The carnage was unmissable – a fluffy pile of black and white feathers that was clearly visible on the ground a few feet from my kitchen bird-feeder. It hadn’t been there when I got up in the morning; it seemed to materialize out of thin air some time before noon. I knew from the beautifully circumscribed black circles on the feathers that it was a woodpecker. A small clump even had a bright red stain of fresh blood. How I would miss that little creature that brought precious nuggets of joy and beauty when I managed to catch her at the feeder! I blamed one of the local wandering cats, although the massacre site seemed to hint at an entire legion of butchers showing up.
My suspicions about the perpetrator were confirmed the next morning when I saw what I thought was a collection of squirrel fur at the edge of the yard near some juniper bushes. Abrupt movements caught my eye, and I realized that a hawk was on the scene, methodically dissecting and devouring its new victim. The cat was in the clear! My tiny back yard had become the new eat-in destination for what appeared to be a red-tailed hawk. It took him several hours to finish the meal, and what I thought was a squirrel turned out to be a gray bird, possibly a mourning dove. What I took to be fur clumps were just more collections of feathers.
The hawk was beautiful, secure in its authority and invincibility. I’d never spent so much time in close proximity to one. When I went out later to run an errand after he’d flown away, I noticed that I was trying to reach the safety of my car as quickly as possible, thinking that he could still be up high in the fir trees, waiting to get his next victim – me!
His appearance came after a new setback appeared in my life. I’d completed the editorial changes to my book and submitted it for production, and a few days later I received a phone call from someone at the self-publishing company. The upshot of the call was a directive to transfer the work into a pdf file and format it myself! I knew about the assembly-line aspects to this venture when I started the process months ago, but this simply isn’t what I signed up for. The conversation with this person wasn’t just non-productive, it was downright rude. It put me into “stun” mode, and I was still trying to process the disappointment and frustration that enveloped me like a dark cloud. What could I learn from this magnificent visitor?
Hawks, like all birds, are associated with the element of air and - because their realm is the sky - are the most frequent messengers from the spirit world. Air symbols are tied to the breath, of course, but also signify the mental and intellectual energies of life. I guess I’ll have to apply some creativity to this impediment, and it’s all in the mind, indeed! I’m not exactly running a marathon, although in a physical sense I’ve likened the process of producing this book to being indefinitely pregnant. Hawks patrol large hunting territories and some migrate long distances, thus reminding us to see what lies ahead and to make the necessary movements to survive and thrive. I was in a hurry to get this thing done, but now I’d have to slow down and make a solid plan. Migrating to a new company is out of the question, so I’ll have to get some more information on the lay of the current land.
The excellent vision of hawk tells us to stay focused and be attentive to the task at hand, to not let ourselves get too distracted. We need to accept things as they are. Hawk glides smoothly in the atmosphere, weaving to and fro while riding thermal air currents, and we’re reminded to stay the course as we navigate the twists and turns of our own lives. Twists and turns indeed! I thought I was in a straightaway to the home stretch, but I've certainly found out otherwise!
I remained in a suspended state the day hawk appeared, and the next day I received another call from the company informing me that the previous instructions were given in error. Just like that, I seemed to get out of the woods! I didn’t have to format the book myself, but would have to make some additional changes to the manuscript in its current form. It’s still more work of course, but now the path had been made clear. I consulted Ted Andrews’ book, “Animal-Wise”, to see if there was anything else I could learn from this experience. I found an entry for the actual species that I believed was in my yard, the red-tailed hawk.
The Pueblo called it the red eagle. Apparently it spends over three-fourths of its day perched and watching, which reflects a sense of supreme confidence and ability to get the prey easily and quickly. Andrews wrote that we must “trust in our vision of things coming our way.” It's presence can help open visionary abilities and stimulate new energy for our life purpose. Since I don’t think I’ll ever have quite such a close encounter again, I know I’d better take this message to heart. So it’s back to the drawing board, hopefully for not too much longer this time. But I’ll be waiting for the next set of twists and turns, and at this stage in the game I’m ready to simply say, “Bring ‘em on!”