Reviews & Interviews

Book Review – The Hidden Meaning of Birds: A Spiritual Field Guide Explore the Symbology and Significance of These Divine Winged Messengers by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

Book Review

The Hidden Meaning of Birds

A Spiritual Field Guide

Explore the Symbology and Significance of These Divine Winged Messengers

by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

240 Pages

When first seeing this book, I was instantly reminded of my many Peterson’s Field Guide books to birds of various locations. Like the reliable Peterson’s series, The Hidden Meaning of Birds provides illustrations, physical descriptions, preferred environments and habitat ranges for over 50 birds from around the world. It also invites us to connect with birds as divinatory messengers, opening us up to another layer of relationship with them.

I have watched birds as message bringers for a long time. I’ve gone on omen walks to see which species I spotted first and been awed when I found a red-tailed hawk sitting on my back yard fence when I had never seen one in the area before. When I reached an invitation to visit a spiritual teacher of mine the next day, I knew the hawk had been the harbinger of that overture. Whenever I see two Canada geese flying without a flock behind them, I know that my mother and step-father are sending me news or a blessing, like the day I saw them flying west toward my daughter’s house. Shortly thereafter, I received the news that my grandson had been born, well ahead of his expected due date. Mom was off to see the baby!

So, I am delighted to add Arin Murphy-Hiscock’s well-researched and written book to my animal magic library. If you are new to working with animal spirits or to detailed divinatory work with birds, you will appreciate Murphy-Hiscock’s section on how to use the book, especially her guidance on keeping a journal of your bird encounters. I wholeheartedly agree that it is so important to write down who you see, where you see them, any directional associations, time of day, and what you were doing or thinking or asking for when the bird appeared or you heard its call (it’s not only about the visuals!). Without a written record, it’s easy to forget these details. More importantly, it is difficult to see patterns with particular birds over a period of time if you haven’t recorded your observations. One of Murphy-Hiscock’s emphatic points is that divinatory work with birds (or any animal) is completely personal and what the appearance of a crow means something different for you than it does for me. And that appearance will not necessarily mean the same thing as the crow appearance last Tuesday. Most importantly, the personal meaning for you will trump any “book” definition of Crow.

Murphy-Hiscock provides a brief overview of historical types of bird divinatory methods which include augury, ornithomancy, haruspication and ovomancy, among others. There is also a chapter on modern bird divination in which she offers several meditations for attuning with Air and connecting with a specific bird among others, tips for omen walking, and working with birds spirit guides. There are great ideas for making a bird divination deck as well.

Most of the book is a guide to specific birds. Murphy-Hiscock uses the common name for different species, like owl, and provides the names of various species that fall within “owl.” Her take is that there is not specific way to determine the spiritual significance of a type of “owl,” but that is likely up to you to decide! What makes this guide truly valuable are the sections on lore and omens/divinatory meanings for each bird. She also provides a quick list of correspondences. Very useful!!

The book itself is small and fits well in a coat pocket or bag, similar to the Peterson’s Field Guides. But if you’re omen walking with The Hidden Meaning of Birds in your pocket, you won’t have to wait until you’re home to research the associated meaning of a bird with a message for you! It is well done and a good addition to your library!




About the Author:

Susan Rossi is a Practitioner and Teacher of Shamanic Arts. She is a long-time explorer of The Mysteries – the connections between mind, body, spirit and how to live in right relationship to all of the energies streaming through the cosmos. She works with clients as an astrologer, coach, ceremonialist and guide to the wisdom that each of us has the capacity to access. Her focus is on guiding clients to unblock and rediscover their inner wisdom. Art, exploration of the birth chart, ceremony, legacy writing, hypnotherapy, energetic healing practice and creation of sacred tools are integral pieces of her practice.

Susan trained in Soul Level Astrology with master astrologer Mark Borax. She delights in exploring with individuals the planetary pattern under which their soul choose to incarnate.

Susan Rossi

Open Channel Astrology

Flying to the Heart