International Vulture Awareness Day 2017 – Focus on Nekhbet & Mut

IVAD logo 2014

Did you know that today is International Vulture Awareness Day? Many of these beautiful birds are now threatened or facing extinction, and population numbers are declining the world over. The Egyptian Vulture, which was known in Ancient Egypt, is on the endangered list. The Griffon Vulture, also known in Ancient Egypt, is the only one on the list that is of ‘least concern’.

The first Saturday of September every year is International Vulture Awareness Day (IVAD). Started in 2006 by the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Birds of Prey Programme and the Hawk Conservancy Trust, plus a range of partners and associates, IVAD has become a global event supported by the IUCN SSC Vulture Specialist Group; in 2016, 164 organisations from 47 countries participated. IVAD aims to create awareness about vultures as a whole, garner support among the public about the plight of vultures globally and highlight the work done by conservationists to protect these birds and their habitats.

Vultures are a characteristic, distinctive and spectacular component of the biodiversity of the environments they inhabit. They also provide critically important ecosystem services by cleaning up carcasses and other organic waste in the environment; they are nature’s garbage collectors and this translates into significant economic benefits. Studies have shown that in areas where there are no vultures, carcasses take up to three or four times longer to decompose. This has huge implications for the spread of diseases in both wild and domestic animals, as well as elevating pathogenic risks to humans.

http://www.vultureday.org/action/

You can find more information on the International Vulture Awareness Day website
They have kids activities and also colouring pages of different vultures on their downloads page, and you can also download this cute ‘Vultures of the World’ PDF

vulture of the world

Two species of vulture were known in Ancient Egypt – the Griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus) and the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus). The Griffon vulture is the one most commonly depicted. On its own it represents the phonetic value of A, and was used to write the word mut, meaning ‘mother’. With the largest wingspan of any bird in Ancient Egypt the outspread wings of the vulture were seen as offering protection¹, and became a popular motif in Egytian art and jewellery. As vulture Goddesses Nekhbet and Mut became symbols of maternal love and protection. In the Late Period the vulture was: ‘…a symbol of the female principle and stood in juxtaposition to the beetle as the embodiment of the male principle.’²
The vulture headdress was seen as a ‘symbol and ideogram of motherhood’³ and also associated any Queen who wore it with Mut as consort of the state God, Amun, and also with Nekhbet as protectress of Upper Egypt¹.
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The Work of the RSPB, and How We Can Help Make a Difference

The Work of the RSPB, and How We Can Help Make a Difference

Today I’m going to write about something that has become very close to my  heart. I’ve been a member of the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds)for over a year now, and every time I receive one of the magazines it breaks my heart to see how many beautiful creatures are on the brink of extinction or population collapse.

I originally joined for Sigyn, because she has a deep love of her ‘birdies’, and I thought it would be a suitable way to honour her, and Loki. In fact, if you honour any Deity with an avian form or connection joining a wildlife trust, or making regular donations, is not only a devotional offering, but also ensuring their legacy lives on. This is something lasting, not something temporary, and can make a huge difference if enough people gather behind a cause.

Just today I have also decided to ‘adopt’ a Puffin by making regular monthly donations. Besides Penguins (of which the Rockhopper Penguin is now on the global endangered list), Puffins are a favourite of mine, and I would be devastated if they went extinct.

I’m not necessarily asking you to donate to the RSPB, but I’d like to highlight some of their appeals in the hope that it makes others think more about the beautiful creatures we share our planet with. In the majority of cases it is because of human intervention that these appeals have to exist. Please click on the bold underlined links if you wish to learn more.   Continue reading

Good Swan, Bad Swan

Good Swan, Bad Swan: Dancing Swan Lake: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p01s4wy9 via @bbciplayer

I’ve loved ballet since I was very young, and Swan Lake always captivated me. This documentary explores the mythology of the Swan Maiden, and the psychology behind the characters of Odette and Odile.
We are reminded of duality through this double role. Odette, the White Swan, is the unobtainable ideal of the Prince, innocence and light. Odile, the Black Swan, is desire, sensuality, manipulation and the dark.

Big Garden Birdwatch 2016

Every year the RSPB holds a Birdwatch event where you count the highest number of certain birds you see in an hour. It helps them gather data on the decline or (hopefully) rise of particular Bird species commonly seen in British gardens.
It’s good fun and free, so if you’re in the UK there’s still time to take part. Download the starter pack from the website, stock up the bird feeders and have fun! It’s this weekend, and only takes one hour. Great for children too.

This could also be turned into a devotional activity, especially to honour nature deities and those with bird forms.