Sunday, 14 November 2021

Eagle-Snake struggle

Eagle-Snake struggle mosaic from the palace of the Emperor Justinian I  (527-565), Istambul...

Ever wondered why this is the symbol of Zeus/Jupiter? It is all to do with annual distribution of thunderstorms in Europe, and annual lifecycle of snakes, and snake eagles...

The short-toed snake eagle (Circaetus gallicus) is a medium-sized bird of prey, found throughout the Mediterranean basin, into Russia and the Middle East, and parts of Western Asia, and in the Indian Subcontinent.

This eagle, as its name says has short toes 🙂 And eats snakes...

And in Europe, it is a migratory bird, leaving for Africa in Sep/Oct and returning in Apr/May...So this eagle disappears with snakes (goes to the underworld 🙂) and reappears with snakes (returns from the underworld)...

The only time you can see this scene is during summer and autumn...Beginning from Apr-May...Beginning of summer...Which is interesting, because in Europe, Apr-May is also the beginning of the Thunderstorm season...

Snake is the symbol of sun's heat...The only true solar animal. Snakes are in our world when sun is in our world (day and hot part of the year) and in the underworld when sun is in the underworld (night and cold part of the year). Sun god with snakes from my article "Nude winged hero dominating snakes"...

For the same reason, the earliest depictions of dragons found in Mesopotamia had bodies of lions and heads of snakes...I talked about this in my post "Seven headed dragon"...

The Mesopotamian dragon had the body of a lion, because Leo (Jul/Aug) is the hottest and driest part of the year...The seat of Nergal, the god of death, personification of the sun's destructive heat...Who was depicted with lion body...I talked about this in my post "Winged super human hero"...

Snakes are solar symbols in Slavic folklore. I talked about this in my posts "Enemy of the sun" and "Chthonic animal"...

And fire breathing dragon is the personification of the sun's destructive heat that "steals water" and brings drought...I talked about this in my post "Dragon who stole rain"...

Pic: "Victory over Gorynych the Serpent". Gorynych was the name of a dragon from Russian mythology which means "the burning one", from gori (burns). As in burning summer sun...

So while snake is pretty universal symbol of the sun, and sun's heat, eagle is pretty universal symbol of rain...I talked about this in my post "Mysterious creature", "The judgement of the birdman", "Eagle dance", "Griffin killing lizard", "Summer and winter BMAC seals", "Pero"...

Hence Eagle (Thunder god) fighting Snake (Sun's heat)...

In Fertile Crescent, where these animal calendar markers developed, the climatic year is divided into hot, dry summer (Apr/May-Oct/Nov) and cool wet winter (Oct/Nov-Apr/May)...

Because the hot dry half of the year starts with mating of snakes (Apr/May) and because the cool wet half of the year starts with mating of vultures (Oct/Nov), the struggle between the eagle and snake in Mesopotamia is short, and eagle's victory is never in doubt...


But in Europe where the hottest part of the year is also the part of the year with most thunderstorms, the struggle between eagle (rain) and snake (sun) is long and hard...

This fight intensifies as the summer goes on, reaching crescendo at the end of Jul, the hottest and most thunderous part of the year in Europe...

But in the end eagle always wins...And at the beginning of Aug, Slavs celebrate the victory of their thunder god Perun (Eagle) over his enemy, the great serpent (Veles) who stole heavenly cows (clouds)...

Right at the time when the Northern hemisphere starts cooling, and when the Thunderstorm activity in Europe starts to diminish...

Eagle kills snake, the world is saved...Again...

Cool, right?

4 comments:

  1. Zarathustra has both a snake and an eagle as pets. Could you elaborate on the symbolism in Nietzsche?

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  2. Gary Jennings' "Aztec" proposed that the Mexican flag's eagle-and-snake was an import from the Spaniards, that the indigenous Mesoamericans' banner was an eagle holding a speech-balloon or something.
    Jennings was right about a lot of things, but not about all things.

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    Replies
    1. the atl-chinolli was interchangeable with a serpent.

      You can see a snake and a serpent in Dresden Codex and many other monoliths.

      It has nothing to do with europe or Greece, but it might have something in common with the ancient people that came to the americas from eurasia

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  3. Hi. My name is Melody Bear. I have a long-standing interest in Old Europe (my ancestral roots - I'm Australian). Your content here is a revelation. All I've found before about the Eagle vs Snake symbolism is a rehash of the Good vs Evil trope, which is a relatively modern idea that fails to answer my questions. The Storm vs Heat idea really grabs me - it is based on local climate and animals, which makes sense to me. Your blog is a treasure-trove I will dig into. Thank you.

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