June 1

Spirit Animals: Grackles


I recently retired from tech work, after…I dunno. Eighteen years? A long damn time.

When I first started, the web was still pretty new to the mainstream, and the potential got me fired up. I could help people connect, share their stories and ideas! The whole notion of global access was an utter game-changer. And I could offer this incredible opportunity to everyday people. How powerful is that?! I was excited enough I struggled through endless hours obsessively poring over code and reading technical tutorials in between waxing poetic about how cool it all was.

I was going to learn to do this and do it well.  And do it well I did.

There were no blogs back then. It was a different world. Eventually, the bar lowered dramatically for self-publishing (a good thing–usually). The work I did wasn’t as pivotal. But still, I kept learning and coding and consulting. I kept looking to serve as Virgos do, and I was good at it.

But somewhere along the way, so gradually I did not even notice, my once-mission morphed into obligation. The work became weight. I still considered myself blessed to be free the confines of a traditional office job. But I wasn’t excited about the work itself anymore. Gifted an opportunity to begin work in the Woo-Woo world, the difference became palpable.

I was enthusiastically building my spiritual practice while quietly planning my pixel-pushing escape. But even as I got close enough to sensibly make the full switch, I didn’t. Even the thought was terrifying.

What the Hell, Dixie?

It wasn’t until I actually took that leap of faith that I finally got it: web work was my last cloak of mainstream respectability. That’s perhaps an ironic admission for a pink-haired chick decked out in tie-dye. That business was what stood between me and the judgement of the mail man, the bank teller, the world at large–and yeah, the family.

Funny thing. My cloak of respectability was incredibly sheer. Three seconds plugging my name in a search engine is all it would take to see right through it…still, I spent an excruciatingly draining week to broker the hand-off of my web business. My “sanity breaks” out on the front-porch garden were well-populated by Grackles.

Hello, Grackles!

Grackles seem like they’d be related to crows or blackbirds, but they are not. They’re actually part of the meadowlark and oriole family of birds. From a distance, you can easily miss the gorgeous iridescent coloring. People often don’t see these birds for who they are. Grackle’s bright yellow eye with the tiny black pupil seemed like it could eerily pierce even intricate illusion.

Are you looking past superficial appearances to see what really is? 

Grackles are known as very intelligent, playful and happy birds. Their colors show  us emotion, the color of life. For many grackles, the lovely coloring is especially pronounced around the head.

photo by ibm4381

Are you conscious of your emotions and how much emotions color your thinking?

Grackles often congregate in large numbers before dawn or after sunset on tree branches, wires or roofs, in groups sometimes known as “annoyances.”  They may sing and caw for a long time with their distinctive calls before moving on to a new congregation. Their call is often compared to a rusty gate. But you know, even a rusty gate cannot be heard unless it’s being opened.

Are you all talk, so much that it may be annoying? Are you talking or doing?

They are known for bravery and resourcefulness, not being afraid to approach humans for food.  They may follow plows to catch  mice or wade into water to fish. They forage expertly and thrive because they have adapted to cities and humanity’s changing habits.

Are you active in solving problems and seeking what you need?

Grackles have a hard palate that helps them crack open acorns and other tough food. Even so, they have the unusual habit of dipping hard pieces of some types of food in water to soften it up before eating. They also teach their offspring to do this.

Do you attack tough problems, consciously guiding emotional states to “soften up” life’s challenges? Do you provide an example to others in doing so?

Grackles like to nest in pine trees–and the scent of pine calms emotional states. Their nests are hidden, providing safety.

Do you maintain a safe space for working through emotions?

Grackles remind us to take stock of our feelings, and question whether or not those feeling are blinding us to truth. They point out areas where we may be pointlessly rehashing woes instead of acting on opportunities for resolution. They remind us to be brave and go after what we need, while maintaining a safe, home base to process.

Grackles emphasize the impact of our own choices on joyfulness–and those who may follow our lead. They encourage us to actively take care of ourselves while adapting to changing circumstance.

