‘Elephants Have Wings’ is the beautiful story of two children embarking on the great journey of discovery, nestled in the wings of a mystical white elephant. They fly across the universe, seeing its beauty, then conflict, to discover, there is a pathway to the humanity in all of us.
At its heart, ‘Elephants Have Wings’ is illustrations and words for young people and adults to share and discover their own ways towards peace.
Why is it called Elephants Have Wings?
In Hindu mythology during the monsoons that refresh the earth with life-giving rains, the clouds bringing rains are regarded as the WINGS OF ELEPHANTS. Airavata is a mythological white elephant who carries the Hindu god Indra. Airavata is also called ‘elephant of the clouds’.
The Parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant
‘Elephants Have Wings’ is a re-visioning of the parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant in a timeless landscape.
There are many versions of the story of the blind men and the elephant. tale, where a group of blind men (or men in the dark) touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one feels a different part. They argue over what they feel, until they realise they are touching the one elephant.
It opens the search for the discovery of – what is truth?
Originating in India, this parable is told in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sufism, Jainism and many Eastern faiths, mythologies and studied in philosophy universally.
The inspiration for Elephants Have Wings
Susanne’s journey to India and Asia, her experience at the Baha’i Temple in Delhi, multi faiths and the elephants in both religious art and wildlife, melded with the parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant. This combined with a deep commitment to discovering truth and inclusion.
The extraordinary kalaga, uniting the mythology of Buddhism and Hinduism with the mystical elephant, welcomed her back from India.
It spurred her onto create Elephants Have Wings.
“This is a book for all ages. The commonality of its story across so many religions begs an investigation into why it would be – what is its core message that has such universality?’
Barbara Braxton Teacher Librarian
M.Ed.(TL), M.App.Sci.(TL), M.I.S. (Children’s Services) Dromkeen Librarian’s Award
Elephants Have Wings is Endorsed by The Blake Prize for Art and Poetry
The Blake Prize is named after the legendary British artist and poet William Blake (1757-1827). Established by Jesuit priest, Michael Scott and a Jewish artist, Richard Morley to create significant works of spiritual art in 1951 in the search for understanding and peace. The Blake Poetry Prize was added in 2008. Elephants Have Wings is the only children’s book endorsed by The Blake Prize.
Harmony Day with its universal theme of inclusion, is integral to Elephants Have Wings which forms part of many Harmony Day celebrations on 21st March.
Elephants Have Wings is studied in the cross curriculum Australia and Asia engagement – Australian curricula, Asia and Australia and the Human Society and its Environment curricula for Geography.
What does the Elephant symbolise?
- Elephants are both revered in religion and respected for their prowess in war. Ever since the stone age, there have been images of elephants in art and mythology surrounding them.
- Elephants for many cultures represent courage, hope, endurance, wisdom.
- Buddha was re-incarnated into a white elephant and at his birth, a white elephant appeared in the sky.
- Garuda the mythological bird created from the cosmic egg hatched the eight elephants supporting the universe.
- Ganesha, venerated Hindu Elephant God, is Lord of Obstacles and Beginnings.
- In Islamic tradition, the year 570 is when the Prophet Muhammad was born and is known as the Year of the Elephant.
- In Christianity the elephant has become symbolic of Biblical stories. The elephant, if ridden by Peter, symbolizes the church going forth to conquer the world. Christian Symbols
- Elephants are represented in art, faiths, wildlife across the world.
Elephants are Asian or African and very intelligent. They show grief, joy, anger and play. They form deep family bonds and live in a herd led by the oldest and often largest female elephants. They have memories that span many years. Roaming in herds and consuming hundreds of pounds of plant matter in a single day, elephants need a lot off food, water and space. However their habitats are being lost and hunters are poaching them for their ivory tusks.