I have wanted to write this post for some time, but for fear of judgement, I have held off. Yes, I know I write about talking to dead people and other oddities. But to me, this is different.
If you have read my blog at all, you know I am all about connection. I am certain we are all from the same spark. And, we are also connected to the animals and the rest of the natural world around us. I want to tell you a story about my life, and the animals, one in particular, in spite of what you might think.
So why now? Well, today was my first day out of the recliner and back to work after 8 weeks of medical leave. At lunch time I left to go to physical therapy as I do every week. On my way there and back, which is maybe 30 minutes roundtrip, I saw a red tailed hawk 3 times. When I got home and was later staring out the window of my spare bedroom which serves as my office for the moment, I also saw a red tailed hawk soaring around outside. You see, I don’t even need to look for the red tailed hawks, they are just always there.
When I see the hawk often enough in one day, I take note. Also, I am reading this book which I am enjoying so immensely, (“Greenlights” by Matthew McConaughey) and it is the most authentic and honest thing I have read in some time which serves as inspiration for this. I also read a post on Instagram about telling stories and how when we do that, we connect to other people and help them feel seen. That even without knowing it, we help people feel more at ease, inspire them to heal, or to accept themselves as they truly are just by telling them a story.
As a I kid, I loved story time in school more than anything else. And I don’t mean reading stories, I mean the part where the teacher would get up and start talking about themselves, and then others would start sharing, and before you knew it, a half hour had gone by and the room just felt more peaceful and I felt more fulfilled. Maybe you all felt that way too. All I know, is I LOVE STORIES.
I had intended to write a post about spirit animals and totem animals, and what they mean and why they come into our lives, which I may still do if that is of interest. Yes, that would be safer and more on point for the theme of this blog. I thought, “Ok, I will teach people a little bit about these animals and leave it at that”. But, as the day wore on, it occurred to me that vulnerable and authentic (thank you Matthew) is much more interesting than regurgitated facts and folklore. Well, to me it is anyway. So, here is the story of me and my hawk friends.
One rainy Saturday in the spring of 2017, a large red tailed hawk landed on the chain link fence in my backyard and proceeded to eat a sparrow. Right there, on my fence, close enough to see the sparrow get ripped apart a little bit at a time. I was super grossed out by the scene of horror that was the sparrow’s experience, but I was also captivated by the hawk and its graceful, powerful nature. They also have that beautiful red swath of feathers and they are so majestic and regal. That was my first run in with the hawk.
A year or more later, I was starting to practice reiki. I had been attuned to level one in late 2017 and then attuned to level two in the spring of 2018. If you don’t know, once you reach level two you are able to share reiki with others as a practitioner. I was hesitant to start that because as is the case with most things spiritual for me, I preferred to keep my interests and talents on the down low. A friend encouraged me and as she owned a massage practice, she allowed me to use her space after hours for a nominal fee. I had so much self-doubt and so many reservations but I persisted and started doing reiki for a few people and turns out, they loved it.
Around this time, the hawk started to appear again. I would drive down the road and one would land right where I stopped. Or I would be walking the dogs, and one would fly overhead. Now I am fully aware that the red tailed hawk is the most populated raptor in the area I live in and actually for much of the US. I see robins and crows every day as well, but this was different. I was noticing the hawks. I felt like they were there on purpose. I felt like they were looking at me as much as I was looking at them. And since this timing aligned with the dawning of my reiki practice and also the beginning of my deeper spiritual learning, I felt it was a bad omen. I was clearly doing it wrong or it was wrong, or I was wrong. Something was wrong. Why else would this graceful, powerful, majestic bird with a touch of flair keep coming to me?
Well as it turned out, something was wrong, and it wasn’t my reiki practice or my spiritual studies. Within a month or so of the hawk reappearing in my life, my mother got sick. If you are new to the blog, my very active, vital and full of life mother passed away 6 weeks from the day she entered the hospital while on vacation in Florida from a rare form of cancer.
