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Snow Owl
Source Unknown

Stealth - Secrecy - Silent and swift movement - Seeing behind masks - Keen sight - Messenger of secrets and omens - Shape-shifting -
Link between the dark, unseen world and the world of light -
Comfort with shadow self - Moon magic - Freedom
Knowledge of approaching death


     Along the northwest coast of Alaska , the Yup'ik peoples made masks for a final winter ceremony called the Agayuyaraq ("way, or process, of requesting"), also referred to as Kelek ("Inviting-in Feast") or the Masquerade (Fienup-Riordan 1996). This complex ceremony involved singing songs of supplication to the animals' yuit ("their persons"), accompanied by the performance of masked dances, under the direction of the shaman. In preparation for the ceremony, the shaman directed the construction of the masks, through which the spirits revealed themselves as simultaneously dangerous and helpful. The helping spirits often took the form of an owl. The majority of masks contained feathers from snowy owls. Carvers strove to represent the helping spirits or animal yuit they had encountered in a vision, dream, or experience. In all cases, the wearer was infused with the spirit of the creature represented. Together with other events, the ceremony embodied a cyclical view of the universe whereby right action in the past and present reproduced abundance in the future.




Desire - Fertility - Manifesting new love in ones life -
Understanding the aspects of race - Ability to use the power of song -
All aspects of color



Ability to control mobs - Imitation - Adaptability - Intelligence -
Mental receptivity




Many years ago, a young Piegan warrior was noted for his bravery. When he grew older and more experienced in war, he became the war-chief for a large band of Piegan warriors.

A little while after he became the war-chief, he fell in love with a girl who was in his tribe, and they got married. He was so in love with her that he took no other wives, and he decided not to go on war parties anymore. He and his wife were very happy together; unusually so, and when they had a baby, they were even happier then.

Some moons later, a war party that had left his village was almost destroyed by an enemy. Only four men came back to tell the story. The war-chief was greatly troubled by this. He saw that if the enemy was not punished, they would raid the Piegan camp. So he gave a big war feast and asked all of the young men of his band to come to it.

After they had all eaten their fill, the war-chief arose and said to them in solemn tones: "Friends and brothers, you have all heard the story that our four young men have told us. All the others who went out from our camp were killed by the enemy. Only these four have come back to our campfires. Those who were killed were our friends and relatives.

"We who live must go out on the warpath to avenge the fallen. If we don't, the enemy will think that we are weak and that they can attack us unhurt. Let us not let them attack us here in the camp.

"I will lead a party on the warpath. Who here will go with me against the enemy that has killed our friends and brothers?"

A party of brave warriors gathered around him, willing to follow their leader. His wife also asked to join the party, but he told her to stay at the camp.

"If you go without me," she said, "you will find an empty lodge when you return."

The Chief talked to her and calmed her, and finally convinced her to stay with the women and children and old men in the camp at the foot of a high mountain.

Leading a large party of men, the Chief rode out from the village. The Piegans met the enemy and defeated them. But their war-chief was killed. Sadly, his followers carried the broken body back to the camp.

His wife was crazed with grief. With vacant eyes she wandered everywhere, looking for her husband and calling his name. Her friends took care of her, hoping that eventually her mind would become clear again and that she could return to normal life. One day, though, they could not find her anywhere in the campe. Searching for her, they saw her high up on the side of the mountain, the tall one above their camp. She had her baby in her arms. The head man of the village sent runners after her, but from the top of the mountain she signaled that they should not try to reach her. All watched in horror as she threw her baby out over the cliff, and then herself jumped from the mountain to the rocks far, far below.

Her people buried the woman and baby there among the rocks. They carried the body of the Chief to the place and buried him beside them. From that time on, the mountain that towers above the graves was known as Minnow Stahkoo, "the Mountain of the Chief", or "Chief Mountain".

If you look closely, even today, you can see on the face of the mountain the figure of a woman with a baby inn her arms, the wife and child of the Chief.

Chief Mountain is a mountain in Glacier National Park .



Closely related to the Thunderbird - Power of communal living - Understands the value to family and home - Protection - Agility - Ability to maneuver - Connection to the arrival of thunderstorms


 Legend has it that grandmother Spider sang the universe into existence, but was saddened by the bad dreams of her human children. She went to the Willow Tree and asked him for some of his branches. She then went to the Eagle and asked him for his powerful feathers. She then bent the branches into a circle to connect all points and people of the world. Then she spun her web of wisdom around the branches to catch her children's bad dreams. Grandfather Sun's morning rays burned away the bad dreams that were tangled in the web. Any that were left turned into dew and trickled down the eagle feather and were given back to Mother Earth.




