Dream Symbols: What They Mean To You: The Woodpecker



The Woodpecker

I have a park nearby with a river that goes through the outskirts of town. I enjoy taking a walk and getting caught up on reading on a hot summer’s day. The trees and river provide shade and a welcomed coolness. Sometimes soft breezes fool around with the leaves, and it’s pleasant. Mallard ducks are plentiful and usually take their naps in the afternoon on the riverbanks nestling on cool green grasses. Ducks’ quiet and still, river meandering from east to west creates the possibility for daydreaming.

Yesterday while at the park, I heard the loud trill of a piliated woodpecker. She flew right by me and up into an oak tree. She didn’t stay there long and continued to call out as she flew down the river. Loud, the sound we often hear in western themed movies cannot be missed. Her red cap, a bold and vibrant color, catches more than the eye. Red captures us for a moment and suggests the sensual earthiness in nature, the vivacity of colors distinct from the greens of trees and the blue skies or the greys and browns of tree trunks.

The pileated woodpecker was endangered and is returning to our forests. As I mentioned in previous posts, not every critter that crosses our path has a personal message. In my experience, our gut will tell us if they are bearers of messages. Or we can enjoy them with no expectations.

The pileated woodpecker is one of the largest woodpeckers in our forests. They are basically a black bird with a red cap with white on each side of its head. Each of these colors can be significant when looking at the pileated woodpecker as a dream symbol.

They are known as drummers, and the drum in traditional Native American cosmology is thought to represent the earth, her heartbeat. In fact, the heartbeat is often used in ceremonies or gatherings. They are often considered weather prophets signaling the coming of storms. Last night we had a thunderstorm with very strong winds that dumped a lot of rain.

What else could this particular woodpecker mean to you? They dig under tree bark to look for food. And take turns incubating their young. Black and white suggest seeing things in black and white. Red is often associated with the root chakra. They fly in an up-and-down motion. Could it mean we could look at our rhythms and habits more closely? Also, they have large and powerful heads. What could that mean to you for your question or thoughts today? What are you analyzing? What needs more analysis?

These are a few of the questions I asked myself yesterday because seeing a pileated woodpecker is not a common occurrence. By giving some thought to the nature, color, and habitats of a particular critter holds mystery and magic for me. I hope they do for you too.

Sweet dreaming. Judith



Dream Symbols: The Eagle




The Eagle

Once I started recording my dreams, various animals and critters showed up. Since I was also keen to learn about animal totems from Native American Traditions, my curiosity peaked.

One day, as I studied animal totems, a crow flew by, and I felt it answered a question for me. That felt pretty cool! Eagles and crows showed up in my dreams too. Whether daytime or nighttime, these majestic birds enchant us. And if in a nighttime dream, they often carry messages.

My friends in that community shared many stories about when an animal appeared and what it could mean for them. Birds of prey are protected, and the native community values each feather they find and often feels that the particular bird has a message for them. And they believe that since the eagle flies the highest of all birds, they can reach the Creator, receive messages, and bring them back to us. They are often connected to the Sun.

Do you dream of flying? Soaring like an eagle is breathtaking. Do you live near water where eagles tend to build their aeries? A FB friend of mine does, and she takes beautiful photos of them around the waterways nearby. By sharing her pictures, we get a glimpse of these birds: Are they perched? Are they fishing? Are they riding the air currents? All questions I ask myself if and when a critter captures my attention.

Eagles mate for life and take good care of their offspring. Legend has it they build their nests up high to stay out of our reach, yes, the human reach. They represent committed partnerships and families, and they build sturdy homes, have strong talons, and are known to be fierce predators.

What else do you understand about the eagle? How does the eagle reach you and maybe teach you? Do you feel the eagle has a deeper message for you? And how about conservation? Where are they protected? Have they made a comeback in your area?

The eagle represents our country, so in that way, the eagle is pertinent to us as US citizens. They are protected, and we can be fined for holding or hunting eagle feathers and other birds of prey.

Dream symbols, whether in the night or catching us during our waking hours, offer a bit of mystery and magic. I know they do for me. So do you dream of eagles?

I enjoy your comments and stories. Sweet dreaming. Judith


Dream Symbols: What They Mean to You



The Wolf
Has the wolf appeared to you in your dreams? If so, what color and where did you see them? What kind of environment did they inhabit? Was the wolf with you? Coming towards you? Was it a single wolf, or did you see/sense others nearby?

Dream symbols enchant us with the unknown, with possibilities. We receive direct communication. It’s personal, free, and available to us.