The hawk remained with me, I even saw him in Florida when I would walk back and forth to her hospital. Later, I saw him on the way to her funeral, swooping in front of our car on a cold wintery morning on a very busy street. After she died, and I was in and out of work for some time in the depths of grief, the hawk comforted me. On Christmas Eve, just 19 days after she died, a hawk landed in the birch tree on my patio. We stared at each other for a while and it just felt like a magical hello from the great beyond. I started looking for the hawk whenever I drove to yoga, the one thing that would get me out of bed in the morning. Or when I walked the dogs. Or really, when I looked out any window. I was always looking. And it seemed the more I looked, the more the hawk wasn’t there.
As spring drew near, I saw more and more large birds and would get excited every time. Come to find out, these were turkey vultures returning from their winter excursions. I was so disappointed. I learned quickly the differences between hawks and the other large birds that flew in my area just by watching and observing. I noticed how hawks just didn’t flap their wings that much, where vultures were wobbly fliers, and crows flapped their wings a lot. After so much studying, I became quite familiar with the hawks, I could almost sense when the hawk was about to appear.
As time wore on, I simply stopped looking for the hawk confident that it would always be there. Because of that, it makes the times the hawk does show up now so much more special. A whole week can go by when I don’t see the hawk, and there can be other weeks where I see the hawk every day. One flew into the bushes on my patio the other day, clearly hunting for dinner. Another day that week, a hawk and a blue jay squared off in the birch on my patio. Several times this summer, the hawk came and landed on my fence as I sat in the backyard. Each and every time, I felt the hawk’s presence. Someone else might point it out to me but I always knew it was there and at no point did their majesty not have me enamored.
The totem animal for people born under the natal sign of Aries is the red tailed hawk. When I learned that I was like, “oh hey cool, I am an Aries, that’s my totem and maybe that’s why I am so connected to this bird.” Then, a few months ago, I had a reading with my mediumship teacher. She told me she sees so many birds around me, but especially a hawk, and that my dad sends them to me. She said he wanted me to feel free. On my desk as she talked to me on the phone, I have a rock with a hawk on it etched in gold that says nothing else on it but FREE (and yes, in capital letters.)
This was a mouth open; jaw drop moment for me. I had never once considered that my Dad might be sending the hawks to me. (He, incidentally, was also an Aries person.) And that rather than a sign that I was doing something wrong, maybe he sent the hawks as comfort to help me know I was not alone in spite of losing both my parents and that we remain connected. Or maybe it was that and so much more.
Symbolically, the hawk is a messenger of divinity; watchful and all seeing. It is associated with the number 14 which is the average number of years they live and also with the temperance card in the tarot. (I am not a tarot person so I cannot offer a meaningful translation of that however 14, 41 and 141 are often repeated numbers in my life.) The red tail especially is associated with kundalini energy and the root chakra. It is said the red tailed hawk appears as a totem when the individual begins to uncover their soul purpose in a more activated way. They encourage us to fly higher and reach greater heights while staying grounded.
There is medicine in nature and our totem and spirit animals. I took a class while I was laid up about animal medicine and we did some meditation with the animals. When I did this with the hawk, it told me that he appears to take away furry creatures to eat and that is seen as bad but it’s a necessary part of life. It also said that I don’t need to look, that what’s meant for me will find me. The hawk also told me I had taken on more than I should and that as a result, I had a broken wing (aka my shoulder). This last 8 weeks was a time of rest and reset for me and it most definitely was needed. My perspective has changed, and I learned so much about myself including my resiliency and creativity. Things I worried about going into this surgery melted away with my newfound ingenuity and resourcefulness. I also learned how to ask for help without making it weird for me and everyone else around me. Baby steps, I am only 46 years old, wink wink.
You may have noticed my Instagram feed is featuring animals here and there. I am working to learn more about animals other than the red tailed hawk and hope that sharing some of this knowledge and my musings on these animals lands for you too. (Pun intended.)
If you are interested in learning more about how animals operate in our lives, drop me a note and I will write more about them or maybe even offer a class. If you prefer to learn on your own, the book I would recommend is “Animal-Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small” by Ted Andrews. I also have this magical deck of oracle cards that I am learning so much from by Kim Krans. It is called “The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck.” I know others recommend another deck by Colette Baron Reid called “The Spirit Animal Oracle.”
So there you have it. I hope that my relationship with the red tailed hawk has helped you in some way and I also hope that you start to notice the animals you are drawn to as well. See what you notice as you navigate the world. Perhaps it is animal medicine waiting for you. xoxo