meox

meox, n.n: muck, dung, ordure, dirt. (“meh-oks”)

bonnacon

Image: A bonnacon, which The Medieval Bestiary tells us is an animal like a bull that uses its dung as a weapon. Its horns curl in towards each other so are useless for defence. Pliny the Elder says “…when attacked, it runs away, while releasing a trail of dung that can cover three furlongs. Contact with the dung burns pursuers as though they had touched fire.”

Kongelige Bibliotek, Gl. kgl. S. 1633 4º, Folio 10r. Bestiarius – Bestiary of Ann Walsh. England, 15th century.

dūfe-doppa

dūfe-doppa, m.n: a pelican.

pelican

Image: Pelican in Bodleian Library, MS. Bodley 764, fol. 72.

Happy Easter! What do pelicans have to do with Easter?

The pelican represents Christ in medieval bestiaries.

The Medieval Bestiary website explains: ‘As young pelicans grow, they begin to strike their parents in the face with their beaks. Though the pelican has great love for its young, it strikes back and kills them. After three days, the mother pierces her side or her breast and lets her blood fall on the dead birds, and thus revives them. Some say it is the male pelican that kills the young and revives them with his blood.’

The allegory? ‘The pelican is Christ, who humanity struck by committing sin; the pelican cutting open its own breast represents Christ’s death on the cross, and the shedding of his blood to revive us.’

swanrād

swanrād

swanrād, ?.n: ‘swan-road’, a kenning for the sea.

Image: British Library, Harley MS 4751, Folio 41v

From The Medieval Bestiary website: ‘The swan has a harmonious voice, with which it pours out a sweet song. In the Hyperborean regions swans are attracted by the sound of a zither or harp and sing along when one is played. The long neck of the swan makes its song more pleasant. The song it sings before it dies is the sweetest of all. Sailors consider the sighting of a swan to be auspicious.’