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Birds Often Symbolize, The Divine


Transformation

“As one can dream, it is from dreams that our life’s enrichment may come from. By seeking the messages, the thoughts that parlay of themselves to seek fruition, we may lay in stagnation or seek outwards of ourselves to find what feeds that which dwells within of us, to bring it forward, empower of the ideas of thoughts and explore the path that alights in front of us, freely, no matter whom we are, it is our gifting to find that which fulfills us with purpose and leads of one to the state of divine grace”. 

Mira Faraday  

In searching for inspiration, I was taken by that of a dream and thoughts with a strident pulling forth to wonder this week. I think that there is some inherent gypsy, that flows through that of me.  There have been moments of drifting along with grace, moments of traversing the rapids, as well as a lot of paddling through, to journey forth ward.  Maybe I have come to realize more of the truth of this within of me. I as well have had to learn to honor within of myself, that which pulls of me, the gypsy, to explore where ever I should find myself in the present.

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“I search for things that many are amiss of, take for granted, gloss over, lack the element of time to explore. I have been thwarted greatly this past year with seeking those elements that are unique, that call to me to heed attention of, spur of me onward, in my journey of questing in life”.

Some times, things come to the fore as though with a magical penchant, a potent reminder, an Aha! moment .  A moment where the answer comes to that wonder lust of the quest as though by queer incidence or magical alighting, when your mind, thinks the thought,  let’s go of the thought.  Packs  away the thought and what appears within the  front of your eyes or  feelings in your heart, or the sound that alights of your ears, it appears, the fruition,  you can then see,  feel, touch and then believe it.

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I  took steps and unlocked a gate in front of me, with a key that was handed to me by the keeper of the gate and walked through the presently open passage way and allowed myself to journey through the passage way to seek and find on my own and discover the meaning of this particular errant dream,  Each step of the way there was an ingredient that enlightened me in a powerful way.

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I set off to journey, alone with my camera to seek a quiet place to wander within of nature. I ended up within an area that is so beautiful, so special to me. I had discovered a very special  unique garden area, here in Texas. Little did I know of the magical arena I had stepped into the midst of.

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I started to  walk to the garden and something came to my attention rather swiftly, there was not a soul around. Everything was so very quiet except of the wind, the water and birds.  The air was fresh with a slight winters, chill. My attention was all of a sudden caught with the sound of water. Before my eyes I had entered a garden room, alighted with water strumming upwards and colors that pulled me in. I was in the moment a spectator of the environ, allowing my senses to feel the pulling of the waters calling.

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I then noticed a doorway and checked my map to seek to understand the lay of my current where a bouts.

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I found of my path to walk through of the door way with a stunning view of color calling to me, to come this way.

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In present mindfulness, I stepped through the gated doorway.

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I descended steps that lead me to a path of multiple choices, straight ahead,  left or right were, my prevailing options.

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I intuited the path to the left to journey.

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I meandered along the pathway with delight, enjoying the salacious solitude amongst nature. I enjoyed the trill of the birds alighting within of the trees, the sun weaving light patterns through the  tree branches that still had leaves.

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I have spent the past year crossing bridges, I have not lost count of each crossing this year. This day, there would be many more to cross in the present, of this magical garden.

My eyes alighted to a bird coming towards me not to long into my seeking of what would appear around the turn towards the gardens.

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At first, the bird strolled as though if curious of who I was. Then she seemed to ask of me to pay attention to her. I pondered if I could get a photograph of her, without scaring her away.

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I found within my frame of time that she wanted to share with me, awaken me to where I was, to call attention to something that many are not truly aware of.

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Determined for me to pay heed of her, she called to me to come closer. I could not believe how close she allowed of me.

No matter where I walked, there was always either a swan or a peacock, begging for my attentiveness.

Did you know that birds often symbolize the divine.  They are often viewed as gods in disguise, or else they are the vehicles of gods and goddesses.

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While the peacock is a symbol of material manifestation, the swan stands for the ethereal.  It represents the presence of divine inspiration in our world.

I was reminded of the painting by, Leonardo da Vinci of, Leda with The Swan.

