Fly Like the Eagle

By Trish Phillips

Bald EagleWhen an eagle appears, you are on notice to be courageous and stretch your limits. Do not accept the status quo, but rather reach higher and become more than you believe you are capable of. Look at things from a new, higher perspective. Be patient with the present; know that the future holds possibilities that you may not yet be able to see. You are about to take flight.


The Native Indians saw the Eagle as a symbol for great strength, leadership and vision. As if to seemingly mirror this, the eagle has been used as a 'banner' by many of the great empires throughout history, from Babylon to Egypt, through to Rome and even the United States. In early Christianity the eagle was seen as a symbol of hope and strength, representing salvation. The eagle appears twice in the book of Revelation; both times in a context that suggests it is on the side of God. In Islam, the eagle represents warlike ferocity, nobility and dominion.

In ancient Aztec tradition, the chief god told people to settle at a place where they find an eagle perched on a cactus eating a snake. This place is now Mexico City. Zeus changed into the form of the sacred eagle to help himself control thunder and lightning. The eagle was a strong emblem in the Roman Empire. The Hittites drew upon a double-headed eagle so that they would never be surprised. The Pueblo Indians associated the eagle with the energies of the sun - physical and spiritual - as well as symbols of greater sight and perception.

It may not be coincidence that such different cultures across thousands of years have adopted the same symbol.

Biological Characteristics

Eagles have a beauty and grace fitting their status as our national emblem. As with most birds of prey, the female eagle is larger and heavier than the male. They weigh an average of 12 pounds with a wingspan up to seven feet and a body length of nearly three feet. Eagles are lighter than they appear. The bulk of an eagle is its feathers; its bones are hollow and much lighter than the bones of mammals.

Golden eagles typically have larger bodies and shorter wingspans compared to bald eagles. Adult bald eagles are easily detected by their brilliant white heads and tail feathers and chocolate brown bodies and wings. They have black talons and yellow eyes, beaks and feet. In contrast, golden eagles have shorter, darker bills and dark feathers with a pale golden cast in the area around the neck. Immature eagles do not obtain their adult colors until they are about five years old.

Eagle in flightAn eagle's eyes are up to eight times sharper than that of humans and contain many more color-sensitive cones. Located on the side of the head, their eyes provide a wide field of view. Bald eagles have large wings compared to other birds, allowing them to soar and hunt vast areas with a minimum of effort. During migration they can travel 400 to 500 miles a day. Bald eagles have large, sharp talons and strong feet which they use to catch their prey.

In captivity, bald eagles have a life expectancy of up to 50 years, but almost all in nature die before reaching maturity because of environmental hazards and stresses.

All of these traits can be viewed symbolically as ideas to assist humans to be more successful within their own lives. Even with the eagle's magnificent ability to fly, it stays connected to the earth. We must keep ourselves grounded and lay a solid foundation for ourselves. The talons - meant to grasp and hunt - reflect the need to utilize the things of the earth. The sharp beak and strong jaw muscles demonstrate the importance of knowing when to speak, how much and how strongly - lest we inadvertently hurt someone with words. New vision will open that is far reaching into the past, within the present and to the future. Eagles are predators with a powerful sense of energy conservation. They use their great vision to know when to take flight and capture their prey. To align oneself with the eagle is to take on the responsibility and power to become so much more than you now appear to be.

Symbolism and Power

The eagle is the chief over all the winged creatures. Eagle conveys the powers and messages of the spirit; it is man's connection to the divine because it flies higher than any other bird. The eagle brings the message of renewed life because it is associated with the east winds - the direction of spring, dawn and rebirth.

If an individual has been going through a hard time, eagle not only signals a new beginning, but provides that person with the stamina and resilience to endure the difficulties. If eagle has appeared, it bestows freedom and courage to look ahead. The eagle is symbolic of the importance of honesty and truthful principles. Summon the eagle when you are about to embark on a challenge, a massive life change or a creative endeavor.

Eagle people are seen as visionaries, those who are seekers and who are willing to push the limits of self-discovery and personal freedom. The eagle person is a born leader and may become impatient with those who cannot fly as high or as fast. Despite the fact that eagle with hold aloof or retreat to the skies, people will naturally gravitate to them.

The Lesson

Bald Eagle ProfileWhen Eagle appears to you it means that you are being put on notice. Eagle totems appear to inspire (push) you to reach higher and become more than you think you are capable of. They tell you to be courageous and really stretch your limits and see what you can do. They bring a sense of courage and a desire to explore and grow. To dream of a flying eagle or one who is perched high signifies good fortune or victory coming your way. If it scares you or attacks you it means there are some self-imposed limitations you need to push through.

The lesson of the eagle is to take a look from where it sees. You must have the courage to relinquish stale and comfortable habits and beliefs to soar into unknown realms and new realities - continually expanding your view. Now is the time to take full responsibility for your life and be prepared for instant destiny. As your spiritual awareness increases, the positive and negative ramifications will become more immediate and have greater force.

Ask for eagle help when:

  • The details of day-to-day living have you feeling weighed down and you have lost sight of the larger perspective.
  • You are faced with a number of tough choices regarding work, relationships or life transitions.
  • You're not sure how to integrate recent spiritual insights and revelations into your day-to-day life.
  • You feel you are expending way too much energy to get the job done.

Access eagle's power by…

  • Being patient. Know that this animal spirit guide does not come easily or immediately.
  • Writing down judgments you have about others and noting how these are projections of similar aspects or traits you deny are part of yourself.
  • Each evening, recording a list of 10 things for which you are grateful that happened that day. Do this every night for at least 21 days.
  • Go to an area where you can observe all that is below - the top of a tall building, a hilltop - and take in as much as you can. Take several slow, deep breaths as you do.

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Power Animals: How to Connect with Your Animal Spirit Guide, Steven D. Farmer, Ph.D., pp. 97-100.
Animal Wisdom: the definitive guide, Jessica Dawn Palmer, pp. 135-143.
Animal-Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small, Ted Andrews, pp. 136-141.