Totem Symbolism – Geese

wild geese

When the Geese Speak

Totem Symbolism of Geese

Originally posted in October 2011

Since the last post, where Blackbird spoke of the Gateway, the Gateway has indeed been passed through and a host of other Spiritual Guides have stepped forward in the guise of Bird, Animal or Insects …  However, when the Geese speak, it is time to step up and embark upon the hero’s quest.

It’s been a very, very busy time, as the Gateway heralded the beginning of a new way of life, a step deeper into what already exists within and yet a feeling of innocence and newness pervades it. 

 I couldn’t have known when the Blackbird spoke, quite what a whirlwind of activity the Gateway would bring about, nor could I have suspected the massive and positive changes that would come with it. 

 But, that was then, and this is now.  Now, the Geese have been calling to me, as they fly high over my space, moving from here to there, wherever there is.  Every year, I hear them, wherever I am, I stop what I’m doing and look skywards.  Their harsh call, always getting my attention and provoking mixed feelings of joy to see them and sadness that they’re leaving.  It’s almost as though they leave me behind to face the winter alone.  But this year, three times, the Geese have called me, flown over my space and, rather than sadness this year, I was purely happy to see them, they made me smile.

 This year, I see the Geese reflecting my transition, the space between the In Breath and the Out Breath … the space where all things are created.   They fly from their home and stop only to regroup and feed until they reach their destination, much like I myself have been doing in recent weeks.  I am moving to my new life destination, I am transitional, like the Geese.  All of the work that preceded the Blackbird and The Gateway, a lifetime of preparation for this time, is about to manifest in a new beginning.

 Ted Andrews – Animal Speak says of the Geese, that their keynote is the “The Call of the Quest and Travels to Legendary Places”

 “ There are eight species of geese in North America. This is very symbolic in that the number 8 is so similar to the symbol for infinity. It reflects an ability to move forward or backward. It reflects movement, and in the case of the goose, a call to the spiritual quest.

This is further exemplified by its migration patterns and behaviours. Their leaving in the autumn stirs our imagination and makes us want to search out new worlds and dimensions. Their incessant honking seems to be calling us to follow them on the great spiritual quest. Their return is a harbinger of spring second only to the robin. It speaks of the fulfilled promises that great quests bring.

The goose epitomizes the mystery of migration. They constantly shift formation, creating wind drafts and easier flights for those behind them in the formation. This reminds us that as any one individual makes his or her quest, it becomes easier for others to do so as well. They never fly directly behind one another. Each goose’s view is unobstructed, reminding us that we should not undertake any quest in life without having a full view of what it entails. In this way the journey is facilitated for others.

The V-formation is very symbolic itself. It reflects by its shape an opening to new possibilities. It’s like an arrowhead, pointing to new directions and new possibilities, and with one end open, it also reflects an openness to new ideas. The “v” as a letter comes from the Hebrew “vau” meaning “nail.” This formation usually indicates we are about to affix ourselves to a new path. It is a letter and symbol that reflects great fertility that should be acted upon if growth is desired. ”

 So, once again, a new beginning, but this time one that is life changing and filled with Spiritual Purpose. 

 Mary Oliver’s poem “Wild Geese” has been a favourite of mine for many years.  She talks about life from a real and honest perspective.  I read it at this time every year, when the Geese call to me and I honour her depth of understanding and ability to portray what it is to be human.  This year, I look at it and see the journey that’s gone before but the excitement of what lies ahead too and as she writes in the final line, I am, “announcing my place in the family of things”.

Wild Geese

 Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.