A Vulture Visits My Home #vulturesymbolism #birdmessengers #hummingbirdsymbolism

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.

harbinger of joy
Today’s Harbinger of Joy

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.

Rejection and Resilience

It was my dreams, and later an email from a friend, that reminded me of a legacy of rejections, but it was the great blue heron in its silent flight to water, who reminded me of resilience and strength.

flying great blue heron

As Ted Andrews notes in his book Animal Speakthe heron is a symbol of self-reliance and inner strength. Although the heron has the power of voice, it is known for its quiet, stealth-like nature. Unless it is breeding and tending to its young, the heron is often alone. The choice to spend much of its life in solitude benefits, instead of hinders the heron’s ability to survive and thrive.

In light of recent events, I have been thinking about the concept of rejection. I was, in essence, rejected before my birth. My father had wanted a boy, my mother, no child at all. Yet, I was born a girl of “truth.” I was destined to experience the lessons of resilience and rejection throughout this life.  What started as a birth mark, became legacy of wounds that would cut into my soul, scar-over, and open again, and I would learn how to persevere and survive.

The heron teaches us how to find the truth inside. When I started unraveling my mother’s truth from my own, I experienced the slow, painful, yet freeing release of the bonds I had desperately held throughout childhood.

In her email, my friend wrote about feeling like an orphan with family. It is a concept I have often associated with. When I began to reject to truths I was raised on, I was rejected once more by my mother, and the stepfather who’s truths she has always favored. I have, in essence, become an orphan with living parents. Yet, I have not lost everything. I have, through this process of  rejection and self-discovery, uncovered my truths, and with them, the permission to love and include the people in my life I once rejected.

Last night I had a series of dreams, most of which have by now become the blurred snapshots of scenes. It’s funny how the feelings that are evoked from our dreams linger more strongly sometimes than the images. Like most nights since Easter, I experienced dreams about my childhood family. Last night, I was back at my childhood home, but as an adult, attempting to hide from my angry stepfather. He found me in the garden, where I was emerging from the covers of a bed.

This brief snapshot of the dream that I recall is filled with symbolism. Not only am I still unearthing the fear deeply imbedded in my cells from childhood, my soul is seeking the rebirth of the true self.

My friend and I have been corresponding about rhizomes and the totipotent abilities of plants. Referencing the french philosopher Gilles Deleuze, she wrote, “to our detriment, western society has been too obsessed with the idea of unity, progeny, singularity, seed–the model of the tree.” Instead, it is the metaphor of a rhizome that he applauds, as she wrote, “a tuber who can shoot off brand new shoots in any direction, at any time, and is not “unified” so that several new places of growth can’t always be linked to the same seed. I love this sense of family! I am and I am not my father’s seed. I am so much more and other.”

As am I. I am my mother’s daughter, and my father’s (both of them), but I am not. I am a collection of cells and their memories that have chosen to grow a new form, to break apart once more, and grow again, new and separate. I have retained the memories of the original form(s), yet I am becoming my own, self-reliant self. As my dream reflected, I am still shedding the imprint of fear to emerge new and whole from the garden of self. Fear, I have found, is a hard habit to break.

Later in the night I found myself flying, it seems, as I was level with rooftops, along a street with beautiful buildings. As I passed each structure, my eye examined the intricate details of the designs. Instead of the clutch of fear I had experienced in the previous dream, I was filled with the breath of freedom and bliss. I was the heron studying all the gifts I held inside (and out).




The Wild Feline: Night Hunter & Source of Divine Feminine Power #dreams #catsymbolism #divinefeminine

Wild cat
A Wild Cat in Captivity

I was going to write about the mouse as a messenger, but it was the cat in wild form who came to me last night. She appeared spotted in orange and gold, waiting for me to see her as I was pulled out of one distressing dream into another.

When I opened Ted Andrew’s book Animal Speak this morning, I knew why the feline messenger had made her presence known. Regarding the panther/leopard, he writes that she is a sign of “reclaiming one’s true power.” I had gone to sleep feeling frustratingly powerless. In truth, it was not a major event that caused me to feel this way, but my “feelings” about the matter, which underlies the crux of every issue, were part of a deeper fear that needed my attention.

It’s little wonder my dreams were full of loss, the first heart-wrenching, followed by a series of events that seemed to spiral just beyond my control. When I woke I realized the circumstance that had so irritated me and made me feel powerless the night before were minor in comparison to the journeys of my dreams. It was suddenly no big deal, I knew I could easily find a solution.

