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Totems: Hummingbird, Part 2

by Cie Simurro, a.k.a. Thunderbird Starwoman

Whose heart doesn’t lift at the sight of a hummingbird? Their speed can be breath-taking. Hummers have been clocked racing with a car at 60 mph. Do you have enough joy in your life? Next time hummingbird flies around you, try merging with it. What does it feel like to have hummingbird’s metabolism, its powers of flight? Savor the nectar and its sweetness. Allow yourself to try the nectar of many flowers. Be aware of what and who is around you. Most of all, feel joie de vivre (the joy of life) surge through your unburdened being.

Where does joy come from? Is it soft or is it fierce? If you don’t feel it, can you call it to you like hunters calling prey with whistles? Can it be snared or caught, or does the very energy of such ways and means scare it away? What is the size of joy? Where does it live? Can you give it away to another, or even really share it? Can you hold onto it for any length of time? Hummingbird people shift in 0-60! They exhibit fierce creativity and activity, followed by recoil. Joy is like sparkling water. After awhile, it goes flat, but glorious is the opening and subsequent moments of its bubbling dance. Joy is unexpected - never captive - virginally innocent. It often appears in synchronization, but can’t really be shared – only enjoyed together. Joy reminds us who we are. It shows us that we can regenerate. When that happens, we remember who we were when we were truly ourselves. That is why children often feel joy. No expectations - and besides, who else should they be? Delight and Joy play together. Joy’s twin is Hopefulness. Joy’s parents are Inspiration and Service. Its children are Fulfillment and Creative Expression. The best place to find joy is in nature, children, or your inner child’s playground.

Ah, the fragrances of the flowers, the kaleidoscope of jewel colors, the sounds and movement. Hummingbird brings us a full array of delight to the senses. What a romancer hummer is. The male is the more colorful of the species. Vivid dazzling colors, and elaborate plumage such as crests, beards, streamer tails, or ruffs are meant to woo and win the female in an elaborate display at mating time. The Broad-tailed hummer’s wing tips vibrate at 200 beats per second during his courtship display. A series of rapid swoops culminates in a hover in front of the female, showing off his head and gorget (throat) colors. Color is an important part of hummingbird medicine. Color is all about light, geometry and vibration. Iridescent colors change according to the angle at which light hits the feather - either onto a thin layer of keratin at the surface of the barbules (tiny sub-feathers) - or light passes through a kind of film, like an oil slick. The thicker film refracts the longer red rays (1st chakra), rather than the shorter blues or violets (chakras 5, 6 and 7).

The largest hummer is a little over 8". The smallest is 2" - the size of an insect. Even the smallest hummingbirds have bills half as long as their heads. The Swordbill’s is as big as its head, tail and body combined. Hummers have tongues even longer than their bills. Tongue edges roll into a double tube up which nectar can be sucked. Tail shapes are amazing and vary tremendously. Tails symbolize independence; walking to a different drummer; steering one’s own course. Hummers are fiercely independent and so are folks with this totem. Tails range from short, square or rounded, to long and tapered. Forked tails are either blunt or long-scissored. Maybe the most dramatic looking hummer lives in one valley in Peru and has two central, very long streamers which cross each other. At the ends there are eye-of-the-peacock-looking patches. This hummingbird is so rare, it has not been determined how they are used in courtship, but they are so beautiful, we must not overlook the obvious visual as an answer.

Did you know that hummingbirds only live in the New World, that is, the Americas, from Alaska in the west and Labrador in the East, down to the tip of South America – though recently hummingbird skeletons have been discovered in Europe? In the past, hummingbird’s good looks have cost it greatly. After an Aztec cloak made of hummingbird skins was given to the Pope, hundreds of thousands were killed. Europeans used them for jewelry, ornaments, dust catchers, and artificial flowers. In the 19th century, one London dealer, in one year alone, imported 400,000 hummingbird skins from Columbia and the West Indies. Thank goodness, that’s over!

