Language of the birds
In mythology, medieval literature and occultism, the language of the birds is postulated as a mystical, perfect divine language, green language, adamic language, enochian language, angelic language or a mythical or magical language used by birds to communicate with the initiated.
In Indo-European religion, the behavior of birds has long been used for the purposes of divination by augurs. According to a suggestion by Walter Burkert, these customs may have their roots in the Paleolithic when, during the Ice Age, early humans looked for carrion by observing scavenging birds.
There are also examples of contemporary bird-human communication and symbiosis. In North America, ravens have been known to lead wolves (and native hunters) to prey they otherwise would be unable to consume. In Africa, the Greater Honeyguide is known to guide humans to beehives in the hope that the hive will be incapacitated and opened for them.
Dating to the Renaissance, birdsong was the inspiration for some magical a priori languages, in particular musical languages. Whistled languages based on spoken natural languages are also sometimes referred to as the language of the birds.
In Norse mythology, the power to understand the language of the birds was a sign of great wisdom. The god Odin had two ravens, called Hugin and Munin, who flew around the world and told Odin what happened among mortal men.
The legendary king of Sweden Dag the Wise was so wise that he could understand what birds said. He had a tame house sparrow which flew around and brought back news to him. Once, a farmer in Reidgotaland killed Dag's sparrow, which brought on a terrible retribution from the Swedes.
The ability could also be acquired by tasting dragon blood. According to the Poetic Edda and the V?lsunga saga, Sigurd accidentally tasted dragon blood while roasting the heart of Fafnir. This gave him the ability to understand the language of birds, and his life was saved as the birds were discussing Regin's plans to kill Sigurd. Through the same ability ?slaug, Sigurd's daughter, found out the betrothment of her husband Ragnar Lodbrok, to another woman.
The 11th century Ramsund carving in Sweden depicts how Sigurd learnt the language of birds, in the Poetic Edda and the V?lsunga sagaThe 11th century Ramsund carving in Sweden depicts how Sigurd learnt the language of birds, in the Poetic Edda and the V?lsunga saga.
Sigurd is sitting naked in front of the fire preparing the dragon heart, from Fafnir, for his foster-father Regin, who is Fafnir's brother. The heart is not finished yet, and when Sigurd touches it, he burns himself and sticks his finger into his mouth. As he has tasted dragon blood, he starts to understand the birds' song.
The birds say that Regin will not keep his promise of reconciliation and will try to kill Sigurd, which causes Sigurd to cut off Regin's head.
Regin is dead beside his own head, his smithing tools with which he reforged Sigurd's sword Gram are scattered around him, and
Regin's horse is laden with the dragon's treasure.
is the previous event when Sigurd killed Fafnir, and
shows ?tr from the saga's beginning.
In an eddic poem loosely connected with the Sigurd tradition which is named Helgakvi?a Hj?rvar?ssonar, the reason why a man named Atli once had the ability is not explained. Atli's lord's son Helgi would marry what was presumably Sigurd's aunt, the Valkyrie Sv?fa.
To be continued ...
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