A2Z 2021 – Birds – Goldfinch

Featured Image by Michael Murphy

  • Physical Description: The goldfinch is a small, stubby bird measuring about 4.5 inches long, with a wingspan of approximately 8 inches and a weight of roughly .5 ounce. The bird’s plumage is mostly bright yellow, and it has a black blaze above the beak, black wing edges touched with white, and a white rump. The female is a duller color in the summer, but in the winter the male dulls whereas the female brightens slightly.
  • Geographic Distribution: The American goldfinch is found across southern Canada in the summer, in the northern United States year round, and in the southern United States and eastern Mexico in the winter. The European goldfinch is found across Europe, North Africa and western and central Asia. It has been introduced to other areas, including Australia, New Zealand and Uruguay.
  • Environment: The goldfinch’s preferred environments include meadows, fields, open woodland, and floodplains. This bird is very comfortable in cultivated and urban residential areas.
Photo from Pennington

Myths, Folklore, and Cultural Associations

The word carduelis in the European goldfinch’s name (Carduelis carduelis) means “thistle-eating,” and goldfinches love weeds such as thistles, particularly milkweed and other plants that produce flossy or fluffy seed heads. The goldfinch eats the seeds of these plants and uses the silky fluff of the plant to line and weave into its nest. The European goldfinch was sometimes called “thistle-finch:, and this bird is the distelfink seen in Pennsylvania Dutch folk art and lore. The distelfink represents happiness and good fortune to this community.

The gold color of this bird connects it with wealth. If the first bird a girl saw on Valentine’s Day was a goldfinch, she would marry a wealthy man. The goldfinch was also believed to be a symbol of protection against the plague in medieval times.

The American goldfinch, or eastern goldfinch, is the state bird of Iowa, New Jersey, and Washington. Goldfinches are sometimes casually referred to as ” wild canaries”.

The collective noun for a group of goldfinches is a “charm,” which is a lovely word suggesting the bird’s association with luck, health, joy and love.

Photo from Pennington

Omens and Divinatory Meaning

Yellow is a color of joy, cheer, and health. Seeing a goldfinch can be a boost to your general well-being. It may also be a sign to consciously introduce more joy into your life by engaging in what you love to do more than you are currently doing.

The male goldfinch’s bright colors fade after the summer and become a more subdued olive brown, whereas the female’s plumage brightens in the fall. This can be a reminder that you can choose your season to shine. Not everyone can be in the spotlight all the time; it can be draining and unhealthy. But by choosing your time carefully, you can make a significant impact. Just remember that in order to balance that season of shining, you need to retreat again and allow others their time in the light as well.

Associated energies: Joy, happiness, health, abundance, prosperity
Associated seasons: Summer
Element association: Air
Color associations: Yellow, black, brown

REFERENCE: Birds, a Spiritual Field Guide, Explore the Symbology & Significance of These Divine Winged Messengers by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

Reflections

Every time I hear Goldfinch, I think of Crushed Caramel’s love for a wonderful man. Crushed Caramel is a bright and beautiful blogger here in the blogosphere sharing inspirational posts on love and life.

Photo from Pennington

If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.

Eleonora Duse

It’s National Walking Day! The other day I took a afternoon walk at this national historical site I frequently visit, and I was overwhelmed with such a joyous feeling deep in my heart. The blue skies were vibrant. The sun was shining. The grass was growing. I was so appreciative of this gorgeous day. It could be the fact that my state is no longer a frozen, bleak landscape. I couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear. I felt free. The fact that I was cooped up for the majority of last year while death and discord surrounded me was suffocating. I didn’t realize how it impacted my ability to do A2Z last year. I’m just so grateful for the littlest of things. I’m grateful to see and visit my loved ones more often.

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”

― Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
Photo from The Spruce

A2Z 2021 – Birds – Falcon

Featured Photo by Viktor Jakovlev on Unsplash

  • Physical Description: The falcon has a curve at the end of its beak that is sometimes referred to as a hook. Peregrine falcons average 17 inches in length, with a wingspan of about 42 inches and an average weight of about 2.5 pounds
  • Geographic Distribution: Falcons are found on all continents except Antarctica
  • Environment: Falcons are found in mountainous areas and open woodland, though they are at ease in urban areas and often substitute skyscrapers for cliffs.
Image by Miles Moody from Pixabay

Myths, Folklore, and Cultural Associations

One of the older names for falcons was tiercel, meaning “third”, as it was thought that only one egg in three hatched a male bird.

