Sparrow (Passer Domesticus)
Proving date: 2004
Proving completed by: Misha Norland, Peter Fraser & The School of Homeopathy
Common name : Sparrow
Read full proving: Sparrow (Passer Domesticus)
About the Sparrow
Source /Description & Habitat
The sparrow is part of a small family of birds called passerine birds, Passeridae. They can also be known as true sparrows, old world sparrow. Many of the sparrow species nest in buildings, the House and Eurasian tree sparrow inhabit cities in larges numbers. The sparrow is primarily a seedeater but can also consume small insects.
Sparrows are generally small brown- grey birds with short tails and small powerful beaks. There are only subtle differences between each of the species. Sparrows look very similar to other seed eating birds such as finches. Sparrows have a vestigial dorsal on their outer primary feather and has an extra bone in their tongue, which helps to stiffen the tongue when holding seeds. They also have specialised bills and elongated alimentary canals for eating seeds.
In the book ‘Handbook the Birds of the World’ the classification for the main groups of the sparrow, is the true sparrow (passer), snow finches (montifringilla) and the rock sparrow (petronia). The groups are similar to each other and each is fairly homogeneous. Early classifications place the sparrow as close relatives of the weavers among various families of small seed eating birds, based on their breeding behaviour, bill structure and moult.
The symbolic meaning of the Sparrow says that they have power and can provide protection due to their large numbers. They move around in large groups, eat at the same time and are content birds; due to this some predators may feel intimidated. Sparrows teach us about safety in numbers, which is very important. Sparrows are vigilant birds and their determination to find food, foraging for their nests and gathering for their young. This reminds us to ignore the negativity in the world and live a full and healthy life.
They have persistence and integrity this shows us that we do not have to be big to make a difference. Due to their colouring the sparrow can be easily disguised, also being a master at flight. This reflects on our self worth and shows that we should feel for ourselves making us think to be creative and to solve problems. The sparrow is said to have higher thoughts and ideas with passion and energy, beckoning us to keep our burdens as light so we avoid a heavy heart. This traditional hymn below shares in the symbolic meaning of the sparrow.
His Eyes are on the Sparrow
“Why should I feel discouraged? Why should the shadows come? Why should my heart be lonely When I know with Source I am One? I sing because I'm happy, I sing because I'm free, The Eye of Source is on the Sparrow, I know Source watches over me.”
In the bible the sparrow is seen has a significant little bird, they are social creatures that a lone sparrow was seen to be the symbol of deep loneliness. ‘I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop’ psalm 102:7. In the days of God sparrows were sold for a very low price, two of them for a copper coin. ‘Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will’ Matthew 10:29.
The sparrow was so widely respected that if you bought four of them the seller would throw in one more for free. It was this extra sparrow of which Jesus said, "and not one of them is forgotten before God." The care of his creation was so great that even the extra sparrow was observed by God. The thought behind this was if God is concerned about the tiny sparrow and his fate, how much greater must his concern be for mankind, who is immeasurably greater in value than the sparrow.
The sparrow one animal held sacred Aphrodite she was the Greek goddess of love and beauty. In many myths she rose from the ocean after Ouranos’s genitals were cast into the sea by his son Kronos. She was one of the most powerful Olympians because she has control over looks, lust and love.
Peter Fraser writes
The Sparrow is one of the best known and ubiquitous of birds. Not only is it found all over the world but it is an urban bird that chooses to live in close contact with man.
Sparrows are one of the most sociable birds. They like to nest close together and do not like nesting sites where only one nest can be constructed. They also congregate together and play together. In the winter they form large gangs that will go off to maraude newly harvested or seeded fields. Not only do they like the company of their own kind but they seem to really like the company of humans. They like their nests to be as close as possible to human habitations, even though this does not seem to be necessary to their feeding habits. It is possible that they feel some sort of protection from the presence of humans, that many of their predators are afraid of man and so it is safer to be near human habitation.
