Ten years ago, on January 30th, 2005 at 1:30 PM I discovered a Great White Heron, standing in our living room in the center wheel of a large red Persian rug, looking at me.
I’d wandered downstairs, excited by a Vision Statement that I had just written for Olandar and the Emerging Renaissance. I had placed the papers on our dinning room table and looking up, was quite startled to see something that felt energetically like a dream archetype colliding with the everyday world. I regained my composure and said out loud and light heartedly to the Heron, "Things are pretty Harry Potterish around here these days."
I pointed and said, "There’s the back door." He cocked his head quizzically and flew further into the house to the front door. At which point I told him that friends think I might be over the edge already so I needed to run upstairs and get my camera. I took a picture of him at the front door, he then jumped onto our sofa and stayed there for the next thirty-five minutes.
The Great White Heron was quite large, rather like a pelican and I sat below him on the floor. He felt like an Aesop’s fable character standing fearless, looking at me with a piercing superior gaze like a stern professor, not interested in excuses, only excellence. I had learned from many years of lucid dreaming to not become unconscious nor overly excited when encountering the unfamiliar, but to remain innocent of opinion, and to seek embrace with creation without fear and with profound Love.
I spontaneously blurted out "Thoth!, thinking of the Greco-Egyptian image Thoth-Hermes and his herald the Phoenix. The great white heron was to the ancient Egyptians the Phoenix bird of rebirth and immortality. Thoth-Hermes is the great revealer of alchemical and Hermetic wisdom, exemplified by the Emerald Tablet of Hermes, "As above, So below." Thoth is an ibis headed god. Hermetic wisdom or natural Philo-Sophia forms the spine of my twenty-two archetypal drawings and writings that in creating took me on a very deep seventeen year journey with Hermes, so to speak, into the heart, great mystery and archetypes of theArcana Arcanorum or sacred wheel of the Tarot. My book Tarot ReVisioned entered existence in 2003.
The Great White Heron, upon hearing me exclaim the epithet, moved his head down at me with amazing speed, then just as quickly raised it very high and looked down his long beak clucking loudly as he did. I started to feel like I was going to faint (never have) and told him that I wasn’t really religious but is this were someone appears in a puff of smoke?
Then I heard him speak inwardly in a very powerful masculine voice, exhorting me, ‘Absolutely not. You have the nature of consciousness all wrong. It has nothing to do with the human form and everything to do with the incipient pattern of intelligence which is within everything.’ My mind then flashed onto the holographic DNA fractal weave that comes from my painting, Phoenix Arise. He continued. ‘You know I am bird. You see that I am a symbol, but what you fail to realize yet is that I am consciousness that lives in more than one world at a time. I ascend and return and the reason I don’t speak to you with words is I teach you to trust your inner story teller.’
He remained on the sofa and I remained transfixed in silent contemplation of this remarkable living creature, feeling at once the experience to be both impossible and and yet quite real, tangible and truly an intimate communion with this Phoenix/Heron. He remained for another thirty-five minutes on the sofa and then jumped up behind it. I took a second picture of him standing in a remarkable relationship with the dancing sculpture that adorns the picture window.
He didn’t seem much interested in leaving but I began to wonder if there is a proper etiquette regarding visiting mythic archetypes and living symbols of wisdom. Reaching into my profound resource I told him that I should probably get to the gym and again pointed to the back door. He spread his enormous wings and leaped across the room landing and flapping broadly to stabilize himself on the dining room table. Looking at me again he flew to the french doors of the sun room and calmly, even methodically walked out onto the patio. Turning back and looking in curiously, he started to come back inside but one of our cats showed up and the Heron calmly opted to fly to the top of the sycamore tree overhanging the pond in my garden.
A few hours later I excitedly shared the news of the Heron’s visitation with my wife, Carla, as she walked in the door. When I told her that a very large Heron had been in our home, she looked at me deeply and said, "Metaphorically?" "No," I answered, "actually.â I showed her the pictures. Thank god for cameras and proof.
Ten years into my daily work on The Hieroglyph of the Human Soul, I mused about the acronym created by its title which turned out to spell, much to my surprise, THOTHS, or Thoth’s library. This for me is no less than astonishing. Over the years I have often painted the heron as a reoccurring symbol that all human beings are a phoenix, a unique creation composed of the whole and holy fractal nature of consciousness wedded within form, i.e.Life.
The mythic narrative of the Great White Heron, the herald of Thoth-Hermes returned as the phoenix to our home Olandar ten years ago. As his story and implication evolve through my brush and pen, he continues to reveal his truth that, ‘Life is not birth, but awakening.’ We humans are the human form divine seeking to find the library of Life and to remember our stories, not as the condemned, but rather as heroes. We chose long ago to forget in order to remember with Love that all is woven of the incipient pattern of intelligence which is within everything and forms our sacred and shared DNA. We each wear these robes of a heroic humanity that willingly ventured into the dark to reveal undreamt of light that staggers the brilliance of even the greatest angels. There are many more stories of the Heron and his continuing visits but those are stories for another day. Happy tenth anniversary for a visit and feathered visitor who changed my art, life and story telling forever. Phoenix Arise!
**Turns out the acronym for Olandar Foundation for Emerging Renaissance is OFFER.
The Hieroglyph of the Human Soul: THOTHS
Olandar Foundation for Emerging Renaissance: OFFER
I like that. Leigh J McCloskey
Painting by Leigh J. McCloskey