Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Behold the Turkey Vulture

(Repost from 2011):
A few years ago, when I felt led down a new path of a deeper spiritual journey, I encountered a turkey vulture, not on the roadside cleaning up remains of a dead animal, but up close and personal, diving and circling all around my house within about 10 feet of me. This went on for several minutes before the bird soared away, and somehow I knew that this unusual display was more than chance, that some higher power was trying to get my attention. I had had several previous odd, direct, and profound encounters with birds or animals during that phase. With each occurrence, I had known from the feeling that came over me that there was some deeper connection or meaning, some presence and power surrounding the event. This time, I did not even know what kind of bird this was as it soared like an eagle in front of me, because I had never seen a vulture so close up in flight, had never imagined that a vulture could be this graceful and beautiful, but I was able to ascertain what it was because of it's distinctive red head that looked a little like a turkey (hence the name).

Ancient cultures understood how God and Spirit can speak to us through animals. Native Americans also used (or still use) animals in their spiritual practices, or look to them as symbolic messengers. I knew deeply that these birds and animals that came to me in unusual and undeniable ways were calling me to a greater purpose, each providing some sort of guidance or wisdom. My discernment has not led me incorrectly, rather it had connected me to deeper serendipitous events or guided me down my path. Knowing this, I started reading about the Turkey Vulture to derive more meaning from my messenger.

I learned that the turkey vulture's wing span is approximately 6 feet wide (I can vouch for their incredible size from this animal soaring within 10 feet of me on my deck!). Their task in life is to clean up the mess, but an even more interesting aspect of the turkey vulture is that it is the only bird (or presumably only animal) whose feces is disease free. So the turkey vulture kindly cleans up dead carcasses or rotting flesh, then purifies them from any bacteria - making them perhaps nature's most perfect cleansing animal. They struggle with take off and appear awkward in early flight, but once they are off the ground, they soar like eagles (often mistaken as such at a distance), and can fly for hours without ever flapping their wings, riding thermals and currents. The turkey vulture that appeared to me did absolute acrobatics around me, looping effortlessly in glorious flight.

They are gentle and non-aggressive creatures, never killing, only cleaning up the mess of what has already been killed. A turkey vulture's means of protecting itself is not to fight or cause harm, but to regurgitate on itself in order to keep its attacker away, making itself undesirable to keep harm away. It is a meek and gentle being. Since this up-close visit from the turkey vulture, I have often pondered how we tend to judge this animal on its outward, "ugly" appearance and its "gross" habit of being drawn to and eating roadkill, not taking the time to be grateful for its continued deed of being nature's garbage man, gladly cleaning up the messes that others have left behind. We usually fail to see its absolute beauty - glorious flight, peacefulness, and contributing to the good of the earth. I have wondered if some of those "less desirable" humans (in our judgmental eyes) are our turkey vultures, knowing secretly how to soar...knowing things, doing thing that we never take the time to see.

The turkey vulture is symbolic of soulful cleansing, reaching a higher spiritual place...overcoming obstacles that we may encounter when trying to fly, but then soaring like an eagle when we get off the ground...cleansing the world bit by bit, day by day, by offering ourselves in service...being peaceful and non-aggressive, defending ourselves from attack, but only in ways that do not harm others. We should all be more like the turkey vulture. I see the turkey vulture as being much like Jesus and other great spiritual masters - peaceful, cleansing, non-aggressive, often considered down-trodden or less than desirable by society at large - all the while being a Divine model for us to emulate.

The next time you encounter this bird, see it as beautiful...be grateful toward it...acknowledge and thank it...then be more like it in your daily life. The world will surely be a better place if more of us do so.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this! I live in the country in Pennsylvania...see alot of different birds and animals each day. The turkey vulture is a common site, however, never something I get tired of seeing.
I believe animals and birds have spiritual meaning and something to teach us. I am a Christian...this is a gift from God, I believe.

Appreciate your blog...very interesting. :-D Will be back to read more.

-Janet T.

ecky1958 said...

The sight of a turkey vulture greeted me, standing on a ledge less than 10 feet away when I opened the window blinds this drizzly California morning. It stayed there long enough for me to find my camera, change to a mid-telephoto lens, and take some good photos. What an ugly looking yet utterly majestic bird.
Not being sure what this strange occurrence meant, and thinking it was ominous, I googled and found this interesting article about the Vulture as a totem for purification: http://sped2work.tripod.com/totem.html

Coincidentally, I had just gone to a Buddhist temple to pray for purification the night before, as a Chinese New Dragon Year wish. I am thankful for this poignant symbol from nature as a reminder to continually reflect on this potent totem of purification.

ecky1958 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ecky1958 said...

Here is a photo of my visitor this morning:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ecky/6753673677

Anonymous said...

