DOVES >> Affections for Heavenly Ideas
>> Love from the Lord with the Wisdom of that Love
If there is in eagles something of the nobility of lions, doves are marked with the innocence and mutual love of lambs and sheep. Indeed, they were accepted for certain sacrifices instead of lambs (Leviticus 12:8). They are without weapons of offense or defense, and can protect themselves from danger only by the remarkable swiftness and endurance of their flight. They are timid, and love the neighborhood and protection of man, by whom they are easily tamed. They love to live in companies, and to fly together, “as a cloud, to their windows.”
Immense flocks of them, darkening the sky for many miles in their flight, are known to our western country. Of these flocks Wilson relates a curious fact illustrative of their resemblance to sheep. He says that when a hawk swoops upon a pigeon in the flying cloud, the others in the neighborhood dive low in fear, quickly rising again to rejoin their companions; and as others come up to the same place, though the hawk be gone, they drop also, thus preserving a wave in the line till the last pigeon has passed. The Arabs take a cruel advantage of their ready sympathy. They tie to a bough of a tree a dove with his eyelids fastened together. Others hear his cries and flock about to help him, when they are easily knocked down or snared. The faithfulness of doves to their mates during life is not peculiar to them, but I think that the extreme tenderness of their expressions of love belongs to them alone. They stroke each other with their bills, and kiss and coo as if they never could express enough, and never would be weary. If one dies, it occasionally happens that the mate dies too from grief, though it more commonly happens that after a time it is mated again. They work together in building their nest, sit upon the eggs in turn, and alike care for the young. Their eggs are generally two at a time, usually a male and a female; and they may have as many as nine broods in a year; so that their love for their young is perennial, instead of being limited to a short season, as in most birds.
They are very fond of their little ones, and have a curious means of preparing food for them, which approaches the milk glands of mammals. During the time for feeding the young birds, the walls of their crops thicken and become rough with glands, which secrete a milky fluid. This mixes with the grains in the crop, reducing them to a soft pulp, with which they feed the little doves according to their need.
The difference between love for the young in doves and the same in fierce birds and beasts is that the fierce animals resent injury to their young as injury to themselves, and are furious and revengeful; but the doves only flutter anxiously, and grieve and moan. Self-love is revengeful; good love sorrows. The difference between the dove’s feeding her young with food from her own crop, and the similar habit of vultures, is spiritually that the dove affection teaches the truth with innocent love both for the truth and for her little ones; and vultures teach evil with selfish exultation.
So plain is the representation of the dove that it tells its own meaning; yet, for the sake of completeness, we may acknowledge that as all birds represent affections for ideas, and for thinking from ideas, doves represent affections for the heavenly ideas that agree with innocent love to the Lord and conjugial love. ( Apocalypse Explained #282; Arcana Coelestia #10132. )
Swedenborg relates that one time he was thinking deeply of the region of the mind in which conjugial love resides, and suddenly, in the spiritual world, the mind was represented to him as a palace with three stories, having open windows in each story. And there appeared a pair of swans which flew in by the lower windows, a pair of birds of paradise which entered through the middle windows, and a pair of turtledoves which flew in through the highest. And then an angel explained to him that the turtledoves signified conjugial love in the highest region of the mind, which is the plane of love from the Lord with the wisdom of that love; and that the birds of paradise and the swans represented conjugial love on the lower planes respectively. Again he says:
When I was meditating concerning conjugial love, behold there appeared at a distance two naked infants with baskets in their hands, and turtledoves flying around them; and when they were seen nearer they appeared as if they were naked, but handsomely adorned with garlands; chaplets of flowers decorated their heads, and wreaths of lilies and roses of a violet color, hanging obliquely from the shoulders to the loins, adorned their breasts; and round about them both was as it were a common band woven together from small leaves with olives interspersed. But when they came up nearer they did not appear as infants, nor naked, but in the first flower of age, clad in robes and tunics of shining silk, in which were interwoven flowers most beautiful to the sight; and, when they were close to me, there breathed forth from heaven through them a vernal heat, with a sweet odor, as from the earliest flowers in gardens and fields. (Conjugial Love #137)
They came to him from the inmost heaven as forms of conjugial love; all the things about them were representatives of that love; and among them the turtledoves represented the delights of its innocent thoughts. In the Scriptures, the destruction of the innocent goodness of the earliest men on earth by the falsities of their selfish conceits is represented by a flood of waters destroying all life from the earth. And the first perception of the return of goodness from the Lord to the hearts of men is represented by the plucking of an olive leaf by the dove. The olive leaf is such perception; and the dove is delight in it from love for conjunction with the Lord.
When Jesus was baptized by John, it is related that “He went up straightway out of the water; and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him” (Matthew 3:16). The baptism of the Lord represented the gradual process of separating from Him the evils of His maternal humanity, and ordering His life according to the truth of the Word. After every such effort, by which the divine truth was established in Him, the Love of God descended upon Him like a dove, filling him with the delights of the union of goodness and truth, and with the love of providing for the multiplication of such delights in men. The wings of the dove are described by the psalmist as “covered with silver,” from the charity of her flights of thought; and “her feathers with yellow gold,” from the celestial delights of her love of thinking from the Lord.
Author: JOHN WORCESTER 1875