The Bee hummer of Cuba, at only 2 ¼" and 7/100 of an ounce is the smallest bird in the world. Small though they are, the amount of energy a hummer burns is phenomenal. If a 170 lb. man expended energy at the rate of a Ruby-throated hummingbird, he would have to eat double his own weight in potatoes A DAY! And… would have to evaporate 100 pounds of perspiration PER HOUR to keep his temperature under boiling! Since a hummingbird requires at least as much nectar as body weight, gathering nectar is their primary occupation. They build up fat reserves to live off during their migrations. Why do hummers migrate? They are specialized eaters, who must have nectar year-round. Which is why they migrate to where the flowers are blooming. In the north, watch them begin their migration right after the jewelweed blooms at the end of summer.

Do you like to go south in the winter? The Ruby-throat is the only hummingbird who breeds in the eastern United States. The Violet-crowned hummingbird lives in Mexico in winter, but crosses the border without a passport to raise a family in Arizona and New Mexico canyons. Many hummers migrate from tropical areas in winter to cooler regions for breeding. When not migrating, hummers must eat about every fifteen minutes while awake. The Ruby-throat doubles its weight before migrating non-stop, over 500 miles across the Gulf of Mexico to winter in Central America. Metabolic tests have shown that the Ruby-throat cannot possibly do this thing. Gosh! Someone ought to let the hummers know! If this is your totem or you are hovering in its energy for a time, you are amazingly resilient and determined. Here’s another amazing fact: each of the islands in the Caribbean even large ones, have only one species of hummingbird. No other species can move in unless there’s a vacancy, and yet the attached land masses circling the Carib have many species of hummer living together.

Hummingbirds can see color from red (first chakra) into the ultra-violet range of color, which is beyond violet (crown chakra). Part of their association with joy has to do with the full rainbow spectrum of energy running up and down the chakras, like musical notes. Think of it: the chakras are the engine of our energy systems. When all the chakras are spinning in alignment, our beings experience a symphony of joy, happiness and love. Seeing a hummingbird’s dazzling display of color reminds me of the medicine of the rainbow: a promise that we are loved. If your consciousness is aligned with hummingbird, you may heal with the use of sound. Not just through humming, which reverberates through the body as toning. Perhaps you use your voice to bring healing to others. Were you aware that hummers can also imitate the songs of other birds? This vocal learning is proof of their relatively large brains. People with this totem have quick-witted intelligence.

Hummingbird nests made by the female are carefully woven cups of plant material or moss, held together with spider webs. If this is your totem, you may have a home filled with priceless antiques or are skilled at decorating with beautiful color schemes. Hummers decorate the outside of their nest with lichen or moss to camouflage. Two pea-sized, elliptical, pure white eggs are incubated for a fortnight. The nestlings remain for about three weeks, for they must be able to fly upon leaving the nest. As far as anyone can tell, the polygamous male does not linger after mating to help in either nest-building or raising the babies. Men with this totem may sweep a woman off her feet, but not stay for long. Women with this totem may be preoccupied with rearing the children. We are well advised to appreciate beauty in the moment. To Socrates, "the good the true and the beautiful" was the standard by which to live. Those with hummingbird medicine are dedicated to bringing beauty to others in myriad forms.

How can we be joyous in situations of anxiety, anger or disappointment? More than anything else, joy comes from a sense of POSSIBILITY. Dare to dream the world you want to live in, who you want to be, and what you want to do. How do you know what you cannot do or be, until you’ve given it a try with all you’ve got!

Cie does individual healing sessions for animals and humans (3-hour session-34 years experience) to bring you full circle for optimum results. Cie’s Salon on the 1st Saturday of the month utilizes various art forms and shamanic experiences to enhance writing. Call ahead at 413 625-0385/cie@cie simurro.com. Send $22 to PO Box 295, Shelburne Falls MA 01370 for Totems for Stewards of the Earth book.

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