We Are Being Witnessed

The Owl showed up on November first. witnessed witnessed 

A Holy Helper speaking to the liminal time, and also an Owl, “just” a Barred Owl, perching happily on the bough of the old Pecan tree that stands outside of the window next to the desk where I work every day.

He sat in the tree for about an hour, stretching one great wing and then another, stretching out both talons and then raising the left talon to his beak so that he could nibble at the nail. All birds I know do this. Wing stretch. Foot stretch. Poop. Stretch wing, then foot, on the other side. Rest. He yawned. Mostly he perched with the kind of uncanny stillness that you really only find in a predator…creatures that have an economy of motion so that they are still until they aren’t – then their energy is a live wire. He was still and then he bunched his muscles like an accordion and flew off to the West.

I assumed that was the last I would see of him, but he showed up again that afternoon, once the boys were home. Among the lit candles and incense and buttery pan de Muerto sat the Owl, looking curiously right at me. I understood. I took the baby out to him, showed my little guy the Owl. He was delighted. He talked to the “owl bird” and called to him, and I told the Owl to let our Ancestors know that this baby was happy, healthy, and well taken care of.

He continued sitting on the bough of the tree and I asked if he would remain until my older son got home from basketball practice. It would be a couple of hours. But owls are patient. He stayed put and so I brought my oldest son out for witnessing as well. (A different kind of witnessing than my Baptist Ancestors would be familiar with for sure, but a witnessing all the same.) I told Owl to tell our Ancestors about my oldest son, all he is, all he brings, all he does, all he loves.

Owl then looked at me, and my husband and we spoke to him.

Witness is the exact right word to use.

Finally, the Owl did fly off again and I thought that would be the last I’d see of him. I hear them all of the time, they are thick in the old trees found throughout my neighborhood, but rarely are they seen, especially in daylight.

So it was a blessing of feather and kind gaze…accuse me of anthropomorphizing and I’ll raise you this: you look into the face of a Barred Owl that is calm and content and tell me that you too don’t see a kindness present there…and I took it as such: a blessing. And I assumed that would be the last I would see of him.

But then he was back a few days later, on the New Moon in Scorpio, almost six months to the day since I last saw an Owl in these trees when the New Moon was in Aries.

He called out low and I went out and there he sat, looking at me. Then, over the weekend he flew in with his great wings and called out several times. To my delight there was a response in the North, another Owl heard the call.

So now I am aware that the Owls I hear early in the mornings are actually much closer than I initially assumed. I look up into the leafy branches of the trees from my window and I know that sometimes he is there, tucked into a curve of a branch, looking and resting and doing all of the Owlish things Owls like to do. I know that sometimes he turns his head in that slow and deliberate way of his and he is looking at me.

We both want to be seen and worry about being looked at. There is a current of fear that people are looking and people are watching that shouldn’t be. And there is an analogous current of fear and anxiety that the people who should be watching are not. Are we being watched? Surveilled? Are we being seen? In truth, the answer is always, much more than we think, and not by (or not only by) spy networks like the NSA. That’s actually the boring part. The real thrill is that we are being watched, witnessed, by the Wild itself. You don’t need to live on an isolated mountainside to know. I live in an entirely urban area 10 minutes from the Alamo.

I understand that the November Moon is traditionally known as the Beaver Moon because it is during this moon in our land that everyone goes into their lodges and houses, pueblos, and haciendas. As the weather turns cold we turn within…and when that happens we have a unique opportunity to see ourselves…and our beloveds, anew. We witness and we are witnessed.

One of the learnings I came across at the beginning of the year is that, long ago, the ancients believed that Owls were Angels, not that they were like Angels or working for the Angels but that they are actually Angels – divine messengers. It doesn’t seem farfetched when I write it. It seems quite unlikely that we would think anything other than that today.

The Wild is watching.

The Wild is witnessing.

Let us be willing to witness in turn.

In love and moonlit wings,

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