The falcon was one of the forms associated with the Egyptian god Horus, the god of war and hunting, and the Eye of Horus talisman (correctly known as the Wedjat) which represents the all-seeing eye of both the bird and the god. The hieroglyph of a falcon refers directly to Horus and means “that which is above.”

Ancient Egyptian God Horus
Photo by Aruna

Freya, the Norse goddess of love and sexuality, owned a falcon-feather cloak with which she shapeshifted and flew.

Deviant Artwork by flaming-wave666

Falconry, the sport of hunting game with trained small birds of prey, was an enormously popular social sport in medieval Europe. The falcon is sometimes used as a symbol of freedom from bondage or slavery, referring to a falcon that escapes the keeper’s hand and flies free, never to return. Likewise, the falcon can symbolize unfettered or passionate love, building on the image of a tamed falcon, once unhooded and untied, bursting forth in pursuit of its goal.

Omens and Divinatory Meaning

The falcon is power in a small package. These birds move efficiently in more than one sense of the word, wasting no energy of motion. How is your efficiency these days? You may need to work on your split-second decision making.

“Peregrine” means wanderer. If you see a peregrine falcon, it may be reminding you that movement is important. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re about to pull up stakes and move to another place (although it might), but it may suggest that changing to the familiar can be limiting. Being too comfortable and not seeking to expand your horizons can have a negative impact on your potential. Try pushing yourself outside your comfort zone in order to expose yourself to new ideas and concepts.

The falcon can be seen as a diurnal symbol, as it is generally associated with the sun. Remember, though, that the Egyptian god Horus had two eyes. One was the sun, but the other was the moon. Thus the falcon can be a symbol of balance and completion too.

Associated Energies: Perception, efficiency, power, balance
Associated Seasons: Summer, fall
Element Associations: Air, fire
Color Association: brown, buff, cream, rust

REFERENCE: Birds, a Spiritual Field Guide, Explore the Symbology & Significance of These Divine Winged Messengers by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

Reflections

Wow, I’m just in awe of the falcon’s sheer speed. 200 MILES PER HOUR. They’re incredible! You do not want to get on their bad side. Intelligent and razor sharp, figuratively and literally!

A few nights ago, I chatted with a friend and he shared with me a link about being more efficient in life. Saving money on food ($1.50/day) , 2hr/week workout, etc. (https://efficiencyiseverything.com/)

I was first intrigued by industrial engineering when I first read about Lillian Gilbreth, an extraordinary lady. She applied psychology to time-motion studies and helped industrial engineers understand the psychological dimensions of work. She was an industrial engineer, psychologist, consultant, and educator, and raised a large family.

Her son wrote a book, “Cheaper by the Dozen” which later inspired a modern day film. It was fascinating reading about how her kids developed ways to save money and be more efficient in their morning routine. I only know three women in my social circle who decided to have 12 kids outside of Lillian. One being my grandmother, the other two women in their 40s-50s. Imagine giving each child the time and attention he/she deserves. So much can go on in their lives. Kudos to mothers who do so much for their kids!

Gilbreth Family photo on Pixels

A2Z 2021 – Birds – Egret

Featured Image by Simerpreet Cheema from Pixabay

  • Physical Description: The great egret is a long-necked and long-legged bird with white plumage. The bill is yellow, and the legs black. It measures 35 to 40 inches long, with a wing-span of about 55 inches and a weight of about 2 pounds.
  • Geographic Distribution: The great egret is found from southern Canada down through the United States and South America, as well as in Europe, Australia, Africa, and Asia. Partially migratory, northern birds will move southward during the cooler times of the year
  • Environment: The egret lives in wetlands such as marshes and swamps, in both salt and freshwater, and along rivers and ponds. It is comfortable in close contact with human civilization.
Photo by Jerry Amende – Audubon Photography Awards

Myths, Folklore, and Cultural Associations

Formally called aigettes (“little herons”), these stately birds were once in great demand by the millinery trade for their feathers. As such, the egret is now the symbol of the National Audubon Society, whose tenets include protecting birds from being killed to harvest their feathers.

