“Whatever happens to the beast, also happens to the man. All things are connected”
Chief Seattle, Suwamish Tribe.
I was joined during my time on Dartmoor by many animals (mainly birds), some of which I gave names to such was their regularity of visiting me. After a while of course, I started to see and understand the symbolism of why these animals had chosen to make their presence aware to me. Because all things happen for a reason, right? I want to share these and my thoughts about what I thought they were revealing to me.
As time moved on I thought much about the herons and swans that I had seen flying during my first week when walking across the moor. Since that first encounter I had not seen either bird type flying across the moor even though I was out there every day. It occurred to me that they were showing me early on to be fully aware of the elementals present on the moor during my time - specifically that of wind, air and water – elements that herons (and swans) live with throughout their lives. The fourth element of fire could well be represented by blood being pumped around the body bearing warmth and vitality to every cell. So, I was being called to be fully aware of the essential elementals present. I had to be thankful for their presence such as water to drink, air to breathe, wind to dry and cleanse and blood for energy to just be. These were all very much key to my overall feeling (physical and mental) during my seclusion time. How often are you aware of the elementals around you?
I had clearly moved into the territory of a large red deer stag and he kept reminding me about that with periodic bellowing in my direction at night. However, it was one night that an extraordinary incident happened. Around midnight, deep in sleep I was awakened with very close and loud bellowing from the stag. I shouted from the safety of my shelter thinking that it would bolt off quickly. I was mistaken as it continued to challenge me with its bellowing. Somewhat irritably I got out of my sleeping bag, put on my shoes and grabbed my high intensity torch. Switching it on I walked to the fringes of the forest to where I thought the sound was coming from. Incredibly, I saw the stag 20 metres away across the fire-break just staring at me. Even when I had the torch shining straight into its eyes it didn't flinch. This was odder than odd, and frankly very intimidating. So the waiting game started. I felt I had to stand my ground and wait until it got frightened and bolt off. But amazingly it didn't. What seemed like an eternity, it turned majestically and slowly walked away. I have to say I was left trembling with this experience and could not get back to sleep afterwards.
Meditating on this later, I realised that we can ask the deer within ourselves to help seek out our inner treasures and find those depths within our soul to get there. In other words, this is assistance in finding our path of self development. Interestingly enough, a medieval term used for a stag is a ‘Hart’, so perhaps this was my heart talking to me and showing me the importance of listening to my heart more?
A small cock robin was a constant visitor to my shelter area, and would often perch on a tree and watch me for ages. It seemed to always be there when I was in my camp area. I found out that the robin is regarded as a symbolic visitor showing aspects of strength, silence, guardianship and protection - even when it is looking after it's own family. The robin tends not to flock with others, preferring to be solitary and to be heard when it speaks. This beautiful sounding bird is earth tied meaning that it will stay on the ground a lot, it's duties including being an escort, willing to escort the spirit to a new beginning. It is a part of the dawn chorus singing in every new day and part of spiritual awakening, a gentle reminder of what has been and what is to come. So, in my context this small bird was showing me the need to connect with spirit in order to access my soul and, ultimately my true self.
These messages from nature and my surroundings made me think much more about being thankful and grateful for what I had – not only during my time on Dartmoor but also from this time on. So, I challenge you the next time that you step outside your door, to view what’s happening around you with a little more curiosity. See and feel the energetics and make your conclusions about why these are presenting themselves to you. I would really love to hear your stories about this, so please write in to me! My own research to find out about animal symbolism included information from Druidic, North American, Celtic and other sources. These helped me make my own conclusions and you will no doubt have yours as well.
There are many other animals with messages that I saw during my time, including a nighthawk, Dartmoor ponies, adders, bulls and crows. These will all appear in my new eBook about the whole experience, which will be coming soon. Watch this space…