Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Owl & Raven; Common Totem Birds for Witches & Pagans

Common Totem Birds for Witches, Wiccans, and Pagans
While these are in no way the only Totem Birds for Pagans, Owl and Raven seem to be very commonly named as a totem animal by most people that I talked to.  So I decided to outline the spiritual message of these two birds here.
I asked some of my friends on facebook to share their connection to birds, and two friends shared stories about Owls.  Here is what they said;

For me, my owl spirit guide comes to remind me to trust my intuition...that inner voice that I sometimes choose to ignore! He also reminds me to protect what is mine and to not take anything for protect my property and my family, in essence protecting myself. He is also there to help me learn about myself in the deepest sense and to learn more about my spirit and to push myself spiritually. I'm blessed, I think, to be able to see the truth or lies in people that others just don't see and I'll be extremely sensitive to how people are feeling...really feeling! 
My spirit guide doesn't always come to me in reality, many times he will come to me through symbolism or synchronicity or dreams and visions. I've learnt over the years though, that when he chooses to make himself known in the physical sense...I pay attention to what he has to say as he's there to keep me safe and warn me of things to come.
I think I shared with you at the time, that for about two weeks before my Mom passed away, I woke almost every night at about 2am to the hooting of the owl in the tree outside. In the beginning it was infrequently, but as her time drew nearer, it was every night! Since my Mom's been gone, so has the owl! It's as though he was there to let me know that her time was near and that he would be there to guide her spirit to the other world.”

The owl is my totem. Usually I will be in need of a message or clarity when one shows itself. Whether by way of a distant hoot or a close fly by.”
Message of the Owl, from Animal Totems
Owl is the Mystery of silent wisdom, heightened vision and hearing and the ability to pinpoint subtleties of motives, actions and people. He teaches the power of silence and contemplation and the balance of waiting and acting. When action is taken it is swift and exacting. Owl teaches the ability to extract secrets from within, so listen carefully. He also aids in clearing deceptions - within and without. Are you trusting your instincts about people? Are you listening to your surroundings? Do you have patience? Owl has much wisdom in teaching how to see and sense the world around you along with determination and patience in waiting for the opportune moment.


More on Owl Totem Animal: (from Spirit Animal)
 If you have the owl as a totem or spirit animal, you’re likely to have the ability to see what’s usually hidden to most. When the owl guides you, you can count on the power of this spirit animal to see beyond illusion and deceit to access the true reality. Owl spirit animals also offer wisdom about the unknown and life’s magic.

What is the owl spirit animal meaning?

Common meanings for the owl are:

  • Intuition, ability to see what other do not see
  • The presence of the owl announces change
  • Capacity to see beyond deceit and masks
  • Wisdom
  • Owl spirit animals are associated with curiosity for the unknown, life mysteries
  • The traditional meaning of the owl spirit animal is the announcer of death, most likely symbolic like a life transition, change
The owl spirit animal and the power to see in the dark
The owl sees in the dark: As a spirit animal, the owl guides you to see beyond the veil of deception and illusion; it helps see what’s kept hidden. It also symbolizes the ability to cut through illusions and see the real meaning of someone’s action or state of mind.
When the owl is one of your power animals, you have a strong intuition and can access information and wisdom that’s usually hidden to most. The spirit of this animal encourages you to look beyond deceiving appearances into the true reality of a situation or a person’s motives.
The owl is a strong spirit guide for discernment and making decision based solid foundations. Call on the owl totem when you have to assess a situation or are going through confusing times.

The unknown and the owl power animal

If you have an owl as a totem or spirit animal, you probably like to explore the unknown. The mysteries of life are a fascinating field of interest. As the owl guides your steps, you are likely to develop an appreciation for life’s magic.
When the owl shows up in your life, listen and look out for the subtle signs that are around you. Your animal spirit guide is a great helper to be attentive to what usually goes below your radar, but is now of particular importance.
The owl is also a guide to uncover your hidden potential and abilities. Check whether you need to reveal more of your intuitive nature.
Night time is particularly auspicious for your creativity, so take the time to focus your creative energy then.

Owl spirit animals as messengers of change

Owl spirit animals are symbolic of death in many traditions. In most cases however, it should not be taken literally: If the owl is associated with death, it can be viewed a symbolic death, meaning a transition in life, important changes that are taking place or about to happen.
When the owl shows up in your life, pay attention to the winds of change. Perhaps you are about to leave some old habits, a situation that no longer serve you or bring something new in your life.