To the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, an egret is a symbol of the ultimate in rarity and beauty. To see one is a great blessing, as egrets are rare in New Zealand.

Folklore shows egrets as being loyal and devoted parents, who refuse to leave their young in the nest.

Omens and Divinatory Meaning

An egret conveys a message of serenity and beauty. A noble bird, it reminds us to stand tall and to be self-possessed.

The Maori perception of the egret as a thing of rarity is also to be considered. Every moment of a day is sacred and beautiful in some way. Are you missing that? Are you so buried in work or daily cares that you’re forgetting to lift your head and look around you, to soak in the beauty that abides in this stressful, chaotic world?

Associated energies: Stability, beauty
Associated season: Summer
Element associations: Air, water, earth
Color association: White

REFERENCE: Birds, a Spiritual Field Guide, Explore the Symbology & Significance of These Divine Winged Messengers by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

Reflections

After watching Egret behavior for a while, I was shocked at some of the behavior I witnessed. The adult egrets have so much patience with their chicks who keep trying to poke their eyes out. The chicks are supremely hungry and if they realize there isn’t enough food, the older stronger chicks will bully and maul the younger weaker siblings making them more susceptible to predators like alligators just so that they can get more food.

I’m just imagining an anthropomorphized version of Lord of the Flies! The lesson learned? A scarcity mindset can lead you to make different decisions than you would if you felt like there were abundant opportunities. Dr. Shahram Heshmat describes in more detail in his article, “How does being poor change the way we feel and think?

“He found himself understanding the wearisomeness of this life, where every path was an improvisation and a considerable part of one’s waking life was spent watching one’s feet.”

― William Golding, Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Flies, theatrical production by Everyman & Playhouse

On another side note: I found more Egret photos from the Audubon Society. The Audubon Society protects the Egrets since many people who killed them for their feathers. Smithsonian Museum shares a story about the deadly feather trade. I’ve never seen one in person, though I’ve seen a few bloggers have taken pictures of beautiful egrets.

A2Z 2021 – Birds – Dove

Featured photo by Sylvia Maulding

  • Physical Description: Doves are medium-sized birds with short stout bodies, short necks, and short beaks. Size varies according to the species as does coloring. The mourning dove, the most common species in North America, measures about 11 inches long, with a wingspan of 18 inches and a weight of approximately 5 ounces.
  • Geographic Distribution: Doves are found worldwide except in the high Arctic, Antarctica, the Sahara Desert, and other harsh places. most live in tropical or subtropical climates.
  • Environment: Doves prefer woodlands, forested areas, and fields.

Myths Folklore, and Cultural Associations

Stereotypically, the dove is portrayed as white and gentle, sweet, and loving. The dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit in Christian iconography. Some iconographers show Mary being blessed by a dove at the moment of Annunciation, and Jesus was blessed by the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove at his baptism. The dove is said to be so pure that it is the one form into which Satan cannot transform himself. Doves and pigeons were the only birds suitable for sacrifice by the Hebrews, as stated in Leviticus 1:14. the dove appears as a symbol of purity on the Holy Grail in Malory’s Morte d’Arthur. In Muslim lore, a dove murmured the words of God into the ear of Muhammad.

Today the dove is a symbol of peace, often portrayed with an olive branch in its mouth. This iconography is taken from the story of Noah releasing the bird to bring back proof that there was land again somewhere and that the floodwaters were receding. The dove is also seen as representing love; it was a symbol of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, and of Venus her Roman counterpart. Lovers are said to “bill and coo” like doves. The dove is a monogamous bird, which may be the source of its connection with romantic and eternal love.

In Slavic folklore, doves were believed to conduct the souls of the dead to heaven. For the Celts, the mournful call of a dove meant the peaceful passing of someone.

Omens and Divinatory Meaning

Doves call you to regain your serenity. Do you feel off balance, or out of step with the world? Are you harried or frazzled? The dove reminds you to take a deep breath and release all your tension and stress.

