Animal Messengers: The Cardinal

cardinalI am sitting here on my porch, listening to and watching birds. It’s what I would call a perfect May day, although we could use some rain. The sky is robin egg blue, the temperature hovering around 70 degrees, and a gentle breeze is keeping the black flies at bay. The air is infused with the song of birds.

Lately I have been marveling at the capacity of the songbird to produce such a full-bodied, melodious sound. Did you know that the voice of the songbird enables plants to achieve more optimum growth and produce more food? One only has to sit outside on a spring day to believe that this can only be true. There is something truly magical and peaceful about the song of birds.

The purpose of this post, though, is not to laude the lyrical gifts of the class of birds we call “songbirds,” but to explore their gifts as messengers from the spirit world. As I have written in previous posts, when we pay attention, spirit often speaks to us through nature.

Today, while I took the dogs for their early morning walk, a male cardinal flew across my path and stopped in a hemlock on the side of the road, waiting to be noticed. Yesterday, while I drove my daughter to a sporting event, first a male, and then a female cardinal flew in front of the windshield, bisecting my path in a dangerously close encounter that I could not fail to notice.

When we encounter animals and birds in such a manner, it behooves us pay attention, as it is likely that spirit is trying hard to get a message across to us. Cardinal certainly seemed to be trying to tell me something, so I took careful note. First, I took inventory of my thoughts – the ones that were passing through my head at the moment the male cardinal decided to fly across my path.

I had, I quickly realized, been thinking, or rather, fretting over my desire to manifest more clients and grow my healing business – a subject that has been consuming me of late. As my daughter told me the other day, “Well, you told the universe you didn’t want a lot of clients before you have the space for them.” Yes, she was right, and I have been trying to “correct” that intent over the past several weeks, as I realize I am ready and able to handle more clients while I wait for my new healing space to be created.

Those were my thoughts when the cardinal passed over, which led me to my dreams. Last night, while I slept, I was telling a woman who was in emotional distress that I could help her, but as I searched through my wallet for my business cards I realized they were missing. The previous night, I dreamt of sitting on the top of a very tall and long slide. It was red, rimmed in orange (symbolic of the first and second chakras, where we house our grounding energies, basic needs, and also our creative energies). The slide was steep, and had at least one “bump.” In the dream I was holding onto the hand rails at the side, very reluctant and fearful of descending. A woman at the bottom was urging me to let go and slide to my destination. The first chakra, I might also note, houses a lot of our most primal, deeply rooted fears. The second chakra is also our sexual chakra. The slide, I realized the next morning, was like a birth canal, and I was being asked to let go and “rebirth” a new, fearless self.

Back to the cardinals I’ve encountered of late. Today, when the male cardinal flew into the hemlock, I stopped briefly to ask its message for me. Do try this for yourself, if you don’t already. You’ll likely get a response inside your mind. The words that entered my own mind spoke of insecurities and self-confidence. They spoke of the symbolism of the colors red and orange, and of that beautiful, fearless, full-bodied song housed inside that small bird.

Being a natural “doubter,” I like to check my sources. So, I went home and read though the section on cardinals in Ted Andrew’s book Animal Speak, my personal, go-to-guide for animal symbolism. And there it was, right at the top of the page, “Renewed Vitality though Recognizing Self-Importance.” In other-words, don’t give up on your dreams and keep walking your path, leaving fear behind. As Andrews also notes, cardinals with their loud, clear song, urge us to listen and heed the messages around us. Their colors remind us to breath new life into our ambitions, and assert our creative selves.

Pay attention to the birds who cross your path, drink in the healing energy of their songs, and ask them what messages they hold for you.