Retribution

Retribution is one of my spirit animals. I have three spirit animals: a big black cat, a blue bottle fly who appears to be immortal, and a mourning dove. This is about the dove.

Before going on, I want to share with you what “spirit animal” means in my lexicon. Spirit animals have certain common characteristics that help me to recognize them. They all come to me and they are free to leave at any time, including the cat. They each have some unusual feature or behavior. They appear at significant times that have a feeling of synchronicity. There is a sense that they are bringing me a message. Sometimes I get it; sometimes I don’t. Their mere appearance often has the energy of an omen or a sign.

“Spirit animal” is not synonymous with the traditional understanding of the “witch’s familiar.” While I have no firsthand experience with familiars, I understand them to be some sort of spiritual being that appears to be a cat or a raven or whatever which is bound to the witch to help them do their work, or it is an act of shape-shifting on the part of the witch themselves which causes them to appear to be the animal. I’m not talking about that stuff. The spirit animal owes you nothing, is not bound to you, and is bound to only one thing: bringing you messages from the Universe when the Universe decides that you should have them. At times and depending on the context, other animals may become spirit animals for me for just a few moments. Red tail hawks and geese come to mind here.

This morning, Retribution visited me. I was doing my “1-Card” tarot reading that I post on Twitter for my posse every morning. I could hear her calling and she sounded quite close. I went out on my back porch and she fluttered down to sit on the very corner of my neighbor’s house which is only a few feet from my porch. She loves the warm sunny days and this morning was one of those. She stood there sizing me up as she always does. I spoke to her. I told her how beautiful she was and I thanked her for visiting me. The sound of my voice does not frighten her. After some minutes, she flew away, message delivered, and I am left to figure it out.

Traditional interpretations of the dove include “peace” and “Holy Spirit.” Two doves is often seen as “love” and Retribution does have a boyfriend that she brings around quite often. The dove symbology also includes “death,” “grief” and “mourning,” and we happen to have a member of our extended family who is near death and may not survive the day. I have a lot to ponder here.

I am sure that my dove has several names, but I call her “Retribution” for a specific reason. I was born in Texas and spent the first twelve years of my life there. These birds were everywhere in the warm months and a day did not go by that I didn’t hear the mournful call of the doves. It is a magical sound for me. It transports me back to my childhood each time that I hear it. The Texas of that time, now too far removed, is the foundational landscape of my personal psychology. It was that time when life was good and fun, and nothing ever got too complicated. That time is long gone, and I utterly detest what Texas has become. I never go back there and never will.

When I was a kid, we hunted these birds for sport and seldom ate all of the meat we shot. It seemed like great sport at the time. We measured our day by how many boxes of shells we had fired. It was the wanton destruction of living beings because we were too lazy to launch clay pigeons. To be fair, my grandparents had come through the Depression and they did eat everything they could catch in those days, but those days had long since disappeared in the rear view mirror by the time I was on the scene. I suppose I have evolved in the decades since then. Today, that sort of killing is revolting to me. I had to kill a mouse the other day (after exhausting every non-violent option I could think of) and I was sick about it all day. I don’t even kill flies anymore if I can get them to fly out the door.

So now, whenever I hear the bird’s lovely, mournful song, I am transported back to those childhood days and I am forced to remember again how many of them we killed. I have deep regret about that now. I have even apologized to her and she seems to understand. At least she doesn’t hold it against me. She has her own method of revenge which is why I call her “Retribution.”

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