In Reverence to Two Hawks Who Guided Me

Brown GoshawkIn the first year that I started UniGuide, there was always a pull for me to go back to a more “stable” existence of a full-time job with a tech company. At least I would be getting a regular paycheck.

One day, during a period like too many others, when I was living on a financial razor’s edge that threatened homelessness, I took my dog, Roo, for a walk at Lands End to clear my head.

My fears about striking out on my own, starting a blog, and not working in a traditional way were overwhelming. I could barely function I was so full of self-doubt.

Lands End is one of my favorite places in San Francisco. Located on the northwest perimeter of the city, it’s part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. To me, it’s a sacred place in an otherwise bustling city because humans have, for the most part, left it alone.

View of the Pacific Ocean from Lands End, San Francisco. Photo: MCSel.

Along the Cliff’s Edge

At Lands End, there’s a meandering trail, which used to be train tracks at the turn of the century. Victorian-era sightseers would ride on the Ferries and Cliff Steam Line out to the coast. There, they would take a ride that wound along the steep cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean to the place where part of the sea funnels into San Francisco Bay.

Strolling along this trail with my dog, Roo, on a beautiful May morning, I was asking myself if I’m crazy.

Maybe I should shift gears, I thought. Maybe I should do something different. Things weren’t going the way I thought they would. Shouldn’t things be happening faster? Who am I fooling? Should I give this up? Should I call so-and-so in my network and try to get a full-time job somewhere? My thoughts were all over the place, and none of them were pleasant.

I paused to wait for Roo, who was taking her time sniffing things. Gazing across the water to Marin Headlands in the distance, I noticed a hawk hovering at eye-level. Only, she wasn’t moving at all. Her wings were wide, yet she was completely still. She was riding the air current in complete stillness. Floating motionless in the sky, she was in a state of grace, of divine homeostasis. She hovered there as I gazed at her, and time stood still.


As I watched her, a voice in my head said, “Stay the course. No change. Stay the course. You are on the edge, but you will fly.” A feeling came over me that the wind was holding me up too. I experienced a moment of sublime peace watching her.

The Cooper’s Hawk

When I was in my 20s, I was on another walk, this time with the dog I had before Roo, whose name was Jojo. We were in my old neighborhood in Berkeley. Jojo paused at a bush and whimpered. Unlike Roo, who had super strong prey drive, Jojo was a gentle soul. I went to see what she was looking at, and through the branches, I saw a Cooper’s hawk standing on the ground.

Out of his element, he was clearly injured. At first, I wasn’t sure what to do. Then I remembered hearing about a bird rescue facility in Berkeley, so, I called them. A biologist who worked there came out and, wearing thick gloves that went up to her armpits, she was able to capture the hawk and bring him back to their facility.

They called me later that day to tell me that the hawk had a compound fracture in his wing and could not be rehabilitated, so they put him down.

I expressed my regret to the volunteer at the center, ‘God, I feel so badly for him.’

She said, “Try not to feel bad. You lessened his suffering.”

Cooper's Hawk
Cooper’s hawk. Photo: Patrick Doheny.

Since that day in Berkeley, hawks have always been special to me. So, seeing the Lands End hawk hovering in stillness had a profound effect on me.

Of course, these two hawks did not exist to give me signs. They existed in their own right, sentient beings on their own souls’ journeys. Yet, when I saw them, I experienced them on a multitude of levels. On one level, as a human being seeing a fascinating bird. And on another, I felt they were guides in my soul’s journey here on Earth.

Throughout history, animals have meant many things to human beings. They have held powerful symbolic meaning to us, they have taught us about our world and ourselves. And we have treated them with both reverence and sadistic abuse. This post, and the posts I plan to write about spirit animals, will be about reverence. And in today’s world, I hope that my readers share this reverence and that it translates to protection.

I understand why people want to wear jewelry or t-shirts that have their favorite animals on them. Or why we want selfies with wild animals. And I understand why the idea of spirit animals resonates with so many of us – it’s a powerful kinship. I only hope that we can do a better job of turning our fascination with animals and this feeling of spiritual connection with them into meaningful action that protects them and allows them to live out their lives in freedom.

I think that nature and animals have so many of the answers we seek. It’s just a matter of being respectful and attentive.

22 Responses

  1. Gosh what a beautiful article. I feel that all of life’s lessons can be learned through growing food and flowers. I’ve recently seen a lot of hawks so I did some searching and ended here. Yay!

    Thank you for your story!

    1. Thank you for your kind words. And I agree with you about growing things. Too many of us are out of touch with Mother Gaia. I really hope we, as a species, can “get back to the garden” and in touch with Earth and our natural natures. Nothing like the cry of a hawk to bring us back to our true natures! Take care!

