It flew out of the west, passing like a shadow over the tops of the pines beside my house. The pathway to the moon and the magic inside darkness, the west is the direction of dreams and inner journeys. It returned hours later, or perhaps it never left, again orbiting the western sky low, as though searching.
The rush of pleasure I experienced when the vast, dark body of the vulture passed over dissipated as the day wore on and my mind turned to thoughts of death. The poem in my inbox this morning spoke a beautiful tribute to a slain journalist, a blog shared on Facebook, the tragic drowning of a young boy. My thoughts circled from death to my Daisy who refused to eat her breakfast and then lunch (she never misses a meal).
Later in the afternoon when the vulture flew over, I began to wonder if it smelled impending death nearby. It’s funny how the mind wanders to the macabre before it needs to. Why was I dwelling on darkness, instead of the light? I thought of my dreams over the past several nights, so vivid in their detailed depictions of the archetypes of my fears, all being brought out of the shadows for me to give them light.
This is, in essence, what the vulture teaches, to go within and clean up the debris that causes dis-ease inside of us. When we are willing to travel into the inner realms of the self and walk through the shadows, we can harness the energy of the vulture and its power of survival and healing. Through this purification, we can experience a rebirth. The death of the old gives way to new life.
I was quite sure I had a photograph of a vulture in flight, but it has chosen to elude me for this post. Instead, the hummingbird returned as I searched through my photos, as it has so often this summer, happy to show me that even when we’re mired in the muck of life, there is always the energy of joy and light waiting to be found and seen.
The hummingbird draws nectar to sustain life, favoring the reds of nature in bloom. The turkey vulture’s featherless head is also red, evoking the energy of the base chakra where we hold our most primal fears. When we master the mysteries of our fears we learn the path to our Truth. Ted Williams notes in his book Animal Speak that the Egyptian goddess of Truth, Maat, is often depicted with a vulture feather.
Even though the vulture preys on the carcasses of life, it uses the purifying energy of the sun to cleanse its head and body from the remnants of decay, teaching us about balance and the cyclical nature of death and life, darkness and light.