(Greek: γρύφων, grýphōn, or γρύπων, grýpōn, early form γρύψ, grýps; Latin: gryphus)
The griffon, (‘griffin’, or ‘gryphon’) is a legendary creature with the body, tail, and back legs of a lion; the head, wings and front feet of an eagle. As the lion was traditionally considered the king of the beasts and the eagle the king of birds, the griffin was thought to be an especially powerful and majestic creature.
This ancient mythical creature visited me subconsciously in a dream and I was inspired to explore its origins and symbolic meaning.
In the work that I do as a coach and teacher, the griffon has come to symbolize the protection and guardianship of our personal gold, which I would define as ‘confidence’. Without this we are uncomfortably vulnerable and unable to freely express ourselves. The word ‘confidence’, comes from the Latin confidere (confide), meaning to ‘have full trust’. As writers and speakers we need in a sense, to confide in ourselves, to be united and strong about who we are and what we have to express, in order to communicate clearly and effectively with others.
In my creative work, the griffon represents a connection with our mysterious source of inspiration and an openness to contemplate the realities of our human condition as well as those experiences and questions that are wondrously beyond explanation.
The griffon featured most prominently in the art and lore of ancient Greece, where I was drawn to live for some time. Griffons have been present in many cultures of human folklore, with evidence found in Ancient Persian and Egyptian art as early as 3000 BC. The griffon is thought to live in the air and the high mountains where they are famously known for guarding treasure, or priceless possessions. In antiquity the griffon was a symbol of protective power. It was seen as a guardian of the divine. The Achaemenids considered the griffon “a protector from evil, witchcraft and secret slander”. In heraldry, the griffon’s amalgamation of lion and eagle has been used to denote strength, courage, intelligence and leadership.
‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’
Hamlet, Shakespeare 1.5.167-8