Spiritual lifestyle advice and guidance for modern women from bestselling author Alice Grist.
This is an excerpt from my book The High Heeled Guide to Spiritual Living. It is about my chicken Beverley, who died. Her death was intense and set off a whole chain of events that showed me just how connected we all are, even to the seemingly 'small' creatures amongst us. Indeed it raised little Beverley up and above the human made status as food fodder, to something altogether more wonderful. She was a chicken, yes, but she was a clucking little guiding light, a spirit, a soul and a messenger. Here is the excerpt, I hope it inspires you to see the love and power of the animals that cross your path...
"Beverley’s actual death was not something I witnessed thankfully. But the way she died was echoed in the dream that I had the night before she died. I dreamt quite vividly that she had died and she was in a position which meant she would have fallen or jumped out of her roosting box. It was as though she had done a kamikaze suicide bid. When we found Beverley in real life, her death was very similar. The day of her death I left her almost totally unconscious in her roosting box. When we came home later that day her body was on the floor of her chicken coop. I do not know, nor do I want to know how she got from the box to the floor in her weak and unconscious state. But what I do know is that this was identical to what I had dreamt would happen.
The night that I had that dream, I also had another dream. I dreamt that I went to see Beverley to check on whether she had died or not, and she was alive and happy and normal. This dream came after the dream of her kamikaze style death. The only thing I can take from this dream was that Beverley had died, but that she was still alive, that her soul was free, happy and healthy again.
Shamanistic peoples rely heavily on dreams; in particular they feel that dreams about animals are particularly potent and meaningful. It seems that our communication difficulties with our pets and four legged friends are easily solved by the instant satellite link up power of the dream. If you dream of an animal, or your animal, do not discount it. It is sure to hold a potent message for you. It is another method used by Mother Nature to show you that she cares and that you are her child.
Beverley was a brave little chicken, and I am forever blessed by the fact that she raised her head and looked at me not long before she seemed to go totally unconscious. I am honored that she said goodbye, although it must have taken all her strength to do so. I feel happy that she met her demise alone and that she saved my husband from having to take her life for her. My Mother’s partner Karen, said that perhaps this was her final gift to us. I believe that to be true.
Beverley’s death has brought about an acute awareness in me of death, and what that means. I am so ridiculously lucky that I am 31 years old with a near whole set of grandparents. I have been to two funerals that I remember, and only one of them is somebody who I actually knew, my Grandfather. I am drastically lucky. I know that unless I keel over dead in the next five minutes, I am likely to see much death and heartbreak in my life. I know it will never be easy.
As an abstract concept I can cope with death, but then a chicken dies and I go to pieces. This kind of thing puts everything in perspective. Earlier in the week my husband and I were bickering, but given Beverley’s death I have no idea what our problem was! Suddenly the small things drop away and what is important is remembered. Life and love and death are all intimately related. A heart can be broken, mended and broken again, if we allow it, with every heart break we can strengthen something else within us, our spirit, our soul, our belief that life goes on. What we learn and what we take from this spiritually is what keeps us going.
You know all nature hangs on a spider’s web of life. This death, whilst relatively minor, compared to others I will undoubtedly suffer, is significant. It has taught me to see spirit in all things. To take notice of natures patterns, and to appreciate that animals are in contact with something far greater and far more generous than we currently realize. These days we squeal at death, we may see it as a punishment on our souls. Perhaps if we open our hearts to the signs and symbols of this mystical, magical world, then death will become a journey. Our understanding will grow and we will accept the inevitability, if not the excitement that is encapsulated in returning to whence we came.
Whilst some people may squirm and wonder why I am putting so much meaning in on the life and death of one tiny chicken, I ask them in return, why wouldn’t I?
Her death has shone a brilliant light on her spiritual place in nature, and her importance as a teacher to me. I have no problem with my most recent teacher being poultry.
In her leaving this planet, she leaves those mourning her with a whole new set of experiences. She has given my husband and I some real food for thought and the events in and around her death have renewed my spiritual beliefs ten fold. Beverley’s death brought my heart into concert with nature. I saw her life and her death in all things, and a series of meetings with birds confirmed to me that I am related to nature intimately. I opened my eyes and I saw nature sing to me… read on to see more of her song…
Beverley and The Birds
Prior to Beverley’s death I had no idea she was sick, not until she was really, really sick. The disease was rapid and the symptoms all came at once. So for about a day I was in blissful ignorance. But one thing I did note, and that I mentioned to many, many people was that in the week or two leading up to her death I was surrounded by birds.
