Byzantine two headed eagle
In heraldry and vexillology, the double-headed eagle is a charge associated with the concept of Empire. Most modern uses of the symbol are directly or indirectly associated with its use by the Roman/East Roman Empire, whose use of it represented the Empire's dominion over the Near East and the West. The symbol is much older, and its original meaning is debated among scholars. The eagle has long been a symbol of power and dominion.
The double-headed eagle motif appears to have its ultimate origin in the Ancient Near East, especially in Hittite iconography. It re-appeared during the High Middle Ages, from circa the 10th or 11th century, and was notably used by the East Roman Empire, but 11th or 12th century representations have also been found originating from Islamic Spain, France and the Serbian principality of Raška. From the 13th century onward, it became even more widespread, and was used by the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum and the Mamluk Sultanate within the Islamic world, and by the Holy Roman Empire, Serbia and Russia within the Christian world.
Used during the late East Roman Empire as a dynastic emblem of the Palaiologoi, it was adopted during the late Medieval to Early Modern period in the Holy Roman Empire on one hand, and in Orthodox principalities Serbia and Russia on the other, representing an augmentation of the (single-headed) eagle or Aquila associated with the Roman Empire.
Olive oil in religion
The olive tree and olive oil have a symbolic significance for the Byzantine people, beyond their everyday value as food. Christian convictions ensured that olive oil was frequently used as a “miraculous medication” and was used by holy men to treat ailments that were beyond the capacity of doctors to cure. The roots of the word elaion or oil are connected to those of the word eleos or mercy, and records show a large number of references to the links between these two words, particularly in texts that concern the saints. For example, in the life of Saint John the Merciful, a wreath of olive leaves on the head of a woman symbolises charity.
The place where Christianity developed and took form also coincides geographically and culturally with the places where olive oil has a rich spiritual and symbolic role. The inhabitants of the Mediterranean adapted their needs to the potential of their natural environment, making the olive tree and olive oil basic elements of their everyday life and therefore using it as part of their diet, for lighting and as a medicine.
All this indicates what a major role olive oil played in the Christian faith, and how this continued through the ages. The Church recognises the significance of the fruit of the olive tree. This is further confirmed by certain widely-used traditions. The Orthodox Church employs olive oil in three sacraments or mysteries: baptism, chrismation and holy unction. The faithful display their deeply-held conviction that God is the sole source of life and continue to demonstrate this by action rather than just words, making offerings to the church and seeking blessings for the first fruits of the olive groves, to ensure a good harvest. Other ecclesiastical practices, which indicate the sanctity of the fruit of the olive, are the customs of the faithful, which include the practice of anointing themselves with the oil from the oil lamp burning before miraculous icons.
Ancient Greeks believed that the flesh of peafowl did not decay after death, and so it became a symbol of immortality.
This symbolism was adopted by early Christianity, and thus many early Christian paintings and mosaics show the peacock.
The peacock is still used in the Easter season especially in the east. The "eyes" in the peacock's tail feathers symbolise the all-seeing God and - in some interpretations - the Church.
A peacock drinking from a vase is used as a symbol of a Christian believer drinking from the waters of eternal life. The peacock can also symbolise the cosmos if one interprets its tail with its many "eyes" as the vault of heaven dotted by the sun, moon, and stars.
By adoption of old Persian and Babylonian symbolism, in which the peacock was associated with Paradise and the Tree of Life, the bird is again associated with immortality. In Christian iconography the peacock is often depicted next to the Tree of Life.