Paganism is usually thought of as a nature religion, but for many Pagans who live in a town or city, and even for those in the countryside, it can be difficult to know how to incorporate nature into your rituals and spells. Elsewhere I suggest finding things from nature and putting them on your altar or using them in spells and rituals, but here I will describe another way of interweaving nature with your life and beliefs!
Since birds vary so much in physical characteristics (from big to small, from many coloured to plain) and in character (eg some birds being hunters, other singers, others more family orientated, and many a combination), we can use them as symbolic forces to aid in healing, balancing our weaknesses, and nurturing our strengths. Through the wisdom and power of bird medicine we can life up our spirits and strengthen our sense of clarity and balance.
Bird Magick – The realm of air and sky
The skies have long been associated with a freedom far removed from everyday life. When we feel depressed or unable to act, bogged down in everyday life, we can look up at the birds for inspiration to leave the mundane world and life ourselves through the air by potent magical ritual.
Just as the ancient Greeks and Egyptians among others revered many birds, such as Osiris or the Phoenix, so in Western religious lore through Angels can we see a link between birds and holiness. Birds link us to this realm of the sky by at once living on earth but being able to fly high.
The realm of air is connected to oxygen and breath. One of the best things you can do for a calm mind is to take deep slow breaths and draw energy into all parts of your body, this is at once relaxing and enlivening. Thinking about birds can help to remind us to slow down and truly draw in and appreciate the air element, and the way in which it can bring us pleasure and calmness.
As with any aspect of Paganism and Wicca, your imagination is in a way your only limit to the way you practice both life and magic, but here are some suggestions of ways to connect with bird medicine.
Watch and Learn – First step
Birds make amazing entertainers if watched regularly. You will soon learn to know their habits and routines and see many quirky things they do. Get some binoculars to really get close to them, and see their markings and behaviour clearly. By practising bird watching you can improve your skills of patience and observation and enjoy nature in an engaging way, as well as gain a deeper understanding of these mystical creatures.
Study and Draw – Second step
You can study natural history books and draw them in a sketchbook that you keep specifically for this purpose. This will really help you to understand their abilities and special powers and characteristics, and from there you will begin to realise how to incorporate these traits into your own life.
Feather Healing – Third step
When you’ve found a bird that you feel a particular affinity to, try and get a feather of it. Feathers contain the energetic properties of the bird, and to make the connection between you strong, it’s important to either find or be given the feather. Be careful though as some feathers are actually illegal to own, such as the eagle feather, unless you are classed as a native american.
By placing the feather on your altar or sacred space, it will help you to remember and connect with the bird’s healing medicine. You can honour the feather in your rituals and prayers, why not say it’s characteristics and strengths out loud? You should make offerings to the spirit of the bird – what you offer is up to you, you may wish to offer your own hair to cement the bond, or gather acorns, nuts, herbs or other natural things.
Coming Soon – Part 2 – Birds and Their Healing Properties – Discover the powerful characteristics of the crow, heron, eagle and more!
Thanks to Jonathan Keyes for the inspiration for this article