Symbols come to us in the waking world too. When we pay attention and acknowledge them, it seems the outer Universe rushes in to give us more: more understanding, more synchronicities, and more opportunities to receive. The key is to acknowledge our Dreamtime and create practical action.

The wolf showed up for me when I visited the Cattaraugus Reservation in New York for the first time. It’s the home of the Seneca Nation. I met Grandmother Twylah Nietsche, the matriarch at that time, and she often reminded us that her people were from the Wolf Clan, the teachers, and the historians. She shared with us some of her clan’s teachings she titled The Cycles of Truth, one I still refer to today.

I enjoy teaching, the process of taking information and synthesizing it, creating bridges of understanding. Maybe it’s just the thrill of sharing what I have gathered, the hope to inspire, and the desire to expand.

Wolf as the teacher, meeting other teachers who gathered over that weekend sparked a desire to do more teaching. Keep in mind that I had no idea how that would play out. It would take another nine years before I started to teach at a university. You could say offering herbal knowledge to adult ed programs and teaching an herbal intensive became the starting place where I took related action that lead me to University teaching.

From my beginning journey to western New York, researching animal totems, recording nighttime and meditation experiences, and pursuing spiritual truths from several sources deepened my path. I dreamed of wolves too. One dream involved a white wolf who showed me that spirit energy was around at the gathering I attended that day. And the dream included one of my elders at that time who offered her wisdom teachings.

So the message in my latest book, Navigating Your Dream World, asks you to understand and interpret your own dream symbols. The companion journal gives you a place to follow the process and keep a record of each element and what they mean to you. I do recommend Ted Andrews’s book Animal Speak. He brings a multicultural understanding to the critter realms, which I find more comprehensive. When I look up the wolf, for example, I pay attention to what resonates with me. Not everything will, but what does resonate will usually be meaningful for the time period of the dream.

Wolves have been reintroduced into our national parks. The change in ecosystems is truly astounding and highlights the role one critter plays within the whole. A good reminder for us.
Has the wolf appeared to you recently? How so? What message did she have for you? Record your first impressions. Any stories? I enjoy hearing from you. In the meantime, sweet dreaming. Judith

Dream Symbols: And What They Mean to You




A few years ago, I lived on a property bordered by a state forest which included a pond in the far backyard. During my first spring, I got to really hear the mating sounds of frogs, a specific chorus of sounds that said, ‘Hey, look at me. I’m a worthy mate’. Frogs mating sound slowly builds, climaxes, and then recedes, a beautiful symphony for the mid-spring concert already going on. I loved listening, learning about them firsthand, and then watching hundreds of eggs pool around the edges and finally hatch into tadpoles.

My native elders encouraged me to learn all I can about a species that caught my attention. This practice of observing and even researching aspects of nature, such as a frog, can be helpful in understanding them as symbols that may show up in the Dreamtime.

What are Dream Symbols?

Most often, it’s only the male frogs call, and calls are species-specific though there are dialects by region (croak, croak, croak yall). Dialects allow males to self-sort and avoid competing with males from other areas that are far away or outside their region. Male frogs call to attract mates and to advertise their fitness to females. Most mating is done at night under cover of darkness, so frogs use vocalizations instead of visual displays. Calls are produced in the larynx and are amplified by one or more vocal sacs. These sacs are thin membranes of skin that are either directly under the chin or extending from the chin to the mouth. Female frogs may respond to the males to encourage their advances with short croaks or other sounds (some females object quite vocally if they don’t find the male’s advances desired).”

FrogWatch USA has more information based on your particular state. I highly recommend you check them out.

Why are frogs so important?
1. They are a mid-food chain species. I didn’t know this, but they are both predator and prey. They eat blooms and algae, and they are food for a variety of critters, including birds, fish, snakes, and more.
2. They are an indicator species. They thrive in freshwater habitats and need suitable land to survive. They are also thin-skinned and highly permeable, so they can absorb chemicals and other toxins, such as bacteria.
3. Don’t like mosquitoes? Well, who does? They help control insect populations, not only grabbing them for chow but also eating the larvae which can transmit diseases.
4. Some poisonous frog toxins are currently being researched for their potential to create other drugs.

Frog species are hurting. They need clean, fresh water and uncontaminated land. How can we help? Be mindful of them in your landscapes. Many gardeners I know leave dishes of water for them in the garden. Frogs and toads sing and create a chorus of sound from spring through fall, especially enchanting at dusk. When hiking, leave them alone in their habitats. If you have children who like to pick them up, remind them that frogs and toads are thin-skinned and gently place them back down to the ground.

