The Thunderbirds

 "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 -- 

The large bird petroform (top photo) at the western crest of Bird Mountain was made to acknowledge the true spiritual nature of this site. It marks the mountain top as a thunderbird nest - a "place of vision". The top of Bird Mountain is a place where we can still do vision quests. Why? Because the way things are on Earth today it's clear we humans could use some help. Maybe we need a vision to help us see a way to re-create a better world for ourselves?

As a place of vision this highland "Mountain of Gifts" has been used for spiritual purposes since time immemorial. Following in the footsteps of our prehistoric ancestors around 12,000 years ago, when the last Ice Age began to melt away, people climbed here to leave offerings in gratitude ceremonies and do personal vision quests. People ascended Bird Mountain to commune with the nature spirits of birds and animals, the spirits of ancestors and the spirit of the Great Bird itselfIn our ancient Algonquin spiritual beliefs the Great Bird is also known as the Thunderbird. 

The Thunderbird is the largest or "greatest" bird. The Thunderbird is called the Great Bird because it represents the Great Spirit of the Creator in bird-like form. It's believed that the Thunderbird is so large - so very great - it needs the whole universe to have enough space to fly around freely. But the Thunderbird also comes to Earth and Bird Mountain is a place the Thunderbird is believed to have built a great stone nest. Interestingly there are numerous massive stone boulders situated at the top of the mountain that confirms this. Geologists call them glacial erratics but there's more to the story! 

Long ago the Great Spirit sent some great birds, the thunderbirds, to earth to help create the sky. But when they arrived all they saw was rock; no trees had been created yet. So in order for these first thunderbirds to have nests, in which to lay their eggs, they had to make their nests with stones instead. So they picked up massive boulders and carried them in their talons. They flew to mountain tops, landed there, and arranged these stones circularly into great stone thunderbird nests.

Much later in time the original human beings arrived, the First People. Their old "bird shamans" still knew the ancient legend about the arrival on earth of the thunderbirds. To gain the power of the large birds who came to help the Great Spirit, the human bird shamans called upon the thunderbirds for help. These shamans learned to followed suit and by using stones they too made their own shaman nests or "vision pits". It's for this practical, rock-solid reason that our first bird shamans became called thunderbirds. Now secure within their nests the thunderbirds/shamans could receive guidance, dreams and visions from the spirits of their ancestors high in the Sky World. They could do their thunderbird medicine work to help people with the struggle of human life on earth. 

To this day Bird Mountain is still used by people for spiritual guidance, to do personal medicine work and to leave gifts for the spirits. People also use this site for fasts and vision quests whereby they can receive guidance from wild animal spirits, ancestor spirits and the spirit of nature itself. This includes connecting with the living spirits of birds - the fliers - like songbirds, woodpeckers, crows, ravens, hawks, vultures, eagles and of course the thunderbirds and the Great Bird too. Natural human "bird shamanism" is alive and well atop Bird Mountain!