Bird Mountain Nest

 "If you find fear in your heart, go into the mountains. Stand high on the peak and watch the storm come over the horizon. See the lightning and hear the thunder and know that all this power is small compared to the power of the Great Spirit (Great Bird) to guide you upon your path."

-- Algonquin Proverb -- 

There are intriguing old Algonquin legends that say in ancient times it was believed the first birds, the first spirits, to come to Earth were thunderbirds. These very large, gigantic Great Spirit Birds were the helpers of the Creator in the creation of rock (earth) which was the First World. Gifted to them by the Creator, these birds carried the natural powers of lightning (fire and electricity), thunder (sound), and rain (water). They came into being to help the Creator make the Earth's atmosphere (air) of the Sky World and then the oceans, seas, lakes and rivers (water). Upon completion, the Great Spirit Birds stayed on Earth to continue helping to "spark life" with their lightning arrows.

Bird mountain is a thunderbird nest - a bird shaman's site. It has been used since time immemorial. Bird shamans ascend up to the top of Bird Mountain to commune with the Spirit of the Great Bird. The Great Bird is also known as the Thunderbird in ancient Algonquin spiritual beliefs. The name "Bird Mountain" is short for "Thunderbird Mountain".

Following in the footsteps of our paleolithic ancestors of 14,000 years ago (this date is often disputed), when the last Ice Age began to melt away, prehistoric bird shamans climbed up here to do ceremonies and vision quests that involved direct communication with the Great Bird or Thunderbird. These holy people soon were called thunderbirds themselves due to their beliefs and their strong spiritual connection to the Thunderbird.

Up here the thunderbirds learned the practices of primeval bird shamanism from ancestor spirits called, "The Old Ones". Ancient beliefs came from paleolithic Siberia and entered the continent of North America (Turtle Island) as people migrated over the Bering Strait Land Bridge. Other ancient peoples, known as the Solutreans, came by crossing the Ice Age Atlantic Ocean in small boats and landed on the east coast. Eventually the descendants of both these prehistoric human migrations met each other and mixed to become some of the Indigenous Peoples of North America who have been here since time immemorial. And their ancient bird shaman beliefs eventually became the more recent "Thunderbird Medicine Society".  Today's thunderbird people are essentially shamans (holy people) who work on behalf of the Great Bird/Thunderbird to help guide people spiritually. 

As a spiritual being the Thunderbird is the largest or greatest bird. The Thunderbird is also called the Great Bird because it represents the Great Spirit of the Creator in an avian or "bird-like" form. It's believed that the thunderbird is so large - so great - that it needs the whole entire universe to have enough space to fly around freely. But the Thunderbird also comes to Earth and Bird Mountain is one place the Thunderbird built a great stone nest. Bird Mountain is named to recognize and honour the Thunderbird.

The large bird petroform (photo above right) at the western crest of bird mountain was made, by myself, to acknowledge the true spiritual nature of this site. It marks the mountain top as a thunderbird nest; a "place of vision". At the top of Bird Mountain is where we can do vision quests. Why? Because the way things are on Earth today it's clear we humans can use some help. We need vision to help us re-create a better Human World.

In search of vision we venture up Bird Mountain to "get high" naturally by being atop a "high place". We go here to personally connect with our own human nature and all the power the earth and sky has to offer. Earth power is called geomancy and sky power is called astromancy. Therefore the union of earth and sky create a middle place or "Middle World" where they meet at the horizon. The thunderbird nest at the top is where we do our vision quests. Thunderstones, also called thunderbird eggs, are found where thunderbirds make their nests. There is great power within a thunderstone.

Big Stones

When the Great Spirit Birds, the thunderbirds, came to Earth a very long time ago there still weren't any trees. So in order for the thunderbirds to have nests in which to lay their eggs, they had to make their nests with big stones instead. They picked up massive boulders in their talons, carried them to mountain tops and arranged them circularly to make their great stone thunderbird nests.

At the top of Bird Mountain there are many very large stones that geologists call glacial erratics. These stones are positioned in such a way that, if viewed from above, they form a massive circle or oval over 100 metres in diameter. There is a large stone at each of the four points of the compass that form the outer perimeter of what could be interpreted as a large, circular stone nest. Also at the centre there are two large stones that appear to have been placed into the middle of the nest as big eggs. All together these big thunderstones physically form the arrangement of a very large thunderbird nest at the top of Bird Mountain.

In knowing the ancient story about the first thunderbirds that came to Earth, the later human thunderbirds - the bird shamans - followed suit. They built their nests of stones too in order to do vision quests. In this way they would be able to receive guidance, dreams and visions from the manitous (spirits) and ancestors residing in the Spirit World. 

To this day Bird Mountain is still used by thunderbirds (and other people) to attain spiritual guidance, complete personal medicine work, to make gifts and offerings to manitous, to complete fasts and vision quests, and connect with the spirits of ancestors. This also includes connecting with the living spirits of "fliers" like songbirds, woodpeckers, crows, ravens, hawks, vultures, eagles and of course the thunderbirds and the Great Bird too. Earth-based, natural human "bird shamanism" is alive and well atop Bird Mountain!

Bird Shamanism

Well before the Ice Age people have been using bird feathers. Also the high places where birds perch, roost, rest and nest in direct association with the ancient human practices of bird shamanism. It is believed bird shamanism originated in paleolithic Siberia around 70,000 to 130,000 years ago. It then eventually made its way here to Turtle Island (North America) at some point during the last Ice Age or just after it when the Laurentide glacier began to retreat and melt away 18,000 years ago. 

