Native American Understanding of Nature 

Hidden Treasure-Historical Truth
Native American Understanding of Nature
By Katherine Bone
            Civilization has long communicated with Mythical Gods and nature as a means of understanding the world. Greeks worshiped Zeus and Hera. Vikings sought guidance from Odin and Thor. Japanese practiced Shinto, ancestral worship of gods called kumi, found in rivers, rocks, mountains and trees. And Native American Indians have long worshiped the Great Spirit who created all things related to Mother Earth.
            To the Indian, everything is sacred and spirit oriented, and every contact with the natural brings with it a lesson on life. Prayer is given to the Sun, Moon, Stars, Rain, Wind and Waters, along with all those that crawl, fly, and swim. These creatures are viewed as “relations”, teachers, protectors, guardians, supernatural aids, and sources of power and knowledge. And through this ancient reality much can be learned as long as the Indian is dedicated to pray, talk, sing, dance, meditate, touch, smell, and offer tobacco, herbal smoke, food or some other gift to the spirits.
            Nature speaks symbolically. To understand this message, the Indian is ever vigilant. Understanding that everything in nature has two sides, the physical and the spiritual, leads the Indian to better understand natural law and language. Most of this can be learned through vision quests, dreams, signs, and omens, which must be translated by a Shaman or elder who has past down the many “Grandfather stories” from generation to generation. By observing nature in action and following natural law, these stories aid the Indian into living his or her life in accordance with spiritual belief.
Here are some animal signs and omens according to Native American lore:
            Antelope is a messenger forewarning human behavior.
            Badger is a protector who also warns of danger when traveling.
            Bear represents wisdom, insight, introspection, protection and healing.
            Beaver has good power but can warn of confusion and conflict.
            Bobcat and Panther forewarns you are being stalked by an enemy.
            Buffalo symbolizes strong power and is a special messenger of strength.
            Coyote can be a creator or trickster full of magic, special powers and teachings.
            Deer have good powers and can be our eyes and ears if we acquire their power.
            Elk is a strong protector of women.
            Fox is a messenger of danger, sickness or possible death but is also a guardian.
            Gopher is a bad sign but a good animal.
            Mink can be a symbol of wealth and good health.
            Muskrat is a good sign and represents wealth.
            Otter represents wealth, playfulness, and happiness.
            Porcupine sightings bring messages of good weather or hunting.
            Raccoon is a good sign and a protector.
            Mole seen digging in yard symbolizes death.
            Skunk is a bad power that causes conflict, sickness, and bad luck.
            Weasel is cunning, playful, smart, swift and courageous.
            Wolf is a protector, good hunter, wise, cunning, strong, and mysterious.
            Wolverine and Fisher are good omens who bring warrior power and medicine.
Bird signs and omens:
            Blue Jays gossip, are noisy, arrogant, prideful and selfish.
            Buzzard and Vultures forewarn interruptions and problems are forthcoming.
            Crane or Egret is a peacemaker and fisherman.
            Eagle represents protection, wealth, wisdom, foresight, strength and spirituality.
            Flickerbird whistles relate a visitor is coming, forewarn of thunderstorms.
            Geese foretell the changing of seasons.
            Hummingbird is a good-luck messenger, doctor and healer.
            Magpie is wise, clever, a good talker and listener, a real friend to humans.
            Osprey or Fish Hawk forewarns of potentially dangerous and lethal accidents.
            Owl is a messenger of evil, sickness and a sign of death.
            Quail communicate a friendly person is coming.
            Raven and Crow are signs of protection and messengers of wealth.
            Robin brings happiness, good health, and love to families.
            Turkey is arrogant, colorful, sneaky, quick-minded, and tricky.
            Woodpecker symbolizes wealth, good luck, happiness, and healing.
            Wren, Black-headed Wren (also Snow Bird) relates when its going to snow.         
                        Chickadee forewarns when people are gossiping.
                        Swallow announces when spring is coming.
            Other Small Birds foretell bad weather, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and droughts.
Insect signs and omens:
            Ant represents strength, psychic abilities, sharp thinking, and planning.
            Bee is a messenger of sex, fertility, protection, and love power.
            Beetle is a messenger of weather change, good or bad.
            Butterfly signals change, balance, harmony, grace, peace, beauty and spirituality.
            Cockroach forewarns sickness, disease, or unpleasant people will be coming.
            Cricket means that bad prayers or wishes are being made against you.
            Flies are messengers of jealousy or warn of foul weather and bring sickness.
            Moth tells us a ghost is around.
            Spider can warn of small danger, jealousy, or lies.
            Ticks have bad power indicating droughts, diseases or forest fires.
Reptile and Snake signs and omens:
            Alligator warns of danger.
            Frogs are doctors, healers, seers and fortune-tellers. (Toads are bad luck.)
            Garden or Garter Snake are messengers of jealousy.
            Lizards talk in dreams. Small lizards protect children and babies.
            Snakes are very psychic, good hunters and fighters, and can have good power.
            Turtles are healers, protectors, grant long life, wisdom and good health.
            So it is with these signs and omens the Native American lives, at all times, trying to follow the Red Road, which leads to peace, while celebrating the role these “relations” play throughout nature and the spiritual realm.


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