Spiritual Encounters with Hawks
by Catherine Bastedo
author of the Bird Vibes meditation deck
One day as I was enjoying a walk along the Ottawa River in the city of Ottawa, I saw a Peregrine Falcon lying beside the path. That was the start of my encounters with falcons and hawks, in both the real world and the world of dreams and meditations. When I walked into my first session with an emotional intuitive, a few months later, she told me that a hawk was sitting on my shoulder, not only that, but my hawk had a splint on its leg! Hawk is a symbol of the messenger, a powerful totem used from ancient times. As a totem, hawk is understood to be a symbol of the visionary, the creative force, the guide to one’s life path and the ability to see both the big picture and the details at the same time. It appeared that I had messages to deliver, talents to discover, and new images to see and create for others. According to her, my hawk had a splint because it had not yet realized its potential.
After that session, hawks and falcons began showing up in my life--as often dead as alive! A Cooper’s Hawk dropped out of the sky onto my deck in the city of Gatineau! When I arrived to open my cottage in Muskoka, Ontario for the summer two Broad-winged Hawks lay dead on the steps of the veranda. And Broad-winged Hawks had found a regular vantage point in a tall ash tree behind the cottage, where they perched on a high dead limb and surveyed everything that went on. All summer long they screeched at me when I went out, and denuded the area of squirrels, chipmunks and the song birds I loved. One day as I went out into the sun with my sandwich I looked up to see the female hawk tearing apart her own lunch of squirrel. Enough of this company, I thought, and I had to ask myself if there was perhaps a message I was ignoring.
I think animals show up for a variety of reasons—to remind us that this may be a significant totem, to convey a symbolic message, to bring joy and awe in the beauty of nature. Ted Andrews, author of Animal-Wise and Animal-Speak has written: “Birds reflect a union of the conscious mind with the unconscious. They reflect the achievement of full realization. Because of their ability to fly they are associated with aspiration, flights of intuition, beauty and levitation. Birds are a source of creative imagination, and they have the ability to awaken within us our own flights of magic.” He has remarked that dead birds may have something to teach us and they honour us when they die in our yard—it means they feel safe there. But he also reminds us not to be superstitious.
In my own case, I decided that summer to start giving a new voice to my creative spirit by writing about birds, and these notes as they developed eventually brought to life Bird Vibes, a meditation deck for spiritual insight through birds. One day, after enjoying the morning and lazily scribbling a bit, I went for a walk in the woods and almost stepped on a dead Common Raven, right on my path. It was a fully intact bird that had clearly just died. Raven is a symbol of magic, of talents, of an ability to use the tools at hand, and I knew that I was being reminded by Source that not only could I write my deck, but perhaps I should speed up the progress. I finished my text, was fortunate to find an artist who specialized in miniatures of birds, and commissioned her to do the artwork.
When I published Bird Vibes last year, the large dead birds stopped dropping onto my literal and spiritual path. The messages of my cards went far and wide as the orders came in from Europe, across Canada and the United States. When I went up to my cottage for the summer, the dead branch had fallen off the ash tree and there were no hawks around. The song birds were back and a beautiful Eastern Phoebe had made her nest on the ledge of the veranda. Over the summer my family and I loved watching both parents feeding the two broods she had, and we were delighted to see the last four fledglings take their first hesitant flight in early August.
We closed the cottage at the end of the summer and headed back to Gatineau, where I often see a beautiful Red-tailed Hawk circling above. One day near the end of October, just before the birds started to migrate, a small White-throated Sparrow crashed into our kitchen window, despite the stickers we used to try to make the glass obvious. The sparrow was badly hurt, and I gave it some gentle Reiki, and drops of water off the tip of my finger. It lifted its head and peeped at me, fluttered its wings, and bravely tried to fly, but its wing was too badly broken--it careened under a bush, where it laid its little head on a slender twig and died. The next day a Slate-coloured Junco showed up dead on my front porch, again in perfect condition. But perhaps it was just their time and they were not able to take the long flight south. I like to think that they came to my house to die in a safe spot. I blessed them and buried them at the bottom of the yard, next to the Bleeding Heart.
A week ago a Cooper’s Hawk came into our yard and swooped down on a Black-capped Chickadee, all part of the circle of life. It took some time and walked about on the fresh-fallen snow, leaving its graceful tracks. I am grateful that the birds come, and recognize that sometimes we are witnessing the beauty and the natural cycle of nature, and other times, our intuition tells us that we had better sit up and listen to the messages from Source.
Catherine Bastedo, author of Bird Vibes, was raised in northwestern Ontario and resides in Gatineau, Quebec. Catherine was formerly an executive in the Canadian federal Public Service and Executive Director of the International Council for Canadian Studies. She holds a master’s degree in Canadian Studies from Carleton University, is certified as a Reiki Master and Holographic Energy Master, and has been practicing Reiki since 1998. She is a natural intuitive and offers individual sessions and courses in Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Québec.
She plans to publish a collection of spiritual encounters with birds and welcomes your bird stories--please send them to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catherine Bastedo now teaches a Chakra Basics Class
Spiritual Insight Through Birds
Treat yourself to this new meditation deck!
• Receive positive, uplifting messages about current life situations and meditation paths
• Gain spiritual insight from the text on each card
• Learn more about the 8 chakras
• Discover interesting facts about 50 birds of North America
• Enjoy the 54 beautiful and unique paintings of birds and the four seasons
Bird Vibes is based on 54 birds that may be seen in various parts of North America, grouped by eight chakras according to the bird's colour, habitat or other characteristics.Each card shows a different bird through paintings commissioned from Ottawa nature painter, Heather Bale. Use this deck to gain insight into current life situations, to connect with Nature, and the Universal Life Energy around us and within us.
“Bird Vibes has become my deck of choice with my
readings lately and I find people are so empowered by them. Thanks for
your double creativity!”
Julie Desmarais, Holographic Energy Master, Reiki Master Teacher Trainer
Order Bird Vibes in our Bookshop
new Chakra Basics Class
taught by Mentor: Catherine Bastedo
This class provides you with a basic knowledge of 7 chakras, from Crown to Root; facilitates your connection to your chakras and understanding of your chakras’ health; provides suggestions for ways of chakra clearing.
This class will help you learn the location of your seven major chakras and their attributes, as well as the state of health of your own chakras and how they affect your emotional and physical health. You will learn how to sense your chakras, connect with them and techniques for clearing them, through quick exercises and assignments. Since this is a “Basics” class, it emphasizes the attributes of the chakras, and ideas for clearing them and aligning them, without going into specialized therapies such as crystals or aromatherapy.
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About the Mentor: Catherine Bastedo teaches Usui-Holographic Reiki at all levels, facilitates healing through energy sessions, and holds spiritual nature workshops and retreats. She is the author of Bird Vibes, a meditation deck based on the chakras and our spiritual connections to birds. This deck helps to understand daily life situations and deepen our connection with the universal energy in us and around us. Catherine is a Reiki Master and Holographic Energy Master, and has a M.A. in Canadian Studies (Carleton University).
Catherine held leadership roles as an executive in the Canadian Public Service and then as the Executive Director of the International Council for Canadian Studies for a number of years. Catherine Bastedo uses archetypes, myth and nature totems to help people reduce stress, release and transmute old patterns, restore balance on the physical, mental, and emotional levels and develop new ways of looking at life and the patterns in their lives. Her clients appreciate the wisdom, experience and love of nature she brings to her work.