All cats, both wild and domestic, carry the wisdom of the night. They connect us to our psychic gifts, which are birthed out of our yin energy, also known as the source of our divine feminine wisdom. My messenger, as I mentioned above, was spotted. I had seen her before, a couple of years ago, in twinned form. She was young, but now she seemed older.

Each spot on the wild cat’s body was like an eye, pulling me within. Andrews writes, “All cats have binocular vision, magnifying images, and facilitating judgment of distances.” (pg. 295) My visitor wore a body of eyes the colors of the 2nd and 3rd chakras, pulling me into the fire inside as she reminded me that I am never powerless if I choose not to be.

The panther/leopard can signal a time of rebirth. As Andrews writes, “old longstanding wounds will finally begin to heal, and with the healing will come a reclaiming of power that was lost at the time of wounding.” (pg. 297) My dreams last night brought me back to my childhood and adolescence, to struggles where I gave away my power to my family and classmates. As the wild cat in my dream quietly stood by in observation, she reminded me it was time to reclaim what I had once given away.

For those of us who are used to having our power stripped away from us, it can be a frightening experience to reclaim what we have lost. The fear that our gifts will be ripped out of us lurks inside our memories, and we doubt our strength and abilities. Most of us never come close to knowing what powerful creators we are, especially women. We have learned to fear what makes us strong, because others have feared the brilliant flame that yearns for light inside of us. The panther/leopard/jaguar appears to quietly lead us home. She wears the powerful stealth of night, hunting her prey with a strength and skill not easily matched.

“The panther holds the promise of rebirth and guardianship throughout. It is the extra protection we need at those times. It is the symbol of power reclaimed from whatever darkness within our life has hidden it.” (Andrews, pg. 298)

The Mystery of Fox

The fox that came in the mail
The fox that came in the mail

How could I not write about the fox after reading Sue Vincent’s post last night, “Foxed.” Her words held the promise of magic I could not resist. Of course there was also the obvious tug from Spirit, who has shown me the fox in 3 different forms over the last 24 hrs.

Yesterday, after playing in the woods behind our home with a friend and our rather fox-like dog, Rosy, my daughter came in proclaiming she had found the remains of a fox half-exposed by the slowly melting snow. She had the pictures to prove it.

The remains of a fox?

Later, I followed her outside, the entire family in tow as we studied the evidence. The small, strong jaw seemed about right to our untrained eyes, as well as the unmistakable red-orange fur found nearby. The cause of death, unknown, but we all made guesses. My children were willingly to bet it was a coyote (a common predator of the fox), my husband, in an attempt to temper any fears, suggested it may have died of old age.

We had a mystery on our hands that got me thinking not so much about how the remains of a fox ended up in our backyard, but about what the fox as a messenger really means. In his book Animal Speak, Ted Andrews observes that there are 21 species of fox. 21, as he notes, is the last card in the journey of Tarot. It is often referred to as “The World” card, a card of creation and all possibilities, which makes me think of the color orange that the fox wears both as camouflage and as a symbol of gifts held inside the second chakra.

The fox reminds us to go inside to that place where we create our life’s passions. It is an animal of mystery, rarely seen in the daylight hours, preferring the in-between times that are associated with magic and the fairy realms, when the veil between our worlds is thin. It awakens our passions and our extrasensory perceptions. The fox is a silent predator, able to move quickly with a stealth that is often unnoticed. It hears, sees and smells what most do not.

For those of us hoping to birth new creative energies, the fox can be our guide, helping us grow the magic safely tucked inside our “wombs.” It can guide us into other realms and help us see, hear and smell the more subtle, yet powerful energies around us as we discern with whom and in what to place our trust. When we are ready for “magic,” fox may appear to guide us.

Multiple Messengers #watersymbolism #dreamsymbolism #animalmessengers

Sometime Spirit likes to hammer the point home until we get it.  I find this happens when I am really being called to shift and get rid of old energies and systems of belief that are not serving my highest good. Since my mind likes to work with symbols and metaphors, I often get these messages in the form of animals and vividly detailed dreams. When I put all the pieces together the puzzle becomes complete and I really “get it.”

I’ll share my most recent series of messages as an example. It’s rather amusing when one lets go of self-frustration. Two nights ago I had a series of vivid dreams, of which I would now recall in more detail had I written them right down after waking. But, I think what I retained was enough to get Spirit’s point across, especially when combined with the other messengers that ensued.

In the dreams I found myself in a landscape of water (the element of emotion). The water was an ocean, and it was rising. As I made my way through the water I encountered a large (too large) seal. It was alive, but unmoving, floating like a buoy with its bloated belly turned toward me.

