Perfect symbols

spring walk kite 077

       “Not necessarily these days, what do think it means?”
      “It’s the observer and the observed. They’re the observer. We’re the observed”
      “Don’t be absurd.”
      I motion out of the roof window where three Red Kites are flying in formation.
      “Now who’s being absurd?”

Extract from The Initiate

There was a buzzard, the second within a mile, perched on the fence by the road as I drove to work. No doubt it was simply looking for its breakfast, but that doesn’t explain why, out of all the cars passing, it was my eyes it held, sharing a gaze as the car crawled past. There is a moment of timeless communication, in some forgotten language; as if a feather of understanding brushes against your consciousness and then is lost in the chatter of rush-hour.

There had been a red kite in the tree on the edge of the field behind my garden again when the sun had risen and I had watched a pair of them gliding through the air as Ani performed her morning inspection of the lane. The wren and the robin had both been to visit early too. These birds always seem to be an integral part of our adventures, their appearance, almost daily, brings a reassurance and a warmth that is hard to put into words.

It is odd; there is nothing special about seeing a kite in an area where their reintroduction has been so successful. The buzzards are everywhere, there are robins in every garden and even the wrens, though harder to spot, are not rare. There is no reason to attribute any special meaning to the commonplace. Seeing them, where you might reasonably expect to see them holds no special significance. Perhaps being aware of them does though…

The Old Ones of  every nation attributed symbolic meanings to the animals, birds and  creatures that peopled their environment. There are sites all over the internet that will expound upon the lessons that can be drawn from the appearance of one of these creatures in your life and, let’s be honest, they vary from the sensible ones based on behavioural observation to the downright ridiculous.

kites and hares walk 222

The majority of such expositions work by combining old myths and legends with elements of the creature’s known behaviour and characteristics to form an analogy with human behaviour. So, for example, the high-soaring grace of the kite will be interpreted as the ability to rise above a situation, or, on the spiritual level, take a higher perspective. The wren, a small an unassuming troglodyte, is resourceful and goes beyond the known to seek its destiny. Robins, based largely on legend, are seen as symbols of divine service while buzzards herald a transformation, a symbolic death-to-birth.

The trouble is that if you check another website, you’ll probably get a different interpretation… A lore that once held real meaning, and still does for some, has, like many other aspects of the spiritual life, been allowed to degenerate into something that is little more than superstition or curiosity.

It is easy to see how the behaviours of these creatures would have been observed and how the interpretation of their significance as spirit animals was born from what was seen as stories grew around them. To the Old Ones who saw the living world as the multifaceted manifestation of a Great Spirit, by whatever name they used, these creatures held a far deeper meaning than they generally do for us today. While we look for portents and signs, they saw their presence as a reminder of the interconnected oneness of all Nature.


“The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.” Black Elk

stanton drew swords book pics robin 016If there is no deep, symbolic significance in seeing commonplace creatures where you would expect to see them, then why is it that, when you really notice them, they take on a meaning far greater than their presence should imply? I think it has to do with awareness. Although such symbols may mean nothing in themselves, perhaps noticing them is unusual enough to trigger a deeper awareness within and of ourselves that opens the doors to understanding? Perhaps it is simply in the act of seeking meaning that we find it.

As Stuart and I have journeyed through the adventures of the past few years, we have been attended by wings. We know that in itself is not unusual, but their timing is just too perfect sometimes, their numbers quite marked, their persistence convincing. We have followed birds and found wonders when we have done so. We do not seek or give them meanings, imposing our interpretation on their presence. We just accept their companionship as a gift, feeling through their presence, closer to the heart of life.


About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She has written a number of books, both alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
This entry was posted in adventure, albion, Birds, Books, Don and Wen, flight, Photography, Stuart France and Sue Vincent, symbolism and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to Perfect symbols

  1. mihrank says:

    amazing and so beautiful….

    Liked by 2 people

  2. bethanyk says:

    I have pondered these things and found the same conclusion that boy do they have perfect timing! Or maybe we are just paying attention. I have wondered if another walker would even be looking up like I always am to see the hawk on the limb above my head. Or if they stopped long enough and watched long enough to see the crows were 30 in the tree. I notice. And it makes me happy to see them. I wonder if others just don’t notice. Beautiful thoughts and pictures. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Sue Vincent says:

      We have wondered the same…and watched the people not noicing. One one occasion a mother and her child walked by without seeming to see a red kite with a five foor windspan diving to the ground to feed a mere few feet away.

      Liked by 1 person

      • bethanyk says:

        What a thing to miss!!! We’ve always stopped and watched everything. We sat in the yard for hours watching baby birds learn to fly. The mother had built her nest on our front door. We didn’t use that door until the babies flew away. We even interfered as a snake came to get one. It was an experience i wont forget. We have kites here too. I love their tails. Ive never seen one dive but i have a hawk.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Such beautiful pictures and the birds seem to be so amazing and a great write up too.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have a lot of thoughts on this, going in so many directions. I think maybe it’s living in the woods where animals and birds and bugs are so numerous compared to the number of humans. It changes the meaning of things. They really ARE the watchers, we the watched.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lovely Sue! I read yesterday from a local light magazine (coupons n such) about mindfulness, and I thought, you know we called it something else. In 1980 we called it Holistic Medicine inclusive of body, mind and spirit, nothing to do with religion. Possibly mindfulness makes it less holy (separation of church, state, person, etc.) It’s okay with me as long as one feels the love from including the triangular sections to make us whole.

    Recently I saw a man bring a bird inside to dry out his feathers as he’d seen him fall or something. I was totally taken aback. Only one other person had I ever seen hold a bird in their hands (right before me). I was more taken with the fact he stopped to help the bird, what a heart!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Mindfulness has been known by many names, each with their own take, but the principles of raising awareness are the same. I think you are right though, that mindfulness removes the sacedness from the pracrice and I am not sure that is a good thing. I’d rather see an awareness that all we know is sacred, though perhaps not belonging to any one religion or system.

      I often end up with birds. Just one of those things. First the boys brought any injured ones home…then their freinds turned up with them. Now even the dog gets in on the act 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. fransiweinstein says:

    Beautiful, Sue. While I believe there is a reason for everything, I also believe we don’t always have to know what it is.


  7. Eliza Waters says:

    I nearly always attach significance to my animal sightings. When I look up the symbolism, it often rings true to my situation, things I’m grappling with and offers insight. Yesterday, we saw an American eagle soaring above us, a powerful totem animal and always a thrill, especially in light that they nearly went extinct. They have made a nice recovery, thankfully.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Widdershins says:

    I think it’s less about attributing ‘human’ responses to them, rather it’s more about them training us to be attentive! 😀


  9. Beautifully put Sue, and don’t our hearts skip a beat with wonder and joy when we really see and are seen by a wild creature. For me it brings an aliveness and awareness to our connection to the world beyond and within. A lovely post Xx

    Liked by 2 people

  10. The winter hawks ahve arrived here – we enjoy them as well as our local ones.
    They live a parallel existence – I wonder if they occassionaly notice us and muse over what we mean.
    Thoughts on the wing. Lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing. Great words as well.


  12. adeleulnais says:

    I was always taught to see the significance in the way animals and birds behaved. And I believe that when we truly notice them, then it is a message for us and we should take note. This comes from the woman who still collects story stones and seer stones. (natural stones with holes in them). I guess I still live in my own magical world. As I told my psychotherapist once, “My world is real, out there, is not.”


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