…but there are no eagles in England

February 13, 2016

WI11 golden eagle CR N 122_1598In the months, even years running up to my first shamanic retreat I was desperate to know whether I was on the right path. It was sometimes agonising. I just wanted to know if I was doing what I was here to do.

I remember when I first met my shamanic teacher Jayne in the preceding December, to discuss joining the year long medicine wheel. I asked her, ‘am I on the right path?’  I can remember her exact words. ‘I don’t know, it’s your path’. Such a Jayne thing to say and bob on too. It’s not for people to tell us whether we are going in the right direction or not, we need to find that our for ourselves.

So I was relieved when in that first shamanic retreat weekend in the beautiful Roeburndale, I was given a clear sign that I was. For the first time I knew I was in exactly the right place, at the right time, with the right person. That moment changed my life.

I saw a Golden Eagle.

It was the Spring Equinox, and we were working with animals of the air. I journeyed and met Robin and Eagle. On the Saturday afternoon we were sent off to spend a few hours exploring the woodland and meadows. With drum in hand and a blanket to sit on I marched off down to the river, to some fairy pools I knew about. I wanted to wash myself, and finally cut the ties with the corporations following my redundancy the year before. So on arrival at the point in the river where it was deep enough to swim, I stripped off and stepped into the icy water. Those of you who have been skinny dipping with me in the past know that I am all show when talking about it and getting to the waters edge, but when it comes down to it I am in and out quicker than super human speed! So, it was a brief dip to say the least, but I felt cleansed and satisfied with my ritual. I dried myself with my blanket, got dressed and marched off to find an oak tree to spend the rest of the afternoon under.

Sitting under the oak tree in the meadow far from the yurt, I felt totally alone, and very content. I drummed a little, and looked up to the sky. And there he was, Eagle, riding the thermals right in front of me. Circling round and round. Feeling most satisfied with my afternoon’s happenings, I trotted off to share my story with the others. Which I did, and everyone smiled and listened intently as I shared my adventure tale with my new found shamanic friends.

So fast forward to the next and final day of our retreat. We paired up, and Jason and I spent the morning taking each other to our individual spots. I took him straight to the fairy pools again, and we sat on the pebbly beach drumming to the river rapids. After a good trance drumming session we placed our drums to our sides and lay back, heads resting on rock pillows and eyes staring up to the sky.

There he was again. Eagle was hovering high above us, circling round and round.

Excitedly I said to Jason, hey look, my eagle is back. In a surprised voice he replied ‘goodness, it’s an eagle up there’. ‘I know it’s an eagle’ I said, ‘that is what I have been telling you all’. ‘I know’ he said, but none of us believed you. We all thought you had seen a buzzard. Why? Because there are no eagles in England. The nearest is in the Scottish borders.

“Well” I said, “it can’t be an eagle”. “No it is” Jason replied. “I can tell because of its wing tips, they are spread out and pointing much more upright than a buzzard”.

There it was. In that moment I knew for the first time in my life that I was in the right place, at the right time, with the right person. I was where I was meant to be. I knew that had I not been there to see the eagle for a second time, and with Jason to explain the significance of what I was seeing, I would never have recognised how important that appearance was.

In the following weeks after that incident, as unimaginable changes unfolded in my life, I held onto that moment. In my darkest hours, and there were many, I trusted unconditionally that I was on the right path, and I was being taken care of. I clung onto that encounter and put faith in it like I had never done with anything else before.

Animal spirit guides, messages in both this reality and in the other worlds can have a profound impact on our lives. They continue to do so for me, and it all started in Roeburndale that weekend. Are you looking for some space and time to allow the magic in your life to unfold. Do think about joining us at one of our retreats this spring… you just never know where it will lead you…

Also, if you like this blog and know of someone else who you think might  like it too, please do forward it on.


Weekend retreats this Spring

Screenshot 2015-11-21 19.38.03Weekend residential retreat: Ignite the Spark – Friday 19th February – Sunday 21st February 2016
Roeburndale, Forest of Bowland, Lancashire

The time is upon us to step up and grab that life we have always dreamed of. We might not know exactly what it is we want, but we have an inkling and can feel it in our bones. Join us to give space and time to tease that idea out into reality, which will take us firmly forward on our path. £245. Click here to read more.


Screenshot 2015-11-21 19.44.55Weekend residential retreat: Spring into Life – Friday 8th April – Sunday 10th April 2016
Roburndale, Forest of Bowland, Lancashire

Drawing on the spring energies to fully embrace our life here on Earth, we will explore what stands in our way from walking in the shamanic path more fully, and step into our power to go forward into life with shamanism at its core. £245. Click here to read more.


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About the Author


Nicola Smalley is an edge-dweller, shamanic practitioner and writer living in Anglezarke on the edge of the West Pennine Moors in Lancashire, England.
Following a career in corporate sustainability, she now runs The Way of the Buzzard with her husband Jason. Her passion is anything connected to nature and the mysteries of the Earth.

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