Friday, September 25, 2009

Bird Medicine

No, I'm not talking about medicine for a sick bird. :-) . I don't remember when or where I first heard about Animal Medicine. I never really studied the details of it because I like to just absorb things and let them fit into my own mental map. I like the stories of the mischievous coyote, or the brave warrior mouse, or the spider woman who teaches the people how to weave. If you live in the Southwest, it isn't long before you start to hear about Native American beliefs. Many of these are passed on through legends and stories, and many have to do with animals. Certain animals are supposed to represent certain qualities, and if you have contact with an animal, in a dream or in your daily life, it may be a sign of something related to the qualities of this animal.

[I think it is important to say that I don't want to disrespect Native American beliefs and I don't want to co-opt them. I am looking at this information as an outsider and I don't mean to misrepresent. I am only saying what I have gathered from brief exposure to these ideas and what they mean to me as an independent, somewhat spiritually open person. I actually think that a lot of it is universal and understood on a collective sub-conscious level. Here is a link to more info on animal medicine. I don't know who is running this site, but it seems to have a lot of different easily digestible information.]

Anyway, I have been having an unusually large number of encounters with birds ever since July. David and I were driving to Phoenix to the airport when a bird flew into the windshield. I just had a split second to see it before it smashed. I won't go into detail, but it was horrible, and after the shock that took my breath away, I couldn't help crying. To see a life end like that was very upsetting. I think it was a dove or a desert wren.
Then, when we were in Michigan, I was explaining to the girls that blue jays are different in the Midwest compared to the ones that we have. Later that day, we saw a dead one lying on the grass. I was not happy about that and wondered if it was some kind of omen. I chose to not associate two dead birds with our air travel.
As we were driving from Michigan to Minnesota, we saw lots of birds - red winged blackbirds, which I love, herons, and even two bald-eagles! I have always felt a connection to wild animals when they show themselves to me. I usually talk to them, much to the embarrassment of my children. I wondered if these birds were trying to tell me something. I thought about checking out what Bird Medicine might mean. I had heard people talk about animal medicine, but never looked into it. Then I forgot about it and got back into my day to day life at home.

When I started my class at the university here, I was walking from where I had parked my car the first day. There was a beautiful little finch on a fence looking at me and tweeting away. I was glad someone was there to cheer me on. A day or so later, I was again walking from my car and I saw a little bird on the ground by the front door of a bank. I stopped to see if it was o.k. It was a beautiful greenish-yellow with brown markings. It was too big to be a finch, too small to be an oriole. I think it might have been some kind of wren. Two men stopped to see what I was looking at and one bent down to try to pick it up. He put out his finger under the bird's feet and it didn't move. We thought it must be stunned or injured but then, suddenly, it flew off into the bushes.
I came home feeling like it had been some kind of message for me or at the very least, a kind of gift. It was a chance for me to see and appreciate the beauty in the world. This time, I looked up Bird Medicine when I got home. I found an article on line and I loved what it said. I thought I would write about it but I never got to it. Then, yesterday, I was sitting having coffee on a balcony, with my friend, when a very large hawk flew in and circled around our heads! We could see all its markings from underneath with its wings wide. It was beautiful! A crow was pestering it and trying to make it leave which it eventually did.

The article I found on Bird Medicine said that birds represent a connection between the earthly world and the heavens, between the mundane and the lofty. They represent the ability to look at the abstract, the big picture - to have a bird's eye view. Sometimes they are thought to be messengers between the world of the living and the dead or spirit world. Different types of birds have specific qualities that make them symbolic of certain things. A sparrow, wren or common small bird can represent adaptability and productivity. A bluebird is the symbol of happiness. A crow can represent knowledge and vigilance. There are more details that you can read here.

I tried to think about all the bird medicine that I had encountered, the good and the sad. I immediately thought that they would represent flight/leaving. But I was glad to see that the lesson is really much more profound. I am the type of person that looks at the big picture and wonders what it will ultimately turn out to be. I am concerned with being prosperous in my business, and I could certainly learn to be adaptable.

If you have ever seen the movie, Signs, there is a part where he says "Some people don't believe in signs. Some people see them in everything." Does that make them real or not? I think the natural world has a lot to teach us whether or not we pay attention.

1 comment:

  1. I think we miss out on so much with our daily hustle and bustle. There is so much for us to see and learn from our incredible earth if we are just still enough to take it in.