>Birds and mystical denotations
Among the Greeks and Romans, the eagle
was the appointed bird of Jupiter
and consequently signified the swiftly moving forces of the Demiurgus
; hence it was looked upon as the mundane
lord of the birds, in contradistinction to the phoenix
, which was symbolic of the celestial ruler. The eagle typified the sun in its material phase and also the immutable Demiurgic law beneath which all mortal creatures must bend. The eagle was also the Hermetic symbol of sulphur, and signified the mysterious fire of Scorpio
–the most profoundly significant sign of the zodiac and the Gate of the Great Mystery. Being one of the three symbols of Scorpio, the eagle
, like the Goat of Mendes
, was an emblem of the theurgic art and the secret processes by which the infernal fire of the scorpion was transmuted into the spiritual light-fire of the gods.
Among certain American Indian tribes the thunderbird
is held in peculiar esteem. This divine
creature is said to live above the clouds; the flapping of its wings causes the rumbling which accompanies storms, while the flashes from its eyes are the lightning. Birds were used to signify the vital breath; and among the Egyptians, mysterious hawklike birds with human heads, and carrying in their claws the symbols of immortality, are often shown hovering as emblems of the liberated soul over the mummified bodies of the dead. In Egypt the hawk
was the sacred symbol of the sun; and Ra
, and Horns
are often depicted with the heads of hawks. The cock
, or rooster
, was a symbol of Cashmala
(Cadmillus) in the Samothracian Mysteries, and is also a phallic symbol sacred to the sun. It was accepted by the Greeks as the emblem of Ares
) and typified watchfulness and defense. When placed in the center of a weather vane it signifies the sun in the midst of the four corners of creation. The Greeks sacrificed a rooster
to the gods at the time of entering the Eleusinian Mysteries. Sir Francis Bacon is supposed to have died as the result of stuffing a fowl
with snow. May this not signify Bacon’s initiation into the pagan Mysteries which still existed in his day?
Both the peacock
and the ibis
were objects of veneration because they destroyed the poisonous
reptiles which were popularly regarded as the emissaries of the infernal gods. Because of the myriad of eyes in its tail feathers the peacock
was accepted as the symbol of wisdom, and on account of its general appearance it was often confused with the fabled phoenix of the Mysteries. There is a curious belief that the flesh of the peacock
will not putrefy even though kept for a considerable time. As an outgrowth of this belief the peacock became the emblem of immortality, because the spiritual nature of man–like the flesh of this bird–is incorruptible.
The Egyptians paid divine honors to the ibis and it was a cardinal crime to kill one, even by accident. It was asserted that the ibis could live only in Egypt and that if transported to a foreign country it would die of grief. The Egyptians declared this bird to be the preserver of crops and especially worthy of veneration because it drove out the winged serpents of Libya which the wind blew into Egypt. The ibis was sacred to Thoth, and when its head and neck were tucked under its wing its body closely resembled a human heart. (See Montfaucon’s Antiquities.) The black and white ibis was sacred to the moon; but all forms were revered because they destroyed crocodile eggs, the crocodile being a symbol of the detested Typhon.
Nocturnal birds were appropriate symbols of both sorcery and the secret divine sciences: sorcery because black magic cannot function in the light of truth (day) and is powerful only when
surrounded by ignorance (night); and the divine sciences because those possessing the arcana are able to see through the darkness of ignorance and materiality. Owls
were consequently often associated with either witchcraft or wisdom. The goose
was an emblem of the first primitive substance or condition from which and within which the worlds were fashioned. In the Mysteries, the universe was likened to an egg which the Cosmic Goose had laid in space. Because of its blackness the crow was the symbol of chaos or the chaotic darkness preceding the light of creation. The grace and purity of the swan were emblematic of the spiritual grace and purity of the initiate. This bird also represented the Mysteries which unfolded these qualities in humanity. This explains the allegories of the gods (the secret wisdom) incarnating in the body of a swan
Being scavengers, the vulture
, the buzzard
, and the condor
signified that form of divine power
which by disposing of refuse and other matter dangerous to the life and health of humanity cleanses and purifies the lower spheres. These birds were therefore adopted as symbols of the disintegrative processes which accomplish good while apparently destroying, and by some religions have been mistakenly regarded as evil. Birds such as the parrot
were accorded veneration because, being able to mimic the human voice, they were looked upon as links between the human and animal kingdoms.
, accepted by Christianity as the emblem of the Holy Ghost, is an extremely ancient and highly revered pagan yonic emblem. In many of the ancient Mysteries it represented the third person of the Creative Triad, or the Fabricator of the world. As the lower worlds were brought into existence through a generative process, so the dove has been associated with those deities identified with t
he procreative functions. It is sacred to Astarte, Cybele, Isis, Venus, Juno, Mylitta, and Aphrodite. On account of its gentleness and devotion to its young, the dove was looked upon as the embodiment of the maternal instinct. The dove is also an emblem of wisdom, for it represents the power and order by which the lower worlds are maintained. It has long been accepted as a messenger of the divine will, and signifies the activity of God.
Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages‘ten (1928)