With the closing of the Masks of the Goddess Project, and the advent of my 70th birthday, I've found I have many questions about what to do now, as an artist, a human being living in such a troubled time, and as I enter old age, the limitations of old age, and my final years. Many images come to me now of possible art pieces and art projects - I always say "thank you!" when the Muse offers them to me!. Conversations with Barbara have often engaged these questions, and I have spoken of how I long to be of service in some way, perhaps to find outlets to teach, to find ways to help people access their inner selves through art and self-expression. And I often spoke of my longing to devote my art to the Earth.
It was just such a discussion we were having about a week ago, and I believe I was talking about how grateful I feel for the privileged life I have led, and also how I wish I could share more with others about the transformative powers of art making, particularly what I have learned by working with masks. My garden has several bird feeders not far from where we were sitting, and suddenly a red cardinal appeared! To those living in points east and north, this may not seem unusual, but in southern Arizona, in the hottest month of June, it is astounding! Songbirds migrate here in the winter, but what on earth is a songbird, a red cardinal, doing in my garden in June? I've seen sparrows, the desert dove, woodpeckers, and finches in the summer, but never a cardinal.
The beautiful creature lingered for a while. When I woke up from a nap later that day, I saw and heard him singing sweetly and very distinctly on top of a tree in the garden. When he appeared the following morning Barbara said that he was a message for both of us. We haven't seen him since, but in the course of contemplating this "visitation", I remembered a poem I wrote a long time ago. It was about .......... love, the experience of love, and also the gifts of experience and knowledge that come from a lifetime. I called it "Bird of Paradise", and one of the lines was:
"A scarlet bird flashes among the trees. Fly free, Bird of Paradise, fly into the morning from the other side of forever."It seems to me that synchronicities, visions, dreams and spirit contact are outside of time, time being a function of embodied existence. That poem, and that Cardinal, carried an answer.........
But it doesn't stop there! I thought I would write about it in my Blog, and so I searched for a photograph on Google Images of a red Cardinal for a post. Amazingly when I found a photo I wanted, as I was getting ready to download it, I noticed the website and words beside the image - it said: "What It Means When You See a Red Cardinal" ! The website is something called Psychic 2 Tarot, a psychic site I was not familiar with. But their article about what it might mean spiritually when a Cardinal appears was perfect, just perfect. So I share the poem I wrote some 20 years ago, and also take the liberty of copying from that very synchronistic website. And I apologize to the author, because I could not find his or her name when I searched the website.
BIRD OF PARADISE
I pause at the door, key in hand
Breathing in the last of you
Pleasure that pierces heart and reason:
All I can give
is to give it back.
Back to the World
to the dreaming earth, the singing waters,
dancing flames, to the open sky.
To the Circle at the center of all things.
World, here is my heart's unspoken delight:
I offer it back to you, with gratitude.
To play among the leaves,
to light my dappled path.
I ask no more than this.
I open my hand
A scarlet bird
flashes among the trees.
Fly free, Bird of Paradise,
fly into the morning
from the other side of forever.
What It Means When You See a Red Cardinal
Psychic 2 Tarot (author unknown)
Signs and messages are all around us. Many of them come in forms that are subtle and are often difficult to spot or interpret, but receiving a visit from a red cardinal is almost always a noticeable event. With their soothing song and bright, vibrant red plumage, red cardinals are impossible to miss — and there may be a good reason for that indeed. In fact, these beautiful songbirds may be delivering a very important message, one that’s just for you. If you want to learn more about the secrets behind what it means when you see a red cardinal, read on below. Prepare to have your mind blown.
The Messengers of the Spirit World
Cardinals have been considered messengers sent by the spirit world for quite literally thousands of years. This notion spreads across a number of different cultures — wherever these beautiful red songbirds are found, the legend arises. It’s therefore not too surprising to see the word “cardinal” used to signify an important or meaningful object or relationship. Whether it’s cardinal angels, cardinal directions, or cardinal colors, the use of the word denotes something big and noteworthy. This makes it especially appropriate that the word itself contains the Latin root word cardo, which means either an axis or a hinge — a point which everything revolves around or holds all moving parts together. Cardinals are, resultantly, viewed as the revolving point between our world and the spirit world, acting as messengers between the two.
