Soaring with Pelicans

January 2, 2020

Pelicans have been appearing in unexpected places. I was surprised to see them swimming at Starved Rock State Park in Illinois last September, on the first night of our two month trip out West. Later on in our journey, I was even more surprised to find them out in the desert, among the chocolate and burnt Sienna mountains in Picacho Recreation Area in Southern California.

Picacho Recreation Area- Photo by Karen Godfrey

I had only associated pelicans with the ocean and with Florida. I remember when I was around 10 years old, my dad had taken a photo of me standing up close to a pelican. I was wearing a red jacket and had a pixie haircut that made me look like a boy. I was at that awkward and gangly age. The two of us made quite a pair. We both looked clumsy, with our strange way of smiling and walking. It wasn’t until I saw my new pelican friend take flight, the I realized she was able to defy all odds and lift her enormous body off the pier. She spread her massive wings to the wind and jumped off the railing, tilting her head to one side to see if I would join her. I had never forgotten that feeling of wanting to fly, without the restraints of my earthbound body.

Photo by Robert Knoper

So, when I saw hundreds of white pelicans in Illinois and then again in Southern California on our trip, I knew I needed to pay attention to what they might be trying to tell me. I have always listened to nature and look for messages or themes that play out in my daily experiences. When I looked up the symbolism of the pelican, it made reference to the myth about the pelican mother, who has pierced her breast in order to nourish her babies with her own blood. This goes back to the philosophy of Alchemy and the symbolism of the stages that the soul goes through in order to become spiritually enlightened. Alchemy refers to 5 different stages of spiritual development, using 5 different birds as landmarks in this transformational journey. One of the birds is the pelican and is stage 3 of the progressively deepening process. The mother pelican in the myth is sacrificing herself for her children. It made me realize that I needed to make sacrifices out of my own schedule for my own spiritual growth. In order to deepen my relationship with my soul, I needed to make sacrifices to nourish and develop the spiritual embryo that was growing within.

White Pelicans at Starved Rock State Park

Other references to the pelican were generosity and nurturing. Usually this is seen as being a good thing. However, if one makes sacrifices for others all the time, it inhibits how much time there is to tend to spiritual and personal growth. As I processed all this information, I knew it applied to me, as well. I am always ready to give too much and this makes me feel resentful that I have given up so much of my own sacred personal time. So, I knew I had received the correct message from the visitation with my pelican friends. Their ability to give me that message from the heavens above, helped me to see how I, too, could commune with the Divine and fly free from earthly distractions.

Our trip out West helped me retrieve those lost parts of my soul, that once soared high above. It helped me remember who I was as an innocent, yet all knowing, care-free child. It made such an impression on me, that I could bring that feeling of complete freedom back home with me, to make healthier, transformational choices for myself. I remember when we were at Picacho Recreation Area, I kept singing, “I’m in Heaven” as the sun would rise and fall each day, seeing all of my favorite colors reflected on the mountains. Looking up the lyrics now, the song continues on with the words, “And my heart beats so that I can barely speak. And I find the happiness that I seek. Oh, I love to climb the mountain, and reach the highest peak.” I truly had felt like I had reached the highest peak and was soaring high above with the white pelicans.

Copyright Karen Godfrey- Picacho Recreation Area

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2 Replies to “Soaring with Pelicans”

  1. Pam says:

    You’re a bright light in this world Karen and your writing is beautiful!


  2. bgodfrey58 says:

    Very Cool.

    You are a great writer!




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