Writer Isabella Vickers
I’ve been noticing vultures a lot recently. I see them in the morning driving home from taking my daughter to school. I see them in the afternoons and evenings flying near the road, circling around or in the fields, eating some freshly dead creature. I always shudder and turn away, repulsed by their behavior, their spooky appearance, their dark energy.
At the wise age of 10, Abigail laughs and tells me how necessary they are, “Mama, would you rather see dead animals lying around?” “No, of course not!,” I say. “But I wish they’d do it in private! I don’t want to see it; it’s gross.” Although she’s a vegetarian too, she seems to have a simple appreciation for the nature of these things. For me, the carnage, the flesh, the barbaric consumption is simply too much to bear.
Finally, the other day, I’m driving along and see two shadowy figures circling overhead, just before I notice the sinister shapes lurking in the field tearing at the entrails of the fresh carcass of a small furry animal, perhaps a rabbit. I shiver in disgust. Suddenly, for some unknown reason I turn to my left and in that second see a beautiful blue heron in a small clearing of tall grass. I sigh, relieved and wonder what Heron wisdom I’m being offered in that moment. And then, because of the abrupt juxtaposition of serene beauty with vile ugliness, I recognize my acceptance of Heron wisdom and my rejection, even revulsion, of the vultures without even considering the wisdom they might have to offer.
I begin thinking about my associations with vultures: creepy, spooky, sinister, monsters, dark, dirty, scavengers, violent eaters, Nature’s undertaker. “Hmmm…all negative,” I think. They do clean up dead animals, road kill, etc., which prevents rotting, smelling, infested carrion along the road. (Thank you, Abigail, for so astutely pointing this out.) They don’t often kill even for food, just clean up what is already dead unlike birds of prey, which I have long admired despite their hunting and killing behaviors. Hmmm…
So, vultures clean up dead things that no longer serve a purpose or have life, which left along the road or in the field would rot and spread disease. Now I could no longer deny Vulture wisdom and began with new curiosity wondering what is dead inside of me or my life that needs to be cleared—not just thrown out, but eaten, integrated, digested. What furry, seemingly innocent animal is no longer serving an active role? What substance will lay rotting and stinking if not ingested? What old ways of being? Patterns or beliefs that no longer serve? Stories that no longer fit? Limits, fears, insecurities? These things must already be dead if Vulture has come for them.
Isabella is a gypsy, artist, writer, therapist, lover, and mother. She believes in Love and practices with abandon. She is passionate about Growth and dedicated to living the fullness of Life.
This is a wonderful story Isabella. We have a local nature/animal/science museum/park that is called Turtle Bay Exploration Park. The park features an Animal Encounter show and one of the animals featured is Ned the vulture. Their talk about Ned is done with an attempt to give people a new appreciation for vultures. Love the questions you pose too. They definitely spark contemplation.
Thank you, Michelle! I love the way the “ordinary” become extraordinary when we pay attention!
I like crows and Ravens myself. I have a stuffed Raven in my Faerie Den. He looks out for me. My grandfather used to tell me when I was talking to the crows, that I should not befriend them because they’ve been know to haul off little girls and eat them. Seriously? I quit talking to crows for a long time and about 4 years ago they started demanding my attention. It started with one who was banging his head against my office window. I gave in and went out to see what the fuss was about. There were three crows squawking up in a tree and when I came out they flew down into a wild area of our property on a pond. It was a beautiful site for my Faerie Grotto. Obviously we are friends again and they often accompany me on my walks.