I got a question from a reader about the symbolism of winged horses. Of course, I knew some basic insights, and was familiar with common equine figures with wings like Pegasus. But, I could see how this conversation needed more attention, so I thought I’d share my insights with you.
Table of Contents
- Avia’s Thoughts About Winged Horses
- Key Elements of Symbolism of Winged Horses
- Winged Horse Meaning and Duality
- Breaking Down the Anatomy of Symbolism and Winged Horse Meaning
- More About Winged Horse Symbolism
- Symbolism of Winged Horses in Myth and Cultures Around the World
- More Thoughts About Symbolic Winged Horse Meaning
- Take-Away Points About Symbolism of Winged Horses: Messages from Mythical Creatures
Avia’s Thoughts About Winged Horses
I can’t talk about winged horse meaning or symbolism of winged horses without mentioning a childhood favorite, Luno. When I was a kid, I loved a cartoon called “Luno”. It was about a small boy named Tim and his magical, winged toy horse named Luno. Powered by the boy’s imagination, the toy horse came alive when Tim spoke these words: “Oh winged horse of marble white, take me on a magic flight.” Once animated, Luno and Tim would take off and wing their way into various adventures.
How cool is that? For a kid like me, with an imagination in constant hyper-drive, the idea of a magical winged horse that can fly me into endless escapades was uber-awesome. What was really neat about Luno is he was always on-guard, protecting Tim and defending the tyke from all harm. Here’s an episode of the cartoon so you know what I mean.
Key Elements of Symbolism of Winged Horses
Interestingly, on a basic level, the cartoon Luno embodies the core symbolism of winged horses. We see a theme of honor, protection and integrity in most if not all stories of winged horses. It’s also important to note these mythical creatures have two key factors that highlight their fundamental meaning.
On a symbolic level, these distinguishing features deal with the body of the horse and the wings. Separate, each anatomical feature deals with a specific meaning. The body of the horse represents realms that are: Grounding, Physical, Material. The wings represent areas that are: Flying, Mental, Spiritual
Winged Horse Meaning and Duality
Essentially, these two symbolic features of the winged horse are identical to the forces we see in the yin yang symbol. We are talking about duality here: Male/Female, Up/Down, etc.
So, when we encounter winged horses, whether discussing my childhood buddy Luno, or Pegasus, we are always talking about duplicity. Specifically, we are talking about duality between physical reality and spiritual reality.
Here’s a breakdown of what I mean. The wings on a horse are symbolic of the ephemerals of life-experience. The horse-body is symbolic of the physical aspects of life.
Breaking Down the Anatomy of Symbolism and Winged Horse Meaning
More About Winged Horse Symbolism
This gives us an idea of the dynamism of dualities we are dealing with here. In fact, I suspect the concept of winged horses first got cooked up to combine the best of both worlds.
What do I mean by that? Well, symbolically, horses are about: Power, stability, force, consciousness, and purpose-driven results. Consider, horses have worked with humans to win wars, build empires and plow fields. They are one of the most honored creatures because of their reliability and their ability to assist humans to improve life.
Now consider wings. They are the antithesis of the grounding, pounding, powerful energy we see in horses. Wings are symbolic of the softer side of ‘yin’ aspects, so we are talking about: Flow, adaptability, dreams, intuition, magic, mystery and pure potential.
What I find fascinating is both the horse-body and wings are symbolic of communication. If you think about it, horses have been essential in human communications. Think about Paul Revere, or the Pony Express when letters were first delivered on horseback. Any kind of correspondence that needed to be delivered was first revolutionized on the back of a horse. This is a very direct, physical delivery of communication.
When it comes to communication on the feathery side of the spectrum, we still get an exchange of information, but the vibe is completely different. Wings (in any form) are a symbol of divine communication. From birds to butterflies, wings (on a symbolic level) indicate the transmission of angelic or spiritual intent. So, we’re talking about messages on a soul-level. Wings indicate telegraphs from spirit, soul, mind and are sent from spirit guides, god/goddesses, angels, and/or ancestors or family members who have crossed into non-physical. This is a very indirect, elegant delivery of communication.
Symbolism of Winged Horses in Myth and Cultures Around the World
Now that we’ve talked a bit about the symbolism of winged horses, let’s take a look at various different horses in mythology and their meanings.