The dove also urges you to look at your relationships with your partner(s), romantic, work related, or otherwise. Are you in harmony with them? Is there friction? Reach out and smooth over any rough spots. Seeing a dove may be an omen of a new relationship, or a shift in an existing one.

Doves are associated with purity and innocence. Do you feel as if life has jaded you? Try to recapture a sense of innocence, of wonder and love for the world around you. Operating constantly with a cynical worldview is exhausting. In a situation that is frustrating or upsetting to you, a dove may be encouraging you to wipe the slate clean and start again.

As a symbol of the holy Spirit, the dove is associated with the mystical fifth element of spirit. Let you sighting of a dove remind you to reconnect with the spiritual aspect of your life; accept it as a blessing.

Associated energies: Peace love, serenity, blessing, patience, grace, hope, marital happiness, purity
Associated seasons: Year round
Element associations: Air, water, earth
Color Associations: White, ivory, buff, brown, grey

REFERENCE: Birds, a Spiritual Field Guide, Explore the Symbology & Significance of These Divine Winged Messengers by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

Reflections

Image by Gerhard G. from Pixabay

“A dove struggling in a storm grows stronger than an eagle soaring in sunshine.”

― Matshona Dhliwayo

This quote makes me reflect on how adversity can either make you or break you. It also makes me think of the beguiling saying, “The weak shall lead the strong.” The eagle is such a powerful bird and yet bald eagles for instance have been under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Doves are also in danger from hunters who hunt them for sport. It’ll be a scary day when they rise up and attack back.

“When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence…”

– J.B. Phillips, a British Bible translator, translates James 1:2-5

What does endurance look like?

That past snow storm in February made me wonder how the wildlife was going to survive. I think those from Canada or Norway have looked our situation and said, “That did NOT look like a lot of snow. Negative degree weather during the winter is rather normal for us.” 🙂 Many people have died due to the extremity of conditions they were not used to in my area. Others have demonstrated their resiliency and were resourceful, adapted, and survived the ordeal. As I’m typing this though, I hear the birds chirping outside my window and the previously dead trees sprouted new leaves. The Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research was able to rescue the turtles. Sometimes, we need a little help from each other.

The other day I received a comment a collared doves, and I was so curious to listen to them. They have such a calming coo. With all the things going on in the world and my busy schedule, this is just a nice step away from any sort of stress build up!

A2Z 2021 – Birds – Cardinal

Featured Photo by Christy Mesker

  • Physical Description: The northern cardinal is a mid-size songbird with a distinctive crest on the head. The cardinal measures approximately 8.5 inches long, weighs approximately 1.5 ounces, and has a wingspan of about 11 inches. The male is slightly larger than the female and is a vibrant red with a black mask on his face that covers his eyes and throat below the beak. The female’s plumage is a dull red-brown and she has a grey mask.
  • Geographic Distribution: The cardinal can be found in southern parts of eastern Canada and down through the eastern part of the United States from Maine to Texas. Its range also extends west and south through Mexico to Guatemala and Belize.
  • Environment: The cardinal prefers woodland, residential areas, and swampland.

Myths, Folklore, and Cultural Associations

The cardinal is easy to spot due to its coloring. It is one of the most popular birds and easily identified by birdwatchers and non bird watchers alike.

Like the robin, whose plumage also features a distinctive red patch, the cardinal is often associated with Christmas and the winter season. The color is bright and cheering. The cardinal’s presence year round and its appearance at backyard bird feeders may also contribute to this association.

The cardinal’s name is derived from the high-ranking clerics of the Catholic Church who wear rich red robes. The term cardinal is used to denote something with primary or essential qualities, such as a cardinal direction. The word comes from the Latin word, cardo, meaning hinge. Something that has cardinal qualities is so important that it functions as a keystone or axle; other things hinge around it.

The Cherokee believe that the cardinal is the daughter of the sun. Legend has it that if you see a cardinal flying upward, toward the sun, you will have good luck. Conversely, if you see if flying down toward the earth, watch out for bad luck.

