Thursday, March 7, 2013

Some inspirations for the upcoming "Language of the Birds"

After running late with February's image in the Magical Calendar project, it's been hard to catch up.  As I work to finish the image, I'd like to share some of the things that have been inspiring me.

A brief primer:

"The “language of birds” has many names; some call it the “Language of the Gods”, others the “Green language”. Michael Sells has referred to this “sacred language” as the “language of unsaying”, whereby the core of what needs to be said, is actually not said, though everyone understands what is being said.
The “language of birds” is therefore the mystical language, by default an unpopular subject amongst scholars, specifically because of the apparent lack of “clarity”: a clear and distinct sense. The sense is inferred."

"The origin of the “bird language” may go back to primitive societies. When shamans enter a trance, they attempt to speak the language of nature; they are said to speak “the language of birds”. Historians of religion have documented this phenomenon around the entire world and depictions of shamans with wings or as a bird are common. "

Essentially, there is this idea in all different mythologies, cultures and magical traditions that there is a magical / secret language of birds through which knowledge can be passed.  Sometimes the Language of the Birds is literally considered a coded language.  I looked at the representation of birds and bird-headed figures in relation to the passing of knowledge and the evolution of spirit.

There is a connection between serpent knowledge and language of the birds in Amazonian "shaman" culture, as evidenced in
The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge
Jeremy Narby

Edward Bruce Bynum

Bird gods / goddesses and symbolism are of course huge in ancient Egyptian (Kemetic) beliefs. 
Inline image 2

Thoth the scribe was an ibis.  A scribe = magician. 

Inline image 3
If most people are not literate and you need a written spell or talisman, you consult a scribe.  Thoth invented language, and Thoth invented Alchemy.  The Greeks decide that Thoth is their own Hermes, who becomes the godfather of Alchemy.

There are female aspects of this as well, namely Ma'at, goddess of order, who basically keeps the universe from falling apart.  She is represented as an ostrich feather.
Inline image 4

From an Egyptian tomb now in Vienna:

The Kemetic notions of Ba, Ka and Akh

Hugin and Munin (Thought and Memory) on Odin's shoulders.


Bird / Serpent connection:
Inline image 1

Compelling, powerful, terrifying women.  Women monsters.  This ties in, I suppose, with some of the things I've been dealing with in Earth Magic.
"In art, Sirens appeared first as birds with the heads of women, later as women, sometimes winged, with bird legs. Sirens were placed as guards on tombs of the sixth century BCE. Greek Sirens may have evolved from Egypt. In Egyptian religion, the ba is a portion of the soul which is generally represented as a bird with a human head."

These ladies are all over Vienna:

First published image of witches in flight.  "De Lamiis et Phitonicis Mulieribus."
Ulrich Molitor (1489)
Inline image 1

Bird's Head Haggadah -
Inline image 2

Max Ernst:  Robing of the Bride
Inline image 5