They remind us–okay, they remind ME–to look for the shine and cherish with gratitude all the beauty life holds.

Thank you, Grackles.

 Do you see Grackles?

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Bird Totems, Birds, Grackle, Spirit Animals, Spirit Messages

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  1. I absolutely love the grackles, Dixie, and look forward to their arrival every spring. They have that adorable walk, too. We’ve found that they love bread, dipping it into the birdbaths to moisten it. Their favorite is pizza crust, though. Tough enough to hold up to the dipping and dense enough not to fall apart in their beaks. What a treat to read about them here.

  2. “Are you all talk, so much that it may be annoying? Are you talking or doing?” Yea yea I hear ya Grackles I hear you. Even my fortune cookie was written by a grackle “The finest eloquence is that which gets things done”

    Dixie, You never cease to amaze me!! Always dead on with your postings

  3. We get lots of grackles here. They (when quiet) are fascinating to watch with their broods.
    Nearly the same size as it’s parent, a Grackle baby will demand (loudly) feeding and Momma or Poppa will accommodate. Meanwhile, a Robin parent will be WTF? Feed yerself child. Or so it goes in my brain. So now I have a Parenting Rubric. I am a Robin, Husband? a Grackle Dad.

    And I miss my daily Retweets of you on Twitter. Just say’n.

  4. The color spectrum of the majestic Grackles are indeed my favorite to wear!
    Love these Sky World totems..as well as my main totem bird-Crows.
    Thank you for your due diligence to inform seekers of the Omen Totem interpretations here!
    May rich blessings surround & imbue all that matters much to you!!!

  5. I am fortunate to have Grackles all year long, several of which are very identifiable to me. . .there is “Hoppy” who has one missing foot but is able to fend for herself among the “Annoyance” (although I call them a “symphony”) that congregates in my yard. . .there is Mr. Macho, an unusually large male who adores bathing himself in the birdbath, splashing about and then primping and preening himself. . .there is Whistler, whose distinctive call he uses to get my attention when he feels it is time to feed. He also loves to walk right up to my door to peer in to see if I am home. . .there truly is something about these beautiful birds that touches my soul more than any other visitors to my yard and the fact that my big ginger cat chitters and talks to them, but has never attacked them tells me he has a healthy respect for them, too. There is something calming about them to me that many others do not feel.

  6. Yesterday, for the first time in all the 10 years I have lived in this house, a HUGE (I mean massive) flock of grackles appeared in my yard and in the pine trees around. I feed birds in my yard and this is the first time I’ve seen any grackles here, much less an ocean of them. And only in my yard. It startled me at first, as if it might be a bad omen, but as I approached them and asked what they were doing, slightly uneasy, I didn’t really have a bad feeling from them. And then they began to slowly — silently, which was weird — take off in waves. It was so unusual that it must be divinatory, but I was puzzled. Any thoughts on what this might mean? (Please lie to me and tell me it’s good….) I’ve always liked grackles. I hope it was good.

    1. Well, Perplexed, I don’t have to lie. Which is good, because I suck at it!

      I wouldn’t see that as worrisome. I get why it might take you back a bit because it was so dramatic. But to me, a dramatic message says you’re especially tuned in at that moment or you wouldn’t have followed the nudge to be in the right place at the right time to see it. Furthermore, If you didn’t get an uncomfortable feeling, I would trust that.

      I primarily associate grackles with emotionality. The word you used for them taking off, in silent “waves,” echos the theme of emotion.

      So I guess I would ask you, are you feeling especially emotional lately or are you surrounded by a lot of emotion?

      If someone is acting out, are they maybe having a hard time emotionally? If you have stronger emotions than you’d expect from a given situation, are you tapping a deeper vein, responding to old news? How is emotion impacting your life and relationships?

      Grackles show up as a nudge for me to prioritize joy.

      It’s not the outer circumstances that give us joy or sadness, excitement or anger, whatever…it’s how we choose to think about the outer circumstances. I mostly see a bunch of them when I’m getting stuck in a pity party or frustrated with someone or otherwise in some kind of an emotional loop myself.

