One of the skills that ancient historians attributed to the Vates of the Druid class was the ability to divine the future from a number of unusual sources. One of the sources that doesn’t involve disembowelment and which would therefore be considered to be relatively acceptable to the modern druid is bird augury – acquiring knowledge from the observation of the flight patterns of birds. Some modern druids take this system a little further, reading signs of the future flow of the universe from the historical symbolism inherent in the type of bird. A good example of this is a recent OBOD seminar which can be read here.
I have noticed that I am beginning to recognise the interventions of birds, especially when I look to them for direction or advice on how to progress on my path. Whilst reading Jaq D Hawkins‘ book “Spirits of the Air” I came to realise that I could categorise the types of interventions and characterise each, in terms of what it signified or portended for me. Of course, one remembers the times when the event subsequently took place, or the right outcome happened – but then, that’s the trick of birdwatching!
So far I have identified relatively few birds that seem particularly significant to me. The wood pigeon‘s call reminds me of a time when I came across a tramp sleeping in some woods in the grounds of a large stately home. I don’t think I’ll ever forget his look of sad discomfort and the feelings of helplessness and pity on my part. The tramp’s discomfort was a mirror opposite of my own feelings of comfort and security in those woods, or in fact, these days, any woods. For me, then, the wood pigeon’s call signifies COMFORT. It makes me smile when I hear it’s trill. It’s also strangely hypnotic for me. Often I am lulled by the continuous warble, and when I imitate the sound in forests it’s like the forest enjoys the fun of my attempts, and the mood lightens even in the densest depths.
We are almost saturated with media renditions of the common crow. They are prevalent in most sinister contexts, from sound effects to super heroes. For me the crow has come to symbolise KINSHIP. Generally, if a crow makes its presence known when I am scrying for guidance then I know that the thoughts of others are with me, and that I can tap into their wisdom and advice concerning directions in life. They help me make decisions, although the final say is always mine to have. The crow is also significant to Kal. Usually when I see a lone crow land near to me and look at me I know that this is a sign related to Kal.
Song birds as a whole seem to symbolise my family. That’s probably because I haven’t yet trained myself to differentiate their intricate identities. Nevertheless, when I hear their song my thoughts are tuned into my family. The appearance of this type of bird will alert me to imminent family contact.
Finally, there are birds of prey. Seeing one of these is always a special event, but their frequent appearance at moments when I am strongly connected to nature is uncanny. It is far too frequent for me now to think of it as anything less than a handshake, a sure sign, and thus birds of prey signify TRUST. I always feel immensely privileged and trusted when I am granted a meeting with these graceful creatures. Their majesty exudes from them, and they make ideal avatars for nature’s subtle assent. I also feel like I am within their protective circle when they cross my path, and I know they show me that I am on the right path with my actions.
Here’s is a summary of the characteristics I have been able to associate with some birds:-
- Wood pigeon or Dove – comfort, companionship, direction of flight as indicator of event or place
- Crow – friendship, group flight direction indicates path of a decision
- Birds of Prey – magic, druidry, spirit of Merlin, right path, protection, apprenticeship
Watchin da boidies.