Tag Archive for: animal communication

Spirit Birding: Introduction

The 10th Annual Ute Mountain/Mesa Verde Birding Festival was nice enough to take a chance on me this year by hosting my lecture on “Spirit Birding”. They admitted that it was an out of the ordinary topic for them, so I was delighted to have a nice crowd assemble to put their knowledge of bird identification to a greater purpose. This video of my entire talk  is an introduction to a body of work I have been assembling for years. This work not only includes decoding the messages of birds, but also of animals and plants as well. To me, it is absolutely paramount to help the wild ones communicate their teachings. In some ways, I see myself acting as an instructor of a foreign language. It is my pleasure to offer this 45 minute presentation to you to help get you started on the path to relating to the wild ones, to nature, and to all of creation. Thank you for opening your heart and your mind and for reaching out. They are waiting to speak with you. I’m sure of it.


All bird sightings can be messages (i.e. we can find metaphor, symbolism, or meaning in them), but it’s easiest to focus in on the memorable sightings…

  • Surprising or startling appearance
  • Tough to identify birds
  • Rare for the area or rare altogether
  • Certain birds for the first time
  • Dead or injured
  • Fascinating behavior

Determining what the message from a bird is about:

  • Earmark the moment you saw the bird(s):
    • What were you JUST thinking about?
    • Were you wondering something?
    • Were you sleep walking and this woke you up?
    • What else is happening in your world?
  • Allow it to inform larger questions
    • What bigger question have you been holding?
    • Are you at a crossroads in your life and trying to make a big decision?
    • Are you struggling with a certain person or project?

PRESS RELEASE – Gracious Wild



A quest into the wild and important spirit messages and soulful gifts gathered from animals while there… 

Gracious Wild: A Shamanic Journey with Hawks

Stacey L.L. Couch

“A highly recommended, beautifully written story of power and transformation.”
Kay Kamala, editor for A Journal of Contemporary Shamanism

“This exquisitely written book warmly touches hearts and gives flight to the soul, while offering opportunities for healing and cathartic release. Don’t be surprised if Gracious Wild moves you to tears and helps you experience some spontaneous healing of your own.”
Colleen Deatsman, author of The Hollow Bone: A Field Guide to Shamanism

“Stacey’s heart-warming, at times heart-wrenching narrative scintillates with possibilities the modern human mind normally embraces only in dreams.”
Linda Kohanov, author of The Tao of Equus and Power of the Herd

Gracious Wild is the story of Stacey Couch’s incredible journey out of the mundane world of science and reason into the vast shamanic realms of creativity and inspiration.  Readers will travel on this intimate exploration of what happens when one woman allows the messengers of nature to guide her. These winged guides wrap her mind up in the mysteries they present, leading her to a richer, more fulfilling life

Stacey’s tale begins on an isolated island where, as a scientist, her main responsibility is to care for a couple dozen foxes in captivity. As a result of a series of ecological tragedies, the fox population is on the verge of extinction and a novel hawk species begins nesting on the island for the first time in recorded history. It is during her time watching the nesting hawks alone in nature that her real quest begins – a series of hawks become her guides; rousing life’s biggest questions like “why am I here?”

Gracious Wild weaves Stacey’s relationship with the hawks alongside her study of shamanism with a good deal of information included for those seeking more details about this spiritual path.

From the book:

I was running from my own shadow, and through my fear; my shadow had the upper hand. This time I couldn’t run. I had to solemnly live the nightmare. I relied on a grounding intuition that under­stood that this marsh, this fear, was only one portion of the island. If I could walk in, I could walk back out. There was no quicksand, no swallowing mud, only my annoying distaste for myself. The terrain changed. A gently sloping spine of ten-foot hills rose on both sides. Now my path was more defined. I looked up. A pair of piercing eyes stared back from a mysteriously dark, circular face. The hawk stood still, perched atop a bush, the shield of her cinnamon breast in full view. She wore a dark chocolate cape. Is she a mirage or has she really allowed me to wander so close? I felt a soft strand of hope spiral between us. The young harrier hawk looked like she had been standing there for cen­turies, waiting for me to pass. The intimacy of the snug valley was consoling. Then she turned her dark face to something over the crest of the hill, opened her wings, and lifted away.”

