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NIGHT HAWK MEDICINE
*Mary Summer Rain/On Dreams:
Nighthawk connotes extreme high awareness.
Keynote: Diligence and persistence.
Primaries: blackish with a white bar and no rusty spots.
The nighthawk is not really a hawk or a bird of prey in the
hawk or falcon family. It is actually a
swisher, a member of the whip-poor-will family, of which there
are a number of varieties. I
spoke of the swisher in my book Animal-Speak, but over the years
so many have asked about the
nighthawk that I am including a little more here. I strongly
recommend reading and studying the
information on the swisher in the previous work.
The nighthawk is a crepuscular bird, meaning that it is most
active at twilight where its form is
recognizable as it is often seen sweeping by with stiff wings.
It is a diligent and persistent hunter
of insects, and thus it teaches us to be the same. Nothing succeeds
Among the Hopi, it was called "Rain Flopper" because
it makes a sound during courtship that
seemed to imitate thunder to them. It was a sacred bird to have
around, especially for newly
made fields created to capture run-off. It was a sign of success
When nighthawk appears, we need to ask ourselves some important
questions. Are we truly
going after what we seek? Are we persisting? If we wish the
rains of abundance in our lives, are
we willing to do our part to bring them?
Keynote: Awakening to the Faerie Realm--Accomplishment For the
Sake of Accomplishment
Cycle of Power: Dusk--Summer
This bird is often referred to as a nighthawk, but it is no
hawk at all. It is a cousin to the whippoor-will.
It is a bird with a variegated plumage of white, black, and
buff, reflecting that
intersection of night and day we call dusk.
Dusk is the time at which the swisher is most active. It is
a time long associated with fairies,
elves, and the awakening of spirits. The swisher is a bird of
the "Tween Time," and is often seen
as a transport vehicle for those of the Faerie Realm.
The swisher is part of a group of birds that used to be called
goatsuckers because of an age old
belief that they sucked the milk of goats. This probably originated
with the folk ideas of
mischievous elves and fairies who helped themselves to milk
from goats and cows on farms near
Many misbehaviors and misfortunes were attributed to elves and
fairies when there was no
rational explanation. The souring of milk, the disappearance
of objects, and even the stealing of
milk was attributed to them. Since swishers and other "goatsuckers"
of European origin were
active at dusk and night (the time of elf and fairy activity),
they were considered the vehicles of
those of the Faerie Realm.
The swisher has a short bill and wide mouth. It hunts at dusk
and it feeds on insects that are
captured and eaten in flight. They are most conspicuous and
active at dusk and at night. This
reflects much about those who have a swisher as a totem. They
will often find themselves so
active that they seem to live on the run. It will be important
for those who have a swisher come
into their lives to pay attention to the "Tween Times--dawn,
dusk, midnight, noon, all times that
are neither one or the other. These will be times of greatest
inspiration and power. You will find
yourself more effective in all of your activities.
Unlike other nightjars or goatsuckers, the swisher is more often
seen than heard. Many people
see them at night, but often don't realize what they are seeing.
Many see this again as a direct
correspondence to fairies and elves, with them being around
and not being noticed.
If a swisher has come into your life you may wish to examine
aspects of your life activities. Are
you feeling neglected? Are you neglecting or not honoring important
others in your life? Are you
trying to get attention when you should be focusing on just
accomplishing your tasks? Are you or
others around you forcing attention? Are you feeling caught
in the middle and as if you are not
accomplishing things? The swisher will teach you to do your
life tasks, and to do them well just
for the sake of doing them, rather than for extraneous attention.
It will teach you that there is no
need to blow your own horn. When you do your job well, others
will do that for you.
The swisher builds no nest of its own. It lays its two eggs
upon the bare ground. This in itself is
highly significant. It needs no glamour. It sees the earth as
its nest, and it brings forth creative
life. The two eggs also have symbolic significance for those
who wish to explore the
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