The graceful swan teaches us to "go with the flow," to release struggle and effort, and to know ourselves as beautiful. When we surrender to the spiritual current in our life we let go of the notion of ourselves as the "ugly duckling" and we begin to see ourselves with the grace and beauty of the swan.



Communication - Languages - Working with the Little People

HOW THE MILKY WAY CAME TO BE--Cherokee-retold by Barbara Shining Woman Warren

Long ago when the world was young, there were not many stars in the sky.

In those days the people depended on corn for their food. Dried corn could be made into corn meal by placing it inside a large hollowed stump and pounding it with a long wooden pestle. The cornmeal was stored in large baskets. During the winter, the ground meal could made into bread and mush.

One morning an old man and his wife went to their storage basket for some cornmeal. They discovered that someone or something had gotten into the cornmeal during the night. This upset them very much for no one in a Cherokee village stole from someone else.

Then they noticed that the cornmeal was scattered over the ground. In the middle of the spilt meal were giant dog prints. These dog prints were so large that the elderly couple knew this was no ordinary dog.

They immediately alerted the people of the village. It was decided that this must be a spirit dog from another world. The people did not want the spirit dog coming to their village. They decided to get rid of the dog by frightening it so bad it would never return. They gathered their drums and turtle shell rattles and later that night they hid around the area where the cornmeal was kept.

Late into the night they heard a whirring sound like many bird wings. They look up to see the form of a giant dog swooping down from the sky. It landed near the basket and then began to eat great mouthfuls of cornmeal.

Suddenly the people jumped up beating and shaking their noise makers. The noise was so loud it sounded like thunder. The giant dog turned and began to run down the path. The people chased after him making the loudest noises they could. It ran to the top of a hill and leaped into the sky, the cornmeal spilling out the sides of its mouth.

The giant dog ran across the black night sky until it disappeared from sight. But the cornmeal that had spilled from its mouth made a path way across the sky. Each gain of cornmeal became a star.

The Cherokees call that pattern of stars, gi li' ut sun stan un' yi (gil-LEE-oot-soon stan-UNH-yee), "the place where the dog ran."

And that is how the Milky Way came to be.



Sacrifice of self for a higher purpose - Understanding the gift of giveaway - Honoring the Earth Mother - Harvest bounties


The turkey is sometimes called the earth eagle. It has a long history of association with spirituality and the honoring of the Earth Mother.

It is a symbol of all the blessings that the Earth contains, along with the ability to use them to their greatest advantage.

The turkey can live to be twelve years old. Twelve is a significant number, because the earth revolves around the sun in twelve months. Showing the tie between the turkey and the honoring life cycle of the Earth.

Turkeys are native birds to this continent, and they were even raised by the Aztecs and Mayans.

Nearly every part of the turkey has usefulness. They were used as food, and Their feathers were used for decorations, and even their bones were used to make whistles.

Turkeys have an intricate mythology among Native Americans. Turkeys helped create the world, showing the Indians how to raise corn and fight off evil spirits. Some stories tell how Indian shamans would turn themselves into turkeys and prowl around.


Turkey sacrifices his life for a meal. The wild ones are very smart so if they get caught you can assume they allowed it. Turkey reminds us that if we are to sacrifice ourselves we better think about it and make sure it is in highest good for all--including ourselves. He teaches us not to be a martyr, but rather to give (or give in) when it is appropriate.



Connection to the earth - Ability to find hidden layers -
Understands rhythms, cycles and patterns - Warnings -
Prophecy - Associated with thunder - The Earth's drummer -
Pecks away at deception until the truth is revealed


Once many generations ago, the people had drums, gourd rattles, and bull-roarers, but no flutes. At that long-ago time a young man went out to hunt. Meat was scarce, and the people in his camp were hungry. He found the tracks of an Elk and followed them for a long time. The Elk, wise and swift, is the one who owns the love charm. If a man possesses Elk Medicine, the girl he likes can't help sleeping with him. He will also be a lucky hunter. This young man I'm talking about had no Elk Medicine. After many hours he finally sighted his game. He was skilled with bow and arrows, and had a fine new bow and a quiver full of straight, well-feathered, flint-tipped arrows. Yet the Elk always managed to stay just out of range, leading him on and on. The young man was so intent on following his prey that he hardly noticed where he went.

