Speaker for the Animals

We live in a rapidly changing landscape where people and urban areas are displacing the places for the wild ones to live. Who speaks for the animals? We will.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Great Blue Heron

Aggressive Self-Reliance,
Self Determination

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.”[1]

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).

[1] Ted Andrews, Animal Speak (Llewellyn Publications: 1998), page 156.


Blogger msannc said...

I don't necessarily meet all the classifications of the totem but I have been drawn to the Great Blue Heron all my adult life. I am a caregiver to my disabled spouse and I do live a solitary life. I do sometime live "in my head". On the other hand, I do hold a full time job which I have had for 10 years and am thought of as a very happy and social person at all times. I still accept this as one of my totems and do appreciate this info about it.

10:59 AM  
Blogger RhiannonRings said...

Great post! I found a Heron nesting area, that I have been drawn to every year when they come around- tonight while admiring them I stepped into the center of the lot that they surround and felt a spinning almost and envisioned a vortex or portal beneath me- I felt very strongly that I was in the presence of a great spiritual force- in my neighborhood. I kept imagining the word Portal- I got home and looked up Blue Heron Medicine and came to your post the second sentence floored me. Thanks for the lovely insightful post.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Rini said...

I came upon a great blue heron for the first time after a spiritual enlightenment that God is always with me. I spooked a huge bird near sunset. Only a few feet in front of me, it flapped its huge wings and flew toward the sun. I looked so strange sillouetted against the sun that I literally thought it was a living teradactyl!

Ever since that day I have known great blue heron as my totem.

Unfortunately I passed a huge dead great blue that had been killed on the road. I was on the way to a court case in which I was similarly run over in the court room. I'm having trouble shaking the image and symbolism from my mind. I have seen many living herons since but perhaps a part of me did die that day along with my heron that was run over

1:56 PM  
Blogger Jane said...

The other night I asked for a sign, and 10 minutes later I parked at the local docks, with a blue heron right before me. When I opened my car door, it took flight. It was exactly what I'd asked for. I've decided, the spirit will deliver.
You've provided perfect guidance in your nice summary of heron medicine. Thanks :)

1:28 AM  
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3:51 AM  
Blogger Wm George Alexander Bsp said...

Yes I have to agree here, that seems to be a very concise and perfect role for totem heron. I have always has totem heron since very young. And have witnessed them fishing from very close. Definitely the advice and reminder I needed to hear today.

5:33 AM  
Blogger deepinthewoods said...

Leaning against a very large old maple tree, I asked if it had anything to communicate to me. An image of a great blue heron appeared to me mentally. I did a search on the meaning of this bird, and a number of websites came up. I clicked on yours, and found the description of heron people to fit me very well; there was a teaching for me. Thanks!

11:50 AM  
Blogger yungrassmoka said...

While at the river with a good friend of mine we had taken a seet on a log overlooking the running river and theopposite shore. With the intention of meditating i spoke out in my mind "if their is a higher power here at this time present yourself." not even a second later a massive great blue heron flew down and landed on the shore just infront of us both, gve me a brief look then flew away. It was the most magnificent bird i have ever seen. She chest main on this particular heron was colurfully significant. Instead of the hormal dark blue, it had a brighter shy blue color. The features of this bird were unlike any other heron i had ever seen before. Later that day i had searched for a picture of one that matched the one i had seen but was unfortunately unsuccessful. From then on i was bound to the heron.

7:13 PM  
Blogger yungrassmoka said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Wheeliecelt said...

I am wanting to attribute your insights to a group tomorrow (small) but I do not see your name. Thank you

7:34 AM  
Blogger Bluerivergirl said...

The Great Blue Heron has always chosen me. I dance with it at the river, I learn from it's still deliberate ways. I rebelled against it for so long.... I wanted to be a social creature or at least a soaring agile bird not the squawking clunker in the swamp. Yet I have grown to appreciate it's choice of habitat (the rivers snd the bays) the way is truly does dance between all 3 worlds, teaching that u need not belong to any particular one to survive. That u must be still and observe you must stay put and watch and wait to be nourished. Great Blues do not trust people. They cannot sing. They fly with their legs dangling straight into the wind and their long graceful necks scrunched into a silly S. You see them and understand immediately they are of another world.