I love your article! I was searching the internet to find out information about the possible symolism of the turkey vulture. I just saw one outside our office window the other day. At first I thought it was a hawk, until I saw the red head. It's strange to see one where I work, downtown San Francisco. So, I knew it was a special treat to get a chance to see one so close. I share your admiration for this beautiful bird and agree that there is a lesson to be learned from them. I watched him/her fly ever so gracefully, circling and taking his/her time and was so enchanted by it's presence. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Your story touched my heart. Laura =)

Anonymous said...

Hello,

I also encountered a visit from the turkey volture this morning. While standing infront of my kitchen sink I looked up to see this very interesting bird. I have never seen one before and frankly was a little scared. It seemed to almost stare at me for a few seconds and then went about walking along the deck floor. It then flew back up on the edge of the deck and was joined by another volture. I have searched all morning to some meaning for this occurrence and came across your blog. Thank you. You helped shed some light. Any idea on the significance of seeing two of them at the same time?

Anonymous said...

My first recent encounter with a turkey vulture didn't seem significant to me at the time, as I was at the zoo with one of my children and saw a huge sign stating an exhibit of them would be opening.

On Easter I was driving home and saw a vulture over the highway. That night I decided to look up its meaning.

Then the other day, I was with my children visiting with a new friend and as we were standing in their backyard, a huge vulture started swooping above the trees. It caught my eye and I was mesmerized. At first I thought it was a hawk, but realized it was too big. As the kids were running and playing, it kept swirling in the air for several minutes, then flew away. When I got home that night, I looked up the symbolic meaning of vultures more in depth and found that it really resonated with all that is going on in my life.

Then yesterday, I was at Walmart of all places and I got out of my car when I noticed again a turkey vulture swooping right above me. Again I was mesmerized. I can't help but feel this is a message. This bird's presence feels magical. I have rarely noticed them in our area before. Now I have seen one three times in one week, in various places.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this, beautiful! I often see Turkey Vultures while driving on the highway, and once encountered a pair of them cleaning up roadkill in rural Massachusetts-- up-close, they are HUGE! And majestic.

Anonymous said...

I have been acknowledging animal totems for a decade or so ... Today driving home from a day trip (to a place that used to be an almost untolerable valley for me to go into)3 turkey vultures were sitting on fence posts beside the hwy. NEVER have I seen them before and I had no doubt it was a sign. Looked into it when I got home and it is amazingly accurate to my life journey and where I am :) Amazing validation ,, as I say that my resident crow cawed 3 times in confirmation . wow

Anonymous said...

I was woken very early this morning by a strong dream of a vulture in an old woman's clothes in my grandmother's yard. I was glad to see your post.

Alfredo David Jr. said...

surnedRThank you for your story.I experienced the same thing and did researches too. Its glad to know that this happened not only to me and was enlightened that we are guided by a higher being.
Namaste!

Anonymous said...

Hello,

This is what happened to me today. My father is working on a road with his loader about half an hour drive away from our town. And we live in up north in nunavik. Anyways, it was during lunch time that he had asked me to bring him there at 1:00 pm. So I did with my younger sister and my cousin, we went back to town until he called me. He finally called about supper time asking to be picked up. This time I was alone driving to go get him. And as I was driving about 15 to 20 minutes away from my fathers destination, I see something on the road just standing there about 20 to 40 feet away and it was huge. Nothing that I have ever seen. It was just standing there until I got closer to it, it had walked more to the side of the road. As I passed it, I noticed it had a bright red colour on its head area. I was just thinking about what I have just seen that I didn't even look back nor look at my rear view mirrors lol. It didn't even fly or run away as I was passing it. Anyways thats what happened to me today and after reading your article, it's so accurate about my life too. I haven't been drinking alcohol for awhile now. I quit not too long ago! Thank you for sharing your article! Fr: alcohol free :) p.s I don't think there's suppose to be vultures near where we live at. And I'm glad I did a research :)

Ross said...

I stay at decommissioned fire-lookout towers every summer, I just returned (today 9/14/12) from Acker Rock Lookout in the Umpqua National Forest. I was sitting out on the deck looking over hundreds of miles of untouched wilderness. Suddenly a Turkey Vulture came within two feet of me, I heard the wind coming off of her wings. She circled the tower and inched closer to me with every pass, I was able to take several spectacular photographs. I was not scared, it felt like a very important moment. I went inside for a nap and when I awoke five vultures were circling the tower, darting and swooping inches from the railing. Acker Rock Lookout is located on a sheer cliff -the structure was dropped there by helicopter. So there I was, nothing but a few inches of air between the myself and the five vultures. I stepped out again and the largest vulture (I named her Sally) made a very slow pass by me, I looked her in the eye and she gave a nod. Later at night I had a dream about a girl hatched from an egg who told me she would be with me for the rest of my life.

Toni Reyna said...

