Mircea Eliade - Those who know have wings
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Mircea Eliade – Shamanism Archaic techniques of ecstasy
All this makes us think of the ornithomorphic symbolism of the Siberian shamans’ costumes. The Dyak shaman, who escorts the souls of the deceased to the other world, also take the form of a bird. We have seen that the Vedic sacrificer, when he reaches the top of the ladder, spreads his arms as a bird does its wings and cries ‘We have come to the heaven’ and so forth. The same rite is found in Malekula; at the culminating point of the sacrifice the sacrificer spreads his arms to imitate the falcon and sings a chant in honour of the stars. According to many traditions, the power of flight extended to all men in the mythical age; all could reach heaven, whether on the wings of a fabulous bird or on the clouds.
There is no need to repeat all the details of flight symbolism recorded earlier in these pages (feathers, wings etc). We will add that a universal belief, amply documented in Europe, gives wizards and witches the ability to fly through the air. We have seen that the same magical powers are credited to yogins, fakirs and alchemists. We should make it clear, that here such powers take on a purely spiritual character; flight expresses only intelligence, understanding of secret things or metaphysical truths.
‘Among all things that fly the mind is the swiftest ‘ says the Rig veda
And the Pancavimsa Brahmana adds ‘Those who know have wings’