Fall cleaning (Vulture spirit meaning)

turkey vulture feather Somebody handed me a feather the other day. A very long, dark brown flight feather. Neither of us knew what sort of bird had dropped it. But I took it home and looked it up on the Feather Atlas (one of the better things our taxpayer dollars have been spent on.)

Turns out it is from a turkey vulture. I had to chuckle, as for me it was a timely coincidence.

I’m in the midst of a big transition, and as part of the process I”m cleaning and organizing my entire house – closets, attic, the whole nine yards.

Vulture: Symbol of Purification

Despite Vulture’s sordid looks and its diet of decaying flesh, its symbolic meaning has to do with purification and transformation. One of the stories I love about Vulture came from the native people of Costa Rica, who believed that the Vulture is responsible for carrying the souls of the dead up to heaven.

Fall is nearly here – the season of decline and decay. But it is also a season of beauty when seeds are being sown for new growth and new life.

Cleaning house is lots of hard work – especially when you’re digging through 20 years of accumulated stuff. But I’m already feeling clearer and lighter, and look forward to renewed energy and time for exciting new projects once the process is complete.

Whatever is happening in your life right now, take some time today to give thanks for the cycle of life and honor the way it is manifesting for you right now. Give it time – whatever is happening, this too shall pass! 🙂

(I don’t think I’ve introduced my spirit animal affirmation posters here yet. I’ll do it more formally in the next post, but for now just have to include the Vulture one!):

Spirit Animal affirmation poster - vulture

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What is the spirit animal meaning of the Nighthawk?

Nighthawk

Animal Totem for Creative People

Flying Nighthawk watercolor paintingIn an international study conducted by Adobe, slightly over 50% of U.S. respondents, and 39% overall, considered themselves to be creative people. What’s more, the overwhelming majority viewed creativity as being valuable to society and a key driver of economic growth.

However, when the same people were asked if they thought they were living up to their creative potential, the story changed. Only one out of four felt that they were.

How about you? Do you feel your creative self could use a boost? Perhaps it’s time to pay a visit to Nighthawk.

Meet the Nighthawk

Nighthawk is a wonderful spirit animal for creatives of any type – healers, artists, musicians, writers, entrepreneurs, or anybody who uses their intuition. I’ll explain why in a moment. First, though, let me introduce you to this bird.

The Nighthawk is not actually a hawk. It’s a member of the nightjar family, which is related to the whippoorwill. With its long wings, stubby body and round head, it looks a bit like a bat. In fact, Nighthawks have a lot in common with bats. They, too, are a crepuscular animal, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk. Like bats (and unlike hawks), they feed primarily on small winged insects.

If you live in Nighthawk territory and spend much time outside, you’ve probably experienced them passing overhead on many occasions. They are more common than many people realize. Nighthawks are often mistaken for bats, because they swoop around in a very similar manner to those flying mammals.

Nighthawks spend a lot of time on the wing. They have big eyes and very small bills, but don’t let the small size of the beak fool you. A Nighthawk’s mouth is incredibly wide, and that is its secret to success. With its massive mouth open wide, it flies through the air and catches insects for its dinner.

At first, the Nighthawk may strike you as a drab-looking creature. With its unpretentious, mottled brown and gray coloration, it rarely gets chosen for posters and calendars. However, if you ever get the chance to see one up close you will appreciate the utilitarian beauty of its plumage. Because it nests on the ground, it has beautiful barred feathers which blend in perfectly with fallen leaves, dry grass and gravel. On its underside, though, it does sport white patches that show up when it takes wing. These include a white “V” on the throat and white bars across the tail and wings. The wing patches sometimes create a flashing effect as it flies.

Like many creative people, the Nighthawk is quite adaptable. It’s capable of thriving in many different habitats, although it prefers open areas. You’ll even find Nighthawks in the city, where flat urban rooftops provide safe places for them to lay and incubate their eggs.

Nighthawk as Spirit Animal

The Nighthawk is a spectacular spirit animal for creative people and anyone interested in accessing their intuition or searching for higher truth. That is because it represents a bridge between the spirit and the mundane.

