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 €œI 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. ‘€œYou 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.” 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, ‘€œLife 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

5 Comments

  1. How incredibly fortunate you
    How incredibly fortunate you were – and probably are!

  2. What an incredible account.
    What an incredible account. When I first saw the picture of the Heron in this story, I assumed (before reading) that it was an ‘apparition’ type photo of the type that Robbert VanDe Broeke often gets. But this was a real live bird! Though my wife calls me “The Bird Whisperer’ for my rapport with the feathered world, I haven’t had anything this incredible happen to me; though I’ve had some pretty synchronistic experiences with ravens. Let us know if Leigh McCloskey has any other visitations from Thoth.

  3. This is an amazing story. My
    This is an amazing story. My husband, too, has a special relationship with ravens. These birds have a kinship with humans and will reciprocate if you reach out to them. I’ve noticed that birds seem to be special in terms of their ability to be conduits for those that have newly passed on. I’ve heard many stories (and I have my own stories) about birds seeming to carry messages for the dead.

  4. As soon as I saw the photo of
    As soon as I saw the photo of the heron, and before I started reading the essay, I thought, “Oh, it looks like Thoth visited Leigh McCloskey!” I have had several visitations from him as well, both in the physical and metaphysically (He is at his best when he removes the mask. 🙂 ) One of my favorite encounters was one day in my neighborhood park. I was walking up a path that I walked daily, and musing to myself about Thoth and his place in this reality. I was so caught up in my thoughts (‘Thoths’) that I almost walked right in to a Great Blue Heron standing on the path!(He must have been caught up in his ‘thoths’ as well, because he was not aware of me until I was almost on top of him.) In seconds this big, beautiful bird spread his wings and took flight. I was so close that I felt the breeze being generated off of is flapping wings.

    I have had remarkable encounters with other birds as well, including hawks, and a very unusual relationship with a grackle that lasted for months ( A great spirit encompassed in a very ubiquitous breed of bird. She was a wonderful teacher!)

    Great story!

  5. Incredible story/sharing!
    Incredible story/sharing! Thank you. I think the Heron’s message ending with “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.” is wonderfully wise. Ultimately — we all need to trust self. Others can lead and mislead us. So can self. But develop a trusting and loving relationship w/self — and one is capable of the utmost understanding. Align self and the earth/Universe and one becomes Magician and/or Mystic. No schooling in magic required 🙂 I love the whimsical references by the author to the magical/4th dimensional side of Harry Potter’s world. So apropos.

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