Peacock feathers have captivated us humans for quite some time. Their stunning and unique beauty has done more than please our eyes but they have enriched our souls and ignited our minds. Many cultures hold the belief that such a dazzling feather, so easily discarded during their annual molt, must be a sort of gift from an enchanted beast.
The belief that the peacock is the earthly manifestation of the Phoenix, means that it’s most prize possession, it’s feathers, hold much power. The presence of shimmering mesmerizing color and the “eye” that adorns each feather is considered promote luck, enhance one’s protection, and boost awareness. Of course their uniqueness is also thought to symbolize beauty, love, and attraction. This is the reason peacock feathers are often recommended in Feng Shui as a cure for being single and help attract a desirable mate.
From the earliest recorded times, peacocks were parts of royal collections. The Phoenicians are believed to be the first to have imported peafowl to Egypt. It is not surprising that the beautiful plumage made it a desired object for kings and the aristocracy, and to own a peacock became a royal monopoly. To possess even a small feather could only been as the result of a theft and the penalty for being caught with a feather was death. Because of the peacock’s assumed incorruptibility, the bird became a symbol of immortality and resurrection. This, in turn, led to the custom of the feathers being used at funerals, meaning that the deceased person was not really dead, the spirit survived and eventual rebirth was assured. It was even thought that the presents of the feathers actually helped in the life hereafter. This custom had a side effect. The feathers now became closely linked with death and people, forgetting the original association with immortality and rebirth. People started to dread the presence in their home of peacock feathers as they spelled death; they were no longer an assurance of life ever after but an omen of doom.
Greek and Roman Mythology
In popular Greek and Roman mythology, peacock feathers were considered all seeing. This belief was perhaps enforced by the myth of Argus. Legend has it that the eyes of the peacock were those of Argus the hundred-eyed giant. He was a loyal servant of the Goddess Hera. She transferred the eyes of her servant to the tail of the peacock so that she would always have ‘an eye’ on Zeus, her unfaithful husband. When she realized Zeus had been with the maiden Io, Zeus cleverly turned Io into a cow to conceal her from Hera. When Hera saw through the disguise she requested the cow as a gift, and Zeus could not refuse her. Hera implored Argus to keep watch over Io, so she could not be changed back to human form and be with Zues. Zeus then sent Hermes to recover Io. Hermes knew that he could not escape detection from Argus’ 100 eyes so. He began to play sleepy lullabies on his flute and soon Argus’ eyes closed and he fell asleep. Hermes then cut off his head. When Hera found Argus, dead and headless, she removed his one hundred eyes and placed them on the tail of her favorite bird, the peacock. The peacock became sacred to both the Greek and Roman civilizations, which treasured it as the guardian of their temples, wifely virtue and conjugal rights. Only priests were allowed to handle the beautiful bird and any other ordinary person doing so could be put to death for such a sacrilegious crime. Possession of even one peacock feather defied sacred tradition and therefore, to have such a feather at home would create bad luck.
Peacock feather are prominent in Hindu mythology. The feather and the bird appear in many Hindu stories and myths. The bird itself is said to have angel feathers, a devil’s voice and the walk of thieves. Several gods and goddesses are depicted at riding the bird, but Krishna was said to have worn the feathers of the peacock in his hair. Today many gurus use peacock feathers to deliver the blessing called Shaktiput to their disciples.
And it doesn’t end there. Many more religions and cultures have placed special significance and power in the peacock feather. Muslims, Ancient Japanese Mythology, many ancient and modern Chinese traditions and even Christianity all recognized the symbolic stunning beauty of the peacock feather.
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