This is reflected in the time of day when it is active –neither night nor day but both. It takes flight during those magical ‘between’ times when our intuition tends to be a little stronger. Most traditions align the darkness with more of a feminine energy, and the light with masculine energy. Crepuscular animals like the nighthawk combine both. That is a very powerful thing. (In fact, psychological testing has repeatedly shown that highly creative people tend towards being “psychologically androgynous” – incorporating more of the psychological characteristics of the opposite gender than average.)

Staying Grounded While on the Wing

Even though the Nighthawk spends a lot of time on the wing, it nests on the ground. Like all creatures that fly on the wing, it can be a helpful guide when we are undertaking in higher purpose, spiritual work. But because it is a ground-nesting bird, the Nighthawk offers that down-to-earth connection, too.

Sometimes it’s hard for people who are interested in expanding their spirituality to ground themselves and to relate to and function well in the physical world. If you are having a hard time feeling grounded, if you feel like you’re walking 2 feet above the ground, or if people accuse you of being spacy, the Nighthawk is a wonderful spirit animal to spend some time with. It can help you ground yourself without leaving that wonderful ‘upper realm’ kind of space.

On the other hand, this bird doesn’t actually build a nest on the ground; it just lays its eggs directly on the ground and sits on them. If Nighthawk appears to you, it may be a sign to pay attention to your ‘nest egg.’ Are you tending to your savings and your retirement plans the way you should?

Opening to Inspiration and Abundance

Another wonderful lesson Nighthawk offers to creative people can be learned by observing its feeding habits. The Nighthawk actively sights and chases down its prey, which represents clarity of vision and the willingness to take action. Its fluid swoops and dives as it moves through the dusk are heart-stoppingly beautiful; like a sort of aerial ballet. At the same time, this bird totally opens itself to receiving. With that big, wide-open mouth, it effortlessly opens up and lets the nourishment come in. It is very, very open to abundance.

Often very creative or spiritual people have a hard time learning to receive. That image of being totally open to taking what you need in order to do your calling in the world is a wonderful one to keep in mind if you struggle with abundance. It can relate to both material and creative abundance. Remember the white bars on the Nighthawk’s wings? You can think of those as the flashes of insight that come to you when you put yourself in motion in the practice of your art. In other words, if you find yourself struggling with creative blocks, imagine yourself as a Nighthawk. Relax into the physical process of doing your work. Enjoy the flight – the process of your creative work. Trust that Spirit will provide the insight you need. The outcome will take care of itself.

In short, the Nighthawk symbolizes remaining open to Spirit and being willing to receive what Spirit sends your way. That’s where your creative inspiration or healing work comes from, after all, isn’t it?

Did you enjoy this post? Christie

Did you enjoy this post? If you did, you will enjoy my newsletter, too. I share positive affirmations, spirit animal information and artwork, and spiritual insights for awakening souls. You will also get a free guided meditation to help you meet your Spirit Animal! Just hit the “follow” tab in the menu up top to subscribe.

Is Wolf your Power Animal?

I’ve been working on a series of Power Animal paintings in preparation for showing at the Hiawatha Music Festival Artists in the Round art & craft show next month in Marquette, MI. Thought I’d try another Wolf! Read on below for insight into Wolf as Power Animal.
Watercolor Wolf

Wolves are one of those animals that humanity both loathes and reveres. I think it’s because they represent very intense energy, which can be extremely empowering to work with but also frightening, especially if you’re not prepared for it.

Like most animal totems, Wolf has multiple meanings. Today I want to focus on Wolf as Hunter and Pathfinder. Wolf represents following your intuition and inner guidance, and taking action on it. So if you are seeking your Purpose and Wolf appears to you, pay attention!

As you know, Wolves are predators, tracking their prey by scent as well as sight and sound. They are highly intelligent animals. A pack of wolves will work cooperatively to bring down prey much larger than they are. Deer (and anything in the deer family, including elk and even moose) are their favorite prey. Deer are excellent runners. Bringing down such large animals requires speed, stamina and strategy. Once they have selected an animal to chase, they pursue it relentlessly until it is exhausted.

