The reality of omens

When looking for omens in the world around us, it is necessary to consider how reality works in the first place. One of the things I have rejected outright is that other autonomous beings could show up in my life as messages from spirit – because the idea that a hare, a sparrowhawk, or some other attention grabbing thing could have its day messed about purely to try and give me a sign, is profoundly uncomfortable to me. I have something of an animist outlook, and I do not think the universe is *that* into me.

At the same time, influenced by a number of spiritual traditions and myths, I have a sense of the universe as an unfolding thing – a river, a cloth – I don’t know. Something complex, flowing, and with the past informing the future. In that great flow, signs of the flow may emerge like ripples in the stream.

The conclusion I’ve come to is that the best place to look for such ripples is in random things that probably don’t have intent of their own. The behaviour of a moustache is a family favourite. The shape of a bird poo, the patterns made by random natural things, especially if they look a bit like something else. Clouds are great fun for this.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that an amazing encounter with nature can be read in other ways. I saw an otter in town recently. I think the otter was minding its own business, but I can read a number of things into the sighting. It tells me very clear things about the health of my local streams and rivers, it tells me I live in a good place, and that there are reasons to be hopeful. The otter was not bearing this message to me, it is simply what it means in this context, and anyone seeing it could infer the same.

I can however read something into my behaviour at this point. I was in the right place at the right time, and I think that tells me something about my relationship with the flow. I take exciting nature encounters as good omens not because I think nature is bringing me a special message, but because it means I was in just the right place, at exactly the right time, looking the right way and paying attention. That in turn means I am in tune, and would seem to bode well for anything else I’m doing

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

10 responses to “The reality of omens

  • Moon Pryderi

    yes i agree – its very egotistical to suppose that the natural world revolves around the individual and pays us such large attention – but being part of the flow is far more important and I too get ‘signals’ when i am in tune with that. It is also about our own ability to see patterns and that ability is strengthened when we are in tune

  • Nícia

    this is a fresh way to look at signs. i prefer to think that we are in tune, than the universe changed its way because of me. there are so many people in the world, how could it give signs to everyone?

  • janeycolbourne

    The way I see it is that we are all organelles or cells in the body of the Earth, and therefore events around us can be indicators, and relevant to us, but not necessarily specially sent for each individual. We can perceive signs if we are paying attention and open to them.

  • Linda Davis

    Agree. Carl Jung Synchronicity?

  • hejyork

    I read something recently which essentially condensed to say that it doesn’t matter if it’s a sign from a god or a sign of your own making, simply by noticing it you’ve realised that the meaning you’ve received is important and relevant to you now. I do think a lot of signs and omens and such is about where you and your mind and soul are now. See the same thing next week and it could easily be overlooked or mean something completely different.

    The human brain looks for patterns and if we are open to signs, I do believe we will either see what the universe intends or we will see what our subconscious needs us to see. Personally I’m not sure it matters which it is

    • Nimue Brown

      Thank you – that’s a really good point, and I’m very comfortable with the idea of meaning that arises from the sub-conscious, which I think is where most of us do our best thinking anyway.

  • MossBadger

    I like this idea; it has helpfully modified how I view visitations

  • Laura Perry

    “…a hare, a sparrowhawk, or some other attention grabbing thing could have its day messed about purely to try and give me a sign…” To me, this isn’t how it works at all, and I do consider myself to have an animist view. I think the whole “the world is sending messages meant just for li’l ol’ me” thing is fairly modern, but I’m not sure where it really comes from. To me, the universe travels its own paths, whatever those might be, and everything around me (animals, plants, wind, water, and so on) reflects whatever the universe is doing at the moment. This includes whether there’s a flock of geese flying north or a skunk toddling out of the woods toward me. None of it is specifically for me, but I’m able to look around and see what’s going on and notice it, internalize it, maybe understand what some of it means. Since I’m an interconnected part of the universe, the bits I notice can tell me something about my own path through it all (perhaps I’m drawn to certain bits because they’re more pertinent to my own wanderings). I’ve occasionally had direct messages from the gods via animals and other traditional omen-y type things, but they’re rare. Mostly, it’s just the universe moving along its path all around me, and I feel blessed to be able to notice it and do my best to understand how I’m a part of it.

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