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The association of the swan with wisdom and creativity appears also among the Greeks who considered the bird related to the nine Muses.  It is said that when Apollo was born at Delos, the event was marked with flights of circling swans.

It is in the form of a swan that Zeus assaults Leda and in so doing, engenders the twins , “the Gemini “, “Castor and Pollux”, who hatched from eggs and also their sisters, the tormented Clytemnestra and the fatefully beautiful Helen, whose elopement with Paris is cause for the Trojan War.

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The Hindu goddess, Saraswati, whose name is that of an ancient river that once flowed some thousands of years ago in northern India, and whose bed can be seen to this day although only by satellite, has a swan as her vehicle.  The name Saraswati came from “saras” (meaning “flow”) and “wati” (meaning “a woman”). So, Saraswati is symbol of knowledge; its flow (or growth) is like a river and knowledge is supremely alluring, like a beautiful woman. “the flow of true existence.”  Depending on the philosophical tradition, she is depicted in association with two different birds.  The swan is one;

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The other is the peacock.  When both are shown, the reference is to “two forms of knowledge” — mundane and transcendent, or material and spiritual.

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In the Indian myth of her origins, she sprang from the forehead of her father, Brahma, and immediately he desired her despite the fact that she was his daughter.  Therefore, Saraswati kept dodging his attentions but no matter which way she moved, Brahma grew a head in that direction, the better to keep her in his sights.  That chase explains Brahma’s four faces, and some say there is a fifth head on top so that she could not elude him even by moving above.
Brahma finally manages to unite with her but the offspring of that union were of a special nature: The four Vedas, scriptures that are the foundation of the wisdom of ancient India.  Brahma could not subdue this Wisdom Goddess, and though she, as his lawful wife ought to have taken her place at his left side for the Yajna or  fire-sacrifice, she purposely delayed so as to miss the auspicious hour.  Therefore she was deposed and replaced by the daughter of a sage (rishi), called Gayatri, the goddess who is the essential ritual-mantra of Brahminic Hinduism.
A disinherited daughter/estranged wife, Saraswati embodies the freedom of inquiry, and independence of spirit that is characteristic of truth-seeking and creativity.

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Despite the fact that the swan is generally judged the most beautiful of the large water birds, we can see in its long, graceful, serpentine neck, a kinship to the snake.  Therefore, in Indian mythology, the swan (Skt. hamsa) embodies the union of Garuda and Naga, and since those two are enemies, it also stands for the highest wisdom teachings concerning the union of opposites.

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa [superior or, perfected hamsa] was the name of the guru of the Bengali author of Autobiography of a Yogi, Swami Paramhansa Yogananda.  Through their influence, people of the United States and Europe learned that the teachings of ancient India could also benefit non-Indians.   You too could aspire to be a yogin or yogini.

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The spiritual association is further emphasized by the swan’s seeming to move almost as if suspended above the water’s surface, with such regal posture, graceful gliding movement through the water, which evokes the detachment that is the result of  meditative practice. 

The myth of a magnificent bird who turns into a young woman is known as the motif of the Swan-Maiden, and it appears in both eastern and western cultures.  Women who turn into birds and vice versa are popular themes in folklore and literature, too.
Tales of the Thousand and One Nights includes the story of Hasan of Basra, who visits the  place of the bird-maidens.  When they take off their feather garments, they become  beautiful women.  Hassan hides the clothes of one of them in order to keep her as his wife, but she manages to regain her feathers and flies away.  Hassan sets out on a quest to regain her, and after many adventures finally succeeds.
Sweet Mikhail Ivanovich the Rover is a Slav tale, that begins as Mikhail is about to shoot a swan that warns him “Shoot not, else ill-fortune will doom thee for evermore!”  When the swan lands, she turns into a beautiful maiden but when Mikhail tries to kiss her she warns him that she is an infidel.  However, if he takes her to the holy city of Kiev so that she might be received into the Church, he will then be able to marry her.

DSC_0364_173 In a similar South German folk tale, a swan again speaks to a forester who is about to kill her.  In this instance, she says that if he can keep the secret of her existence for one whole year, she will be his but of course, he fails.

