Eagle Spirit Guide by Judith Shaw


judith shaw photoEagle, with its soaring flight, its vision, and its courage, has inspired humans since our early days. Eagle, Lord of the Birds, is the ultimate symbol of grandeur, splendor and nobility.

Females are larger than males, common with birds of prey. On average Eagle weighs twelve pounds, its body is around three feet long and its wingspan reaches up to seven feet. But Eagle is not heavy as its bones are hollow. Most eagles mate for life. Both sexes share in the incubation of eggs and the raising of their eaglets.

Symbolic Meaning
Vision, Spirit Messenger, Balance, Strength, Courage, Power, Nobility, Wisdom, Intuition and Creativity, Freedom, Patience, Healing

Eagle-spirit-guide-painting-by-judith-shaw

Vision, Spirit Messenger
Many cultures see Eagle, with its excellent vision and soaring flight as the messenger of the gods.

With one million light-sensitive cells, Eagle sees four to eight times better than humans. It sees five basic colors – we see only three; has three deep fovea at the back of each eye – we have one shallow fovea. These fovea increase visual acuity, acting like telephoto lenses, enabling Eagle to judge the distance and details of an object from miles away.

Eagle was revered all across North America by the Native Americans. Its high flight and excellent Eagle-dance-san-juan-pueblovision led them to believe it could carry messages between Earth and Heaven – regenerating and guiding the soul. Eagle is an important part of many spiritually-based ceremonies. The Eagle Dance is found all across Native Country. In the Sweat Ceremony sacred herbs are burned and each participant is smudged with an eagle feather. Many tribes fashioned whistles and flutes from eagle bones for use in religious ceremonies. 

Druids observed Eagle watching from a higher place and saw the Divine manifest.

The Egyptians honor the spiritual significance of Eagle- its name, Akhom, represents the sound A, the beginning.

White-tailed eagle remains were found in an Orkney Island tomb, perhaps to aide the deceased in their journey to the Otherworld.

Orkney-island-eagle-tomb

As Eagle ascends in spiral fashion, it sees a higher perspective on the world below. Eagle guides us to seek spiritual truth and to push ever upward in self-discovery.

Balance
Eagle’s gift of clear vision guides us toward a life lived in balance with Heaven and Earth.

The Abenaki of North America believed in a Sun God, Kisosen – Sun-Bringer. Kisosen was symbolized as an eagle who created day by opening its wings and brought night by closing them. Some tribes believed that the balance of male and female principals is represented by Eagle’s wings.

Eagle has four toes on its talons. Four symbolizes stability, groundedness – connecting the Spirit World with the physical world. Eagle reminds us of the need to seek balance in our use of Earth’s resources..

The Pueblo tribes of the American Southwest view Eagle as a directional guardian associated with Above – the direction of balance, the higher mind and sky. 

Eagle, though very intelligent, teaches that we must seek balance between solutions from the mind and solutions from Spirit.

Strength & Courage
Eagles are masters of aerial brinkmanship. Male bald eagles perform stunning displays – audacious swoops and mind-boggling dog-fights. Two males will lock their talons together and plummet to Earth in a death-defying spiral. Usually they separate before hitting the ground.

Both Native American and Celtic stories tell of shamans and druids with the courage to shape-shift into Eagle, and enter the unknown. They left behind the comfortable, the familiar and encountered new ways of seeing and being to bring back to their people.

Native-american-chief-war-bonnet-george-catlinGenerally birds of prey look over their shoulder when in flight, just in case another predator is following them. But Eagle always looks straight ahead.

Tribes all across North American called the golden eagle, associated with courage in battle, “War Eagle.” Eagle feathers still hold significance to Native Americans. To receive an eagle feather is the highest honor awarded for acts of bravery and only then added to a war bonnet.

Eagle calls us to find our inner strength and be courageous as we seek out new ways.

