The Dove: a symbol of peace or paganism?

The dove in Christianity is often thought to symbolise hope and peace.

‘And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluck off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.’ Genesis 8:11

As in Genesis, when Noah sends a dove to search for land, when it returns with an olive leaf it has a deep symbolic meaning attached to it. The dove is believed to symbolise a hope of a promised land, but it could easily symbolise catastrophe and death by the flood. That in essence baptises the world, riding it of its sins. The olive leaf in the doves beak is symbolic of the riches of ancient civilisation. Today we don’t think much of olives as a sign of divine prosperity but to the Ancient Greeks it was ambrosia, the food of the gods. With it one could extract olive oil to light lamps, to cook with, and importantly to eat. It also has numerous medical benefits. At one time if someone cut down a olive tree in ancient Greece they would be sentenced to death, hence the valuable importance of this amazing plant. They named the home of their gods Mount Olympus, which means mountain of olives. And their Olympic games were the champion athletes would be crowned with laurel from an olive branch.

Athlete being awarded olive laurels as a reward

The dove brings back a sign of divine prosperity to Noah, but  they also represent the holy spirit. As in so many passages in the bible of doves descending. Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22, John 1:32 and Mathew 3:16. The dove is symbolic of the descent of the holy spirit and has close connections with mother goddesses throughout ancient mythology.

Ishtar – Goddess of war, death and love

Ishtar the Mesopotamian goddess of war, death and love was constantly followed by a set of doves. Ishtar in essence became a template for other mother goddesses, such as Venus, Aphrodite and Fortuna, who were all often depicted with a dove. The Mother Mary is no exception to this, as the holy spirit, is Christianity’s way of personifying the mother earth goddess without being explicit. Hence why doves can be seen with Mary, especially during the Annunciation, were Mary is being told about her pregnancy.  As a result turtle doves, the white feathers symbolise purity as white was considered to be a divine colour of unobtainable perfection.

The Annunciation

The Bible not only contains passages of descending doves and olive leafs, it contains bloody sacrifices. Leviticus 1:14, 14:30 and Luke 2:24. The sacrifice has to be a burnt offering, and it must be aflame upon the alter. Who says the Bible isn’t pagan? The importance of these passages is that the burnt offering must be set alight. And the priest shall bring it unto the altar, and wring off its head, and burn it on the altar; and the blood thereof shall be drained out on the side of the altar.

This is why a dove is depicted with flames or with a burning light. Fire represents the holy spirit, much like the burning bush. For more interesting on the ritual go here http://www.bible-history.com/isbe/D/DOVE/. For a Christian website its surprising informed.

The dove being also a common symbol used to depict freedom, and a caged dove imprisonment. This is a common theme in films and can be seen in Burton’s Sleepy hollow. The caged bird represents determinism, while the free bird represents free will, the two diametrically opposed philosophies. Fate verses free will. Interestingly enough doves were considered wild birds and were only caged as pets and more commonly caged for sacrificial use. The dove being symbolic of the spirit.

The fiery spirit of the dove may have allusions to the phoenix, a bird born out of flames once it has perished to ash, symbolising rebirth and the immortality of spirit.

T. S. Elliot depicts the doves dynamic symbolism in this short poem. Here I will leave you to ponder what the dove means to you.

“The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one discharge from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre-
To be redeemed from fire by fire.

Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.”

How to Make a Poor Man’s Stove

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poor man’s stove

As this is my first time making this kind of stove, the steps I provide for building one are only a ruff and ready guide. with practice you will find short-cuts and additional knowledge that will improve your stoves, this is just a quick guide to show you how easy and cheap it is to do.

You will need:

1 small can (a tuna can will work fine)

a volume of wax that will fill the small can (left overs from used candles are perfect)

a few strips of corrugated cardboard

an old bowl and a pan

a stove

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wax, corrugated cardboard and a small can

1. Clean the small can and remove the lid, next cut some slices of cardboard that will be able to fit inside the can. The height of the can can be measured against the cardboard and then cut out a strip of that width of cardboard.

2. Next roll up the strips of cardboard into a spiral, and pack them densely into your can.

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tightly packed cardboard in a small can

3. After packing the can as tightly as possible, break up your wax into small pieces and remove any candle wicks.

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break up your wax

4. place your wax in a small bowl, this bowl is going to get messy so make sure its one that your not to fond of. Boil a cup of water in a pan, keep the water on a low simmer and place your bowl of wax in the water, so that it is floating on top of the water, not in it! Paraffin is flammable, so do not microwave it!

5. Once all your wax has melted, carefully, and I mean carefully lift with bowl out of the pan of water and pour it into the can. Wear thick gloves or use a towel to do this, you do not want to get wax on you as it will burn. Have the tin nearby by so you have as little distance to spill it as possible. Then leave the wax to set.

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poor man’s stove

Now you have your very own poor man’s stove. What is brilliant about this stove is that it can be made entirely out of waste products, and works well. This would make a great substitute for a gas stove for camping.