The first group of symptoms in the remedy are around a sense of restless energy that links well to the energetic, boisterous and restless nature of the bird. Provers felt energised and needed to do something, the other side of this was a propensity to becoming bored and a sensitivity, particularly a tendency to irritation.
As in almost all the bird remedies there is a calmness and peacefulness and an ability to remove oneself from the world and its turbulence. In this proving there was a particular sense of growing old which contradicts the youthful exuberance of the bird.
Sexuality was an important issue for many provers. The sparrow has always been regarded as a bird of love and was associated in classical mythology with Aphrodite, the goddess of love. In the famous poem of Catallus Lesbia's sparrow is a symbol of true love and spiritual connection and not just of lust. Though sparrows are often regarded as one of the most lustful and sexually active birds.
The male sparrow builds a nest and the female then chooses her mate on the quality of the home he has to offer. However, in recent times when there has been a severe stress on food supplies and nesting sites in Britain, it has been suggested that the female will go and also mate with the strongest or most attractive male around and then return to her nice home.
There was also a strong feminine and nurturing element to the proving. Provers desired to look more feminine and attractive. The desire for family and the safety of the familial environment was strong. Particularly important was the desire to cook and to provide food for friends and family.
The theme of violence was particularly important in the remedy. The sparrow is a violent animal and the fights between young males are bloody and often fatal. In the States the sparrow is often seen as an alien interloper who supplants more popular native birds and there are some fairly violent attempts to eradicate it. A sense of being threatened and of being the victim of violence was experienced by many provers, but equally important was swearing and violent behaviour.
An interesting aspect of this was the importance of cats in the proving. The school cat spent almost all of the proving weekends firmly ensconced on the lap of one the provers which was definitely unusual. Many provers found that their relationships with their cats was emphasized or altered during the proving and many provers had dreams of cats and dogs, but particularly cats. The close connection between the predator and the prey seems to be very important in the bird remedies: the Falcon and the Dove are surprisingly similar remedies. So it was revealing that provers had such a strong sense of identification with the cat which is the sparrow's most ruthless predator.
Perhaps the most important symbolic aspect of the Sparrow is the way it has been regarded as of such little value that it has become a symbol of value. This is found best expressed in the Gospels where Jesus says: "Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows." Saint Francis expressed his love for all God's creatures by preaching his sermons to the sparrows. The idea of both demanding to be honoured and respected, to be valued and of being hampered by not being honoured, respected or valued was important for many provers and was also found in their dreams. It seems that this might be one of the most important issues for the remedy.
Why prove Sparrow?
A personal account by Misha Norland
House Sparrows have long adapted to human habitations, the records of which are lost in mists of time. They are descendants of Old World Weaver Finches, a family of birds distinguished for their resourceful nest-building ability. House Sparrows are mentioned in Classical Greek mythology where they are associated with Aphrodite. In a famous poem by Catallus, Lesbia's Sparrow is a symbol of divine and enduring love. Another later story tells of how it was the only bird present throughout the crucifixion of Christ, making it a symbol of fidelity and spiritual connection and echoing its classical Greek association with the beloved. For Christians, the enduring beloved is the saviour, Jesus Christ.
Sparrows are a noisy rabble inhabiting barns,
chattering under eaves. They have a reputation for
being rude as rats, common thieves. Drab of feather,
breeding fast, flying in flurries, leaves in draft,
they chirp but cannot sing, just a common thing
that working folk have an affinity for. Sparrows provide
fast-food for cat, target practice for brat, not much more.
But sparrows are scarce now, while our population expands.
We are fully fed, newly rich, oh-so-proper, in a ditch, caught
in our own snare: we have crowded our environment
with tarmac and concrete, and sparrows are no longer there!
Disrespected, that is a key-note of this bird, alongside
a habit of living close, as if humans were their pride.
Do you think Saint Francis taught them about humility?
Perhaps they are mirrors in which we see things we do not
wish to view. We go shopping, make small talk,
but when do we feel beautiful and true? When do we
chirp in simplicity and ease, “You see me, I see you?”