5:06 AM  
Blogger robert fischer said...

I am a professional athlete who has never had much of a "spiritual" side/viewpoint on life. I recently was on a training ride and was stopped by a huge Blue Heron standing in the middle of the street, we locked eyes and kinda appeared to be sizing each other up. It then flew away and on I continued. Several weeks later, I was riding through Golden Gate Park in SF at quite a good clip and was startled by a huge shadow passing over/in front of my front wheel.... I looked up, and here was this same Blue Heron, flying overhead. It continued to fly overhead, following me every turn for quite some time then landed in a nearby pond, looked at me and on we both continued. Again, I've never been a "spiritual" person and have had numerous encounters with wildlife throughout my life, but, this was a very emotional occurrence....... Not sure what to make of it???

10:05 AM  
Blogger LAnn said...

The Great Blue Heron is my totem. In 1998, I had been seriously ill with Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome. Life was a daily struggle. I continued to hope for recovery, but after so many years, I had become despondent. One day, I rode in the canoe with my now ex-husband up the Colorado River. We lived right on its banks near Austin, TX. We banked the canoe on a little "island." He hiked off out of sight; I, unable to do much other than sit, sat in the shallows, watching a pair of herons flying in circles upriver. AFter about 20 minutes, one of the herons started flying toward me. I sat transfixed as it came closer and closer, until it was right above me. It hovered for a second right above me and let go a feather, and then flapped away. I knew at that moment I must catch the feather and not let it touch the ground, and I did. It was the most profound thing that had ever happened to me. I knew it was a sign, that I would one day be well. Three years later, I fully recovered. I still keep the heron feather in a place of honor.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Mimi said...

On Friday evening about 10:30PM there came a knock at my back door. We live in the suburbs of PA, so I could not imagine what it might be. We have two dogs, so I looked around to see if perhaps one of our dogs was outside. Again the knock came and my husband went to open the door. There on our deck in our back yard stood a Blue Heron. Again, we do not live near any marsh lands, it is a suburb of Philadelphia. The bird was not afraid of us and did not leave our deck. The only way we could get it to mover on was to gently poke it with the end of a broom, at which point it only flew no more than a few yards. I felt a tremendous energy come from this bird and was very curious to see if there might be some significance from its visit to us. I have never really paid any attention to animal totems and just started reading about it o-out of curiosity. However, as I read more about it, I see how my life and way of proceeding is very, very similar to the symbolic life attached to this bird. I am not sure if this was a "visit" that was intentional, as my husband and I are preparing to adopt a young man into our family of alreay 6 children. What we are doing is seen by many others as unusual and not typical. We have anguished over this for a long time as even some of our children question it. So, I am gaining some consolation from this "visit" and just wonder about its significance.

8:17 AM  
Blogger Zonark said...

The Great Blue Heron has been my lifelong totem and its personality reflects my own more than any other totem. It has always appeared to me when I have needed hope, quite literally and at the most unusual moments. To look up and see one flying over you or standing near the road, just when you need a sign is truly remarkable. I've always been a jack of all trades (people call my mind an encyclopedia, one of those types of people), with a preference for murkier interests delving into the energies of the unconscious mind. I am very comfortable being alone and find it hard to live by any one form of work. I also tend to be a patient opportunist and minimalist. I love fishing too. Probably one of the few things I can tolerate doing hours on end.

4:42 AM  
Blogger mishe schemmann said...

I have a great blue heron tattooed on my forearm and everyone always asks me why. There are a few other reasons, but this is one of the best descriptions of the symbolism of the heron (and of me). Thanks!

8:40 AM  
Blogger Over the rainbow said...

