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Is the Red-Tailed Hawk my totem animal?

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  • Is the Red-Tailed Hawk my totem animal?

    (Cross-posted from my blog)

    I’m getting comfortable enough with this blog that I feel I should share a little bit with you.

    As a person who is of Native American descent, I have a deep reverence for the symbolism of animals and other creatures. Ever since I was a little beansprout I’ve encountered these beautiful animals. For some crazy reason I’ve always been drawn to the red-tailed hawk. Even to this day I can’t explain it. It’s just there.


    I’ll start with telling you the story of me and the resident Red Tail at one of the airports I fly out of. Those of you who have browsed the “About Me” page know that I’m a pilot and have been for a little more than seven years. At every single one of those airports there is a resident hawk that showed up at the same time I did.


    Let me tell you a story of Hawk #1. Hawk #1 was based at the second airport I took flying lessons at (about four years ago). The old guys who hung around there said “We’ve never seen him before until you showed up, and he only comes out when you’re around.” I didn’t believe them even though I spotted the hawk a few times while I was on the ground. However, one day I was flying with a friend when he looked toward the trees and exclaimed “DUCK!” I turned and saw a huge hawk swoop at my head and his talon ran through my hair no differently than if a person had done it. He clearly wasn’t attacking me for prey. My friend said he had never seen anything like it and was absolutely amazed that such a fearless creature would come that close to a person. The hawk has remained at the airport ever since and comes out once in a blue moon.


    My second story, Hawks #2 and #3, is far more recent. My short life at Purdue University introduced me to two of the most relentless hawks I’ve ever met. They perched atop the rotating beacon at the Purdue University Airport for hours on end. My boyfriend of two years also flies and had been at the airport every single day for the past four years. He noticed the arrival of the two hawks and swore he never saw them there before. I thought back to my encounter with hawk #1 and was noticing a distinct trend going on. I nicknamed the male “Red” and the female “The Misses” and would constantly spot them while I was out flying. I’d call to Air Traffic Control and let them know that I was on “hawk watch” and would keep an eye out for them. This baffled them because, even with binoculars, they were rarely able to spot the hawks themselves. More than once I spared the birds from becoming litter in the engine of a Piper.


    One day I was sitting in a lecture hall on campus, looking out at a pretty courtyard where students were traveling on their way to class. I spotted a lonely little gray squirrel contently munching on some sort of rubbish left behind by a humanoid. All of a sudden he stopped and scurried up the nearest tree as if his tail was on fire. And it might as well have been. Not two seconds later, a hawk attempted an aerial attack and missed. The scrimmage between the two lasted a good 10 minutes (long enough for a large crowd of students to gather around the tree) until the hawk gave up. Amazingly, the squirrel lived to die another day. Hehe.


    My last story also takes place at Purdue. My boyfriend and I discovered that one of our professors is a closet Falconer who has an American Kestrel and… you guessed it… a red-tailed hawk. He gave a presentation one night about falconry and how it’s not a sport or for fun. He showed us his two birds and I was simply amazed at how he could handle these powerful animals. I didn’t feel a connection with the Kestrel, but when he pulled the hawk out I instantly made eye contact with it and we both couldn’t stop looking at each other. He took her around the room and explained how she was very uncomfortable because of so many people. When he came to us (he went back to front, where we were) I asked him to bring the bird a little closer. My boyfriend joked with him and explained that I raised helpless baby birds who fell out of the nest all my life and that “I have a thing for this stuff”. When he did, the bird immediately puffed her feathers and shook her tail. She then rested her head back and closed her eyes; a sign that she was extremely content. Both the professor and my boyfriend looked at me with disbelief and the professor said “I don’t believe it.” He then brought her perch over next to me and she sat there asleep for the rest of the lecture.

    Basically what I'm wondering is if these are the tell-tale signs of a totem animal. If so, how can I go about communicating with it? I haven't really had the chance to look into Shamanism that deeply.

    -RTH

  • #2
    Depends on your tribal lore/your belief in totem animals. My tribe doesn't do totem animals. I'm of the Blackfoot belief that every animal has different medicine and you can be guided by any of them at any given time. I suppose this is more of the school that every animal is your totem animal rather than no animal being your totem animal. Anyways, I feel like if you even have to ask this question, coupled with the experiences you've already had, you have your answer and you're just looking for confirmation. :uhhuhuh:
    Sat Wepwawet-Yinepu meryt Sekhmet-Hethert
    "Ki'sommkiistomisam waamisookiiksisapoo, noohkohka'pssi kiistinoonnitsitapii"
    "Ba ar pet sat ar ta"
    Spiritual blog:
    Dividing by Zero: Hanging out with God(desse)s

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    • #3
      Originally posted by RedTailHawk View Post
      Basically what I'm wondering is if these are the tell-tale signs of a totem animal. If so, how can I go about communicating with it? I haven't really had the chance to look into Shamanism that deeply.

      -RTH
      Totems were not initially a personal guide in my understanding. So if you're going to interpret them as something personal, the best person to answer this question is yourself.

      A totem is any supposed entity that watches over or assists a group of people, such as a family, clan, or tribe.

