By Andy, 65. Byron Bay, NSW
Hmmm when was this? Let’s see …
I must have been back from India for quite a while. Months. Years maybe. I was living in Byron Bay as I remember being on the beach a lot, just lying in the sun or practicing harmonic throat singing. Of course, plenty of swimming. Geez, I had good bosses.
This day I was sitting under a low hanging tree with no one about, clear skies and clear water. Legs crossed and letting my mind drift away but also aware of the sounds and smells, eyes closed. At one point I instinctively opened my eyes and a couple had stopped down at the ocean’s edge, staring at me. At first I felt uncomfortable, wondering why I had become so interesting, but as was my way back then, I ignored them and went back to where I had been.
Later, I opened my eyes once more and looked up to the tree above. There was a sea eagle not two metres above me, staring intently into my face, not moving a feather. Ah — that’s what the couple had stopped to stare at! How long have you been there, old fella? As you can imagine, I had my head at an unnatural angle, looking straight up, so it took a few seconds to realise that the eagle had something large in its talons besides a branch. A fish. A very large fish. Quite dead, but very fresh.
Yes, I went back to meditating and left him to it. And yes, after some time, I looked up and he was still there. In fact, hadn’t shifted an inch.
I guess many people would have been dumbstruck, but after my many experiences in my life I at that moment just wanted a swim. I strolled the thirty or forty metres to the water, and as I arrived, the eagle was up, up flying high. He flew a massive circle above me and then darts at speed due west.
Just before this time, I had met a woman — on this beach, in fact. She had just moved from Sydney and had recognised me from dancing in the many drum circles on the North Coast back then. We started hanging out together, and I even took her out to dinner for her birthday. I had bought her a present which just jumped out at me: a book on Sacred Animal Totems. I personally wasn’t believer in New Age writings but I knew she would love it, and happily parted with too much money for it.
After leaving the beach, I gave her a call and spontaneously asked for another dinner date. Sure! Now stereotypes can be baseless but when I arrived on time to pick her up she was still in the shower and had much to do.
“Make yourself at home!” a voice echoed down from upstairs.
Now, I’m a stickler for being on time, so was a bit miffed. Wandering around her lounge room, I found the totem book sitting on the coffee table amongst the fashion magazines and girly detritus.
I flopped into a chair and started flicking through the words and painted images, not really taking anything in, until I stumbled onto the sea eagle and its symbolic meaning.
The sea eagle represents a person who is on an intense spiritual journey. The eagle can be in three worlds — the sky, water and the land — and can see detail in the vast distance where no other animal can comprehend. But there is a danger for the person who identifies with the diving eagle. The ocean represents the spirit world. Notice that a sea eagle never fully immerses itself, only going in far enough to catch its food and fly immediately away from the water and back to dry land. Also, see that the eagle doesn’t eat on the wing but waits until it is comfortable and safe.
The lesson here is not to dive into the spirit world as you may drown. Only go in far enough to get a small spiritual meal then earth yourself, enjoy the meal and its sustenance. When hungry, return for another small meal.
Stunningly appropriate for me, as I tend to jump in and worry about the consequences later. And also appropriate for that time in my life as I was so open to new experiences after being a Christian for nearly twenty years.
Maybe I became more aware or maybe sea eagles featured more in my life, but after that experience, sea eagles — and wedge tail eagles — would appear, especially when I was worrying over some trivial issue, as if to remind me to rise up and observe the greater picture. To see in perspective.
A long time after this, I was walking on the same beach and was telling a friend this story. As I finished, we both ducked as a large shadow flew over our heads. A sea eagle.