The Sign of the Hawk

Image - Hawk sign

A Hawk came and hung around the front yard yesterday. She held on to the telephone-internet-fiber-optic-cable-power cords like rungs on a ladder down from Heaven.

I immediately wanted to jump to getting all shamanic over the sight.

Telepathically speaking, I thought to her:

Oh! How majestic you are as a Symbol, as an Icon, as a Messenger!

Oy! How cruel your beak tip!

Lo! How impressive your sheer size!

But then I really listened to the familiar tone of the Mockingbird’s distress — her twitter came from a very particular spot in the holly hedge tree, where I know there to be a perfect nest among the higher north-facing branches, just behind the thorny field of the leaves.

To the Mockingbird I sighed and thought quite simply:

I have seen your home from the top of my bent ladder, and I’ve pruned around it, agonizing over the thinning of your Edge.

I’ve listened to you gripe at my house cats, pester their heads with your swoops and cursed cheeping… and even though I think you a crab apple neighbor, you are one of My Birds. You live in one of Our Trees.

I am honor-bound — aren’t I? — to protect you from Outsiders & Murderers who just happen to look Good against the sky.

I can’t just let your home be threatened. I can’t just let you die so that I might witness an Omen of Power play out live in a nature-documentary reality show.

So, I stood up taller, squared my shoulders, and stalked toward the Hawk in a game of Chicken — as if I would leap up, slam-dunk height, and snatch her down by the tail feathers.

She sneered at me, the curve of her beak tip in profile, the wire swinging above my head with the weight of something heavy having left it, as she dove back into the dusk among the power lines.

…The Mockingbird reprimanded me for my absolutely pathetic response time.

This actually wasn’t a Sign, it was just a “scene.”

How do you tell the difference between a plain ole sighting and a Sign?

  • The premise itself is intuitive.
  • The context is felt — known — by the body.

When I was a kid I asked my aunt Ann to explain this difference.

She told me “A Squirrel with a Message, feels like a Squirrel with a Message. A squirrel that’s just a squirrel… just looks like a squirrel.”

Symbolic Animal Meanings

My friend Avia Venefica’s site — Whats-Your-Sign.com — has a section devoted to animal symbolism, Native American animal medicine, and shamanic animal meanings. Check out this link: Animal Totems

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19 Responses to The Sign of the Hawk
  1. Ken
    July 5, 2011 | 12:27 pm

    OK. It’s 88 degress in Chicago, but I got a chill reading the last line of your post today. Lately , I have been experiencing what I believe is a Sign from an animal and it..is.. a squirrel. For the past week, when I leave through the back door of my apartment on the 2nd floor, a squirrel is in the branch of the tree by the porch. He stares at me and then follows me as he goes down the trunk, I go down the stairs and then he just watches me open the gate and leave for the day. The weird thing is, that there is nothing to cause him to act this way, no one feeds him etc. I feel as if he is escorting me to my car. If I stop by the tree, he leans out and looks at me and we can stare at one another forever with his little paw on his chest.

    I sense a deeper connection to him then just a curious animal.

    • Slade Roberson
      July 6, 2011 | 8:38 am

      Ken,

      Thanks for sharing about your Squirrel. Even as this post went out, I was on the phone with a client having a similar synchronicity about a Turtle.

      I checked my friend Avia Venefica’s site, Whats-Your-Sign.com — she has an entire section devoted to Animal Totems. She does indeed have a page about the Meaning of the Squirrel.

      Check it out and let us know what, if any, of those associations might resonate as true for you.

  2. Barbara
    July 5, 2011 | 1:27 pm

    Hi Slade

    Ken’s right, it is 88 degrees in Chicago at the moment!!

    I’m sure he could also tell you the wildest wildlife he is likely to see is his squirrel friend/guardian/guide since it sounds like he’s really an in-city dweller like me.

    But as usual, your stories always seem to find very timely connections to your reading circle. Your hawk was like my falcon yesterday. My falcon, an arctic bird, obviously wasn’t actually here in my tree since 88 degrees does not the arctic make, instead on a PBS documentary last evening. Her majesty and protective nature made me want for her to have a message for me. But as you said my feeling told me she’s a falcon.

    However, the same video had a young white wolf and she in turn had a message or two for me yesterday, ones I know I need heed.

    • Slade Roberson
      July 6, 2011 | 8:43 am

      Barbara,

      It never really crossed my mind that someone might have an Animal Totem message come through via TV show, but then, why not? Totems and spirit guides in animal form often show up during interior dreams and vision quests, which aren’t any more present or physical “real.”

      The media we engage provide rich channels of synchronicity and serendipity.

  3. Barbara
    July 5, 2011 | 1:33 pm

    Hey Slade, after I left the above comment I went over to say hi to Ken since we happen to live in the same small town…if you get a chance, go over and visit him today. The photo he has up is absoutely stunning!

  4. Mel
    July 5, 2011 | 4:22 pm

    Today I opened the only door to my apartment here in Northern Vermont and a garter snake was eating a toad alive. As I have had critter signage in the past, this seemed pretty loaded in the message department. But exactly what the message is is not always so easy to read. Well timed article, Slade. Thanks! Melanie

    • Slade Roberson
      July 6, 2011 | 8:51 am

      Melanie,

      Wow, that’s an intense visual!

