Pelicans are large water birds that belong to the order of the ode-gods and are related to the booby and komoran. They prefer a life on and on the water and feed mainly on fish, crayfish and tail.
With the exception of the Antarctic, pelicans are present almost everywhere where they find coasts and salt and fresh water waters that remain ice-free – whether in the Balkans or Papua New Guinea.
Pelicans are found not only in Europe, Asia and North America, but also in parts of the Arctic, South America, Africa and Australia.
Like the phoenix, so also the pelican symbolizes a bird of rebirth, which comes to the resurrection through the self-sacrifice.
According to art history, the pelican is said to have picked its own breast to bring his three boys back to life with the dripping blood.
As a result, the pelican also became a symbol of Jesus Christ, who voluntarily sacrificed himself on the cross for others to live.
Pelican – Spirit Animal
It seems that the white bird of Egypt with this name, with its characteristic long beak, feeding its offspring through an opening in its neck, has given rise to the legend of the sacrifice of its own flesh for the life of the children until becoming “the emblem of charity ”(O. Wirth) or parental devotion to sacrifice.
More realistically, the bending of the beak towards the chest to feed the young with fish carried in the bag led to believe that even the animal tore its chest to give them food with its own blood.
The analogy of forms and sharpening of the beak and ax, the assonance with the Greek and Sanskrit words with the meaning of ax (pelekus and paraçu respectively), symbolic sign of blood sacrifice, could trace the origin of the legend back to times ancient.
The retrieval of his representations in very different eras, from the Mexican sculpture in volcanic stone of 600-1000 AD to the numerous European and not only medieval evidence, it demonstrates its symbolic relevance.
The pelican appears only once in the Old Testament (Psalms, 102.7) and is never mentioned in the Gospels. Too little perhaps to deserve the citation in the Dictionary of images and biblical symbols of the Pauline Editions, which does not contain any mention of it.
An engraving – fascinating in its essentiality – on a stone element of the cornice of the apse of the Church of S. Felicita, in the locality of Prelerna in the Municipality of Solignano (PR) reproduces the pelican clearly in the most classic attitude of the beak against the chest. Probably the stone was reused from the remains of an ancient convent of Gesuati and, therefore, can be dated back to around 1400.
Also contemporary works of sacred artisan work represent the pelican (Church of Valletti in the Municipality of Varese Ligure). A hermetic extension of the legend, through the symbolism of humid matter, which disappears with the solar heat to be reborn in winter, links the pelican to the sacrifice of Christ and his resurrection, but also to that of Lazarus, so much so that sometimes he mates image of the pelican with that of the phoenix.
This happens also for the modern writers. E. Minguzzi (Alchemy, the path of power) illustrates the myth of the Phoenix with the same Rosicrucian image of the pelican used twice in the same text by O. Wirth (Hermetic symbolism) to comment on the meaning of the pelican. But the many children can be mistaken for flames.
Moreover in the Sapientia veterum philosophorum sive doctrina eorundem de summa and universali eighteenth century medicine pelican and phoenix appear respectively in figure XXVII and XXVIII to represent exaltatio essentiae and essentia exaltata.
A similar contiguity and consequentiality can be seen between the pelican and the phoenix, respectively images n ° 46 and 47 in the tenth of the seventeen figures attributed to JC Barchusen (datable between 1615 and 1635) and in the “Basilicae Philosophicae” table of the “Alchemical Cosmology Rosicrucian on the vision of unity “, Museum Hermeticum, Frankfurt aM, 1677.
As the Physiologist says, from the open side of Christ blood and water flowed for eternal salvation. This analogy between the plague of the Crucifix and the pelican’s pierced chest were also taken up by Silesius.
There are also echoes outside of religious symbolism. In literature, the myth is taken up by Pulci while at the Palazzo Ducale in Venice the inlays of the capital from the penultimate column towards the Ponte della Paglia represent pelicans. Of all this, very little is left in what they today call collective consciousness.
