Hummingbirds as Totem Animals


Is The Hummingbird Your Totem Animal?

Sometimes an animal or a bird will mysteriously come into our life and begin to haunt our consciousness. The image of that animal becomes associated with our sense of who we are and where our values come from.

Certain species in the Americas have done this in particulary powerful ways: These include the wolf, the raven, coyote, the jaguar, the quetzal, and the eagle.

The hummingbird also is a common totem animal. Many people develop a mysterious bond with this tiny creature.

In many traditional cultures of the western world the hummingbird has powerful religious and spiritual significance. In the high Andes of South America, for example, the hummingbird is taken to be a symbol of resurrection. This is because each hummer becomes lifeless and seems to die on cold nights, but it comes back to life again when the miraculous sunrise brings warmth.

In MEDICINE CARDS: THE DISCOVERY OF POWER THROUGH THE WAYS OF ANIMALS, Jamie Sams and David Carson say that, for many people, the hummingbird is the creature that opens the heart.

When we assume hummingbird consciousness, our life becomes a wonderland of sensuous delights. We live for beauty, delighting in flowers, aromas, fine mist, and delicate tastes.

When it becomes our totem, the hummingbird teaches us to laugh and enjoy the creation, to appreciate the magic of being alive, and the truth of beauty.

Hummingbirds awaken us to the beauty of the present moment. As they dance the four quarters of embodied exisence, they bring us medicine to solve the riddle of duality. They also awaken us to the medicinal properties of plants.

In ANIMAL SPEAK, Ted Andrews says hummingbirds teach us how to draw the life essence from flowers. “They can teach us how to use flowers to heal and win hearts in love.”

Hummingbirds teach us fierce independence. They teach us to fight in a way where no one really gets hurt. They teach us simple courage. Andrews says the twittering, vibrating sounds of the hummingbirds bring us an internal masage that restores health and balance.

Hummingbirds also inspire us to protect the environment and to preserve old traditions that are in danger of being lost. When Native American ways were being destroyed by the expanding Euro-American culture, the Ghost-Shirt religion was established to try to bring back the animals and old ways through dancing. The leader of the dance was a hummingbird.

Certainly hummingbird magic is available to all who live in the New World. There is something inside the soul of all of us that wants to soar through sunbeams, then dance midair in a delicate mist, then take a simple bath on a leaf.

There is something in our souls that wants to hover at beautiful moments in our lives, making them freeze in time. There is something in us that wants to fly backwards and savor once more the beautiful past.

Some of us are just hummingbird people.

There are different ways that a totem animal can be discovered: In Native American tradition they may make their appearance while one is on a vision quest. They also come in dreams, mediations, and shamanic spirit-journeys.

Anglo-Americans and Europeans should remember that their prehistoric ancestors had animal guides and found them in much the same way Native Americans do.

Here is a personal account:

My guide sent me on a spiritual journey to the center of the earth. I was to enter a hole or a crack in the earth, then descend through a long tunnel. It was important, she said, that the entryway be some physically real place. I thought of a pool in the canyon.

When the hypnotic drumming began, I closed my eyes and saw myself stepping over ferns and rocks, entering the water, then sinking into the underworld. As I fell deeper and deeper into the earth I saw that the walls of the twisting tunnel were ribbed and speckled with millions of tiny dots that were purple, mauve, and pink.

The tunnel twisted to the right and the left. I accelerated like a rock dropped into a well. The journey was so long I feared the drumming would stop before I ever reached the earth’s center. But I made it. I stood in the chthonic underworld, gazing at a giant hummingbird as it hovered just above the damp stone floor, making a terrible buzzing sound with its beating wings.

I felt that I and the hummingbird could communicate telepathically, so in my mind I asked him why I existed. The giant hummingbird leaned slightly forward and pointed its long beak towards my heart. On my face I felt wind from its whirring wings. I tipped my head and gazed into my now transparent heart to witness a vast landscape with hillsides mantled with bright colored flowers.

I knew at that moment the reason I was here was to be a witness, to complete the creation by saying yes to it. My mission was to bless the flowers and to reveal to others the sacred beauty of the earth.

As the rhythm of the drumming changed, I knew I was being drawn back to the upper world. As I rose through the ribbed tunnel, I sensed the giant hummingbird was still deep inside my heart. He remains there to this day as the mysterious other that lives within me. For me, this spiritual hummingbird is an a vibrant heart at the center of everything; it resonates with secret knowledge and power.

–Larry Gates

Here’s an interesting letter from someone who visited our site:

I was just reading the new Wild Bird and I saw your site described. My interest was piqued by “Probably one of the most profound areas on this site is “Legends,” where the spirituality of hummingbirds is celebrated.” I immediatly went to it and I am absolutly delighted at what I find there. I am studying the spirituality of the hummer and your Legends section was inspiring. Hummers have led me to study the
medicinal value of plants! I am using various herbal teas to improve my health and I am beginning a medicinal herbal garden! They have also led me to get actively involved in habitat improvement and conservation.

I had an interesting Hummer dream a couple of nights ago. I was with some children (students?) and I saw something flying and I said, “Oh look! It’s a flying lizard!” He looked like a lizard becase he was brillantly colored and he had a “frill” around his neck. He was getting nectar from the flowers on a tall shrub. Then he flew up in front of me about chest (heart?) height and I could see that the “frill” was his gorget flared. I looked at him and he flattened his gorget and then flared it. He flew around slowly in front of me turning and flaring his
gorget so that I could see him from all angles and see his gorget and it’s different degrees of being flared. In the dream I had the feeling that he was showing me something very special. At one point I lost consciousness and was drawn into the brightness of his gorget feathers.
All that I could see was BRIGHT light made up of all colors. Then I was standing there again and he was still turning and flaring his gorget like he was before. Then he flew back to the flowers to feed. I remember his shiny black eyes looked right into mine. It was a very strange dream. Not at all bad, just powerful!
— Audrey Bowman


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