These are the sacred names the ancient Germans, North American natives and Euro-Indians gave to Woodpecker: nature’s greatest feathered carpenter. They reveal the bird’s magical powers, profound connections to the heavens, and to the trees and the Gods of sky and battle, like Mars and Zeus.
If Woodpecker chooses you for her totem person, you will be blessed with the ability to experience joy to the fullest, and protect those you love with the fiercest of war cries. Woodpeckers rarely need to fight because they use their creativity and keen intelligence more often than the sword of their beaks. Their unique hammering song establishes territory for themselves and their families.
Innovativeness often beats out physical strength in strife and life. There is an old tale that memorializes a great race between Woodpecker and Eagle: Little Woodpecker hitch-hikes a ride on giant Eagle’s back. When the mighty raptor reaches the clouds and grows tired, Woodpecker shoots up off his shoulders and quickly reaches the finish line…first. Woodpecker people are crafty and creative, and learn how to expertly use the basic tools God/Goddess granted them.
When others are sitting around worrying and complaining about change and how to get their basic needs met, Woodpecker is taking care of the problem, and having fun doing it at the same time. Remember Woody the Woodpecker from your childhood? Like a child, he was precocious: the “Dennis the Menace” that most “good kids” longed to be. As an adult, many can still use a strong dose of exuberance and curiosity, especially while at work.
Woodpeckers are typically black and white, symbolizing yin and yang: the balance that keeps us whole and healthy. They thrive in healthy forests, knocking on the impossibly hard wood of trees, persistently and eagerly, until the barriers of bark give way to reveal the soft sustenance and shelter inside. When Woodpecker sounds on a nearby tree, consider how opportunity has flown to your own wooden door. Are you going to ignore the pounding and stick your head under a pillow, or fling the doors wide, and say, “Come on in?!”
Our ancestors learned that by honoring this impressive woodcarver, they could live harmoniously with him: those who join in the trance dance of his sacred drumming come alive in the symphony of the wild. In return, he sings to warn of storms approaching, and often dons a red cap to alert or delight us into awareness: awareness to pay attention to this world and those beyond.
Woodpecker carves totem poles to honor the Gods Who Dwell In The Clouds and all the creatures below. What have you carved today? The next time you see a flash of red or hear the echo of drilling across the forest amphitheater, dust off your knives, drills and lathes—the ones in your brain, and the ones in your workshop— and find your own unique way to honor Great Spirit.