Peacocks

I left Saturday morning for a two-week jaunt through Arizona and New Mexico.

I live on a short block, the second of two houses on a dead end street. A main (if you can call it such) street is just 100 feet from my yard. I pulled to the end of my street and turned onto the main street. Came to a halt.

One of the neighborhood peacocks had hopped off the curb and was taking a leisurely stroll across the street. He didn’t look my way, seemingly knowing I’d brake for him and let him go on across.

He didn’t look much like a peacock, though, because he had no tail feathers! I couldn’t imagine why. Actually, I could. I imagined someone stealing them, selling them. Someone who wanted a little holiday cash.

But on occasion, I think about signs and symbols. What could it mean to be cut off by a peacock? What do peacocks symbolize? I hit the internet.

In Hinduism the Peacock is associated with a diety called Lakshmi who represents patience, kindness, benevolence, compassion, and good luck. I like that.

I think of myself as fairly kind and benevolent and compassionate. I could use the good luck, especially setting off on a 1500 mile trip. As far as patience goes, I can use that, too.

In Christianity, the peacock represents resurrection. This is probably because peacocks molt. They actually loses those beautiful tail feathers each year, at the end of summer. And this probably explains why the bird I saw was tail-less. Or perhaps it was one of the females, a peahen. Females don’t carry the gorgeous feathers the males have.

If it was a molting male I saw, end of summer could be pretty relative. In Maine, that’s August, I suppose. But here in Arizona, end of summer can be October. Because this was an Arizona peacock, he may have lost his feathers only a few months ago and would just be starting to grow them back.

Even without the tail feathers, I knew it was one of the neighborhood peacocks. He looked a bit turkey-ish without his tail, but peacocks have a certain arrogance that makes them unmistakable.

His arrogance showed in the way he didn’t bother to glance my way. It showed in the way he not only didn’t quicken his walk but in fact seemed to slow his step, to take his time. It showed in his walk: he acted like he still had that four-foot train of feathers dragging behind him. The way he walked, as though dragging the tail, made me believe he was male.

Peacocks also represent protection, another thing that’s good to have along on this trip. Some see the bird as a symbol of enlightenment. I’ll take that, as well.

Because of the eyes in their tail feathers, peacocks are considered “all seeing” in some cultures. They represent the one who can see truth and justice. There’s a piece of me in this, too. Of course, if it was a female that I saw rather than a molting male, I guess this one doesn’t count.

Peacocks also represent peace. For Buddhists, it’s wisdom and purity.

Because of the way peacocks can spread their tails wide, they are associated with openness. And finally, because they can safely eat poisonous plants they are considered a symbol of immortality and, according to Buddhists, the ability to survive in the face of suffering.

Of course, there are a few negatives. Peacocks are considered vain and foolish. I suppose that’s true considering the way this bird strutted in front of a moving car.

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