BUTTERFLY MEDICINE / Animals as Messengers
By Tara O’Grady
Living in Key West last year, I noticed all sorts of animals I wasn’t accustomed to seeing on a daily basis – iguanas, roosters, stingrays, pelicans, reef sharks, egrets and jellyfish, just to name a few. I never paid much attention to animals before, even if a seagull stole my bag of chips at the beach. I was a city girl. So pigeons and subway rats were pretty much my exposure to the animal kingdom. But it was the official state bird of Florida that got my attention waking me before dawn each day in the Conch Republic. Obviously, the mocking bird had something to say.
According to Dr. Steven Farmer, author of Animal Spirit Guides, when animals appear physically in our waking life or symbolically in dreams, they have an important message to share, a life lesson we are supposed to be learning. Our ancestors and indigenous peoples knew this because they were more connected to the land and the sea. Unfortunately, today we tend to be more connected to our cell phones and social media.
So what was this mocking bird trying to tell me at three in the morning? As birds that can sing hundreds of songs and mimic sounds such as car alarms, creaking gates and other birds, this unique animal teaches humans about being role models, mimicking behaviors of those we wish to emulate, finding our own voice, and communicating more effectively. As a singer, I know that my soul’s song has power, but as a person living in a society where information is being questioned as fact or fiction, the mocking bird reveals that the words we tweet, or speak, or write, or even think, have vibrations. What we say affects everyone in our community. Our feathered friend is asking us, are we simply mimicking others by sharing what we hear on social media, or are we singing our own truth so that others want to mimic our inspiring behavior?
Having abandoned the big city for the countryside during the pandemic, I now encounter a variety of other animals on my daily walks along the Hudson River and on mountain trails – deer, coyotes, bald eagles, wild turkeys, snakes, vultures, and chipmunks, just to name a few. Each creature teaches me a different lesson about patience, perspective, survival, self healing, abundance and gratitude. But a new bird has come into my path with more mystical messages.
Like the mocking bird, the raven is from a highly intelligent species. I’ve been seeing ravens repeatedly on my winter walks. They are magical birds that people often associate with death. However, death simply means the end of something old and the beginning of something new. Therefore, the raven actually symbolizes renewal and transformation. As we enter a new year, the raven’s message is about much needed change, courage to soar over obstacles, finding light within the darkness, and healing.
Now that 2020 is over, I understand that even though I can’t always change the world outside, I have the power to change what’s inside. My animal spirit guides taught me that. I resolve to focus on changing myself and transforming into something so extraordinary I embody love, and everyone can’t help but mimic me.