The Pride of the Peacock is the Glory of God
The peafowl is a member of the order of Galliformes which includes pheasants and turkeys.
The Latin name Pavo derives from the Sanskrit epithet Pavana meaning Purity.
The most notable feature of the Peacock is the magnificent tail. The iridescent nature of the feathers is caused by light interference in the nano-structure of the barbules of the feather
The peacock is one of the most extreme examples of the idea of sexual selection. In this aspect of evolution a feature not necessarily of value in survival is selected for as an indication of overall fitness and general good health. The importance of this feature in mating rituals means it becomes more important and more overblown until it can become a liability and yet is still selected for. It is usually the male that displays these features indicating that the power of choice in sexual selection lies with the female.
Although often cited as a symbol of fidelity and said to grieve for a lost mate, the peacock is polygamous and given the choice will mate with 3 or 4 peahens.
Peafowl, unlike most Galliformes, do have the capacity for sustained flight but do require a 5 metre runway to get up speed. They generally spend their days on the ground, while at night they roost perched in the high branches of trees.
Peacocks reach maturity at 3 years when their feathers reach full length and colour. They grow new plumage each year moulting in late summer.
The courtship ritual involves a display of the peacocks tail and loud cries. The peacocks is a loud meow and the peahens more of a bark-like cry.
The peahen lays a clutch of 3 -7 eggs in a depression on the ground though usually well concealed in undergrowth. The peachicks hatch after 28 – 30 days. They stay close to their mother long after they can forage for themselves.
The peafowl diet consists of vegetation including seeds, fruit and insects, particularly arthropods, and small animals and reptiles, particularly snakes, even poisonous ones, which they exhaust by encouraging them to strike out in much the same way that the secretary bird does.
Peafowl are generally kept for their ornamental value but they also make very good watchdogs.
Peafowl originated in India or Southeast Asia. By 2,000 BC they were imported to Mesopotamia and were widespread in Europe by Classical times.
So stunning is the appearance of the peacock that it is not surprising that it has become an important symbol in many cultures.
The modern, western view of the Peacock as a symbol of Pride, Arrogance and Vanity is a recent one and not found in earlier times or in other cultures and certainly not in the East.
Junos bird was the Peacock, its iridescent colours associated with the rainbow and with her messenger Iris.
In legend the jealous Juno had set the watchful Argus to guard Io and prevent Jupiter, who was passionately in love with her, from consummating that love. The hundred-eyed Argus never slept closing only two of his eyes at anyone time. However, Mercury, on Jupiters orders, was able by the beauty of the music he played on the Syrinx, the pipes invented by Pan, to lull Argus into a sleep where all his eyes were closed and then to cut off his head. The mourning Juno took the hundred eyes and placed them on the tail of her Peacock. In his memory she also cursed anyone who killed a peacock and took his feathers.
The unlucky aspect of the Peacock is restricted to Southern Europe and is probably linked to the widespread superstitions around the Evil Eye which are so powerful in Mediterranean countries. In almost all other parts of the world the peacock feather is seen as auspicious and especially as protective.
The modern European idea that the meat of the Peacock is poisonous is also in complete contrast to the more usual legend that the flesh of the Peacock is incorruptible and never decays. This legend is widespread in the East and was clearly prevalent in earlier times in Europe as it is found in the fifth centuryCity of Godby St Augustine; God, the creator of all things, endowed the flesh of the dead peacock with the power of never decaying.
The domed shape of the Peacocks tail and the way that it is scattered with eyes, corresponds to the starry heavens and so it has become associated with immortality. This, the legend of its incorruptibility and the all-seeing nature of its hundred eyes also made it a symbol of the Christian Church. In Christian symbology it also represented the immortality and incorruptibility of the Soul. And the resemblance of the tail to the nimbus or halo made it a symbol of the saints.