Power, Nobility
Across the ancient world Eagle was associated with the powerful elements of sun and thunder.scottish-clan-chief-with-eagle-feather-in-bonnet

The white-tailed eagle of the Scottish Highlands is a magnificent bird with golden eyes. Its Gaelic name is Iolaire suile na grein – the eagle with the sunlit eye. Still today in the Scottish Highlands, clan chiefs wear eagle feathers in their bonnets, symbolizing their rank.

The Greeks and Persians saw Eagle as the sun and associated it with the supreme sky-god. The Greek God, Zeus could transform into a golden eagle to launch thunder and lightening.

The Hindu god Vishnu’s steed, Garuda, had a human body and an eagle head and wings.

Eagle has been found in the coat of arms of many European rulers since the time of the Crusades and has been the emblem of many empires throughout history – from Persia, to Rome, to the Byzantine –  to the United States, Russia and Austria.

Aztec-eagle-mythBefore the Aztecs built their empire they were a poor wandering tribe. Their god told them to make their home where they found an eagle sitting on a cactus eating a snake. Found in a lake, they created Mexico City. The Aztec’s elite warriors were called Eagle Warriors. Their emperor dressed in eagle feathers which also adorned his throne.

The Celts honored Eagle as a symbol of power.  On the Isle of Man, Eagle is called Drein – the Druid’s bird. 

Wisdom, Intellect
To the Celts Eagle is one of the wisest and oldest creatures, only surpassed by Salmon. Eagle aides Culhwch in the Welsh tale of Culhwch and Olwen. To win the hand of the beautiful Sun Goddess Olwen, Culhwch had to complete tasks. He received guidance from wise Eagle.

Christians associate Eagle with St John the Evangelist. They believe that as Eagle takes flight toward higher matters, St John experienced inspiration through the intellect, the word of God.

Resilience, Patience, Healing
Eagle is a paragon of patience, vigilantly watching hour after hour from its high perch. Eagle calls us to be patient in all things in order to attract what we truly need into our life.

Eagle, predator of the weak and sick, helps keep a healthy balance in nature. Medicine people and shamans have long used eagle feathers as sacred healing tools. In the British Isles various parts of Eagle’s body were used for healing.

When Eagle appears know that self- healing and/or healing powers for others is at hand.

Divinatory Meaning
Eagle, ancient representative of divinity, calls us to a communion with Source, with our higher selves. Eagle opens our hearts to the wise use of power. Eagle gifts us with the freedom, strength, and courage to forge new paths while at the same time giving us the patience and resilience to confront the difficulties and blocks we might find. Eagle’s endowment of intuition and creativity allows us to heal and to live a balanced life. With the higher vision provided by Eagle, we can break free from our limitations and with courage soar ever higher toward the joy of our true selves.

Sources: Trees for Life, Celtic Heritage, American Eagle Foundation, Native American Eagle Mythology, Eagle Symbol, Symbolism of the Eagle, Spirit Animal, Pure Spirit, Wild Gratitude, Shamanism, Mental Floss, List 25

Judith’s deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards is available now. You can order your deck from Judith’s Etsy Shop. Experience the wisdom of the Celtic Goddesses!

Judith Shaw, a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has been interested in myth, culture and mystical studies all her life. Not long after graduating from SFAI, while living in Greece, Judith began exploring the Goddess in her art. She continues to be inspired by the Goddess in all of Her manifestations. In recent years Judith became very interested in the Goddesses of her own ancestors, the Celts, resulting in her deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle cards. She is now working on her next deck of oracle cards – Animal Spirit Guides. Originally from New Orleans, Judith makes her home in New Mexico where she paints as much as time allows and sells real estate part-time. Give yourself the gift of one of Judith’s prints or paintings, priced from $25 – $3000.



Categories: animals, Earth-based spirituality, Indigenous Spirituality, Paganism

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16 replies

  1. Thanks for sending us Eagle today. For me her message and perspective are timely and en-courage-ing. I love your painting with the spiral in the wing.