Old Traditions, Sacred Meanings
Many indigenous people have old and sacred traditions and meanings associated with the cardinal. In many Native American languages, cardinals are simply known as “red birds”, and there are a number of indigenous creation myths where they feature prominently. Cherokee myth says that the Sun gives birth to the first red bird, making the cardinal her daughter. Meanwhile, the Choctaw feel that cardinals are associated with relationships and are often associated with changing relationship status — and sometimes as a warning for rough times ahead.
Many indigenous traditions hold that cardinals are associated with other sorts of change, such as the weather. Others still feel that cardinals are guardians or sentinels, that their red coloration provides protection from illness and from harm, and that cardinals can point you in the right direction while traveling. Whatever the specific tradition is, it’s universal that red cardinals play an integral role in many Native American belief systems. This extends to shamanic approaches as well. Indigenous shamans use tools that include the medicine wheel; this specific tool incorporates the four cardinal compass points and cardinal color choices. Red, the color of the cardinal, is associated with the East compass point, the beginning of spring, and birds like the cardinal that can take messages to and from the spirit world. Speak your message to the East, the legend goes, and cardinals will take flight to deliver your words.
The Western Traditions: Cardinal Angels
There are seven Archangels, four of which are known as the Cardinal Angels. These four are Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael, and Michael, and they have dominion over much in the Western Abrahamic traditions. Whole nations and cultures often fall under the sway of these Cardinal Angels, who are thought to provide support in the form of divine inspiration and protection. This thought, of course, echoes much of Native American shamanic thought, which uses Cardinal compass points and colors.
Visitations from the Spirit World
Many feel that cardinals represent visitors from the Spirit World, or at least messengers sent by those that have come before us. Particularly insistent cardinals that sing to you or even approach you are especially thought to be bringing personal messages to us, perhaps in response to a request for guidance or because you’re hunting for the answer to a particular question. In such a situation, it’s important to stop and think about what you’ve been struggling with and what this visitation may be trying to tell you. A visit can show you that you are not alone and that you are receiving the spiritual support you feel you need so desperately at the moment, and this brings many people comfort. Feelings of gratitude for the visit, both from the cardinal and from whatever force sent them, are quite appropriate in such situations, as are feelings of peace and reassurance that you’re on the right track.
Those Brightly Colored Spirit Guides
In many cases, a visit from a cardinal can be the delivery of a message from our loved ones that have departed. Cardinals can be signs that the ones we miss are still here with us, watching over us and protecting us. Cardinals may not be the only messenger our loved ones send us, though — anything that can catch our eye is a common and welcome choice. This includes any small, rare, or colorful animal or insect. Winged creatures are especially good at getting our attention and are quite special when they make themselves known to us. From butterflies to dragonflies to hummingbirds and, yes, especially cardinals, whenever we’re visited by one it can be an indication that our dearly departed family, friends, and ancestors are showing us they still love us and care for us. In your own time of need, when you’re searching your soul for answers, our loved ones can often send us a cardinal in an effort to help us make up our mind or find the right course of action going forward.
Paying Attention to the World Around Us, Both Seen and Unseen
Finally, cardinals are a reminder to pay attention to the world around us and all of its many forms. The gorgeous red plumage of a cardinal against the white snow of winter is a reminder that even in a season where all seems cold and dead there is still life and beauty. There are things to care about, value, and be in awe of at all times in life, things that are special. This includes the people in our lives right now and those that may no longer be with us.
It’s this capability that lets the cardinal bridge the gap between our world and the Spirit World, acting as the axis that turns the two. Messengers on crimson wings, the special missives cardinals bring to us from the beyond should never be ignored but always considered with great importance — and great joy. Whether it’s a message about the relationships we have with others outside our family, those we have within it, or those we have with our blessed ancestors, heed the call of the cardinal and you will receive the wisdom of the ages as a result.