Birds in the Attic


Attic Table Tennis

Woke up this morning to the sound of birds in the attic. Your actual birds in your actual attic, that is.

I’m often asked what a particular animal or bird “means”, in the mistaken belief that every encounter with the animal kingdom is necessarily a message from Great Spirit. In this instance, the message was fairly clear: “There is a hole in your roof big enough to allow birds to get in… might want to consider blocking that hole up.”

But this isn’t good enough for some folks. They’d want to know what type of bird it was, how many were there, what direction does the hole face… as if every minute detail of the encounter adds further, hidden layers of significance. We must accept that, sometimes, there are no hidden layers. It is what it is. Nothing more, nothing less.

To peer further risks madness. Stopping in awe every time we see Raven is all very well in an area where Raven is sighted rarely. Living next to a thriving rookery ?… maybe we should have expected him…

You will, undoubtedly, recognise, and should take careful note of, the times when Great Spirit has indeed blessed you with an animal encounter of some significance. These moments will, literally, take your breath away…

…Stag, attempting to cross rush hour traffic, stops mid stride and turns to make eye contact with you (whilst other drivers sound horns, curse, and miss the simple beauty of the creature causing their delay – Coronation Street waits for no Stag!)…

…walking through the woods, Fox, apparently oblivious to your bursting heart, meanders towards you, sniffing out the edges of the path for a hint of a morsel, tests your boots, rejects them, looks up, sneezes in your face, and moves on in disgust…

…digging in the garden, Thrush decides to lend a helping hand, so close to risk decapitation. Stopping the task to allow him to continue draws the most withering look, a hop onto the spade, a hop off, desperate pointing at the place to dig NOW, and not letting up for a good ten minutes…

Enjoy each encounter with nature: recognising beauty has its own reward. Sighting does not, however, convey significance. Being open to the possibility is important, but a large dose of discrimination is essential; for without discernment, birds in the attic risk becoming a whole lot less literal…

About Running Elk

My given native name, Running Elk, was bestowed in 2008 as I took my first steps as a fully fledged Medicine Man of the Zuni tradition. A most unlikely candidate for the role, my journey as a healer began some four years prior. The detour onto the shamanic way was most unexpected, yet has been one of the most rewarding challenges to date.
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24 Responses to Birds in the Attic

  1. Echo says:

    That sounds awfully close to common sense to me.. isn’t that heresy? πŸ˜‰

  2. It mostly is what it is. However, speaking of Ravens… there was a huge (i mean “really” huge) Raven on my elementary school roof (of the two story building) when I was a child. I’ve never seen a black bird that big since then (or before). That was when i was a young child. I’m 61 now. I still remember it. All the kids were yelling to it… jumping up and down excitedly. A couple of days later, it was standing at the window of my bedroom, looking in. There are tons of houses around that school that it could have gone to. It is still vivid in my mind to this day. We never see Ravens here in Illinois, typically.

    • Running Elk says:

      Ah, Thomas. A strong messenger indeed, one whose memory you have carried long with you.

      Raven gets a bad press in some circles. Which is a pity, as he is the bringer of light, gnosis, and the liberation of the soul (which is pretty much how I see your writings πŸ™‚ ), both in native culture and in early writings of the Old Testament, as well as Greek and Roman mythologies.

      We don’t need to believe in such auguries. It is, indeed, mostly what it is. Your craft with words would have been as it is, irrespective of your experience with Raven; his influence having never, necessarily, been recognised by yourself, or in your work.

      And yet… for cultures immersed in such beliefs, in which your early experiences would have been shared in community, your peers would have expected nothing less and would have freely attributed your subsequent development to Raven’s early influence. Much like modern psycho-analysis would claim your current state having it’s roots in past events. (Irrespective of personal thoughts on the modern practice of said art…) Indeed, in many conventions, you may have taken Raven’s name.

