Erica Wheeler: inspiring connections between people and place

September 2010/Dragonfly Magic

September 2010Dragonfly Magic
This month, I finally finished a creative project I’ve been working on for a year. (It’s a free e-book called Seven Soulful Ways to Connect to Place that will be available soon to download.) There were times where I really pushed myself and made huge breakthroughs. These moments felt like blessings, like the way was finally clear.

After the first breakthrough I looked up from my desk and saw something I’d never seen before: about 50 iridescent-blue dragonflies were swarming outside my study window. I stepped outside to get a better look. I had no idea why they were gathered there, but it felt significant. It felt like a sign. To me, their figure-eight flight and the whirlwind they created symbolized magic, movement and change. And yes, it was a Tinkerbell moment: “I believe! I believe!” A powerful event.

The next week, I was writing again and finally having another breakthrough. I stepped outside for some fresh air, and there they were again! This time, feeling brave and curious, I stepped into the middle of the speeding swarm to see what would happen. The dragonflies just darted around me. They stayed for an hour and were gone.

Coincidence or magic? What matters is that to me, it was significant. I felt like my creative process was transforming, and the whirling of the dragonflies seemed to symbolize that.  I will never forget it.

Listening to the Land
I have no idea why that swarm of dragonflies was there only on those days, and only in front of the room where I was writing. There were no bugs for them to eat. It wasn’t dusk. I was curious to learn more about dragonflies and the meanings that others have attributed to them.

Upon investigation, I learned that dragonflies are creatures of both water and air. They spend most of their lives in their nymph stage, living in water anywhere from two months to five years, depending on the species. And then they transform, taking to the air as amazing iridescent flying machines. They can move each of their four wings independently and thereby fly with great precision in six directions: up, down, forward, backward and sideways left and right. They can also hover. Not surprisingly, they are expert hunters—they’re sometimes called mosquito hawks. As for the swarming, there are some scientific theories: they swarm to feed; they swarm when they’re getting ready to migrate. I’ve heard that swarms have been reported this year, and it’s speculated their abundance is due to weather patterns.
Have you seen any dragonfly swarms this year too? Just curious.

Dragonflies are one of the oldest species (fossils of them have been dated as 300 million years old) and have long figured as symbols across the globe. Their images can be found in ancient rock petroglyphs and modern tattoos. Because dragonflies are expert hunters and can move with great agility, Plains Indian tribes such as the Cheyenne painted them on their ponies to give them those same powers during a battle or hunt. For the Navaho and other Southwest tribes, dragonflies symbolize pure water and are found in their pottery, jewelry and stories. They also figure prominently in Japanese artwork and are often featured in haikus.

Your Story:  Have you ever had an encounter with an animal or other creature that felt like a sign? Did it mean something special to you at that moment in your life? Sometimes you just know; other times it’s helpful to investigate the meanings others have attributed to such encounters, to see what resonates with you.

Try This:

Explore the possible meaning of your encounter:
There’s a store in Santa Fe, New Mexico, called Keshi that primarily sells Zuni fetishes—small carvings, usually of animals, that help people get in touch with the powers those animals possess. Keshi was established in 1981 as a co-op for Zuni arts and crafts, and it’s one of my favorite places to browse when I visit this beautiful town. It’s fascinating to wander around the store, see what creatures you are drawn to, and learn about what powers they possess. And fortunately, Keshi has a great website with their offerings, plus a page about animal medicine. This is a good place to start if you’re curious to see what meanings have been attributed to different animals. link

Other Resources:
Animal Speak, by Ted Andrews, is a great resource to have in your library. While you may not agree with all he has to say, it’s interesting to read about something you saw and see if the meaning and message of your encounter, as interpreted by others, resonates with you.

Medicine Cards, by David Carson and Jamie Sams, can be used like a tarot deck, and the accompanying book can be used to gain insight into what having different animals turn up in your life might mean. The authors offer some great questions to ponder.

Write about your encounter. What were you thinking about when it happened? Was it at a significant time or turning point in your life? What do you think it symbolized? Did you take it as a sign?

I’d love to hear from you! Post a comment below.

updated: 6 years ago