“Then the Redbird, the beautifully singing bird, came up: “Let people have faith in me. I want to be able to sing joyful songs when it is going to rain.” So he was given that power. That’s why the old Cherokees believe that when they see this bird singing atop a tree it will rain. That’s all the power he was given.”

The Thunder Nation and the Eagle, Cherokee story

The cardinal was the first bird to given state recognition. In 1926, it was made the state bird of Kentucky. It’s also the bird of six other states (Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia), making it the most popular state bird. It is also the name of the St. Louis professional baseball team and the Arizona Cardinals professional football team, and is the mascot of numerous university athletic teams, including the Stanford Cardinal, the Louisville Cardinal, and the Wesleyan Cardinal.

Omens and Divinatory Meaning

Examine the areas of your life in which you are, or should be, a leader. Is your confidence shaky? The cardinal tells you that you can handle it, and to believe in yourself.

It is important to be proud of yourself for your abilities or for the things you have achieved. The cardinal’s bright red feathers and cheerful song call attention to him wherever he goes. If you see a cardinal, it may be telling you to stand up, lift your head high, and take pride in yourself. Accept compliments that come your way, and acknowledge your achievements.

The cardinals bright red plumage also calls you to open yourself to creative energy. Have you been feeling blocked or dull lately? Are you looking for a new way to express yourself? Call on the cardinal to help you open up and get your creativity flowing again. The red feathers link it with fire, the element of activity, vitality, and passion. If you are feeling lethargic, the cardinal may lend you its energy to help you get back on your feet. Likewise, it can be a good bird with whom to work if you are struggling to handle depression.

If you are having difficulty dealing with anger, however, seeing a cardinal may remind you to take a step or two back. Red is the color of the root chakra, the energy center associated with stability, survival, and security, and feeling unsettled in any of these areas may be influencing your anger issue. Examine the areas of your life connected to these subjects for clues to the source of your emotional state, and move to make them better.

Associated energies: Leadership, self-worth, confidence, creativity, vitality, activity
Associated seasons: Winter
Element associations: Air, Fire
Color associations: Red, Black

REFERENCE: Birds, a Spiritual Field Guide, Explore the Symbology & Significance of These Divine Winged Messengers by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

Reflections

I’ve enjoyed a few cardinals in my area. One wintry day, my sister and I got to see a cardinal up close right outside her bedroom window. The cardinal was hanging out in our bushes alongside the fence. We were awestruck by its beauty. It was rather magical to watch it chirp for a few minutes checking out its environment.

I once bought a journal that had a picture of a cardinal on it. It was my theme and my lucky muse for that year. Sometimes, I may get stuck in a rut or routine and need to infuse some vitality and passion into my day.

#Paint-Chip Poem: You Had Me At Aloha

With the speed of a panther, blue ribbon hula dancers
Cartwheel onto the coastline kicking sand in the air

Instagram photo by yourfriendandre

A flock of red crested cardinals
Swoop in lightning fast circling the lighthouse
Chirping their sweet song
s for all to hear

The beauties spritz amongst each other
Hawaiian Island Bougainvillea Eau de Parfum
Forever a fountain of youth

Image from ecrater.com
Linda Kruschke’s Paint Chip Poetry – Juxtaposition

Featured Photo: https://hawaiihulacompany.com/

A2Z 2021 – Birds – Blue Jay

Featured Photo by Alain Audet

  • Physical Description: The blue jay is a medium-sized songbird that weighs about 3 ounces, measures about 10 inches, and has a wingspan of about 15.5 inches. Like all other corvids (the family that includes birds such as crows and ravens), jays are fiercely intelligent and social birds, with a loud call that ranges from a harsh cry to close mimicry of other birds or sounds. The blue jay features blue plumage on its back, white, or pale grey on its front, and a varied patched work detail of blue, black, and grey on its wings and tail, with a slightly darker mask around the face. It has a jaunty crest of feathers on the top of the head that raises when the bird is alert; the crest is lowered when the jay is relaxed, especially when feeding a brood or dealing with extended family such as flock mates. The Steller’s jay is dark blue with a charcoal grey head and lacks the paler belly of the common blue jay.
  • Geographic Distribution: Native to North America, the blue jay can be found in southern Canada and throughout the United States from the Midwest to the eastern coastal regions. The Steller’s jay is found in western North American from Canada down through Central America.
  • Environment: The blue jay is mainly found in mixed forest areas, especially forest edges, residential areas such as towns and cities. The Steller’s jay prefers evergreen forests.