Wolf as a power animal can help us discover our inner Purpose, and guide us on our path towards it. One of the keys to doing so is to tap into our intuition, or inner knowing. As a wild animal, Wolf has all its instincts intact. Wolf and Dog were originally one; dogs are simply domesticated wolves. (And there is good evidence that the process of domestication was likely initiated by wolves, not humans!) If you feel a strong bond with Dogs, but are struggling with some aspect of your life, you may want to invite Wolf to walk beside you as well. Its sharper, wild instinct may help you in ways that Dog energy isn’t equipped to.

Yes, that wild instinct can be scary. As we tap into our intuition, we may find that it leads us into unfamiliar territory. In fact, it may tell us to do things that feel positively terrifying! This can make you doubt your own instincts. And in some situations, it’s possible for instincts to work against you – especially fear. In the wild, anything new is potentially dangerous. So we have a built-in distrust of change.

Wolf represents the power of tempering instinct with intellect (and vice versa). When you make a decision based on instinct, check in with your intellect first. Ask, “what is the worst thing that can happen if I do this?” Then weigh the outcome against potential benefits. You can do the same thing with your logical decisions. Check in with your gut before jumping in. Learn to trust yourself. Like a wolf crossing a river in winter, you can tune in to those red-flag feelings that tell you to beware of thin ice.

 

In the painting above, I’ve tried to capture the Wolf’s intensity of focus. The Wolf’s direct stare can be frightening, but it is also compelling. Wolf can help us zero in on our Purpose, and pursue it without allowing ourselves to get distracted. As you work with Wolf energy expect your intuition to grow stronger. You will probably become more focused on your goals and more determined in your pursuit of them.  You may find that other people in your life resist this. Be sensitive to when they are being unreasonable, and when you might be getting a little ruthless or overstepping your role. If the latter, it might help to invite some Deer energy into your life.  Gentle Deer can activate your heart chakra to balance out an overabundance of Wolf hunting energy.  Or, focus on the nurturing side of Wolf for a while. Wolves are very family-focused. They spend a lot of time nurturing, playing with, and teaching their pups. If you’ve been working intensely for a while, try taking some time off to spend with your family, or seek out a teaching or mentoring role in your work.

Speaking of which, Wolf also tells us that we are stronger and more successful when we work together towards a common goal. Whatever your goal is, look around you. You are almost certain to find someone whose goals complement yours. Why not see how you can help each other out?

 

 

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If Red Tailed Hawk is Your Spirit Animal…

Red tailed hawk with preyWhere I live in Upper Michigan, Red Tailed Hawks are a common sight. (They are probably the most common North American hawk, and can be sighted year-round throughout most of the continental U.S.) You usually see them either majestically circling on uplifts of air, or sitting in a tree or on a power line, apparently doing nothing.

Appearances are deceiving.

Unlike the Peregrine Falcon, the Red Tailed Hawk hunts by perching in a likely spot and waiting and watching for its prey. (This makes sense because Falcons prey largely on birds, while Red Tails prefer mice, squirrels and other small mammals.) It is an efficient way to hunt; allowing the Hawk to remain physically relaxed while waiting for prey to appear. However, don’t mistake relaxation for laziness. The Hawk has to remain hyper-alert. Overlooking even the slightest movement below may mean a missed meal.

So, if Red Tailed Hawks don’t hunt on the wing, why do we see them so often soaring in the skies?

Well, apparently they just love to fly! And who could blame them for taking wing in celebration after a well-earned meal? But according to master falconer John Blakeman, there’s more to it than that. He believes that a sated Red-Tail’s flight serves an important purpose: as the hawk flies above the landscape, it takes in information that could help it land its next meal.

“…(A)s our Parkway red-tails have flown around their Philadelphia neighborhood in the last year, in all seasons and weather conditions, they have been diligently recording just where they’ve seen potential prey. That’s where they are going to go when they want to hunt, when they or their eyasses are hungry. They have learned to cogently read the entire landscape the occupy, and know exactly where the next meal’s most likely to be found.”

What does Red Tailed Hawk teach us?

If you find yourself drawn to the Red-Tail, consider what it has to tell you about choosing and pursuing your goals in life.

First, Hawks in general are all about Vision. The eyes of Hawks and other raptors (birds of prey) have special adaptations that allow them to see with far more clarity and focus than we do.

