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Hummingbird: Messages from My Ancestors

The following is an excerpt from Hummingbird: Messages from My Ancestors by Diana Raab

Each day a hummingbird visits the garden outside my writing studio. She loves the red trumpet vine that bears delicious nectar. She hovers in the center of the flower for a few seconds, levitates, and then moves on to the next vine. Her movements are so quick that I have to keep a close eye so as not to miss her before she flies away. She seems to have a lot to do over the course of her day as she bestows her magic on plants and other sentient beings.

It’s been said that those who were close to you before they died commonly send messages in the form of bird spirit guides. Hummingbirds, in particular, resonate at a high vibration, which makes them more connected to the spiritual realm. They’re also joyful reminders and tend to open our hearts and make us smile. They’re referred to as messengers from the heavens because they often show up when people grieve the loss of a loved one. In this way, they can also be healing. If you ever watch a hummingbird, you’ll notice that it can come to a complete stop when traveling at high speed. Also, their movements are often in the shape of an infinity sign; thus their connection to eternity.

Some Native Americans believe the presence of hummingbirds brings unconditional love and harmony. The Aztecs, in particular, viewed hummingbirds as brave and courageous fighters. They also believed hummingbirds to be immortal, connecting us with our ancestors. The fact is that, whenever one appears, it’s sometimes viewed as a visitation from an ancestor or a manifestation of a dead person’s spirit.

In Ancestral Medicine: Rituals for Personal and Family Healing (2017), Dr. Daniel Foor states that connecting with our ancestors is beneficial for our psychological and physical health. Not only can it boost our confidence and intellectual performance, it also makes us aware of family predispositions that can benefit us and future generations, in addition to helping to promote forgiveness. Further, it encourages introspection and can bring clarity about our life purpose. Those who are connected with their ancestors often feel more supported and comfortable in their skin.

Foor (2017) has described how connecting with ancestors can help heal intergenerational trauma or family dysfunction. The fact is that when you are a child of someone who has experienced tremendous trauma, those memories can become yours. It’s almost unfathomable, but children can live with memories of events that never even happened to them. Many studies are emerging on the significance of epigenetics—the study of how behavior and environment can alter the way one’s genes work—and we now know that there’s a connection between preconception parental trauma and epigenetic alterations that are present both in the parent and in their children.

Many intuitive individuals believe that hummingbirds are the greatest proof of messages from heaven.

When settling down to sleep at night, these birds have the ability to lower their metabolism to the minimum necessary to sustain life. To conserve energy, their metabolism comes to an almost complete standstill. They can also easily travel backward, which reminds us that it’s okay to look to our past and connect with memories of loved ones who have passed away.

I’m quite sure that my grandmother, who died in 1964 at the age of sixty-one, frequently visits me in the form of a hummingbird. She sends messages of love and offers me ongoing protection. She reminds me that everything is temporary and of how important it is to enjoy my time here on Earth. She tells me that her time here was too short and that being my grandma and caretaker was one of her greatest joys and accomplishments. She reminds me to rise above the everyday, rudimentary concerns of life and look at the larger picture. She says that, with love, we can accomplish almost anything, and a life without love is an empty one.

If we pay attention, the universe has a way of sending us signs. I believe that if we pay attention, we receive signs from the departed that help show us the way.

Some people call these entities guardian angels, while others refer to them as spirit guides. They visit in different forms, so you must open your heart to the secret messages being sent your way.

I am not the only one who receives messages from the departed through birds. Birds are like omens. Some people say they’re a source of spiritual inspiration. After all, like angels, they have wings. This makes sense to me, as birds are able to fly close to the heavens and gather wisdom and messages to bring back to us here on Earth. Over the years, I’ve learned to be mindful of these messages. I’ve become more attentive during this chapter of my life, my sixties—the same decade of life in which my grandmother died. So, whenever a bird visits me, I tune right in.

When my grandmother and father were alive, they provided me with unconditional love, and they continue to do so on their visitations. They don’t give me direct, detailed instructions. Rather, they support and guide me on my life journey. I sometimes feel their presence over my right shoulder as if an energy were coming through—a physical sensation such as tingling or chills in the upper part of my body. Once in a while, I feel their presence when one of my extremities falls asleep. Sometimes I hear Dad giving me advice or telling me that everything will be okay.

My grandmother’s messages come to me in other subtle ways—an unexpected bird, an out-of-the-blue phone call, a certain book falling off my shelf, a certain song playing on the radio, a light flickering in the house, or her whispering into my right ear. It might only be a word or two, but it’s usually enough to relay an important message, much as the hummingbirds seem to do.

Diana Raab, MFA, PhD, is a memoirist, poet, workshop leader, thought-leader and award-winning author of fourteen books.

Her work has been widely published and anthologized. She frequently speaks and writes on writing for healing and transformation. Her latest memoir is Hummingbird: Messages from My Ancestors, A memoir with reflection and writing prompts (Modern History Press, 2024).

Raab blogs for Psychology Today, The Wisdom Daily, The Good Men Project, Thrive Global, and is a guest blogger for many others.

Visit her at: https:/

Raab lives in Southern California


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