Woodpecker As An Animal Spirit Guide

woodpecker totem

Perhaps you had never considered that a visit from a woodpecker might be a message from an animal spirit wishing to guide you into some wisdom. Then again, if you have landed on this page you must have had some sort of inkling because you searched to see what the meaning might be if the woodpecker is working as one of your totems. My guess would be that if it is not a bird that you see often, if it came more than once or your dreamed about one that it is most certainly wanting to share some lessons with you.

In many American Indian traditions this bird, the woodpecker, is connected to the heartbeat of Mother Earth herself. The drumming of the heartbeat of earth has more than a few mystical connections. A couple that come to mind are the rhythms of new life to shapeshifting applications. Many a shaman has learned to ride the drum beats into a different dimension.

Obviously, there are many different kinds of woodpeckers in the world. Most of them are colored with black and white feathers and many will have at least some red on their heads. The black and white of the feathers tells us that we should be seeing the issues and aspects of our lives clearly. Sometimes, things can be pretty clear when we look at them in a black or white perspective.

red-bellied woodpecker

The red found on the head of many species of the woodpecker symbolizes the stimulation of mental activities and also the head chakra centers. It is associated with the stimulation and wakening of new mental faculties. New ways to look at things or new wisdom in general. Even the pecking that we associate with the woodpecker is a symbol of these same reflections.

We can associate the act of digging in to a topic for more analysis with the woodpecker, too. They peck holes into trees and wood to get grubs and other insects for a meal. When we dig into a book for knowledge we feed on the wisdom we find.

If you are being visited by the animal spirit of woodpecker there are a few things that you should be asking:

  • Are you looking at your life rationally?
  • Are the people around you discriminate? Are you?
  • Do you just jump into a new situation with no analysis of what is involved?

We might find that the woodpecker has pecked into our vision to stimulate new rhythms for us to dance to. Rhythm is a pretty powerful means of affecting physical energy. We humans, often, get so wrapped up in our daily mental and spiritual activities that we do not pay attention to our physical needs. That might be the reason for the visits from woodpecker. He might also be telling you to drum new changes into your life.

A good book to read about how the woodpecker lives in the wild along with images of different types of woodpeckers is the one below. Often, when we meditate about the real animal, it opens up or drums up the message that the spirit animal is trying to convey.

Woodpeckers of the World: A Photographic Guide


Many cultures have lore and myths that include the woodpecker. Most have to do with the drumming or the pecking rhythm characteristics of this bird. Europeans felt that the woodpecker was a prophet of the weather as it drummed out the message that change was coming. In Greek mythology the woodpecker sat on the throne of the god of thunder, Zeus. The Babylonians associated it with fertility.

Basically, woodpecker is the symbol of the rhythm of life and of discrimination. We should find our own beats of the drum to follow in our journey and do what is best for ourselves and not what others might tell us to peck at. Woodpecker comes with the message that you have the foundation and it is now safe for you to follow your own rhythms.

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Beverly Two Feathers

Beverly Two Feathers is my spiritual name, other places I use my Anglo name you can find me as Beverly Owens on Google +

11 thoughts on “Woodpecker As An Animal Spirit Guide”

  1. I’ve never seen a Woodpecker IRL and it’s my birth totem (I was born June 22). How does this apply to me if I never even see the animal IRL? I’m very confused.

    1. Our guides are in spirit not necessarily in the physical form. You do not have to see one in real life in order for it to work with you. Do people see Buddha in real life? No, but his teachings can still help; can they not? So in that instance it is his spirit that speaks to you through his teachings. In the spiritual realm there are messages in many things; it takes an open mind and heart to recognize the messages for what they are. It doesn’t need to be confusing and if it is then possibly you are not opening yourself up entirely to the spiritual connections around you. Also, if you do not believe in the connection then how can it exist within you?

  2. Ive had the woodpecker show up many times in the last few years but recently in my dreams. I wanted to share this dream I had and inquire about your thoughts. It was the feeling of a summer day and around the corner i could see 2 woodpeckers, it appeared to be a male and a baby. As I approached them to get a better look a female flew past me and perched on a tree in reaching distance. I was then surrounded by 2 other people, we stood still to she if she would come to one of us. Well she did, she landed on my left arm and started pecking away, I tried to release her but she would not go. She kept pecking away at my arm. I just stopped and stood there as she just sat on my arm. I woke up feeling like it actually happened.

    1. Hi Twyla,
      If it were my dream…I’d say that woodpecker was really trying hard to get my attention, so much so that it sent a family of woodpeckers to me in dream and would not let go of my left arm. Arms in general represent embracing relationships and the left has to do with the maternal side (for me this resonates as it’s the maternal woodpecker that won’t let go of my left arm!). It would be interesting to examine my own relationship with my mother and why I can’t release those issues, and/or my own motherhood and what’s going on with that. I’d want to know who the other two people are in my dream and I’d note that they might correspond to the other two woodpeckers in the dream, too. In any case, I might even take it literally to pay attention to something happening in my left arm…an injury or check the skin for melanomas— woodpeckers dig beneath the bark of a tree for bugs. This is a haunting dream and I’d probably want to re-enter it a la Robert Moss’s Conscious Dreaming to get more answers about it. Hope this helps!

  3. I just came home from the urologist that I needed a surgical proceedure on my prostate. I need this and wanted it so I have agreed to have it next week…when I came home I needed to add to my suet feeder at 330PM…I camein and 15 minutes later I saw 2 red bellied woodpeckers eating at my feeder…I love these birds and have seen only one usually for short time.. but it brought a joy to my heart even though I was down from the news from the urologist ,of seeing 2…so what can be my message from them

  4. I keep seeing them everywhere I go for the last past week and I now understand why…. Very helpful….

  5. I’ve been processing old childhood traumas over the past couple weeks and formulating my plan for escape and my new life.
    I asked the universe to send me a sign of being on the right path.
    One especially emotionally heightened morning last week, after sobbing and tapping, and coming to grips, I was visited by two birds on my windowsill. A woodpecker and a sparrow, were just sitting on my sill, looking in my house through the screen.
    Beautiful, divine, bizarre.
    Thank you for this

  6. Early Monday morning December 11 2017 my Father passed away at home. I arrived 3-4 hours after he passed. Early the next morning I was sitting on the floor looking out the window towards the lake and the biggest red headed woodpecker I have ever seen landed on the tree in my direct view. My father loved nature and I thought….Dad is that you or a sign. If dad was alive I would immediately alert him to see the beautiful bird.

  7. I saw a woodpecker outside my daughter’s home I immediately thought it was a spirit from someone who passed.That sending me a message. I wrote a story about my daughter’s father. You can find the story on Facebook

  8. I’ve always written my dreams in present tense, so when I re-read them they contain my thoughts, feelings and impressions as when the dream was first remembered and written down. The energy of the dream remains intact. Months and years later, the dream energy is initially as it was when it first appeared. Robert Moss is a good author to read. Also, Jung’s ‘Memories, Dreams and Reflections’ is worth the read. This afternoon a woodpecker crossed my path and flew into the highest branches of a nearby tree. Recently my attitudes on life have taken on a changed perception. The world about me has not changed, but I have. I am ready and paying attention to meet life anew.

  9. I truly cherished your information. I have always payed attention when an animal comes into my presence, usually more than 2×. It always has helped me to pay attention and hear or research the message. Thank you.

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