Stacey’s belief is, “that wild animals are trying to speak and interact with us every day.  To listen to them is to listen to that which is divine within each of us.  Their calls mirror our own inner calling to a greater purpose.”

Gracious Wild offers a vivid and candid tale of a woman who loses then rewrites the meaning of her life at the same time showing readers their own humanity; how being open to spirit messages from animals can provide important and beneficial (life-changing) guidance.

About the Author

Stacey L. L. Couch describes herself as a shamanic cowgirl who works as a publicist and journalist for Mother Nature. A pioneer at heart, she empowers people with the ability to explore life’s big questions. She aims to show how to form a real connection with our own souls through the natural world. A life-long student of nature, she has a biology degree in ecology and conservation as well as a 2-year shamanic certification. Her home on a 38-acre ranch is in Pagosa Springs, CO. She offers shamanic healing and teaching services at www.wildgratitude.com.

Gracious Wild: A Journey with Hawks

Stacey L.L. Couch

Turning Stone Press

Paperback, $21.95

ISBN: 9781618520692

November 2013

Available wherever books and eBooks are sold or directly from the publisher:

1-800-423-7087, orders@rwwbooks.com, or www.turningstonepress.com


animal communication

Do They Speak English?

Being in the world of animal welfare as a shamanic practitioner I commonly get asked the question, “Can you talk to the horse and help him understand?”

From a shamanic point of view, the animals do not speak our language. Historically, it was the job of the shaman to learn how to speak the language of the land, the animals, the elements, and the ancestors. The shaman communed with these spirits and surrendered to their cosmic view, so she could work with them on behalf of her tribe. She learned how to communicate in metaphor and story, empathy and wonder.

Many superstitions did and still do surround the telling of the shamanic experience because shaman understood that in the telling the power may be lost. Some cultures forbid the unveiling of one’s power animal while others believe that sharing the name of one’s spirit guide can cause illness. Shaman often would act out their journeys for the whole tribe but refuse to narrate the same to anyone. The shaman was both leader and hermit. This traditional way of being must have weighed heavily on the healer, but carries some important lessons.

The spirit world is not polarized. There is no right or wrong, up or down, inside or out. It is all one. In contrast, our language is inherently polarized. Think of how many times a day you use the word “good”. When I embark on a shamanic journey I am entering into a rich, multi-layered experience that is felt and loved. I put the experience into words as a way to remember so that I can revisit the learning over and over again for deeper levels of understanding. I do this knowing that even my own words read to myself change the experience. I am taking pure white light and shining it through a faceted crystal so that I may follow the rays of color back through the crystal and into the light.

Now, consider this process in relation to another living, breathing autonomous being. When I journey to them or for them I am in the spirit world. This allows me to empathize their experience with more clarity, but I am still a human connected in part to my experience of being human. Now if I take what I experience as them during the journey and translate it into human language I am twice removed from the actual form. I am twice removed from the truth that is that being’s experience. And the being is twice removed from me.

From this standpoint, all that is being had is a hopelessly garbled conversation. Like a foreigner trying to order dinner I will first try to select a dish I think I would like from a menu I can’t read. Then, with much difficulty, gesturing and mispronunciation I will ask the waiter to confirm that I have made a good choice. Not satisfied with his answer I will order it anyway. He has the chef make what he makes everyday and what arrives on my plate is no where near what I would have guessed.

healing animal communication

The Healing That’s Offered

The piece on “Do They Speak English?” leaves the reader with a new question: “If the shaman cannot help a horse understand what can they do?”

Domestic animals live in a world full of human agenda. Before the time of domestication, animals operated solely on their own will. Now we force them into trailers and kennels. We demand they be quiet when asked. We expect them to give solace and comfort to our tired souls. In all of this work, all of this submission, they can become weary and ill.

By nature, the shamanic practitioner works from a place of no personal agenda. To conduct healing, the shaman must surrender to and direct the spirits in equal parts. It’s in the surrender that agenda must be shed. The direction given is not respected unless the agenda is released. Agenda is polarized and the spirit world is not. Mother Nature is not malicious or kind in her power. Her power just is. The spirits work in the same way.

