Hummingbird Medicine

Medicine from Spirit manifests itself in many ways, but quite often it is in animal form. This past week I had an encounter with a hummingbird that ended in a moment of self-realization.

By Nabeel Redwood | Shamanic Healing Los Angeles

As I was coming into the office last weekend, I heard a buzzing and tapping sound in the atrium by the entrance. When I looked up, I saw a hummingbird frantically bumping against the window trying to reach the sky outside. He only had to fly down the steps and he’d be free, but in his panic, he kept trying to burst through the glass window to reach the blue sky outside.

Eventually, I managed to cup him in my hands and led him out to safety. He rested on my finger an extra moment, confused and relieved, before fluttering up and disappearing into the sky.

In shamanism, any animal crossing our path is offering us their medicine. So I spent the weekend reflecting on what medicine hummingbird was sharing with me.

Traditionally, hummingbird is associated with the speed of thought, because her wings flap as fast as our minds race. Hummingbird gathers nectar from many flowers, symbolizing an open mind which gathers knowledge from many sources. And as hummingbird collects nectar, she also pollinates the plants and spreads their seeds, just as a person who gathers wisdom spreads that knowledge to help the whole community grow.

But this hummingbird’s message was quite different. I realized that the hummingbird was trying to tell me that sometimes we stubbornly keep trying the same things over and over again without success, rather than stepping back to realize there’s another, easier way to reach our goals.


So many of us spend so much of our lives banging our heads against an invisible glass window. We can see the blue sky of our goals within our reach and we think if we just fly as hard and fast as we can, we’ll break through and achieve success. The definition of insanity is trying the same thing repeatedly while expecting different results. But that’s what we all do. Whether we’re chasing love, money, or fame, we fall into the trap of repeating the same mistakes over while expecting different results. So we keep indulging bad habits, associating with toxic people, and then we foolishly wonder why we’re going in circles.

Hummingbird taught me that when life isn’t going our way, we should pause, step back from the situation, and take a few deep breaths. And then we might just notice that there’s a friendly face pointing to the doorway, and all we had to do was just stop and listen.

So if you feel like you’re banging your head against a window trying to escape your current situation, consider zooming out and changing your approach. Break your usual routines, experiment with different strategies, or simply sit back quietly and let the answer come to you.

My hummingbird friend chose to trust me, to surrender to a situation beyond his control, and that choice saved his life. So trust me: sometimes when you surrender before a closed window, a door opens up just for you.