Pegasus (Greek): When we think of winged horses, most of us immediately think of Pegasus. In fact, the word pegasus is often used as a blanket term for ‘winged horse’. This is not the case. The overarching word for winged horse is actually pterippus which is a Greek mashup of the words hippo (horse) and pteros (wing or feather). As a mythological figure, Pegasus highlights this theme of duality I’ve been talking about.
How? Because Pegasus was born from some brutal circumstances, yet was a purebred in every sense. Scour the internet, and you will find many myths about the horse, Pegasus. I will leave you to pick your favorite version of the myths. What most interests me is Pegasus’ parents. His father was Poseidon, an Olympic god with a notorious temper, and a super-huge ego. He was vengeful and outrageously moody. His mother? A gorgon you might be familiar with – Medusa. Yes, the one who has venomous snakes for hair, and can turn mortals into stone. Talk about a temper, Medusa had one for sure! If you think you had dysfunctional parents, you ain’t got nothing until you look at Pegasus’ ma and pa.
In spite of his folks, Pegasus was a brilliant, pillaring beast of perfection. His motive was for good and virtue. His heart was as pure as freshly fallen rain. Pegasus’ goal was to see to it that righteousness, justice and honor was maintained at all costs. Here is where this duality creeps back into the symbolism of winged horses. No matter that Pegasus was born from a broken home with broken parents – Pegasus was able to choose the higher path. In a sense, he was able to redeem the stains of his lineage through his acts of courage and right-minded focus.
His feats of accomplishment include assisting Bellerophon slay the fearsome chimera (who was known to terrorize, torture and eat mortal humans). Pegasus was also favored by Zeus and became one of his most cherished companions. Ultimately, Pegasus became immortalized with a constellation in the heavens – one of the highest honors granted in Greek mythology. All this leaves the impression that even faced with the dichotomy between good and evil – there is always a choice. The duality here is that Pegasus was balanced in body, and also elevated by wings. It also speaks to his parents being abysmal, but Pegasus still endeavored to take the higher, lighter more virtuous path in his actions.
Winged Horse Al Buraq (Arabia): This is a lesser-known winged horse associated with Mohammed, the religious founder of Islam. Al Buraq (or Burak, or Borak) was a sight to behold…Scintillating white, silky pearl wings, everything about this magnificent winged horse was breathtaking. This was a creature of purity and extraordinary power.
What’s interesting is, this power was held in check. Where ego abounds, Al Buraq restrained his impressive stature and followed the path of virtue rather than domination.
Al Buraq offered many benefits to humanity. He was said to create water anywhere he deemed necessary. When people were thirsty, Buraq created an oasis in the desert by stomping his foot in the sand. This created life, survival and abundance for the people in some harsh Arabian environments. Al Buraq was also said to carry Mohammed to his final heavenly resting place. Interestingly, there is a sculpture of Buraq featuring him with female features, and delicate peacock feathers. This points to (yet another) set of duplicities here. Again, we see the balance of male/female, power/passivity and force/flexibility.
Haizum (Islam): This winged horse comes from Biblical texts. He was also a stately figure of a horse with magnificent wings that were so expansive they were said to block the light of the sun. Haizum was the horse gifted from God to the archangel Gabriel.
Biblically, Gabriel is considered the ‘strength of God‘…kinda like God’s ‘right-hand-man.’ Gabriel’s power and influence combined with the astonishing presence of Haizum, his mystical winged horse, made Gabriel an unstoppable force for God.
The stories tell tales of Haizum stomping out sin, idolatry and debauchery all over the place among the ‘impure’ of humanity. Haizum was even noted to kick sand in the face of idols and idol worshippers. Here again, with Haizum, we see a sense of purification, higher ideals, and a desire to cleanse what has been soiled.
Jabucilo (Serbia): I don’t know a whole lot about Jabucilo, and I hesitated to include him in this article about symbolism of winged horses. Nevertheless, I have a friend from Serbia who shared some information that is worthy of including in this post. Jabucilo was an epic creature with gorgeous wings, and gleaming swords for eyes. Jabucilo was the winged steed of a fearless leader named Momcilo. As a team, Jabucilo and Momcilo made great strides towards maintaining peace and harmony in their ancient lands and communities. Regrettably, a tyrant king, Vukasin fell in lust with Momcilo’s wife and killed Momcilo in order to have his way with his bride.