      Totems support larger groups than the individual person. In kinship and descent, if the apical ancestor of a clan is nonhuman, it is called a totem. Normally this belief is accompanied by a totemic myth.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totem

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Phoenix_Falls View Post
        Depends on your tribal lore/your belief in totem animals. My tribe doesn't do totem animals. I'm of the Blackfoot belief that every animal has different medicine and you can be guided by any of them at any given time. I suppose this is more of the school that every animal is your totem animal rather than no animal being your totem animal. Anyways, I feel like if you even have to ask this question, coupled with the experiences you've already had, you have your answer and you're just looking for confirmation. :uhhuhuh:
        Greetings, fellow Blackfoot!

        I'm Blackfoot by descent... but too watered down to officially join the tribe as I wanted. Though I am the only one in the family who has the skin complexion, dark hair, and black eyes. And go figure.. I'm half Irish, among other things.

        Thank you so much for your explanation. Indeed, I am looking for confirmation throughout the community because I'm not familiar with how totem animals work, especially with Shamanism.

        Thank you again and please keep in touch,
        -RTH

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        • #5
          Originally posted by RedTailHawk View Post
          Greetings, fellow Blackfoot!

          I'm Blackfoot by descent... but too watered down to officially join the tribe as I wanted. Though I am the only one in the family who has the skin complexion, dark hair, and black eyes. And go figure.. I'm half Irish, among other things.

          Thank you so much for your explanation. Indeed, I am looking for confirmation throughout the community because I'm not familiar with how totem animals work, especially with Shamanism.

          Thank you again and please keep in touch,
          -RTH
          Best tribe EVER to be from, ask anyone! Except Crees or Shoshone ;D

          Eh, looks ain't all that. I don't look like Sacagewea or anything and I'm half. You'd be surprised at how pale some Blackfoot people really are. We're a varied People to be sure.

          I think too, it depends on what kind of Shamanism you're pursuing at the moment. If I remember correctly, you're in the process of making your own individual spirituality which is totally cool beans (I firmly believe everyone should do that, to be honest) but I'm assuming that you're basing your beliefs in a little bit of experience and a little bit of research. Honestly, though, you can go with what feels right in your gut-meat.

          The Blackfoot Confederacy doesn't have "shaman" and there's a metric crap-tonne of Amerindians who don't even like that word as it specifically refers to Sami Medicine People among other things. We've got Medicine People who have their own restrictions and suchlike among themselves regarding different animals (for example, you never say the word "bear" to a Blackfoot Medicine Person because bear's medicine is so strong that you can invoke it just by saying it's name. Instead, if you're in the vicinity of a Medicine Person, you just call it "short tail" and everyone understands that to mean "bear").

          Like I said before, I'm not big on totem animals which may be a result of my mostly traditional upbringing. To me, occurrences like this would indicate that سtahkohsَa'tsis (red-tailed hawk in Blackfoot. It literally means "yellow tailfeathers") has something to teach you. This lesson or lessons could last as long as your lifetime and in that respect, you could see سtahkohsَa'tsis as your totem animal but it wouldn't discount other animals from popping up. Even if you have a very close relationship with سtahkohsَa'tsis or any other type of ءyinnimaapi (Hawk People, or more accurately Seizer People), it may not necessarily mean this is your be all end all totem. However, that certainly doesn't and shouldn't stop you from forming a relationship with them! The most important thing is that in yourself, you already know the answer and that's what you should go with.
          Sat Wepwawet-Yinepu meryt Sekhmet-Hethert
          "Ki'sommkiistomisam waamisookiiksisapoo, noohkohka'pssi kiistinoonnitsitapii"
          "Ba ar pet sat ar ta"
          Spiritual blog:
          Dividing by Zero: Hanging out with God(desse)s

          Comment


          • #6
            Keep in mind that hawks are territorial, so it's most likely that you (and anyone else who cared to notice) saw the hawks because you happened to spend time in their territory, not because they had some special meaning for you.

            That being said, you can just try asking Hawk whether s/he has anything to share with you or that s/he needs from you.
            http://www.thegreenwolf.com (my main website with books, artwork and other goodies)
            http://lupabitch.livejournal.com (I'm quite active on Livejournal)
            http://paganbookreviews.com(book review blog)
            http://therioshamanism.com (my path)
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            • #7
              I do not personally feel that the Hawk is my Totem animal or Spirit guide, but my traits are like that of a hawk or predatory bird. Protects her nest, sharp eyes and constantly alert, pays attention to details...

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              • #8
                I have always had an affinity for the red tailed hawk. It is my one pagan trait. I currently have a full wing spread on my wall.
                Being Immortal is so time consuming.
                http://shadowsoul.wordpress.com/

                http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The...life+of+nobody

                http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004D4ZWTI

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                • #9
                  A totem is your clan animal, plant etc. so unless your clan is the Red-Tailed Hawk clan, no it is not your totem. You are born or adopted into a clan; its either something you are born or born into not something you choose or "find". -and totem is a term used only by Ojibwe speaking tribes. other tribes have their own words which carry their appropriate cultural context and nuance.

                  now that said, the Red-Tailed Hawk may be the form your personal medicine takes, or a guide on your journey. These are different things alltogether from totems.

                  Originally posted by Psychonomaly View Post

                  Totems were not initially a personal guide in my understanding. So if you're going to interpret them as something personal, the best person to answer this question is yourself.
                  This is correct, they arent.... and as they are not, they should not be interpreted based soley on personal gnosis. instead a distinction should be made between ones personal animals and their clan animal.

                  Tsalagi Nvwoti Didahnvwesgi Ale Didahnesesgi
                  (Cherokee medicine practitioner of left and right hand paths)
                  anikutani.stfu-kthx.net - The Anikutani Tradition

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