Monday, January 15, 2007

Eagles Of Light And Darkness

Perhaps you walk around your housing estate, in a country where large raptors are rare and hawkers are more common than hawks. And then you come across a banner, a poster, a statue, an image... of an eagle. What does it symbolise? What might it mean to you?

Politically, the eagle has always symbolised great secular power - the imperial might displayed beneath an eagle's image has been the standard of Babylon, Assyria, Rome, Russia, Austria-Hungary, and the United States of America. In religion, the eagle has represented Zeus, Mithras, Apollo and other gods of the heavens. The abomination raised in the gates of the Temple at Jerusalem by Herod the Great was a Roman eagle, emblem of Jupiter. The eagle is a mighty totem of many shamanistic cultures.

The two-headed eagle is particularly potent in this regard, symbolising dualism, military might and omniscience, force and violence. The eagle is the foremost of all heraldic avians. A quick look at pages such as this will tell you why. It was also a powerful alchemical symbol.

Is the eagle then always an emblem of the malefic, the secular, the pagan? No. Not always. The eagle in flight symbolises many good things. When the Bible speaks of eagles' wings, there is no doubt that it speaks of the enlightenment, encouragement and invigoration that comes from God. It is the image of heavenward flight that links the flying eagle to the Holy Spirit and to that most theological of writers, St John of the Apocalypse. In fact, it is entirely clear that the single eagle in flight is an emblem of salvation, hope, inspiration and all things good.

Two eagles which aren't a double-headed eagle are problematic. We might leave that for another post.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous becca said...

A white eagle and another gray one. Although I think the white one will be smashed sooner or later. It is in a precarious position.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 10:12:00 pm  
Blogger The Hierophant said...

Interesting post. You are quite the hermetic savant, ja?

I wonder who bothered about the symbolic significance of the placement of the pair.

Thursday, January 18, 2007 12:25:00 am  

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