Some years ago my love and I were in Aspen on a warm summer day. We were camping way up on Independence Pass and had come down to get a good dose of high society in the mountains… And ice cream.
We threw the disc at Paepcke Park, which ended up being a legendary frisbee round for us, and afterward we were ready for a celebratory treat.
There had to be an ice cream shop somewhere amidst the Prada and Louis Vuitton, but we couldn’t find it. We had circled around the small downtown square twice, went down nearly every street, and got new directions— all different— from people willing to help us on our hunt.
We were beginning to believe the unthinkable: there is no ice cream in Aspen; and it was starting to make us feel irritable, and a little insane.
So I decided to tune into the signs. Not the shop signs; those we had been scrutinizing for the last 45 minutes. It was the omens, the symbols, the subtle language of pointers from the Universe— those were what we had to look for and follow.
The answers we seek are always making their way to us at the very instant we begin to question; we only find them when attuned to their frequency.
Clearly, my sweetheart and I were not dialed in on the right station for ice cream omens. In fact, at the exact moment we were unknowingly passing the shop I was saying, “Every single thing we are looking at here in this scene before us— they’re all signs telling us something!”
We were so busy talking about signs, we completely missed the one sign (literally) that we had been searching for.
Reading omens takes practice. It’s a skill and you need to work at it in order to know what the signs are telling you.
Whether you believe it or not, let’s say that it’s true: every single thing that comes into your experience has a potential message for you. How do you know what they’re all saying?
First, let’s begin with archetypes.
Archetypes are images that inspire universal ideas within us. They bring up feelings that have been attached to these images so long it’s as if they were the first mold of the sense they summon. In that way, these images become symbols.
Photograph by Brea Fisher
A rainbow; a snow-covered mountain peak; a shooting star— like these strong emotion-eliciting images, most archetypes are of the natural world; they transcend time.
Most of us have the same general feeling when we think of a rose; it is a symbol of beauty, the sweetness of life, pleasure, and its thorns signal a sense of protection.
You see a rose while thinking about a troubling conversation you had with a friend. What could that mean for you, knowing the archetypal symbology of a rose? Maybe the rose is there to show you that the sweetest friendships are those with depth: a collection of beautiful and prickly moments, all together.
The ocean is an archetype for vastness, of depth, mystery, and power. When we find ourselves needing spiritual assistance, if we have the means to go to the sea, we are soothed by the feeling we get by simply watching the waves roll in, and roll out.
So maybe you’re at a transition in your life and you need to make a choice that seems like it will lead you either one way or its opposite. There’s a lot of pressure there, so interpreting signs can get tricky, but you give it a try anyway:
You hold the question in your heart and you ask for a sign. Then you go on a walk to see what you see.
As you journey across a field you find yourself thinking about option A; the sky is clear and the birds are twittering their songs. The breeze gently wisps your hair.
Then you shift into imagining what option B would be like. A raven’s cry suddenly pierces the air. A strong gust of cold wind pushes into you and you notice that a deep gray is beginning to sweep its way across the sky.
What does it mean?
Going by archetypes alone, you might interpret those signs as telling you that the first choice will be pleasant while the second choice will bring challenge.
But it could mean something else entirely if you happen to know the raven as an animal totem and consider it to be a messenger of renewal and healing. Or maybe for you a clear sky is boring without an array of clouds to study.
We all have our own personal symbols; what one image means to you may be very different from what it means to another.
When it comes to interpreting the signs that are presented to you, it’s best to go with your gut.
When you get good at knowing how something makes you feel, you’ll start understanding the language of symbols.
One way to get better at identifying how you feel is to take time to check in with yourself from time to time. Settle the body, quiet the mind, and really listen to what it feels like to be in this moment, right now.
Qigong is an incredible gift for those seeking ways to better connect with that silent, still, teacher within.
For today’s challenge, I’ve created a lesson film that corresponds with the energy of spring— new possibilities, growth, change, and eagerness for what’s to come. This optimism and hope brings about an inner kindness when the liver qi is flowing smoothly.
You may also experience bursts of sudden anger during springtime. Anger has meaning, too, so allow yourself to feel it before you just push it away as “negative.” However, if there is excess anger being expressed, you may need to balance it out, and this wood element qigong form, called Liver Harmonizing, will help you do that.
To fully benefit from this form, practice it daily, especially through the spring season, which ends, according to the Chinese seasonal calendar, on May 5, 2017 when we transition into “Start of Summer.”
The process of balancing the qi within you helps bring you into an energetic space where you are better able to understand the symbols, signs, and omens surrounding you.
Qigong, tai chi, yoga, meditation— practices like these slow the breath, relax the body, and quiet the mind, which in turn creates space for you to take notice of the signs being presented to you on a daily basis.
Because if you’re not quiet, you’ll walk right past the ice cream shop of your dreams, even if what you’re talking about is how to follow the omens to get there.
We did end up finding the ice cream shop eventually, by the way.
Do you have a similar story about missing signs because you were too busy to notice? I’d love to hear what this article brought up for you— leave a comment below.
And if there is someone you know who could use a little inspiration on omen-reading, send this article their way. I’d so appreciate you sharing it.