I've felt a connection to hawks for a very long time, at least for as long as I've been involved with Reiki, which has been thirteen years now. (Wow, really? Has it been that long? Just doesn't seem like it at all.)
I don't have any idea why hawks have been special for me, why I've felt this connection. But I used to see them everywhere: on the lights along the highway; perched on top of telephone poles; on the top rails of fences as I drove along the interstates; and even way up in the branches of trees as I was driving along at speeds that should have precluded me from seeing anything but the road! But I saw them!
When I needed confirmation about some bit of Guidance that I was receiving that I wasn't quite sure about, I'd often send up a silent request: "Ok, God, I think I know what you're telling me to do next, but I'm just not sure. Could you send me a hawk so I know for sure I'm on the right track?" And sure enough, not long after the request was placed, a hawk would show up and I'd know I heard the Guidance correctly.
In 2005, a year after my mother began living in Pittsburgh in an assisted living facility because of health issues, I felt guided to take a couple of courses at a retreat center in North Carolina. I was going to be gone a week, and it was the first time I was going out of town since my mother's illness, and I was having concerns about whether I was being Guided to take the classes or whether I had convinced myself that it was Guidance because I just wanted to get away from all the responsibilities that I had been shouldering since my mother first became ill.
The drive to North Carolina was one I'd done several times, and I always saw hawks along the way. So as I was driving, I was talking to God and expressing my doubts about my decision. Because this was such a big issue for me, I wanted something more from God than just the usual sighting of a hawk, and so I asked Him to give me a hawk feather as confirmation that this was indeed the right thing for me to be doing.
From what I understand, unless you are Native American, it's illegal for you to own hawk feathers, and I acknowledged this to God as I spoke, but said that if I truly was doing the right thing, I really needed that feather and I was sure He could find a way to get me one.
Wouldn't you know it? I never saw a hawk for that entire eight hour drive! I wondered if maybe I had over stepped by asking for that feather, and as the week and the first class progressed, I let my request slip to the back of my mind, feeling a tad guilty for even asking.
One of the participants in the first class, which was a class on crystals, was a young woman who was not staying for the second class, which was a drumming class (This class was my introduction to the drum!) So the afternoon she was leaving, just before the drumming class was to begin, she walked up to me clutching something in her hand, and said haltingly, "I've been told I'm supposed to give you something and that you'll understand what it means. I don't even really know why I only have one of these, as I packed them in such a way as to make sure I wouldn't lose them, but I've lost one and now I'm supposed to give you the other one." As she finished speaking, she opened her hand and offered the contents to me. Laying on her palm was an earring made of silver. The top part of the earring was shaped as a small dream catcher, and hanging from the bottom was a single silver feather.
As I reached for the earring, I began to laugh, and then the laughter turned to tears. "Do you know what it means?" she asked, as I continued to stare down at the earring now laying in my palm.
"Yes," I said, "yes I do." And I told her about my request for a hawk feather and that I believed this was God's way of answering that prayer.
Once she left, and with the earring safely in my pocket, I sat down in my chair as we prepared to begin the drumming class. The retreat center was an old tobacco barn that had been renovated, and my chair was facing a wall that was almost a solid pane of glass for the bottom six feet. Above the window, the remainder of the wall was made up of several feet of wood paneling, and set into that paneling, was a round window about three feet in diameter. As the instructor asked us to close our eyes in preparation for his opening prayer, I happened to glance upward at that window, and what I saw there confirmed for me that God had indeed done his best to give me the hawk feather I asked for in the form of that small silver feather. In the center of that window were three hawks flying in a circle...the only hawks I saw during my entire trip!
I could tell you that's the end of the story. At the time, I was absolutely positive that God had answered my prayer in the only way that He could at the time, and I was completely satisfied with the way that He did so. It never occurred to me that it was only a temporary solution.
Several weeks later, a friend, Jon, was driving me to my mom's home in his van because I needed to get more of her things, and my car wasn't large enough to do the job. As we pulled up to a red light and waited for the light to change, I glanced ahead and to my left, at a large empty space in the cemetery across from the intersection where we were waiting. There, in the middle of the lawn, was a large hawk, seemingly staring right at our van.
I'd never seen a hawk at ground level before. They were usually perched up high somewhere, so I was convinced there must be something wrong with this particular hawk. I didn't think about what I was going to do if there was something wrong, I just told Jon to pull the van into the cemetery so I could get a closer look. As we moved through the intersection, the hawk's head turned as if following the path of the van, and continued to do so as we parked about 15 feet from where it was sitting. With the hawk still looking my way, I got out of the van and gently closed the door ( I didn't want to disturb the hawk.) Behind me, I heard Jon say, "Be careful, you could get hurt." But I didn't feel like I was in any danger.
I slowly approached the hawk, and when I was about ten feet away, it suddenly took flight, heading toward a large pine tree just a few feet away. As it landed on a branch, it turned, as if to watch me. I began walking toward the tree, looking up at the hawk, and as I did so, I heard a voice in my head say "Look down. Look down. " It was such an insistent command I couldn't help but take my eyes from the hawk and look down at the ground. At first I wasn't sure what I was seeing, but as I focused my attention I realized there was a feather right in front of me. I bent to pick it up, and then saw another and another. All told I picked up seven hawk feathers that morning. Seven! I had only asked for one, and now I had seven!
I still have those feathers, although I only have six now, as I felt Guided to give one of them to another Reiki master a few years later, but each time I look at them I think of the way God answered my prayer when I needed confirmation that I was doing the right thing, and each time I see a hawk, it's a reminder to me that when I need confirmation, God will provide it.
So I've been feeling a bit bereft since I've been here in Nashville, because I haven't seen a single hawk. I did see a couple on the drive down, but nothing since I've arrived. However, what I have been seeing is vultures...everywhere! And although I'd checked my Pocket Guide to Spirit Animals when I saw the first one sitting on a light post over the highway in front of me, I couldn't find a listing for vultures. But they kept appearing, so I knew there had to be a message for me.
Today, after seeing three of them perched on each of three light poles, one after the other as I approached the turnoff to my condo, I decided it was time to find out what the message was. I called my friend, Cathy, and asked her to check her books and see what she could find. She told me that when a vulture totem shows up it means that foods that I used to like and enjoy might not be enjoyable anymore and that my body would let me know they weren't right for me any longer. She continued with "Foods will have a noticeable effect on your digestive system, and the suffering you are currently experiencing is necessary for what's to come but will soon be coming to an end."
The message was right on target! My digestive system has been in an uproar the last couple of weeks, and just this morning I ate something I usually enjoy ( a pecan waffle!), and later, when my stomach was upset, thought to myself, "I'm not doing that again."
Let's hope I remember the lesson so I don't have to revisit the reminder!
I'm hoping that vultures haven't replaced hawks as a special connection for me: I really do like my hawks. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Spirit is just using the vultures to send this particular message and the hawks will be there again, when and if I need them. But I'm sure God and my angels know better than I do what I really need. The other interesting thing Cathy told me about vultures is that they signify "death and rebirth and a new vision." How much more perfect a messenger could they be, considering all that I've left behind to open this new door, and knowing that what's on the other side will most likely be something different from what I've left behind?
I've been asking for confirmation that I made the right decision in making this move to Nashville. Once again, God has answered my prayers. He just couldn't do it using the hawks this time.