Native American Totems

Discovering the medicine and lessons learned from the spirits of animals and all living things.

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There are many bird totems in Native American beliefs. Today, I want to talk about the Cardinal and its totem meanings. My friend Joan recently blogged about some bird feeders that she was having trouble getting birds to feed at. She related a story about her granddaughter, Jessica, and how she was fascinated with the Cardinal sounds even as a tiny baby. Jessica helped her Grandma by inviting the cardinals to come and eat. My first thoughts were that Cardinal must be one of Jessica’s spiritual totems, one she has been connected to since infancy.

The native symbolism of the Cardinal is the recognizing of self importance. In earth spirituality there is a rhythm of 12 associated with this bird totem. We can be reminded that there are opportunities to renew our own vitality and identify our life roles. We most probably will see patterns emerge in 12 hours, 12 days, 12 months, or even 12 years depending on what Cardinal is working with us on.

A cardinal has a distinct whistle. It is usually loud and quite clear. A whistle is a reminder to listen closely and pay attention. When Cardinal is your totem it is an indication that the feminine aspects of creativity and intuition should be maintained and listened to.

Cardinals, due to their red coloring remind us to add color to our lives and to become like them in knowing that everything we do is of importance. I would be curious to know if little Jessica is a colorful person and surrounds herself with colorful things.

In Joan’s blog post she asked if we thought it was possible to talk to the animals and birds and of course I believe we can communicate on a physical and spiritual level.  Cardinal is not one of my totems but there is a special spiritual connection with this bird, my own Grandmother, and myself.  Grandma always said that if she could come back to earth to check on us after she had passed that she would come as a bright red cardinal. Cardinals are pretty plentiful but I always know when it is Grandma and not just any bird. She will capture my attention and look me in the eyes. I always get the message, “I’m here, Child. You are protected. You will be just fine.” She even came to my husband Terry once. I was at the hospital with my Mom who was rapidly losing her battle with cancer. Terry called me at the hospital to check on me and he said, “Bev, the weirdest thing just happened! There is this bright red cardinal that won’t leave me alone. It keeps chirping at me and diving at me and landing on the car!” I didn’t even hesitate. “Terry, that’s Grandma and she is trying to tell you that you better come to the hospital because I’m going to need you.” We lost Mom just a few hours later.  Grandma was there sitting on the window sill.

The spirits of the ancients and sometimes even our loved ones can and do communicate with us through the animals. Sometimes as a totem that works with us to learn life’s lessons and to give us strong medicine to live by and sometimes just a brief visit to let us know that they are watching over us. Either way, it is powerful medicine for our souls.

~Mitakuye Oyasin~ We are all related

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