Nowadays, when somebody sees a rooster, s/he is probably reminded of grilled chicken and eggs, or, if a vegetarian, of chicken batteries and the film Chicken Run.
Back in the day, when everything in nature was full of symbolism and magic, the rooster was a royal bird and associated with the Sun. In the hierarchy of animals, it was superior to the lion.
The bird is the only animal apparently aware of the arrival of the Sun before sunrise and hence believed to be not only the guardian of the Sun but also of time itself. The rooster’s morning song reminds Christians of Jesus, helping their souls to move from the shadow of the material world to the light of the spiritual realm. Christian monks also named their first daily prayer after the rooster, the gallinicium (singing rooster).
The rooster alerts people and animals that the day is going to start and people believed it would make its voice hear every three hours, until Sunset.
It was therefore associated both with night and light and was one of the avatars of Psycopompos, announcing newly deceased souls in the underworld. The rooster was able to travel between the dimensions and while it was usually painted fierce and with vivid colors when in the world of the living, its appearance in the underworld was ash grey and somewhat reddish.
Because of its relation with Psychopompus, the rooster is associated with Mercury.
Since it guarded the Netherworld, the Greeks would bury a rooster under their houses, to guard it from any harm and disgrace.
But the rooster was also the animal totem of the Sun-god Apollo as well, who would wear its tail in the shape of a half Moon as his distinctive.
The rooster is also one avatar of the Indian God Skanda and of the Assyrian Nergal. For the Greek Ares, it represented military courage and in Athens people organized once a year a rooster combat to remember a battle against the Persians.
The bird was the guardian of the 6th sphere of the Mithraen initiation planetary rites, called Heliodrome and hence liked not only to the Sun but the entire celestial sphere.
Many houses in Europe have a rooster weathervanes on their roof: since the bird sings before sunrise, it is associated with the cardinal direction east and the weathervanes indicate the direction of the wind. However, the deeper symbolism in Christian countries is that the rooster represents Christ himself guarding the people living in the house from any calamity.
The rooster was said to be the only animal able to install fear in lions: both animals are kings in their own realms. The rooster always wears its crown and nearly doubles its size once it gets up on its talons for a battle. It is a fierce and aggressive warrior ready to fight till death.
Tradition has it that the rooster had the lapillus alectorianus in its breast, a magical talisman which would help it win the battle against the lion.
Dedicated to a friend who loves her chickens.