In the Celtic myth of King Lear (or Lir,) the good king’s wife dies, and to provide his children with a mother, he marries Arife.  However, she is a wickedly jealous woman who manages to turns them all into wild swans.

There is also the Hans Andersen tale of The Wild Swans who are the brothers of the accomplished Elise who must make them all shirts out of stinging nettles within one year’s time to keep them with her in human form.  She ALMOST accomplishes the task … .

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Swan Lake

Tchaikovsky wrote a score for the ballet Lebedinoe Ozero (Swan Lake) in May 1875.  The scenario contains many elements from all the above-mentioned tales, but in the ballet, both Odette and the black swan, Odile, are in the sway of the magician, Rothbart.

Other possible sources of inspiration could have been Johann Karl August Musäus’ Der geraubte Schleier, Hans Christian Andersen’s The Wild Swans and Alexandre Pushkin’sTzar Sultan, the story of a prince who saves the life of a wounded swan who later reappears as a woman to marry him.  There are also elements of the story that are traditional in many ballets.  One cannot discount the influence, at least on Tchaikovsky, of Wagner’s opera Lohengrin, the story of an heroic Swan Prince, a man with a mysterious past who arrives on a magical swan-boat.  ~ Metropolitan Ballet, a history of the swan ballet.

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         Boston Public Gardens, the Swan Boat

I have found that there is no contemporary amusement park Tunnel of Love or carousel ride to be complete, without at least one swan-boat. 

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However, the boat of Lohengrin (son of the Grail-seeker, Parsifal,) is not in swan form but rather described as being drawn by swans all the way to Antwerp, where he is to serve Elsa of Brabant.

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I continued my journey through the gardens, awaiting more of to be seen around each turning.

My attention observed so many things that I could not dismiss of.

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Reflections speak loudly. With words jutting about within of my head, such as, “As above, so below, what is inside is what is  appears outwards”.

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I again came across more peacocks whom had desire to again share with me.

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Peacocks have been considered a symbol of protection and enlightenment, but there is much more behind this symbol than meets the eye…

The peacock is possibly the most beautiful creature of the animal kingdom. Its unique shade of bright blue and the colorful feathers that adorn its tail make the peacock a beloved bird in many cultures.

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The symbolism of the peacock has many different interpretations and much has been written about them, but some of the most beautiful aspects of the peacock symbolism have somehow been forgotten, I have realized.

The peacock has been observed or looked upon throughout history as a symbol of protection and enlightenment.
When the peacock displays its tail, it looks like hundreds of eyes are watching. Because of this, the peacock has been associated to the all seeing eye, or the eye that sees all actions and all people, meaning that nothing escapes the universal justice.

The peacock is a symbol of immortality because the ancients believed that the peacock had flesh that did not decay after death. As such, early Christian paintings and mosaics use peacock imagery, and peacock feathers can be used during the Easter season as church decorations. This symbol of immortality is also directly linked to Christ.
The peacock naturally replaces his feathers annually; as such, the peacock is also a symbol of renewal.
Early belief held that the Gates of Paradise are guarded by a pair of peacocks.

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The peacock has the ability to eat poisonous snakes without harm.
Both Origen and Augustine refer to peacocks as a symbol of the resurrection.
Pythagoras wrote that the soul of Homer moved into a peacock—a hyperbole to establish the respect and longevity of the Greek poet’s words.
The Greeks dedicated the peacock to Juno, the goddess of sky and stars, in recognition of the golden circles and blue background of the peacock’s tail.
Other images and beliefs:
“By the Peacock” was a sacred oath, because the peacock was thought to have the power of resurrection, like the Phoenix.
A necklace of Amethyst, peacock feathers, and swallow feathers were a talisman to protect its wearer from witches and sorcerers.
Christians thought, in early times, that the peacock’s blood could dispel evil spirits.

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The peacock often appears among the animals in the stable in Christ’s nativity.
Two peacocks drinking from a chalice symbolizes rebirth and angels are often depicted with four wings of peacock feathers.
In Egyptian, Greek, and Roman mythology, the peacock feathers were considered much like the evil eye. They were all seeing.
In the western world, the peacock was referred to as a slayer of serpents. The shimmering colors of his tail feathers were explained by his supposed ability to transform snake venom into solar iridescence.
Alchemist thought the fan of the peacock (cauda pavonis) is associated with certain texts and images that are useful in turning base metals into gold.

