In ancient Greece when Zeus the father god was preparing for battle with the Titans, the eagle brought him thunderbolts, Zeus adopted the emblem of the eagle and because of its close associations with Jupiter, the eagle became a symbol of earthly power. In North American spirituality the eagle was considered the messenger of the Great Spirit, its feathers said to carry the prayers of the people to the Father Sun.
In Hopi myth it is believed the hummingbird was created from a sunflower stalk and the Creator goddess, Grandmother Spider, breathed life into it. The feathers of the hummingbird are used as charms by people who are travelling, they ensure a safe plane journey.
The North American Indians believed the jay was named after the ancient Greek Earth goddess Gaea and carried messages between the dimensions. The jay is a trickster and has the ability to mimic other creatures, it is secretive and can fly unseen. In Europe the jays are said to be the souls of the Celtic Druids.
The owl was the sacred creature of the Roman goddess of wisdom Minerva, Athene was often depicted with an owl, considered a symbol of wisdom. The Romans believed an owl feather placed near sleeping people would cause them to talk in their sleep and reveal their secrets. They also believed that a hooting owl was a harbinger of death, when perched on a roof or on a public building. The death of Julius Caesar was signaled by a hooting owl which landed on the roof. In Celtic myth the owl goddess is a bird of the Grandmother goddess, associated with the waning Moon and with winter and death, the Celtics believed her to be the oldest of creatures. The Celtic god of the underworld, Gwynn app Nydd, guarded the entrance on top of Glastonbury Tor in Somerset, ruled the souls of slain warriors.
Fairies often took the form of swans, Celtic goddesses also took the form of swans, swan goddesses and fairies had wonderful voices and healing powers, they could be told apart from other swans by gold and silver chains around their necks. Angus, son of the Irish Father god, the Dagda, lived in a palace and dreamed one night of a faery woman, he desired her so much that his mother searched all of Ireland for the object of her son’s desire. The maiden was found one year later on the Lake of the Dragon’s Mouth in the form of a swan, she was with 149 other swan maidens, each chained in pairs with silver and gold hung with bells. Her name was Caer, and every year she donned her fairy form. Angus was given permission by his father to marry Caer if he could identify her from among the other swans. Angus found the Dragon’s Mouth and immediately recognized Caer, when he called her Angus was transformed into a swan. The two swans flew away to his palace on the Boyne, they sang of their love, the beauty of their singing voices caused all those who heard them to sleep for three days. Because of the belief in fairy swan maidens a swan could not be killed in Ireland.
In Greek lore bees were considered to be the souls of dead priestesses and had the ability endow a person with prophetic powers. The father god Zeus was born in a cave of bees and was nourished by them. If an infant was touched by a bee after birth, he was destined to become a great philosopher or poet. The bee priestesses of the various bee goddesses were called Melissae (Latin for bees), three prophetic Melissae (bee priestesses), who practiced divination beneath the cliffs at Parnassus and drank honey mead to induce prophecy, were given to the messenger Hermes by Apollo.
In 4000 BCE, the Minoan Crowned Butterfly goddess was the symbol of fertility in ancient Crete. The mortal Psyche (in Greek means soul), married Eros god of love, but was permitted to meet him only in darkness, she transformed into a butterfly on her death. In Greek myth this was believed to be a common form for the human soul to take between incarnations. Hina, the butterfly goddess of Hawaii and the South Pacific Islands is associated with the Moon, Hina is the one who eats the Moon, explaining the Moon’s different phases. Hina is one of the creating goddesses of the world, her spirit is believed to be contained in every woman, as she was the first woman. Huna has now made her home in the Moon, she travelled there on a rainbow pathway.
Fabulous creatures, mythical animals and birds have been the stuff of legends for centuries. They have guided, protected, watched over and been idolised by humans, depending upon their cultural beliefs. Humans, gods and goddesses have worshipped and shape shifted into them. The ancient Egyptians believed that after death a human spirit could take the form of an animal or bird, allowing them to return to Earth for a short time.