Looking omens up on line or in a dictionary gives us the information that omens are portents or presage, phenomena believe to tell a good or evil event in the future. They are prophetic signs as it were. Here we also find that the word omen is most often used in the foreboding sense.
In my world I have a completely different understanding of omens, what they are and what they do and think of them in connection with signs. They are part of my every day life, a great source of information and insight for me and in no way foreboding.
As a shamanic healer and someone who believes that everything that exists is interconnected, I look for omens and signs to bring me messages and insights as I move through my day. If I have a problem or need to make a decision I will consciously ask for omens or signs from the world around me, not to foretell the future but to bring me guidance.
Making a conscious decision to watch out for omens and signs is a good way of being aware of how the web of life ‘speaks’ to us, supports us and helps us. These omens and signs may come in the form of something in nature that catches our attention, perhaps an animal we would not usually see for example, or a song on the radio, someone we meet, a book that falls open before us, an overheard conversation, the list is endless. Our difficulty as with so many things is how to interpret what we are being shown if course.
The best way to explain how omens and signs work for me perhaps, is to give an example.
In 2013, following an operation I had to walk. I knew it was for my own good but found myself resenting every minute of it, there was no joy or pleasure in it at all. A week into my enforced exercise routine I decided I needed to change how I felt about it all if I was to make it through. This got me thinking about how when I walk by choice I wander, being aware of what is around me, connecting with the energies that abound wherever I am walking, listening and watching out for any messages that are there for me. In other words enjoying being in nature. At this time I was doing none of these things but was totally focused on the mechanics of walking and of the length of time I had to walk for.
The following day before I went out I made the decision to do it differently, to walk with consciousness and awareness, so as I left the house I held the intention to look for omens and signs as I walked.
The first thing I became aware of was that I was walking more slowly and having slowed down was looking around me and listening to the sounds of water running in the stream by the road and rustling in the hedgerow. I then heard the caw, caw of crows and looking up noticed two of them sitting on an overhead wire some way ahead of me. Crow for me is an important spirit helper and one to which I always pay attention so as I walked towards them I waited to see what message they might bring. As I reached them they flew off still calling as if asking me to follow them and so I did.
At that point the road turned and the winter sun shone directly in my face effectively blinding me. I now had to trust that my feet and ears would guide me and so focused only on the sound of my footsteps. After a short time I lost this sound and instead heard only the swish, swish of my coat as I walked which lulled me into an almost meditative state. For the first time walking, there I was in each and every moment, not thinking of anything else and certainly not focused on how much further I had to go or for how long.
I reached a point where the road changed direction again and the sun now shifted behind me meaning I could see once more. As I looked down I saw how the slate at the edge of the road had formed in layers and marvelled at how wonderful nature is. This brought my focus to the earth beneath my feet and allowed me to breathe in the energy and as I walked I asked Mother Earth to feed and nourish my leg to help it heal, something I had completely been forgetting I could do.
My gaze then settled on a small yellow flower peeking out of the grass in all its glory. Stopping to look I realised it was a buttercup and the sight of the bright colour on this wintery day brought a smile to my face. I then wondered at the resistance and determination of this tiny flower still there defiant after the recent snap of cold weather and overnight frosts. If it could survive that and still be there head held high then I could surely survive walking which was nothing in comparison. As I walked on I was attracted to the greenery at the side of the road and noticed prickly brambles intertwined with soft ferns, both growing happily side by side. This reminded me that even those who do not seem to be natural bedfellows can make things work if they choose to.
Two good message for me at this time from the buttercup, brambles and ferns. I am not an enthusiastic walker, I don’t enjoy walking for walking’s sake nor for exercise, but by making my walk work for me, by working with the energies, looking for omens and signs and then being aware I could not only survive this but find a way that walking and I could coexist.
(Excerpt from my Shaman Corner Blog Post for Moon Books 2013)
So if you wish to be aware of the omens and signs around you
1. Set an intention or hold a question
2. Be aware of what you hear, see and who you meet for the rest of the day
3. Make a mental note of any ‘coincidences’ for example if you hear a story about an elephant on the news, read about an elephant in the paper, pick up a book and see a picture of an elephant then it is a good idea to explore what elephant means to you, what thoughts you hold about them, how they behave and so on to decipher what messages elephant might be trying to give you.
4. Be aware that if something comes to you three times it is a message trying to get through.
5. Take your own meaning from the omens and signs you discover for your meaning is the only one that makes sense and is of any value.