You know for years now since the day that I was saved, I've felt like these beautiful birds were my guardian angels. I have so many amazing storied to prove it.. but I never told anyone because I figured they'd think I was crazy. I believe God brought me to this blog as confirmation. This was so beautiful, nd I thank you for sharing what was on your heart. I have really been blessed by this, thank you so much. God Bless you.

Diane Lightsey said...

Hi
For the past 5 days I had an Eagle sitting overlooking my home and on the 2nd day there were two together however today a Vulture sat there and 30 feet away sat another. I've never spotted Eagles nor Vultures in my community. As i walked towards them and took several photos I heard a noise in a nearby tree. I turned back around to capture a third Spread Eagle in the tree for no reason. I searched the area and found nothing dead. I went inside and they ALL flew away!

Faith said...

Hi, thank you so much for all of these powerful posts...I went to get the mail today (rural Easthampton Mass.) and noticed a big bird soaring in the sky, wondered if it was a hawk. Then it landed and was joined by 2 more...I went across the road to look closer at them and a car stopped with 2 elderly ladies, they said they were turkey vultures!
I was so happy to find this information online.....

Anonymous said...

Today was my moms wake after a battle with glioblastoma (brain cancer) My husband and I were sitting on my mothers porch when 25 - 30 turkey vultures began flying / circling her house. It was incredible.

Sherri said...

I had not checked into this post for a while to realize that there were so many comments! I am so touched that this resonated with so many because this encounter was so special to me, and I have no doubt that each special encounter that has been described here is some sort of spiritual cleansing for each. Thank you for your comments - they mean a lot to me. I'm trying to resume writing after a very trying year, so it so good to know that it is worthwhile to others. :)

Anonymous said...

My dad passed in June 2012, he was married to my mother for 59 years. Although I have two siblings, (one is my twin) I have stepped in and done most of the work regarding my mother's finances.

We live in Metro Atlanta, however, many of the subdivisions are in areas that almost look like the forest! Quite often we see deer in the backyard. More recently vultures. TODAY was the first time that they have come close enough for me to almost reach out and touch. Prior to them settling on the lawn, I was irritated and slightly upset with my mom.

I'm ok now after reading this post regarding what I now consider majestic bird. Almost as if a calm came over me.

Anonymous said...

I pray the rosary everyday in my living room .. My life work is helping people know themselves. This morning I looked out the window after my prayers and saw 5 e turkey vultures in a tree overlooking my house then 2 on my neighbors chimney then next to that one loner . 8 total

Anonymous said...

I just want to share my story. In the past 24 hours at 3 different locations I saw what seemed to be 3 hawk/eagle like birds. They all looked similar. I remember seeing a red like beak on 2 out of 3 of them. The last time I saw this bird was near my home town. It swooped down right near my car, we looked at each for a few seconds (the beautiful bird making clear eye contact with me) and then it was gone. In the past 24 hors I have received some news about being excepted for a job and also received some bad news regarding my driving record. I've also recently prayed for guidance as I am going through a life transition. I believe the birds I saw were Turkey Vultures given the red beak. I am not sure why at this point I saw these birds as this experience has never happened to me before, even when going through transitions. Another thing that also happened to me within the past 24 hours is I saw a flock of deer, got out of my car and was able to get semi close to them, which never happened before . One of the deers stared at me for a couple of minutes, so in the course of 24 hours I have had some spiritual experiences with birds (prob. Turkey Vultures) and deer. I've been wondering what the meaning behind these encounters are and why now. I gather form this site that it is a good omen.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday my very good friend {my brother from another mother} and I want out to the place where we had previously spread ashes from his two deceased brothers. The two had passed at different times. The elder had left this world years back, a late victim of Vietnam and The Agent Orange that was spread there. The middle brother had passed a couple of years ago in Tennessee, but his daughter had flown back to San Diego to share his ashes with that of his brother.
40 years ago my friend had been told that he had only 6 months to live. Despite losing bits of his body, fingers and toes (he was latter told that he would never walk again) and having hardly any cartilage left anywhere in his body, he led me up that hill. Inspiration? You bet.
My buddy and I were discussing if me should make a permanent marker of some kind on this hill. We were torn between the defacing of the land vs something that could not be harmed by the elements {of which, of course, there is absolutely nothing in this world} My friend ended up writing their names in the snow which I now think was positively brilliant.
As we rested in the usual manner and paid our silent respects, I noted a large bird, far off in the distance. As we watched it effortlessly glide away the bird changed direction and headed towards where we rested on a large fallen tree. The timing could hardly have been better scripted. Although unsaid, we both thought of the elder brother as the avian soared and swooped over us. We had passed a large flock of turkeys earlier that day and the resemblance between those animals and the one above us is unmistakable. The cragginess of the Turkey Vulture’s facial features stood in stark contrast to the beauty and gracefulness of its movement in the sky. At one point the fully extended bird caught the rays from the sun in such a way that for the briefest of moments we were graced with a grand array of blazing red feathers that had previously appeared only dark.
As we marveled at the antics of the first bird, a second joined us, coming just as close as the other. It truly seemed like the spirits of the two brothers had joined us in this form; to acknowledge us, as we had come to acknowledge them. This went on a few minutes then suddenly the first two were joined by two others. At the time I felt these two represented my friend and I. Avatars. Flying around and hanging out with the Bro’s, just like the old days.
It got kind of extreme. Then it was over. High intensity moments need not, should not, last too long.
As the birds flew off to the west we saw that they were joined by others. 3-4 I don’t really recall; other souls, off to clean up somewhere else. They had done a good job here.
Sure they could have just been looking for dinner, sure this could be one of their regular hangouts and we were the curiosity. Perhaps the Turkey Vultures thought my friend and I looked like we might expire soon after that climb up the hill. But then again,, perhaps something else was at work here. Considering the timing, the purpose, the synchronicity of it all – I’m leaning towards God.