The seal as an animal messenger beckons us to awaken our imaginations and creativity. In his book Animal Speak, Ted Andrews writes, “If a seal or seal lion has shown up as a totem, it is time to do some questioning. Are you getting out of balance.” (pg. 311). Considering that my seal was bloated and unmoving, I would have to say yes.  Since I am a writer and my soul needs this form of creative nurturing, the seal was a “gentle” reminder to find space to feed this part of my soul.

What of the bloated belly though? One might say that the seal in my dream was over-fed. Now, let me tell you about the other vivid image that stayed with me from that night. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say I was on a toilet and a lot of waste was moving through me. Our physical bodies are responsible for storing, processing and getting rid of the energy we take in. Sometimes, when we harbor fears, these energies find a home within us and grow – they quite literally bloat our bellies, or cause dis-ease of some kind. As a former sufferer of IBS, I know too well this type of energy retention and the body’s struggle for release and balance. Although, two nights ago, I was not literally having an episode of IBS, spirit was showing me that it was time for a release of fears.

The following day, I went for a walk with the dogs and my eyes were pulled to the side of the road where a black snake lay curled in the sand. Again, my animal messenger was unmoving, although alive. The snake as a messenger seems to make an appearance in my life when I am in the process of, or am about to undergo, a big shift. As a totem/messenger, the snake awakens the dormant energies inside of us (it’s associated with the awakening of the kundalini energy at the base of our spine) and, through its ability to shed its entire skin, calls us to release our old self and rebirth.

The snake energy is associated with the 2nd chakra, where we house our sexual and creative energies. A chakra area that has been calling for attention and healing in my body.  The point of Spirit was really starting to hit home, but there were still two more messengers to consider.

Over the past few days I have, much to my dismay, encountered more than a few ants in my house. Through much investigation and cleaning, I discovered the lure – a jar of honey with a loose lid. Now I must confess that the ant is not one of the animals I tend to spare when I encounter them in my house, so I did my best to thank the universe while I sent the messengers down the drain with a good dose of the element of water.

It’s likely the message here was multifaceted. The ants were lured to honey – a sweet substance of life (and there may be an indirect message from bee here too, see below). Ants, as most people are aware, are quite industrious. They work in a complex social unit of cooperation and order. Andrews writes in his book: “The ant is the teacher of how to build, how to become the architect of your own life. It can show you how to construct your dreams into reality. It will show you that the greatest success occurs with persistence.” (pg. 336). I can safely say I have a few dreams I’d like to manifest into reality, some of which are directly related to writing.

Now let’s side-track a little and look at the bee, because we really should consider the lure of honey. Andrews states that “Bees are long-time symbols for accomplishing the impossible.” (pg. 337). Of course one might say that the impossible is only impossible inside the confines of our minds. Could it be that I am being called to actually enjoy, and find the sweetness inside, the process of manifesting my creative endeavors into reality (yes, there is a tone of irony here)?  Sometimes we do forget that life is supposed to be fun and filled with light and joy.

There’s just one more messenger I want to consider before I end this blog. The catbird. I seem to have a resident catbird outside my home that likes to make itself seen in my presence at the most telling of times. The catbird, with its talent for a wide range of songs, is a messenger of communication. This morning, when my friend the catbird appeared before me, I was quite literally thinking about my own communication blockages (related to the throat chakra in particular).

And so, it seems, spirit is calling me to the two chakras in most need of my attention – the 2nd, and also the 5th. Two chakras I feel are intimately connected. For when we manifest our creative gifts, we want to be sure we sing them in the clear, beautiful and enduring voice of our truth.

The Grace of Deer #deermessenger #deertotem #deersymbolism


It seems a day rarely passes for me without the gracing presence of deer. Whether I am walking or driving my car, these beautiful animals are passing into my life this spring to remind me that all birth takes grace and patience. When we allow ourselves to embrace the full beauty of our lives and our gifts, we will birth new beginnings with greater ease and abundance.

The deer is a silent creature of the forest. In fact, its ability to be quiet and camouflage into its surroundings is its best defense against predators. That, and its ability to stop and listen and, when necessary, run with swiftness and grace.

The deer is an animal that embodies beauty without being a threat to others. Even the male deer is a symbol of majestic strength without the attachments of danger and fear. Deer reminds us that we can be strong and confident without being arrogant and overt. When we embody this grace and beauty, we attract the awe and respect of others without the trappings of jealousy or malice.

