Monday, August 14, 2006

Divination with Nature

One of the old traditional ways a Shaman or one walking the shaman's Path uses for divination is learning to decipher guidance and answers from natural and animal symbols.

The natural world is full of symbols that can be used to answer a question or warn of an event. According to Kristen Madden, author of The Book of Shamanic Healing, this gift is not something that can be taught in a book.

Indeed, I have not found much information on Shamanic divination, other than a description of what it entails.

However, I am used to having wildlife do odd things around me. So far the messages that arise from the birds and animals that continually visit are foretelling some event in the future. These animals don't usually just appear to me for no reason; consistently I am able to understand and connect with them if I can see into their eyes. This takes some getting used to; I was taught never to stare at any wild animal, as it might be taken as aggression.

And there is a completely different feeling if the animal means me harm. Then I listen to the fearful energy that surrounds me, protecting me. The energy signature of most of the wild animals I have seen in near proximity is familiar and is similar to the one my guides have imprinted in me. I recognize the creature. And I intuitively know it knows me, too.

But that is as far as I am able to go at this time. Some animals...Eagle, Raccoon, Bear and Cat I have written about here; as a consequence, I know what these animals mean, and what message they are sending. But should an unfamiliar animal visit me, I would not know what the message was, unless I looked it up. The animal, too, has to exhibit unusual Owl, when he visited...he flew into our yard only a few feet away, and sat staring at us for a long time, after which he flew directly towards us and over the fence. I hear him in the distance at night now; I haven't seen him since.

In practicing the old traditional ways, though, Shamans would know instantly by the animal's characteristics, what it was doing, which direction it was going, and countless other personal ways exactly what the message was.

A long time ago, an old man I knew would foretell the weather for the winter, and what the summer would bring, by the signs left by the animals and plants. It was intuitive for him. I was in awe of him; but he accepted his gifts as normal. In all the time I was close to him, he was never wrong.

From him, I learned to always find the directions in any place I was in. Watch the sun, he would say. I, in turn, asked what was I to do if it was cloudy? There are always shadows, he said...and I was left to ponder. On a deep, black cloudy day, I would be looking for shadows, in my youth...and I finally figured out what he meant. But it took a long while!

Divination is something like that. I find I have to be aware, constantly...and that can mean my attention is divided, between reality and the causal space. It is a hard fence to walk, sometimes. But since I am still learning to decipher the signs, I find it wildly fascinating. And relatively easy for me to do...I have used natural symbols for guidance since childhood.

When I lived on a rural property, it was a common occurrence for wildlife to wander through the yard. I accepted animals such as snakes, pheasants, bear, deer, elk, salmon and even a wolf or two as part of country living. I did not realize just because people lived in the country...all these animals didn't routinely show up at their door. But they did at mine.

It was one of the elements I mourned, when I moved. I was sure I would see no animals living in the middle of Qualicum Beach. I was sure I would lose that connection. Where were the trees and shrubbery that harboured so much wildlife? I knew I would have to create some, in my yard.

But even before the shrubs grew, animals, mostly birds, this time, found me. In the Spring, two mated Eagles flew very low over our heads, and I locked eyes with She Eagle for what seemed like a long moment. After that, it seemed the two were constantly visiting and now...just the other day, their two youngsters flew low overhead, carrying on their parents' routine.

Graham will tell you that large volumes of bird species fly over our yard, very low, with definitive intent. Eagle has shared his life with mine on many occasions. Crow, Woodpecker, Goose and many others share their glorious world on a regular basis. Raccoon recently visited. Cats abound, either in my dreams or the neighbour's visiting Cat. The ubiquitous Deer brings her babies to nibble on the fresh greenery that surrounds the outside of the fence. Rabbit loves the tender pond plants. My dogs give me infinite possibilities for reading animal behavior, and infinite practice!

Included in my awareness of animal behavior is also listening to the plant life that surrounds me. Each has his own story to tell, his own song to sing. There is a strong intuitive rightness
that comes over me, flooding me with energy, when I know I have placed a plant exactly where it needed to be, in the yard. It becomes intuitive gardening, and plants have rewarded my listening to them many times over. The next step is to learn how to listen to their guidance.

My physical body advises me of what is happening with the weather. But to divinate by cloud formations...signs from the sky...I have just recently become aware of them and have a long way to go before I find any degree of success with those. And there are many other, more personal ways, known only to himself, that a Shamanic believer can work with.

My favourite way is to receive guidance from my animal allies. What a profound gift if I could learn important information from such an awesome source!

Wouldn't it be something if my primary ally...Bear...should visit? Marching down Main. I guess that would be unusual behavior!


  1. What a fascinating post marion, oh how I would love to see eagles in the wild but to have them visit you that is truly a wonderful gift.
    I will be coming back to read more. A very interesting site. I wish you well in your quest.
    Btw I answered you on Davem's blog and think you might be right about the squeaky gym shoes. Thank you, can you tell me what bird it is?

  2. The squeaky gym shoe sound comes from the rose-breasted grosbeak. Only the male has the rose coloured chest, though, the female looks like an overgrown sparrow, rather drab.

    They breed in the Northwest Territories, Alberta, Northeast BC, most of Saskatchewan...and across the rest of southern Canada to the Maritimes.I'm not sure about the US.

    They sing constantly, even when sitting on the nest incubating the eggs.

    I love it when they visit. They are not here all the time, and when they are, they are huge insect feeders, loving tent caterpillars.

    Hope this answers your question, Sandy. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  3. Thank you Marion that little bird sounds a little exotic for us here in England, although the sound you describe fits. Unfortunately, with poor eyesight (registered blind), I cannot see the bird to identify it. I'll do a search and see what comes up.

  4. When we first thought about moving to Montana, we agreed to meet with the agent and "look" at the land. Before heading out, I asked for help in knowing if we should buy. I was told "The Eagle and the Hawk will guide you." we arrived one day early and decieded to check the land out. What we saw was a whole lot of land and had know idea whick one we were to look at.....then, an Eagle and a Hawk flew overhead and circled an area. I knew the land we were to buy and live on was where the birds flew. The next day the agent showed us right to the very area that the birs circled. It felt good to be home

  5. Sandy...I love your writing! The bird does sound exotic, I was surprised when such a beautiful bird (the male, at any rate) showed up here.

    The only reference book I had was for Western Canada, and so it did not mention any other areas it may be inhabiting.

    Good luck, and thanks for visiting!

  6. Vivian, that's such a warm story. I think that animals give us messages all the time; we are just not aware of what it is they are trying to tell us.

    But you were aware, and found your place, by the grace of these animals. How amazing!