Here in the mid-Atlantic, the winter birdsong is giving way to spring singers. There’s a rush of excitement in the air as returning species arrive and mate-seeking and nest-building begin. Birds have been referred to as the messengers of the gods in many different cultures. This connection of our winged companions to the Divine Ones offers us an opportunity for a different kind of message magick.
Our local feathered friends are also part of the fabric of the land where we live. If we consider our bodies and their microbiomes the vehicles for our souls, the physical earth, plants, and critters where we live are the vehicles of the land spirits immediately around us. By caring for and staying mindful of the ‘body’ of the land spirits, we create greater kinship and cocreative ability with our local land spirits.
Supporting our local birds can be an act of magick and prayer. Native bird populations need a few things in order to survive, and by providing those, or even just one of them, we have a new tool for magick.
As the weather warms, one of my daily meditations is tending the birdbath. I’ve positioned mine just outside my office window. When the weather is clement and I can open the windows, it’s such a joy to hear the little splashes and chatter. I have a simple, plain concrete birdbath purchased from a big box store. Magickal tools don’t need to be flashy or expensive to be effective. The birdbath itself is charged with protection magick for my home. As a stationary object, it radiates that intention into its immediate surroundings. As an object the birds visit, they carry that prayer with them when they go.
The birdbath at my house is pretty busy. It also sits in the sun, so the water evaporates a good deal over the course of the day. This means that it needs to be cleared and refilled regularly. Every morning, I fill a watering can. I tip the old, dirty water out of the birdbath and into a sage plant that grows next door to it (added bonus – that sage plant is waist high at this point). As I pour the fresh water in, I add any intentions and prayers for the day to the water. The birds will carry these prayers in their bodies and on their feathers.
Food takes many forms for birds. If you do not live in a place where you can add plants or a bird feeder, bringing a handful of seed along for a walk in a less restricted place can be a good option. I’m a labyrinth builder and user, and one lovely form of temporary labyrinth is one that’s traced in birdseed. Native species-friendly bird seed mixes can be imbued with a prayer or intention and then scattered or sprinkled into the shape of a sigil.
If you do have the option for some more permanent additions, consider adding native plants to where you live. Songbirds feed insects to their young, so nectar-rich flowers are a great addition. Fruit-bearing plants support birds later in the season, offering fuel for migration and the winter season. The Native Plant Finder from the National Wildlife Federation can be a good place to start selecting plants.
Bird feeders can be a good option as well. Like a birdbath, they offer both a structure for longer-term intention or enchantment as well as more immediate prayers and intentions with each refilling of the feeder.
Nesting season is here, so offering nesting materials and habitat can be greatly beneficial. Every year, my partner and I purchase plain birdhouses from the craft store. We decorate them with sigils for our spring Workings. There are some guidelines for decorating birdhouses in a way that will welcome residents. Remember to use natural colors that keep the birdhouse safely blended into its environment. That varies by region and garden, but water-based latex paint in earth tones like brown, dull green, gray and tan are generally a good bet. You can also consider natural or organic stains rather than paints. Avoid painting directly around the entrance and leave the inside undecorated. And, allow the paint to dry and cure for a few days before mounting the birdhouse outside. This will let any odors clear before your local feathered friends come apartment shopping.
You can also offer nesting materials. I like to gather up the spent stems and vines from last year’s garden and break them up into smaller, more portable pieces. I then fill my little stack of plant bits with my intentions and leave them out for the birds to take for their nests. Keeping some long native grasses as part of your garden can also be helpful here. If you have dogs that shed, saving the tufts of fur and putting them out of the birds is also useful. One of the best options is to tuck the dog fur into a suet feeder and hang it outside for the birds. It generally only takes them a few days or so to find the fur. As with anything you offer to the birds, this fur can be charged with intentions or prayers.
When we consider all the possibilities in our immediate environment, it’s amazing the forms that magick can take. Do you keep a feeder or birdbath? How do you like to work with your local feathered ones in terms of magick? Hit me up in the comments.