“And though she be but little, she is fierce” – Shakespeare
In shaman teachings, the archetype of the hummingbird is the spirit animal of the North. The hummingbird is the smallest of all birds and is capable of flying long journeys. Additionally, the precious creature is able to stop dead in its tracks whilst travelling at full speed. Hummingbirds can fly backwards and sideways, hover and even possesses the ability to move its wings in a figure eight pattern – a symbol for infinity.
The exploration of the North direction begins as the other directions did, with the passionate flourishing of the rattle, inviting the opening of sacred space, grounding me and creating a container for the work that is about to commence. The days begin with pranayama, which means “extension of the breath,” and I witness my body settle and my shoulders drop as I become conscious of my breathing. Diving deeper into the practice, we move into asana, the intention to practice, not only stretching, but also to open the energy channels, chakras and psychic centers of the body while increasing flexibility of the spine, strengthening the bones and stimulating the circulatory and immune systems.
The north direction encourages us to mimic the intensely concentrated flight pattern of the hummingbird. To be right here, right now and, as I completed the asana practice, I can feel the space created within myself begin to absorb the echoes of the small animals teachings:
“We are enough for this epic journey”
All we need to travel through this lifetime is already instilled within ourselves. Through learning the shaman way, we have shed our past, we have tracked our doubts and fears and now, through the experience of the hummingbird, we have learnt to focus intently on our life’s vision and create an existence from joy.
We move from a place of intense self-obsession to an open incorporation of all worldly things. We move swiftly away from ego and expectation and flow with the unpredictable river of experience.
The size of the beautiful hummingbird reminds us that, regardless of our disposition, we have all the tools necessary to navigate this wonderful, wild world.