      So when I see a lot of grackles, I take it as a cue to make a concious decision to choose the kindest, softest and most comforting perspective I can find and prioritize being happy over being “right.”

      I cannot say exactly how this applies to you – I’m not doing a reading here. But this is what I look for, when these birds show up for me. Hope that helps! ~Dix

      1. So true for me, been extra emotional lately, although I’m emotional most of the time. I feel too deeply and let it overwhelm me. Thank you for this insight.

        1. I am not surprised about anybody being extra emotional right now, Kim. I’m an emotional sort too, so I get it. So glad to know the article was helpful. ♥

  7. Definitely in my emotions. Heard alot of scawking thought it was the tv. Nope awesome phenomenon, that led me out the back door then back in the house to my front door. One set of trees to another. Amazing.

  8. I have noticed the grackles more this year than ever before. I go out and sit with them in the morning. Watched the parents teach the babes to fly in our giant maple that umbrellas our property. I feel connected to them. This morning I found a dead grackle in the yard, it looked like one of the youngins. I facilitated a death rites ceremony to honour and help guide spirit back to creator and sat with the bird for a while exploring it’s beauty close up.

    Any insight on the symbolism of death of a grackle?

    1. Well, death is certainly part of the life cycle. In Tarot, Death is all about transformation. Sometimes intense or painful or difficult transformation, but transformation nonetheless. Since I connect Grackles with emotional energy and we’re in the middle of a string of rather intense Eclipses, I would probably be asking myself about what emotional situations, baggage or convictions are just “over,” or perhaps which ones might be better for you if they were. I might also explore the idea of putting something you’ve been quite emotional over, something you’ve been harping on or obsessing over perhaps, to rest. In terms of symbolism, I personally don’t consider dead animals a “bad” sign of some sort. Death is the inevitable outcome of physical life. But I might consider a dead animal an especially loud or striking sign if you know what I mean. The ceremony you held sounds like a perfect way to address it both in the physical and symbolically/magickally as well. ♥

  9. That was awesome ! Thank you for your sing song story approach to with great wisdom , I might add describe the message of the grackle . It is spot on for me . I am supported and cared for lovingly , patiently by the spirit of the within the grackle .

  10. That was awesome ! Thank you for your sing song story approach to with great wisdom , I might add describe the message of the grackle . It is spot on for me . I am supported and cared for lovingly , patiently by the spirit of the grackle .

  11. I raised a grackle in my home and had him as my best friend for 15 years! I will show you some pictures of him if you like, but I’m not sure I can post a photo here. He was such a beautiful bird, and we did everything together. He HAD a cage, but was rarely in it. He was always with me. His name was Bryd (I know, creative right?) and I was heartbroken when he passed away after 15 years, peacefully, while we were holding him. I’ll never forget him, and how much he changed my life. He was indeed… my spirit animal.

    1. What a cool story. I just love hearing about the bonds people and the creatures create. Thanks for sharing your story. (If you want to link an image that’s online somewhere of your grackle, I’ll edit the comment to make it display here.)

  12. I was visited by a juvenile female great tailed grackle yesterday. She stayed on my apartment patio with me before taking wing as the sun began to set. This made me wonder if juvenile species have an extra layer of meaning, and if their particular teen-bird color patterns have any known meanings as well. Yesterday was a day that annually holds several different meanings for me as well, which has my curiosity quite engaged. If you, or any others have further information to share, I would be thrilled to learn more!
    Thanks ✨

    1. Hello, Lucy. That sounds like quite a visit! In terms of meanings, I will usually research the animal’s habits and lifestyle a bit when I’m looking to nail down significance of an animal messenger. So you may want to look into the development of the Grackle as it matures. I would also encourage you to consider where you are in whatever life cycle and/or processing the event you mention. A younger animal may reference earlier in the process or perhaps a suggestion for how to approach something: in a playful and lighthearted way as much as possible. Just a few thoughts.

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