Wow. I've been thinking about the Great Blue Heron a lot lately. Today, my 50th 3 flew over me. 2 were together. i knew this was my totem for the year. then I read this. I guess it is more than that. I am ALL of what was described. thank you. Yes, time to get on and DO what I've been dreaming about and stop being afraid of immersing myself in the structured schooling that can actually help me to achieve it. I have to believe in myself, I've gotten this far. thank you Blue Heron. when you flew over me and I "accepted" your blessing I felt such waves of energy flowing down upon me.

10:14 AM  
Blogger GBHeron said...

I found a Blue Heron in distress - swimming in circles in the canal. I waited and watched him for 5 - 10 mins. He then swam right to my feet - I pulled my shoes and socks off and lowered myself in the water - he actually let me pick him up and put him on the bank! I called for wildlife center to pick him up. It was an amazing moment - I will always treasure that he came to me and trusted me. Very blessed indeed!

4:59 PM  
Blogger Vicki Serrano said...

I love that they say that we do not choose to live this way, that our way is just as we are ... so true - thank you for this wonderful post - I am Heron, among other things and he occasionally reminds me "of all that is" by his presence in his life - this morning he flew over me on the highway toward the river on my way to work - I do work, I can focus on that in order to balance and relish my solitariness (not sure that's a word lol) ... peace ...

9:13 AM  
Blogger Peter Policastro said...

I was barbecuing the other night and just as I looked up I saw a heron fly over!! I seen them during the day but not at night. Still awe inspiring, quiet, large, solitary!!!!! Any significance at seeing it at night. Thanks, Painted Turtle

9:53 AM  
Blogger Ryan Welch said...

I read an old tale of a mighty bull being killed by a warrior, but the herons watching over the bull in a tree take the bulls blood and pour it into the river to rebirth the bull. the first blue heron I saw last year, I approached unseen and knelt to take a photo and snapped about five straight perfect photos of it taking off and stretching its wings across the river flow, and landing on a rock in the middle of the river to pick fish out of the water. I read that tale about the bull a month after I saw my first heron. And I've seen the blue heron periodically ever since including yesterday when one was almost struck by the truck in front of me!? And I've been obsessed with learning the symbolism of this bird ever since that bull story.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Tamara Gantt said...

Wonderful blog. I just finished creating a mixed media heron and was looking for ... I don't know, spiritual reflection on the heron, I guess. Thank you.

8:19 AM  
Blogger R Porterfield said...

My father was the first one to show me the Great Blue Heron. Heron has been in my life on a regular basis every since. It was always special to the both of us. Today is the one year anniversary of his passing. This morning, at sunrise, I was thinking of him while walking my dog out in a nearby field. I heard the familiar "honk" from above. There came flying, not one but TWO herons. And one circled over me before flying off into the sun. I have never seen them fly that far from the water and I have never seen two flying together like that. It was such a good sign.

7:48 AM  
Blogger Ann Byrd said...

A magical and beautiful bird that l have been painting and completing this week. Thanks for the inspiration. . .Ann

8:56 AM  
Blogger VillaRicaMom said...

Wow your post really hit me. Because the bald eagle had been mine ever since a close encounter and on my way to a Chinese medical massage class I witnessed a huge beautiful untagged wild mature bald eagle vehivularly murdered right in front of my eyes. The cars didn't even slow as it bounced on 3 cars I immediately pulled over and it was still fighting to live I tried to help it as best as I could but my spirit said "just be still and be with it as it passes" I did and it was the most mixed emotions I ever had. This happened 1 month ago and I am still in shock and PTSD over it. It broke my heart
Then the very next week I began seeing great blue herons flying over my car at the same exact place and time for 4 days straight while going to a "healing trauma and Injury mind body"...It brought peace to my weary soul..

I have been searching the web everywhere on the symbolism that still haunts me of seeing your totem killed in front of you...
Any help would be appreciated and I pray your journey is made clear thank you for sharing
-Natalie Blue

10:03 AM  
Blogger James Brown said...

Nice to be visiting your blog again. it has been months for me. Well this article that i've been waited for so long. I need this article to complete my assignment in the college. and it has same topic with your article. Thanks. great share.

11:39 PM  

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