Myths, Folklore, and Cultural Associations

The word jay may come from the Old French jai, meaning gay, a reference to the bird’s bright plumage. The Canadian gray jay (Perisoreus candensis) has a reputation for thieving; perisoriou means “to pile up.”

As the blue jay is a North American bird, it lacks the older religious symbolism of Old World birds. Instead, it is featured in Native American myths, and seems to have been an important figure especially to the Chinook, Sioux, and Coastal Salish tribes. In one myth, the jay is said to have had a beautiful voice and became overly proud of it. To punish him, the gods caused it to change to the harsh croak call we know today. In other myths, the blue jay is a trickster figure who works with Coyote or Fox.

The blue jay is the provincial bird of Prince Edward Island, Canada. The provincial bird of British Columbia is the Steller’s jay.

“Bluejay is the trickster hero of the Chinook, Chehalis, and other Northwest Coast tribes. Bluejay is generally a benevolent being who is helpful to humankind, but he is also extremely foolish and careless, and stories about him are often humorous or even slapstick in nature.

Native American Legends: Blue Jay

“Blue Jay was a trickster who enjoyed playing clever tricks on everyone, especially his sister Ioi. As she was the eldest sister, Bluejay was supposed to obey her. But he deliberately misinterpreted what she said, excusing himself by saying, “Ioi always tells lies.”

Bluejay Finds a Wife, A Chinook Legend

Omens and Divinatory Meaning

The jay’s strong family bond may be directing you to look to your own family situation. Are you directing more energy into non family areas of your life than into your family itself? The jay may also be urging you to trust your immediate and extended family, including your trusted communities, and by extension to be more alert when dealing with people who are not of these closer relationships. Be fearless when defending your family and the communities in which you participate. The jay’s strong flock or family ties also point to its loyalty.

The jay’s relationship with oak trees may prompt you to look into oak’s meanings. The oak tends to be associated with strength, durability, timelessness, longevity, and protection. If you live in the western part of North America, look instead at the qualities connection with evergreens, the Steller’s jay’s preferred tree, which include fertility and everlasting life.

The blue jay’s familiar talkativeness, coupled with its blue feathers ( a color associated with the throat chakra, one of several energy centers found throughout the body) may be urging you to look at your own communication habits and skills. Are you talking a lot and saying not much of substance? Are you communicating the essential truths and facts, or burying them in a lot of chaff? The color blue is also linked with purity and spirituality; the blue jay may be coaxing you to follow higher ideals and nourish your spirituality.

Finally, the blue jay may be reminding you to gather and store a bit extra in order to ensure that you have a safety net if times get tough.

Photo by Erin Minuskin on Unsplash

Associated energies: Family bonds, social networks, communication, loyalty, fearlessness
Associated seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall
Element associations: Earth, Air
Color associations: Blue, white, black

REFERENCE: Birds, a Spiritual Field Guide, Explore the Symbology & Significance of These Divine Winged Messengers by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

Reflections

I’ve been blessed to have come across a few blue jays in my life. I got curious about a lot of Native American tales such as this one: Indian Legend of the Cowichan Tribes :Bluejay brings the Dead girl to life. Despite all the foibles that families have, I wonder how essential trust in the family unit is. I’m sure there is an exception to really dysfunctional families however. In which case, the family that you choose will probably work best here.

The divinatory meaning behind “be more alert when dealing with people who are not of these closer relationships” reminds me of a story that my boyfriend shared with me about The FBI’s First Big Case: The Osage Murders. <<This link is to the history channel. It’s a riveting story of how the Osage Tribe’s wealth lured criminals and with that jealousy and prejudice.

