The hummingbird is one of the four major power animals in Peru (the others being snake, jaguar/puma, and condor). I remember being surprised when I first heard that several years ago; how could such a little creature be important and powerful enough that it would be considered an ally to a whole culture?
We’re all drawn to different teachers. In the shamanic understanding, each person, plant, animal, element, mineral, and human teacher carries its own medicine, and Mother Nature has made sure that there is a medicine for everything and everyone. You can work with an herb, a gemstone, a human teacher, an element, or an animal. These allies might be appropriate for your entire life or for a particular incident or time period; teachers may be with you for years, or may come and go. Everything in nature has wisdom and medicine to share when we learn to pay attention.
Hummingbird medicine is sweetness. She is nourished by nectar, color, and beauty. Far from being frivolous, we learn from Sewarkente that these are the things that make life worth living. We can struggle and feel sad, and can also taste sweetness and feel delight. Comforts make pain bearable until it fades away. This is one of the gifts of Hummingbird: to remind us that all is not lost, that beauty and nectar exist and are ours for the savoring when we’re ready, when we remember that we don’t have to make ourselves worthy of it first. It’s medicine we can take anytime because we don’t need to earn it. Beauty and sweetness are everywhere when we remember how to take them in.
Hummingbirds migrate thousands of miles every year on those little tiny wings. What a bold, bad-ass endeavor! They never ask permission or moan and groan about how long the trip is. They never whimper, “But look at my wings! I can’t do that.” They just go, without doubting that they’ll make it. They set their course and fly and they make it every time.
All along the way, they stop and drink deeply of the nectar that keeps them alive, fueling them for the journey. They don’t wait until they get there to take of themselves or wait to be rewarded for the accomplishment. They know that the only way to succeed is to keep themselves fully fed.
They are also the only creatures that can fly backwards. If you watch footage of hummingbirds feeding, you’ll see them dive headfirst into a flower, then back out. It’s an aerodynamic marvel—they are athletes with tremendous agility, adaptability, commitment, and intuitive decision-making prowess. Symbolically, this backwards and forwards flight pattern shows us our connection to the past, present, and future. We send energy back in time to bond with the wisdom of the ancients and our ancestors. We bring it forward into this moment and the task or celebration at hand. And we move into the future powered by these lessons and the dedication and love we carry throughout time and space.
This mighty little bird has taught me so much. I’m honored that I’ve been able to receive these teachings, which have served me so incredibly well these past few years. My logo is a simple way of paying tribute to my teacher and her big, bold medicine. Urpai chai sonquollay, hatun Sewarkente. A dove flies from my heart to yours, great Hummingbird.