Pagan Life,  Seasonal Editorials

The Bird as Messenger

by Sue Wagner

Just as the wise women of the past looked to animals and the natural world for messages from spirit, so too do we carry this tradition into the present. For me, 2013 was the transformative year that united me with the birds—our prophetic messengers—and for the first time in my life I finally listened and welcomed Her sacred song.

In February I cracked open an egg, ready to prepare my daughter’s breakfast, only there was something strange about this egg that I had never seen before. It had a “double yolk” which I quickly Googled out of curiosity and discovered is connected to an old superstition relating to fertility, pregnancy, or the announcement of an engagement or wedding. I didn’t think much of it until I heard a short time later that my brother-in-law had in fact proposed to his girlfriend.

In June I stepped out to go into our backyard just after dusk and was startled by triple owlets sitting on the power line that runs to our house. Suddenly, they started flying back and forth from the power line to the tree branch that hung low just over my head. They did this several times before I decided to rush into the house to get my husband so he could share in the experience. Unfortunately, once we both made it back outside a few moments later, they were gone. I held onto this experience, wondering what it could possibly mean. The owls had not visited me since childhood, and here they were again, back in my life.

It didn’t take long for me to receive my answer. A few weeks later a ferocious windstorm blew through our city, knocking out power and uprooting trees all over. Our power was out for a full three days, our mulberry tree had been split in half, and all over the yard were downed tree limbs—including the same tree limb that the owlets had been flocking to over and over again. Much to my amazement though, there had been no major damage to our home, garage, or car. Of the dozens of huge limbs that fallen, none had smashed our roof but had instead been blown towards the center of our yard. One huge limb had fallen just in front of our car. I was very thankful that all we really needed were a few men with chainsaws.

All year long and into the New Year… bird messengers have come to my yard, trees and windows. On a stargazing night with our local astronomy club I was visited directly after a group of people had left to go look for owls, whom I had wished to join but could not—the owls came to me instead as I spotted one flying overhead and into the woods. Another day while throwing away garbage I glanced out the kitchen window and was greeted by a hawk in mid-flight looking down at me, so close we made eye contact. I have since cleared some of the “garbage” away from my personal life that was long overdue.

This past New Year’s Day as I was preparing a craft with my daughter to hang in the living room window, a seagull suddenly flew smack into it, then flew away. This was the first time a seagull has ever traveled so near our home from the shores of Lake Erie, and for it to hit our window at that exact moment as I was preparing something special with my daughter to hang in that exact window to celebrate a “happy new year”…what are the odds? That same day I was later visited by the crows that stop by regularly and always seem to be watching through the window where I burn cedar and meditate.

So here I am, having come almost full circle through a year’s passage. It began with the egg, and I am still waiting to see where next I will go. Or maybe I am there already, having made the conscious decision to listen. Do these messages come to all of us, or do they call just some of us to something higher? Would the double-yolked egg have meant anything to someone who wasn’t paying attention? Would the owls have warned someone of a coming danger if they had not stopped to listen to their message? This new year, as I enter into a new sisterhood, I have made the decision to climb aboard the barge and set sail over the waters… I’m sure the seagull is up above me somewhere, guiding me to Her misty shores.