The Story of the Peacock and the Vulture
In the process of becoming whole, as who we truly are, there is the integration of our protective personality and the higher self. During this time, we begin to see our shadow side—the side of ourselves that we deny, hide, and wish wasn’t a part of us. I have a personal story that illustrates what comes up in the shadow or side that has gone silent.
This story begins with Shadow Work. ® Shadow work is a psychological way of transforming parts of our character that we’d like to change. The idea is to use compassion and understanding to accept the parts of ourselves that we have hidden or rejected.
The premise of this work is to integrate all parts of our self, in order to experience deep healing that comes with wholeness of the self. The “Shadow” isn’t just the wounded part of us, but it also represents the path towards a more authentic and fulfilling life.
Author and psychotherapist Steve Wolf said:
“Beneath the social mask we wear every day, we have a hidden shadow side: an impulsive, wounded, sad, or isolated part that we generally try to ignore. The Shadow can be a source of emotional richness and vitality and acknowledging it can be a pathway to healing and an authentic life.”
As part of my soul journey, I took an art class designed to show me what was in my subconscious, which ended with a guided meditation to discover what was hidden in that shadow side of myself. This turned out to be a very scary experience for me. I was physically terrified to see what was hidden in the deep dark cave that this meditation had us enter by walking down the stairs. Then this dreaded figure appeared out of the darkness—a peacock with all it’s bright colors, cocky ways, and noisy behavior.
Well, that’s not so bad right? It is a pretty bird. But it was also the truth, I shunned the idea of being part peacock. My guide said that I needed to learn to “strut my stuff.” Oh no, that was terrifying!! Have you ever heard a peacock call? It’s a loud obnoxious scream. It’s deplorable.
I looked up the spiritual meaning of peacock and read:
“People with the peacock totem always comes from a place of honor and integrity. In other words, they stand up for their beliefs, and they live by them. Thus, these folks enjoy showing their true colors to all those around them. People with this spirit animal are entirely trustworthy, self-confident and are good at discerning the truth in all matters. They are always willing to walk their talk. Moreover, they revel in being the center of attention.”
Well, that wasn’t so bad except the part about being “the center of attention”—as an introvert that is one of my worst nightmares. I might be able to face what emerged from the cave of shadow, but I much prefer one of the other spirit animals that I had recently met.
This is the story of another spirit animal that “spoke” to me:
One day while walking home, I had an encounter with a large bird that was standing in the middle of the road. It appeared to be looking at me. It was blocking my way looking at me until I acknowledged that it was one of my spirit animals. As I got closer I could see it was a vulture who stood in my path. Not the turkey vulture that is prevalent in the desert where I live but an unusual one, that I had not seen before. This was clearly a message. I rushed home to look up the meaning and message that he had for me.
It went like this:
“When the vulture spirit animal finds its way into your life, you will be experiencing a new beginning. The vulture symbolism is associated with purification, new beginnings and rebirth. In alchemy, the vulture embodies a great many more attributes that have come to be highly respected, such as tolerance, cleanliness, loyalty, seriousness, perception, protection, renewal, and unconventionality.”
Interestingly, the vulture possesses no real voice, in fact he has no song or call at all. He is totally quiet. This information made complete sense to me since I resisted speaking up and held a deep fear of being heard and being misunderstood.
Remembering life has no meaning accept what we give to it—the polarity of the two birds had deep meaning for me in the acceptance of self and realizing that we have two sides to our being that both want to be expressed. Both sides of yourself want and need to be acknowledged and met with appreciation.
I now take the peacock as my symbol to remind me that it is my role to integrate the gray dull vulture and the bright and magical peacock into who I am with compassion for both sides of myself. And since I am determined to walk my talk and be an example to others, I will strut my stuff and find my voice to achieve the goal of having an authentic life.
What is your story? How will you find all the parts of who you are? Let’s uncover it together.