The symbolic uses of the Eagle are both widespread and with diverse meanings. From the Egyptian antiquity to the Native Americans, the Eagle’s role in heraldry is unparalleled. This article explores the eagle symbolism in various religious contexts.
To, perhaps, help in understanding the profound role of the Eagle symbol, the attributes of the eagle are responsible for the wide renown of the eagle bird. A typical eagle is full of strength, shrewdness and courage to the extent the bird is considered as the highest flying bird. With the exceptional vision, the eagle is a master of exactness in terms of accuracy and timing. It is also thought to be a symbol of a messenger of gods in various mythological beliefs and or philosophies. Various contextual uses of the eagle symbol are also tied to the fact that the eagle’s talons and strong and powerful enough to get it wants and when it wants.
Additionally, some faiths posit that the eagle is a symbol of spiritual enlightenment, illumination, intuition, courage, ability to perceive things from a broader perspective, discernment and balance. These attributes have contributed to the widespread of eagle symbolism across various civilizations and in different ages.
The exact origins of the use of the Eagle as a symbol with various religious, military and social connotations cannot be exactly pin pointed. But for purposes of this article, it is important to note that the eagle sign appeared on world scene and across various cultures during the diverse phases of world history.
Consider the Greeks, for example. They are known for associating the eagle symbol with god Zeus for as long as Greek mythology has existed. The eagle was considered a sacred bearer of the god Zeus and could run errands for him. Greek lore holds that in fact Zeus himself assumed the form of an eagle when on various personal quests. An example is the journey to Mt. Olympus with his lover, Ganymede.
In ancient Egypt, the eagle sign appeared with its association with Horus as well as Jupiter. Other early Egyptian accounts associate the eagle symbol with the noon sun. In other appearances, the presence of an eagle sign indicated that an armiger, for example, was not only judicious, but also courageous.
Biblical eagle symbolism
The Eagle imagery appearance in Christendom, for example, is amplified by the biblical renderings of an eagle’s strength. Scripturally, the eagle amplifies the need for believer to rise above the crowd, beyond the obvious and the physical in top higher realms of rarefied spiritual faith and incisive intuition.
Eagle symbolism under Gaelic Lore
Further, in some spiritual application, the eagle feathers were used by Shamans in their arts and were believed to bring healing. In Gaelic lore, for example, the eagle symbol was used to represent the sun. The symbol was said to bear enormous influence on the Gaelic people and came to be called the eye of the sun, ‘Suil-na-Greine’.
The use of the eagle in the Roman Empire cannot be sufficiently emphasized. The symbol was used to fortify the belief that Emperor’s legions were powerful. With the urge to almost invoke some feeling of invincibility, the eagle sign was carried before the Emperor’s legions in any procession. The sign was a sign of official power. Further, the Romans believed that the eagle was a carrier of the wrathful thunderbolts of Jupiter.
Various Native American cultures render the use of the eagle symbolism as being essential to the grace needed to surmount initiation tests and reaching an optimal level of self power. The Native Americans used the eagle medicine with the belief that the eagle was the Great Spirit. Much of the Native American’s beliefs are also pegged on the use of the eagle in Sun worship with the idea that high flights of the eagle endear the bird to God.
Various and almost inexhaustible accounts exists to point out the importance of the eagle symbol. Both ancient and modern applications of the symbol speak of the high value placed on the eagle as a bird. Ostensibly, the bird possesses innumerable attributes that have pushed mankind to the verge of associating the bird with the celestial and deities.