Finding Meaning in the things around us

One of the aspects of esotyricism that I struggle with sometimes is the “meaning” of things.  It seems everywhere we look and everything that happens around us and to us has to have some kind of meaning attached to it if only we know the various writings about what each thing means.  I watch posts on Facebook in witchy and pagan groups fly by several a day with the question “what does this mean?  what does that mean?”

As a therapist I sometimes say to my clients “why does it have to mean anything [about you]?” and this is also a fundimental concept in many Buddhist and Taoist philosophies.  It is the way.  It just is.

It seems a very ego-centric thought that the things around us are related to us as individuals and not just happening in nature or time.

One evening not long ago I was sitting at the cirle in the Alder Grove meditating as dusk was falling.  I had some singing and sound bowls playing on my phone and I was humming along with the notes.  Suddenly an owl, apparently quite close in one of the trees near me, let out a loud and long screach.  I jumped – I could feel the adrenaline spike as I took a second to recognise and process what it is was.  An owl.  OK, that’s ok – adrenaline subsides.  The owl moved to another tree nearby and as I resumed humming with the music the owl seemed to sing a long with me, letting out longer and softer screaches until it stopped and fell silent.  In that moment my thought was that the owl was singing along with me and that thought gave me joy.  I smiled.

Later, back at the house I entertained the thought “I wonder what it means” and proceeded to look up the “meaning” of being visited by an owl and owl screaches.  So many contrasting opinions about what it could mean – ranging from it being a message from a loved one on the other side (only a good message) to a sign of danger.  From being a good omen in some cultures to being a terrible omen in others.  I thought about how I felt at the time and I remembered feeling joyful so then should I choose the “positive” meanings over the negative?  It felt so contrived and suddenly, as I often find myself, I was so aware of “man’s” projection of meaning onto things.  Another school of thought (and one from my more therapeutic stance) would be “what does it mean to me?” and therein lays the ego again.

From an animist perspective – if we are all part of the whole – if I am the owl and the owl is me then perhaps it can’t “mean” anything about me as an individual human being.

I even looked at what owls screaching is thought to mean from a natural nature perspective and sure enough a screach is most often an indication of threat, an owl may screach when it, or it’s young are under threat from a predator.  An uncomfortable thought is whether I, in fact, was the threat – the predator.

This may seem like quite a lot of “over-thinking” and possibly it is.  That’s the thing about belief – is that it often stops the enquiry.  If someone believes in a God then they have an explanation without having to question further.  If I believe in the meanings provided by any of the writings from different cultures or spiritual corners then I have no further need to question.  And so, is this just another confirmation of that in me – still – I struggle to believe – truly believe – in any one spiritual path.  And yet, sometimes I do indeed have more sureity about signs and meanings – sometimes it is much more easy to see and believe.  Sometimes I think how nice it would be to have real sureity of belief.  That seems quite peaceful – to just say “ok” instead of picking things apart to find…….the meaning.  And there we are – full circle.

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