The Eagle is the universal emblem of the gods of the sky. The cosmic eagle is a symbol of the highest aspirations of the spirit, and its triumph over the carnal nature. This is why the eagle is so often depicted in combat with serpents or bulls, creatures who symbolize earthly desire (bull) or evil (serpents). It is most often a solar symbol, but sometimes it is thunder or lightning. The divine eagle is often a hybrid or transformed man, often a king or hero of great virtue.
Astrologically, the eagle is the highest aspect of the sign Scorpio; its lower aspect is a serpent. Alchemically, it is the emblem of the element of air and is associated with the process of sublimation, wherein the volatile principal is heated until it “flies up to heaven.” A double-headed eagle represents the union of opposites and is an important emblem of Freemasonry.
In Christianity, the divine eagle is the emblem of John the Evangelist, one of the four tetramorphs representing the four gospels of the New testament.The symbolism is drawn from much older sources.
It was the eagle Aquila (Who was once the King Periphas) that retrieved the thunderbolts of Zeus and carried his messages- it is from his name we derive the English word ‘eagle.’ The eagle was the standard of ther Caesars and the national symbol or Rome, a standard inherited from the Persian empires.
The Aztec sun-god Hiutzilopochtli took the form of an eagle (cuauhtli) in a well-known prophecy of the settlement of Mexico. As the legend goes, the god told
the wandering Aztec tribes to search until they found an eagle perched upon a nopal (prickly pear) cactus. Whether or not that eagle was clutching a snake has been a matter of some debate, but the familiar symbolism struck a chord with Mexico’s European settlers, and the iconic image of a serpent-swallowing eagle was adopted as the coat of arms of Mexico.
The lion-headed Imdugud (the largest and best known of the giant Anzu birds) was closely associated with the god Ningirsu, and his temple in the Sumerian city of Lagash. Imdugud is the personification of storms.
It is also an eagle who carries the Sumerian king Etana to the heavens seeking after the tree of life. As the story is told in ancient poems, the eagle and serpent lived peaceably until the eagle devoured the serpent’s offspring. In revenge, the great snake hurls the eagle into a great pit, where he languishes until rescued by Etana. The remainder of the story is lost.
In Vedic mythology, the eagle is Garuda, the serpent-swallower. Garuda is variably the transport of Vishnu or an appearance of the god himself. Garuda often battled the great naga serpent Kaliya.
In Norse mythology, the storm-giant Thiassi (storm-bringer) sometimes takes the form of an eagle.
The eagle was the symbol of Roman legion, and is the national symbol of the United States.