In Babylon the Peacock was a sign of royalty and the kingdom of the Shah of Persia was known as the Peacock Throne. In Persian iconography the Peacock is usually depicted in pairs on either side of the tree of life and represents the duality of human nature.
In Sufi legend the original spirit was created in the form of a peacock. When it saw itself in the mirror of life it was so overcome by its own beauty that beads of sweat fell from it and from these all other living creatures were formed.
In other legends when the peacock sees its own legs, which are so ugly in comparison to it beauty, it is so horrified that it screams, weeps, or even pecks at them.
In China the peacock was a mark of the third highest level of the bureaucracy.
In Hindu mythology the Peacock is the vehicle of Sarasvati, the consort of Bramha and the Goddess of Wisdom and Learning. It is also the vehicle of Skanda, son of Shiva and Pavarti and brother of Ganesh. Though principally a god of war he is, particularly as Kumar, notable for his youth and beauty. The Peacock is said to have been given his beautiful colour by Indra in gratitude for sheltering him behind his then plain tail during one of Indras battles with the demon king Ravana.
As one of the aspects of Red Tara the Nepali/Tibetan Goddess of Compassion, Janguli protects against snakebites and poison and is shown mounted on a peacock.
When Kama (desire) rides a peacock he is the symbol of impatient desire. The Kama Sutra states that wearing a peacock bone covered in gold and tied to the right wrist makes a man appear attractive.
In Japan Kujaku Myoo, the peacock goddess, mother of the Buddhas, and the compassionate, non-wrathful manifestation of the protectors, is depicted seated on a peacock and is notable for her role as a protectress against calamities and particularly against poisons, snakebites and drought.
The fact that peacocks becomes extremely restless before rain has associated his dance with the coming of rain and so with fertility in many cultures.
Perhaps the most important symbolic aspect of the Peacock would seem to be its legendary ability to consume poison and be unaffected by it or even to turn poison into a nutrient. The Peacock is described as living on a diet of the Himalayan Wolfsbane (Aconitum ferox, the most deadly of the Aconites). It is also said to eat, and indeed prefer, poisonous snakes. In the Churning of the Oceans in which the Gods and Demons cooperated and the Immortal Soma was generated, the Poison of the World first came to the surface and threatened to kill everyone before the enterprise was hardly begun. Shiva as the ultimate destructor was the only one who could neutralise the poison by eating it, which he did. The poison caused the dark blue stain on his neck and the heat of it meant that he had to sit in the Himalayas where the great Ganges falls from the Milky Way to Earth dropping on his head and cooling the fire of the poison. In some versions of the legend it is the Peacock who consumes the poison and converts it into the iridescent colours of its plumage. In other legends when the peacock is fed poison in an attempt to kill or silence it, it only thrives and becomes healthier.
This ability to absorb poisons also applies to the air. Fans are often made with peacock feathers or contain a peacock feather so they will absorb bad air and bad spirits and only waft the fresh and healthy air. In the same way it is quite common for windows to be carved in the shape of a peacock with tail erect so that they can prevent evil spirits and bad air form entering the house.
In Buddhist thought, such as inThe Peacocks Neutralizing of Poisonsby Dharmarakshita, the ability of the Peacock to roam freely in the Forest of Poisons is seen as symbolic of the power of the enlightened soul to move through the world unharmed by the poisonous tree of the five afflictions: attachment, anger, delusion, envy and conceitedness.
To illustrate the differences taught in the various yanas [i.e., paths], Dudjom Rinpoche always used to recount the story of the poisonous plant. The plant is a symbol for emotional defilements or negativity.
A group of people discover that a poisonous plant is growing in their backyard. They begin to panic, as they recognize that this is very dangerous. So they try to cut down the plant. This is the approach of renunciation, which is taught in Hinayana as the method to eradicate the ego and the negative emotions.
Another group of people arrive, and, realizing that the plant is dangerous, but that simply cutting it will not be sufficient since its roots remain to sprout anew, they throw hot ash or boiling water over the roots to prevent the plant from ever growing again. This is the approach of the Mahayana, which applies the realization of emptiness as the antidote of ignorance, the root of ego and negativity.
