People are always looking for the meaning of life.
Indeed, people are usually looking for the meaning of everything. Brilliant people such as Einstein and Stephen Hawking are looking; stupid people such as conspiracy theorists are also looking. Conspiracy theorists think they have found it in some powerful plotting person or some powerful plotting group of people.
I’m looking too. I am looking and I have been looking since I was 17 years old which was long, long ago. Have I found it? No.
Many people have looked to birds to find such meaning. Birds fly not only in the sky but in our dreams, fantasies and desires. In our fears too. Many human beings look to birds for omens and information about everyday things.
We all know the dire meaning from the arrival of a Blackbird, Raven or Crow into our lives. In short, make sure you have your funeral expenses paid for yourself and perhaps for grandma, if you see one of these birds.
In stories, poems and friendly gossip you can see the strength of the bird superstition in the world from the distant past right up until the present; when your neighbor found one of those black birds dead on his stoop that could be a frightening moment. Much of bird mythology is upsetting but some bird myths are quite nice.
Many religious Christians love the story of the White Dove descending above Jesus’ head as a symbol of peace between God and man. In Judaism, the Eagle protecting her young was a symbol of God’s love and protection of his people.
While the Owl is often thought as the symbol for wisdom, it is also associated with the evils of ancient witchcraft. It was also associated with the devil. I love Owls so I am a little afraid of throwing my lot with them.
My favorite small bird is the colorful Cardinal, a family of which resides in the bushes in my Japanese garden. I see them every day, even in the coldest winters.
There is a strong myth connecting Cardinals and death—a good myth thank heavens, because it’s bad enough that I love Owls. I don’t want to become too popular with Satan.
If someone you loved, admired or simply liked recently passed away, the visitation of a Cardinal is thought to not only symbolize that person but for many believers it is thought to be a short-term reincarnation of that deceased person sending the message that he or she is all right and is thinking about you.
I do not know how many birders believe any of these myths but the good myths, meaning the ones that are uplifting as opposed to horrifying, could be comforting for them.
My Cardinals visit me every day. At this stage of my life, I have many relatives, friends and acquaintances who have passed on. Maybe all those visits are in fact loving messages for me.