I also had several people I know mention a connection with Ravens. 

Meg said;

“My husband's spirit guide the raven comes to my dreams when we will be having real upheaval in our lives, each PCS shortly before orders, and deployment before it has happened”

The spirit message of Ravens (From Animal Totems) is;
Raven is about the magical act of creation, internal magic and transformation along with miracle of a rebirth. Raven tells us to be aware of omens that become a harbinger of the mystical and exotic. He can show how to stir life without fear and teach to balance life's playful aspects. Raven also brings in the light of awareness and knowledge with opportunities of great changes that are in store for you. Raven will teach how to usher in these new energies. He shows how to dive into the depths of the inner being to illuminate the true self. Are you ready to uncover past conflicts and long forgotten emotional issues? Raven will teach how to transform your spirit. From the deepest part of you healing begins. What has been in darkness will now emerge into the light.

Some other info on Ravens I found;

Ravens, and to a lesser degree Crows, are very magical creatures. The Raven with it's plumage as dark as the void between the stars, is a citizen of the afterworld. It travels between the worlds of the living and the dead.

 Being native to both worlds, The Raven naturally has great knowledge and Power to effect transformations.

Raven is associated as a Wicca symbol because of this power to move between the worlds, and create new realities as she chooses. If Raven appears, you are about to experience a change in consciousness, Raven is the messenger that carries all energy flows of ceremonial magic between the ceremony itself and the intended destination.

 Although crows and ravens are part of the same family (Corvus), they’re not exactly the same bird. Typically, ravens are quite a bit bigger than crows, and they tend to be a bit shaggier looking. The raven actually has more in common with hawks and other predatory birds than the standard, smaller-sized crow.
No matter what your Animal Totems or current animal Spirit Guides are, meditating on the meaning and lessons of Owl and Raven can help deepen your intuition and help you tune into the realm of the Spirit Guides.  Adding a representation of an owl or raven to your altar can help you through changes and aid your magickal workings or rituals by adding the element of Mystery and reminding you to let your spirit soar high above your normal range of consciousness to contact the Divine and your Higher Self. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Air Studies - Connecting with Birds

There is a strong (and obvious) connection between the Air Element and Birds.  Most people, on initial thought, might think that birds are connected with the Air Element because they fly and travel through the skies.  While this is true, there are a few much deeper connections to the Air Element with our winged and feathered friends.  Below are some common Air Element associations and how they are connected with the world of Birds.

Birds are among the most vocal animals on the planet.  If you take some time to observe birds you will notice that they are almost constantly communicating.  They chirp "hello's" to other birds, sing songs to attract a mate, give warning cries to alert birds of predators, warn other birds away in territorial disputes or fights over a mate, and have various different songs and sounds for different moods, times of day, and seasons.  Birds can teach us a lot about communication and the power of words and music or song.

Many types of birds are strongly associated with Spring, the season commonly associated with the Air Element.  This is because in the spring the activity of birds becomes more apparent as they return from the southern areas where they have spent the winter months, search for a mate, build their nests, lay eggs, and bring food back to their nests for their young.  The spring symbolizes a time of rebirth, renewal, and fertility and the vibrant energy and activity of birds during this season can remind us to embrace our own time of renewal, rebirth, creativity, spring cleaning, fertility, romantic encounters, and more.

Intuition and Empathy
Birds need to be highly aware of their environment and their immediate surroundings in order to survive.  They have the advantage of being able to fly into higher branches, housetops, or telephone poles in order to get a different perspective or view of what is going on.  Even when they are not high in the branches, (and including flightless birds) they are always looking around, listening to the sounds around them, watching and observing.  They seem to have a strong sense of intuition as well... probably gained from this heightened sense of awareness.  Birds can teach us awareness of our environment and those around us which can lead us to a heightened sense of intuition and Empathy.

Many legends tell of Gods, Goddesses, Saints, Shamans, Priestesses and great "Seers" receiving messages from birds.  Birds would be messengers of the Gods or Angels, bringing warning or foretelling of some future event, visiting people in their dreams with some kind of message.  Birds were also thought to be able to travel between the earth and spiritual realms, to bring messages from our deceased loved ones. Because of their association in Myth and Legend with Divination and messages from the Divine, and because of what birds teach us about intuition and empathy, birds can help us in our endeavors to learn about and practice Divination.

