Today I want to highlight and explain the animal medicine contained in the heron.
I have learned a lot of native American animal wisdom from Ted Andrews’ book called ‘Animal-Speak’. It is a great reference book on animal medicine. In particular, today, I’m referring to the section ‘Dictionary of bird totems’, in an attempt to give you some insights into how animal medicine works, and within this context, an understanding of the powers of the Great Blue Heron.
When you begin to work with animals for healing purposes, examine them carefully. If you choose to have a bird in your totem, then look at their qualities as well as their behaviors. Most importantly: What is unique about your animal’s behavior? This is your primary clue to its significance for you as a totem animal in your life.
In addition, look at its color and the symbolic meaning of the color. Look at its size, but do not assume that larger animals mean more powerful animals. Look at its shape and how his shape is used in his activities, and the role various parts of his body play in the functions he performs. How does it fly? Where is it from? (look for the symbolism of the place) When is it most often seen? (periods of powerful animal energy) What kind of sounds does it make? What does prefer to eat? How does it breed and what kind of environment does it live in?
Beyond your own observations, consider animal myths, that have been created based upon these aspects. They offer spiritual insight and understanding of the significance of the animal in your life.
Animal Medicine: Great Blue Heron
Now that we know a bit how to study the animals for healing, let’s focus on the bird that is currently guiding one of my clients: the great blue heron.
The Heron – In General
HERON’S MOST SIGNIFICANT ESSENCE: aggressive self-determination and self-reliance
ENERGETIC PRIME TIME – FULL OF POWER: Spring
Ted Andrews points out that “There are many variations of herons, including bitterns and egrets. Storks and cranes should not be confused with them.
Herons are part of a group of birds called ‘waders’. It is a bird of the marshlands and shallow waters. All waders have similar physical characteristics – long, thin legs, long necks, and sharp bills. These physical characteristics are important to understand for those who have a heron as a totem.
Legs enable animals and people to move about on the earth. They are symbols of balance, and they represent an ability to progress and evolve. Also the longer the legs, the deeper the water the heron will feed in. The deeper life can be explored.
The long thin legs of the heron reflect that you don’t need great massive pillars to remain stable, but you must be able to stand on your own. This is especially significant for those with a totem of the great blue heron, as it is a lone hunter.
When it feeds, it stands in the water, reflecting a connection to the earth – while implying the exploration of other dimensions on the earth (water element).
It is important for anyone with a heron totem to explore various activities and dimensions of Earth life. On the surface, this may seem a form of dabbling, but those with heron totems are wonderfully successful at being the traditional ‘Jack of all trades’.
This ability enables them to follow their own path. Most people will never be able to live the way heron people do. It is not a structured way, and does not seem to have stability and 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. It one way does not work, then another will. This, heron people seem to inherently know.
Heron people do no seem to need a lot of people in their life, nor do they feel pressured to keep up with the Joneses, or be traditional in their life roles. The only time they gather in colonies is during the breeding season. They stand out in their uniqueness, and they know how to snatch and take advantage of things and events that the average person would not even bother with.
The Great Blue Heron
The great blue heron is considered the king of the marsh, although the short-eared owl has been known to re-adjust a heron’s point of view. It is the tallest of the herons, and when it flies, its head is folded back in a flat S-shaped loop. This reflects the innate wisdom of being able to maneuver through life and control its life circumstances. It reflects a need for those with this totem to follow their own innate wisdom and path of self-determination. You know what is best for you and should follow it, rather than the prompting of others.
The great blue heron in flight is powerful, and its legs and head are held in a straight line. It uses a slow stalking stride when hunting. When it spies a fish, it spears its prey with its sharp beak and with quick speed. Again, it reflects an aggressive movement towards opportunities that present themselves.
The green heron is actually more of a slate blue, and it has orange legs with are distinctive. This color combination reflects an innate balance at living life in its own unique style. It flies silently, and is most often seen in flight at night and at dusk. Like all herons, it is a marsh bird.
There are distinctive seasonal changes in the color of this bird. The irises of the eyes will turn from yellowish to bright orange, as will the legs. Meditating on this color will provide a lot of insight as to its role in your life.”
Animal-Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small by Ted Andrews
Animal Speak: Highly Recommended
Needless to say that I highly recommend the book, as I refer to it weekly. The book includes exercises to create your own totem and other animal medicine techniques. A good chunk of the book is a comprehensive dictionary of animal, bird and reptile symbolism. In this article I referred to the Dictionary of bird totems.
Other Animal Medicine
What’s next in this series of animal medicine articles? You ask. Which bird or animal do you wish to learn more about?
Personally, besides the herons, I have also spotted lots of hummingbirds and dragonflies during my healing treatments, so I will write about these as well, at some stage.
Now over to you: What animal do YOU see ‘all the time’? What animal inspires you?