Spirit animal painting: Buffalo and Crows

Here’s my latest! (If you’d like to know its messages as I received them, see below.)

Buffalo and crows
Spirit Painting: Buffalo and Crows – Mixed water media on paper, 28″x22″

The Buffalo (actually the American Bison) is a sacred symbol amongst Native Americans. I don’t pretend to know much about Native American spirituality, but I can certainly see why the Buffalo is considered sacred in this tradition. It has incredible strength, solidity, and presence. Here are some of the qualities associated with this majestic beast:

  • Strength
  • Abundance
  • Prosperity
  • Stability
  • Gratitude

(If you are of Native ancestry and/or familiar with this tradition please feel free to add to or correct this list.)

This Buffalo confronts us head-on. It doesn’t seem aggressive, but you can’t ignore its assertive presence. Perhaps it is challenging us to face our fears and live up to our dreams. This is primarily a Yellow buffalo, with hints of Red. Yellow brings to mind the 3rd chakra, or Power Center, and Red is the color of the 1st, or Root chakra. These are both warm colors, contrasting sharply with the wintery landscape. This creature is grounded, powerful, and very much alive.

Although it is still at the moment, the Buffalo’s Breath is visible, jetting forcefully from its nostrils. Breath represents Life and Spirit. It evokes all 4 elements: it is made up of water and air, emanates from the physical body (earth), and contains the heat (fire) that living things generate and carry within them. The breath coming out could represent creative energy, or one’s life force in action.

This Buffalo’s environment is significant. You can see the roundness of the earth in the exaggerated horizon. In fact, the earth seems rather small compared to the size of the animal. To me this is an indication of how significant one’s presence and actions on the earth really are. (You are more powerful than you know!) It is winter, which is a time of rest between cycles. A large animal like the buffalo must eat a lot; because food is scarce in winter it must rely on fat stores from summer to carry it through. Therefore it must trust that when the snows come and the earth chills and darkens, this is a temporary condition and a part of the natural cycle. The Buffalo knows that Spring will come again, and does not panic!

A row of Trees rings the horizon. Trees connect heaven and earth, and are highly spiritual beings. These trees are bare and dormant, but the ghostly flower pattern showing in the snow indicates that under the frigid ice life stirs, ready to spring forth in abundance with the first warm breaths of Spring.

This pending event is hinted at by the wintery Sun in the painting. It struggles to break through the clouds with a cold, watery light, but as the days grow longer it will gain in strength and warmth, providing the energy to nourish all life on Earth through another yearly cycle.

Is this Sun rising or setting? It could be either, representing either new beginnings or the end of a phase or cycle. (Remember, though, that in every ending lies the seed of a new beginning.) The lighting and shadows reveal no set direction, allowing for whatever interpretation feels right at the moment. The buffalo, too, sometimes appears red, sometimes yellow. Either way, it indicates a period of transition, or a pause between periods of growth – underscoring the theme of winter. If you would like to meditate on this image to help you through a transitional period, you might want to imagine it as a setting sun at first, and change to a rising sun as you begin to feel your energies rise again.

Finally, a mob of seven Crows accompanies this Bison. The number Seven is, of course, regarded as having great significance in any number of traditions. It’s frequently associated with magic and spiritual awareness, along with the ability to manifest results in our lives. (Seven black birds appear in another painting of mine as well, an art reading for the daughter of a friend. You can view and read about it here.)

Many traditions associate Crows with magic, sometimes black magic. While Crows are certainly Black, I don’t feel them to be a bad omen. Rather, their color signifies a deeply Feminine energy and access to the unseen spiritual world. Crows have wonderful, strong (some say harsh, but I think they’re beautiful!) voices that carry a long way, and they are great at warning each other of approaching danger. They are a reminder to listen to and heed the warnings of one’s intuition.

Crows are, in many traditions, a Trickster animal. They are also opportunists, and great at not just surviving but adapting and thriving – which is why you are just as likely to meet up with a Crow in the city as in deep wilderness. These particular crows appear a little impish, irreverently perching on and around the majestic Buffalo. They tell us it’s ok to have fun and be bold when pursuing our dreams and goals.

The fun thing about symbols is that they mean different things to different people. I’m always interested to hear what other people take away from the images I create. What does this painting say to you?

Did you enjoy this post? Anne

2 thoughts on “Spirit animal painting: Buffalo and Crows”

  1. I love your painting. I was traveling in the Mount Rushmore area during the holiday. On Thanksgiving night my friend and I were driving back to the hotel through the black hills. One buffalo stepped onto the road in front of the car. The road was a switch back and so we were going slow enough, thankfully, we stopped in time. This Buffalo cross the road and as we inched forward to see it’s partner on the side of the road to our left. He walked onto the road behind us and stood in the middle of it. We tried to get a photo but it was too dark in the flash wasn’t good enough. I was worried about startling them but they didn’t bother us and we drove on. I always Google the animal totem when something like this happens. And since we were traveling I didn’t look at my emails until today and see that you were email came on the same day as our sighting. I will take that as a double message to take net. Thank you for sharing and it sounds like we are having the same life experience. I look forward to hearing more from you.

    1. LOL – sounds like we are traveling the same road indeed, Sherrie! 🙂 Awesome Buffalo story. They are magnificent animals, aren’t they? And how lovely to have that experience on Thanksgiving. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing!

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