Harpie & Shrew Symbolism & Meaning
Harpies are creatures from primarily Greco-Roman mythology. They have been described in various ways, but a common feature is that these beings have the face of a maiden but the body of a bird. Though described in tales from Ovid, Hesiod and other prominent writers in the ancient world, Harpy’s appearance is of two main varieties.
Hesiod described two Harpies in particular who were beautiful young girls with lovely hair. Their names were Okypete and Aello and aside from the bizarre appearance of a bird with a girl’s head and face, they were otherwise described in favorable terms. Contrast this with Aeschylus.
Harpie & Shrew Table of Contents
- Harpie & Shrew Symbolism & Meaning
- Spirit Animal
- Totem Animal
- Power Animal
- Harpie & Shrew Dreams
- Back to all Fantasy & Mythical Creatures and Animals
Harpie & Shrew Symbolism & Meaning
Aeschylus described Harpy as hideous, monstrous and ugly. Not only because of the unusual combination of human and bird features, but also as a way to characterized what was believed to be a frightening and monstrous creature. Keep in mind, from the viewpoint of Patriarchal ancient cultures, powerful women who summoned the strength of their voice in order to convey their messages were often vilified, so such associations with ugliness aren’t altogether surprising.
But nor are they necessarily fair. More on this as we delve deeper into Harpy symbolism. As most of a Harpy’s body is the body of a bird, they are associated with flight and in a purely elemental sense, the power of the winds. In fact, some take the perspective that Harpy is actually the essence of wind spirits and are neither good nor bad. Thus Harpy symbolism and meaning can be associated with the power of the four winds, Boreas, the North Winds, Euris, the East Wind, Zephyrus, the West Wind and Notus, the South Wind.
Virgil wrote of Harpy having talons for hands and it was believed that Harpies would carry people, especially babies or children, off to their home in Strofades. Harpies were, in particular, associated with a cave in Crete.
Some specifically consider Harpy to embody only the destructive aspects of the wind and therefore the destructive qualities of the Air Element, but again it is important to consider this in context. In much of the ancient world from which mythological history is derived, feminine power is feared and reviled. Thus with the exception of a few matriarchal cultures, by the time of Ovid, Virgil and Hesiod, even the power of Goddesses had been filtered through a Patriarchal lens. Harpies, then, were described as combining the destructive forces of nature (Mother Nature, another reference to the fear of women’s power) as well as the negative portrayal of powerful women as screeching, fierce and frightening monsters.
As is also typically the case, Harpies were blamed for the unexplainable. It was believed that if children went missing, they were captured by Harpies and brought to the Underworld. Other depictions of Harpies describe these creatures as doing Zeus’s bidding. Harpies were therefore feared and associated with loss of control.
Luckily, we no longer have to view mythology through the original context of the ancient world. Symbolically, Harpies connote powerful women who use the power of the Air element and especially the wind to harness their power. What does this mean in practical terms? The element of Air is associated with the intellect, imagination, creativity, writing, speaking and teaching.
Thus if Harpy energy is working with you, you may be heavily inspired to spread your message. You may write a book that presents new ideas and challenges the status quo. You may also have a strong assertive side that intimidates some but nonetheless is an important part of your mission. Regardless of your gender, you may be called to get in touch with your feminine side and speak on behalf of others as a powerful warrior, with communication being your weapon of choice.
Though Shrew is also the name of an actual animal, the term is also used to refer to an archetype of women’s power, which describes not only the Harpy but also the Furies. Again, the connotations of these beings have been subject to social standards and constructs of the ancient world and as such, embody strong anti-female gender bias, yet just as the power of the Witch is reclaimed through embracing this term, so too can the beauty and raw power of these assertive, warrior creatures take on a new meaning when they are seen as representing the power of conviction and the importance of nurturing beliefs and ideas.
In particular, the Furies, or Erinyes, were considered subterranean warrior Goddesses who are associated with anger, vengeance and in particular, justice against the corruption of male power.
The Asteroid Lilith can also be correlated to Harpy as hers is the power of rebellion and creativity that stems from raw emotion. As beings associated with the power of storms and wind, their color associations are yellow or white, as these are the colors of the Air Element.
Harpie & Shrew Spirit Animal
When Harpy Spirit Animal swoops into your life, you may be encouraged to embrace the power of your rage and raw emotion. A storm may be on the horizon or may be brewing deep in your soul. But rather than fearing the destruction the storm may bring, Harpy asks that you harness the power of the storm to create dramatic changes.
If you need to challenge the status quo but won’t do so when you feel comfortable and complacent, Harpy Spirit Animal may appear to remind you of the unsettled friction that is brewing beneath the surface. You may need to push back harder now and make sure your voice is heard. Harpy is the perfect creature to help you with this.
If you have an urgent message or important mission, Harpy Spirit Animal can help to give you the strength and ferocity you need to make sure everyone hears you loud and clear. If you’ve been taught to fear your voice or to be quiet and polite, Harpy Spirit Animal may challenge you. When Harpy Spirit Animal appears, you may need to trust your instincts and use the power of your intellect, creativity and communication to say what no one else is willing to say.
Harpie & Shrew Totem Animal
For those born with Harpy/Shrew Totem Animal, you may breeze through life with an intense and sharp mind. You may have been the child in class who spoke up urgently when something didn’t make sense to you. Adults in your life may have seen you as precocious and may have even feared you or become frustrated by you, but one thing is for certain, you have always been a champion for justice and truth.
You may be a force to be reckoned with and your greatest strength lies in your willfulness and commitment to doing what you know is right, even if it takes you out of your comfort zone. To those with Harpy Totem Animal, the desire for justice is more important than popularity. You may accept early on that not everyone will like you, but everyone will come to respect you because your integrity is unwavering.
Harpie & Shrew Power Animal
Draw on the strength of Harpy Power Animal sparingly and only when you are absolutely sure you are ready to embrace change. When Harpy Power Animal is brought into your life, the winds of change may tear down what you thought was solid, but only because you needed this dramatic change to take place.
You may also draw on Harpy Power Animal when you need to be true to your message and find the power of your intense emotions, even anger, to push back against the status quo.
Harpie & Shrew Dreams
When you encounter these feathered beacons of feminine power in your dreams, it may be time for you to listen to your instincts. Although you may not like to face anger or fear, your deeper raw emotions may be trying to communicate with you. You may need to take a stronger stance and make sure your message is heard. Your dreams may also summon you to face what seems like destruction but is actually dramatic change that will help move you forward. Harpies can show up in a dream to remind you that all of nature is subject to a certain degree of ferocity. As much as you enjoy the peaceful sunset, you may now be better off facing the dramatic howling winds that call you to evolve in some way.
Harpie & Shrew Symbolic Meanings Key
- Compelling Communication
- Warrior Energy