Through my research, I have come to focus on wings; not as a literal object, but as a symbol. Wings are not a symbol of flight, but of elevation; they allow the bearer to raise themselves to the heavens, away from the mortal realm. Angels, Gods, fairies etc. they are all deemed as mythical beings, ones blessed with this power of transcendence. they are able to escape the gravity of the earth, that which binds us here, to this ‘mortal coil’. In Plato’s ‘Phaedrus‘, he remarks on this fact, stating that wings give the power to ‘soar aloft and carry that which gravitates downard into the upper region, which is the habitation of the gods.’ he even goes on to say that they are ‘the corporeal element which is most akin to the divine’.
Isis, the Egyptian Goddess of Health, Marriage and Love, with her wings extended
(Image taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isis#mediaviewer/File:%C3%84gyptischer_Maler_um_1360_v._Chr._001.jpg)
This concept of wings being given to a higher power is commonly seen through religion; most notably within the Egyptian mythology, where the vast majority of gods are given wings as a symbol of their power over humanity. The sun God Horus is not only depicted as having the head of a falcon, but is also characterised by his wings. The most common symbol for this deity is a Disc with wings, representing the omnipotence that the god holds, as well as the power he holds over the sun, a most common feature in the main gods of other religions. It’s strange, we see birds around us every day, and although we yearn to have their ability to fly, we disregard them as lower than us, ‘bird-brained’ is a common insult for someone who is stupid; yet, they can achieve what the gods can and we cannot, that ability to travel to the higher plans of our existence on earth. It’s fascinating to think that we have also not developed the ability to fly as a solo venture yet, considering our intense scientific and technological growth over the past few centuries.
The Whirlwind: Ezekiel’s vision of the Cherubim and Eyed wheels (Illustration to the Old testament, Ezekiel 4-28, William Blake, 1803
(Image taken from; http://mfas3.s3.amazonaws.com/objects/SC685.jpg)
The image commonly associated with the highest order of heavenly beings is that of the angels, which take on a vastly different, and more terrifying, form in the book of Ezekiel within the New Testament. They are described as having four wings, which is then increased unto six wings when they exert their power during the prophecy written within the Book of Revelation. It’s fascinating to think of these beings holding this much power, two wings is all that is needed to fly, yet they hold enough power to manifest four, and then six, how many wings could they create? to comprehend that much power is to invite misery and terror into our minds. As humans, we tend to think that we are the greatest beings on this earth, but, we have created beings that are more powerful than us in our religions, and worship them as a role model. These multi-winged angels are monstrous, do we really intend to pursue this end? Granted, it will give us immortality, and allow us to excape this mortal plane, but at what cost?
Cherubim depicted within a medieval tapestry
(Image taken from; http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Pq0wcmqo3tc/VAzT1PdxFyI/AAAAAAAAWYk/ZuwtqFOOJdc/s1600/cherubim.gif)
These winged creatures are fascinating subjects, angels are often considered beautiful, fair beings, but the higher orders of Cherubim and Seraphim are monstrous, multi-winged, and in the case of the Seraphim, flaming, beings that characterise the power of God. His beings are brilliant in design, but resemble the monsters from hell in some way. Is this because Satan himself attempts to create his own kingdom of higher beings within hell, in order to rival God’s? Possibly, but this is a question for another day. This symbolism of wings, of flight, of transcndence…It burns within me, it’s been echoed in writings throughout time, and the desire to achieve this form has been shared by every human throughout time; no person has not looked up at the birds soaring so freely above our heads, and imagined themselves soaring beside them.