Category Archives: Air Totems

Samhain and the Seven Swans of Virtue

Samhain and the Seven Swans of Virtue

As we approach the cross-quarter holiday of Samhain, it’s a great opportunity to dive into ancient myth and stories.  Why?  Because ancient parables connect us with our ancestry and offer magnificent lessons we can apply to our modern way of life – thus making our experiences richer and more meaningful.

Now, I realize surface research into Samhain uncovers some potentially disturbing and macabre symbolism involving death and dark powers.  But, as with anything worthwhile, we’ve got to explore beyond the surface before striking true gold.  There is priceless philosophical gold surrounding Samhain.

One of these golden nuggets is nestled deep in the folds of Bardic wisdom (the realm of sacred Celtic storytelling).  It’s the story of the Seven Swans of Virtue, and it unfolds, thusly:

Once upon a time (I know, how trite…indulge me), there was a behemoth egg and the Universe was curled within it, growing steadily over millions of years.  At the moment of its fullest development the Universe quaked inside the egg and cracked open.  The yolk poured out of the egg and formed all matter/mass and this energy ruled the day (light).  The albumen (egg white) spilled out to create all the heavens and this energy ruled the night (dark). But that’s not all that emerged from the great egg.  From the intimacy shared between light and dark whilst incubating within the cosmic eggshell, seven magical swans were born and their names were:

Faith
Truth
Purity
Strength
Patience
Kindness
Temperance

These were known as the Seven Swans of Virtue and although they lived brightly in the heavens, they had the ability to shift between the two realms (Light/Material/Earth and Dark/Immaterial/Skies) at whim.    Now as the ever-progressing wheel of time continued making its revolutions, humankind evolved from the mix of heaven and earth.

In the beginning, humans were content to simply swim in the cosmos, satisfied with reveling in limitless bounty.  But after awhile, humans craved more diversity, and so they were offered a choice to experience a new way of life.  In this new way of living humans could experience their world through tactile (physical) form while simultaneously having access to heavenly (spiritual) experience too.  The contrast between physical and ethereal would be distinct, but access to both realms could still be obtained.  This offered humans a greater dimension of experience.

Unfortunately, the choice to live in enhanced contrast backfired for many humans.  The physical aspects of life proved to be utterly consuming.  The body and all the physical trappings that came with it caused humans to lose focus on their heavenly, celestial connections.  Eventually, the human race forgot their lineage and denied their divine connections to the heavens altogether. Throughout humankind’s blindness, the Seven Swans of Virtue remained vigilant in their celestial connection to the human soul.  The choice to ascend self-imposed prisons of physicality was always available to mankind.

By simply acknowledging their eternal connection to the seven virtues, the heavenly Swans were able to bridge the gap between light and dark and the soul of man would be balanced; renewed.  But it required fortitude and commitment from mankind to sustain the memory of their divine lineage.  Sadly, most humans at this point were simply maddened by the compulsive wants and cravings perpetuated by physical illusions.  These compulsions continued to feed a deep imbalance within humankind and led to manifestations of lust, greed, lack, sloth, envy, gluttony, hate (the antithetical flip-side of the Seven Virtues). Observing this difficult transition over the ages, the Seven Swans of Virtue conceded humankind was doomed to live out a endless cycle of illusory strife and struggle.  Without some kind of guidance, humankind would be lost in a chaotic abyss of misdirection.

Wanting to honor their choice to experience diversity, the Swans vowed to intercede on behalf on mankind, but with conditions.  So, the Seven Swans of Virtue agreed to shapeshift to earth and make themselves abundantly accessible to humankind, but only twice a year: Once on Beltane in honor of the cosmic yolk (light) and Once again on Samhain in reverence of the celestial albumen (dark).  These dates were chosen because of they are at their peak of cosmic balance.  It was during these times that the channels connecting physical and spiritual are opened at their widest, affording humankind to retrieve their Truth and reestablish their hereditary balance.

And so, upon midnight on Samhain, these majestic beauties begin their descent to earth whereupon they gather up the virtuous of heart who truly wish to know the Truth of their divine births as well as know the true ways of the Universe.  The Seven Swans of Virtue make themselves more openly known during this time so humankind may be apt to transcend the prison of illusions and re-embrace its cosmic connections.

