Saturday, June 1, 2013


I've just had another 'woodpecker' surprise. A true Red Headed Woodpecker just came and spent several minutes eating at the suet cage. He then enjoyed a moment at a ten foot tall dead oak stump nearby. I have not seen this bird since I was a child in Alabama so they are quite uncommon in this part of Illinois, certainly in town. I've had a string of woodpecker episodes this past week: First a unusual dream featured a Red Headed Woodpecker. It was in my hand but I was unsure if dead or alive. I threw it into the air and it flew away to my pleasure but was also still in my hand. No matter how many times I threw it way, it flew happily away but also stayed in my hand. The next day is when Brent noticed the Larger than life Pileated Woodpecker(which I had never seen before) from our yard and now the Red Headed Woodpecker's timely arrival. I found this interesting summary of the place of the Woodpecker in various mythologies of the ages.

Symbolic Meaning of Woodpeckers
To be sure, the woodpecker is an attention-grabber, and those who claim this amazing bird as their totem will attest to its ability to shake up awareness.
Nothing breaks the silence of a hiking in the woods like the urgent, rapid-fire percussion of a woodpecker's rapping against a tree.
When I hear the woodpecker knocking, I think of opportunity. You know the old saying "when opportunity knocks, answer the door." That's precisely what I'm driving at here.
Woodpeckers are extremely opportunistic themselves. Each tree is a door, revealing tender morsels of food (grubs and ants are their favorites). Other trees will yield against their beak-hammering to provide great mansions for their young.
A Quick-List of woodpecker symbolic meaning include themes such as....

Symbolic Meanings of the Woodpecker

  • Balance
  • Progress
  • Signaling
  • Returning
  • Protection
  • Initiation
  • Attention
  • Prophesy
  • Listening
  • Opportunity
  • Discernment
  • Communication
  • Determination
When the woodpecker comes tapping into our awareness, it's also a signal to use our heads. Just as the woodpecker uses its head (beak) to hammer out solutions (food, shelter), we too can use our intellect in finding solutions to our own barriers.
The symbolic meaning of woodpeckers also point to a need for creative vision. Being opportunistic, woodpeckers can see value everywhere, even in dead trees. Have you ditched an idea or given up on a project? The woodpecker may be trying to tell you to breathe new life into your project, just as they build new homes into dead trees.
Further, the symbolic meaning of woodpecker indicates a return to our roots, or having trust in our basic (gut) feelings. Dr. Carl Jung observed the woodpecker as a symbol of a return to the womb of creativity. In this observation the tree is symbolic of a womb; earthy, grounded, sturdy and secure. The woodpecker's home within the tree is analogous of a fierce determination to return and protect that which is sacred to us.
When this bird comes pecking, it is a call for us to return to our roots, back to the womb of our ideas and use our intellect and discernment to follow through with our plans.
This analogy is doubly profound in the case of red-headed woodpeckers as the color red is associated with the root chakra. Prime, protective energy. Another clear sign for being aware of our core impulses, and our basic beliefs.
Native North American wisdom recognized the protective home-based themes of the woodpecker too. Prairie tribes had a myth that the title of protector of humankind was once vied for by the turkey and the woodpecker. The woodpecker won the title because of her ability to make such marvelous nests wherein the spiritual seed of humankind would always be sheltered from predatory threat.

Neat Woodpecker Video :

The woodpecker may also remind us to be mindful of our words. It has a narrow tongue, extremely effective for picking up food in narrow places. This is symbolic for using a narrow route to get the most profound effect. The woodpecker asks us to use fewer words to make a stronger impact in our statement.
As we continue to explore the symbolic meaning of woodpecker, we see communication is a strong theme. In fact, when I hear the woodpecker, I think of Morse code, and I try to figure out what kind of rhythmical message the woodpecker is sending me.
It wasn't until years later I did some research on the bird that I discovered, indeed, the woodpecker actually does peck out signals to their kin as communication!
Drumming has historically marked the beginning of events such as processions, honorable ceremonies, even war. Perhaps this is why the woodpecker (and its beak-drumming ways) was often associated with Roman battle, war and victory.
Native North American wisdom also prescribes drumming as a means to journeying (transcendentalism), and so many tribes considered the woodpecker as an other-worldly messenger, and a prophet.
In Roman mythology, the woodpecker is associated with Mars, which is a planet of energy, and initiative. The zodiac sign of Aries might be drawn to the woodpecker as a totem animal because of its association with Mars too (Mars is the ruling planet for Aries).
These two (woodpecker and the Ram which is the zodiac animal for Aries) have the propensity of initiation (trail blazers, starting new projects) in common. The woodpecker is the first to initiate communication. Consider the silence of a winter day cracked wide open by the echoing beat of a woodpeckers beak.
Also, the symbolic meaning of woodpecker deals with progress because she doggedly hammers at her purpose until she sees to the other side of the obstacle. Aries are equally determined in their purpose, often ramming through astounding odds to obtain their goals.
Concepts of determination and drive in the symbolic meaning of woodpecker can be stretched further when we consider the woodpecker's love for the oak tree. Oak trees are symbolic of stability and strength of character, read more about their meanings here.
Also in Roman myth the woodpecker was noted as befriending the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus (who, interestingly were fathered by Mars, the god of war). Legend states the both the wolf and the woodpecker fed the twin boys in their infancy while they were sequestered in the wild to avoid demise (as typical Roman myth, it's a long story, you can read it here).
And so, when the woodpecker comes calling, it may be a sign to take some action. Here are a few suggestions...

Guidance From the Woodpecker

  • Fly back to our roots.

  • Shelter our wisdom from predatory threat.

  • Nurture our ideas in the womb of our core passions.

  • Communicate our ideas in more creative or non-traditional ways.

  • Stop and consider the opportunities available to us at this time.

  • Look at projects in unique creative ways to bring new life to a project.

  • Use our heads (intellect) to think up innovative solutions to overcome barriers.

  • Listen more clearly to subtle energies, there is a message that only our intuition can interpret.
I hope you have enjoyed these thoughts on the symbolic meaning of woodpecker. Be sure to check out the links at the end of this page formore symbolic meanings of awesome animals and birds. Thanks for reading!

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