Every night about six o’clock
Birds come back to the pond to talk
They talk to me, birds to talk to me
If I go down on my knees
– Private Universe lyrics (by Neil Finn / Crowded House)
Last week, a flock of birds demanded my attention in a way I could not ignore. Have you ever received messages from birds? It is more common than you might expect and, if your first reaction was to say ‘no,’ it could be more due to a simple failure of recognition.
Commonly, birds bring omens of impending loss or disaster, sometimes several days before the event. There have been times I’ve found a bird perched outside my front door, or even tapping with their beak on the window above my desk, and it is only a few days later when I learn of the passing of a friend that I make the connection. There are several theories as to how and why the phenomenon occurs… but first, allow me to describe my latest incident.
Early last week I was walking to a nearby supermarket to pick up a few groceries when, on a whim, I decided to lengthen the stroll before shopping, to take in the popular fishing decks below the Sundale bridge. Although it is technically winter, it was a sunny subtropical day with just a few wispy clouds adorning the deep blue sky. I approached a very short street that becomes a cul-de-sac at the waterfront on the Nerang river, curious to see if the locals were coming out to cast their fishing lines again after the coronavirus lockdown.
No sooner had I turned into the street when a flock of pigeons arrived seemingly out of nowhere to descend in a swirl around me, settling round about on the pavement and kerbside. My immediate thought was that it was just an awkward coincidence that I happened to reach that particular spot just as they were coming in to land, so I gently stepped my way through them to continue my walk.
After I’d progressed a mere twenty seconds and four or five metres on, the birds took to the air in unison and once again descended right over me, with a couple brushing my shoulders as they winged their way down to earth. This felt very much like one of those situations when someone brings chips onto the beach and is assailed by hungry seagulls, so I instinctively started patting my pockets to check if I was carrying anything they perceived to be edible. Finding nothing there I peeked into my shopping bag in case I had inadvertently left something in it that retained the scent of food. Finding it empty and odourless, I was puzzled as to what was attracting these feathered creatures. Another walker passing by in the opposite direction skirted around me and gave a big grin with a wave of his hand, as if in appreciation of the humour of my situation. The pigeons showed not the slightest interest in him.
The birds were silent as I picked my way through them to pursue my course, which took me to the end of the court at the river’s edge, close to where a couple of hopeful anglers stood with their rod and reels. For a third time the flock – which probably consisted of about two dozen pigeons – took flight from the previous spot to again come down around me, this time with more commotion than before. I had the impression of being rooted to the spot, at the centre of a swirling vortex of feathers, sensing that they wanted to inform me – somewhat forcefully – that this was no coincidence.
One of them hovered directly in front of me for a moment, vigorously flapping its wings in my face. I did not feel intimidated by this – as I kid, I bred pigeons in the back yard and know their nature. As they settled to encircle me on the ground, two of them starting cooing. Not in that proud, vociferous way they do in mating season, but in the gentle style they use to “talk” to each other. This in no way felt like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, yet I began to experience some frustration at not being able to interpret the message.
Remembering that communications which are not couched in human vocabulary often have to rest at the back of the mind for days, or even weeks, before the meaning presents itself clearly to us, I simply paused motionless for several minutes, looking around at my newfound friends, as we all blinked at each other in turn. When the time felt right, I circled round the end of the court to the other side, where I was able to make my way along the sidewalk underneath a line of leafy trees with low-hanging branches. The flock again took flight but were unable to follow, so they alighted on a stone embankment that inclined upward to the bridge.
The arboreal shelter allowed me to reach the rear entrance of the supermarket without further encountering the avian messengers. However, once inside the entrance hall, I sat for a while on one of the benches to reflect on the event, still unable to discern the message. Now, some days later, I believe it is becoming evident, just as I would suggest all of us can find meaning when birds talk to us. I’ll come back to that in a moment. First, is there any historical basis to support this kind of occurrence?
The first resource I turned to when I got home that day was the work of author Peter Kingsley who, I recalled, during a presentation at a Conference on Language and Spirituality, had said, “We all know what happened on September 11, 2001—or at least we know about the outer events. But three days before, on September 8, a raven came and told me what was going to happen.”
A raven told him? So, who is Peter Kingsley? Peter Kingsley PhD, an honorary professor at both Simon Fraser University in Canada and the University of New Mexico, has authored five books (of which I have four) including the acclaimed Reality and In the Dark Places of Wisdom. I learned of him through my appreciation of the pre-Socratic philosophers Parmenides and Empedocles, as he had written about them and the world they lived in two and a half thousand years ago. When I wrote regular articles for Insight Magazine (now defunct) from 2002 to 2005, I was privileged to make regular communications with Peter, who generously permitted me to reference his works as sources.
