Great Blue Heron
The archetype of the Great Blue Heron has been a strong factor in our own personal journey. Has it been for yours?
Heron links two worlds: the waters of life—the Unconscious, and the air—the realm of the conscious mind. He feeds on fishes, which symbolize the treasures of the Unconscious mind: spiritual nourishment for the Seeker. Yet he is also a creature of the Earth, so he is a grounding influence for people who spend too much time in their minds and who are called to ‘fish’ in the waters of the unconscious.
The legs of Heron are long to “stand” the deep waters of the Unconscious: the Waters of Lethe bring sleepiness and unconsciousness if one is not awake, aware and wary. Heron is a solitary fisher; if you call upon Heron to be your own totem, you must be able to stand alone as you seek, for there is no one to call on should you step into too-deep waters.
Heron’s strength for those of us who spend too much time ‘in our minds’ is that he brings one down to Earth. With Heron as your guide, he will bring you to ground to explore life here in the physical instead of just daydreaming or losing oneself in one’s imagination or dreams.
Since as fishers of these waters our attention is constantly drawn back to the treasures of the Unconscious, we tend to lose interest in the matters other humans focus upon. We are not the most stable workers, or attentive spouses, or normal neighbors. We tend to be more than a little eccentric, preoccupied, inwardly turned people. We’re dreamers, liars, creating things out of our discoveries, imagining new things to be and do. We’re deeply engaged with exploring our naturalness, learning to know our bodies, or exploring Divine Nature. We’re unconventional, hearing our own inner drummer. We don’t worry about ‘keeping up with the Jones’s, doing what others do, believing what others believe, valuing what others value. If there is a weakness, it is that Heron works too hard at its fishing because he is a superb ‘stalker.’ He spends long hours standing and watching for a movement in the water, and needs sometimes to ‘loosen up’ and spend more time playing, courting lady herons or just snoozing in the Sun.
Because they are unconventional people, Heron people often must learn to make their living being ‘jacks of all trades’-picking up income from a variety of jobs, projects, part-time assignments-rather than a routine, full-time job with one employer. Most people, as Ted Andrews says in his book Animal Speak, would never choose to live this way: “It is not a structured way, and does not have a stability or security to it. It is though, just a matter of perspective. There is security in heron medicine, for it gives the ability to do a variety of tasks. If one way doesn’t work, then another will.”
Solitary in nature, Heron people follow their own path. They learn self-reliance. This is a valuable character trait in these times of conformity and homogenization of values. Heron people can stand alone, listen to their own inner wisdom, and go their own way when everyone else is conforming to society’s commands. In this way, they build their own ways to be as well as choose their own way of doing. They are individuals first.
On the negative side, many heron people get lost in their emotions (water) and lose the discipline of reason or will, forgetting to come to Earth to live life to its fullest, or even getting lost in that ‘vastness’ which is the realm of forgetting and dream, sentimentalizing life and its meaning rather than getting on with life as it is. Heron people occasionally have to be reminded to stay Present in their lives; that Heaven is here spread upon the Earth (as Jesus said in the Gospel of Thomas).
 Ted Andrews, Animal Speak (Llewellyn Publications: 1998), page 156.