    I was wondering, does it trouble you that Imperial Rome and the increasingly Imperial United States had/have the eagle as their standard?

    I am looking forward to your animal deck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Eagles are solar figures associated with male power.

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    • Elizabeth, There are many things about the world and patriarchal culture’s interpretation of things that bother me, including an unbalanced view of Eagle.

      Fran Cruz found this info about why Eagle was chosen as the emblem of the U.S. – “The bald eagle was chosen June 20, 1782 as the emblem of the United States of America, because of its long life, great strength and majestic looks, and also because it was then believed to exist only on this continent.” The original concept was not one of domination.

      What the U.S. has become since then and its relationship to Eagle seems to me to be an overabundance of male power, dominance and corruption. That is the purview of humans – animals live in balance. Imperialism and patriarchy, in all their manifestations, neglect the balance the natural world teaches us.

      I also am bothered by the Aztec story of Eagle eating Snake as what is that symbolically but male power destroying the ancient female power from which life on Earth comes. I hate that the symbolism which comes from our observation of nature gets coopted by power and turned into something that glorifies “power over”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What bothers me the most about the eagle is that in our western culture it has become a symbol for corrupt power. These archetypes have two sides to them and we are surely living the dark side of eagle although Native peoples still have access to the eagle as messenger god. In Nature eagle is a top predator, one who bullies its potential victims…eagle tears flesh…bringing to mind the meaning behind the word sarcasm. I think calling in the eagle as a guide is probably not a wise thing to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sara, But should we throw out all symbols like Eagle or Lion because of the way they have been appropriated by Patriarchy? In nature predators are part of the cycle of life – taking only what they need and no more. It’s human who have stepped outside of the balance provided by nature with such dire consequences.

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  3. In the Broadway musical 1776, there’s a funny song sung by Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin. The Declaration of Independence is being dissected and discussed in the meeting room, so these three guys sit on the steps outside and consider what the national bird of their new country will be. Franklin wants the turkey, which is a source of sustenance and has other good qualities. Jefferson wants the dove. But Adams overrules them both (he has a louder voice): the eagle. You can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vM09UBbQA9I

    Notice what Franklin says about the eagle. We can also remember that the Double-headed Eagle was the imperial symbol of the Habsburg Emperors and the Russian Tsars, i.e., the symbol of two warlike families that were forever going to war in Europe.

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  4. Thanks, Judith, for this delightful, eagle post. Lovely, fascinating. I was wondering why the United States emblem is a bald eagle. And I found this information online —

    “The bald eagle was chosen June 20, 1782 as the emblem of the United States of America, because of its long life, great strength and majestic looks, and also because it was then believed to exist only on this continent.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fran, Thanks for that info about why Eagle was chosen as the emblem of the U.S. Not that I believe for one second that the “Founding Fathers” were interested in real democracy it is interesting to think about how different the mind-set was before we became an imperial power.

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  5. Thanks, Judith, for this compendium of eagle symbolism from around the world. I love the cross-cultural resonances.

    Those of us who follow earth-centered paths need to come to terms with nature. It’s not always lovely and serene. Neither is life. I think that’s why I find nature symbolism so powerful. We are nature as much as any other creature, and as a result, the experiences of nature speak to our lives. Eagle is a good example of that. Life, death, and rebirth are a part of its symbolism, and that includes death. As an elder, a crone, I look at that part of my life more these days, and eagle can help me do that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nancy,
      Thank you for putting that view of the need to recognize all sides of nature so well. Life in the physical dimension is one of duality and though I do believe we could create a more just and equitable world there will always be pain, suffering and death – it’s the natural order of duality.

      It is so interesting to me how so many nature symbols have very similar meanings all around the world. I think that shows how connected we all truly are.

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  1. Eagle Spirit Guide by Judith Shaw — – Ibrahima Bella BAH

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