Deer is an animal that does not hibernate, but is always quietly present in and around the forest. It knows how to adapt and survive in a place where danger lurks beside magic and abundance. The adult male deer, with its rack of antlers, can remind us of our psychic abilities and our access to divine guidance and higher truths. Ted Andrews, in his book Animal Speak recommends counting the number of points on a stag’s antlers to gleam greater insight on its message for you. This may also be applied to a herd of deer. Count the number and then look it up and see if this adds greater meaning to the message of this animal encounter.

It is also important to check in with your own thoughts and life circumstances when deer appears for you. What is deer telling you about your life? Connect with the spirit of the deer through intent and see if you receive a message.

Andrews associates deer with the number 5, in particular, because it takes 5 years for a deer to grow the largest rack of antlers. He states that deer may be telling you to look for new growth, especially intuitive/perceptive growth to occur within the next 5 years. The number 5 is associated with change and activity, and also inner strength.

If you are about to have a new baby, or if you have a young child at home, the deer can remind you of the importance of nurturing and protecting your child from outside energies and influences. This can be applied to anyone, not only infants and young children. The deer is a vigilant and attentive caregiver, reminding us of our own need for self care in a world permeated with too much fear.

This morning, when I encountered a deer, it was literally running away in fear. I was walking with a friend and we had our dogs with us. Not coincidentally, we had been talking about the fears we had for our children in a world where we could not always count on them being safe.

When you see a deer, stop for a moment and check in with your own fears. Ask yourself what is holding you back. Is there something, fear-based, that needs releasing? Do you need to trust more? To embrace the beautiful gifts you are reluctant to birth? Are you being kind and gentle to yourself and others?

Take a moment to listen. Deer have wonderfully large ears. What do you hear?

Crow – A Trickster Totem? #crowtotem #crowsymbolism #crowmessenger

Frequently, during healing sessions with my clients, animal energies will appear as messengers or totems. Recently, a crow made its presence known by appearing on a woman’s left shoulder. I felt a chuckle escape from my mouth, clearly this one was a bit of a trickster.

Often, our bird totems will perch themselves on our shoulders and travel with us throughout our days. They offer us guidance and wisdom even when we don’t know they are there, much like our spirit guides do. In fact, I view them as spirit guides specialized in the energetic characteristics of the particular animal they represent. As I told my client, sometimes they come and go as needed, sometimes they are with us for the span of our lifetime. I think crow, in her case, was what you might call a primary totem animal. Her shoulder was even fatigued from its weight.

Although she could not “feel” the fatigue and muscle strain the way I could, it was significant that it was there. Crow as a totem animal guide can be a bit complex and mischievous, much like its counterpart appears in nature. They are smart survivors, and will go through any means of trickery needed to get to their desired goal.

Watch for crows in nature. You will often find them perched on the top of trees as sentinels, looking for opportunities. Their black, feathered bodies evoke the energy of mystery and magic. Their piercing eyes mirror wisdom. They are adaptable birds. Crows find the means to survive in any situation they encounter. When needed, they work together to locate food sources, even if it means stealing from another animal. Their diet is not limited, they’ll eat pretty much anything at hand. They’ll even turn on each other, if a circumstance threatens their individual survival.

At other times, crows act together, using sentinels and messengers to relay information regarding food sources and danger. Listen to the crow’s voice and you cannot help but feel its power. It is not a pleasant sound, like a songbird’s, but it holds an undeniable strength. When a crow passes overhead, even if it is silent, one may feel the impulse to shiver. Yes, there is mystery in the crow, which often pulls us to the place of magic and secrets.

Black is considered the color of creation, and the feminine energies of the universe. As Ted Andrews points out in Animal Speak, black represents the womb where new birth occurs. The crow, as a totem animal, can help us with this aspect of ourselves, showing us how to go within to find our inner magic and to pull out hidden gifts.

In the case of my client, the crow on her shoulder had been with her for some time, helping her to survive, but not always ethically. It was time to shift the crow’s energy, and I urged her to shake the crow off its perch from time to time, and let if fly around, switch shoulders, etc. Since she has already done much healing, I have no doubt my client will start working with crow in a new way, using its energetic gifts to delve into the truths of her soul, and use her intellect in ways that will bring light to not only herself, but to others.

Crow can draw us into the mysteries of the womb and stir it to life, but we must take care to ensure that we bring those gifts into the light in a means that will offer more than personal gain.

The Spider’s Dream Tale #spidersymbolism #dreamsymbolism #animalguides


Two nights ago, before I went to sleep, I placed Doreen Virtue’s Divine Guidance book on  the shelf beside my bed, closed my eyes and took her advice. I asked the Divine to show me my life’s path in the form of a dream, knowing it would be my job to interpret the symbolism in whatever form it manifested.