What can we do to help? Pick your favorite species. If frogs happen to be one of them, follow the links above and help in a local frog watch. If another critter has your heart and your eye, there are so many conservation organizations to search for that offer detailed information about a species.
Wildlife needs us whether we like them or not. James Hillman in Dream Animals suggests that sometimes critters come into our dreams for their sake, not ours. They have something to share with us, maybe even ask us for help. So many species are seriously threatened, including frogs. What action can you take today to make a difference for wildlife, for nature? Do you dream of frogs? Got a favorite frog or nature story to share? I enjoy hearing from you.

All comments are appreciated. Thanks. Judith

Dream Symbols: Hummingbird

Dirt: the Movie features an exceptional woman ( one of many) who became an environmental advocate in her native lands. Wangari Maathi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her many efforts to improve the conditions in her country, Kenya. In 1977, she began the Green Belt Movement, which helped women plant trees to provide wood for cooking, fodder for livestock, material for fencing, protect watersheds and stabilize the soil improving agriculture. She has helped and encouraged the planting of millions of trees.

She tells the story of a Hummingbird in the movie, inspiring and rich with the flavor of Africa that goes something like this:

A fire broke out in the forest, raging and burning.  The animals rushed to the river’s edge and watched as their forest burned, not feeling they could do anything about this devastation. A Hummingbird could not stand this and decided to do something. It went to the water’s edge and picked up a drop of water and rushed to the fire, and dropped it on the fire to help put it out. She went back and forth and back and forth much to the others’ surprise. The elephants and others questioned her, how could this possibly help? How could she make a difference? The Hummingbird replied: I am doing the best I can”.

Each of us has our dreams. Do you ever get discouraged? I know sometimes I do. I see the problems with land use, mono-crop agriculture, and the effects pesticides cause on soil and bees. I often wonder how long it will take us to wake up and reclaim a relationship with this earth. When I hear about folks like Wangari Maathi, who made a difference one step at a time in the face of adversity, I am reminded to simply do the best I can.

Here in the northeast, she’s back visiting our gardens and bird feeders, much to our delight and fascination. This little bird delights us with her flying ability and how she stores food in early fall. These birds seem to migrate south based on shortening daylight. The hummingbird finds its primary nutrition in insects. They especially love baby spiders. Nectar gives them instant energy for their high metabolic needs, but the fat, oils, and minerals for their overall needs come from insects they find while flying or in the flowers they seek for their nectar. And contrary to local lore, they do not suck nectar through a “straw” but grab the sweet droplet of energy with a tongue.

What does the hummingbird mean to you? In my dream work with animal totems, I found that the hummingbird is associated with air as connected to intelligence, higher thought, and the ability to see the bigger picture. They seem to be constantly in motion, with rapid wing beats that represent persistence and a feeling of endlessness or infinity. Many cultures in the Americas believed the hummingbird represents rebirth.

Persistence, knowing I am enough, and knowing I am doing enough at this moment are great personal, daily reminders. Have hummingbirds flown into your awareness today? What do they mean to you?  I would love your comments.

Enjoy this wonderful day. Judith

Dream Symbols: And What They Mean To You

“When the soul wants to experience something, she throws out an image in front of her and then steps into it.” Meister Eckhart, German Catholic theologian, philosopher, and mystic, 13th century.

Symbols surround us. Sometimes I feel as if the Universe speaks to us in so many ways that we take them for granted, when in fact, messages are often hiding in plain sight. How so, you may ask?

What are Dream Symbols?

Think about what catches your eye when on a walk. Are you deep in thought, and then something from nature catches your eye? Could that bird or critter, maybe even an unusually bright blossoming tree, carry some importance to you for those moments as thoughts swirl around?

What is the Dreamtime?

Working with our Dreamtime: defined as nighttime dreams, daydreams, inspirations, and intuition, our non-quantifiable senses, the all of us attuned more deeply to an encompassing world, reveals itself as so much more than we have been taught. Our imagination speaks to us in symbols; as Meister Eckhart says above, our deep self throws out an image. What do we do with this?

If we are aware of these possibilities, we open ourselves to engaging with this world in a myriad of ways that contain ideas that could lead to innovations, solutions, answers, puzzles revealed, and more. We become more authentically whole. And we begin to get a peek into this mysterious place we call home in ways that go beyond our wildest imaginations.

I don’t know about you, but I find that exciting.

So what catches your attention today? How could that image or thought be important/ relevant to your everyday life? If you want to explore your Dreamtime more, click here for more information.

Sweet dreaming! Judith