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Totems: Falcon, Part I

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

How much time is left to you on the Earth? Have you time to waste, to procrastinate or delay the fulfillment of your dreams? Do you tell yourself that tomorrow you will get to that which makes your heart soar happily? I AM FALCON. From my lofty perspective, I see far and wide, taking in all my surroundings. My vision also allows me to see minute details you might miss on your own. Awaken your connection with the Four Winds, purveyors of your indomitable spirit. Let the Air element awaken your intelligence to its highest potential. I am fully alive in each moment - no numbing - no waiting for the right thing to come along. This moment is my right thing. I am focused on my now. What are you making of this moment – your now? Allow yourself to be who you really are. Give yourself all the things for which you’ve been searching. Start out by remembering what you like to do and what gives you your feeling of aliveness. Then have it. Do it. Be it.

The word "intense" is often applied to these days in which we are transitioning so many of our old ways of seeing and understanding things. We’re down to the core issues of our lives. In swoops Falcon as the totem for these times. Where are you experiencing the most change? Relationships, work, residence, geo-graphical area? One thing is sure – scrutiny about your purpose on the planet at this time is coming up big-time. Falcon is the totem to take you through this intense life inventory. Coming in with higher vision just when you most need it; perhaps when all other means have failed you, falcon brings you to that place within yourself where the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been; when you’re ‘all in’. But it is done with so much finesse and honesty, that you can’t even think about anything but living the most courageous truth of which you are capable.

Falcons are a specially classified group of hawks with helmet-shaped heads, tapered bodies sculpted by the wind, long, pointed wings, wide shoulders and strong pectorals. Like all hawks, falcons carry healing messages for us if we tune into them. Since they fly fast and high, falcon totem brings cosmic perspective and higher knowledge. Falcon medicine above all other hawks can give you the swiftest turn-around for illness or the situation you wish rectified.

Peregrine falcons a.k.a. Duck Hawks can be found on all continents except Antarctica. The Peregrine is an extremely fast flier, clocked at a dive speed, called a stoop of well over 200 m.p.h. In level flight, they average 60 m.p.h. The American Kestral, a.k.a Sparrow Hawk is the smallest North American falcon. Western Prairie Falcons fly lower than Peregrines, usually less than 50 feet off the ground, because their favorite prey is prairie dogs and ground squirrels. Falcon nests are a bare scrape, which is a slight depression on gravel, usually in a natural cavity in rock, or high up in a tree. Though it may be argued that the Peregrine looks more striking, the male Kestrel is the most colorful of the North American falcons. With a red-brown back and blue-grey wings he can be seen throughout the continent calling "kli-kli-kli." Rarely seen in the U.S. except in the most severe Arctic winters when they move south, the Gyrfalcon was considered in medieval times to be the king’s bird flown in falconry solely by nobility. Largest of the falcons, they perch watching for food, and then fly in low and fast.

Though raised to an art with impressive ritual and a code of its own including special vocabulary, falconry began in ancient Egypt and Asia over 4,000 years ago. In the field, the falcon is carried on the falconer’s fist held by a leather jess attached to each leg. Until the quarry is chosen, the falcon is hooded. Because their eyesight is so telescopic, they can detect movement from a great distance and might go after different quarry than their handler chose. I experienced falconry one birthday when I flew a Harris hawk. The weight of the bird on my outstretched, leather-shielded arm, fingers facing down, the thrill of take-off, and the satisfaction of its landing introduced me to falconry.

One of the most important gods of the Egyptian pantheon was Horus, the falcon-headed solar god, and the symbol and personification of Light. He unified upper and lower Egypt as the Sky god soaring over all. The all-seeing Eye of Horus, called the wadjet was worn for protection. Ask falcon for its astounding insight. In Native American tribes, wearing a falcon image would insure a successful hunt or ceremony, and give the supplicant access to falcon’s powers.

Falco Peregrinus means "wanderer" but not all sub-species of Peregrine are migratory. Some are year-round residents if game is plentiful. Of the 16 sub-species of Peregrine falcon all have tremendous speed in common. The expression, ‘Seize the day’ could easily have referred to someone with falcon medicine, for they, more than others swiftly make decisions, seize opportunity, and carry out plans. No procrastination or dilly-dallying for these folks. One reason Nature evolved the Peregrine’s swiftness is that its prey are usually swift birds. The open sky and open fields or marsh are a Peregrine’s hunting grounds. The prey is usually struck in mid-air from above after a swift dive. Typically the peregrine will come out of the dive just behind the prey, aiming to hit its wings rather than risk injury with a direct body hit. Either the notched, hooked bill or the powerful talons deliver the death-blow to the waterfowl, game bird, pigeon, dove, reptile or small mammal for which it is predator. If this is your totem, perhaps you are a perfectionist, always honing and practicing your art. Falcon people, like their namesake are excruciatingly precise. There is no gap between their intention and its execution.

Falcons become sexually mature at two to three years. A pair will stay mated for life and remain monogamous. If this is your totem, you may need to periodically take some solitary time from your mate, but you remain faithful. Some pairs stay together through the winter. Often though, the pairs will meet up again when they return in the spring and the desire to mate again arises. Renewing their courtship, they return to the same scape. There are records of falcon eyries that have been continuously occupied since the Middle Ages. Early in the mating season, they scream from sunrise to sunset. The male tiercel often begins intricate aerial displays and vocalizations to attract its mate. They will each bring each other choice morsels of food. If you are in love with a person with falcon medicine, he or she tends to go to great lengths to woo you. Expect flowers, candy, and all kinds of romantic gestures of love both in private and public. If you are solitary, perhaps falcon is reminding you that it is in singular stillness that one discovers the greatest mysteries of the soul; that the higher realms of knowledge and wisdom are often journeyed to alone.

Falcons are dimorphic, which means the female is larger and more powerful than the male. When courting the female, he will roll and dance for her, fly upside down and touch her feet gently. They become solitary again after the eyasses or baby falcons leave, until the following spring mating season. The female averages four eggs. The number four is one of foundation (the 4 Directions, 4 Winds, 4 Elements, the Square), security, and potential rooted in solid form. Female Peregrine falcons prefer laying their eggs on top of a high, isolated rock or cliff edge. Despite their fierceness, falcon parents are dedicated nurturers. For about a lunar month both parents share the duties of incubating the eggs. The male tiercel is the sole hunter of food for the first few days after the chicks hatch, until the young falcons are old enough for the female to join him in hunting. Both parents then hunt for food for the chicks until they are taught to fly and hunt for themselves. As falcon totem parents, you will put the welfare and safety of your children before your own.

Falcon is a totem that may come to you in that precise moment when you have tried everything else, and need a higher viewpoint to pull you out of the morass. Falcon is a power animal with great dignity and self-possession and bestows these qualities on those who emulate its medicine. As a great strategist, this totem can help you flesh out your life plan and purpose by dreaming big. Our dreams give us passion in our lives. Our dreams give us hope and keep us vibrant and happy. Let falcon show you how to manifest your dreams strategically with impeccable timing.

For almost 40 years, Cie Simurro ~ Thunderbird Starwoman has been bringing in the healing arts and ancient universal wisdom through her writing, healing work, and teaching. For 12 years, she has been a contributing writer to Wisdom Magazine. For healing for you or your animal, spiritual training, to invite Cie to give her presentation: "Our Partnership With Nature" in your area, or purchase 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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