Interpreting Omens: The Nest and the Bloodbath

Interpreting Omens: The Nest and the Bloodbath December 31, 2016

It is New Year’s Eve. 2016 succumbs to the advancing year, and good riddance. Into this liminal time of releasing the old to the fiery death it deserves, and by the bright light of its destruction, we bravely turn our sights into the future to embrace the unknown. Then, an omen is found.

This morning, one of my new students who runs a horse farm posted to our class discussion board this picture and a very important question about the interpretation of natural omens.

Horsehair birds nest - photo used with permission
Horsehair birds nest – photo used with permission

She writes: “Ok, so I live on a farm, things happen. But? One of my roosters was killed, most likely by a fox or coyote. However, when I found the pile of his feathers & blood, in the center, not kidding, I found a birds nest made from our horses hair. Kinda weird, being New years eve and all.  My logical side says nothing that fragile should have been in the center of a very violent scene, completely undisturbed. Any significance?”

Interpreting Natural Omens

When I interpret meaning from natural signs, I approach it like I would poetry. Poetry is only as meaningful as our own personal reactions when we hear it…what the words and images evoke for us. Regardless of what the author what trying to convey in the poem, or what some literary textbook suggests it might mean, how do I feel when I read the poem? How do my own experiences resonate with these images to spark and ignite some new understanding? How does it aid my life’s journey?  I sit with that poem, meditate on it, and come up with my own honest impressions.

I do the same when interpreting dreams, or the way the clouds form, or tea leaves make blobby pictures around the rim of my cup. At first, I completely ignore other people’s interpretations of what the symbols mean, and trust my own intuition and the symbol set I’ve developed for myself through my own life experiences, my own culture, my own knowledge. 

I believe that when my Highest Divine Self is speaking to me through my subconscious, we already have an agreed upon language–nebulous as that may seem. The same is true when those Spirits that guide me from the outside speak to me–they know what I know and how I feel about things, and will use whatever it needs to communicate with me. In other words, on first approach, it doesn’t matter one jot what an omen interpretation book says…what does it mean to me?

“If that which you seek you find not within, you will never find it without.” ~Charge of the Goddess, Doreen Valiente

At the Crossroads of Nest and Bloodbath

Now, I didn’t find the nest at the center of the rooster murder scene on my property, so this message isn’t really about me. It isn’t about the general public, either. My student who found it will ultimately have to divine the answers on her own, but in answer to how *I* would go about interpreting this omen, this is how I answered:

Approach it like a visual poem. A nest made of horsehair is found perfectly undisturbed in the middle of a violent scene where prey was killed and consumed by its natural predator. Blood, feathers, nest.

What does a nest represent to me…metaphorically speaking? I might say, nurturing of new life, the instinctual drive of the bird to work hard to create safety from its predators, a home and place to raise its most vulnerable young. In this case, the bird made the nest from the hair of her horses, whom she cherishes. These horses aided in creating that sense of home, protection and warmth–this was a choice of this bird for where it would lay eggs–new life–and tend it’s young.

Now, the scene where it was found–where the rooster was killed: What does this specific rooster mean to me? What does “rooster” symbolically mean to me?

This it is where the ultimate showdown within the cycle of life and death played out. “Survival of the fittest” is a perfectly legitimate thing, and in this case, the fox or coyote won the fight fair and square–he’s not the “bad guy.” As much as we don’t like it, the predator is a victor and his life is maintained because he was really good at hunting. How does this make me feel?

Remember that all things die in time. Every last speck of matter in the Universe has transformed through this cycle of destruction and creation.  We are all stardust from the cataclysmic destruction of a dying sun. So too, the food chain is a necessary part of life on this planet–no one is immune. The rooster was the destroyer of many a bug or worm in his day. His dying as food for the fox/coyote is a natural and reasonable ending. This particular violence has it’s place in the scheme of things, though it is one of the things we most fear.

The nest is also a natural instinct–contrary to all reason, we seek a mate, we seek to birth new young, we work all our lives to create a safe home to try and survive and protect our own until we, too, succumb. The sanctity of the home where we nurture our young is the thing we most fiercely defend.

What message, poetically speaking, is to be found where the natural ending and destruction of life in a violent bloodbath is found, and at it’s center–beyond all logical reason or explanation– is the perfect symbol of the natural beginning and nurturing of life? A nest, one bird’s safety from predators, is found where another bird fell to its predators.

That is a cross-roads of messages…every death is a rebirth. All things born must die. Within the struggle of creating a safe home, we must acknowledge that there are dangers from which we must defend ourselves.

Then there are the horses; in what way do her horses help her to create that safe “nest” that defends her from danger? How can she utilize them–or the lessons of horse medicine–to help defend her from that which would consume her?

These are the questions only she may answer.

I suggested that she make note of these things she observes in her daily journal entries. Then, while meditating, call the images to mind and ask in a prayerful way of her guides, to be given more clarity on the message. Perhaps she’ll receive further guidance. Also, I find that turning to more objective methods of divination like tarot, are another good way for clarifying the more subjective messages like natural omens and dreams.

CC0 Public Domain ~ Pixabay
CC0 Public Domain ~ Pixabay

Instinct First, Then Hit the Books

When considering messages that involve animals, after I first answer for myself what that animal means to me, I then consult occult resources about their spiritual meanings, from an outside perspective. I find it can be affirming and offer an objective view. I like this website for animal totem information: I found the following excerpts there:


Travel, power, spiritual and physical stamina, freedom, persuasiveness, increase clairvoyance, awareness of cooperation and communication abilities, time to move on if you feel stuck, teaches how to go in new directions with freedom and the power to face life and overcoming obstacles with grace. Your journey will take you in new directions. Horse teaches the power to allow and awaken your freedom in movement and will clarify the path in which to take.


Rooster is a Guardian, watcher and protector of the family. He is keenly aware of the surroundings within the physical and spiritual realms. He stimulates insights and forthrightness and confidence. It’s time to open to the great mystery of the pasts to find your hidden self.  Rooster will show the power of persuasion and influence to accomplish endeavors. Rooster will aid in the process of presentation whether it be physical meetings or spiritual ones, communicating your heart’s intents and desires will be Rooster’s lesson.


Skilled and ingenious, cunning, a new world and creative process opening up, teaches gentleness, swiftness and persistence, courage, power of observation, good eating habits and taking care of health concerns, shift awareness to feminine energies for balance. Fox can teach you how to walk in both worlds and in between since he is the master of camouflage and shape-shifting. It is a time to be careful and discriminating, aware of your communication abilities, and to be alert to your surroundings. Fox teaches how to be still and silent and all the qualities of patience.


Wisdom, jokester, having fun, stimulates cooperation and tasks, adaptations, balances knowledge and laughter into teaching, shows us how to learn from our mistakes with wisdom and a sense of humor, sense of family and children, demonstrating and communicating along with balancing risk and safety, trust and connection to the Spirit to find answers.  Coyote will teach resourcefulness and adapting to new situations and how humor can be a useful tool in any situation.

How would YOU interpret this message if you found it? I welcome you to post your interpretation in the comments.

At this time of transition, pay attention to the natural messages that surround us. Trust your instincts.
May we all grow in wisdom through the New Year,


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