On the Gift of Wings

I didn’t notice it right away, but when I put on my new Christmas goodies for dinner yesterday, there was a theme.

Many of the Christmas gifts I received this year were wings. Or winged.

The three that I’m thinking about in particular are the ShWings from Perpetual Kid, and these two amazing items that I pinned with adoration, never thinking I’d actually receive them as gifts.

Pinned Image

Two of the items are wings I can physically wear on my body. One pair I wear like Hermes (or Mercury, if you prefer), and the other like Icarus (am I in danger of flying too close to the sun?)

It’s easy to dismiss the winged rabbit necklace as a bit of silly fun, unless you know why I pinned it to begin with.  My two totems are the hare and eagle – together they represent my personal yin and yang.  They are predator and prey, sky and earth, far-seeing intellect and gut-level intuition.  The crossover of the grounded bunny into the realm of the sky is a blending of those two that I’m not sure is wise. It attracts me. I love the idea of the feminine intuition taking flight.   But it frightens me, as well.

These gifts make my stomach feel like those minutes of anticipatory dread watching the altimeter climb to 14000 feet just before my skydive. Nervous, giddy, excited, terrified.

That adolescent bird being nudged from the nest. 

When I was twelve or thirteen, I went on a spring time walk in the woods. The pussy willows were long gone, but the forest floor had not yet been overtaken with ferns.  I found a robin learning how to fly. I thought it was injured, the way it flailed around in the decomposing leaves. So I caught it and I tried to take it home, intending to place it in a grass-filled shoebox.

It still had tufts of chick-fuzz around its edges. It pecked my hands mercilessly, painfully, as I cupped it. I didn’t let it go, and I didn’t squeeze it tight. Robins are omnivores. These are not seed-cracking beaks. They are pincers meant to crack insect exoskeletons and to rend worms into bite-sized bits.   It got a really good hit on the back of a knuckle instead of a fatty pad of flesh, and my already gentle hands loosened just enough for the bird to escape my grasp.

It flew away – really flew. Pushed from it’s almost chicken-like floundering into true flight by desperation, by capture, by my own youth-filled fingers.

It never fails to surprise me to remember that I once caught a wild bird. I still remember the soft fluttering of its wings against my palms, the speed of its tiny heartbeat against my fingertips, the sharp, bloody pain of its beak.

(By this point, I had also learned from rusty nails that I might have to get a shot as a result of this tiny bird.  I was embarrassed that I thought the bird was injured, when instead it was just learning how to survive.  I don’t think I told my parents about this event, and instead quietly neosporined and bandaided up my fingers and the backs of my hands by myself.)

Wearing the winged shoes of Hermes?

Hermes was the messenger of the gods. One of the possible etymologies of his name is as “interpreter”.  As such, he’s the god of literature.  He’s also the god of commerce and thieves, of sports and athletics, of border crossings and boundaries.

Hermes is suitable as a patron for my 2013 – the honeymoon in Greece (crossing borders, beware of tricksters); my writing (and perhaps even the selling of my work?), and my ongoing fitness work and goals.

Some see writing as an act of channeling the divine spirit onto the page. If that is so, then Hermes is the one that would translate the incomprehensible spirit concepts into words.

With a word of caution from Icarus…

Icarus was given wings of wax and wood and feathers, and cautioned not to go too near the sun.  He’s a classic example of hubris.  He was insolent to the gods – invading their purview. Icarus shows the giddy reach of pride before the fall.

I feel nervous and tentative, rather than proud.

However, I’m always, always ambitious. Perhaps I need to take a look at my ambitions and ground them a little more with reality?


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