“They’re scalping our souls out here,” complained one exasperated Osage. The systematic embezzlement—referred to as the “Indian business” by some white settlers on the Osage reservation—wasn’t lucrative enough for some, however. In order to maintain tribal control, shares of the oil money could not be sold by the Osage to white settlers, but they could be inherited. That loophole proved the genesis of a calculated, cold-blooded plot to gain inheritance rights from tribe members before killing them. In some instances, white settlers even married their marks to legally become the next of kin before murdering their spouses.”

– Christopher Klein talks about David Gran’s best-selling book, “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,”

“Be fearless when defending your family and the communities in which you participate”… I feel this phrase echoing throughout history and even in the present. I didn’t plan on writing on this route today, but it certainly has me thinking!

A2Z 2021- Birds – Albatross

Featured Photo by Craig K. Lorenz

  • Physical description: The albatross has a long, straight bill with a hook on the end with two tubes along it, one on each side, to allow the bird to expel seawater taken in with food. Its plumage ranges from browns to whites. The black-footed albatross measures approximately 27 inches long, has a wingspan of approximately 80 inches, and a weight of 7 to 9 pounds.
  • Geographic Distribution: Most albatrosses are found in the southern hemisphere, with the exception of albatrosses found in the North Pacific, which are found off the west coast of North America.
  • Environment: The albatrosses are found in coastal areas.
Black-browed albatross family on Steeple Jason Island, Falkland Islands
Photo by Steve Bloom

Myths, Folklore, and Cultural Associations

Early on albatrosses were considered to be guides or incarnations of wandering souls lost at sea, which is why it was considered unlucky to shoot or eat one. They were also used as weather indicators, usually meaning that stormy weather was imminent. However the albatross became associated with sin, guilt, and punishment with the publication of Samuel Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. In this tale, the albatross is a symbol of guilt and burden, worn about the neck of the sailor who shot it down, thus the bird became seen as the initiator of a series of bad luck.

At length did cross an Albatross,
Thorough the fog it came;
As if it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed it in God’s name.
And a good south wind sprung up behind;
The Albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariner’s hollo!

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Omens and Divinatory Meaning

Albatrosses spend a lot of time gliding, rarely needing to flap their wings. This suggests an efficient use of the resources available to them. If you see an albatross, ask yourself if you’re deploying your energy to the best uses. Albatrosses use air currents to propel themselves. Look at your life to see what energies you can borrow to help you along and conserve your own energy.

An albatross can also tell you to stay aloft. These birds can spend weeks on end in the air, never fully landing or returning to shore. Keep flying; trust yourself to soar. Don’t constantly rush back home to feel safe. Be strong, and strike out on your own.

The albatross’s strong connection to its family breeding grounds may inspire you to check in with your family. If you’ve never done so, take a look at your family history or your cultural traditions. What country or countries do your ancestors come from? What can you learn from their customs and heritage? Learning these kinds of things can enrich who you are, and your sense of self.

Associated energies: Conservation of energy, trust in yourself, family, heritage
Associated seasons: Fall, winter
Element associations: Air, water
Color associations: Grey, black, beige, white

REFERENCE: Birds, a Spiritual Field Guide, Explore the Symbology & Significance of These Divine Winged Messengers by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

Reflections

I’m silently laughing at how I’m going to reflect on Arin’s divinatory meanings for 26 birds when I haven’t seen them yet! It’s like reading all the horoscopes and have each of them apply to my life in some way. I’m going to get acquainted with each of them in case I DO have my meaningful moment. These themes are interesting for me to ponder, however. I wonder where I can “borrow” energy. I feel like I rely so much on technology and gadgets that make my life easier. More energy is always wanted! Maybe that’s why I enjoy working on a team that I can depend on. That way I don’t shoulder most of the work. Rushing home to feel safe is such a big temptation. It takes plenty of courage to strike out on one’s own. Lately, I have been thinking of my ancestors and what qualities I may have inherited as I go about my day. These albatrosses are so much fun to watch! I was engrossed by The Midway Project’s film: https://www.albatrossthefilm.com/watch-albatross

A2Z 2021 Theme Reveal

“Some birds are not meant to be caged, that’s all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. So you let them go, or when you open the cage to feed them they somehow fly out past you. And the part of you that knows it was wrong to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live is that much more drab and empty for their departure.”