Observing and Connecting With Birds
No matter where you live; somewhere rural or in a busy city.... there are plenty of birds in your home environment to observe and learn about.  Spending some time observing the birds that live in your neighborhood can help you develop a deeper connection with the nature and land on which you live.  Many who live in the city can feel disconnected from nature, and observing birds can help you regain a sense of connection with nature around you as well as helping you see that even in a city there is an ecosystem - and you are a part of it!
Take some time to observe the birds around your home.  What kinds do you see and hear frequently?  What trees do they favor?  What are they doing in the morning, vs their behavior in the afternoon or evening.  Watch how they interact with other birds in the area.  Listen to their song and voices until you can begin to recognize what bird you are hearing, even when you can't see it.  Also familiarize yourself with what the different bird sounds might mean... if you don't know.... Guess!  Use your intuition to tell you what the birds are saying to each other.  If you want, keep a journal of your bird observations.

Different birds have different spiritual meanings and we can learn a lot about the spiritual energy of our home environment by learning about the birds that live and interact around us on a regular basis. Occasionally, one of these birds might have a special message for you.  If a bird is watching you, chirps at you, flies or lands closer to you or your home or window than normal, swoops past you, etc... you may want to look more deeply into that birds' spiritual meaning and lesson.  As you develop a closer connection to the nature of your home habitat through observing birds, you will more easily notice when a Bird Spirit is speaking to you.  Also, when you notice a bird that is not commonly seen in your immediate area, this bird could be bringing you a special message as well.  Pay close attention to these messages, meditate on them and journal on them.

One of my favorite websites for looking up the Spiritual Meanings of birds is Animal Totems.  There are many different books and websites about the spiritual messages of animals, do some research and see what meaning seems to resonate with you and the birds you interact with.  Also, if you are keeping a journal of the birds you observe, you may begin to come up with your own personal meanings for birds in your life based on your intuition and what is going on in your life.

Spirit Guides and Animal Totems
There is a difference between your Spirit Guide Animals and your Animal Totems (and yes, you can have more than one of each).  Your Totem Animal might be an animal you have never physically seen or interacted with, but have always felt a strong connection to.  If there are certain animals and birds that you have dreamed about, thought about, had a desire to see or learn about, or an animal that you like to draw or write about, or collect images of (and generally have a strong connection with or a strong "draw" to this animal) these might be your Animal Totems.  You can do a meditation and ask your Animal Totem to reveal itself to you...relax, deepen and steady your breathing, imagine yourself sitting in nature and wait for your Animal Totem to reveal itself.  It may come to you and speak to you, or lead you down a path and show you something.  Afterwards, thank your Totem Animal for revealing itself to you and giving you a message.
Your Spirit Guide Animal would be an animal that comes to you for a specific reason or a certain time in your life.  This will most often be in the form of an animal you actually see, or an animal you dream about.  Your Spirit Guide Animals can be multiple, and change from time to time.  Last Spring I had several Mockingbirds nesting in trees in my neighborhood.  They would swoop down and land in my front yard right in front of me and chirp at me.  At that time, I needed to learn the message of Mocking Bird Spirit, and they were my Spirit Guide Bird for a time.  This spring, there have been no Mockingbirds in my neighborhood, but there have been Wrens and Ravens.... doing the same thing; landing in my yard and watching me or chirping at me, so currently my Spirit Guide Birds are Wrens and Mockingbirds.  This is an example of how our Spirit Guides can change and come to us at different times.... whereas our Animal Totems will hold a special place in our hearts and minds for a lifetime, even if we only see them in art or dreams.  Being observant of your environment and the animals around you, wherever you go, will help you see and notice your Spirit Guides.

Since we are studying the Air Element and specifically Birds, make a short list of birds that might be your Totem Animals.  Are there birds you have always been fascinated with?  Birds that you collect images of and figurines of?  Or, try a quiet meditation and imagine yourself in a meadow.  Ask specifically for your Bird Animal Totem to reveal itself to you and wait.  In your Journal or Book of Shadows make a list of Birds that you feel might be your Animal Totems, and also a list of birds that have from time to time appeared to you as Spirit Guides.