The Meaning of the Hawk

 Image from michaelfurtman.com

Image from michaelfurtman.com

A spirit animal, Hawk, plays a significant role in Grip of the Hawk.  Hawk Medicine teaches us to be observant and see things from a higher perspective.  But what exactly is a spirit animal and where did the concept come from?  In many indigenous cultures there is reference to animal spirits sometimes referred to as a “Power Animal” or spirit helper.  Each animal has a specific meaning and is often seen as a messenger or protector.  Just as there are those who favor angels as protectors there are those who believe that we each have a special guardian animal. 

In the novel, Dr. Rachel Julian is introduced to Hawk Medicine in one of her otherworldly travels.  A break-in to her home and an attempted abduction introduces her to the possibility that there is someone evil out to harm her.  Terrified and exhausted, she ventures to a retreat where she is introduced to Shamanism, a concept as foreign to her as are the threats to her life.  The workshop leader, an experienced shamanic teacher, Inga Crow, amongst other things, singles her out and tells her that the red-tailed hawk is her spirit helper. In her childhood, Rachel had a strong affinity for ‘Hawk’ but disregarded her friend as she moved away from the spirit of nature to an adult life of modern urban living.

 Hawk image by michealfurtman.com 

Hawk image by michealfurtman.com 

“To understand 'Hawk Medicine', Inga explained to Rachel, “imagine you are a red-tailed hawk.  A Power Animal has its own special feel that is unlike any other animal.”  As Dr. Julian personified Hawk she imagined soaring high and seeing both her prey and predator. With beak and talons she would dare swoop down and grip a poisonous snake.  She felt invincible. Inga continued. “Hawk brings messages from the world of spirit.  It is telling you that the magic of your life is in jeopardy.  Beware of nuances of unscrupulous power. Circle your life and do not let any detail slip by you including what may be too painful for you to see or unbelievable to hear.  You are only as powerful as your ability to perceive your surroundings.  Your extrasensory abilities must be keen.   If you hear the cry of the red-tailed hawk, its shrillness is asking you to look for the truth behind words and actions.”

Whether a metaphor, an inkling on Inga’s part, or spirit medicine, the wisdom received from Hawk proves to be right on target as Rachel’s life unfolds.  Hawk appears frequently. Somehow knowing that she is protected, Dr. Julian feels less alone as she searches for the truth behind the actions of unscrupulous stalkers.  Through her otherworldly ventures she learns that she is in a spiritual war as well as an earthly battle and needs every spiritual tool in her pocket, including Hawk Medicine.

Finding your spirit animal or totem is like going on a journey.  Look for the animals that show up in your life, in your dreams, or in your meditations.  Look for those who seem familiar or resonate with you.  Like Rachel, personify the animal and it will tell you it’s power and significance. How does that apply to your life? Your current situation? As you develop a personal relationship with your spirit animal, you will enter a world of spirit where you rely more on imagination and intuition than on your rational mind.  Animal Speaks, by Ted Andrews, is a good place to start learning more about spirit animals and their meaning.