Bird Medicine: The Sacred Power of Bird Shamanism (Paperback)

Bird Medicine: The Sacred Power of Bird Shamanism By Evan T. Pritchard Cover Image

Bird Medicine: The Sacred Power of Bird Shamanism (Paperback)


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Explores the living spiritual tradition surrounding birds in Native American culture

• Pairs scholarly research with more than 200 firsthand accounts of bird signs from traditional Native Americans and their descendants

• Examines the legends, wisdom, and powers of the birds known as the gatekeepers of the four directions--Eagle, Hawk, Crow, and Owl

• Provides many examples of bird sign interpretations and human-bird communication that can be applied in your own encounters with birds

Birds are our strongest allies in the natural world. Revered in Native American spirituality and shamanic traditions around the world, birds are known as teachers, guardians, role models, counselors, healers, clowns, peacemakers, and meteorologists. They carry messages and warnings from loved ones and the spirit world, report deaths and injuries, and channel divine intelligence to answer our questions. Some of their “signs” are so subtle that one could discount them as subjective, but others are dramatic enough to strain even a skeptic’s definition of coincidence.

Pairing scholarly research with more than 200 firsthand accounts of bird encounters from traditional Native Americans and their descendants, Evan Pritchard explores the living spiritual tradition surrounding birds in Native American culture. He examines in depth the birds known as the gatekeepers of the four directions--Eagle in the North, Hawk in the East, Crow in the South, and Owl in the West--including their roles in legends and the use of their feathers in shamanic rituals. He reveals how the eagle can be a direct messenger of the Creator, why crows gather in “Crow Councils,” and how shamans have the ability to travel inside of birds, even after death. Expanding his study to the wisdom and gifts of birds beyond the four gatekeepers, such as hummingbirds, seagulls, and the mythical thunderbird, he provides numerous examples of everyday bird sign interpretations that can be applied in your own encounters with birds as well as ways we can help protect birds and encourage them to communicate with us.
Evan T. Pritchard, a descendant of the Mi’kmaq people, has taught Native American studies at Pace University, Vassar College, and Marist College and is the director of the Center for Algonquin Culture. Steeped in bird lore by his Mi’kmaq great aunt Helen Perley, he is the author of several books, including Native New Yorkers and No Word for Time. A regular on radio shows such as NPR’s Fresh Air and on the History Channel, he lives in the Hudson Valley of New York.
Product Details ISBN: 9781591431589
ISBN-10: 1591431581
Publisher: Bear & Company
Publication Date: May 23rd, 2013
Pages: 320
Language: English
Bird Medicine is wise, informative, folksy, and eminently readable. The narratives are clear and detailed, and Mr. Pritchard, noted scholar and author on Native American cultures, has the credibility to present them, being both a traditional ‘insider’ and an accredited Western scholar. Even more important, this volume fills a major gap in our knowledge of the natural myths of the Americas. I can see this book becoming required reading for secondary schools all over the country.”
— E. H. Rick Jarow, Ph.D., professor of religious studies at Vassar College, former Mellon Fellow in t

“Eagles, ravens, hawks, owls, crows, and other birds have always played a crucial role in Native American shamanism. In this remarkable book Evan Pritchard demonstrates why these spiritual traditions consider birds to be sacred, giving numerous historical accounts, personal stories, and traditional legends that illustrate the special place that birds have in the hearts and minds of tribal men and women. Pritchard is a master storyteller; each of his vignettes is a source of wonder and fascination. Bird Medicine is a book that his readers will find impossible to forget.”
— Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Saybrook University and coauthor of Personal Myt

“Filled with stories — some fables involving only birds and some anecdotal narratives of birds’ interaction with humans — the book is also an impassioned plea for humans to become more responsible about protecting bird habitats and breeding grounds. Pritchard likens the serious disappearance of bird species to the ‘canary in the mine’. He believes that our bird friends bring us serious messages about protecting our environment before it is too late. The information and traditions in the book come from myriad sources. It is a lively accounting of creatures we often take for granted despite the joy they bring us. As with faeries, you have to believe in birds before they can change your life. Pritchard makes a very strong case for giving them a chance to do just that.”
— Anna Jedrziewski,, July 2013

Bird Medicine: The Sacred Power of Bird Shamanism is a pick for new age and Native American holdings alike, and blends scholarly research with over 200 firsthand accounts of bird encounters from traditional Native Americans and their descendants...The result is a powerful set of bird sign interpretations that any can apply to their own beliefs.”
— Midwest Book Review, August 2013

“This is a good balance between the subtle world of people who choose to work with the Great Mystery, and the curiosity of people who just want to know more about how things work and the ways of the world around them.”
— Margaret Bartley, Seattle Metaphysical Library, September 2013

“In Bird Medicine, Evan Pritchard’s scholarship extends beyond the academia of Western science and into the realm of indigenous wisdom, where the ancient powers and spiritual relationships with our winged relations have not been forgotten, beckoning attention to our responsibilities to them and to the Earth.”
— Gabriel Horn (White Deer of Autumn), professor, award-winning author, contributing writer to The Ame

Bird Medicine is a beautifully blended culmination of the sacred and the scientific. With content ranging from the ornithological to the philosophical, from the historical to the heartwarming and humorous, Bird Medicine delivers a satisfying array that entertains as much as it enlightens.”
— Amy Krout-Horn, author of My Father’s Blood and coauthor of Transcendence

“Birds have many practical and transformative things to say to us if we will only listen. Evan Pritchard has fashioned a masterwork of insight and inspiration distilling the wisdom of these winged spiritual teachers as interpreted by Native Americans in stories and rituals.”
— Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, coauthors of Spiritual Literacy: Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life

“Evan Pritchard has an instinct for bringing the spirit of the Original Peoples into his scholarship, its fresh breath of wisdom still intact. This book combines bird lore with Native American shamanism in a truly unique way. I celebrate the latest release of a very original thinker.”
— Stephen Larsen, Ph.D., author of The Shaman’s Doorway and coauthor of Joseph Campbell: A Fire

“In Bird Medicine, Evan Pritchard has surpassed his previous books. Not only is his book enjoyable and informative, it is also quite scholarly. Though he is, in his own words, not an ornithologist, he teaches us a great deal about the habits and patterns of many familiar birds.”
— Elspeth Odbert, certified shamanic practitioner and author of Out of the Forest and Gylantra’s

“Evan Pritchard has put together a wonderful book showing how we mammals have learned and still learn from birds. History, history, history! And future possibilities.”
— Pete Seeger, American folksinger