:: Originally published in November, 2008. ::
As the cold weather shyly makes its appearance around here, we’ve been happily cooped up inside enjoying the peacefulness of an ordinary daily experience. A welcome break after such an abundance of activity during the summer months! With baby number two on the way, I’m experiencing another wave of soulful reflection and thought I would share some mythology and symbolism of my totem animal: the peacock.
While some believe that having peacock feathers in the home is bad luck, I am of the opinion that the energy we put into our thoughts is what actually brings us our luck. The collection of feathers that we do have indoors was gifted to us at a music festival held at a peacock farm in Oregon by one of the caretakers. It was an offering to our then unborn son and the feathers were gathered as they naturally dropped from the tails of the birds. We would never dream of such a gift possessing negative energy!
- Peacock feathers are a symbol of renewal. The entire tail of feathers is renewed each year and they lose the previous batch over the season naturally.
Peacocks are revered around the globe and have been for centuries:
- It is believed that a peacock (sometimes a pair of peacocks) stands guard at the entrance to the Gates of Paradise. They are also a symbol of the immortality of Christ.
- In Buddhist iconography, peacocks are symbols of wisdom. They are compared to the great bodhisattvas for their ability to consume poisonous plants without being affected, just as a bodhisattva is capable of taking in the toxins of human emotion while still attaining Enlightenment.
- Native American cultures view the peacock as a symbol of dignity, wholeness, and beauty.
- In Greek mythology the peacock is associated with Hera, who placed the decapitated head of the hundred-eyed Argus on the tail of her favorite bird. It is seen to symbolize the heavens and the “eyes” of the stars.
- The peacock is associated with the Hindu deity that represents benevolence, patience, kindness, compassion, and luck. It is also the national bird of India.
- In Japan, the peacock is associated with an emblem of love, compassionate watchfulness, good will, nurturing, and kind-heartedness.
I’ve been doing a lot of handwork in my creating lately. My mind has been longing for these moments of reflection and meditation, and the work imparts lessons that cannot be gathered from a day consumed by busy activity. Patience, acceptance, openness, holiness, reverence–more symbols of the peacock.
Who am I? is the only question worth asking
and the only one never answered.
It is your destiny to play an infinity of roles,
but these roles are not yourself.
The spirit is nonlocal, but it leaves behind a fingerprint,
which we call the body.
A wizard does not believe himself to be a local event dreaming of a larger world.
A wizard is a world dreaming of local events.
From The Way of the Wizard, by Deepak Chopra
I realize that I’ve had it backwards. I’ve been dreaming of the larger world rather than bringing snippets of the world that I know into this tiny experience of life on this earth. The peacock is also seen as a representation of the soul itself in its infinity. This is the beauty that we all possess, the majesty and nobility that we cover and conceal as we dream of that larger world that is not at our fingertips: it is our fingertips.
Be well. Be still. Live today in peace.
All photos courtesy of Wikipedia.