When night came, he found himself deep inside a thick forest. The tracks had disappeared and so had the Elk, and there was no moon. He realized that he was lost and that it was too dark to find his way out. Luckily he came upon a stream with cool, clear water. And he had been careful enough to bring a hide bag of wasna, dried meat pounded with berries and kidney fat, strong food that will keep a man going for a few days. After he had drunk and eaten, he rolled himself into his fur robe, propped his back against a tree, and tried to rest. But he couldn't sleep, the forest was full of strange noises, and the cries of night animals, the hooting owls, the groaning of trees in the wind. It was as if he heard these sounds for the first time.

Suddenly there was a entirely new sound, of a kind neither he nor anyone else had ever heard before. It was mournful and ghost like. It made him afraid, so that he drew his robe tightly about himself and reached for his bow to make sure that it was properly strung. On the other hand, the sound was like a song, sad but beautiful, full of love, hope, and yearning. Then before he knew it, he was asleep. He dreamed that the bird called wagnuka, the redheaded woodpecker, appeared singing the strangely beautiful song and telling him, "Follow me and I will teach you."

When the hunter awoke, the sun was already high. On a branch of the tree against which he was leaning, he saw a redheaded woodpecker. The bird flew away to another tree, and another, but never very far, looking back all the time at the young man as if to say, "Come on!" Then once more he heard that wonderful song, and his heart yearned to find the singer. Flying toward the sound, leading the hunter, the bird flitted through the leaves, while its bright red top made easy to follow. At last it lighted on a cedar tree and began hammering on a branch, making a noise like the fast beating of a small drum. Suddenly there was a gust of wind, and again the hunter heard that beautiful sound right above him.

Then he discovered that the song came from the dead branch that the woodpecker was tapping his beak. He realized also that it was the wind which made the sound as it whistled through the hole the bird had drilled.

"Kola, friend," said the hunter, "let me take this branch home. You can make yourself another."

He took the branch, a hollow piece of wood full of woodpecker holes that was about the length of his forearm. He walked back to his village bringing no meat, but happy all the same.

In his tipi the young man tried to make the branch sing for him. He blew on it, he waves it around, no sound came. It made him sad, he wanted so much to hear that wonderful new sound. He purified himself in the sweat lodge and climbed to the top of a lonely hill. There, resting with his back against a large rock, he fasted, going without food or water for four days and nights, crying for a vision which would tell him how to make the branch sing. In the middle of the fourth night, wagnuka, the bird with the bright red top, appeared, saying, "Watch me," turning himself into a man, showing the hunter how to make the branch sing, saying again and again, "Watch this, now." And in his dream the young man watched and observed very carefully.

When he awoke, he found a cedar tree. He broke off a branch and, working many hours, hollowed it out with a bowstring drill, just as he had seen the woodpecker do in his dream. He whittled the branch into the shape of the birds with a long neck and a open beak. He painted the top of the birds head with washasha, the sacred red color. He prayed. He smoked the branch up with incense of burning sage, cedar, and sweet grass. He fingered the holes as he had seen the man-bird do in his vision, meanwhile blowing softly into the mouthpiece. All at once there was the song, ghost like and beautiful beyond words drifting all the way to the village, where the people were astounded and joyful to hear it. With the help of the wind and the woodpecker, the young man had brought them the first flute.



Messenger from the gods - Sibling (brother/sister) relationships - Power of voice - Fearlessness - Seeing future events


There are more than a dozen species of wren. It is a small, stocky bird. It is usually brownish in color, and it will often cock its tail feathers up in the air. It seldom shows itself in the open.

Its feathers were magical and were suppose to guard against drowning. It was considered unlucky to kill one. In pagan traditions, wrens were considered sacred to the earth gods and goddesses. It has been thought a bird that stole fire from the sun and brought it to earth was magical also giving it, its short, cocked tail feathers.

In medieval Europe it was considered the pet bird of the Virgin Mary, especially among the lower classes. This is probably due to the fact that most often the ruling classes were depicted in story and legend as eagles, hawks, bears and the birds and animals of prey.

The wren is a most resourceful and adaptable bird. It will build its nest in any convenient home. Usually their homes are built close to the ground or even upon the ground, especially in marshy areas. The male wrens do most of the building, and they will build several false nests before building a true nest. This was for protection, although some believe it was also a way to charm the female.

The wren is a bold and resourceful bird. One Native American story, tells us about how the wren tricked a boasting eagle into carrying it far into the heavens, until the eagle could go no higher. At that point the wren hopped off eagle's back and flew beyond the clouds, laughing at how much higher it was flying than the eagle.

The wren has the vocal power of a bird much larger. It will sing from daylight to dark, as if overflowing with confidence. It is also known to be quite brave, and it will not hesitate to confront any threatening bird or animal..



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