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Totems: Blue Jay

by Cie Simurro, a.k.a. Thunderbird Starwoman

Oh come on; you know you want to. Follow me. Let me lead you into mastery. What? Well no, I can’t promise you a smooth ride. Yes, you might have to give up something to get there…but, oh the flight…aren’t you ready to let go of all that old stuff for the greatest adventure of your life? What do you mean, you’re afraid to let go? Just hop on my back and hold onto my crest, and I’ll carry you forward. I AM BLUE JAY, after all. Here, I’ll clear the way first – get rid of the phantoms and demons. Don’t worry. I’ll protect you; but first you have to say yes. Oh well, either way is fine with me. It’s up to you, you know. It always is!

Who would have thought a shovelful of sunflower seeds would start a "bird-feeder incident?" This is how it happened. In the first week of October, I resumed putting sunflower seeds in the bird feeder. I noticed they were gone in a flash. I put in more and watched the show over the next few mornings. Chickadees as always, seemed unconcerned over whether there would be enough. Then came house wrens and nuthatches, occasionally being territorial with each other, the smaller ones momentarily retreating to the maple across the driveway. Then came the big guys, the Jays. There were two at first. They fought for position, gulping down multiple seeds each time, before flying off or trying to chase the smaller birds away. Though the Jays were boisterous, I noticed all moved over for the bright-red cardinal. The blue jays definitely ruled the feeder though, until squirrel came hopping up on the split rail fence and took over. Sorry blue jay. There’s always someone bigger and tougher!

Did you know that if you squash the feather of a blue jay, the blue color disappears? That is because in fact, there is no blue pigmentation in birds’ feathers. The color comes from the way light refracts in the peculiar inner structure of the feather. To Ancient Egyptians the color blue represented truth; blue also signifies tranquility, stability, intuition, and true-blue devotion. Just as one is busy admiring the gorgeous blue wings and tail, barred with black and dotted with white; the black necklace and elegant crest on the back of the head – just as blue jay comes in for a landing on your bird feeder, this image of beauty blows it by pushing and shoving its way first in line. However, this bossy attitude is more than made up for by the fact that they fearlessly ward off the smaller birds’ predators, like owls, crows, hawks and cats. If you are lucky enough to be under the "umbrella of protectiveness" of a person with this power animal, you will thrive.

Jays quickly become accustomed to people. Experience tells them to anticipate scraps. For this reason, they are common in suburbs and woodlands across most of eastern North America, the Northwest and West. Blue jay was originally a bird of deep forests, especially those with lots of oaks, beeches and pines. They habitually "plant" acorns and other seeds, storing them in the ground. Since not all will be eaten, we could call them good conservationists, helping forests proliferate. They love bathing. A stonemason carved a heart-shaped birdbath of granite and put it on the hillside outside my house. In the summer, blue jays bathe there.

As blue jay’s piercing shriek penetrates the forest, all creatures take heed of the raucous warning. Jays often will follow a person through the woods, swooping from tree to tree, stopping suddenly to sit motionless or climb upward, only to sail on again. If you are disagreeable with them, they may fly off rapidly, uttering what may be bird-profanity in their wake. When not asserting themselves at the feeder jays will eat nuts, seeds, fruit and insects; sometimes even the eggs and nestlings of other birds. Eeuwww, we say to this. And yet crows and birds of prey do the same thing. At least blue jay does not play with or torture its prey as do our cats. They eat to survive. Perhaps what we really dislike is blue jay speaking up. That raucous cry really irritates us. How dare blue jay announce itself to the world! The nerve of that one making a ruckus, instead of swallowing it all and keeping quiet. Yes, the town crier is out to burst open all the rotten apples and is willing not only to find the worm inside, but to eat it too. And that is what’s in our faces. We wish we could verbalize our feelings.

Blue jay has trickster energy. Like all tricksters, Jay often gets caught in its own snare, yet it still tells the truth. It’s very easy to allow yourself to be seduced by blue jay. One could fall into the deep color, the wedge of tail spread open like the fan of a dark-eyed Flamenco dancer. It’s just a come-on though, so blue jay can take you into your own depths, where you have no recourse but to see yourself. Difficult as it may be, is the truth irresistible to you? If so, you have blue jay medicine. I’d been putting off working with blue jay for months, though that didn’t keep them from crossing my path. Eventually the bare-limbed trees made the swash of blue conspicuous; the cry more piercing. Something had been nagging at the back of my brain: something I needed to look at. Blue jay extended its invitation. Naively, I accepted. Have you ever had a glimpse of a "you" in your highest possible state – free of limitations, beliefs, striving, small-mindedness and fear? Are you curious about the deepest mysteries of life? If you’ve ever pondered any of these, you’ve probably answered yes at some time or another to blue jay’s question. What question is that, you ask? "DO YOU WANT TO GO DEEPER OR STAY THE SAME? IT’S ENTIRELY UP TO YOU," says blue jay provocatively."

We’ve ascertained that there is nothing shy about blue jay as we hear those strident calls. That can be very handy medicine to help one instill confidence. Practice opening up your throat and saying what you mean. On the other hand, blue jay will call you on your ego. I had a dream that made it quite clear that I had to go through a major transition, give up an attachment, and then step into the Void for awhile while my identity shifted. Blue jay pinned me down and pointed to its crest, so I could see that what I really wanted most was the highest and best for all concerned. But that didn’t mean I could accede easily; ego is tricky that way. I went on a three-day retreat, where I saw everything through blue jay’s eyes – no rosy tints. I wrestled. Blue jay won. I had to stop deceiving myself. There’s some cold comfort to the truth; not the warm and fuzzy kind you can take to bed with you though. More often, truth will wake you at night, as though there were something you can’t quite remember you ought to be doing or getting honest about. Eventually, into the deep blue I went, surrendering to the truth I hadn’t wanted to see in lieu of my desire to have what I wanted. Blue jay teaches us to open our eyes, using our inner vision to learn the truth for ourselves; bringing greater depth and dimension to our lives.

Like crows and ravens, jays are known for their keen intelligence and "speaking" ability. Folks with this medicine are often lawyers, politicians, public speakers, or salespeople. Jays often mimic the call of hawks, flushing out prey and enemies alike. Like hawk, blue jay carries a message for us. Be bold and ask for it. You’d think mating between these birds would be quite the rowdy affair. It is, yet it is also tender, egalitarian and enduring. Married folks with this totem talk out their problems. Blue jays mate for life. Both share in the building of the nest and incubating a handful of greenish-blue eggs spotted with brown. The male is very attentive to the female, bringing food while she sits on the eggs. Seventeen days later when the eggs hatch, Dad jay sets about tending to his family. Without blue jays, there would be many more caterpillar tents on trees. Jays bring hundreds of the pupae to their young nestlings in early summer.

If you were to raise a nest of blue jays, you would soon see evidence of their intelligence. They explore their surroundings early, checking out new objects and fighting with each other for dominance. Like all babies, they are wobbly and playful. They’re on their own as soon as they learn to fly; however, watch carefully and you will see them returning once in a while to their family. Do you have a friend, family or love relationship where there’s a lot of squabbling but still you’re close? Once you have a relationship with a person with blue jay totem, you are always part of their family. You can count on them to be forthright, faithful, resourceful and oh so intelligent.

Cie Simurro ~ Thunderbird Starwoman has been a Healer, Writer, Minister, Advocate and Steward for the natural world for over 35 years. For Healing for you or your animal, Flower Essences, Training, or her book, Totems for Stewards of the Earth ($22 to PO 295, Shelburne Falls MA 01370), call 413 625-0385 or email: cie@ciesimurro.com

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