It is known prehistoric peoples arrived here walking over from Siberia to Alaska and then south and east into North America. Another reality is 24,000 years ago, other people called Solutreans came from prehistoric Eurasia by boat by following the edges of Atlantic ice to inhabit eastern North America. A memory of these vast migrations is that all Indigenous Nations native to North America, to this very day, still adorn their sacred regalia and ceremonial items with bird feathers - eagle, vulture, hawk, and turkey feathers are particularly respected and revered - and most still practice ancient, paleolithic forms of bird shamanism still retained as Indigenous Spiritual Knowledge. Truthfully all this has been passed on into our present age from many ancestral shamanic sources from our very distant past; "since time immemorial" as most often said.

This is all based on the primal human idea that a bird itself represents, or symbolizes, the "spirit" or the "spirit flight" of a human being; when their spirit, or soul, travels into a different realm in dreams while asleep or upon death and entry into the Spirit World of the Ancestors. As such, the actual practices of ancient bird shamanism - which actually began in Eurasia with Neanderthals and also highly intelligent and creative human beings called the Denisovans - began thousands and thousands of years ago and possibly 300,000 years ago! And yet bird shamanism still survives today among our modern, highly advanced and technological human cultures worldwide. Why? Because, "We're all Native to the Earth."  It is now thought that 41,000 to 44,000 years ago the Denisovans (or later Denisovan-human hybrids) saw and revered the Cygnus constellation of the Swan (or a goose or crane). Then later, between 14,750 and 17,750 years BCE (Before Current Era), a star in the Cygnus constellation called Deneb was the revered north/pole star. Today the north star is Polaris.

Cygnus Constellation

In addition to all this there is also another feature that exists with the large stones atop Bird Mountain. The primary stones of the big thunderbird nest are in direct alignment with the primary stars of the constellation of Cygnus the Swan. When all of the large stones on the ground are connected, they line up to mirror the main stars of Cygnus found in the northern sky above. (The constellation of Cygnus is also called the Northern Cross.) Cygnus was revered worldwide by our paleolithic ancestors. It is believed that some 15,000 years ago the star Deneb, the tail star of the Great Sky Bird/Cygnus, was the "pole star" seen in the night sky at that long ago time. This "pole" is often symbolized as a "sacred tree" which enables a shaman to ascend from the Middle World of earth up into the Sky World and beyond through a hole into the stars and the universe beyond.
Cygnus is generally seen as representing a large bird in the form of a swan, goose, heron or crane. If indeed these big stones are simply in their natural post glacial positions, was this mountain top recognized honoured and utilized long ago by our paleolithic ancestors (namely the Solutreans) because these big boulders on the ground matched up with the actual stars of Cygnus in the sky? It is highly possible. In connecting the stones like dots in another way, the resulting shape is a bird's foot, or a bird track, which indicates where the Great Bird touched down upon the Earth; where the Great Bird lighted on the mountain top. 

Continental Connections

Here's an intriguing question: Were all these big stones perhaps moved into place, on purpose, by our thunderbird (shaman) ancestors to align directly with the stars of Cygnus the Great Sky Bird? And yet another important question to ponder is this: Do the stars of Cygnus actually align to create yet another visual depiction of the Great Bird in the form of a thunderbird on the ground instead? It could be so. Going back to prehistoric Siberia, before the time of the last Ice Age 70,000 years ago and the dawn of bird shamanism there, this ancient idea of a Great Bird in the form of a celestial swan, goose, heron or crane - or perhaps a massive "spirit bird" in the heavens - surely traveled with our Siberian and/or Solutrean ancestors to land on the bedrock of this continent too.

So we have two rock solid reasons that the "high place" thunderbird nest site atop Bird Mountain was recognized and used for specific bird shamanism medicine work and ceremonies by people who were "bird people" shamans or thunderbirds themselves. One; there is a large stone thunderbird nest on the very mountain top where the Great Bird comes to nest upon the earth. Two; there is a big natural stone replica of the sky constellation of Cygnus, or rather the Great Sky Bird, right there upon the mountain top too. The location of these big stones first mark the Great Bird's nest, and secondly the Great Bird itself! 

A Place for Everyone

For all these reasons Bird Mountain is not simply a sacred site but also a place for the rite of passage of the vision quest here in eastern Canada. There are indeed many places where vision quests can be done but due to what actually exists atop Bird Mountain, this site is an ideal location for people to visit to practice their own forms of Earth-based spirituality such as shamanism. Here they can do a vision quest. Or they can come just to be there and enjoy the view. With all that Bird Mountain has to offer, it's the perfect "place of vision" for many people; seekers, healers and shamans of all kinds. Here we can practice our own spiritual work, conduct our personal ceremonies and do vision quests to help us see.

In many wondrous ways Bird Mountain is the "Nest of the Great Bird". We can go there as spiritual human beings seeking ways to reconnect to all of our ancestors worldwide. It is here we can begin to reclaim our birthright to embrace and practice our earthly, human spirituality again. In this way we will become stronger, better and wiser people. Here we will heal to become healthier and happier human beings. It is from this optimistic position - this naturally high, bird's eye point of view - that we can fly ever higher. By questing for, and then seeing, the very vision we need to act upon we have a great potential to better our world. With a vision to guide us we become creative and empowered. Then we'll have all the power we need, right inside us, to focus properly on the mission of bringing back balance and respect to All Our Relations here on Earth.