The next group of people to appear on the scene are the doctors, and when they see this poison they are not alarmed; on the contrary, they are very pleased, since they have been looking for this particular poison. They know how to transform the poison into medicine rather than destroying it. This is the tantric approach of the Vajrayana, which does not abandon the negative emotions, but through the power of transformation uses their energy as a vehicle to bring realization.
Finally, a peacock lands, and dances with joy when it sees the poison. It immediately consumes the poisonous plant and turns it into beauty. It is a Tibetan belief that the peacock owes its beauty to the fact that it eats a particular species of poisonous plant. The very nature of the peacock is such that it can actually consume poison, and thrives on it; hence it does not have to transform the poison, but eats it directly. The peacock represents Dzogchen, the path of self-liberation, the fruition of all the nine yanas.
Sogyal Rinpoche, Dzogchen and Padmasambhava, 1990, Rigpa Fellowship
The only poison that the Peacock is unable to safely neutralize is that of gold and it is said that the Peacock abhors and avoids this metal.
In Western alchemy the many colours of the Cauda Pavonis, the Peacocks Tail, represent the stage of the work in which the poisons released in the previous stage the black corruption of the Nigredo are absorbed and transformed leaving the pure whiteness of the Albedo which then becomes the material for the final stages of the work.
The Buddha told of a time when Brahmadutta was King of Benares. He was rich and lived in a beautiful palace with many fabulous possessions. He also had a most lovely and elegant Queen whose beauty was beyond comparison and who was named Peerless. She was very dear to the King and he could not deny her anything she wished for.
One night a wonderful cry was heard in the city of Benares and the next morning the Queen asked about the stirring and sweet cry she had heard. He replied that on the southern slopes of the sacred Mount Kailash lived the King of the Peacocks where he ruled over a flock of five hundred followers. Though I have never seen him I have heard that he is the grandest and most splendid of all peacocks and that his body gleams and his beak is like a jewel. It must have been his cry that was heard in the city.
The Queen then asked that the King bring the King of the Peacocks to her. The King at first said what good would that do. But the Queen replied that she would surely die if she did not see him.
The King loved his wife dearly and could not deny her wish. So he sent for his best hunters and fowlers and told them to go to the southern slopes of Mount Kailash and to bring back the King of the Peacocks. He warned them that they should not return without him lest they be put to death.
The hunters and fowlers travelled to the sacred mountain and on its slopes set up their traps and nets with all their skill. They waited many weeks but to no effect. They ran out of provisions but not daring to return they waited cold and hungry. The King of the Peacocks took pity on them and appeared to them to ask why they lingered and did not return home when they were cold and hungry. They replied that they had been sent by the King of Benares to capture him and if they returned without him they would be put to death.
The King of the Peacocks told them that he could not be taken by traps and nets. But that if the King wanted to see him he should have the City of Benares swept and cleaned and sprinkled with scented water. The streets should be decorated with bright banners and fresh flowers and incense should be burnt. Then the King should come to Mount Kailash in his finest chariot and at the head of his army. Then I will return with him to Benares of my own free will.
The hunters and fowlers returned to Benares and told him what the King of the Peacocks had said. The King then had the the City of Benares swept and cleaned and sprinkled with scented water. The streets were decorated with bright banners and fresh flowers and incense was burnt. The King rode in his finest chariot at the head of his army to the southern slopes of Mount Kailash. There he was met by the King of the Peacocks in a chariot decked with seven types of precious stone. The King of the Peacocks uttered a cry that the whole army heard with wonder and the King of Benares prostrated himself and made offerings to the King of the Peacocks.
The King of Benares and the King of the Peacocks returned to Benares and at the gate the King of the Peacocks gave a cry that the whole city heard with wonder and all the people of the city prostrated themselves and made offerings to the King of the Peacocks. Then the King of the Peacocks was presented to the beautiful Queen.