  2. I’m so thankful I found your website. I always see hawks near me, but this past week I’ve had two unusual encounters. Three days ago as I took my normal walk in a local cemetery, a hawk landed on a low branch on a tree in front of me facing in the direction I was walking. Another hawk with it continued on. As I walked past the tree, I turned and looked at the hawk, who also looked at me and let me take a picture before then flying away. Yesterday walking not far from that same area, a hawk started circling over me, getting lower and lower (I thought it was going to come right at me) until it finally turned and dove toward the ground about 20 feet away before pulling up and flying off. I didn’t think much of the first instance until the second one and feel there must be more to it. I’ve been struggling with a personal situation and fighting the urge to run in fear because it would be the east option, although possibly not the right option. And I think I have been getting signs such as these to have patience, stay the course and trust that what is meant to happen will happen. Thank you for your story!

    1. Thank you for your comment. I am glad this resonated with you. I believe we know in our hearts what is the best path for our spirit. Sometimes we just need a little nudge to open up our consciousness a little more. Best of luck to you!

  3. Earlier this summer, I noticed a hawk’s nest at the top of a cell phone tower which I pass by daily on my neighborhood walk. I was concerned about how much the young hawk(s) might be impacted by the electromagnetic radiation from the cell phone tower, so I’ve been sending lovingkindness to the nest and imaging a white light of protection around it each time I pass by. I’m now able to see and hear at least one young hawk peeking out over the nest. This experience got me thinking more about nature symbolism and I started researching the symbolism of each animal I would encounter on my walk. Eventually, I came upon your website and this has become my go-to place when I want to learn about animal symbolism and angel numbers. I feel led to work in an area more related to nature and spirituality but have also been feeling that pull to go back to a job with a regular paycheck. That’s when I came upon this particular post and felt encouraged that even if the path is not easy it can still be the best path forward. Thank you for your willingness to stay the course and for sharing your wisdom in a way that has helped me many times along my own journey.

    1. Hi Shannon, Thank you for you message and kind thoughts about UniGuide. And of course – thank you caring for the hawk chicks! I would love to see them! I believe that if you’re clear about your goals and realistic about the challenges to achieve them, hard work will pay off. Sometimes you have to do a dance between the old way of life and the new, but then with time, you can be fully living in the new. Best of luck to you!

  4. As I was taking a gratitude walk I was telling (convincing) myself how easy it is to manifest. I said I can manifest a cardinal and sure enough as I looked ahead and male cardinal was sitting on a fence. I walked by him and said hi and then I stopped in my tracks because as he flew away next to him was a hawk sitting on the fence. I was frozen because I never seen a bird so big and he had this beautiful white chest. We stared at each other for about three minutes until I walked away to cross a field. I kept turning around to see if he was still there and he stayed there the whole time until I crossed and got back on the path. I still have goosebumps because I know it’s a message. I am burning out in my corporate job and want to quit but very afraid of running out of money before I find another job. Your story resonates with me and it’s time to make moves!

  5. My husband passed at home April 10, 2022 mid morning. Hospice told me Friday evening it was hours or days. His hospital bed was by the sunroom and a hawk was around all day Saturday as family helped me care for my husband. The hawk caught and ate a dove in full view of us. Sunday morning just before he passed the hawk was in the trees near sunroom and us. I hope my husband is safely in heaven.

    1. I am very sorry to hear about your husband’s passing. I lost my mom in March, so I can imagine what you are going through. I can imagine it was tough seeing that harsh cycle of life reality of the hawk catching the dove. I never stop wondering why there are carnivores at all in the world, but I suppose they teach us about some of the hard truths we have to go through when we are here. I would like to believe the spirit of the dove is with your husband’s spirit and that both are at peace. Take care!

  6. Kristen, thank you for this story and insights into hawks as spirit animals. I have had a number of similar experiences with hawks. It is my spirit animal. Your story helped me see a new perspective and gave me more insight into my experiences with hawks. Twice I got to hold injured hawks who miscalculated a dive. One I handed over to rehabber and it was released, the other one died in my arms. I have found numerous hawk feathers along my paths over the years.
    For the past few years a pair of red tail hawks have built a nest in my woods close enough to the house so I am able to see it before trees leaf out. I have seen them together and separately many times, and hear their calls all the time, to each other and announcing their territory to other hawks. This spring I saw them together chasing another hawk away. What a blessing and divine grace!

    1. Thank you for sharing this, Kira. Wow, you are so fortunate! What an experience. I am sorry to hear about the hawk who died, but it sounds like they knew the right person to help them into the afterlife. There are so many messages in what you wrote. Thank you again.

