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.

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