Exploring signs, symbolism, and the impact they have on us
Every time I see a cardinal, I choose to believe it is my grandmother’s presence. This sacred bird, perched upon a branch, is the spirit world speaking to me directly in ornithological form. It’s a moment that was meant to be, and is no mere coincidence.
Well, according to All About Birds, “the total breeding population size of the species is 120 million birds.”
Despite their massive population, I still choose to believe that the red-plumaged bird is my grandmother connecting with me.
There is mathematical and statistical evidence to explain why the “unexplained” seems to happen to us. I would go out on a limb and say that any scientist could and would elucidate why the random isn’t so random. I certainly won’t attempt to myself as a.) I’m absolutely not a scientist b.) I took STAT 101 in college three times.
Many of the signs, symbols and beliefs we hold dear to us are deeply rooted in ancient cultures and religions. The cardinal being a messenger of the spirit world can be traced back thousands of years to indigenous peoples. Karma is rooted in several religions, particularly Hinduism and Buddhism. For those who grew up in Catholic households the prayer to St. Anthony, who is the patron saint of lost items, can be looked at as a ritual or even a spell. If you’re not familiar, the following prayer is used to help find items that have been lost (some variations may differ):
Dear St. Anthony, please come around
Something is lost and cannot be found
If you find it, please return it to me
And oh how happy I will be.
Why this prayer isn’t necessarily a “sign” or a “symbol” it’s an example of our thinking that if we place faith in God/the universe/whatever you believe, something else will happen in return. We’ll receive an answer, a sign, anything that will make us believe there is something else — or someone else — out there. And I will say, this prayer has “worked” for me every single time.
I struggle with looking too much into random, unexplained events and basing my life decisions around them. I think this might be where looking for the signs can negatively impact our life. Especially if we aren’t receiving the signs from the universe that we think we should be receiving.
For example — in the midst of taking a break on this piece, I was having a negative thought, when I inexplicably spilled a glass of water. Is the universe telling me YES that thought is true or, is it telling me “girl, snap out of that thinking.” I’ll ponder this for the remainder of the day. It’s also worth noting I’m a fairly consistent klutz.
The TikTok algorithm has led me to “tarot TikTok” and “WitchTok.” If you’re not on it, the visual social media platform will fill your feed with videos based on what you like, follow, and spend time watching. Yet, here I am thinking each individual TikTok about my spirit guides trying to reach me or this tarot reading is aimed directly at me, and only me.
I asked on Instagram for people to submit the signs and symbols they look for. Many people submitted numbers (11:11, 3, 7, 444), animals (butterflies, certain birds, ladybugs) and nature’s wonders (beams of light, wind through the trees, bodies of water). It was comforting and interesting there were so many commonalities.
While reading Italian Folk Magic by Mary-Grace Fahrun, I came across this passage about signs:
Perhaps finding that passage was indeed itself a sign.
What signs and symbols do you look for? Drop it in the comments.