Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Spirit Animal – Red Headed Sapsucker (Woodpecker)

red sapsucker woodpecker

 Picture of red headed sapsucker (woodpecker) taken by Ann Kelliot from

NOTE: Most often in North America, the red headed sapsucker is called “red headed woodpecker”.


This morning as I walked the dogs, I enjoyed the different messages that the animals and nature were giving to me.  The goal of our walk is a place called “Mallard Point” about 3.8 kilometres from our house.  As we were coming up to the last bend in the trail, this flashy little bird drummed on the tree next to the trail and looked straight at me.  After we connected, he flew away.  As we walked forward, the gate to Mallard Point was locked and a Park Ranger and a city policeman were guarding the gate.  Beyond them, on the trail, I could see several police cars and an EMS vehicle.  Appearances suggested that there had been a death.  I kept walking.  Later, the evening news confirmed that a body had washed down the river, possibly from the mountains.

What does Red Headed Woodpecker have to say?

1.  Generally, Woodpecker is very fast and moves up and down and uses its tail to move quickly around the trees making it difficult for predators to eat them.

2.  As they move in trees, Woodpecker moves up, coasts and flies upward again. 

3.  Although they are quick enough to catch insects in the air, they love to use their beaks to hammer out food from the trunks of trees.  The different sounds of their pecking will tell you the type of insect it is after, and even something about the tree.  Woodpecker shares the truth of the moment.

4. The drumming is also Woodpecker’s way of signalling its territory to other males, showing that this piece of the Earth is its connection to the Mother, and the particular drumming that

5.  Legends about Woodpecker abound.  According to a Lakota legend, the red-headed woodpecker taught a poor young suitor how to make and play the first flute. The suitor was then able to win the respect of his tribe and the hand of the chief's beautiful daughter. That is why their flutes are made to resemble this bird.  Pawnee mythology tells a story  of the Woodpecker and the Turkey. The Woodpecker and the Turkey once had a debate as to which bird should be called the protector of humankind. The turkey felt she deserved the title since she laid the largest clutch of eggs. However, the woodpecker's cautious ways won the argument since she kept her young safely nestled inside the tall tree trunks. Although the woodpecker laid fewer eggs, the survival rate of her young was greater than that of the turkey's because she taught them so well that they were certain to live to old age. From the site  Early European trappers of the fur trade believed that a Woodpecker with a red crest appearing close to you was the foreteller of death and the transition to the after life.

The messages that Woodpecker brings are many, so one must choose that message which resonates.  One message is to speak one’s truth and march to the beat that one hears in their heart.  Another message concerns how you send out your message – is it clear and full of meaning and rhythm, or is it chaotic without meaningful rhythm? Does it show a deep relationship to the Earth and therefore grounded behaviour, or does it speak of one who is ungrounded, flighty, and sends mixed messages about their journey?  The drumming out of territory speaks of someone who aggressively takes a stand on issues.  However, are you too aggressive and therefore controlling and domineering?  Do you need to relax your views and allow room for the views of others?

May you find the beat and rhythm that allows you to be part of the Earth and to find the path that gives you the easiest journey.

Blessings,   Reminder that our New Moon ceremony is on May 24th at 7:30pm.  See

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