Pagan Blog Project Week 4 – B
Well it was 11:30pm on Friday when I suddenly remembered I had joined the Pagan Blog Post. Thankfully I had already been thinking about my post so actually go sat down and wrote it. 🙂
Since this week it is things beginning with B, I chose birds.
~Birds in mythology~
Birds have always been included within mythology. Many deities in different cultures are connected with or accompanied by birds.
In Norse Mythology, the All Father Odin was accompanied by two large ravens named Huginn (meaning thought) and Muninn (meaning memory) They would fly around and return to tell him everything that was happening.
In Egyptian Mythology there is the famous falcon-headed god Horus, son of Isis and Osiris. He is the God of the Sky. It was believed that when he flew across the sky in his falcon form his eyes were the sun and moon respectively. There is also the Ibis-headed God of wisdom, Thoth the scribe.
In Greek Mythology, Athena was accompanied by her trusted owl and was considered the symbol of wisdom. This concept is believed to come from the fact owls can see in the dark, so can see “into all things.” Zeus had a golden eagle that was his messenger and even found his way into the constellations.
There are other birds of mythology like the beautiful firebird The Phoenix, the symbol of resurrection and rebirth. This immortal creature when it reached full maturity (at around 1000 years) would built of nest of twigs and spices. This was then set on fire and burn hot enough to consume the phoenix to ashes. As this funeral pyre began to die, the newly reborn phoenix would emerge. The ashes would be formed into an egg of myrrh. The phoenix would then carry this to Heliopolis to the temple of Ra. (There are different versions of the Phoenix Life).
In the Arabic stories, there is the myth of the Roc gigantic bird that was large enough to carry oxon off in its talons.
~Birds in Omens~
Birds within omens are often seen as messengers. Bringing forth news, both good and bad.
Crows, magpies and ravens are all seen in different cultures are messengers from beyond the veil, able to move between the land of living and the dead.
Owls were often seen ill omens, predicting destruction and death.
Cranes were considered omens of longevity while eagles are seen as omens of strength and endurance in dark times.
After battles birds (mainly crows and ravens) would pick over the remains of the fallen. Some said they would carry the souls of the dead to the next world.
Blackbirds are totems of perception. He is connected to healing and awakening knowledge. It is the blackbird to teaches intuition and listening to the unseen. He stretches the consciousness and taps gently into the unconsciousness.
Vultures are totems of purification and patience. He is determination and understanding of how things befall. He will offer clarity and vision, seeking the goal with steady patience.
Crows are the totems of change, they are the cycle of life. He is the magic in the world, the dark watchers. He teaches the balance, the line in life and death, light and dark. He is awareness beyond the senses.
Doves are the totems of peace and serenity. She is the symbol of hope, of trust and opening up. She teaches that to be loved you must open to the risk of hurt. She is the sun at the horizon, the faith and trust. A symbol of forgiving and of empathy and thinking of others.
~Birds in dreams~
Dream symbolism is often subjective because an archetypal image will have different meanings depending on the context. A bird in flight will offer different meaning to a bird feasting on carrion. Our personal connection to birds will also play a part.
A bird merely sitting watching in a dream is non-threatening to those who like birds, however if you are fearful of these creatures this dream would take on a more malevolent meaning.
However some of the basics are that birds are often seen as symbols of imagination, freedom, escapism, hopes and pushing against limitations and restrictions.
Again birds can take on messenger roles in our dreams as many birds are again personal symbols for things like love (doves / lovebirds), changes (swallow / robin) loss (ravens) understanding (owls)
~Birds and our role~
I have always believed that since Paganism is a nature-based faith, that those who choose to walk this path have a responsibility to this world and those in it. Take birds, these beautiful creatures face many dire situations such as persecution, starvation, loss of habitat etc.
Take Birds of Prey for example, these are often targeted and killed (illegally – at least in the UK) by those who want to protect Pheasants and grouse (so that THESE birds can be shot by rich people).
Many garden birds suffer due to people’s ignorance and continued use of pesticides and chemicals. So many people forget that when they chemically poison slugs, mice, aphids etc that these animals don’t always die immediately and can be eaten by birds who then get sick (or worse).
We tear our masses of hedgerows removing important sources of food for birds from berries to insects, this also removes habitat where they can make nests.
Land and gardens can become so (aesthetically) neat that they can be completely barren for birds. This can have a severe impact especially during cold seasons or breeding seasons when birds have to find food in difficult situations.
PS: I do not believe in poisoning slugs, aphids, mice etc even if it DIDNT injure birds. I believe there are organic ways of removing those humans consider pests
~What you can do~
Help protect our beautiful feathered friends by feeding them year round. In cold seasons include high energy foods such as suet. In breeding seasons include live food like mealworms to help tired parents feed their young!
Make sure clean water is supplied and in cold weather check that it hasn’t frozen over.
Think about planting native bushes and plants that offer birds shelter, encourage insects and other wildlife into the garden. Keep areas of the garden open where you can feed the birds and where birds can see predators (like cats) coming – giving them time to escape.
Put up bird houses (check locations as this can affect if they will get used). If you have pets, give them a brushing then put their fur taken from the brushes out in wire looped hangers – birds will use this to make nests and keep their young warm J
Keep bird feeders clean (use a bird-safe cleaner) as diseases can develop in un-cleaned feeders and be spread.
Monitor bird levels. In the UK (this weekend) is the Big Garden Bird Watch. People are encouraged to spend one hour watching the birds and recording their numbers. These are then sent into the RSPB who correlate the results to give an image of bird numbers in the UK. This has helped to show serious declines in some species and which ones need our help.
If you have little ones, consider getting them interested in ornithology, it is a great pastime watching the birds and can be a wonderful stepping stone into conservation.