Animal Wisdom: Connecting People and Animals

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Griffin: Majesty and Nobility

The Griffin (Gryphon) has had a long association with humans. For example, She is a part of people’s last names and featured in their coats of arms. Since the time of Sumner, the Griffin has stood for majesty and nobility.

 Various myths depict the Griffin as the combination of the lion and the eagle. Since both of these earthy animals are monarchs of their own domains, the Griffin is considered the Ruler of Heaven and Earth. This mythic animal, with her offspring Hippogriff, are the only members of the Tribes of the Cosmos. While the Griffin protects the Tree of Life with its Golden Apples, the Hippogriff carries the worthy traveler between the worlds. Because of this, the Griffin is also the Sentinel of the Throne of Heaven and Earth.

Archeologists have uncovered representations of the Griffin from Egypt, Persia, and the Middle East. She attended the Pharaoh and guarded the Persian Emperors. From ancient times, the Griffin represented earthy and heavenly power, for She guarded the royal graves. For the Greeks, the Griffin was called “The Hound of Zeus.”

According to the ancient Greek historian, Herodotus, Griffins were native to Scythia (central Eurasia). Living in the northernmost part of the known world, these mythic animals guarded their gold from humans. Later, other writers said that Griffins lived high in the mountains of India. In their aeries, these mythic animals guarded emeralds and other treasures from those who would steal from them. Flavius Philostratus said that in India, Griffins were sacred to the sun.

The dual nature of the Griffin led Medieval Christians to associate Her with Christ. The eagle reflected the divinity of Christ, while the lion, His humanity. St. Isidore noted, “Christ is Lion because He reigns and has strength; Eagle, because after the Resurrection, He rises into Heaven.” Because of this, the Griffin is often featured in cathedral windows and carvings

 The legends say that the Griffin also guards the Holy Grail of Christ. (The Grail is carved from a single emerald.) Many Knights of the Round Table have searched for the holy artifact, but usually gave up after a futile search. Only the pure of heart was allowed to find the Grail. The Griffin killed everyone else who persisted, as She did all those who would steal from Her.

 As the Monarch of the Heavens and the Earth, the Griffin teaches nobility and majesty. This fierce and intelligent animal, subject of many legends, watches intently over her domains. Protecting the Tree of Life, She ensures that only the pure of heart can receive its blessings. With her power comes her responsibility to use it wisely. Remember that this is a part of nobility. Follow Her example in what you do as you lead others.

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Virginia Carper, a Roman Polytheist, lives in the Washington D.C. area with her family. She navigates life with a traumatic brain injury which gives her a different view on life. An avid naturalist since childhood, she has a blog called “Nature’s Observations.” Having experienced the animals directly, she teaches on-line classes about the spiritual and natural aspect of animals. She has published articles on her brain injury, Roman polytheism, and working with extinct animals. In addition her writings on animals (including dragons and other mythic creatures) can be purchased her book site, Animal Teachers.  


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