Bayla Arietta

No Gods but Nature: Starlings

European starlings swarmed Ancient Rome in droves, inspiring augurs to interpret their murmurations as messages from the gods. The practice of ornithomancy, a branch of Roman national religion, categorized animals and events into omens, signs, and symbols of divine will. Today, many people continue to regress to mysticism, saints, and deities in order to address the great unexplained mysteries or personal fears. In his 1811 essay The Necessity of Atheism, Shelley states “If ignorance of nature gave birth to gods, knowledge of nature is made for their destruction”. Inspired by ornithology, religious iconography, and the gilded haloed figures of Byzantine art, these starling saints represent the clash between science and superstition in regards to how the natural world is interpreted and appreciated.


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