Devastated, his winged companion Jabucilo threw himself into the endless depths of “Devil’s Lake” just adjacent to Durmitor mountain…a haunting place of great myth and magic. Forever Jabucilo lives there, and is said to be heard wailing in sorrow for his lost master, Momcilo. What’s the moral here? Again, it is about loyalty, and striving to walk the high road. Jabucilo was so focused upon right action, and right deed, he simply could not bear the injustice that befell his master, Momcilo. It is the drive for what is righteous and true that is a common theme with Jabucilo and other winged horses.
Quianlima (Asian): This equine example is a winged horse of a different breed. Where we often seen winged horses working in tandem with a human (or immortal) companion…Quianlima is far too sublime and superior for such banal functions. To explain, Quianlima is a winged horse than is so divine, that it cannot be subjected to a rider. This is a majestic beast that has never known an owner, rider or mortal companion.
We are talking about the epitome of elegance, grace, and purity embodied in a winged horse. So what’s the symbolic meaning here? Quianlima, in Chinese culture, is symbolic of the highest state of perfection. It is a standard that is the ultimate point of excellence. This further emphasizes what I’ve been saying about taking the higher path, and choosing purity over poop.
In fact another name for Quianlima is Chollima. In the 1950’s, Chollima was used as a political propaganda strategy in North Korea. This winged horse represented a standard, and was meant to instill a sense of reaching for perfection and worthiness within the people. This pristine winged horse was used to generate more work productivity and enhance attitudes within the community. The political slogan accompanying the image of Chollima was “Let us move in the spirit of Chollima.” In this case, the symbolism speaks to striving for excellence, and being untouchable because of uncompromising work ethic and morality.
More Thoughts About Symbolic Winged Horse Meaning
It should be clear that this sampling of winged horses offers a dose of admirable integrity. At the end of the day, the symbolism of winged horses deals with honor, truth and justice. These mythical creatures have a drive to expose honesty where there is deceit. They are on a mission to uncover darkness to unveil the light. These are pure, magical creatures who deserve respect for hoofing through endless miles of muck and mire in order to cleanse and purify the corruption in the world.
I guess, if you think about it, the symbolism of winged horses deals with heroism. I mean, what is a hero? Classically, a hero is one who overcomes all odds, denies the trappings of sin and debauchery, and flies in the face of convention in order to establish balance.
What’s interesting here is the concept of balance. I’ve been yammering through this whole article about duality. And I think that’s the key symbolic feature of the winged horse (in any form).
We as humans have always, and WILL always struggle with our duplicitous nature. It is a fact of life. Where there is good, there is also evil. And where there exists dark, there is also the presence of light. Where there is doubt, there is also confidence.
Take-Away Points About Symbolism of Winged Horses:
Messages from Mythical Creatures
I think the whole thing with duplicity is the take-away point here when it comes to the symbolism of winged horses. They have been finely crafted from the heart, spirits and imaginations of humankind around the world to remind us of our ability to choose the right course of action – no matter what our circumstances, and no matter how dire our beginnings or background might be.
Some overarching questions we can glean from the symbolism of winged horses might look like this…
- Am I balanced?
- Can I choose peace over chaos?
- How can I overcome dark with light?
- What is my concept of purity and justice?
- What is the state of my morals and values?
- What kind of divine messages are coming to me?
- Can I commit to serving a path of hardship for virtue?
- How am I managing physical action versus mental/spiritual action?
- Or, am I more inclined for shortcuts that may lead to negative results?
- Is it time to re-evaluate my primal instinct against my spiritual and internal intuition?
Yeah, I know, these questions presented by the winged horse are heavy and replete with soul-seeking prompts. I would apologize for that, but alas, I cannot. Why? Because when we enter the realm of the winged horse, we must be pure of heart in order to engage the messages this magnificent creature offers us.
Mind vs Body. Right vs Wrong. Light vs Dark. The quintessential symbolism of winged horses boils down to choice. This mythic creature reminds that we are whole, yet we are also a mixed bag of opposites.
In the end, winged horses conjure lessons we can learn when we practice conscious cooperation between our primal and our more refined sensory nature. Essentially, these creatures remind us to ‘play nice’ with the potential conflicting sides of our being and personality.
I hope you enjoyed this article on symbolism of winged horses. If you found this worthy, I’d be delighted if you shared it on your social networks. Oh, and you may also like my article, Mythical Mashups: Symbolic Meaning of Winged Creatures where I talk about the meaning of wings on serpents, lions and more!
As always, thank you for reading!
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