The Seven Swans of Virtue still descend to Earth today.  The Celts knew this, and that’s why the constellation of Pleiades marked the cosmic opening from which the celestial Swans flew to visit the Earth.  These two dates (Samhain and Beltane) are the gateways to transformation for humankind.  So, this time of Samhain affords each of us the grandest opportunity for renewal, enlightenment and metamorphosis.

-The End-

If nothing else, the Seven Swans of Virtue is a great story to tell ’round your Samhain or Halloween hearth fire this year.

Other links of interest:

Symbolic Meaning of the Swan (on Whats-Your-Sign.com) includes Celtic symbolism.

Halloween Symbols and Meanings (on Whats-Your-Sign.com)

Meaning of Halloween (on Whats-Your-Sign.com)

Vishudha and Blue Jay Messages

Tags: Bird Totems | Nature Symbolism | Chakra Symbolism

Blue Jay Symbolism
Blue Jay Symbolism

A few weekends ago, I had the utter pleasure of attending a workshop offered by Colette Baron-Reid along with Sandra Anne Taylor at the legendary LilyDale.

The discussion ranged from quantum philosophies to ecological intuition.  The wealth of information was magnificent and riveting. 

So why was my attention drifting to one lone blue jay?  Invisible no less.  All I could hear was his rhythmic vocalizations.

The LilyDale auditorium is open-air.  Attendees can see out into bright sunshine, gemmy green trees and feel ephemeral breezes on backs of necks.

It would seem, given the setting, my attention was destined to stray.  Suffice to say the messages for me that day were not only dispensed by the speakers, Colette & Sandra, but also by the blue jay.

With astral vision wandering through branches to spy the jay, I let ruminations drift over the bird and its implications.  This is when I got the connection between Blue jay and Vishudha.

I’ve discussed the symbolic meaning of the blue jay in previous installments:

  • Confidence
  • Territorial
  • Protection
  • Communication
  • Vitality

All these meanings of the jay were cartwheeling in my musings when a shock of cyan hit me full-center.  And then it occurred to me, the blue jay is the perfect mascot for the Vishudha center.

Vishudha is the throat chakra.  Brilliant blue – just like the blue jay.

The Vishudha or throat chakra is symbolic of:

  • Expression
  • Vocalization
  • Creativity
  • Assertiveness

During this workshop, whilst great wisdom was being extolled – I got electrified by a true-blue insight from the jay. 

At that point in my awareness, the message was clear and dealt with:

  • self-assertion,
  • self-expression and
  • rediscovering the will to communicate without reservation. 

Precisely the message I required at the time.

This is how animal messages come.  Meanings are a marriage between animal expression and human perception.  It’s a two way street.  We’ve got to meet these creatures on their turf, then mingle our own foundational understanding with these animal encounters in our lives.

Had I not allowed those moments of free-association and drifty dream-thought, the message would have been utterly lost. 

So, the next time you feel like you should be paying attention to something, and a blue jay or some other creature demands your focus away from the conventional…by all means, drift! 

Drift away from convention and allow yourself to be drawn by the prime forces of nature calling you.  The messages will always be profound.

For more information in this genre consider these other pages:

Chakra Meanings

Chakra Color Meanings

Symbolic Meaning of Blue Jay (full article)

Knowing Animal Totems and Animal Signs

Mockingbird Symbolic Meaning

Tags: Animal Totems | Bird Meanings

Mockingbird Symbolic Meaning
Mockingbird Symbolic Meaning

This post on the Mockingbird symbolic meaning comes in response to an email requesting more information on the Mockingbird.

They’re called Mockingbirds because rather than having their own unique call, they imitate other birds.  They do this for a number of reasons – to either attract other birds in their area, or repell them (calling away other birds from their territory).
 
Mockingbirds are extremely bright with intelligence equal to ravens, crows and magpies (who are also very smart & even trainable).
 
Mockingbirds are also very protective of their families.  Like Blue Jays, they can be vicious – even attacking humans if they feel their brood is threatened.
 
Mockingbird Symbolic Meaning (at-a-glance)

  • Joyfulness
  • Gratitude
  • Cleverness
  • Intelligence
  • Playfullness
  • Protection
  • Security
  • Communication

When the Mockingbird comes into our lives it can be a message that we need to rethink how we work, interact and communicate with others.  Are we accommodating?  Are we being flexible?  The Mockingbird way is to listen first, then respond.  This is one of its greatest lessons for humans. 
 
