Symbols are a strange thing. It’s funny how some particular symbols seem to start appearing in your life. Perhaps they were all the time and you just start noticing them or perhaps they have just started gathering like birds flocking together. As Carl Jung says in ‘Man and his Symbols’: “As a plant produces its flower, so the psyche creates its symbols.” (p53)
In my case, the symbol appearing in my life recently and calling for my fervent attention is the hummingbird.
I first noticed it when I was shopping in London in April. It always interests me what draws you to particular clothes: the style, patterns and symbols that attract us at any point in time. I was drawn to a scarf with hummingbirds dotted all over it. I wore it like a talisman as I travelled around the UK, a piece of comfort I wrapped around me at a time of transience and changing environments.
I went to the British Museum and of all the wondrous antiquities and images and amid millions of objects in the Enlightenment Room, I fall in love with a tiny stuffed hummingbird sitting proudly on a perch in a glass cabinet. My image of the bird somehow sums up a whole day and the entire trip. I know not why and wonder again at how we are drawn to one image, one object amid so many, that resonates and sings to our soul.
Suddenly hummingbirds are everywhere: they are a recurring symbol in the book I am reading, Tracy Chevalier’s ‘The Last Runaway’; they pop up as a key symbol front and centre in a visual in one of Susannah Conway’s lessons in the e-course I am doing, ‘Journal Your Life’; I am reading about the hummingbird, then go to twitter and up pops @HumbirdsSong; I go to a student graduation and one of the Aboriginal students I talk to has the personal totem of a hummingbird and a gorgeous hummingbird tattoo on her forearm; I notice there are hummingbirds on the box where I hold my scarves; I pick up a birthday card for a friend and the brand is Papyrus, with the symbol of, yes, the hummingbird.
So what is all this about? What is the symbol saying to me? Why is it appearing and what is its message?
The card is the first clue and the first time I read anything of the symbolism or legend. It says brightly in a greeting card kind of way:
Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation
It’s a lead that I value and I look further and find the following about the hummingbird as a spirit animal, totem and personal symbol:
The hummingbird spirit animal symbolizes the enjoyment of life and lightness of being. Those who have the hummingbird as a totem are invited to enjoy the sweetness of life, lift up negativity wherever it creeps in and express love more fully in their daily endeavors. This fascinating bird is capable of the most amazing feats despite its small size, such as traveling great distances or being able to fly backwards. By affinity with the hummingbird, those who have this bird as totem may be encouraged to develop their adaptability and resiliency while keeping a playful and optimistic outlook.
I search further and read more about the hummingbird. It is so perfectly the symbol for me and especially my time right now. All the messages ring true:
Being present and enjoying life:
It is a reminder that life is meant to be savoured. It is about being more present and bringing playfulness and joy into your life. It’s about exposing yourself to more joy and showing love. “The hummingbird’s wisdom carries an invitation to take part in and draw to you life’s sweetness, like you would drink the nectar of your own flower.” (from Hummingbird Spirit Animal)
Taking time to draw strength from within:
The hummingbird is a reminder that “the sweetest nectar is within” (from Hummingbird Animal Totem). It’s a reminder to look at how we are gaining and expending our energy and whether there is any frittering away of energy on needless worry. It’s about the need to take time to recharge from within, knowing you have the resources to take you forward to meet any challenges.
Resilience and adaptability:
The hummingbird is “the bird of the impossible“. It can fly backwards; it can fly over 2000 miles; its wings make the symbol of infinity as it flies. It is a symbol of resilience, of tirelessness, of being adaptable to a situation that is a bit more demanding than usual. It symbolises that difficulties can be overcome and how this might occur:
The only bird able to fly backwards, the Hummingbird guides us back to our past, showing us that we must not dwell on it and that we need to move joyfully forward, showing us the power of discipline and will-power, the ability to do anything we wish in our lives. It teaches us fierce independence. Recovering lost parts of ourselves enables us to become healthily independent.
These themes connect into a powerful message to carry with me. I wear a little hummingbird to keep me connected to this wise energy.
What symbols are coming into your life right now?
What are you noticing and what are the symbols saying to you?