Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Greeting the Heron

Welcome to my blog. I hope you will find a respite here from your day to day activities, some food for thought, and a place to explore new ideas and find joy and gratitude in your life as it is today.

Today as I was taking my morning walk, I passed by a small lake. The walking path curves around the edge of about a third of the lake. The morning mist was rising from the still, murky water--still as a puddle after a violent rain storm. Many times as I have walked this path, I have seen geese or ducks gliding through the vast wetness or standing by the water's edge, but there was no sign of life on the lake today. When I turned the corner of the last stretch of the lake, there, standing regally in the distance, was a lone heron. A Great Blue Heron. He stood with one side facing me, his body illuminated by the sun rising in the distance. The sun highlighted the mist surrounding him as if a grand painter meant to center him in the painting and brushed a nature-made halo all around him. His head turned to face me, and I became concerned that my fast walking might scare him into flight. I slowed, fearing that if I completely stopped he may interpret it as a confrontation, and peered at him from the corner of my eye to savor his beauty. His long plumes at the base of the neck looked like a wet beard, and I could vaguely make out the blue gray feathers sparkling in the sunlight. His long white neck was crooked close to his body, and his pencil-thin legs remained partially submerged in the shallow water. Still and quiet, he watched me until I turned the corner, and we broke our stare. I felt blessed to see this beautiful creature and greet him in the quiet of the early morning.

Whenever I have an encounter with an animal, I am always curious to know what that may mean. Many years ago, I learned about animal totems. In Native American medicine, animals have traditionally been interpreted as messengers from the spirit world. Their symbolism can convey all sorts of healing messages to those whom they encounter. Native American medicine is an holistic method of healing the body, mind, and spirit. In these traditions and beliefs, the Mother Earth is always speaking through symbols to guide us to health and well-being in all aspects of our lives. So, when we encounter an animal, we can take the wisdom of the Native American elders to help us on our journey.

Many of the traits of an animal will reveal the personal message of the animal totem encounter. For instance, according to Native American wisdom, the heron animal totem signifies self-reliance, precision, and independence. These are all qualitites the heron possesses. Except for the breeding season, the heron spends much of the time alone hunting for food. With incredible precision, the heron wades, searches, waits, and then strikes to retrieve its prey. The heron relies solely on its own skills and talents to survive. The personal message from the encounter could be in support of a current state of mind or an inspiration to move forward. Is there a need for more self-reliance? Is the current independence welcome? Have the most recent tasks been handled with precision and skill? Hmm-mm...

© 2010 Michelle A. Potter

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