Sunday, May 10, 2009


I recently talked in this blog about being open to messages from the world around us. Sometimes these messages take the form of animals that come into our lives and seem more meaningful than chance encounters. This is akin to the idea of a totem in shamanistic traditions, a guardian animal or spirit that watches over an individual, family or tribe. Whether or not you believe in the existence of totems, I think that it is worth considering what we can learn from the creatures that come into our lives.

Some of you know already why I call myself "dragonfly". When I lived in Japan, I had a significant encounter with dragonflies one fall day in the mountains. At that time of year, the dragonflies are always around - but this day I had a spiritual experience that was particularly significant to me, and when the dragonflies appeared, I had the distinct sense that they were there to guide me forward in my life. They danced around me in the air with such joy, and I felt drawn to their energy. It was much, much later that I read about the significance of the dragonfly totem. This source looks at dragonflies a bit more scientifically, and this one is a bit more metaphorical. Common elements of the dragonfly totem are:
  • Change and transformation
  • Seeing through illusion; seeing things from different angles
Learning about this amazed me because I had already decided that the dragonflies appeared to me that day to teach me: to reveal some truths and to guide me through a significant personal transformation. Ever since the dragonflies have been with me, there's no question that I have been through a pretty major metamorphosis. (I know that many, many people, especially women, are drawn to dragonflies, and normally I try to avoid popular symbolism. ;-) However, the dragonfly experience was so significant and personal to me that its popularity does not dissuade me. Given the symbolism of the dragonfly, it does not surprise me that many people rely on its energy, as transformation and true seeing are key goals of this life on earth.)

In the last few days, I've been visited by a different creature. Each time I leave my apartment, there is a hummingbird sitting outside my door. When it sees me, it flies up, hovers in front of me intently, and then takes off. I tried to tell myself that it's a coincidence, but I can't help but feel that the hummingbird has been waiting for me. I tried to take a picture of it, but it declined to be photographed, so here instead is the plant where it has been sitting:

This view is literally one step outside my door!

This bird was waiting for me so many times that I became curious about whether it was trying to tell me something, so I looked up hummingbird totems. Wow! Among other things, hummingbirds are associated with:
  • Renewal and resurrection
  • Awakening to the beauty of the present moment, to joy, to the five senses
  • Achieving balance
  • Independence and courage
There is no question that these four things summarize where I am on my journey right now. Hello, hummingbird. Thank you for reminding me that I have everything I need right now, to rise up and hover in this moment, in this moment, in this moment, joyful and open.

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