How Eagle Medicine Supports Vision in Shamanism
As a shamanic practitioner, my work is about supporting dreams and turning those dreams into reality. I work to help people release fears and blockages in order to connect them to their higher vision, offering them anchored, grounded tools to manifest that vision in the plane of action. For me, the process of envisioning, of connecting to that bigger picture, and expanding oneself to enact this vision, begins and ends with the Eagle medicine.
The Symbols of Eagle Medicine
The symbol of Eagle spans civilizations and traditions across the world and throughout time. Today, it is one of the most common national symbols. And thousands of years ago, humans also held Eagle with the same reverence – as a being of ultimate wisdom and strength.
The ancient Greeks and Persians consecrated Eagle to the sun, as a symbol of the supreme sky-god. And the ancient Assyrians prayed to an Eagle-headed winged spirit for magical protection. In Hindu legend, the Eagle-like Garuda is the vehicle of the god Vishnu, symbolizing courage. With wings said to stop the spinning of heaven, hell, and earth, Garuda brings the calming energy of settling and integration.
In indigenous American traditions – traditions closest to my own heart and spiritual practice – Eagle is strength, courage, balance, and wisdom. Eagle soars closest to the Creator, carrying our prayers on its wings, and facilitating back and forth communication with our highest selves and the energy of Source.
Eagle as the Keeper of the East
In the Native American Medicine Wheel, Eagle is the Keeper of the East, where the sun rises and new cycles are birthed, connecting to the sacred number 1.
Number 1 is “I am” energy – the sacred start. In the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah, the word for Eagle also has a numerology of 550, which also adds up to 1. Every number has a vibration to it – a sacred meaning. This is the energy of self-declaration, leadership, newness, rawness, assertiveness, of pioneering, clear vision, instinct, and intuition.
My Journey with Eagle Medicine
I began consciously dancing with Eagle medicine as a power animal, ally, and teacher two decades ago, when I first connected with indigenous American practices at the Naraya, a ceremonial dance of healing and renewal drawn from the traditions of the Native peoples of the Great Basin. There, I encountered Nancy Eagle Spirit Woman, a carrier of Eagle medicine and Shaman Charles Lawrence, a medicine man who carries the Vision for the people. The spirit of Eagle spoke to me, and as I began learning to dance with and invoke Eagle, I realized I had been dancing with Eagle my whole life – well before I knew how to name it.
Eagle showed itself in my life as a small child – as a fearlessness, expressiveness, expansiveness, and a desire to lead. I was a frequent ringleader of friends, always urging myself and those around me towards creative engagement and expression. Eagle had me leaping from the high dive platforms as a small child, trying out for countless school plays, dancing across stages and following my instincts into experiences I’d never tried before – and that wound up changing my life.
Like most people, however, there have been times of losing my vision, of feeling lost. After the dissolution of a long-term relationship some years ago, my mission felt obscured. I worked hard to move through grief and to find my wings of light once more. Once my vision began to emerge again, and I felt I’d come back to myself, I decided to mark the moment – and my body – with a recognition of the rite of passage. My elder, Wakia Un Manaee, Thunder He Walks With, drew me a picture of Eagle wings, which I brought to medicine man, firekeeper, and tattoo artist Ash Wood. Ash completed the vision, a symbol of the Eagle that now walks and dances with me every day.
Dance of Liberation, Pitango, and Eagle Medicine
I use Eagle feathers to clear and cleanse; as the physical manifestation of the energy of the eagle, these feathers clear the way for vision and flight. My own modality, Dance of Liberation, begins with the invocation of Eagle, via a chant passed down to me by my elder Wakia Un Manee. In fact, during a fire ceremony at the retreat center Kripalu, I sang the invocation of the Eagle passed on to me by Wakia. Eagle then arrived in the physical plane. All of the retreat participants screamed in awe of this powerful soaring winged one blessing us from above. Recently, I have partnered with incomparable jewelry designer Pitango, to create a sacred jewelry line called the Winged Ones, based on Eagle medicine, and intended to facilitate connection with one’s inner visionary through wearable totems and power objects.
The synchronicities in my life around Eagle are too many to name here – though they have helped me understand that the gifts of the Eagle come forth when one is ready. Eagle medicine is a lifelong process, offering expansiveness and a doorway to envision one’s dreamed-of life.