symbols can vary depending on the specific design and context of the coat of arms.

Use in Native American Iconography

Eagles hold great significance in Native American cultures, and their portrayal in art and iconography is rich with symbolism. In Native American traditions, the direction in which the eagle faces can represent different aspects of life.

An eagle facing left is often associated with the feminine, intuition, and the spiritual realm, while an eagle facing right symbolizes the masculine, action, and the physical world. These representations reflect the balance and duality present in nature and the interconnectedness of all things.

It is worth mentioning that these interpretations may vary across different tribes and regions within Native American culture, as symbolism can hold unique meanings for each group. The eagle’s presence in Native American art is a testament to the reverence and respect for this majestic bird and its symbolic significance.


In conclusion, the direction an eagle faces in symbolic imagery carries deep meaning. A left-facing eagle connects to peace, protection, and community values while a right-facing eagle signifies war and individual action.

This distinction appears throughout history and culture, from national seals to heraldic imagery to Native American traditions. The next time you encounter the iconic eagle, consider which way it faces as this reveals key insights into the values and messaging of the culture depicted.

With its keen vision and powerful talons, the eagle inspires awe across cultures. The direction its piercing eyes gaze towards in symbolic imagery reflects a culture’s values. Left elicits community and peace; right signifies conflict and individuality.

The eagle’s orientation serves as a compass pointing to the spirit of societies across history.

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