Finding Your Bird Spirit Guide
We need a strong energy connection with animal powers and guardians to help restore our strength and vitality. This supports our immune system, and can help to counter depression and lethargy, with a strong beneficial impact on our own health and psychological well-being
As active dreamers we can draw upon the skills of the animal powers for our own psychic boundaries and healing where necessary. Some can also help with tracking and finding what we seek.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to build on the energy of a previous encounter with an animal – this might be in a dream, vision or waking life. However, not everyone may immediately be able to make a usable connection with an animal power. One of the things we do in dream circles and also in my one-on-one work with clients, is to lead them on a journey to find and connect with an animal Guardian. More precisely, the purpose is to connect or reconnect with a spiritual ally who will appear in the form of a bird or animal.
I want to share my recent experience with an attempt to connect with a local bird. I had became fascinated by the Godwits, who make an epic journey each year from Alaska or Siberia to the far south in New Zealand to winter over in the southern hemisphere, feeding before returning north for breeding. The Bar-tailed Godwit is a large wading bird which feeds on shellfish and other marine creatures and coastal mud flats and estuaries. They perform the longest non-stop flights of any non-– seabird, some 11,000 kms. Unlike for seabirds, there is no chance of an in-flight snack. Communities in New Zealand hold regular ceremonies to welcome and to see off the Godwits on their epic journey. Following the breeding season, the birds generally begin arriving in early September usually after a non-stop flight of 8 to 9 days.
Godwits had been flying over our house, and I got curious about this bird song which I've never heard before. Godwits usually call in-flight, a-wik, a-wik, a-wik.
These birds hold cultural significance for many New Zealanders. For Maori, they were birds of mystery, (“who has seen the nest of the kuaka?”). It was believed that they came from, or at least passed through, the ancestral home, Hawaiki. They have been described in the UK news media as “flying like a jet fighter”. Godwits wait for storms in the northern hemisphere, and then hitch a ride flying at great speed without resting for the 11,000 km journey – the longest non-stop flight undertaken by any bird. The return flight to Alaska includes a stopover in the Yellow Sea so they arrive in good condition to breed in May.
I was intrigued to learn more about these birds and decided to visit the viewing platform at the Manawatu estuary, to observe them. But typical of such quests, it didn’t go quite as planned. Normally the Godwits return to rest close to the viewing platform on high tide, and that was not the time that I needed to be there. However, I decided to go anyway and give the magic a chance to work as it would. The result was that I did not have the encounter with the Godwits that I had hoped. However, the bird that came to me was the white faced heron. So my encounter with the bird powers was not with the
Godwits, which interested me intellectually, but with the Heron – which I most likely had a stronger energetic connection with.
We can talk theoretically about the possible meanings of the Heron – it is a beautiful bird which flourishes in the magical realm between the land and sea. It shows us the abundance of life when we can embody the tranquillity to observe. The heron embodies healing, calmness, perseverance and stillness and yet can move in the blink of an eye to spear a fish. The combination of stillness and speed. In Chinese culture as well as Celtic, the heron is seen as a symbol of prosperity. The Bennu bird is an ancient Egyptian deity linked with the Sun, creation, and rebirth. She may have been the original inspiration for the phoenix legends that developed in Greek mythology. But it's discovering the meaning and power of the animal and bird powers for ourselves that brings the truth.
Perhaps the story of the Godwits is not over for me, but during my “medicine walk” it became clear that the spirit of the Heron is the one with the most to teach me at the moment. One of the morals of the story: don't go with what you "think" is the right guide, but the one who shows up. :)
You can find a connection with your animal or bird guide, in dreams, a vision, or in an intentional encounter in nature.
Photo: White-faced heron. Adult in flight. Plimmerton, May 2016. Image © Imogen Warren
Photo above: White-faced herons fighting, Wairau River, Blenheim. Photo by Derek Templeton