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Peacocks are a deeply symbolic bird, and as such their feathers have become steeped in meaning. The precise meaning often depends on the cultural and the context the feather appears in.

Peacock feathers represent pride, and by extension, nobility and glory. Peacocks are also known to eat poisonousplants with no ill effects, making their feathers a symbol of incorruptibility and immortality.

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In ancient Greece, the peacock was the patron bird of the goddess Hera. According to myth, she placed “eyes” on its feathers, symbolizing all-seeing knowledge and the wisdom of the heavens.

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I am as well reminded that in Hindu mythology that there is the  association of  peacocks with the god, Lakshmi. The feathers thus represent the qualities: kindness, patience and good fortune.

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The Hindu Goddess Lakshmi with a peacock

Buddhists associate peacock feathers with openness, since the birds display everything when they spread their tails. Buddhists also ascribe great meaning to the bird’sdiet of poisonous plants–the ability to thrive in the face of suffering.

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A leucistic, white peafowl that is maintained by selective breeding in many parks such as this one at Clark’s Garden in Mineral Wells, Texas. This mutation is commonly mistaken for an albino.

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Peacocks are large and majesticbirds of the Indian-Asian region. These pheasants are found in dry forests, mostly in small groups containing of one male and several females. These large, brightly colored birds have a distinctive crest and an unmistakable ornate train. The train is formed by 100-150 highly specialized upper tail-coverts. Each of these feathers sports an ornamental ocellus, or eye-spot, and has long disintegrated barbs, giving the feathers a loose, fluffy look. When displaying to a female, the peacock erects this train into a spectacular fan, presenting the ocelli to their best advantage. In India people believe that whenever the cock spread its tails in an ornamental fashion, it indicates that rain is in the offing. In a way it is partly true. At the sight of dark clouds the bird outspreads its tail and starts dancing in rhythmic fashion.

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The Dance begins

Most of the Indian folklore including Bharatha Natyam has got special dancing poses for the peacock dance. Peacocks are considered sacred in India and the significance of a peacock is attached to different cultures of Far East, Ancient Persia, Greek and Christianity. As most of us know, in the Hindu tradition the peacock is the vahana (vehicle) of Kartikkeya, also known as Skanda the god of war who is a son of Lord Shiva. Kumari (shakti) rides a peacock in the entourage of the Goddess Durga. Its scientific name, pavo, derives from a Sanskrit appellation, Pavana that refers to the Hindu deity, Vayu, the wind who is also the breath of life and the father of Hanuman ji. Lakshmi, wife of the Hindu god, Vishnu, sometimes is depicted with armbands in the form of peacocks. The birds are sacred to her since their cries are associated with the rainy season and hence, fertility. Krishna is also often depicted in the company of peacocks. In Asia, the feathers of the peacock are considered auspicious and protective. However in the European tradition, it used to be considered unlucky to keep them in the house. The reason for the superstition has something to do with the eye-like markings at the tips of the feathers which evoke the dreaded ‘evil eye’ of the demon. In north India its feathers may be burnt to ward off disease, and even to cure  a snakebite. In Greece, the peacock is believed to be sacred to Hera, the queen of heaven and lawful wife of Zeus — a pair of them drew her chariot –, and they were kept at her temples. In the Roman Empire, peacocks depicted on coins symbolized the females of the ruling houses, the lineage princesses. Maha-Mayuri, is the Buddhist wisdom deity associated with the peacock who protects against calamity especially drought. In the old Chinese bureaucratic system, members of the third highest level displayed a peacock as the emblem of their rank. In Christianity, it stands for immortality and the incorruptibility of the soul. It is an apparent solar symbol, too, because of the resemblance between the rays of the sun and the circular fan of the tail in full display. In J.E. Cirlot’s ‘Dictionary of Symbols’, Ars Symbolica has been referred to as this blue-green bird that represents the blending of all the colors of the spectrum and hence, the idea of totality. Tibetan culture among many others also views green as the mixture of all hues. In 1963, the peacock was declared as the ‘National Bird of India’ because of its rich religious and celebrated involvement in Indian traditions. It symbolizes the qualities like beauty, elegance, pride, delight, spirituality and mysticism.

