Oriole & Spirit Horses

6 March 2020

I didn’t witness the stalking nor the hunting. But the little black cat, crouching by the dead bird on the pavement in the midday sun were some tell-tale signs that I might have just chanced upon the aftermath of a hunt.

Picture for illustration only. This is my own cat who never leaves the house or hunts any live creature.

Arms folded under his velvety chest, the round headed feline, barely out of kitten hood himself, seemed stunned at how quickly he had brought his prey down.

He scampered off as I got closer, probably afraid that I would hurt him. But I wasn’t even going to chastise him because a cat’s instinct is to hunt.

It was very unfortunate that this bird, still a fledgeling herself, met her end so soon. Her soft feathers of black, green & yellow were not yet fully grown. Parts of her delicate skin were still visible under the downs. I found out later that she was a Black-naped Oriole.

Could this have been her first attempt at flying? Or did a strong gust of wind toss her in the direction of the cat waiting below? Or did she know her time was up & offered herself to be hunted? But most of all was she frightened during her last moments?

She was bleeding from the beak, indicating something inside her was broken. The rest of her 100 gram or so body was still intact as I picked her up from the pavement with tissue papers.

“You’ve just died. But don’t be scared. You’re not alone.” I communicated my thoughts to her.

I didn’t save her life, but I could at least make her last memories on earth a little less traumatic. As far as I understand it, death is not an easy experience even if we know it is inevitable.

So I brought her home and placed her facing the sky & windhorses. Then I lit incense to purify her trauma and a butter lamp to light her way.

I anointed her feathered head with essential oils to purify her mind, and asked her to forgive the cat and go in peace.

A sprig of flowers from the red radish plant was placed on her heart to purify fear.

And between her perfectly formed talons which hadn’t been to many places yet, she held a rose, so that in her next birth she will walk freely without mishaps.

All was peaceful and quietly completed.

During the lunar new year a month ago I was intrigued by the gold & red offering papers for invoking spirit horses to send gods on journeys. I bought some just for fun.

And now these Spirit Horses would accompany the Oriole home.

In the evening, I wrapped them in a khata and buried the bird under a young tree, with my mother’s help.

I’ve named the bird, Beauty, because this was the word that kept coming to mind as I prepared the Oriole’s body for its return to Mother Earth.

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