Signs & Symbolism, Applied

We in the Pagan Community talk about following the signs of the universe around us. When we refer to that general subject, what we often have in mind is a specific litany of concepts, like tarot cards, the birds that happened to cross our paths lately, or the dreams that we had last night. We interpret these signs and symbols in various ways, wondering how thoroughly correct this or that prediction might prove to be.

When we interpret these, sometimes we’re trying to find the happily-ever-after that’s been alluding us. Sometimes we’re trying to nail down exactly where the pitfalls are, so that we can sidestep them. I’ve heard people try to nail down when something bad with their work, their lover, or their car might happen, so they might have a chance to plan ahead or even avoid it. For me, I often experience time out of order, something I refer to as “premembering.” I’ve finally gotten good at really nailing down whether or not it’s a memory – that was the hard part. It feels like a normal memory. However, in practice it’s a matter of discerning if I’ve actually experienced the thing that I suddenly remember when looking at a picture, hearing a phrase, or smelling that specific scent. Sometimes it was when I was a child. Sometimes I remember feeling sore and old, though, and a feel of time having passed. Or I can kind of hear a baby crying in the distance, and a new mom nearby trying to soothe it. Either it has happened already, or those items are something that have not occurred yet in my world, but might.

There has often been a conversational topic passed back and forth of “Would you want to know when you’re going to die?” Me, personally – I’d rather be prepared. Many people wouldn’t! And yet many of the bad things we can predict in our lives are not necessarily dark, they don’t hint at the reader being drawn to negativity, and in fact they can be used to prevent disaster. One night when I was driving, I had a feeling that someone might pull out into the intersection near my house without looking, and get hit. My response was to pray on the subject, trying to shift the energies away from that probability until I felt a real solution. When I headed back from the grocery store, I personally had a car pull out almost directly into my car! Luckily, it hesitated just like I’d seen in my corrected vision. It couldn’t have been more clearly what I had tried to correct the situation to. And I managed to accidentally help myself!

The reason this came up for me tonight is because we have odd blessings & signs in our world, quite often. In my case, I’m sick right now. Or rather, I’m fighting a cold, and colds tend to wreck my allergy-ridden body in terrible ways. It’s just not healthy. However, my becoming sick reminded me to stop for a while, instead of launching right back into things headlong after vacation. It reminded me to drink juice, take vitamins, and supplement my body’s needs. It forced me to stop and spend time covered in children and animals who wanted to comfort me, and wanted to comfort themselves. It helped me, basically, to do what I needed to do for myself, even if I technically didn’t want to.

When we are reading signs, guidances in our lives, we often forget the mundane items as though they are not relevant, or couldn’t possibly be spiritual. And yet for me, every time I get sick it is a reminder to pay attention to the things in my life that matter, that make me feel more whole. Every time that something as blasé as a sore throat pops up on my radar I try to fix it by fixing what was wrong in my life that week.

You have no idea how rewarding it can be, taking sickness on with the positive application of listening to my body’s needs. I don’t punish myself for the rest I need, but rather allow myself to enjoy the time off that I need anyway. I feel like a better person after I’ve healed, and once I feel rested I even enjoy catching up on my work! So I don’t have to feel as bad! About feeling bad…which would be far more funny if it weren’t true for so many of us.

When it comes to interpreting signs, we never entirely know the difference between interpreting clouds or misreading chemtrails. But I have discovered a couple of interesting points. Either you believe in synchronicity, or you don’t. So anyone running into you, even if it’s because you both happened to be on the same committee and didn’t know it, doesn’t mean it’s not important! Take the meaning you can find in life, or don’t worry about it. But if you pick and choose too closely… You might lose out on some of life’s mystery.

At the same time, though, life goes on whether or not you’re too distracted to notice. Missing some indication or another – everyone’s run a stop sign at some point in their life. Or simply bumped into someone in a crowd. There’s no way to be perfect all the time, and the world will not end if you aren’t! If you are trying to tell the difference between a pile of garbage that looks suspiciously like someone’s outline, versus a garbage bag your kid accidentally tore on the way to the dumpster, you’re going to be sorting beans for the next hundred years.

