Bird Magic

I’ve recently been receiving visions of a huge waterfall of platinum light streaming down into an obsidian black abyss. As I stand there looking up at it, it shapeshifts into the most beautiful woman whose head is turned upwards, scanning the skies. I found this odd at first – usually the ‘gods and goddesses’ that I meet in those dark dreaming fields look straight at me. But each time I saw her, over several days, she was firmly looking upwards. It then only took a few metaphorical synchronicities to come tumbling like acrobats into my waking life for me to realise that she is the Bird Goddess.

 I first heard about this most ancient goddess from the archaeologist Marija Gimbutas about 20 years ago. She told us about more than 3,000 bird goddess figurines that had been dug up all across southern Europe and also around Lake Baikal in Siberia, which is famous for its shamanic ritual sites. Some of these statues date back tens of thousands of years, and even the earliest writing, Ogham, is referred to as “bird language”, because it resembles bird tracks.

Some of the archaeologists decided to call these bird goddesses “Venus figurines” although most are a long way from modern conceptions of beauty. The bird goddess is beak-faced and, as a symbol of fertility, she is invariably pregnant-bellied with heavy and pendulous egg-shaped breasts and protruding egg-shaped buttocks, and some have outstretched arms, like wings, which are crawling with serpents.

Bird goddesses
Venus figurine” bird goddess dated 6300 BCE made of terracotta, from the lost Starčevo culture.
Winged Babylonian bird goddess, sometimes identified as Ishtar, with webbed feet, flanked by owls, and displaying the alpha and omega, the alchemical symbol for the beginning and the end of everything.

Over time, and with the new solar-centred priesthood, the Bird Goddess became the Sky Father and she is also the inspiration behind the winged Sun disc.

But now I’m connecting with this Regeneratrix more shamanically than I was capable of when I first read Marija Gimbutas’s works, I’m realising so much more about bird magic, and I will be including a chapter about it in the new book.

Suffice to say, for many years, my small courtyard garden has been Bird Central with blackbirds, robins, house sparrows, collared doves, starlings, a variety of finches and even jackdaws all visiting my bird table, bird house, bird feeder and bird bath.

That’s because, when I first moved here, I was determined to put into action what I had instinctively realised from the Mary Poppins song, Feed the Birds … tuppence a bag. I sensed it viscerally that there was more to this song than meets the eye – and particularly knowing about its author P.L. Travers’ shamanic background, which I’ve written about elsewhere (Read Mary Poppins and the Mysteries of Time and Space).

Since being in touch with the Bird Goddess, I’ve realised much more about the fertility magic that comes from feeding the birds. Our ancestors, around the same time as they were carving bird goddesses, would be offered at death to the birds for them to feed on. These sky burials took place on high wooden platforms on top of mounds and, in return for this feast, the birds’ digested waste would fall as fertiliser on to the land. So eating any food grown in that soil was considered to be akin to consuming your ancestors. In this way, humans felt an integral part of the cycle of life, death and rebirth. They thanked their ancestors at Samhain by lighting a candle and reciting their names, because they knew how literally their life and wellbeing still depended upon them and their offering to the birds.

Bird magic is really about this cycle of metamorphosis and transformation that give our lives meaning, purpose and essentially immense gratitude at being a part of it all. Now I feel firmly under the guidance of the Bird Goddess, I’m looking forward to learning lots more!