Everyday the King of Benares made offerings of fruit and flowers to the King of the Peacocks but one day he was called away and he asked the Queen to make these daily offerings to the King of the Peacocks, which she did.
Now time passed and the Queen was unfaithful to the King and became pregnant by her lover. She realised that the King of the Peacocks knew what she had done and she decided she must silence him lest he told the King. So she began to add fatal poisons to his food and drink. But the more poison she gave him and the more fatal was that poison the King of the Peacocks became healthier and his plumage glossier and more resplendent.
The the King of the Peacocks said: Shame on you. Because you are carrying another mans child and I know of it you think that you can poison me so the King will not find out. But you shall never kill me with poison.
Then the Queen fainted and she lost a great deal of bright red blood. And after that she wasted away and finaly died.
Shariputra was the King of Benares and I Buddha was the King of the Peacocks.
The Proving was conducted in Kathmandu in January and February of 2005.
The provers were all members of the Homopathic Development and Research Centre.
During the proving the King of Nepal staged a military coup dismissing and arresting the government and politicians and imposing martial law and cutting all forms of communication.
The peacock feather used was purchased in one of the shops around the great Stupa at Bodhnath.
The remedy was triturated to 3c and then potentized by the Korsakov method to 12c.
The triturate was subsequently found to be corrupt and a new remedy was made from the original feather and is available from Helios Homopathic Pharmacy.
Times given are the actual time of day, not time from taking the remedy. XX.XX indicates no specific time was noted.
Days are numbered from 1, the day the remedy was taken. Day 0 indicates a symptom that was general and not tied to a particular date.
The provers each took one dose of the 12c and kept diaries of their experiences and met several times over a period of just over two weeks.
Provers 2, 3 and 11 were male and the rest female. Only prover 11 knew what the remedy was.
NSA new symptom never before experienced.
OSAn old symptom previously experienced, but not in the preceding year.
RSA recent symptom experienced within the last year.
ASAn altered symptom, one previously experienced but with at least one quality changed.
CSA cured symptom, a symptom that was removed during the proving.
An old symptom that is felt with significantly greater intensity than before.
The bird remedies are a recent phenomenon in homopathy. The first provings of Eagle took place barely a decade ago but since then some three dozen birds have been proved, some of them very extensively. The pictures that have emerged are remarkably similar in many respects. A significant proportion of the symptoms that are common to the bird remedies are also common to many of the new remedies and it has been postulated that they might be part of the AIDS Miasm (see Peter FraserThe AIDS Miasm).
There has emerged a composite picture of the Bird Remedy that includes: nervous energy, trembling or twitching and neuropathies; disturbances of appetite and water metabolism; sharp, stitching or tense and cramping pains; pattern rather than sequential thought; empathy, spirituality and sensitivity; detachment; perfectionism and a love of nature; a lack of understanding of time and space and perhaps most important a feeling of being trapped and a desire for freedom. (See Jonathon ShoreBirds,Peter FraserTransformation Between the Realms)
This composite picture is now much more than adequate to make the diagnosis of a bird remedy fairly straightforward but it also means that differentiation between them is never very obvious. Given the depth of some of the provings it is sometimes possible to find 153s (strange, rare and peculiar symptoms) or a particular combination of fairly idiosyncratic symptoms, but this is by no means always possible. It has therefore become necessary to find the particular theme or issue around which the more general bird themes are constellated. The main place that this emerges is around the idea of being trapped and desiring freedom. The thing that promises freedom will also be the thing that traps a person and some idea of these issues, particularly through the work of Shore et al, is making differentiation between the bird remedies much more possible.
For me it seems that the issue in Peacock may lie around the theme of roaming uncorrupted in the forest of poisons and of being trapped by the poison when we are unable to do this. This was certainly the theme that emerged for me in my dreams.