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  • Earlene Gleisner

Finding Helpers

Birds and animals are central figures in the creation stories of many tribes across the world. These narratives offer teachings which are meant to guide a group in their deliberation about what is a best next decision or action for them. Characteristics of these central figures also offer specific strengths to a tribe based on daily habits or hunting techniques, etc.

Each of us can also have an animal or bird who can offer insight and guidance. Some of us may have more than one.

A special non-human friend may already have drawn near to you at unspecified times. You may feel guided by your dog or cat companion. Often another form can be your guide, and its form may be anything.

To connect with a totem (as some may call it) there are guided meditations, journeying, ceremonies, and other group and individual methods that can help you connect. Sometimes it’s just a matter of noticing the consistent presence of another being when you experience significant ‘ah ha’ moments.

You don’t have to see the real-life form of your helper to be alerted that an important event is about to happen or to receive a warning. The animal you feel drawn to can be an unexpected statue in a window or on a magazine page. You might hear its name during a conversation, during an unusual movie, cartoon, or TV ad. Of course, you can also ‘happen’ upon the real thing in a very unusual way. An animal or bird right now that interests you more than others might brush against the corner of your vision at odd times or be part of a song you can’t get out of your head.

When I first started this posting, I was searching my brain for a topic for June’s newsletter. Using a writing prompt technique, I took a book off my shelf and let the pages fall open. Scanning the first sentences of several paragraphs, I slowed my reading to one that caught my attention. That sentence is now rewritten into my first sentence.

As I wrote it, I heard first, then saw, a hummingbird fly back and forth across my small garden just outside my front door.

Hummingbird has been an important guide to me for over 38 years. Its hum has alerted me to be ready when an injured person was on his way to me when I was camp nurse at the base of Mt Hood. Flying in my face three times brought my attention to focus on a pain in my right abdomen which led to an emergency surgery.

The list of times my animal friend helped me could go on, but it’s enough to say that when Hummingbird enters into my life, I know I am doing or not doing something important. This morning I received the message to relax into my writing. There are other guides who have become important to me: Owl tells me to make sure I’m on the correct path, and Bear nudges me to have fun no matter what is going on. Spider crosses in front of me when I’ve made a good decision, and Buffalo helps me remember to stand watchful before moving forward. Experience with your helper creates a relationship which can be valuable when there is no one around to give guidance.

I trust that you too can find a helper during this time of transition in your world, in our world.


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