Playful Flight

by Andrea Chilcote     Animal Speak_Capture

The following post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. 

One morning this week, as we were leaving our driveway for a hike with the dogs, I noticed a raven flying overhead, breakfast prey hanging from his beak. I wondered to myself what lesson he had in store.

“Good morning Grandpa.” I greeted him as I often do, with the name I’ve come to use since meeting a raven up close in the Grand Canyon many years ago.  “Grandpa” is a bit like Santa Claus. Even though there are many of them, I pretend each one I see is the same bird.

As we walked, I continued to notice Grandpa flying nearby, and smiled at the company. Having these companion birds along on our hikes is a fairly common occurrence, and there are natural explanations. Ravens and crows are known to serve as messengers to warn small animals of impending danger, calling out their cautionary sounds as they fly. It makes sense that they would warn the desert animals of our arrival, as we hike with two large wolf-like dogs, a Husky and a Malamute.

The other possibility lies in the simple fact that there is a long-standing synergy between ravens and wolves. There is much documented evidence of ravens and wolves hunting together in a symbiotic relationship. And surprisingly, their bond often includes play, with the birds dipping and soaring amongst dancing wolves after a successful hunt.

On this day, I felt sure the bird was calling us to join the social activities of its congress. As if to confirm my intuition, others began to gather. By the time we were completing the last quarter of our loop hike, we counted 10 ravens. They flew along as we walked, landing intermittently on high tree branches to allow us to count them before moving ahead.

Ravens are said to symbolize magic. In his classic book Animal Speak, Ted Andrews says raven teaches us how to go into the dark and bring forth light. He says wolf teaches us to breathe new life into our life rituals.

It’s always a bit too easy for me to allow the stresses of a busy life to hijack my focus. One of the reasons I hike the dogs each day I’m at home in Arizona is that I get a brief connection with nature in a way that’s playful and physical. And even so, I sometimes miss the magic for the heaviness at hand.

We all bring forth light when we lighten up in social ways. Consider the gifts of raven and wolf as you interact within your families, teams and communities. Temper work with play, and magic just might take flight.

“It appears that the wolf and the raven have reached an adjustment in their relationships such that each creature is rewarded in some way by the presence of the other and that each is fully aware of the other’s capabilities.”  The Wolf: The Ecology and Behaviour of an Endangered Species  –Dr. L. David Mech

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