Here is the dream I was given:  I was at my parents’ house, sitting on their expansive breezeway. It was dusk, the light coming in through the open wall was darkening, creating shadows around the chairs where we sat and scattered the light around the brick floor.  My mother, stepfather, and two other men were there with me. One of the men was Stephen King, the other one unknown. Stephen was there because he was working with my stepfather on a building project for his house. He was lounging on a chair, acting aloof. After we were introduced, I told him I knew his niece ( I really do know his niece). He seemed largely unimpressed.

I then noticed a large white orb in the form of a tarantula spider’s sac under his leg (or my stepfather’s, I’m not sure which). When I realized what I was looking at, I started to panic, knowing this orb would eventually hatch and countless baby spiders would emerge and find their way into the house (I appeared to be still living there). I noticed more small white sacs throughout the breezeway, and my nervousness increased. I wanted to box them inside my daughter’s pink poodle lunch box and send them down the stream beside my parents’ home, but my mother beside me argued against this.

The next morning as I thought about the dream my initial reaction was disappointment. This was my vision? Another difficult dream with my parents and spiders to boot! Then I remembered reading about spiders in Ted Andrew’s book, Animal Speak, in which he refers to them as the totem of the writer (see pages 344-347). In lore, the spider is sometimes called the “weaver of illusion,” or the “grandmother – the link to the past and the future.” It was starting to make sense. I am actively weaving the past and the future together in my life and in my memoir writing.

The body of the spider is in the shape of an 8, the symbol of infinity, “the wheel of life.” The body itself is a bridge, connecting the past with the future. What then of my fears? It could not be an accident that Stephen King, the writer of fears manifested, appeared with the spiders. My anxiety was clearly palpable in my dream. It could be said that many of my childhood fears, aside from my earliest memory, originated within my childhood homes and the words and interactions I had with my mother and stepfather. It could be said that my greatest resistance as a writer is birthing from these sources. Hence, the impulse to send the spiders down the stream.

Spiders, Ted Andrews also writes,  balance the male and female energy. Perhaps it is not accidental that the mother in my dream was urging me not to send those unborn spiders down the stream, even though in actuality her life reaction to my writing has been quite different. We are, after all, the writers/weavers of our own destinies.

Spider is also symbolic of death and rebirth. Andrews writes, “Spider teaches us that through polarity and balance creativity is stimulated.” Life is about balance, as is writing. Sometimes this balance is hard-won, but when we get the hang of it, we realize falling off is nearly impossible. Through my writing, I have certainly been reborn.

Although tarantulas don’t spin webs, they do spin threads. They also make their homes within the earth. They combine gentleness and strength, as well as agility. They are night workers, linking them to the moon and dreams – a source of creative inspiration and wisdom for many, including me.

As I do each morning, I took my dogs for a walk in the woods, listening and looking for signs from nature.  As I turned into my driveway, I saw before me in the sky a large eagle formed out of the clouds. Its head was turned toward the south (the direction of overcoming obstacles and awakening the inner child; trust; and resurrection). The eagle itself was in the eastern section of the sky (the direction of healing, creativity, and rebirth).

Eagle, according to Andrews (see pages 136 -141), is the symbol of healing, creation, and resurrection. The “balance of being of the earth, but not in it.” The bald eagle feathers have links to grandmother medicine, wisdom, healing, and creation. They are connected to the number three, new birth, and creativity. “The willingness to use your passions to purify and to use your abilities even if it means being scorched a little.”

Eagle vision is 8x greater than humans, linking it, like the spider, to the infinity symbol. Andrews writes, “To accept eagle as a totem is to accept a powerful new dimension to life, and heightened responsibility for your spiritual growth. But only through doing so do you learn how to move between the worlds, touch all life with healing, and become the mediator and the bearer of new creative force within the world.” Was this a sign telling me that my pull to be a healer and a writer, somehow combining the two, was a path that was unfolding to me?

A half an hour later, I was outside hanging up the laundry beside our apple tree. I heard the voice of Chickadee and looked up to see three of the little birds singing down at me. This was not the first time Chickadee has appeared to me, asking to be heard. The last time it was seven birds leading me to feathers, this time it was in the form of three asking for my attention. Andrews states that the chickadee (see page 125 – 126) is the bird of truth.  The number three is associated with birth and creativity. Because there are seven types of chickadees, the bird is linked to the number seven and the seven primary chakras in balance. I have had chickadee in my life since I was a child, just as I have held fast to the symbolism inherent in my name.