In an ancient oak grove outside the Grecian city of Dodona, a black dove was known to flit around the trees, causing the branches to sound like a beautiful woman’s voice full of wisdom: this was the most revered oracle in all the land: “And they [the doves] lived in the hollow of an oak (phêgou). From them men of earth carry away all kinds of prophecy,–whosoever fares to that spot and questions the deathless god, and comes bringing gifts with good omens.”*
In another Greek tale called The Voyages of the Argo, the heroes in search of the Golden Fleece were guided safely through treacherous rocks by the grace of a dove. And even biblical legend tells us that Noah, after the flood, released a dove, and she brought him back an olive branch, revealing dry land. These prolific birds are universal beacons of light, safety, salvation and love.
It is ironic that “Dove” connotes Godliness and Cleanliness, where as their closest relatives, “Pigeons” are denigrated to the status of dirty vermin. Then again, both light and shadow are necessary for balance. Doves are revered as rare and sightings of them considered blessings of the divine. Pigeons are common and ubiquitous, and therefore taken for granted. Yet, they are often the only connection humans have to the natural world among skyscrapers and cement. Thus, pigeons are reminders that the sacred dwells even in the most profane of places.
The cooing of the dove and pigeon’s voice is associated with relaxation and healing. Their songs are lullabies that sing us to sleep and help us dream. They are communal creatures and thus a symbol of friendship.
The Dove is the first power animal of 2013 in the hope that this first month after the end of the Mayan Calendar will be one filled with peace, prosperity, friendship and love. Surround yourself with birds in the coming weeks, especially doves and pigeons, and watch your spirits soar, or at least perch on the ledge of wide-open windows, as you gaze out into the limitless new year.
* (Hesiod, Catalogues of Women Fragment 97; from Scholiast on Sophocles Trachinae 1167; trans. Evelyn-White)