It was the third time I’d walked out to find one waiting on my path.
Curious, I bent down and picked it up, grey and white, freshly shed from the wings or tail of one of the pigeons that come to rest in the courtyards of our apartment complex after digging through the dumpsters of near-by restaurants.
(I assume this is what they do; I have no knowledge of their movements other than seeing them flapping by, walking around, chased off by dogs on walks…)
I never really paid attention to such things, random feathers or animals crossing my path, until I encountered both while wandering the woods of central Florida with a girl who walks with animals and sparkles like a little pixie faerie. Now, I find myself gathering all sorts of random bits — stones and sand, feathers, twigs, leaves, all placed in my art or on an alter that’s quickly swallowing up the top of an old white dresser.
But this third time, I knew it was a sign. I called her, asked, “What do pigeons mean?”
“Finding your way back to the security of home, returning to what you’ve forgotten, the strength of family,” she surmised from that much-loved edition of Animal Speak (I bought her the pocket guide before I left, a perfect-sized little book that fit into her backpack).
At the time, I thought it meant my physical family, but now…I think the message goes a little deeper than that.
One of the things I discovered by going outside myself, leaving my day-to-day surroundings, was I’d lost myself somewhere along the way.
I used to write poetry and prose to connect with my deeper self. I’d swirl in long skirts and sit on the warm grass of parks, nestled under trees, and work on things. On writing and homework and drawing. I’d sit on the beach and write scripts and shove my shoes in my bag so I could wade out into the surf. As a child, I played with spirits and faeries (I met my Grandfather for the second time when I was six or seven, when his spirit tossed me into the air and I shrieked with laughter), created magical kingdoms, and made costumes from whatever I could find around the house.
And somewhere along the way, I lost all that.
There are things I don’t talk about much. Large chunks of my life left offline, mentioned with hesitation. What if they don’t believe me? What if they don’t like that sort of thing? What if they think I’m crazy?
Pieces of my Wild Soul hidden in my mind, shared only with close friends. Bits that scream to be let out against the fear that kept me quiet.
But if I remain silent, scared, and fearful of judgement, then what does that say to the girl just discovering this of herself? What does that say to others who may feel as I do, believe as I do?
So here’s a piece of my truth:
I hear stories. Lots of stories. Feel emotions and sometimes hear my name breathed into my ear as I fall asleep. Questions asked. Conversations overheard.
From Spirit (or ghosts, or souls-on-Earth).
It’s been my experience, from an early age, that many people don’t take kindly to the little blond girl with an angel guide as an imaginary friend, who knows things about you you’ve never told anyone else. Who claims to have chatted with relatives long-gone. I’ve been told I’m going to hell by a little boy who attended a religious school, scoffed at by a woman sitting in front of me on the train, laughed at by friends who think tarot cards are to play with, not respect.
(They asked me why they couldn’t touch them, what the Big Deal was. I could see Spirit and Fae trying to help from the corner, telling me to be strong, to be confident in my own abilities.)
While my religious and spiritual practices are eclectic at best, with a place for the Virgin Mary, the Buddha, those many-faced Hindu goddesses, it’s been a long time since I identified myself as Christian (but still love church…a loving, soulful celebration of God? Definitely my thing!).
I don’t mean to talk about religion all the time, now that I’m shifting and changing, sliding back into my own sealskin, long lost and hidden behind the mountains of lessons to be learned, but I know that my artistic practice is unfolding, sprinkling Spirit and inspiration across all I do.
And it’s time to pull the intuition into all that I do.
I truly believe that those who listen to Spirit, or God, or the Goddess, who take the time to be still and dive into the depths of their own Wild Souls, practice the core of wabi-sabi — that is, they go with the flow and, while they may find forks in the river or waterfalls to survive, they have grace; their faith and confidence help them tackle bigger challenges.
It was harder for me to dive that deep when I was still acting as I thought I should (oh, that terrible word that enslaves so many!) instead of remembering that smiling, always-laughing girl of my youth. But now that I’ve reconnected, I am finding things come easily. My life is full of happy accidents, serendipity, and just right moments. In fact, every day this week is busy with projects, adventures, and paint on my fingers.
Now, every time I walk to my car, or grab the mail, to walk and search for the treasures of nature I find myself drawn to use more and more of in my art, I smile at the feathers I spy in the grass. I’ve started my journey home to my heart, to my True Self, and know I’m on the right path when those little grey and white feathers mark the way.