At the thresh hold
twixt water and sand
sing their Wisdom
whether solitary watchmen
shrewdly observant for opportunity,
co-operative family unit,
or great migrating band
“Through rushing waters or rocky shores,
We carefully wend our way.
Spear at the ready,
We gather bright schools of Wisdom
as we dance in the river’s bright spray.
Spirit, insight, and tranquility in blue
Peace is a road that begins in each of you!
Diversity embraced is an asset sublime,
though awkward in youth,
you’ll bloom like the heavenly lotus given time!
We will teach you how to stand alone
despite turbulent waters or society’s moan,
and when to foster unity.
For independence coupled
with loving co-operation is my lesson
on how to create a harmonious community.
Fortune, focus, and long life are blessings taught
by my cousin, serene,
in carefully folded alabaster wrought.
Flowing with your own rhythm,
bold exploration, fluid grace,
dignity, and balance are my gifts to you.
You need only diligently study and pursue!"
For those new to the game, each poem is inspired by a Teacher found in Nature; a star, stone, animal, plant etc that holds lessons of Wisdom for us. Can you guess who is singing today?
“Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is.” ~ Sir Francis Bacon “To be idle is a short road to death and to be diligent is a way of life; foolish people are idle, wise people are diligent.” Buddha
“An outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.” Book of Common Prayer
“When despair for the world grows in me, and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be – I go and lie down where the wood drake rest in his beauty on the water and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought or grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.” ~Wendell Berry
The Great Blue Heron is one of the most common of the wading birds found across the U.S. They live for about 15 years in the wild, and other than during mating and nesting times, herons live very solitary lives. The Great Blue stands anywhere from just over three feet high to around four and a half feet tall. Wingspans are 5 and a half to 6 and a half feet wide, but for all their lanky size, they weigh only between four and seven pounds! Females produce two to seven eggs which both parents will incubate and protect. This reclusive wader nests in colonies, preferring to hide their nests in tall trees or low shrubs.
There are 64 species within the Family Ardeidae, including Great Blue and the Great White Heron, which is actually an all white color morph of the same species found exclusively in the Caribbean and southern Florida. Various herons, bitterns, and egrets comprise this taxonomic Family, although there continues to be a great deal of debate over who does or does not belongs to the Ardeidae family officially. While the various Herons resemble Cranes a great deal and vise versa, actually Cranes belong to both a different Family (Gruidae) and a different Order (Gruiform).
In this article, I will stick predominantly to the Great Blue, but would like to include some general information on the Crane to contrast. Cranes share a lot of lessons with Herons, and both have been important Creature Teachers to many cultures. White Cranes, mentioned as “Cousins” in the poem here, were in my mind as I wrote in the form of origami cranes. Origami was a favorite hobby of mine for awhile as a young girl, it taught me a great deal about patience, diligence, the value of silence and gentleness. Origami is lovely therapy for anyone called by these Teachers.
Whatever their coloring though in life, the easiest way to tell a Heron from a Crane is in flight. A heron carries their neck in an S-shaped curve, resting their head just between their shoulders during flight. A crane flies with their neck fully extended.
Crane has been a symbol of Justice, Longevity, Fortune and Focus in China for countless years. This Teacher says that it is best to not divide our attention, and emphasizes the importance of focusing our time, energy, and skills on one important task at a time. A parent who carries Crane totem, for example, will be most effective in their duties, and happier in themselves, if they don’t try to juggle their family and career at the same time. Both Crane and Heron are excellent Teachers to turn to when looking for Balance in any situation.
“Always accept good fortune with grace and humility. " Mark L. Mika
“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what hold you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.”
“Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine.” Buddha
Blue herons feed upon creatures like: fish, small amphibians like frogs and newts, aquatic invertebrates, various insects, and plants that grow in marshes and swamps, reptiles like snakes, and small mammals like the voles which make up so much of the Great Blue Heron’s diet. Whooping Cranes, for another example, concentrate their diet upon blue crabs. And, both cranes and herons are preyed upon by wild canines like foxes, minks, raptors like hawks, bobcats, and even the elemental force of Winter. As waders, they are the type of bird that best represents a harmonious blending between Air, Earth, and Water. Any of these Teachers, from Fish to Winter, make excellent balancing energy for those called by these graceful birds, and should be examined by those who feel called by these Teachers.
Longevity is a key concept that has been attributed to these Teachers for many lifetimes. To the Japanese and Chinese, the Crane carries a sacred fairy, an elemental being, into our mortal world upon his back. This wise creature Teacher is a symbol of sagacity, grace, fortune, and longevity; a favored theme for many paintings and works of art across the Oriental nations. In some Native Traditions, the oldest and wisest sages who passed on to the other side have a habit of returning to this world in the form of a heron.
“A man ninety years old was asked to what he attributed his longevity. “I reckon,” he said with a twinkle in his eye, “it was because most nights I went to bed and slept when I should have sat up and worried.” Garson Kanin
“Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.” Buddha
“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say,
“I used everything you gave me.” Erma Bombeck
Aggression is not the same as Courage. Boldness is not the same as Confidence. Although either can be divided by a thin line. Too much or little of these qualities will indicate an imbalance, and it is up to each of us to determine how much is too much. A great deal of Life is like an intricate balancing act and these Teachers approach it as a divine and sacred dance. Blue Heron, as the King of the Marshlands and one of the tallest birds on land, indicates a mastery of certain qualities. Blue is the color of tranquility, thought, dreams, spirit, and serenity. This royal bird with his black, white, and blue crown reinforces the concept of ruling through Wisdom, Divinity, Thought, and Peace.“ As the Fletcher whittles and makes straight his arrows, so the master directs his straying thoughts.”
