Practicing Alchemy with Peacock

What do you want transformed in your life? Usually we want to see the bigger paycheck, better body, happier (or different) relationship. Or maybe your desires take more of an inward groove. Being more compassionate towards yourself and others, having a quieter mind, increasing confidence. Whatever drives you, bringing Peacock’s transforming energy into your life can help create that dreamed of shift.

Only with Peacock, the practice of alchemy begins with releasing in order to receive. Releasing old boundaries, habitual emotional reactions, stagnant self-esteem, toxic self-talk. It’s about catching negative tendencies and patterns as they arise. Breathing fresh energy into the musty, overstuffed corners, closets and cupboards of your mind.

Peacock’s medicine penetrates so deep into human consciousness that it could fill a multi-volume encylopedia. Googling “peacock symbolism” brought 1,740,000 results. (Nothing so stupendous for the female peahen, which showed a paltry 387,000 results, like why would we care. Except that minus peahens there would be no peacocks.)

The Eyes Have It

Over millennia, the peacock’s magnificent plumage has become associated not only with astonishing beauty but the spiritual mysticism of grace. The eye of the peacock feather “symbolizes the power of creation.”

Traditionally, Indian gurus and swamis hold a wand or large fan made of peacock feathers when they give darshan for their devotees. The Sanskrit root of darshan means “to see,” as seeing a holy person—or even the image of that person or a deity— is highly auspicious and bestows great merit upon the seeker (Wikipedia).

In India, where it’s the national bird and considered sacred, the peacock is associated with Lakshmi, goddess of good fortune and all forms of prosperity from material to spiritual. As devotees approach the master’s chair and bow, they are bopped lightly with the wand on their heads and/or shoulders. I have been bopped like that, on more than one occasion by my guru.

It’s an indescribable feeling not unlike a first kiss or a mind blowing orgasm. It’s being held in the still point where intimacy and infinity merge.

Understandably, the ancient Greeks considered the eyes of the peacock’s feathers to symbolize omniscience and celestial wisdom. As yogini and blogger Catherine Schweig has written, “the image of a peacock displaying its fan of feathers has been as cherished as a rising sun, a picture of the heavenly constellations in the sky, a hundred eyes and the wheel of immortality, just to name a few.”

Name Your Poison

Peacocks can even dine upon and digest the most venomous snakes with ease. That little feat of avian alchemy has still other meanings. As Schweig explains,

“In Tibetan Buddhism the peacock symbolizes one’s victory over poisonous tendencies, and the serpents it consumes represent one’s venomous obstacles and imperfections, or kleshas, which are equally capable of killing us. Successfully digested poison is then naturally transformed into beautiful splendor, as the peacock shows us in his lovely plumage.”

Peacock Pendant

Peacock Pendant

The five kleshas are greed, anger, hate, envy and desire. Klesha literally means poison in Sanskrit. Each one muddies the mind and acts like kryptonite on your spirit.  Here’s a mini-meditation you can practice for Peacock’s support in overcoming the kleshas. You can work with each klesha separately as a daily practice on weekdays and all five on weekends, depending upon your schedule. Or if a particular one stands out, spend a week or a month with it before going on to the others.

Begin by getting settled on the floor with legs comfortably crossed. Raise your seat with a folded blanket or a cushion to relax your hips and knees if needed. Or sit on a chair with your feet on the floor. Close your eyes and take several letting-go breaths. Feel your body and mind settle.

Ignorance of your true nature, the divine spark within was said by Gautama Buddha to be the root cause of the kleshas and the suffering they bring. Ask, what gentle steps will lead me from ignorance to knowing who I truly am? Be patient!

Now bring an image of Peacock into your mind. See Peacock stand before you with his magnificent plumage fully expanded, a symbol of the expansion of your spirit into the dimension of change and clarity. Or sense that Peacock is behind you. He’s got your back so that you can step forward fearlessly  into freedom.



Sources: Wikipedia, Featured photo: Peacock pendant courtesy Beth Jagoda, photo 2015 by Uma Valerie Carruthers.