– Stephen King, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption

**Drum roll, please** My theme for 2021’s A to Z Challenge will be about…. BIRDS!

My inspiration is primarily from Arin Murphy-Hiscock’s book “BIRDS a spiritual field guide”. I enjoy her illustrations, her research on mythology & folklore, and her insight into divinatory meanings. I was curious after my former supervisor shared a story with me about her winged messenger.

Here’s the author’s bio:

Arin Murphy-Hiscock has always felt a spiritual connection to birds, especially owls. She is a third-degree Wiccan High Priestess in the Black Forest Clan and the author of Power Spellcraft for Life, Solitary Wicca for Life, The Way of the Green Witch, and The Way of the Hedge Witch. She lives and bird-watches with her husband and two children.

Here’s the back-flap:

Birds are all around us building nests for their eggs, perching on a nearby tree branch, floating freely on a breath of wind. But do you ever feel like a bird might be trying to connect with you or even tell you something? This book can help you figure out the special message your visitor is trying to share. Inside this lovely illustrated field guide you’ll find everything you need to decipher the unique meaning behind each individual bird sighting. From physical description to folklore, each of the common bird species detailed within has a story and a unique symbolism which will help reveal the changes these mystical creatures want you to make in your life. With this enlightening volume as your inspiration, get ready to take a look at your life from a bird’s eye view one robin, crow, and hummingbird at a time!

Hello! For those who are new to Culture Shocks…WELCOME! Let me take a moment and introduce myself and some of the projects I’m working on.

Here you will find my personal journal entries, stories, poetry, quotes, and photos of things I find fascinating. Occasionally, I share snippets from my myriad of hobbies that I rotate on a seasonal basis. Stick with me long enough, you’ll realize that even though I’ve chosen birds as my focus, I tend to get off on a tangent due to disparate connections I make. I blog sporadically and randomly. I may do 5 entries for A2Z in one day, go AWOL, and return with full vigor. My attempt to blog on a schedule has been futile so far!

Ah! A face to a name! My name is Sa. Nice to meet you! 🙂

I wear many hats literally and figuratively. I’m an audacious sister, friend, daughter, grad student, Rotarian, technical writer, businesswoman, Toastmaster, volunteer for multiple causes, and more. My blog is my comforting oasis, though I may occasionally vent here when I have nowhere else to go.

For those of you who have been here a while, I finished my 1st crochet-a-long with the alumni for the month of March! I’m happy they evaluated my crochet partner and me very highly. They remarked that it was fun and engaging! I was happy to see the flowers again after such a devastating freeze over our state in February. Easter is just around the corner. Spring is here!

I’m getting my COVID vaccine tomorrow morning at the stadium. The current climate surrounding Asian Americans that has swept the nation has had me reminiscing about the past. I purposely remain vague though I relate to various stories that have been shared across various social media platforms. My main question is what will I do moving forward.

The alumni book club has gotten into some interesting reads. Though, I’m having some difficulty finishing the book, “The Biggest Bluff” by Maria Konikova. I’m wrapping up on “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” by James Clear. We’re about to start “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig. I’m still working through some bloggers’ books and poignant poetry as well.

I’m resuming collaboration with a blogger on some poetry regarding some fragrances. I work as a beauty consultant and I thought it would be a fun way to learn about all the fragrances that I’m unfamiliar with. I was so inspired by his work that I thought I could explore the sensation of smell!

I’m currently hooked on the Home Edits Show. I recently de-cluttered my space of many books, clothes, and papers. I found that I didn’t miss them as much as I thought I would, even books that were formally my favorites. I think it’s because there’s only so much that I can focus on in the present that I don’t have time to linger on any items that are associated with my past. Even though it was a massive undertaking, I still feel like I could use some help. There’s some things I still feel like I can let go. Reorganize my crafts supplies. Change particular containers. I have a vision. I determined to make it happen. Previously, I was intrigued by Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. It has helped me immensely, though I think I didn’t follow it completely. It’s still a work in progress!

I’m also enjoying a remix of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No.2

Alrighty, that wraps up my intro for now! I hope to reconnect with new and veteran participants of the A to Z challenge! I look forward to reading your blog posts!