When Hawk appears to you, it’s a call to pay attention to the vision you have for your life. Red-Tail teaches us to take in the whole scene first, before planning your course of action. Get a feel for the lay of the land and where the best opportunities are likely to be. Then stake out your territory.

But don’t waste your energy in mindless activity. Instead, take a relaxed position and wait and watch until something juicy comes into view. Then, don’t let it out of your sight but claim your prize quickly and decisively.

What if it’s not a Red-Tail?

The Red-Tailed Hawk is just one of many species of hawks in the world. (There are over a dozen hawk species native to North America alone.) They don’t all hunt in the same way. If you suspect that Hawk is your spirit animal, pay close attention to what particular species you are dealing with. Remember, there is more than one way to approach a goal. Studying the hunting habits of your particular hawk can help you find the style that is best for you!

photo credit: Red Tailed Hawk via photopin (license)

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Did you enjoy this post? If you did, you will enjoy my newsletter, too. I share positive affirmations, spirit animal information and artwork, and spiritual insights for awakening souls. You will also get a free guided meditation to help you meet your Spirit Animal! Just hit the “follow” tab in the menu up top to subscribe.

New painting: Tiger Swallowtail

Tiger Swallowtail copyright 2015 by Christie (Anne) Michelsen

Tiger Swallowtail

Tiger, tiger in the sky

Flashing gold, you soar and fly

Sudden flutter softly by

Sweet and fleeting butterfly!

Butterfly symbolic meanings: Inspiration, intuition, higher consciousness, transformation, resurrection, flashes of insight, power of beauty, strength in vulnerability.

Specific butterfly species may carry additional meanings. Here are my thoughts on the Tiger Swallowtail:

Tiger Swallowtail Totem: Integrating One’s Power

Did you know that the Tiger Swallowtail has two color morphs, black and yellow? I didn’t know until recently that all males are yellow – only the females sometimes appear in black form. Also, only the females (of both color morphs) sport the beautiful silvery blue crescents on the bottom edge of their back wings.

It speaks to me of the special connection women have with the moon. And whether you’re a man or a woman, the ability to balance and honor both the solar (masculine, proactive) and lunar (feminine, intuitive) aspects of your inner being.

Yellow. The color of the sun. Warmth, light, vitality, action! Yellow is also the color most associated with the Solar Plexus Chakra, the power center of the body.

Black. The color of night. Rest, dreams, that which is hidden. This is the realm of intuition, and regeneration.

With its vivid black and yellow stripes and dots, the Tiger Swallowtail speaks to us of integrating these two aspects of our selves. Black on yellow, yellow on black, rhythmically interspersed with each other.

This is the rhythm of the universe. Day, night. Inbreath, outbreath. Wake and sleep.

Traditional cultures honor this rhythm. They set aside time to rest, time to pray, time to heal.

Our society tends to put a premium on action, at the expense of rest. It’s a 24/7 world now, and many of us push ourselves ruthlessly to keep up.

Do you find yourself running on caffiene-laced fumes? Routinely pushing through to find your second wind?

It’s good to test our limits once in a while, but we weren’t made to do it day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. We think it’s a sign of strength. But sooner or later people who do this hit the wall. Burnout. Adrenal exhaustion.

Tiger Swallowtail reminds us to honor our natural rhythms.

Feeling blue, or in a black mood, is often just our body telling us to take it easy for a bit. If you find yourself feeling tired, cranky or sad, give yourself permission to let down for a while. Schedule “down time” into your calendar. Take an hour or a day or a week off if you need it.

No offense to men, but I think women have to be especially aware of our body’s need for rest at certain times. By honoring it, we honor ourselves.Yes, it means acknowledging that we are vulnerable.

But when we embrace that vulnerable side of ourselves, love it, and give it what it needs…

Wow! That’s allowing ourselves to tap deeply into our power to revitalize our lives…so we can take wing as the beautiful souls we truly are.

Did you enjoy this post? Christie

Did you enjoy this post? If you did, you will enjoy my newsletter, too. I share positive affirmations, spirit animal information and artwork, and spiritual insights for awakening souls. You will also get a free guided meditation to help you meet your Spirit Animal! Just hit the “follow” tab in the menu up top to subscribe.