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In India,  the bird being well-distributed within the country is truly considered the national bird. The peacock is fully protected under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 not only for religious sentiments but also by parliamentary statute. It is recognizable to the common man and is valued for its gorgeousness and magnificence. The elaborate courtship dance of the male, fanning out the tail and preening its feathers is a beautiful sight.

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Much can be said for thinking the thought and letting it go. I found signs within the bounds of nature to remind of me, yet again.

I marveled at the brilliance of color that abounded with such cathartic delight to my senses.

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Out of the blue I noticed the play of light. At first as I sat  down, there was no notice of  reflections in the water. I turned again and witnessed the jewel of sunlight, cresting  the toss of diamonds…..upon the lake

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The light grew to that of a path to wonder more with eyes wide open and to accept what appeared around each turn, I shall walk forth and that at each turn of what I am in need of, I shall find that which my heart seeks…

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My foray was not over yet! Ah, but a swan appeared as yet again in front of me. There was a joy from that of he as well as a glance back to share with me, that I needed to remember well of my experience here within this place of beauty and to share of it with others that are seekers ……in life.

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The words shared were to journey forth across yet, another bridge with a light heart and as well to remain present to the moments as they present of themselves. A hearty “Namaste with a looking forward to sharing again soon and a happy “cio”, mi quierida”, the languages he could speak, so amazing left me with a light laughter that was loud.

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Think the thought and let it go freely. Make your goals, dreams and wishes come to the fore. Walk your moments in the light of your divine presence with grace of the inherent nature of goodness, take the time to notice, pay head of where you walk in your journey. Notice others and what can you give from within of yourself to make a difference in your world as well as another’s.. There is always one whom outside of ourselves has a need that is greater than our present needs.

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Laugh out loud often in the rest of this year and the coming year, you shall find the magic too of what it can do for you.

Journey well and safely, find adventure around each turn in your pathway. Notice the present moments and try to remain within the moments fully. Cross the bridges fearlessly! Dive into each day and play!

Smiles from my heart to that of you,

Mira Faraday

My many  heartfelt thanks, to Billie and Max Clark for seeing beyond boundaries and sharing of their visions with others! They have created a true botanical masterpiece here within Texas, that is so unique and special as well as a gifting to the public to revel within and as well be co-creators from their journey to carry it forward as well.

Max and Billie Clark, with ChocolateMaking History Since 1972
Surrounded by native woodlands and tucked away down a country road between Weatherford and Mineral Wells, Texas, is Clark Gardens Botanical Park. Its story is one of hard work, dreams and the visions of Max and Billie Clark. What began as the Clark’s private garden in 1972 – a small personal endeavor of traditional landscaping on this rugged Texas hillside – is now a botanical masterpiece. Much of this world of tranquility – this unexpected treasure – was sparked by Billie Clark’s inspirations. In 1999, Max and Billie established the Max and Billie Clark Foundation and donated 143 acres, including the gardens, to this new non-profit organization.
Now the gardens are an educational and scientific facility as well as a working model of beautiful, yet sustainable, landscapes. The native Texas and Texas adaptable plants the park exhibits are low maintenance and many are drought tolerant. On April 22, 2000, Clark Gardens opened its gates to the public and has been declared one of the most beautiful gardens in the nation. Visitors may take a photo journey of the making of Clark Gardens Botanical Park, and read more about its unique history when they visit the History House in the Park’s West Garden Area.

Physical Address [map]
567 Maddux Road
Weatherford, Texas 76088
Mailing Address
P.O. Box 276
Mineral Wells, Texas 76068
Phone: 940.682.4856
Fax: 940.682.4078
Email: info@clarkgardens.org

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4 responses to “Birds Often Symbolize, The Divine

  1. The best of luck as I have casted a vote in regards to you! Please let me know how you do fair in the contest.
    My best to you and going for your dreams.
    Mira Faraday

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