  7. Nursed a wing wounded Red Tailed Hawk back to health and set him free. First day I spotted him in some bushes next day on my fence posts and trees. Today as I drove around a section of land I kept spotting him everywhere I went. Tonight there is 4 hawks hovering over my yard. Interesting to see what tomorrow brings. Maybe holistic healing the sinus headache of a new friend was not a coincidence today

  8. Wow, Kristin, Your descriptions of hawk energy are really helpful. I am living in a retirement community that is built on lands that have beautiful forests and meadows. There are many hawks here, who soar high, and even last winter there was a whole group flying together and it was pointed out that it was a mother hawk with 3 babies! Lately I have been a lot of healing work and am trying to find myself and a way of generating some income, as it feels challenging/awkward/ disempowering that my daughter is pretty much supporting me completely on the monetary level….Walking on a trail through a meadow, I notice a HUGE Sharpshank (I think) hawk fly out of
    the woods and land in a tree right in front of me, and sit there, apparently completely at ease. I couldn’t believe it. I kept staring at him, so beautiful and confident. I was riveted as he casually started preening. I was moved to sing ti him a Tibetan chant. This seemed to go on for a long time. I kept talking to him. Then, he took off and landed on the ground a distance away, I keep seeing him around. Yesterday he landed on a roof time as I was walking by the house. He has been waiting for me on the same tree
    again also. Not to mention that he actually flew past my window one day when I randomly looked out of it!!! Your interpretations are helping me
    tune in and make some serious changes in my approach…It seems to be onleading. Aho! Shen

      1. Thank you so much for your post! Like you , I feel I’m at a crossroad. I’ve been in nursing for 30 years and really want to transition into a more holistic environment. I’ve contemplated Ayurvedic school which is located in N/C . Although exciting , also scary to give up a full time paycheck and “ retire” early. I’m 74. Things have gotten increasingly chaotic and I’ve become less happy at work to the point of “ stepping off the cliiff@! Although I have been seeing crows ( a lot) Saturday I noticed a hawk soaring high above me. I’ve seen him at least 3 other times since. When I looked at your description I felt like he is telling me to believe in myself and take the next step.. Thank you for sharing your story. Not everyone comes from a place where it’s easy to have conversations about a spirit animal!

        1. Best of luck to you! I don’t think it’s ever too late to explore or adjust your life’s purpose – we are all a work in progress. My only advice (and something I learned the hard way) – when you take risks, protect your downside. Dreaming big is good, but also envision the worst-case scenario and then make sure you have a plan in place to protect yourself! Best of luck to you!

  9. Kristen,
    Thank you for the great information about Hawks as spirit guides. I was first aware of that “relationship” from attending the Monroe Institute, and again, when I walking through my neighborhood, wondering about this and that. I asked for some proof that the Hawk was my totem or spirit guide. Within a minute I was hearing what sounded like a baby crying… I looked around and didn’t see any babies, but the sound continued. I finally looked up and there was a Hawk flying overhead, circling me. Good enough for me!

  10. Thank you for such an insightful and informative website. I am currently in a place in life where I am finding myself searching for direction. Almost as if I’m approaching a cross roads and feel lost. I’ve been finding feathers for the last 3 or so years and feel they are from my guardian angels. I’ve seen several hawks over the past 9 months, but the other day I saw 2 sets of hawks within 45 minutes. 2 were on a street light post sitting side by side, then, on the other side of town; I saw another set of 2 sitting side by side on a branch of a tree. I feel this holds some significance and meaning that I should be paying attention to. Do you have any insight into the possible meaning of seeing these sets (which is rare in and of itself) of hawks?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Sara,
      Thanks for your message. I love hawks too. I have on my list to write a post about hawk spirit guides. One of the most interesting things I’ve read about hawk power animals is that the hawk connects you to your superconscious and the spirit world – and the material world, or Earth.

      They fly high above the world – but they have this big picture view, plus they have super keen eyesight, so they remind you to tap into your intuition and your spirit guides, or your Angels, as you mentioned, as use that power on Earth.

      If you find yourself at a crossroads, it means you just need more information on a given situation, so you need to be a seeker – keep seeking information, keep learning about the situation, and ask your Angels for guidance. Pray and pray harder! Meditate and ask! :o)

      The fact that you are seeing them in pairs is special. To me that seems to be a symbol of a soul mate or partnership. And I’m one who believes that soul mates come in many forms – it is just about one romantic partner, but people and animals with whom you have a powerful connection on the soul level. Plus, we are now in the year of 2020 – so I think it is a year for partnerships. Sending prayers your way!

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Kristen M. Stanton

Hello. Thanks for visiting UniGuide. My name is Kristen and I started UniGuide as a tribute to nature, animals, and spiritual exploration. I hope you enjoy your experience here!