      Here are a couple of pages for you from Avia’s site:

      The Meaning of the Snake
      The Meaning of the Frog (Toad)

      To synthesize potential meaning, I suggest you contemplate what it means if one area of your life is being consumed by the other and see what clicks for you…

  5. Lark
    July 5, 2011 | 4:38 pm

    I just had a face off with a squirrel who is very persistent and has been dropping in on my balcony all day, then aggressively staring at me. I was wondering what it meant, then I find this article. Weird!

    • Slade Roberson
      July 6, 2011 | 8:52 am

      Lark,

      Do you feel your squirrel is just a sighting or a Sign?

  6. Ken
    July 5, 2011 | 4:48 pm

    Aww. Thanks Barbara, Your’e sweet.

  7. Julie | A Clear Sign
    July 5, 2011 | 5:52 pm

    You’re right about the sign thing. We live in the woods in Florida where it is perpetually 90 degrees, and there is abundant wildlife year round. However after 6 years here, you know what’s normal and what isn’t. This year we’ve been visited by some non-native owls (3 of the same species) and they arrived when I lost my job and stuck around this whole year, until they recently vanished. They are supposed to be nocturnal but they have been out all day sitting in the cypress trees who-whoing at us. They even created a ruckus every time my husband’s diesel truck pulled up – and stopped when he got out, even if the engine stayed on, as if to say hello, welcome home.

    Some people think owls are ominous, but in this case I suspect a type of protection. One day a baby owl came in to our screened porch and let my husband pick him up using an oven mitt – he swiveled his head around to look at me and I swear he understood when I was talking to him. He even let me take pictures with a flash and didn’t move a muscle.

    • Slade Roberson
      July 6, 2011 | 9:01 am

      Julie,

      That’s amazing! I am so envious that your hubbie got to pick up the baby. I have only ever been able to pet/experience one close up like that one time in my life. When I was about ten years old. A friend of my father’s, who was an illustrator, rescued one and nursed her back to health for many months before setting her free. He did a pen-and-ink portrait of her which I have framed in my bedroom to this day.

      The Owl is my totem. (If you look in my photo on the top of Shift Your Spirits, you can see that I wear a ginormous silver Native American horned owl ring.)

      About five and a half years ago, I moved back to where I grew up — very, very close — so close that every day I can see and hear the same family of owls that I have known since I was a kid. Many breeds of owls will settle in a particular spot and stay there for generations and generations. These are in the woods, so I’m fairly certain they are the same.

      They are not ominous to me at all — I associate them with Family and my personal guardian angels. (For some reason they are very particularly an incarnation of angelic entities as opposed to spirit guides.)

  8. Justin | Spiritual Development
    July 5, 2011 | 9:02 pm

    Hi Slade,
    That is a great point and sometimes we need to know when a cigar is just a cigar (Freud reference).

    I live out in the country, rustic setting with horses, cows, farms and mansions. This past winter in Jan or Feb I had a Peacock hanging out in the woods next to my house.

    It was kind of Bizarre, all of the plant life is dead and then there is this Peacock strutting around outside of my home.

    • Slade Roberson
      July 6, 2011 | 9:02 am

      Justin,

      The image of the Peacock in a dead winter landscape is truly rich! What a great subject for a painting or a photograph.

  9. Lark
    July 6, 2011 | 11:42 am

    “Do you feel your squirrel is just a sighting or a Sign?”

    A sign that I should follow your blog closely!

  10. Tracy
    July 6, 2011 | 1:19 pm

    Have had a similar encounter with a hawk staring/watching me from a branch overhanging our deck. Cocking her head with a peeper hanging out of her beak. She watched me very intently, nodded her head and left. Also had a golden eagle visit the edge of our yard. Quite a vision for 3 days straight!

  11. Bob Makransky
    July 8, 2011 | 8:21 am

    Very right on, Slade. Here’ a passage from my latest (unpublished) book:

    My totem animal is the eagle. Since there are very few eagles where I live, my guides have told me that large hawks can also serve as messengers for me. They told me that whenever I see a large hawk I should watch it until it disappears, and note the direction in which it disappears. That direction will often have a symbolic meaning.

    In my own case, for example, the southwest is my joy direction. Guatemala, where I live now, is southwest of Philadelphia, where I was born and brought up. Lake Atitlan, where I’ve had some truly magical experiences, is southwest of my present home. My water spirit, where I go to wash off bad moods, is southwest of my house. So, if I see a large hawk disappear to the southwest I know something joyous is indicated or will happen.

    However, not every large hawk that I see is an omen. I asked my guides how to tell when a hawk, or any other singular occurrence, is an omen, as opposed to just a coincidence. How can you tell if a dream is prophetic or significant rather than just a dream? They replied that you have to feel it, to listen with your heart; and then you’ll know when something is an omen, or when a dream is prophetic. Sometimes I am able to do this. When I know in my heart that something is an omen or that a certain dream is prophetic, I also know intuitively what that omen or dream means.

    ps: you’re wrong, it WAS a sign … just not the one you believed at the time.

  12. […] The Sign of the Hawk — my last post about animal sightings, omens, messages — sparked a lot of comments and emails about spirit animal stories. I’m inspired to write a longer memoir piece about how I discovered my Owl totem when I was a kid… […]

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