Thursday, April 23, 2009


The forest of the land of symbolism is filled with wonderful beasts. And not just lions, tigers, and bears. (Oh my!) You might be surprised to see many of them in Christian art. Some of them look like the strange monsters than teen age boys sometimes draw on the back of their notebooks during study hall. Take the basilisk or cockatrice for example. It is a fabulous beast that is half snake and half cock – a combination of figures found on your placemat at a Chinese restaurant. This “king of the snakes” is said to have the body of a snake and the head, feet, and wings of the cock and hatched from an egg laid on a dunghill. He is king because he has a crest on his head that looks like a crown. It is reported to be incredibly venomous, even its glance causing death to its victims.

This mythical beast was one time commonly understood to symbolize the Devil. According to George Furguson’s “Signs and Symbols in Christian Art” this is owing to the Douay version of Psalm 91:13, “. . . thou shall tread upon the adder and the basilisk and trample underfoot the lion and the dragon.”

In order to slay the basilisk (a handy thing to know if you should ever come across him) is to have it look into a mirror to reflect its own venom back onto it. The mirror is the Gospel. Of course, since its very glance can do a man in, it would require you to see it before it sees you! Reports on how good its hearing is and how easy it is to sneak up on it are not provided in any of my books so please exercise extreme caution.


Anonymous said...

I just finished listening to a Scott Hahn teaching on why Adam and Eve disobeyed God's command in the Garden of Eden. Dr. Hahn pointed out that the biblical word used to describe the "serpent"
indicated the presence of an overpoweringly evil figure--one that was more like a dragon.

knuckledragger said...

There is a Central/South American lizard called the basilisk. Oddly enough, it is sometimes known as the "Jesus lizard" as it can run on the surface of ponds and streams for a short distance.