Symbols - What does heaven look like
The Hummingbird takes on the symbolism of all birds. It is yet again a bird chosen in shamanic societies for shape shifting based on its attributes.
In the first place it is an agile, adept flier, quick and graceful, able to stop on a sixpence and hover, signifying symbolically a shaman capable of very accomplished out of body flight.
Hummingbirds are among the smallest of birds, and include the smallest extant bird species, the Bee Hummingbirds. They can hover in mid-air by rapidly flapping their wings 12–90 times per second (depending on the species). They can also fly backwards, and are the only group of birds able to do so. Their English name derives from the characteristic hum made by their rapid wing beats. They can fly at speeds exceeding 15 m/s (54 km/h, 34 mi/h).
Their beaks are long and slightly curved linking to the symbolism of the Crescent moon
Most hummingbirds have bills that are long and straight or nearly so, but in some species the bill shape is adapted for specialized feeding. …..The two halves of a hummingbird's bill have a pronounced overlap, with the lower half (mandible) fitting tightly inside the upper half (maxilla). When hummingbirds feed on nectar, the bill is usually only opened slightly, allowing the tongue to dart out and into the interior of flowers.
It is also a beautiful luminous Light filled little bird, all the colours of the Rainbow.
And it hums, like a Bee, linking it to the function of Humming and buzzing - a true sign of the out of body traveller.
They also appear to have limitless energy, the never say die attitude of a fervent traveller on the spiritual path. The fact that they are fuelled by nectar is also important.
Hummingbirds drink nectar, a sweet liquid inside flowers. Like bees, they are able to assess the amount of sugar in the nectar they eat; they reject flower types that produce nectar that is less than 10% sugar and prefer those whose sugar content is stronger.
And if they are not drinking nectar they are eating insects. Insects are symbolically the spirit beings of chemicals such as drugs and some of them [as will be seen from the observations for insects] are not at all pleasant. The pharmaceuticals invented by man have produced some truly evil looking spirit beings in the form of insect like creatures within dreams, visions and hallucinations. And Hummingbirds eat insects - they fight evil.
Hummingbirds meet their needs for protein, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, etc. by preying on insects and spiders, especially when feeding young. Hummingbirds feed in many small meals, consuming many small invertebrates and up to five times their own body weight in nectar each day. They spend an average of 10–15% of their time feeding and 75–80% sitting and digesting.
The hummingbird is also a bird that loves the colour Red. Especially a fiery red. To attract a hummingbird, a flower must be red, bloom in the daytime, be rich in nectar and lack any sort of landing pad thereby eliminating competition from other birds. They like red so much in fact that people in Louisiana hang red Christmas ribbon, red surveyor’s tape, and other red items around their yards to be sure hummingbirds won’t pass them by.
Despite their size, hummingbirds are extraordinary travellers capable of flying vast distances. But they do not 'ascend', they fly at a level. In effect this little spiritual traveller has a purpose here on earth - a destiny - that does not involve an upward spiritual path but a mission somewhat like a hero. At the end of his/her life the mission may have been accomplished and they will have done a good job, but they are still on the Wheel.
This is a person who has chosen to make life’s journey a spiritual one, but not one of inactivity but one of activity and positive contribution. A co-creator in the most positive sense.
Internet site on bird symbolism
The hummingbird, the tiniest of all birds, is the only creature that can stop dead while travelling at full speed. It can hover, or can go forward, backward, up or down….. Hummingbird feathers have been prized for their almost magical qualities. If you have Hummingbird medicine, you … have high energy and a spirit that must be free. To restrict that wonderful, free, loving energy is to suffer great depressions and feelings of uselessness. Hummingbird must fly free in search of beauty, spreading joy and love to all it touches. It is about independence and courage.
....but there is also the hint that a Hummingbird person is a bag of nervous energy incapable of relaxing, always doing things for others or trying to achieve their destiny, the symbolism is perfect
With the exception of insects, hummingbirds while in flight have the highest metabolism of all animals, a necessity in order to support the rapid beating of their wings. Their heart rate can reach as high as 1,260 beats per minute, a rate once measured in a Blue-throated Hummingbird. They also consume more than their own weight in nectar each day, and to do so they must visit hundreds of flowers daily. Hummingbirds are continuously hours away from starving to death, and are able to store just enough energy to survive overnight.
As is to be expected, the humming bird features symbolically only in those countries where it is found. As such we see a considerable number of American – South and North American cultures - incorporating Humming Birds into their rituals, and many instances of people ‘becoming’ humming birds, using the humming bird as their means of transport. I have provided more detail in the observations, so that I can link to the culture and also so that this section is not too long.
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- Aztecs and hummingbirds
- Cohen, Leonard - Going home
- Coleridge, David Hartley - The insect birds that suck nectareous juice
- Hopi and Zuni - Hummingbird legend
- Mayan - Hummingbird symbolism
- Misc. source - The Nazca culture
- Pueblo and Mojave - Native American Indians - The hummingbird
- Reichel-Dolmatoff – Amazonian Cosmos - Humming and buzzing
- Taino - Carribean hummingbirds
- The Healing Wisdom of Birds – Lesley Morris - On Parrots
- Tree, Isabella - Sliced Iguana – Humming bird symbolism
- Villoldo, Dr Alberto - The Hummingbird archetype