His presentation at that Conference I just mentioned was later published as an article, and I will continue with two paragraphs that follow his revelation about the raven:
“And in that moment it spoke to me, inside me. Its message came straight through to me in English words: not in raven language, or in any indigenous language, but in words I could understand. It said to me, “I have come here to tell you that there is about to be terrible death and destruction.” And from the way it communicated I knew it was referring to death and destruction which would affect not me or my wife particularly, but the whole world.
“What does it mean when a bird talks? What does it mean when you are still enough to hear the bird talking? What really is happening when a raven comes and tells someone what is going to happen? And what is the language of birds—not the language of English or Spanish, or even the language of humans, but the language of the birds?”
Mr Kingsley is not alone in his experience and observations. A check with Wikipedia informs us that: In mythology, medieval literature and occultism, the language of the birds is postulated as a mystical, perfect divine language, Adamic language, Enochian, angelic language or a mythical or magical language used by birds to communicate with the initiated.
The language of birds in Greek mythology may be attained by magical means. Democritus, Anaximander, Apollonius of Tyana, Melampus and Aesopus were all said to have understood the birds… The ‘birds’ are also mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey.
So, birds are thought to be capable of bringing us omens and premonitions of the future. This does not imply that the creatures themselves are more intelligent than humans, but rather that they may be subject to non-physical impulses, perhaps used by higher intelligence as the bearers of messages that we might not otherwise take notice of.
Apollo’s sacred bird was said to be the raven. And of course, the behaviour of ravens is still thought to be ominous at the Tower of London to this very day. But any kind of bird could be chosen if non-human intelligences want to impart information to you.
In the past I have personally felt a communicative connection from magpies, ibises, currawongs, crows and now, pigeons. While seemingly less impressive than hawks or eagles, it must be remembered the humble pigeon possesses unique navigational skills – which include using the Sun as a guide – not to mention their usefulness as valuable carriers, even in war theatres. Plus, there is the advantage of being familiar and friendly to us humans.
I consulted Manly P Hall’s Secret Teachings of All Ages and note that he says, about birds in general, that they were “regarded as the appointed messengers of the tree spirits and Nature gods … and through their clear notes the gods themselves were said to speak.” (This turned out to be a key insight into my own avian encounter). Hall also mentions doves more specifically – which are part of the same family (Columbidae) as pigeons – and about them he writes: “The dove is also an emblem of wisdom, for it represents the power and order by which the lower worlds are maintained. It has long been accepted as a messenger of the divine will, and signifies the activity of God.”
After some meditation asking for assistance from guides, I have come to realize that my own encounter with the birds was Nature reaching out to me. Something of an internal conflict had been building up inside me in recent times, as I have come to focus my attention on the Sun and tried to lift my consciousness into the celestial realms of divine light, at the expense of my old appreciation of Nature.
When I listen to indigenous friends speak of their “connection to country,” I have thought privately to myself: No, I am no longer tied to the Earth; I set my sights on higher dimensions. The conundrum has been that I perceive some of those people to be more advanced on the spiritual path than myself. And I had been brushing that inner conflict aside, out of mind, rather than resolving it.
Then, after asking for higher counsel on the meaning of the message from the birds, I allowed myself to drift into a trance-like state to receive their guidance, with the reply coming through loud and clear. I have been turning my back on planetary Nature to my own detriment.
It was then I was drawn back to a volume on my bookshelf by Michael J Roads, Entering the Secret World of Nature. It is two years since I read it, but I was able to refer to notes I had made for a book review. Suddenly the pieces fell into place. There were a number of passages relevant to my present state of mind and I will quote just these few lines here: “It is really important for you to accept that we live in two hugely different worlds, and that they both occupy the exactly the same space/moment.” And: “What is Nature? Nature is the natural evolution of consciousness. What is humanity? Humanity is the creative evolution of consciousness. Both of these questions and answers apply only to life on planet Earth, in our particular part of the solar system.” Interested readers may find Michael’s works HERE.
As the penny dropped, I felt a great sense of relief. It is not about choosing one world or the other. And it made sense that birds were used for the conveyance because the message was not from my usual guides, but from Nature itself. An additional insight was that being surrounded by birds in flight was not to be seen as an invasion of privacy, but as a protective formation. Here on the material plane where the Sun provides our Life-force, Nature safeguards us.
What should you do when birds talk to you? My suggestions are:
- Take notice and be aware that it is happening.
- Be calm and quiet and allow your intuition to flow.
- Send positive energy to the bird(s) and talk to them if it feels comfortable.
- If a significant event occurs within a few days, diarise it. See how often it happens.
- Should the meaning not be immediately apparent, meditate on it for a few days and think about it as you drift off to sleep.
Before publishing this blog, I thought I ought to take another walk back to the same spot to see if there was a recurrence of the meeting. As I strolled around the cul-de-sac this afternoon there were a couple of anglers with lines cast, a few seagulls and a pelican nearby, and four or five pigeons nestled on the beams below the bridge. A gloriously sunny yet uneventful winter’s afternoon. I suppose that once a message is absorbed, it does not need repeating.