Symbolism Of Wings On Animals
Winged animals, as in non-bird animals, have always been a perpetual source of wonder for man. The idea that a common mammal or reptile could sprout wings and take flight is awe inspiring, and has led to the invention of a great number of mythological creatures.
Though the symbolic meanings for wings doesn’t vary much from one animal to the next, the resounding complexity of each mythical beast tells a vastly different story of both the people who first conceptualized them, and the era in which they originated.
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Symbolic Winged Animals
One of the most noteworthy winged animals is the white winged horse called Pegasus, also known in Greek as pterippus. The horse has always had a compelling connection with strength and versatility, stability and powerful momentum.
In Greek mythology, when wings were added to regular horses, they began to embody new symbolism, in addition to the already impressive traits a horse possesses. The Pegasus symbolizes man’s desire to soar higher in life, to accomplish increasingly impressive feats, but still remain grounded and practical.
Truly, the Pegasus is a magical animal, and epitomizes the manifestation of magic in the material plane, and also represents the analogy for the term “have your feet on the ground, but your head in the clouds.” For man, this ideal is best understood by the concept of embracing the reality of his physical presence while balancing nature and all that is non-physical. With pristine mental concentration and steadfast earthly foundation, Pegasus has shown man that he can revolutionize his life in magical ways.
Few can deny that the Griffin, or winged lion, which is a combination of eagles and lions, are regal figures, each imparting a sense of grandeur and poise. Griffins are notorious defenders and protectors, guarding sacred places with ferocity and tenacity.
In alchemy, the lion is closely associated with the metal element gold, and has a sacred spirituality that radiates abundantly with beneficial worth. Alchemy practitioners have illustrated lions in ancient journals when there was a personal need for a specific spiritual journey to be fulfilled.
In contrast, eagles have always stood out for symbolizing the inception of journey in alchemical illustrations, and exemplify youth, commencement, and the uninhibited euphoria one experiences when embarking on a different path in life. Winged lions and Griffins offer the sense of integration of beginnings and endings, and of pursuit and success.
Dragons & Serpents
In life, there are few creatures that conjure as much immediate contempt and disgust as snakes and reptiles. They are closely associated with evil and sin, because of their close ties to religion. However, in mythology, winged serpents and dragons are considered impressive and majestic creatures.
It is theorized that the myths surrounding winged serpents originated in ancient Egypt, following the meticulous scrutiny of the hooded cobra. In alchemy, as in mythology, the concept of a winged serpent symbolizes duality and the supreme governance of entities who can give life or take it away.
Over time and after centuries of enduring legends, the winged snake developed into dragons. Also possessing magical abilities, dragons share many qualities and symbolic meanings with winged snakes, such as might and dominion, being rooted to earth while possessing infinite imagination, much like the Pegasus, and have evolved over the ages to command a great deal of respect.
A contradiction expressed in real life, winged serpents and dragons wriggle and crawl on the earth on their bellies, yet have the ability to take flight, shedding their earthly limitations in exchange for soaring the limitless skies.
Winged Angels Symbolism
This compilation of winged animals wouldn’t be complete without Angels, or winged human beings. A blessed and sacred intermediary, angels are ethereal couriers with the capability to transition, unhindered, from this realm into the heavens.
Always illustrated with features that resemble humans, angels or guardian spirits are one of the mythological creatures that man can most easily relate to. Man has an inherent belief that angels are benevolent saviors, that their intentions are benign, and that they wish only to protect. Angels are often anointed with divine and magical attributes, have been held responsible for moving constellations around the heavens, and are said to occupy spaces in between realms.
But what of the winged human that was less than benevolent, was altogether carnal in nature, and surrendered to the most depraved of human behavior? Out of this conundrum emerged the Gargoyle. Embodying all of the most deviant of man’s desires and actions, Gargoyles represent the stellar opposite of angels.
However, the symbolism surrounding their wings speaks of a hidden potential to vanquish these base characteristics, to tell the story of man’s capacity to rise above and master his potential. Gargoyles are a vivid reminder to man that the state in which he lives does not dictate his divinity.