This morning, as I left the house and drove down the hill, I saw the most gorgeous fox disappearing into the hedge ahead of me. Well, they were crossing the road in front of me, not that I was driving into the hedge. I’m not that bad, even at 6am…
It reminded me of Brigid, although she was on my mind anyway since I’d just done my “face towards the east and spend a second thinking of her before getting into the car” activity. And then I started thinking about signs. Now, of course, with her links to the clever fox in the hagiographies, foxes always have me thinking of herself, but that doesn’t mean they’re actually a sign of something at all times. This fox was just going about their business. And, I know we had a set of four cubs earlier in the year in the back yard. (It was pure gorgeous watching them play and sniff about and generally being cubs…) So, it’s highly unlikely that the fox was there as a sign to me.
But how then would I be able to interpret a sign or symbol from herself? It’s a fair question. And please remember, interpreting symbols and signs is a personal thing, but what I’m offering here are some ideas to determine if something is a sign or symbol or not.
Well here’s the thing. If an animal or a tree or a piece of the natural landscape is just living away, doing its thing, then it’s probably not a sign, unless it’s for you to live your life as well. If said animal or tree or rock is acting a bit strange – well it could be a sign, but it could also be that the animal is sick, the tree is reacting to something you can’t see or sense, the rock is having an existential crisis… The world doesn’t revolve around us, much as we’d want it to. So, my first thought after thinking “Was that a sign?” is usually pure skepticism. I look for ways for the sign to be natural or an ordinary event, rather than a sign just for me.
But maybe there’s more to it. Maybe you’re looking around and you’re thinking, “Orlagh, I’m in Antarctica, there are no foxes here and one’s just come wandering around the house”. OK, that might be a sign. Or a very confused and lost fox. I’d still be hanging on to skepticism for a while longer. And I’d be seeing if I needed to help said fox, cos if it’s in Antarctica, the only continent where foxes can’t be found, something’s gone wrong somewhere!
I’d look for back-up confirmation (probably after I figured out what on earth the fox was doing in the middle of the ice and the snow!) I’d use a pendulum, cards, prayer, meditation, ogham, whatever other divination tools I had at my disposal to help support the sign I received. And, as I have said before, the more drastic the action to take, the more confirmation I’d look for. I’ll be honest – I usually take the mere presence of my favourite chocolate in the supermarket as a sign I should buy some – which is handy, cos it’s always there! But when it came time to move home from England? I thought long and hard about that. Changing a job? I thought long and hard about it. Moving house? Again, I thought long and hard about it. Wearing a dress instead of trousers – ok, that one takes a little less though.
But you get the idea. If the sign you’re looking for is to completely overhaul your life, change your career, move to the other side of the world – I wouldn’t necessarily be doing it on the basis of one sign. I’d research, investigate what the possible outcomes were, determine how realistic this is and work from there. Now sometimes, we need to work on faith. I mean, when I set up this blog, the school, etc, I was working on faith that it would be a worthwhile endeavor. And it has been – I’ve improved my spiritual life, my physical life, my emotional life… it’s been a really great experience so far and I have hopes that I can use this blog and the school to replace my day job and be able to devote my life more fully to Brigid.
Which would be awesome – but in the meantime, I still need to put food on the table and a roof over our heads. So, working on it!
If you have a crow appear to you in my area – that’s not a sign, the damn things are living in half my chimney pots and sound like people tramping over my roof on a daily basis. If a bald eagle showed up – I’d look into a bit. They’re not known for their Irish journeys too often. If you’re meditation or journeying and something random appears to you – be cautious. Don’t take everything at face value. Check out who or what you’re dealing with. Check how honest and straightforward they are. Irish deities tend towards the straightforward by the way – subtle as a sledgehammer to the face most of the time, to be honest. So if you ask out straight, “Who are you?”, you don’t tend to get the “I am the wind and the air, I am the light at night, I am the whisper in the darkness”. You tend to get “I’m Brigid. Now here’s what I need you to be doing…”
Well that’s my experience anyway. But if you ask someone their name and they reply with “You may call me X” then you can almost be certain their name isn’t X. Or at least now their full name. If they start down the “You may call me Master” just get out of there. No good will come of it.
But you know the most important part of interpreting signs and symbols? Knowing yourself. Be aware of yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, your faults, your areas of awareness, your areas of lack of awareness. Have a think about ways you respond to flattery, to cajoling, to oppression. The better you know yourself, the easier it is to deal with signs and symbols. the better you know yourself, the less need you have of signs and symbols. The better you know yourself, the harder it is for other beings to pull the wool over your eyes.
So spend some time getting to know yourself. Reflection isn’t often promoted in modern life, but it’s a worthwhile exercise. Now, this month’s Patreon offering is a short exercise to help you get to know yourself a bit or maybe highlight areas you might want to pay attention to. You can sign up for as little as a fiver a month. Otherwise the 30 Days of Brigid in January might help explore your relationship with herself a bit more and build that deeper connection to herself, so maybe signs and symbols might not mean as much.
In the end though, how you interpret signs and symbols is really up to you. It’s a deeply personal process and while I can help you discuss things and think things out, really, the meaning of what you see, hear, touch, smell, taste, sense is up to you. Smelling roses – I think of St. Therese of Lisieux and Mary. Smelling lavender – I think of my Nana. The sound of a range being cleaned -I think of my other Nana. The smell of Sweet Afton cigarettes – that’s Grandad. All deeply personal. It would be very strange if smelling Sweet Afton cigarettes made you think of my grandad, unless you’re a cousin of mine, in which case, hi!
Do the work and the signs and symbols mostly take care of themselves. And beware of mysterious messages. Seriously – it’s probably someone up to no good!!