There are many paths to healing. Each has it’s own merit, but in shamanic work the path is tailored to the patient’s truth. In this way, the animal is allowed the opportunity to regain their sense of self which is a healing on its own. The animal is treated as an autonomous being valued for who they are outside of their relationship with humans. The healing is offered to them to do with as they please. This may be the first time in their entire lives that they realize the opportunity to manifest their desires. Do they want to stay and support their human? Would they rather languish in disease? Will they stay disconnected? Are they up to the task before them?

Self realization is a powerful healing, but disperses in the first wind of the civilized world without some shoring up. This is where the next piece of the work comes into play. The shaman brings forth energy that until this point has been unavailable to the patient. Since domestic animals have so little control over their physical environment, pieces of their essence are easily lost. Their personal power is forfeited. The brilliant light of their will grows dim. The shaman seeks out this essence and brings it back into the sphere of the patient’s conscious control. In this work, the desires of the animal may shift to reflect who they truly are at the core of their being.

There are as many benefits of shamanic healing for animals as stars in the sky, and what I’ve laid out here is the groundwork. I encourage you to explore the field further. This is our opportunity to offer back the unconditional love our furry friends are so courageously infamous for.

horse leadership

On Leadership

I find it an interesting synchronicity that at this time in my life I find my perspective of leadership turned on its head. In the over 2 years I’ve known my mustang mare she has been the lead mare of her shifting herd of 15-18 mares. She has shouldered the role so gracefully that life in the pasture has been ordered but playfully choatic, friendly with a sound level of ownership. She rarely, if ever, exerts her power over the others and has been willing to let many a discretion slide. My mare is not a micro-manager or one to delegate tasks, she lets each horse fall into their natural role in the herd, and shares her time with each regardless of rank. She has continually demonstrated that leadership is not about brute force, shear power, or outright enchantment, all of which she has in excess, but about sound quiet confidence.

Now, in the last few months I’ve watched another, smaller but quicker, mustang throw the herd into a jumble and bully my mare out of her position. I’ve realized how desperately I’ve clung to Cherokee’s identity as a leader, and I’ve had to go through my own path of transformation to reframe our relationship.

Relationships are tricky, especially those we have with our animals. So frequently I see that an animal’s illness, spiritual, emotional, mental or physical, is strongly tied to the human’s circumstances. We regularly project our own stuff onto our furry friends. We commonly ask them to excuse our faults. We pursue a mirror of our strengths. This is the natural order of things. To be in relationship is to connect and share our energy, love, and life.

The problem arises when the bond we share becomes static. This stunts the growth and transformation that is primary to every living being’s path. When this happens with the humans in our lives we begin to either voice or hear a good deal of grumbling which, when not heeded, turns to outright defiance and the severing of ties. Our furry companions cannot explain to us what the problem is with language, so we start to see other symptoms. Misbehavior and noncompliance are the first signs. Physical illness or violence are the last stage.

In the case of my mare and myself, I saw immediately that the shift in her role and my strong reaction to it required a big adjustment. I could have chosen to wallow in pity and spend my hours wishing for her to regain face. Instead, I saw an opportunity. Here was my chance to direct all her freed time and energy into our work together. Since she didn’t have a herd to watch over all day, I could provide Cherokee with more play sessions to ponder and I could visit at odd times. The weather this winter has been awefully cold, but I bundled up and went out. She met me in the middle by adjusting to the strange environment of the indoor arena. We’ve had some absolutely outstanding days together and now more than ever we look forward to making contact in a new way.

Many times I’ve pursued a position of leadership in my herd of two, but never would I have wanted Cherokee to have to give up her own. I still don’t know for certain that she had to relinquish her role in her herd to accept me as her leader, but something tells me that the opportunity arose for her and she took it. Maybe she’s thinking the same of me?

Feel like evaluating your own relationship with your furry friend… Here are some great questions to get you going:

1. What roles do my animal and myself play in our relationship together?
2. How have these roles shifted over time?
3. What role(s) would I like to work towards in my relationship with my animal?
4. How might our relationship change if I shifted into those roles?
5. How can I honor who my animal is in their life apart from our relationship?