Anonymous said...

I HAVE BEEN STRUGGLING WITH READJUSTING /REMAKING MY LIFE AFTER THE DEATHS OF EVERYONE CLOSE TO ME...THREE MONTHS AGO 2 VULTURES TOOK RESIDENCE IN MY GARAGE AND ON THE BALCONIES OF MY 'HOME'.
YOUR SHARING YOUR INSIGHT AND UNDERSTANDING OF THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HAVING VULTURES ENTER YOUR LIFE HAS CHANGED MY LIFE.
THERE IS A 'DYING' HERE...THE SIGHT OF 'VERN AND VERA VULTURES' WHILE I WAS CONSIDERING THE POSSIBILITY OF 'GOING HOME' WAS AMAZING AND STUPIFYING TO ME...THE MESSAGE TO ME IS CLEAR...FOR ME..."gO AWAY FROM THIS ISOLATION...THERE IS 'LOTS TO CLEAN UP'...THIS IS A SIGN...GO, RELEASE, WE'LL CLEAN UP WHILE YOU GET A BETTER PERSPECTIVE FOR YOUR SOUL."

THANK YOU AGAIN...

Anonymous said...

I HAVE BEEN STRUGGLING WITH READJUSTING /REMAKING MY LIFE AFTER THE DEATHS OF EVERYONE CLOSE TO ME...THREE MONTHS AGO 2 VULTURES TOOK RESIDENCE IN MY GARAGE AND ON THE BALCONIES OF MY 'HOME'.
YOUR SHARING YOUR INSIGHT AND UNDERSTANDING OF THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HAVING VULTURES ENTER YOUR LIFE HAS CHANGED MY LIFE.
THERE IS A 'DYING' HERE...THE SIGHT OF 'VERN AND VERA VULTURES' WHILE I WAS CONSIDERING THE POSSIBILITY OF 'GOING HOME' WAS AMAZING AND STUPIFYING TO ME...THE MESSAGE TO ME IS CLEAR...FOR ME..."gO AWAY FROM THIS ISOLATION...THERE IS 'LOTS TO CLEAN UP'...THIS IS A SIGN...GO, RELEASE, WE'LL CLEAN UP WHILE YOU GET A BETTER PERSPECTIVE FOR YOUR SOUL."

THANK YOU AGAIN...

kathlene mayer said...

Your blog is great for anyone who wants to understand this subject more. Great stuff; please keep it up!
HOW TO MANIFEST MIRACLE

Anonymous said...

I needed this! Today, 3 different times, three different places, a Turkey Vulture swooped, glided, and soared above my head as I was driving. I literally REJOICED with it and felt one with it in flight. The Turkey Vultures have been coming in and out of my days at just the right time for the past couple of months. I believe they ARE signs from God and literally 'miracles manifesting'!! May we all make ourselves aware of these miracles before us. Thank you SO much for sharing your experiences and insights!

Talia Ceravolo said...

Just went on a trip this weekend to Texas. For the first time, to visit a close friend and meet up with a new one. However this new friend turned out to be an emotional exerience for me. I was lead on, and then rejected in a sort of way. On the last morning I was there, it was cloudy for the first time that whole weekend, and as I was leaving that new friends house I saw a vulture in the middle of the road and was actually a bit frightened. However when I thought about it later I felt it was probably an omen of some kind and decided to look it up. Your story on it and description rang true for me. This trip was an interesting one and a marker on my spiritual path. Challenging, not bad but definitely very challenging...

Renee' C said...

So inspiring! I have had an odd visit from a white owl and now a Turkey Vulture hanging around my home/on my home for hours...I knew there was more. Thank you for your Kingdom perspective! <3

ste tomkinson said...

Looks interesting, ill be sure to check it out. Cheap property in Turkey

TheGardener said...
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