Did you ever stop between mouthfuls and consider why turkey is served on Thanksgiving? According to Ted Andrews, author of Animal Speak, Native Americans have long thought of Turkey as the ultimate symbol of abundance and sharing: “The turkey is a symbol of all the blessings that the Earth contains, along with the ability to use them to their greatest advantage.” Traditionally, every part of the bird (reverently called “the Earth Eagle”) was used to nourish and aid society, and became the ultimate living symbol of Earth and her harvest.
Many of our readers know that the turkey feather is a symbol of the Shaman. This is partly due to the strange growth on the bird’s forehead, which has long been associated with “the third eye” — the center of clairvoyance and intuition. Also, for the Pueblo Indians, the turkey feather symbolized passage between the Earth and Spirit worlds, of the living and the dead: a requirement for effective medicine men and women.
Now, you might be wondering, “Is it OK to eat my power animal? Consider that most of our ancestors believed that to consume the flesh of anything living — meat or plant, was to take its essence into one’s own body and to co-mingle spirits. Whether you eat turkey or fill up on mashed potatoes and green bean casserole, do it with consciousness and respect.
You can even practice your shamanic techniques covertly during Thanksgiving dinner. As you swallow a bite of turkey, imagine it taking flight within you, or spreading its tail feathers in a dance of beauty and delight. Imagine you are the winged yet grounded one so capable of giving, of sharing—your patience, your understanding, your love.