Animal Wisdom: Connecting People and Animals

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Birds and the Elements

Hummingbird (Ruby-Throated): Fire
The Aztecs of Mexico regarded the ruby-throated hummingbird as a warrior. Despite the ruby-throated hummingbird’s delicate appearance, she is a bold, quarrelsome bird who will readily attack any intruder that strays into her territory. With the frenzied beating of her wings, the ruby-throated hummingbird will defend herself with her long beak.

Quail (Old World): Fire
Thought of as stout little birds, Old Word quails are remarkable for their hardiness. When Old Word quails are cold, they form star-shaped bevies (flocks) to receive warmth from each other. For the Chinese, Old Word quails were the Fire Phoenix of Spring and Summer. Among the Hindus, these birds represented the returning Sun.
(Note: Old World quails belong to the pheasant family, while New World quails are in their own Family. They are only distantly related, and are not the same species.)

Raven: Fire or Water
Water: The raven is known for shape shifting, which the crow cannot do. More secretive than the crow, the raven is also associated with the night and dark magic. Since she is bigger and stronger than the crow, the raven’s magic is more profound. (Night and the moon are often associated with the element of water.)

Fire: Among early Christians, the raven was a messenger sent by God to feed the saints in the wilderness. Among the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest, Raven was the Great Trickster. She created human beings, and brought fire to them. Meanwhile in China, Three-legged Raven lived in the sun, representing the sun’s three phases – dawn, noon, and dusk.

Wandering Albatross: Air
Gliding vast distances across the seas, the wandering albatross has the longest wingspan of any living bird (11 feet (3 meters)). Roaming the Southern Ocean, she floats on updrafts with her long narrow wings. Turning into the wind, the wandering albatross soars on the currents. Using the wind’s energy, she rises up and then coasts downward, saving her strength with her dynamic soaring.

Rufous Ovenbird (Rufous Hornero): Earth
Known as “El Hornero” in South America, the rufous ovenbird builds his nest resembling an old-fashioned oven (hornero). Throughout South America, his distinctive nest can be found on fence posts and under roof eaves. Virtually indestructible, his baked mud nest is only vulnerable to the rain over the years. Mixing straw and cow-dung, he and his mate build their nest on a tree branch. Then the hot sun bakes this nest rock hard. Meanwhile, inside the nest is a baffle wall that will keep out any prevailing winds.

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Virginia Carper, a Roman Polytheist, lives in the Washington D.C. area with her family. She navigates life with a traumatic brain injury which gives her a different view on life. An avid naturalist since childhood, she has a blog called “Nature’s Observations.” Having experienced the animals directly, she teaches on-line classes about the spiritual and natural aspect of animals. She has published articles on her brain injury, Roman polytheism, and working with extinct animals. In addition her writings on animals (including dragons and other mythic creatures) can be purchased her book site, Animal Teachers.  


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