As you observed, the Mockingbird is very playful – another profound lesson for us.  Few birds have the kind of bright vitality and obvious revelry.  So when this happy bird flies into our lives it is a cue for us to frolic, and suspend our severity for a time.  Enjoy, relax, and take time to appreciate the pleasureful things in our lives.
 
I hope these observations on Mockingbird symbolic meaning are helpful. 

If you found this interesting, you may also like:

Bird Totem Meanings

Birds in Dreams Meanings

Thanks to AndyMW91 on Flickr  for use of this Mockingbird image.

Vulture Meanings and Nonconformity

Tags: Bird Totems | Nature Symbolism

Vulture Meanings and Nonconformity
Vulture Meanings and Nonconformity

My eyes first opened to various vulture meanings as a kid visiting my Uncle Dan in West Texas. 

He lived on sprawling acres of sun-baked dirt and craggy trees with crooked fingers pointing into the skies. 

Vultures were never far from sight at Uncle Dan’s place.

I learned to love these bizarre creatures for their regal poise and imperial presence.   And isn’t that a paradox.  I mean, sonnets aren’t written about how beautiful and elegant the vulture is.

And that’s my first (maybe most important) symbolic point pertaining to vulture meanings.   The vulture is what it is, and could care less about what you or I think about its appearance.   It moves with grace in the skies.  On land it moves with authority, as if all things are within its rightful ownership.

There’s a lesson here for the image-conscious.  When the vulture flies the skies of our awareness it’s a clear sign to raise our heads with dignity.  Conventionalism be damned along with conformity and status quo.

Vultures will also talk to us about expectancy and being confident in the knowlege our needs are always met.  “Good things come to those who wait.” Very good things if you’re a vulture, and they’re quite content with waiting for hours to get their fair share of resources.  

In fact, I’ve seen the same group of vultures hang in air currents for hours.  Just circling and riding the coursing winds.  Very knowing. Very Zen. As if to say “my freedom is in scaling the skies; all things come to me in good time.”

Actually, vultures say nothing. They have no hoots or hollars.  Only hissing.  Vultures don’t need to announce themselves.  They’re reputation preceeds them.  Their power is in their purpose.  Their silence only enhances their mystery. 

There’s profound wisdom in silence.  When the vulture lurks about in our awareness, it’s often a sign to keep our lips sealed.  Usually in situations where it would behoove us to keep our opponents guessing about our motives.  Build intrigue.  Build suspense.

Quite a manner of living, and the vulture is a great symbolic role model for us to follow. Indeed, the vultures’ way is an art form.  Perhaps they even have a motto that might go something like:

“Rail against the common and customary.  Bliss out whilst hang-gliding in the high, bright skies. Rest in the unquestioning knowledge that all needs are laid at my feet.”

There’s tons more vulture meanings for the picking (pardon the pun).

These and many more questions are answered in my symbolic meaning of vultures page here.

Finchy Epiphany

Tags: Nature | Birds | Personal Observations

Falling (literally) for the Meaning of Finches
Falling (literally) for the Meaning of Finches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been asked several times for the symbolic meaning of the finch

Usually birds speak brightly to my perception. Their feathery gifts of wisdom unfurl on a clean slipstream of communication.

Oddly, Finch chose not speak to me.   No amount of stillness, meditation or asking would coax oracular song from the finch.

Hindsight revealed the silence was due to a funk I’ve been in lately. 

Finches will not tolerate glum.  No way.  They don’t go there.  They don’t even know where Glum-land is.

It took me falling off the roof  to open the channel of communication with the finch.

After landing in a soft heap of shrubbery, I burst into (fringing on insane) laughter (for life-affirming reasons that should be painfully obvious).

And that’s when the finches flew overhead.  Early in the season for my region too.

They were like little bright missile rockets of joy…surging with energy, bounding for landings offering the promise of a bright new spring.  High-voltage reminders of the continuity of life (including, thankfully, mine!).

It became clear to me, in that moment after the fall (no, my life didn’t flash before me) there is, indeed, a greater-grander picture and it’s totally imperceptible when viewed from the land of Glum.

So, if you’re stuck in Glumdom, I invite you to read my full post on our symbolic finchy friends here.  They’re bound to blast you into a better mood!

Other posts for contemplative moseying:

Bird Totems

Dreaming of Birds

Celtic Ogham Birds (and friends)