The beautiful universe that we live in is diverse in different fronts. From the bright stars that litter the sky to the great human race, everything is wonderfully unique. Yet in a way we all seem so connected and intertwined. Symbolism depicts this relationship between the diverse components of our universe. The peacock is one such creation that has a lot of symbolism and meaning to the human race because it depicts several human beliefs, life processes and fears. To some people, a peacock is just another bird with colorful feathers but to others it carries with it a lot of meaning. It is associated with some of the most noble human character traits and is deeply embedded in human myths, legends and history.
Ancient Christians considered the peacock as a symbol of eternal life because they believed that its flesh never decayed even after death. Eternal life is a key pillar of the Christian faith since it’s believed that those who are saved will live forever. This was very much evident in the early Christian paintings and mosaics where there were several depictions of the peacock. Just like the phoenix, the peacock was believed to possess the ability to also rise from death and was a symbol of immortality. It also symbolized the all seeing church because of the “eyes” of its tail feathers.
Humans believe in second chances or rebirth and the peacock brings this out so clearly by replacing its feathers on an annual basis. It symbolizes dropping the old and beginning afresh, approaching life from a new point of view.
In Greek and Roman mythology, the peacock is associated with the sky and stars goddess, Juno, who created it from Argus. The many “eyes” seen on the tail feathers of a peacock is a direct inheritance from Argus who had hundreds of eyes. They symbolize the eyes of stars and heaven’s vault. It was believed that the gates of paradise were guarded by a peacock.
In the Hindu culture, the peacock is identified with the deity Lakshmi and represents such good human traits like patience, benevolence, compassion and kindness. It also symbolizes good luck.
The peacock is also a symbol of human vanity. This is because of the proud manner in which it displays its colorful feathers and always seems to be self absorbed.
In Asian spiritual symbolism, the peacock is identified with Quan Yin and represents love, compassion, goodwill and kindheartedness. Folklore has it that Quan Yin chose to remain a mere mortal in the form of a peacock even though she had the option of immortality. It’s because she wanted to stay behind and help humans in their spiritual growth.
The peacock therefore symbolizes a lot of human traits and beliefs that are very common such as vanity, the belief in life after death and some of the traits that are considered good like kindness. It’s so different from humans and yet in a way through all the symbolism we are connected. From the stars, to heaven, to the life after death, we are all intertwined.