“Listening” to the birds...

#1
We are all familiar with all the hypotheses about the origin of the term “Language of the Birds”. recently I found something interesting. It has to do with the possibility that Delphi priest used carrier pigeons to receive messages from distant lands, messages they would deliver as prophecies before the actual currier would come. So, when it was said that priests were able to “understand the speech of birds” they were more likely reading such messages from little pieces of paper tied to the pigeons feet. :lol: The suspicion of Delphi priests using carrier pigeons has been pointed out both by Edgar Chamberlain, and by Robert Temple, and although none of them refers to the term “Language of the Birds”, I immediately made that leap.

Though?

Best,

EE
What’s honeymoon salad? Lettuce alone
Don’t look now, mayonnaise is dressing!

Re: “Listening” to the birds...

#2
Hehe EE! I love the language of the Birds thoughts. That leap you made is perfectly logical- those cunning Priests!
It reminds me of the Oracle of Delphi and the site of the oracle.
The priestess of the oracle at Delphi was known as the Pythia. Apollo spoke through his oracle, who had to be an older woman of blameless life chosen from among the peasants of the area. The sibyl or prophetess took the name Pythia and sat on a tripod seat over an opening in the earth. When Apollo slew Python, its body fell into this fissure, according to legend, and fumes arose from its decomposing body. Intoxicated by the vapors, the sibyl would fall into trance, allowing Apollo to possess her spirit. In this state she prophesied. She spoke in riddles, which were interpreted by the priests of the temple, and people consulted her on everything from important matters of public policy to personal affairs.
Now the interesting thing is the Eternal flame that burned there and the position were the Pythia sat was a Methane outlet and the vapour would have had some Helium in it and the Oracle would have sounded like Donald Duck lol.

So back to the language of the Pigeons - I presume the priests would know the outcome of a battle or weather- that would make them very powerful (and safe). I find it very interesting that there are few actual factual predictions written about. Can we ever truthfully know the future? I have read the famous ones- like Nostradamus etc and they are couched in such vague terms. Joseph of the bible seemed to predict things well- but you have to wonder......was he just a spectacular manager of resources anyway?
~Lorredan~
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

Re: “Listening” to the birds...

#3
Hello Lorredan,

Thanks for your thoughts on this.

About his specific portion of your message:
Lorredan wrote:. Can we ever truthfully know the future? I have read the famous ones- like Nostradamus etc and they are couched in such vague terms. Joseph of the bible seemed to predict things well- but you have to wonder......was he just a spectacular manager of resources anyway?
~Lorredan~
I have very particular views on divination. Here is a portion of an essay I am working on, that somehow explains my views. It still needs lost of corrections, but I think it transmits my feelings:

On broad terms, by referring to the tarot as a poetic artifact I am talking about the divination as a process in which we toss a poetic object to a receiver, paying as much attention to the way she reacts to the object as we pay to the object itself. Ask a person to toss a feather on the ground and you will have two sources of information: the patterns the feather describes while falling, and the decisions the person made while following your instructions. The former can be seen as a metaphor for the future: did the feather fall on a straight line, a curved line, or a spiral line? Did it fall in between the person’s feet or it went far away from her? Did it plumed to the ground or wandered a little bit? Any movement becomes a metaphor for fate. Describe such things and you will be describing that person’s path. But the later will give you information about your guest’s personality traits, this is, a hint about how will she approach such future. Did she hesitate or was she kick and energetic? Did she let the feather go, or push it downwards? Did she laugh? Was she serious? Was she cooperative or hesitant? Was she tense or relaxed? Knowing what to look for turns the act of dropping a feather into a powerful oracle.

The feather is a tangible object. We literally handed it to the person. But in a tarot reading we use words to craft a different kind of poetic object that we label as ‘impressions’ or ‘predictions’. When we say to a person “I feel it is time to leave the nest” we are tossing them a poetic object. We give them an image, but in the act of receiving that image, the person turns it into a metaphor by assigning it a referent. The act of finding a referent for the image is similar to the act of tossing the feather. It is not the feather, nor our words, but the way the people reacts to them, what is important.

Those enamored of their own alleged psychic powers may prefer to think that they are the ones doing the magic, when in truth, all divination is an illusion that happens in the client’s mind. Those on the skeptic side will disregard the process as an illusion, overlooking the fact that illusion is what keeps our reality going. In truth, the process accounts for the extraordinary capacity the human mind has to detect meaning in everything, a capacity that, I suspect, is linked to our spiritual survival. We can transform any input in a means for inspiration, in a reason to keep going.



Best,

EE
What’s honeymoon salad? Lettuce alone
Don’t look now, mayonnaise is dressing!

Re: “Listening” to the birds...

#4
Interesting consideration, Enrique.

I'm perhaps a little conservative on this - in that it seems to me that the 'language of the birds' suggests mimicry rather than literal bird usage.

Still, it is possible that if some such usage of pigeons provided information (which would have appeared as the birds coming forth and speaking it to the priests), an appellation as 'language of the birds' could have developed that with time became to be transformed to 'homophonic cypher'.

I, however, remain rather doubtful... but will consider further interesting snippets that may arise as a consequence of this wonderful find and consideration!
Image
&
Image
association.tarotstudies.org

Re: “Listening” to the birds...

#5
Hello JMD, thanks for your reply.

I agree with you in that the language of the birds is more a language of shape than a pigeon-based message system :) . At the same time, I find peculiar how, asides being described as a certain way to activate language, one finds many references from people who speaks about the language of the birds as some sort of angelic language. But of course, the idea of the priests at Delphi getting a peek into the future via courier pigeons is in itself a theory. I just find it peculiar in regard of a possible origin for the term itself. In such case, the term “Language of the Birds” would be a metaphorical use of a literal gesture.

On a related note, this days I am wondering how something like Cockney slang connects with the language of the birds, in that this is also a form of wordplay that seem to be based on homophony: aristotle for bottle, dog and bone for telephone, etc...

Any thoughts will be appreciated.

Best,

EE
What’s honeymoon salad? Lettuce alone
Don’t look now, mayonnaise is dressing!

Re: “Listening” to the birds...

#6
EnriqueEnriquez wrote:
On a related note, this days I am wondering how something like Cockney slang connects with the language of the birds, in that this is also a form of wordplay that seem to be based on homophony: aristotle for bottle, dog and bone for telephone, etc...
Enrique, this is one of my favorite threads on AT, Secret Pidgin Language-Medieval Lingua Franca:
http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=75849

I think it's terribly interesting. I love the idea of a common language shared by sailors, traders, and fringe groups so that they could communicate over language barriers. I never realized that "Lingua Franca" was an actual language, I thought it just meant "common language", not a specific set of words and phrases.

Remnants still exist today. Gay culture still uses Polari words, and many of them have entered the common culture.

This is a great site with glossaries:
http://www.uwm.edu/~corre/franca/go.html
http://www.uwm.edu/~corre/franca/edition3/index.html
http://www.uwm.edu/~corre/franca/edition3/polari.3.html
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

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