      Thanks for sharing this early memory. From my perspective, you received an early blessing of spirit, alien though it may have been from the perspective and expectations of our modern upbringing. Nobody, unfortunately, remembered to tell nature that her signs were no longer required… πŸ˜‰

  3. Thanks so much Running Elk… you are very special! πŸ˜‰

    When that Raven appeared at my window… it seemed as if the supernatural was naturally making itself evident to me (as a gift).
    Here is a little gift for you (please share it)… (interesting… how it mentions “wholeness” & a blackbird and a window!):

    from the poetry of Wallace Stevens:

    Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

    Among twenty snowy mountains,
    The only moving thing
    Was the eye of the blackbird.

    I was of three minds,
    Like a tree
    In which there are three blackbirds.

    The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
    It was a small part of the pantomime.

    A man and a woman
    Are one.
    A man and a woman and a blackbird
    Are one.

    I do not know which to prefer,
    The beauty of inflections
    Or the beauty of innuendos,
    The blackbird whistling
    Or just after.

    Icicles filled the long window
    With barbaric glass.
    The shadow of the blackbird
    Crossed it, to and fro.
    The mood
    Traced in the shadow
    An indecipherable cause.

    O thin men of Haddam,
    Why do you imagine golden birds?
    Do you not see how the blackbird
    Walks around the feet
    Of the women about you?

    I know noble accents
    And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
    But I know, too,
    That the blackbird is involved
    In what I know.

    When the blackbird flew out of sight,
    It marked the edge
    Of one of many circles.

    At the sight of blackbirds
    Flying in a green light,
    Even the bawds of euphony
    Would cry out sharply.

    He rode over Connecticut
    In a glass coach.
    Once, a fear pierced him,
    In that he mistook
    The shadow of his equipage
    For blackbirds.

    The river is moving.
    The blackbird must be flying.

    It was evening all afternoon.
    It was snowing
    And it was going to snow.
    The blackbird sat
    In the cedar-limbs.

    • Running Elk says:

      Wow! That is a special gift. Haven’t come across the work of Stevens before, but will certainly be investigating him now. Thank you.

      Appreciate the feedback, too. Expressing thoughts on an individual’s experience can only go one of two ways… πŸ˜‰

  4. Yes… Stevens is one of those amazing, mystic, magical, enlightened poets… πŸ™‚

  5. tiramit says:

    Thanks for the feeling I’ve just had three authentic animal encounters: the stag, the fox and the thrush. Each one makes a statement. I have birds coming to my patio garden (in the city beside a park with trees). It’s like they know where everything is, and it’s their back yard, not mine – inherited knowledge in a community that’s been here for generations?

    • Running Elk says:

      Thank you, Tiramit.
      Interesting thought on nature’s communication network, and whether man’s “stuff” in the landscape is even noticed… πŸ™‚ And they are right of course… what made you think it might be yours? lol

  6. We had 50 or so bats in our attic when we bought our renovated barn. The owners neglected to tell us until we mentioned it to them after buying. At night they came into the bedroom. We had to put shunts around the attic so they could fly out but not get back in. We also had squirrels and had to wait until birthing season was over to close up holes. And a visiting snake. Didn’t attach any meaning to these visits except we have a porous house/barn.

    Thanks for following my blog and reblogging a post– very honored. Am poking around your blog looking for your experiences as a shaman. Sounds fascinating! Thanks for visiting– glad to meet you.

    • Running Elk says:

      My pleasure, Ellen. We seem a species so keen on destruction that we fail to notice that it can only lead to our own demise…
      lol at your unexpected housemates. Not funny, though. I know how difficult it is to evict these particular sitting tenants… πŸ™‚

  7. Pingback: A confusing statistic… | Shamanic Paths

  8. stevetanham says:

    Reblogged this on stevetanham and commented:
    Wisdom from Running Elk

  9. Pingback: Spirit Animals | Shamanic Paths

  10. Pingback: Native American Apache

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