The wings of the heart
“Would a bird build its nest if it did not have its instinct for confidence in the world?” Gaston Bachelard. What is it that makes birds so attractive? Birds are the guardians of the air. The humble messengers of trees. The masters of flow in a multidimensional reality. As humans, we are born with two innate fears: the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling. Gravity is ingrained in the very core of our existence at this level. It allows life to be as we know it, and is at the same time a prison from which we subconsciously dream to escape of. Maybe as a primitive memory of floating in our mother’s womb, from ethereal dreams, or even as an earlier memory of cosmic unity, we all have some primitive weight-less experiences ingrained in our souls. What is it then that fascinates us so much about flying?
Flying inevitably inspires freedom. A freedom often tinted with a little bit of fear, and its maybe this same fear what makes it worth exploring. Flower Essences, as a common ground for us Vibrational Therapists, have a unique ability amongst all living creatures: plant cells are capable of receiving solar light and transforming it into storable energy through photosynthesis. As Edward Bach brilliantly perceived, this ability co-relates to the human consciousness, that absorbs information from the environment, and can decode and store it in the shape of knowledge, available for us to use in the future. We need Flowers to help us learn from our experiences, storing conscious knowledge that facilitates our healing journey, bringing insights and understanding at different levels. What do birds bring in?
Birds are not only amazing because most of them can fly. Let me tell you, in my words, some other facts about birds that really startled me, this might give us some clues around the gifts they can share with us:
Birds can see a much wider spectrum of colours than humans do.
They have a very big heart in comparison to their bodies.
Birds have a highly complex respiratory system, with several air chambers distributed around their bodies and bones, which allows them to breathe in a one-way system and keep their body weight low.
They don’t have teeth, most of them just swallow.
They can control their metabolism and body temperature in incredible ways. Some of them, like the Green-backed Firecrown, can enter a state of torpor (keeping only the vital organs working) for periods of time. Others, like the Torrent Duck, can have different body temperatures in their feet, by sending cold blood to them and keeping the warmth next to the body.
When migrating, birds can sleep one brain hemisphere at a time, so the other keeps working (wouldn’t it be great to be able to do this?).
Some migratory birds, like Whimbrels, can sense where the poles are by storing magnetite in their beaks. They can also hear noises as far as the Atlantic on the other side of the continent when flying along the Pacific shores.
By seeing the sun and the stars, plus using their senses, birds can not only orientate when flying through the globe but can actually navigate, which involves sensing exactly where they are.
Still, with all these amazing qualities, birds are born just like us humans, needing to learn and experience the world and their bodies to learn from them. I love to think about the first time a bird jumps off her nest. Most times they’re not fully developed to fly, yet they do it anyway. It is a mix of instinct and confidence, a confidence that becomes stronger than the fear of falling. A confidence that eventually (many times not on those first explorations) allows them to reach their full potential and fly. Rainer Maria Rilke says that real joy is not the absence of fear: when you transit a fear from one corner to the other, that is the true joy, it’s a fear in which we have confidence. Aren’t we, humans, often standing there in our comfortable nests staring at the edge of the cliff knowing that we’re missing something, feeling a call, an urgency for fulfillment and yet our mind -wanting to protect us- keeps us from trying? What is that joy that hides behind vertigo? Here’s the clue for the 2 main areas where I’ve seen Bird Essences work really effectively, I call them the two “I’s”: Intuition and Instinct. The first one as those highly spiritual qualities of unity and connection to our higher self and the Universe; the latter as a grounding impulse to engage with life in this human level. Bird Essences move us into action. The captain in this journey is the heart; only when connected to the deep conviction of truly wanting something from the heart, we find the courage to break limitations and jump into the void. The word courage comes from the Latin root ‘cor’, which means heart. Quite often, following this inner compass, puts us in a place of deep vulnerability and fear, and it’s sometimes easier to just numb our deepest passions than it is risking not getting what we really want from the heart or even worst, risking the vulnerability of being truly seen. But when we numb, we numb everything, we forget the wings. And here comes the fifth chakra, the way in which the hearts’ energy flows up and out into the world. It’s here where most Bird Essences take their part in clearing and strengthening: birds are masters of surrendering and trust. Taking life in as it is, as opposite from the delusion of control. Faith in the Universe is nurtured by the strong activation of our superior chakras, by the certainty of belonging, of being all one. When we feel supported, we can take the risk of being vulnerable, take the chance to go beyond our comfort zone without having a warranty of the results. One of my big masters has been the Andean Condor. Condors are the second biggest and the heaviest flying bird in the world. For them, flapping the wings means an investment of energy that they can’t afford very often. Picture a bird, almost twice your size in wingspan, opening his wings and just jumping off that cliff. To me, that is trust. I sometimes feel that Condors can see God. Mixed up in the air, She’s holding them with Her gentle, strong hands. Their essence, so generously offered to us, also gives us a sense of that invisible support, which fills us with the courage to trust the unknown. Birds remind us of our wings. But they are not very rational when they do this; like the chick jumping off her nest, when taking Bird Essences we just find ourselves out there, signing up for a dance club, telling that person that we love them, speaking out when we’d normally remain silent. And it often feels good, so we’re prone to try it again. They are strong, just like their elementals are. And they get on really well with other essences, as they know the plot of the Universe, they are co-dependant too. This higher perspective is also an invitation to soften our human inner voices, remembering that we’re something beyond our bodies, emotions, and thoughts, like the Torrent Duck (whose essence I like to call ‘liquid meditation’) so gently shows us. When we get too stuck to the ground in our human reality, we’re prone to take life too seriously and this especially affects the way we talk to ourselves. Burrowing Parrot, like a Buddhist monk, reminds us to be gentle and laugh more often about ourselves. How can we pretend to do everything perfectly if we’ve never been through this experience in this way before? What would be the purpose of this life experience if we got everything perfectly right from the first moment? Burrowing Parrot can make us a bit teary; it’s so often that we forget these things!
But to learn all of this, and to really integrate it with the support of Flower Essences, we need to be grounded, and this is an area where bird essences surprised me because very often, the most spiritual of them, like the Magellanic Woodpecker or Cinereous Harrier, happened to be also the earthliest ones. Quite often for us, working in the field of healing, what really causes vertigo is not the spiritual world, but the one ‘down here'. I’ve learned from birds like the House Wren, that the fear of totally being present in the world is at the same time our biggest joy, the one that we can only experience here and now, and the reason for this physical experience. We are spiritual beings living a physical experience of love. You’re invited to this dance of life. To bring in more of this flow, of this grounding lightness. To live more fully through the senses. Whenever a Bird Essence is gifted, they use the opportunity to ask for one thing: that we care for each other and the planet we live in. That we remember that is a gift and take it in gratitude.
This article was originally published in the Spring 2021 edition of Essence Magazine, from the British Flower and Vibrational Essence Association, BFVEA, UK.