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ARMORIAL GOLD HERALDRY SYMBOLISM LIBRARY
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EAGLE: A noble device signifying a person of action, ever more occupied in high and weighty affairs, and one of lofty spirit, ingenious, speedy in apprehension, and judicious in matters of ambiguity; true magnanimity and fortitude of mind; a symbol of power and sovereignty. The Eagle also symbolizes courage, freedom, and immortality. It proudly served as an emblem of the might and unity of empire for Babylon, the Caesars, Charlemagne and many Holy Roman and Byzantine emperors as well as for Russian czars, Aztecs and Napoleon. The heraldic Eagle appeared in Persian and Egyptian battle ensigns and on the flags of the Roman legions. The Romans called the Eagle the "bird of Jove, and carried it on their standards, into battle. If a legion lost its Eagle, it was in disgrace until the Eagle could be recovered. It was the Roman custom to let an Eagle fly from the funeral pyre of a deceased emperor, bearing the god's soul to heaven after a period of earthly incarnation as the emperor. Early Christians honoured the Eagle as a symbol of hope, of strength and of Resurrection. The latter is based on the early belief that the Eagle, unlike other birds, periodically renewed its plumage and its youth by flying near the sun then plunging into the water. The majestic Eagle was central to many mythologies and sacred writings of humanity. The ancient Greeks revered the eagle as a symbol of the god of lightning, and it is said they nailed Eagles to the peaks of temples to serve as magic lightning rods; Scandinavian myths also associate the Eagle with lightning and storm. The Hittites (an ancient people living in Anatolia and northern Syria about 2000-1200 B.C) used the double Eagle as an emblem of sovereignty.

EEL: (grigs) To the celts, the eel symbolized versatility, wisdom, creativity, and defense. The term “grig” signifies a young eel. The heraldic eel has been used as symbols of fertility, and elusiveness. Canting arms such as for “Ellis” or “Grigg” are well documented. The eel was held sacred in several parts of Egypt, and was not eaten. Some suppose that " the reason of its sanctity, was owing to its being unwholesome; and the best way of preventing its being eaten was to assign it a place among the sacred animals of the country,"

EEL FORK: Used by ancient fisherman to catch eel in the mud where a net would not do. Signifies such action of merit, wherein both strength and policy are conjoined.

ELEPHANT: This heraldic symbol denotes great strength, greater wit and greatest ambition. The Elephant was the ensign of Cyneus, king of Scythia, and Idomenes, king of Thessaly. Elephants are the bearers of kings and queens and so a symbol of royalty, prosperity, temperance, dignity, and power. In 250 BC, Pyrrhus, the king of Epirus (now North Albania), with an army of 25,000 men and 20 Elephants won a hard-fought victory over the Romans at Heraclea. At a crucial phase of the battle, Pyrrhus ordered his Elephants to charge and it was too much for the Roman legions. The Romans had never seen Elephants before and called them 'Lucanian Cows'. The Elephant was the totem animal of the god Shiva, the Destroyer, who seeks to banish illusion and to encourage a clearer perception of reality.

ELM TREE: The Elm tree is a tree of Saturn and is associated with the element of earth. It is sacred to Odin, Hoenin and Lodr. The wood from the Elm was often made into talismans and charms that were worn for protection. The Elm also has the qualities of regeneration, boldness and fidelity. It represents the power and mystery of nature; demands respect and reverence; it is the home of the gods, the tree of sleep, and denotes wisdom.

ENFIELD: Mythical beast which has the head of a fox, the chest of a hound, the talons of an eagle, the body of a lion and the hindquarters and tail of a wolf; said to have protected fallen chieftains' bodies for proper burial.

ERMINE: The fur most frequently used in heraldry. It derives its name from the Ermine or 'mus Armenicus' (so call from being found in the woods of Armenia), a small white animal whose fur it is. The black spots are supposed to represent the tails of ermines, sewed to the white fur for its enrichment; a symbol of dignity.

ESCALLOP (shell): This is the badge of a pilgrim, also a symbol of the Apostle St. James the Greater. Medieval Christians making the pilgrimage to his shrine often wore a scallop shell symbol on their clothes. The pilgrim also carried a scallop shell with him, and would present himself at churches, castles, etc., where he could expect to be given as much sustenance as he could pick up with one scoop. Thus even the poorest household could give charity without being overburdened. Denotes one who has made long journeys or voyages to far places; a naval commander. Also a symbol hospitality.

ESCARBUNCLE: Since the earliest form which we find of this word charboucle, which only in very much later times was corrupted into carbuncle, we must look for its origin in a buckle of some kind. The present form seems to owe its origin to the metal-work on the shield, such as is exhibited on the monumental effigy(commonly ascribed to Geoffrey of Mandeville, Earl of Essex, who died in 1144,) now existing in the Temple church. The effigy, however, can scarcely be earlier than 1185, the date of the consecration of the church. The device being so exactly of the character of the metal-work of the thirteenth century it was no doubt intended by the sculptor to portray the ornamental iron-work, which was added to strengthen the shield, the protuberances representing bosses or rivets. This charge was used to indicate supremacy and dominence.

ESTOILE: Celestial goodness, a man of noble personage. See Star. Celestial goodness, a man of noble personage. See Star. The estoile, is as a rule represented of six points and wavy. Estoiles sometimes occur with a greater number of points, as eight, or sixteen. When the rays are represented straight this has been probably by accident, as the figure would then more properly be described as a mullet of so many points, but there has, no doubt, been some confusion between the estoile and mullet, the latter with English heralds being of five points, and with French heralds of six (Molette).

EYE: It is generally a symbol of the watchful and protective power of the Supreme Being; also providence in government. In Egyptian myth the eye was not the peaceful organ of sight but more an agent of action, protection or wrath.

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Heraldry Symbolism Library by Armorial Gold Heraldry Services is provided as a free resource tool for Heraldry enthusiasts. The Heraldry Symbolism Library and the information contained therein, has been researched through original manuscripts and Armorial Gold’s own sources. The Heraldry Symbolism Library is provided as a free resource tool for Heraldry enthusiasts. Reproduction in any form is prohibited.