People will see or experience something and start to wonder whether the warble or flight path of a bird has particular meaning on this occasion, or if a seemingly random coincidence has some greater meaning.
But how does one tell the difference between the cry of a crowd and the call of the Morrigan? How can you tell if an object that fell in your path is little more than coincidence or something trying to get your attention?
Out of the Ordinary
The important aspect which makes an something omen is the fact is is out of the ordinary. It might be seeing a plant or butterfly out of season, or an animal behave in a way which is unusual to its species. For example, seeing a fox at dusk is in keeping with its nature but to see one in broad daylight may be something to note.
Simply seeing something does not necessarily make it particularly note worthy. We encounter many planets and animals in our day to day wanderings. Simply seeing a crow on your daily walk is not an indication of a deity or spirit animal attempting to connect with you, even if you see a large number or congregation of them. A messenger will interact with you more closely in some way. They may fly very close to you, drop something in your path or even communicate with you directly by tapping on your window or sitting close by and calling to you.
Context is also important. If you’ve recently petitioned or cast for something and you then have an experience or sighting then it is likely that something is attempting to communicate with you. Equally if you have just thrown out a silent plea for advice or direction and you suddenly encounter something strange or relevant to that plea the chances are that you are beige contacted in a very direct way.
Validation – External and Divine
A healthy dose of scepticism is always advisable in magical circles whether it is a of someone’s claims of power/knowledge or your own experiences. The process of ruling out natural phenomenon and misinterpretation is a sensible process which should be undertaken after every experience where it is possible to do so.
Seeking validation is one of the most effective processes, and often can be undertaken in the moment.The best form is in a request for reinforcement of the message, making it in the moment to give any entity trying to communicate with you the best possible chance to provide you with clarification.
It is also a good idea to turn to divination after a period of reflection as another possible source of answers. Dowsing and any form of method that will yield a yes no response are good places to start but using tarot it maybe possible to gain greater insight. Particularly in the cases of animals and birds the symbolism associated with them can also be explored to offer insights and there are many oracle decks which may be relevant to his process.
External validation is another method of attempting to clarify whether or not your experience was something more. Whilst this approach can have its benefits the wider the field of opinion the less valuable it becomes. External validation will always be coloured by the commentators own establish beliefs and experiences. Whilst this can be a valid information gathering process for the seeker they may encounter too many conflicting or contradictory opinions can only deeper confusion.
Unfortunately there are many people on Facebook that will offer unconditional validation in any and all circumstances, regardless of situation and context. Whilst the more innocent of these commentators are doing no more than parroting what the OP and perhaps others have already said, failing to add anything to the conversation, there are others who risk doing far more harm than good. On more than one occasion I have seen people confirm an OP’s experience whilst failing to recognise that the same poster has admitted serious mental health or substance related issues as part of the lives. In these situations far more balance is necessary in response or the advice or suggestions run the risk of merely deepening psychosis.
This means I need to offer advice both to the seeker and the respondants.
Seeker – don’t seek external validation as your first form. Always be honest about your experience to help the respondents give their fullest answer but equally take the responses you get with a pinch of salt. You are the person in the experience and therefore you are best place to explain it.
Respondents – be honest in your responses, if you disagree with any interpretation do so but be clear as to why so the seeker is able to weigh up all possibilities. Also, read the thread carefully. Seekers often add detail after the fact. If there is any suspicion of substance misuse or ill health which may impact on the OP’s perceptions feel empowered to (politely) say something to that effect. Equally you can just walk away from the thread. Knowing which battles are worth fighting is half the trick.
Ultimately the person best suited to identifying what is (or isn’t) an omen is you. It was your experience and you are best placed to understand it in relation to your life in that moment in time and space, and take into account all the various threads in the which this even may bring together in the greater tapestry of your life.
As Witches and Pagans we are attune to this that go beyond the mundane world but we do still live within it and it is important that we keep our feet firmly on the ground. It can be very tempting to read far more into the things we experience and encounter than is actually there, devaluing those moments which are true omens. Hopefully this post will serve as a tool set and reminder that it is okay to step back and be skeptical.
I’ve previously posted about my experience with Red Kites, a bird I associate with Hekate. This experience, which speaks for itself to a large degree, is a good example of the benefit of validation in the moment in order to seek clarity.
Another example relates to this picture.
This blossom literally fell into my life as I was on my way to an interview a couple of years ago. My then contract, which was tied to a third second funding stream, was about to come to an end. The interview was the third and final one in a time frame which would allow me to walk from one job to the next without a period of unemployment. In the previous two interviews I had been close but unsuccessful so I had a lot riding on this meeting.
As I walked in I passed under a cherry tree in full bloom, a few doors down from the office, when this full blossom fell directly in front of me. In of itself that wouldn’t have been something of note but what set it apart was that I reacted instinctively and caught the blossom with little effort. Although I didn’t have time to perform any of my usual confirmation checks I took it’s appearance, both fresh and new, and the easy at which I caught it as a sign and tucked it away in my bag. It came as no surprise when I received the job offer a few hours later.
I’ve walked under that same tree many times in the last few years and nothing like it has happened since, though I am hoping to get some sign in one form or another now that my contract is once again up for renewal.