Everywhere I went there were birds. They took to flying out in front of my car crossing it or leading the way to wherever I was going. I gleaned great spiritual strength and messages from these non-coincidentental happenings. Indeed I felt the animal kingdom and Mother Nature herself reach up and pat me on my head. Be still little one she whispered, for we are all one, and you and Beverley and we, will all meet again.
The messages from my feathered friends started in the form of ravens and crows. Now most people relate such big black birds to death, but I see them more as a magical bird bringing messages. Maybe in this instance it was a little bit of both. I saw them everywhere. At first I just thought there were an awful lot of crows and ravens about and thought no more of it. I presumed that everyone else was noticing them; maybe it was simply the time of year. I mentioned to my car share friend Shireece who was with me on many of the occasions that I had seen them. She however did not know what I was talking about. She had not noticed any.
Either I was seeing things, or the birds, on this occasion were there for me to notice and not for her.
The most striking crow experience occurred when I was one day coming out of the supermarket. I was strolling through the urban car park, full of humans and cars and suddenly to my left was a crow. This sweet little creature proceeded to eyeball me and hop along beside me, watching my every move. If I had bent down I could have touched it. It was one brave crow! It was after this event that I started to wonder what all these crows were trying to tell me.
The day of Beverley’s sickness, I noticed two sparrow hawks hovering near the car on my usual drive home. I have not seen one of these creatures for some time, never mind two in one day. In particular I noticed how they simply hovered, they did not actually attempt to take their prey. They hung in the air, in their limbo like state. Perhaps an omen that something was afoot, that death was ready to strike, but not quite yet.
On the morning of Beverley’s death I could not help but notice that all bird activity ceased. I saw the birds, but instead of swooping down in front of me, they simply watched me pass. I felt as though I were at a funeral procession. The skies were quiet and I felt strongly that my worst fears were being confirmed.
Alongside the sparrow hawks, crows and ravens, herons have also visited me. I have seen about five or six flying herons within as many days, probably one per day. Every time I have left the house I have seen one crossing my path in the sky. I might normally see one every few years, and not often in flight! Indeed just ten minutes ago as I sat down to write this about Beverley I looked out my window to see a heron circling the sky near my house with two crows accompanying it. I knew then for certain that these birds were acting as messengers to me.
An interesting non-coincidence came to me as I was writing this section. I decided to take a look in my photo archives and take a look at the pictures taken the day the chickens came to live with us. Besides lots of images of curious cats and perky headed young feathered friends I was taken aback to see a photograph of the sky. Smack bang in the middle of that sky was a flying heron. Whilst this was brilliant in itself, it caused me to remember the strange phenomena that had taken place the day we brought the chicken’s home. On that day our garden was visited by dozens of birds. This was noticeable because we have cats and it is very rare to see a bird in our space. So to have many come flying in was most noticeable. There is something afoot in the bird world me thinks…
All these magnificent birds are my messengers of death, and my messengers also of life. A crow is a magical underworld style birdie and a heron is a smaller version of a stork, which of course is traditionally represented as the bringer of babies. To me their presence signals that Beverley has gone to a better place, she has flown home, her life was important and that the messengers of spirit want me to know that I’m not wrong in thinking that. These creatures of the air seem so well in touch with the world and the energy around them. I hesitate to think that their messages were solely for me, but more for all of us, for themselves, for the connection that we all share. Whilst us humans are often oblivious to that connection we can access it if we simply choose to observe.
The presence of these winged messengers has given the entire trauma and upset such great significance. It raises Beverley’s death above the ordinary. The birds seem to be guiding me through my loss and showing me that they are with me. We all feel the loss, but we all make great gains from it. I hope you too will make great gains from this story of little Beverley’s life and death.
Attention to detail is vital in interpreting such signals and signs from Mother Nature. The ability to believe in what you are seeing is another key ingredient, but it is something I hope you will soon be able to access. The animal kingdom will speak to us often; it is our choice to learn and to listen. But trust me, the messages are there; they are there for you, as they are for your sister, your brother, your mother and your flat mate. We are not separate entities in the way our society believes we are. We are part of a community of spirit living earthly life, and that community, that Great Spirit wants you to know it!
Interestingly enough, as I write this, my very good friend Natalie is actually in labor with her second child. That imminent birth is helping me through the death I have encountered with poor Beverley. The circle of life is going crazy all around me and as the heron and crows mingle together in the sky, I see that life and death are hand in hand.
An excerpt from The High Heeled Guide to Spiritual Living (Best Book Prediction Mag Award 2012)- available in all good bookstores
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