So basically, don’t hesitate to take the lessons in your life that seem the most relevant, the most important – and the most helpful! What’s wrong with a life constantly full of meaning? Part of the point of living is to try to do it the best for you. I’m not saying to eat the world in the process, but don’t hesitate to give yourself a leg up. That’s the nature of life, after all. And it certainly helps sustain that whole “life” thing for a little bit longer.

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2 thoughts on “Signs & Symbolism, Applied”

  1. Hey Beth,

    I didn’t know you had a blog! Interesting topic. I was thinking about reading signs in nature a couple of months ago and was trying to find resources on how to do it. From my research many ancient cultures practiced this in different ways from auguries in ancient rome to celestial movements of bodies in dynastic china and native american traditional ways as well. For me personally though my signs come the most from dreams. I have vivid dreams every night and they tell me things about what is happening in my life that my conscious mind wouldn’t actively think about. It’s a good process of interpretation for me and if you read carl jung’s books on dream interpretation and the collective unconscious there are similar themes that can show up either in dreams or in the world around you that have a direct correlation to whatever situation you find yourself in and answers can be derived from correct interpretation of these signs. This is due to the mathematical symmetry found in nature and experiences of natural events shared by all living beings. So while many people nowadays think these things to be just the imagination, I agree with you that no; there are positive and psychologically (or otherwise) proven correlations of patterns happening around us (synchronicity). My hypothesis and from what I understand of carl jung’s writings is that there is a base shared identity of recognizing patterns in nature or in subconscious behavior because of the fact we grew up as humans. (For example it is built into us instructively from evolution to be afraid of snakes) Then on top of that layers build upon it depending on your specific environment and culture/religion or upbringing. (Using the snake example again in the western world the serpent is seen as representing evil while in the east it is the opposite and represents wisdom) I guess my question to you is do you have a specific list of natural events happening that you use predict when things can occur? I’m currently studying psychology so I find it particularly fascinating to test and see if there is a correlation in patterns between some natural events/phenomena occurring both internally (feelings/premonitions/mind) and externally (patterns of animals/observations of celestial bodies). And I might add to this that there have to be boundaries on what you are testing and I would be trying to prove stuff more in the realm of the paranormal. (For example everybody knows that birds migrate during the winter, but for the ancient Romans watching bird flights and patterns also delivered specific messages from the Gods). Anyway thanks for the interesting read and let me now what you think.

    1. I’m so happy that you enjoyed my post! I have personally found that symbolism is too personal. The kind of doll that terrified him as a child might also be the one that she cuddled to sleep each night. The consistency is that understanding of the recipient’s psyche is important. Each individual’s experience varies far too widely from the next to ever truly fit into a single dream dictionary or “how to interpret signs” manual.

      Now, don’t get me wrong – I can say this with some confidence because I have investigated those books. I have compared magical manuals across time and space – comparing medieval Kaballists against their alchemist counterparts, then lining them up against “recipes” recorded in Celtic Christian prayer books and spells handed down by Deutsh Hexworkers. These can be compared against Native Americans of many stripes, looking at the animals they may have focused on, and in turn which tales their correlations lined up against. One man’s savior could be another man’s villain. Crows are harbingers of death as both villain and saint, as well as the bringers of light and the pranksters who alternately punish and rescue humankind. The consistencies – AREN’T consistent, at all.

      But that isn’t a bad thing! If anything, it means that every answer comes with context, and a kind of family. You don’t get to interpret a hawk showing up in someone’s magical practice without researching – what kind of hawk? Does it correlate with the sun and moon, or with long sight and travel? Is it aligned with the hunt, and if so are you the hunter or the prey? Will it guide you through life or to death? And each of these answers comes with its own religious background, myths, practices, and more. It is incredibly rewarding, if one is willing to truly correlate all of this in each of our lives.

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