Birds are related to many deities and magical practices. Aphrodite and Ashera were related to the dove, Horus to the falcon, Kerridwen to the hawk, Athena to the owl, Nekhbet to the Vulture, and the list is endless. Birds used to be a representation for nothing less than human soul. Mystics and wizard have been told to understand bird’s language, as Merlin or St. Francis of Assisi.

We can find also mythological birds as the Phoenix a firebird that reproduces itself after living at least 500 years, as Ovid state:

The Assyrians call it the Phoenix. It does not live on fruit or flowers, but on frankincense and odoriferous gums. When it has lived five hundred years, it builds itself a nest in the branches of an oak, or on the top of a palm tree. In this it collects cinnamon, and spikenard, and myrrh, and of these materials builds a pile on which it deposits itself, and dying, breathes out its last breath amidst odors.

Ornithomancy is an ancient practice of divination using birds. The word augur comes from the Latin augurium meaning divinatory observation of birds. This practice continue to be very popular during mediaeval times, an example is described in the Zohar, a classical kabbalah text:

“He took a bird, struck the grass, and let it fly in the air. He performed acts and whispered incantations, and the bird would return with the grass in its mouth, chirping for him. He would then put her into a cage and burn incense for her, and she would inform him of some things. He would then perform witchcraft and that fowl, MEANING THE BIRD, chirped and flew and wandered in accordance with the one whose eyes were open, who gave her his message, and she would return. All his words came through that bird.”

Further explanation of the nature of that bird used in witchcraft is inspired on the Sephirots, a clear comparison of the anatomy of this bird and human soul:

“In the variety of witchcraft of ancient Kasdiel, we first found that this bird was produced at specific times from silver mixed with gold (…) The head, the first three sephiroths of the bird, is from gold, meaning the refuse of gold. Her mouth is from silver, meaning from silver refuse and her wings, Chesed and Gevurah, from light copper, that is Left, blended with silver, that is right, since each one is comprised of right and left. The body is of gold with round points of silver in her feathers. Her legs, Netzach, Hod AND Yesod, are from gold and they place in her mouth the tongue of that bird Yadua, since the tongue is Da’at. And since the Klipot have no Da’at, they have instead Yadua (eng. Known).”

The Zohar explain that gold is representing the right column of mercy and silver the left column of severity. The refuse of silver and gold is due to the lack of equilibrium given by the middle column, so there is no unification, so klipot manifest. But probably this description of magic with birds as an evil practice is due to the bad reputation it receives later.

Another less reported practice of divination with birds Alectryomancy is the art of observing cocks eating grain scattered in the floor that may be placed in the shape of a letter or randomly. The final shape will be read as a message. This practice was used when the sun or the moon was in Aries or Leo. This form of oracle is compare to modern Ouija board.

So this is just a bit of the hole power birds can inspire.


Vulture Gods

The Birds Gods of Ancient Egypt


Zohar, Vol 19 Balak

Divination with birds.