Going back as far as the Stone Age, the lioness has been viewed as the fiercest of hunters. Because of this, lions came to symbolize power and strength — they became the protectors of many ancient cultures and civilizations throughout the course of history, to include Egypt, India, Greece and Persia (now Iran). This symbolism continued into modern times and lions are still looked upon as “guardians” even today.
Their image appears on flags, coats of arms and emblems. This is especially true in the United Kingdom where Heraldic Lions can be found just about everywhere. There are eight types of Heraldic Lions, each depicting the lion in a different position. The positions are Rampant, Passant, Statant, Salient, Sejant, Sejant Erect, Couchant and Dormant. The Lion Rampant is the most powerful of the eight. It stands erect in profile with its front paws raised. The earliest use of Rampant was in Scotland in 1222.
There are other descriptive terms that are used to further identify the “attitude” or position of a Heraldic Lion. For example, if a Lion Rampant has his head facing left toward the viewer, he is a Lion Rampant Guardant. If his head is positioned as to be looking over his shoulder, he is a Lion Rampant Regardant.
Technically there is a ninth heraldic position. It is a Lion Coward. It is any version of a Heraldic Lion with his tail appearing down and between his legs. All the other positions show the tail raised in one form or another.
My husband and I own a condo in a rather large historic building in St. Petersburg, Florida, and we live there full time. Our coat of arms is two Lions Rampant and they can be found in a number of locations throughout the building. The building is 86 years old and we are one street away from the bay. In all these years, not one crisis has befallen our lovely old building – no floods, no hurricanes, no break-ins. Is this a coincidence? I like to think that it is not. When I go to bed at night, I rest easy knowing that I am being protected by the best in the business.
02/21/2012 by Anne Benedetto