Animals, Spirit Animals, and Omens
I was getting ready to go meet a friend for coffee, feeling a bit wary about the get-together as I had to discuss something unpleasant with him. There was a rumor that he’d made some disparaging remarks about a good friend of mine and I wanted to get the straight scoop from him rather than relying on gossip. I needed to look him in the eye and have a conversation about these allegations, to hear his side of the story. I don’t generally like these kinds of confrontations, so even though I was nervous about it, I knew it was important to clear things up directly with him.
As I was getting ready, I glanced out the bedroom window that overlooks a majestic canyon, and saw a hawk cruising along on the air currents. I’d long since learned to pay attention to these appearances by animals as possible messages, but also knew that it wasn’t unusual for a hawk to be floating along in this way. I simply noted it and continued getting dressed for the meeting. When I came out of the bathroom, there on the telephone wire about 20 feet from the bedroom window sat that same beautiful red-tailed hawk who only moments before had been gracefully gliding along with the breeze.
“Hmm!” I thought, “I think there’s something to this.” When an animal appears in an unusual way or repetitively in a short period of time, I take it as an omen or sign. When this happens, it’s important to take time to pause and meditate on these appearances, to discern what the message is and its relevance and meaning for the question or concern is at hand. In Power Animals: How to Connect with Your Animal Spirit Guide, I wrote:
“Animal spirit guides also teach you when they show up in your dreams, meditations, or ordinary reality. When they do, whether or not the animal is your power animal, they’re attempting to give you a message. When an animal shows up in ordinary reality in an uncommon way or at unusual times, such as an owl in the daytime, a deer in your front yard, or a whale out of season, this is most definitely an omen. Pay close attention to whatever’s going on and see if you can discern the message. You may have to meditate on the experience before gaining some insight as to the meaning, and it can be helpful to consult this book or other resources as to the significance of that particular animal.
“Another powerful omen is when an animal shows herself to you frequently or persistently (at least three or more times) in a short period of time, such as over a few hours. It can be the actual animal, a symbol for the animal such as a carved figure or totem, or the printed word for the animal. Pay close attention and see if you can discern the meaning. If Deer shows up three times in relatively rapid succession, is this a call for gentleness with yourself or someone else? If it’s Hummingbird, are you missing the joy and sweet nectar of life by your narrow focus? These signs don’t tell you their precise meaning; they’re merely trying to get your attention. The meaning is for you to discern.”
The message is actually coming from the spiritual counterpart through the physical presence of the animal. When an animal appears repetitively or in an unusual way, he/she becomes a courier or messenger, passing along the guidance that the spirit of that animal is trying to communicate. So Hawk (the spirit of every single hawk on earth) was attempting to communicate through the red-tailed hawk that had been circling the canyon and was now sitting just a few feet from my eyesight. So I stopped in my tracks, closed my eyes, took a breath, and silently asked, “Brother Hawk, what are you wanting to tell me?”
Now, once you’ve asked the question, the response will come in one of four ways: the animal spirit will show you a vision, whisper something to you (typically in very short statements), stimulate a feeling in your body (intuition), or trigger your thinking (insight or inspiration). Often the message comes as a combination of these four channels of spiritual perception. So with my eyes closed, I first recalled the image of Hawk circling in the canyon, then my viewpoint switched to seeing from his eyes. Next, a word flashed in my brain-perspective-followed by the thought, “Keep your perspective.” That sounded like good advice! It meant stay detached and don’t get emotionally wound up about this meeting, before, during, or after.
Staying alert to any further details of this communication, I opened my eyes and simply observed the hawk on the wire. As I did, I was reminded of how patient these winged creatures are. They will stay in one spot for a long time, serene as can be, coolly surveying their surroundings, not worrying or hurrying, taking off only when they’re completely ready to do so. The corresponding message, which came as spoken words in my head, was, “Be patient. Let it unfold at a natural pace. Don’t jump in right away.” Wise counsel from my animal brother.
As I continued to meditate on Hawk, it occurred to me that not only do hawks have a breadth of vision, but they’re also able to focus very quickly and keenly should something attract their attention. Even as they converge their sight on their prospective target, they simultaneously retain the broader perspective. This insight offered another suggestion about how to approach this upcoming conversation with my friend. I interpreted this to mean to keep my perspective, but also listen closely and attentively. I silently thanked Hawk, and the hawk on the wire turned toward me briefly as I did so, as if to say, “You’re welcome.”
Although I will spare the details of the conversation with my friend, I’m pleased to say the outcome was very positive. I was able to clear some of the ‘gossip’ that I’d heard, finding out what was true and what wasn’t. I remained patient, relaxed, and focused throughout, thanks to Hawk’s generous and timely advice.
A couple days later I saw that same hawk, once again playing with the currents of the wind, dancing along in the air. I waved to him, and it appeared as if he tipped his wing in response. I took it as a gesture of brotherhood.
This is only one instance of this type of experience. I’m sure you’ve had a few yourself that have been meaningful and in some instances, life-saving. To receive guidance from the animals it only requires us to be open and receptive. They want to help us, and by our openness, we’re helping to restore our right relationship with the natural world.
‘Truly, the animals are our brothers and sisters. We must respect them as such, view them that way, and be willing to allow them to teach us, guide us, and heal us. One of the most powerful ways they do this is when they serve as animal spirit guides, whether for a few moments, or for a lifetime.