The Alchemic Bestiary offers numerous references to the pelican, some mentioned above, both to indicate the tools of the Art and for the symbolism of the phases of the Work, both, again, for the elemental one.
Pelican – Totem
You cross the threshold from child to adult and become a teacher from the learner. It’s about a step into self-employment.
It is also a step into love, into selflessness and thus a step into awakening. Stubborn adherence to old dogmas is least conducive now.
This can apply both in the real and figurative sense, perhaps by saying goodbye to a long-held belief or prejudice.
I respect people as they are and accept their differences. I am ready to help without expecting anything in return.
The pelican worships the highest potential in the other, highlighting the dignity, the beauty and the divinity in the other. Legend has it that the pelican, in distress, would feed his cubs with his own flesh, thus accepting his own death just for the sake of survival. This legend makes the pelican a symbolic animal for the sacrificial death of Jesus.
Love wants to connect, wants to bridge separation, to merge and become one while still leaving the freedom and completeness of all parties untouched. Love gives itself away from pure joy and receives cosmic fullness.
Love includes passion and tingling eroticism, but it can also take many other forms, such as between parents and children or humans and animals.
Pelican totem symbolizes:
Pelican – Symbolism
The pelican is a large palmípedo (it has hand-shaped legs) that currently lives in the Black Sea area in Egypt and from Greece to India. Under the beak has the characteristic bag where you place the fish once it has caught it. When he returns to his nest he strongly supports the beak against his chest to get food supplies for his young.
The ancients observing this procedure imagined that the bird hurt itself to feed the hungry little pelicans, transforming it into a symbol of altruism brought to the complete sacrifice of itself.
Eusebius (+340) in the commentary to Psalm 101 (in verse 7 there is talk of a bird that could be a pelican), it presents the peculiar characteristic of this animal as follows: while the snake, he says, kills the young themselves, the pelican rises on the nest and hurts his chest to bleed, causing blood to fall on the dead little birds that come back to life in this way.
Saint Augustine (+430) develops more or less the same discourse on the subject of the text. This way of explaining the beatitude of the pelican could have transformed him from a universally recognized moral emblem, to a symbol of the resurrection.
The first meaning was too well known, the Christians set it aside for several centuries. It is only in the thirteenth century that it appears again on some stained glass window, symbolizing Christ who sheds his own blood for the salvation of the world.
Because of the interpretation of the Fathers of the Church, it is immediately associated with the phoenix, which led them to confuse them, arguing that it also had the power to resurface from the ashes themselves.
Especially at the end of the 17th century and at the beginning of the 19th century, the pelican is retaken as a sign of the dedication of the parents towards the children and is taken as a symbol of the death of Christ.
From this time we conserve a large number of paintings, sculptures and stained glass inspired by the old history, striving to give a Christian interpretation.
Pelican – Meaning
In many places, the pelican, as a heraldic animal, entered into heraldry and became a popular symbol and metaphor for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in Christian art. To commemorate the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the pelican is still found today on many sacral objects (such as the goblet of hosts and consecrated altars).
With great certainty, the idea of self-sacrifice, and thus picking your own breast, goes back to the natural behavior of the pelican after the breeding season, when the Pelican gathers a lot of food for his cubs and then takes them deep out of his throat bag to feed them.
This may also lead to the belief that the pelican would pick its own breast to nourish its young. In addition, the throat of the Dalmatian pelican gets a red color during the breeding season.
From this probably also the conclusion came in ancient times that the pelican pecks for his boys bloody or at least seems to have a bloody wound on the chest.
Although the idea of self-sacrifice and helpfulness does not correspond to the exact picture in the history of art, it does not lose its truth. In a modern animated movie called “Nemo” this symbolism also comes into play.
Pelican AG was founded in 1832 and is still a well-known manufacturer of writing ink, ink killer, surface paints and other artists ‘and printers’ paints. The name is based on the myth of the pelican’s bleeding breast, the blood symbolizing the ink.