The Sparrow has its fair share of folk lore, as do so many birds. The common theme being that of victory over injustice. It was a household deity in the UK. Indeed, in mediaeval times, it was an emblem of peasants and the lower classes throughout Europe. Peasants, at this time, were invariably beholden to their overlords and downtrodden by them. To help them compensate, they made up stories of how the insignificant Sparrow succeeded over such potent enemies as wolves, bears, and eagles, the traditional symbols of nobility and those who subjugated the peasants.
After moving to London from Wales when I was a small child, and going to school there, I became increasingly aware of the social structure which had up until then, cemented society together. As a refugee’s child, I was both an outsider and well aware of issues of racial persecution. I should mention, as a relevant aside, that I passionately held to the views of my parents, who had long cherished ideals of common rights and equality of opportunities amongst peoples of all races, creeds and social position. Given this inclination, as well as my need to feel included, I was delighted to learn that the Cockney folk (London's indigenous working class population) considered the common house Sparrow to be their emblem. It had been explained to me that this was on account of their gregarious natures, their love of chattering and their extended families which allowed for squabbling and reconciliation. Working class kids were always in and out of each other’s homes, ganging up and, of course, fighting off rivals. This behavior is seen in Sparrows also, for they are amongst the most social birds who will, however, relentlessly defend their nesting sites. Identifying myself with these themes, I happily adopted the Sparrow as a kindred spirit.
Recently, upon learning of the general decline, and in many major cities the total disappearance of House Sparrows, most of us in the UK felt shocked and saddened by the demise of our once familiar friends. But here at Yondercott, around our old house in rural Devon, with its ivy clad North wall, providing ample nesting sites, and duck and chicken food to pilfer, Sparrows abound. That is until the Sparrow Hawk takes up residence in our garden to raise its young. Then ‘our’ Sparrows are temporarily decimated, only to multiply again, so that by Christmas, they are full throated and chirping to celebrate their and our annual family reunion.
I have long cherished the desire to carry out a proving of this noisy little bird, so ubiquitous as to be taken for granted in our disenchanted modern times, so successfully adapted to our human environment and so honoured in past ages when the significance of totem and symbol was regarded.
How wonderful that a bird should voluntarily decide to take up an environmental niche provided by us without being trained for it, as are hawks and falcons, without being encouraged by providing special sites as are doves or set bird tables and feeders to entice them, without being domesticated as are cats and dogs. In fact, “how wonderful” sums up what many of us feel about this cheeky and chirpy familiar. And how different this is to our attitude towards other creatures who live amongst us as pests as do rats and cockroaches. Perhaps our love affair with "a common bird of the people" is turning sour as we wrestle to climb out of working class status, aspiring, upwardly mobile, towards being closer to the ruler rather than the ruled. In many environments, House Sparrows are becoming an endangered species.
It is easy to access Sparrow sites on the internet. Such a search furnishes a plethora of information about culling Sparrows, about killing the pests. For that is what they have become in many countries where they have been inadvertently or foolishly introduced. In the USA and in NZ for instance, they have become a threat because they push out indigenous species.
Read full proving here: Sparrow (Passer Domesticus)
Sensitive and Irritable
Sex and Mating
Cooking and Nesting
Belonging to a Family
Safe and Cared For
Fear of Violence
Honoured and Respected
Kingdom : Animalia
Phylum : Chordata
Clade : Dinosauria
Class : Aves
Order : Passeriformes
Suborder : Passeri
Infraorder : Passerida
Superfamily : Passeroidea
Family : Passeridae : Illiger, 1811
Sparrows are one of the most sociable birds. They like to nest close together, congregate together and play together. Not only do they like the company of their own kind but they seem to really like the company of humans. They like their nests to be as close as possible to human habitations, it is possible that they feel some sort of protection from the presence of humans, many of their predators are afraid of man and so it is safer to be near human habitation.