Wild birds flying across the sky may give us the feeling of freedom, of having no limits or boundaries. Birds throughout history have transcended from the supernatural, mystical visions to the modern era of big business. Wild birds and animals have from the beginning of time or maybe before our time been embedded in mythology and folklore stories to explain events that happened or may happen. Wild birds have been responsible for predicting the future and for trickery. Maybe it’s not their aura but their beautiful feathers that attracts us. Another reason for man’s attraction to wild birds might be strictly for a food source, just fulfilling the need to eat. Or could the attraction be just to have companionship not necessarily physically but mentally. To share a moment with a little feathered friend. Let’s delve a little into the mythological aspects and symbolic meanings of wild birds. In mythology and in many cultural beliefs wild birds seem to have played a transitional role between the supernatural world and humans.
The creation of the world stories tend to have wild birds as the primary character involved in creating the universe and the world. In the Egyptian mythology the land rose out of the waters of chaos and a bird was on the land. The wild bird portrayed was a heron which then went about creating the universe, god, goddesses and then man The heron became symbolic for free thinking and the souls of the world. It is considered a good omen. Other cultures have bird spirits that grabbed two eggs from the waters and created the sky and earth. The spirits shaped earth with water, mountains, rivers and lastly people. Several cultures have earth divers which are wild birds sent by a supreme being to transcend from the upper heavens to the primeval sea to bring up mud which then created earth. A Navajo myth depicts a great flood came and the people of the upper world had to flee leaving everything behind.
A turkey dove to the lower world retrieved seeds and saved the people because now they could grow crops for food. The turkey is symbolic for foretelling, pride fertility and abundance. Some European cultures believed deities laid eggs in the water which then hatched thus earth and the universe were formed. In mythology wild birds played roles as messengers to the gods and goddesses. Their ability to fly everywhere and bring back messages and information to the gods represented freedom and power the Norse god Odin had two ravens which relayed messages to him. In Greek mythology the raven was the messenger of Apollo who asked the raven to keep an eye on a mortal woman he loved. When the raven returned with news that the woman was cheating on Apollo the god’s ire was taken out on the raven. As Apollo was the sun god, fire and heat from his anger singed the raven turning his feathers black.
After that the bird was considered an omen of bad news or death. There are references of the gods and goddesses turning themselves into wild birds for trickery and deceitfulness. Sometimes it would be a message and other times to punish man or other gods. Zeus turned himself into a swan to have an affair with a mortal female. She gave birth to Helen of Troy. The symbolism of the swan is grace, fidelity and the rising of a new day. Other goddesses that were represented or changed themselves into wild birds were Athena, goddess of wisdom and Aphrodite, goddess of love. As time moved on wild birds became associated with religion. In Christianity Noah was to have released a dove for its freedom. The dove returned to the ark with an olive branch in its beak letting Noah know land was nearby. The dove represents tranquility. The Christian church recognized the dove as symbolic of the Holy Spirit and peace. The peacock has a symbolic role in many cultures.