An Emu Visitation

Goose, Emu and Swan feathers

Goose, Emu and Swan feathers
(Click to enlarge)

I have recently been picking up messages from birds. If I am meditating on a problem, and while doing so see a bird that wouldn’t be entirely predictable in the location I am in, then I consider whether it has the answer to my question or can lead me in a direction I hadn’t previously considered. (Eg Kestrels and Clothes, 15 February, and the follow-on post Finding the Excitement, 22 February.)

Birds I see regularly are pigeons, blackbirds, crows, sparrows, robins, great tits, bluetits, finches, wrens, warblers, sparrowhawks and buzzards. There are also plenty of chickens around the village. For me to read a message from one of these, it would have to be doing something quite unusual, or else leave me a coloured feather rather than the usual grey or occasional black that I find. I know there are ways of reading messages from the direction a bird flies in, but mostly they fly to and from a feeder or a favourite perch…

As you will guess from the title of this post, this week’s bird was none of the above. In fact it was a feather found a few hundred yards from where the day before I had seen a pair of emus in a field. Had I not seen them, I would have struggled to identify it, but it is quite unlike any other feather I have seen being neither a flight nor a down feather. (Why it was where I found it rather than nearer to the birds remains a mystery.)

Emus are tall, and can run very fast. They are far-seeing, and are said to help develop shamanic skills rapidly by, amongst other things, helping us to be where we want to be almost instantaneously. Moving quickly is not something I have trouble with in journeying, and spend more time reminding myself to slow down and make transitions properly. However in life in general the odd reminder to get on with things can be helpful!

Journeying later to meet emu, I found myself first with one bird, myself transformed light enough to ride on its back, then an increasing number until there were hundreds all running just for the joy of it across grass. I did not need to worry about one person (which was the answer to part of my ‘problem’ the day I found the feather, with good friends about to leave Derbyshire and cancelling what was probably going to be our last chance to meet up) as there were so many more I simply needed to make contact with and get to know. Or if I wanted to be by myself that was fine too. I was suddenly astride the same bird at the top of the mountain ridge we could see in the distance. It was an amazingly remote and airy location. We returned to the flock and it was friendly, and there were babies running about our feet. I was reminded I didn’t need to worry about M making new friends either.

I also realised I needed to consider the characteristics of the actual feather I had found. It is incredibly lightweight and airy feeling – telling me not to get bogged down, just tread lightly and stay light. It is soundless in a different way to an owl feather, no need to say anything. It is very graceful, and while the colours are drab, they do change from brown to white. The form bears interesting closer inspection as it is about 17” long and very delicately fronded, much like a fern. There are no means of joining the individual fibres together, yet they manage to consistently lie parallel to each other. They are also surprisingly uneven in length, and not just due to wear and tear. This made me think of each in a group maintaining its individuality and character, yet also being part of a whole. The feather is way too slender to use as a quill, unlike swan or goose feathers I have of a similar length. Beauty without any obvious use I can come up with. Much like blossom on a tree that doesn’t fruit or set seed. (See earlier post, Fleeting Beauty on 11 April.)

Finally the feather brought me the gift of love, for I was feeling sad and a bit alone – yet to have received such a gift reminded me that being alone is but an illusion. We are always surrounded by spirit, besides that which flows through us, and spirit knows when we need a bit of extra support and love and care. I found the gift at just the right moment when I was ready to receive it.

My first encounter with Emus as a child was not a success, as they bit my finger through the fence at a wildlife park. Thirty five years later I have a little more respect, and a lot more enjoyment from these tall, elegant, teacher birds. I thank them for showing me a different side of their nature.

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Yuletide Greetings

Solstice Greetings, Wren with Ivy

Solstice Greetings, Wren with Ivy

A very happy winter solstice to all my readers!

Here is my favourite wren story, Celtic in origin:
There was once a contest to see who should be the king of the birds. The wren suggested that whoever could fly the highest should be made king. The eagle thought this was great and immediately went to show how high he could fly. Up and up he flew, far above all the other birds that he could see circling below him as he soared through the sky. He went up as far as he could, hovered for a few minutes, and then started to descend. Just then a wren who had been hidden in his feathers popped out and flew up two more feet, before saying “Behold your king!”

Wrens are a delightful little bird that hop around the hedges and shrubs in my garden, mostly seen in winter. They build several nests each year, and will choose the best, or even huddle together in cold weather in a nest box. They also have a surprisingly loud voice.