Tim Yearington Bird Shaman Teacher, Speaker Storyteller, Author

          Thunderbirds as Shamans


In Kitchizibi territory a 'thunderbird' sometimes meant a holy person or shaman. 'Thunderbird medicine' is about the ways of Bird Shamanism.

There's much confusion about thunderbirds and what a thunderbird actually does. In Kitchizibi territory the equivalent to a shaman, or the 'medicine/holy person' type, was sometimes called a thunderbird. Using the sacred element of onamin (red ochre) a thunderbird would paint their personal mark, as a pictograph, at the places they traveled to do their medicine work. This work often included physical and non-physical interactions with plants, animals, manitous and ancestors; all the spirits.

In other situations large stonework designs, called petroforms, were made to depict thunderbirds, eagles, turtles, snakes and serpents. The purpose of making serpents was to bring sky thunderbirds to the earth. A large snake/serpent served as bait attracting the thunderbirds down. Near earth, sky thunderbirds could best help the human thunderbirds.  

In many instances this included direct connection with sky thunderbirds themselves and the great power they could provide through electricity. The primary 'medicine way' of the thunderbird shamans was electrical in nature because it was often the negative electrical consciousness in peoples very brains - their own minds and thoughts - that needed to be altered in a tremendous positive manner to promote healing to happen. 

A thunderbird (a shaman person) works with manitous; the spirits of ancestors, birds, animals, plants, elements and weather in a manner to help people heal, grow and get well by removing unnecessary negativity from their lives. So the purpose or medicine work of a thunderbird is to activate a person’s higher bird-like state of consciousness to aid in the alteration of a lower snake-like state of being. A thunderbird utilizes the electricity of lightning (enlightenment) and thunder (empowerment). A thunderbird helps people change using the medicine of change itself; a transformation of negative inner power into positive outer power. This fosters self responsibility whereby the person, now empowered, actually can take personal action themselves to make life-altering changes. 

Our practices work with manitous (spirits) and medicines to aid people emotionally and spiritually. In this way, the natural medicine for a 'low like a snake' emotional state is the 'high like a bird' spiritual state. If a person is suffering emotionally but doesn't yet believe they even have a spiritual state to assist them, then it’s important to help them learn how to find it and follow their own spirit to guide them upon the trail of life. As an example, snake/low/negative (-) is brought into 'centre' with the aid of bird/high/positive (+). An electrical arc (current) zaps or jumps from the negative position to the positive position. The aim of this new 'centred position' of awareness and consciousness (electrical in nature in the person's own brain) is then maintained by the person them self. 

The practices of traditional thunderbird medicine helps people change for the better. A person’s own spiritual state helps to improve their own emotional state. In this way people learn to balance themselves right in the centre. Thunderbird medicine helps us to understand and utilize the electrical power of the Great Bird we have within us – our very spirit. 

If you'd like to learn more about traditional Bird Shamanism or the hikes I guide to thunderbird nest shamanism sites please contact me.