“To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.” Buddha
Focus is a keyword for those called by the Great Blue Heron, and such people actually excel at seeing the opportunity amidst the shifting sands. I have watched the Blue Herons every Spring… griping the sturdy earth, moving steadily through the rushing waters, as they diligently hunt for sustenance. Blue Heron people exemplify or strive for a balance between cooperatively social, and confidently independent. Such people have a keen instinct for what will or won’t work for them, and are often mistaken for flighty or irresponsible individuals which is quite often untrue! A “jack of all trades”, they are adaptable, and are not at all impressed with status symbols, keeping up with the Joneses, or accumulating things.
The Great Blue carries a strong, courageous medicine that indicates strong will and character. Blue Heron people are comfortable within themselves, given to deep self-explorations, and they benefit by taking moments of stillness, contemplation, and meditative reflection, much like the Heron pausing amidst the rush of water and flash of sunlight. Well Balanced Blue Heron people are keeping their eyes on the most important things in life, and are excellent Teachers to turn to if you are feeling afraid to take over your life, or out of balanced.
Like other waders, their ability to traverse turbulent waters indicates a need to maintain a balanced emotional nature; keeping their passionate thoughts and feelings under a reasonable control. Be ware aggression. The graceful S curve of their necks at rest, even in flight, indicates a vital need to find our personal rhythm, respond, and flow with it. Herons live solitary lives excepting during nesting times. Then, a great deal of co-operative community effort is practiced.
Silent and solitary, this bird becomes highly social at this time, collecting nest materials, constructing their nests near each other in large colonies, and then rearing their young. Herons are able to care for themselves after a matter of months, so this time of societal co-operation and sociability doesn’t last long. Aggression is a particular issue for those called by this Teacher, but we should always be aware when we are getting carried away in the pursuit of our goals and acting too aggressively.
Herons are sacred to Poseidon, and Athena often used these “spear-carriers” as messengers. Emblems of Atlantis, these birds are considered a good omen by many cultures. Heron and Crow depicted together in China or Japan indicates sacred Yinyang energy. Contemplative, vigilant, herons depicted with white stones in their beaks symbolize discretion, and the wisdom obtained through periods of silence.
In Hindu tradition, the goddess Tamra was the ancestor of all birds, and all cultures have viewed birds as divine messengers since time immemorial. Tamra can help us learn the language of birds, and as the consort of the Turtle god, Kashyapa, she often represents a marriage between earth, water and air elements; much like the cranes that could represent this goddess. Another near relation, the Sacred Ibis, is associated with the Egyptian god Thoth, a god of learning and truth. That Teacher is also closely associated with the Baobab tree, and also considered sacred to Isis, the powerful mother goddess of Egypt.
Fujian White Crane, Tibetan White Crane and Persatuan Gerak Badan are three distinct fighting styles in martial arts which were designed after the movements of this family of Teachers. In Native Traditions, the Heron teaches us self-reliance, determination, an ability to progress and evolve. Blue is the color linked with the Throat Chakra.
Some of the challenges of this chakra, which governs our will, are to express ourselves in the most truthful manner possible, to be receptive to and assimilate information, and always to seek the truth. Learning to take responsibility for one’s needs, surrendering personal will to divine will, the value of truthfulness over deceit, and lessons on faith are all Throat Chakra lessons also carried by the Blue Heron. Whether we have already mastered these lessons, or are moving through them is entirely an individual circumstance. How do these versatile and ancient Teachers appear in your life?
“Cranes carry this heavy mystical baggage. They’re icons of fidelity and happiness. The Vietnamese believe cranes cart our souls up to heaven on their wings.” Mitchell Burgess
“The ancient practice of a man and woman folding 1,000 cranes for their wedding is called sembazuru. The tradition itself is called Tsuru wa sennen. The time and energy put into the hand-folded cranes symbolized the patience and trust necessary to sustain a happy marriage.” ~ Lisa Shea,
Japanese tradition says that he who folds a 1000 cranes will be granted a wish.
“When you are in doubt, be still, and wait;
when doubt no longer exists for you, then go forward with courage.
So long as mists envelop you, be still;
be still until the sunlight pours through and dispels the mists
— as it surely will. Then act with courage.” ~Ponca Chief White Eagle (1800’s to 1914)
Keywords: Patience, Balance, Confidence, Serenity/Tranquility/Calmness, Versatility, Being Present, Vigilance, Independence, Resourcefulness, Determination, Self-esteem, Dignity, Multi-tasking, Spiritworld, Trailblazing, Renewal/Transformation
Associated with: Life Force, Divine Messages, the Holy Spear, Archer/Spear energy, Good Fortune/Omen, the Phoenix, Athena/Minerva, Tamra, God of War-Lord of the South-The Young Warrior-Lord of the Day- The Blue Tezcatliopoca of the South - Patron God of the Mexica (aka "The Blue Heron Bird", "The Lucid Macaw"), Ra
Potential Balancers: fish like trout or koi, water, earth, air, reptiles like snakes or lizards, amphibians like frogs and toads, small mammals like young rabbits, rodents, chipmunks, insects like dragonfly or moth, other birds like eagles or ducks, plants like marsh grasses, reeds, algae, mushrooms, willows or cypress trees