At the heart of symbolism

The Austrian flag

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Austrian civil flag Austrian state flag

The red and white stripes

Member of Babenberg's familyThe red-white-red stripes represent the coat of arms of the house of Babenberg, usually said to derive from the blood-stained tunic of Duke Leopold after the battle of Ptolemais in 1191.

White represents the visible light containing every colour of the rainbow spectrum, the “higher” arch of which is red. Therefore, white symbolizes the Principle of the manifestation of colours in particular and everything in general. It is the colour of druids of the Celtic tradition and Brahmins of Hindu tradition. White symbolizes the spiritual or sacerdotal authority holding the Knowledge of the principles, which has authority over the temporal or royal power in charge of their application and associated with red.

The coat of arms

Eagle's powersThe coat of arms represents a black eagle with a crowned head holding a hammer and a sickle in its talons. Commonly, the crown is considered as a civic crown representing the Austrian burghers whereas the hammer and sickle are respectively associated with the craftsmen and farmers. The broken shackles are said to have been added to the eagle's legs after the Second World War to refer to the liberation from the Nazis. However, the eagle and its attributes were already known for ages and are dealing with very old symbols.

The eagle

As the bird flying highest in the sky, the eagle became naturally the king of the birds. The eagle is so important a symbol that there is no mythic, religious or historic account where it does not act as the companion or the representative of the greatest figures:

  • Horus, the Egyptian Sun god, is represented with an eagle's or falcon's head; the attribute of Zeus (Jupiter), the lightning weapon, is carried between the talons of an eagle; the eagle also became the attribute of Saint John the Evangelist; in the Indian tradition, it is associated with Vishnu.
  • In Antic mythology and Christian iconography, the eagle is the messenger of the Gods or Heavens as well as the psychopompos accompanying the dead to the Olympus or Heavens (Hermes and Christ).
  • Historically, the eagle became the imperial emblem of Caesars and powerful nations (Roma, German, Austrian or French empires).
  • In North America, Siberia, China, Japan and Africa, shamans, priests and seers as well as kings and great commanders have used the eagle's attributes to share its powers.

The eagle represents the power rising above man's world, the Eye which can stare at the Sun, see, comprehend and illuminate all things. In ancient mythology, the eagle was worshiped as the thunder-bird, the Fire or Sun bird. Although mortal, it possesses the power to re-generate by exposing itself to the Sun and diving into a clear water pool when its plumage catches fire. This re-birth, reminding us the phoenix, can be compared to the Alchemic initiation passage rites where Fire and Water symbolize respectively Heaven and Earth.

However, the eagle represents even more than that link between Heaven and Earth. Depicted by a unique crowned head and its black colour, it symbolizes the invisible aspect of the Principle at the origin of the manifestation of everything and, firstly, of the fundamental Heaven-Earth polarity portrayed by its two talons. They represent the celestial and terrestrial powers, the spiritual and temporal authorities, the authority of the Priest (white) and the power of the King (red). This aspect is underlined by the shield plated on the eagle's breast and will be further confirmed by both attributes held in the eagle's talons.

The hammer or mallet

The hammer or mallet, which cracks and cleaves, represents the thunderbolt. Made up by the terrestrial or metallurgic fire, it produces the thunder lightening or celestial Fire as Zeus lightening weapon in ancient Greece or Thor's hammer in Nordic mythology. This double reference to the terrestrialThor's worshiper insignia and celestial aspects can even be found in the drawing of the hammer shaped as a Tau-cross and worn by Thor's worshipers. The horizontal bar represents the Earth, the passive or feminine principle compared to the vertical connected to Heaven, the active or masculine principle. The last bar stops at the level of the former because the Heaven symbol has to be completely above the Earth one.

As the thunderbolt, the hammer is related to the source of clear Knowledge, of direct light, to the Sun. Only the direct intuition, the Pure intelligence (from “intellegere” or understanding), the one beyond the mind and not short of it, is able to get access to the principles as the eagle's Eye. This Knowledge is the privilege of the celestial, spiritual or sacerdotal authority.

The sickle

Attribute of many agrarian deities such as Saturn, Ceres and Silvanus, the sickle shape is often compared to the crescent Moon. The Moon is both the symbol of changing shape and returning to the same shape. Therefore, it is often associated with water. As the counterpart of the Sun, the Moon is only reflecting the Sun light. It is the source of indirect light and knowledge, of reflection, of thought. It symbolizes the terrestrial or temporal power belonging to the King in charge of the principle application.

The shackles or chains

The broken shackles depict the liberation of imposed bonds. In fact, the chain binding both eagle's talons may also symbolize the axis linking Heaven and Earth, spiritual authority and temporal power. Generally speaking, chains are symbols of communication between members of the family, the city, the nation implying obligations. Not only the obligations derived from laws or juridical acts, but proceeding from an inward acceptance as well. Therefore, bonds no longer symbolize those imposed by force, but also those willingly assumed by the different community members, which feel unified among themselves. The binding chain means free acceptance, a chain which should not be broken contrary to the imposed one.