I have always been fascinated by birds. Dreamed I could take flight and drift on the currents just like the eagles. Watched Robins make a nest on my patio and lay 6 eggs. Then defend the nest fiercely from me as I tried to enjoy just a square inch of my patio space and take pics of the new arrivals as they grew. Blue Jays have landed on my chairs and chatted away to me. Magpies have ripped apart my flower baskets and helped themselves to my moss. The variety of birds that come to visit daily in my gardens and yard are wonderful and welcome.
I have got back to working with some of my shaman practices and studying birds. Their hunting habits, communal tendencies and not so communal tendencies. I have watched as crows cornered the neighbors cat in the weeping willow. They were not happy the cat was invading their domain and wanted it out now. The cat was cornered and whining for help. I intervened with the crows’ shenanigans and had a chat with the cat to suggest a different route next time it wanted to wander.
Crows and ravens have alway been present with me for as many years as I can remember. They are the first birds to greet me in the morning and stay with me throughout the day. No matter where I travel to, they seem to be present. I even spotted a crow in the Vancouver airport in 2019 when we boarded a plane to Bali. It was squawking up a storm in the rafters but seemed to disappear as we departed.
My niece and I recently took a little hike to one of my favorite spots on the trail to some caves. We didn’t go that far as that wasn’t the purpose or destination this time around. There is a spot on the way that has a lovely water flow with luminescent moss covering most of the rocks. The sun peeks through the grove and bounces off the water into thousands of prisms of reflective light. It’s divine light. The place feels sacred and special. I use it often in meditation as a visual aid when thinking of a place in nature where the vortex is transparent.
We sat down by the rocks and I started to drum a bit. The shaman’s purpose was to invite spirit animals to come join us in the grove. It was my niece’s first shaman journey and I hope not her last. The meditation involves listening to the drums as you move through a natural transition into a space of peace. It invites you to imagine yourself in a grove with a place to lay down. In this case a flat rock in the centre with sunlight beaming down on it. Relax and feel the warmth. Take the time to enjoy the release of worries and tension. Invite nature in and ask the spirit of any animals close to come join you in the meadow. I think she was surprised to feel the presence of animals around us. One in particular she described as knowing it was there but not quite willing or ready to join her. It kept the perfereral view. It was obvious what it was and curious about her presence. This was a great success for her first time journeying.
Facilitating someone else’s journey was good practice for me as it has been awhile since I have done any guidance for someone else. At the same time I did feel some of my guides’ presence also and some new creatures hanging around. Prominent was the raven. A large one swooping overhead catching the downdrafts then moving higher to hover close.
In some of the literature I am exploring about birds it talks about the different types of feathers birds have. I am not going to go into too much detail here only to say that collecting ones I find on the ground has become more purposeful in the selection. The differences between those used for primary flight, covert and contour and the down feathers that are soft to the touch while holding great healing properties. I have a new appreciation for how complicated flight is for birds. Something that seems so natural has an ingenious mechanical design associated with it.
I have used feathers for smudging and in ceremonial practices before and know that different ones carry a variety of energy and meaning. As we kayaked around Crowsnest Lake on a recent camping trip, the hawks would swoop and glide high above us. The swooping sounds reminded me of being smudged with sage on numerous occasions. I would like to think the hawks were sharing with me the strength and powerful energy of sight and flight.
I plan to explore more the ceremonies and exercises I can incorporate into my shaman journeys. The yogic practices fit nicely too with many similar theories of practice associated with air flow, breath, flight, dreams and gliding on the wind.
Birds are amazing creatures. We can learn alot from observing them. Meditating with them. Incorporating their habits and life lessons into our own lives. They are always with me, watching, warning me of danger and things to come I need to pay attention to. I had a crow do a dance on my fence three days in a row three months before my mom passed away. I have come to respect their presence and guidance.