Heron: the Meaning of our Cover Image for our May Issue of Cygnus Review 2013

Posted by Claire Nahmad
24 April, 2013

We found our cover image this month so striking that we felt it must have some oracular meaning for us all, so we asked Claire Nahmad to elucidate:

The heron signifies time, longevity, focused patience, untiring concentration and secret knowledge. It also symbolizes fertility, therapeutic forgetting, children and regeneration. Heron plumes are a symbol of silence. It is a bird sacred to Morning because, standing in the water or the shallows of the sea, it is the first to greet the dawn.

The bird of writing and secret knowledge

Legend tells of a lonely heron dwelling on an isle off the coast of County Mayo in Ireland who has lived there since the beginning of the world, and who will remain until the end of time. In ancient Egypt it was the bird of writing and writers, and in the Druidic tradition, as keeper of secret knowledge it was associated with the Ogham script, a language of runes founded on a tree-alphabet. It is noteworthy that in our culture, the tree (paper) has provided us with our written and printed knowledge through books. The pages of a book are still called its ‘leaves’, and the tree is, of course, the home and procreative shelter of birds; the bird is almost the tree’s singing, darting spirit, its ariel daemon, as trees are said to have also their own hidden spirit which are creatures of the ether, yet bound to their roots.

The bird of the subconscious and Saturn

As birds of the water, the heron is a bird of the subconscious, of concealed depths, and so it reveals itself as a bird of the moon, said to wax and wane with the lunar light. It shares the darkness of Saturn, that wise old god of time who knows how to restrain and imprison until the time is right to grant release. The baby, confined in the darkness of the waters of the womb until it is ready to be born, is a perfect symbol of the wisdom of Saturn, and of the patience of the heron as it stands motionless in the water for hours on end, not absent or dreaming or lethargic, but focused, actively concentrating. When it spies the shadow of a swift-moving fin, it darts with the speed of an arrow at its prey, and emerges triumphant.

A season for all things

When the heron comes to you, think of these things. Do you need patience to bring a scheme to fruition? Perhaps your life seems flat and constricted, and the heron is bringing you a message to say that the fish will soon appear, or the child of your perseverance and sacrifice will soon make itself known to you. The heron brings many messages, and for writers or those who work with language, it comes as an ally, ever inspiring us to bring forth deeper language-magic from the fathomless, dark pool of the creative subconscious.

Its rasping cry brings us the message, ‘There is a time for all things, and a season for every purpose under the sun.’

The night heron

The night heron, active at dawn and dusk and throughout the watches of the night, brings us wise dreams. Its crouching posture when roosting merges its head into its body, showing us that, like the sacred disembodied heads that the Druids revered, it symbolises elevated consciousness. The ancient idea of baptism stems in part from the concept that the head must go under and rise again, because all entities, whatever their element, draw the fluidity of perception and vision which we call consciousness from the mysterious depths of the water. The forces of chaos are said to dwell in deep water, and from this rich life-stream, esotericists say, we draw to us those components we need to build our own inner cosmos, absorbing them into ourselves, through our own soul-attunement and differentiation, so that they transform into beautiful ordered symphonies of inspired design. Thus is the cosmos (meaning ‘beautiful order’) of consciousness and of the outer worlds ever formed and forged anew, self-created by God and by God’s creature, the human being. Dreaming is an important aspect of this method of selection and self-creation, and so we take care to listen to the dreams to which the night heron draws our attention. They are vital in our great task of self-creation. This ancient, dreaming bird that signifies the sage will help us to decipher their portents, revelations, emphases and deeper meaning.

The purple heron

Although it is smaller than the grey heron, the purple heron is recognised in folklore as the royal heron. It snake-like neck links it with the feathered serpent, the sign of esoteric knowledge and revelation. It comes as a portent of healing, and will guide us to a path leading to a renewal of health and wholeness.

From Angel Messages: The Oracle of the Birds, © 2010 by Claire Nahmad, published by Watkins Publishing.

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