The Story of the Great Blue Heron
A couple of months ago on a Sunday it was spitting snow. Snow is not a common experience for us in the Seattle area, we only get it a couple of times a year, and there are some winters where there is no accumulation at all. So I was excited that it was snowing, and was looking out my kitchen window up into the sky.
I noticed some movement high up in one of the evergreen trees behind my house. I squinted and peered and wondered what in the world was in that tree. It was much too big for a squirrel. It was kind of grey like a raccoon, but was much higher in the tree than I thought a raccoon would climb, probably 30 or 40 feet up.
I went out onto my back deck in the snow. I had to know what this was. It was quite far back, close to the trunk of the tree, and difficult to see. Then it moved some more, and I could see a large beak. Immediately I thought it was a heron but I didn’t know if they roosted in trees, I had only seen them wading in water and standing on piers. (I have since learned that yes, they build their nests in trees, high up).
As I was standing on the deck in the wet snow coming down, I notice movement in another tree. There was a second bird. This one was on a branch that was much more exposed and I could see him clearly. But his head was pulled in and all I could see was his body, so it was hard to identify what bird it was.
I went to the handy-dandy internet to look for pictures of blue herons, and I also posted on Facebook asking if they roosted in trees. What I found confirmed that these were two blue herons in my back yard. I was amazed because I have lived in this house for eleven years, and never seen them here before.
A week or so before I had found a lady bug on a cabinet door in my kitchen. I posted on Facebook my amazement at finding a single ladybug in January. I immediately got responses that ladybugs were symbols of good luck. So when I saw the herons I thought to look up what herons symbolized.
I found a variety of definitions, but they all centered on self-determination and striking quickly when opportunity presents itself. Here is one definition that I particularly like:
According to North American Native tradition, the Blue Heron brings messages of self-determination and self-reliance. They represent an ability to progress and evolve. The long thin legs of the heron reflect that an individual doesn’t need great massive pillars to remain stable, but must be able to stand on one’s own.
Blue Herons have the innate wisdom of being able to maneuver through life and co-create their own circumstances. Blue Herons reflect a need for those with this totem to follow their own unique wisdom and path of self-determination. These individuals know what is best for themselves and need to follow their hearts rather than the promptings of others. Those with the Medicine of the Great Blue Heron may sit until the rest of us lose patience. And, when they follow the promptings of the heart, they are one of the most magnificent when they choose to soar.
(Courtesy of http://www.blueheronenv.com/meaning.htm)
The symbolism of the great blue heron really resonated for me at this time in my life. I had begun a journey of becoming more and more of myself a few months earlier. This internal shift was impacting every area of my life and I saw the appearance of the herons as a sign that I was on the right path – my own path – and to continue.
Since then the second heron has come to visit several more times. Most recently he appeared twice on the same day: once fairly early in the morning and again late in the afternoon. This day proved to be one in which I was doing a lot of internal work and processing which wasn’t always easy emotionally. Every time I see the heron he reminds me to stay the course; that what I’m doing and who I’m becoming is exactly right.