My Totem: The Great Blue Heron

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I was coming in one afternoon after feeding the goats their ration of hay and was feeling quite low. That week we had lost a couple of chickens to the biting cold and rats had taken up residence in our rabbitry, killing kits for an easy meal in the night. Traps were set and Peach, one of our Maremma livestock guardian dogs had been sleeping in house the with them now, but my mood had spoiled, and for days I had been carrying around a burden. I had failed to do a proper job of protecting my livestock. My emotions were raw, and frankly I was hating myself for the weakness I had demonstrated. Had I no business becoming a farmer? It sure felt like I didn’t.

Image by Sue Coleman

Then I saw it. I was sulking back to the house, hoping to warm my insides with some hot barley tea. Standing on the rocky edge of the old, mostly frozen fountain pond in front of our cottage was a slate blue bird with a long serpentine neck, standing on two stilted legs. A Great Blue Heron. It was striking against the dull brown and grey and pointed edges of winter.

As I approached, the bird startled and flew away toward the woods. Her wings were a deep navy blue and I was surprised that a span that great would come from such a slender thing. She disappeared into the wood for just a moment, and then circled back, returning to the pond and landing in the place it was just moments before. I gently turned back towards the house, leaving the great bird to it’s business.

For the next two days, the heron returned to our pond.

Now, this is not a bird that we see a whole lot of around here. For sure, this coastal habitat is prime for such animals, but we just don’t see them up on the farm. Usually down by the river, on the pier they can be seen from time to time. Always in some place where there is reasonable access to food. But, here she was by the frozen pond in our front yard. It made little sense to me. I sought out meaning to her visits. And this is what I found:


Animal Totems:  (from

If Heron has come wading across your path;

It is time to look deeper into aspects of your life that will bring out innate wisdom and show you how to become self-reliant. Are you grounding yourself regularly? Heron teaches that grounding yourself in the earth and your spiritual beliefs will help you discover emotional insights more clearly and more quickly.

Alternatively he could be teaching you how how to become comfortable in uncertain situations and to be watchful of opportunities to arise so that you can quickly grasp them and move on.

If Heron is your Animal Totem;

You love to explore various activities and dimensions of Earth life. On the surface, this may seem like a form of dabbling, but more than likely you are wonderfully successful at being a traditional ‘Jack of all trades’.

This ability enables you to follow their own path. Most people will never quite understand the way you live because on the surface it seems to be unstructured without stability or security to it. It is, though, just a matter of perspective. There is security underneath it all, for it gives you the ability to do a variety of tasks. If one way does not work, then another will. This is something you seem to inherently know.

You do not seem to need a lot of people in your life, nor do you feel pressured to keep up with the material world, or to be traditional in your life roles. You stand out in your uniqueness, and you know how to snatch and take advantage of things and events that the average person would not even bother with.

If Heron has come to you in your dreams;

To see a heron in your dream represents self-reliance, stability, tactfulness and careful forethought. You will achieve much success through your efforts. Alternatively, dreaming of a heron signifies your ability to explore and delve into your subconscious.

Additional Associations of Heron;

  • Aggressive
  • Self‐determined
  • Balance
  • Vigilance
  • Quiet
  • Power of water
  • The underworld
  • Tact
  • Delicacy
  • Renewal
  • Life
  • Transformation
  • Determination
  • Follow your own path
  • Helps look deeper into aspects of life
  • Innate wisdom
  • All aspects of diversity
  • Self-reliance
  • Boundaries
  • Exploration
  • Self-esteem
  • Balancing multiple tasks
  • Dignity”


So, as you can imagine, after reading this I was all but convinced that this bird and I are connected in some deeper way. I’m a skeptic by nature but I do believe that when a person is in need and open, some great energy of this world will present you with a gift or a tool to help you through it. I expect that the Great Blue Heron was the world’s gift to me this winter, telling me that this journey has just begun and that I should brace myself for a long road ahead.


3 Responses

  1. Patricia Semen January 29, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Love the way you write and tell a story. Yes let your spirit animal guide you so you may ground yourself to gain further ballance in your life. and remember that we are all human, no one is perfect all of the time. not even perfectionists which you seem to be. dont be too hard on yourself. Move on and believe in your best abilities. thats all you can do..youre doing a great job. and the community and families around you are all the better for knowing you and your work.

  2. J.T. August 12, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Just found your website. Was searching for information regarding blue heron medicine. Last weekend went to visit friends at a lake. Went to the boat dock. A blue heron was standing there. Didn’t think too much about it. A few hours later we stopped on an island. While exploring I found a huge feather right on the beach, completely dry. It turned out to be a blue heron wing feather. I brought it home and began searching for totem and guide meanings of this bird. I was thunderstruck. I am in the process of attempting to write a children’s book. And use my writing and drawing skills. I am a jack-of-all-trades. Have also farmed as well. Sensed having drifted from the earth and my true nature. Hard on myself for being so afraid to jump out in trust my senses and body as I did as a child. I wish space permitted me to share more. Just want to stand on my own two legs and trust the creative process to lead and provide. Always been different, or odd-man out. Eclectic interests (pilot, bagpipes, oil painting, welding, bush-hoggin’.) But the lack of focus has been hard. A “bricoleur” if ever there was one. I know you don’t have any magic bullet or answers. This is not the first time feathers have crossed in my path. Was given a Red-Tailed Hawk feather several years ago as well. I asked a medicine man up at Pipestone National Park about bird totems. He said that bird totems were rare. And that finding feathers was an even rarer gift. When I read about blue heron medicine, I could not believe what I was reading. It was exactly where I am at the moment. I was just about to give up on writing and drawing. I see I’ve got to keep pressing onward. Follow my hope and desire regardless of the doubt that swirls around me. Stand on my own two legs, in spite of how shaky they feel at the moment.

  3. J.T. August 12, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Almost forgot . . . . If you have not read it, please obtain the following book: “Free Play Improvisation in Life and Art” by Steve Nachmanovich. It is priceless. Steve is a classically trained violist. I’m 53 and have been struggling with my “jack-of-all-trades” make-up, but Steve writes about this very thing. Some of the chapters include: “The Power of Mistakes,” “Inspiration and Time’s Flow,” “”Sex and Violins,” “The Power of Limits,” “Form Unfolding,” “The Judging Spectre” “Mind at Play” just to name a few. When I read your recent blog post, I chuckled. Man are we ever in the same boat. I am a stay-at-home dad of nine-year old twins, and my wife teaches school and brings home the income. I’ve bucked every step of the way. But all my other career doors slammed shut in my face. I know the anxiety and fear of wondering where the money is coming from. Or that maybe I am being a dead-beat trying to follow being a writer/illustrator. Well, I’ll jump down off my soap box here. But do investigate the book. You will not be disappointed, and it will truly help put your mind and heart at ease. Remember, we’re explorers. Artists, writers, and all creative types are. We shake up the world. That’s our job. It’s a lonely walk for sure. Then Providence sends a blue heron our way. “Impossible”, Napoleon is quoted as saying, “is found only in the lexicon of fools.”


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