Edited by Azizi Powell
In the United States and other Western cultures, crows and vultures are rarely considered positive symbols. However, in some African nations and elsewhere in the world vultures had and/or still have spiritual and/or positive connotations.
This is Part III of a three part series on spiritual and/or positive symbolism of vultures or crows in certain traditional African cultures.Part III provides some information about the spiritual significance of vultures in traditional Egyptian culture.
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2016/03/crow-totems-in-akan-culture-excerpt.html for Part I of this series. Part I provides some information about the crow totem in Akan culture (Ghana, Ivory Coast).
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2016/03/spiritual-symbolism-of-vultures-in.html Part II of this post. Part II provides some information about the spiritual significance of vultures in traditional Yoruba culture and traditional Edo culture (Nigeria).
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2016/03/positive-connotations-of-crows-vultures.html for a related post. I believe that it's likely that 18th century and 19th century representations of buzzards or crows in Jamaica and among Black Americans (in the United States) were greatly influenced by the West African positive/spiritual connotations of vultures & crows.
The content of this post is presented for folkloric and cultural purposes.
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Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.
These excerpts are presented in no particular order. I assigned numbers for referencing purposes only.
From http://indigointernational.org/sacred-symbolism-of-birds/ "Sacred Symbolism of Birds" Posted on September 13, 2012 by Aimee Rebekah Shea in Divine Feminine Wisdom
"Birds hold a sacred spiritual significance, like all animals. The sacred symbolism of birds is seen clearly through observation of the spiritual practices of early African tribes and in Egyptian civilization.* These ancient tribes studied the sacred symbolism of birds because they were thought to express the divine will and expression of God.
The sacred symbolism of birds is interwoven into the mythology and spirituality of early African tribes. Early Egyptian gods were zoomorphic; they had animal characteristics. The Egyptian god Horus was known as the Sky God. He is usually shown with hawk\’s head. The pronunciation of his name in the Egyptian hieroglyphs was Haru, meaning falcon, brother to the hawk. The Egyptian goddess Nekhbet was the protectress of the king and goddess of heaven. She is depicted as a woman with the head of a white vulture. Early African tribes worshiped these birdlike gods and honored their feathers as a means of sacred ritual.
Symbolism of Birds: The Meanings
In African Tribes, many birds embody the qualities of God\’s. These birds are seen as symbols or signs of a sacred presence in nature. I\’ve compiled a list that is by no means inclusive, as there are over 10,000 different bird species that have been identified today. The birds that follow are also not exclusive to Africa, but fly over every continent on earth :)...
Vulture: believed to be the original great earth mother and the ultimate symbol of fertility, The vulture is the bringer of truth and transmutes lower energies. Vultures are a sign of safety and purity, the elements necessary for life to begin."
*Since Egypt is located in the African continent, the phrase "early African tribes and in Egyptian civilization" is redundant.
From https://bipedsandbrutes.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/vultures-in-symbolism-myth-and-lore/ Vultures in Symbolism, Myth and Lore Posted by Carolyn Merino Mullin on September 3, 2011
"Ancient Egyptians viewed vultures, who are very protective and nurturing of their young, as wonderful mothers. In Egyptian mythology, Nekhbet, a local goddess of childbirth and feminine energies, is usually illustrated as an Egyptian white vulture. Also known as Mother of Mothers and the Great White Cow of Nekheb, she is considered the mother of the godly aspect of the pharaoh. In fact, the priestesses of the city of Nekhbet were called mothers, or muu, and sported robes made of vulture feathers."
Appearance: At least five different species of vulture lived in ancient Egypt. The particular species shown in the hieroglyph was the griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus).
Meaning: The vulture was typically associated with the goddess Nekhebet who was the patroness of the city of El-Kab in Upper Egypt. When El-Kab became important early in ancient Egyptian history, the vulture soon became a heraldic creature for all of Upper Egypt. As such, the vulture was often shown with the cobra (the herald of Lower Egypt) wearing the white crown of Upper Egypt. She also appeared in the nebty or "Two Ladies" name of the pharaoh.
The vulture was also a symbol of the goddess Mut, as well as Isis and Hathor. The bird also served as a symbol of the feminine, often in opposition to the scarab who signified the male principle."
Fromhttp://classroom.synonym.com/significance-vultures-egyptian-headdresses-5610.html The Significance of Vultures on Egyptian Headdresses by Shannon Leigh O'Neil
"The ancient Egyptians depicted deities wearing headdresses, which often can be used to identify gods and goddesses. The headdress appears to have signified qualities or powers belonging to that specific deity. Vultures are among the most common symbols featured in Egyptian headdresses. A number of vulture species lived in ancient Egypt, so the bird was a recognizable image. In Egyptian mythology, vultures were not just scavenging birds, but symbols of femininity and maternal protection. When the goddess Nekhebet of Upper Egypt became associated with the vulture headdress, the bird evolved into a heraldic symbol for all of Upper Egypt."
This concluded Part III of this series.
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