This entry is part of an ongoing project to develop a Magic of the Appalachians card deck based on wildlife endemic to the mountains of North Carolina. The finished deck will present a complete metaphysical system for learning, meditation, and intuitive readings.
Whippoorwill is Card #1 in the deck.
It's the signature eerie call of summer twilight in the Appalachians: "whippoorwill, whippoorwill!" The first time I heard it, I understood in one deep welling realization why the mountains of North Carolina are called haunted.
There is nothing in the world quite like the call of a whippoorwill. The unique, haunting melody wells up at the fall of dusk and the rise of dawn, and under the full moon.
If whippoorwill appears to you in a reading, vision, or unusual circumstances, it is time to contemplate the magic and beauty of death, darkness, and transition. Do not be afraid. The whippoorwill is good company in times of transition.
About the Whippoorwill
The Whippoorwill, scientifically known as the Eastern Whippoorwill, astrostomus vociferus, is a medium-sized bird in the nightjar family. It is endemic to the Eastern United States and especially prevalent in mature forests of the Appalachians.
It is a brown, unassuming bird that is rarely seen due to its excellent camouflage and habit of being active only at dawn, dusk, and under the full moon.
The characteristic "whippoorwill" call, after which the bird is named, is the mating call and is most often heard at dusk in late spring and summer. The bird nests on the ground and broods one or two eggs at a time. The male and female participate equally in raising the young, and the female may start a second hatch while the male finishes raising the first.
The Symbolism of Whippoorwill
Stories and myths about the whippoorwill abound in every culture that has occupied the Appalachians. (Tell some of them, with citations)
Whippoorwill represents death, dark, transition, and messages from the Otherworld. If you draw the card in a reading or if Whippoorwill comes to you in a vision or unusual circumstances, it may be asking you to allow for a death to occur.
This death is usually not of a person, but should be interpreted metaphorically to apply to an idea, a relationship, a job, or an attachment. Death is an ending that transitions into a new beginning; but the new beginning cannot be born until the death is allowed to occur.
Whippoorwill asks you to look at what no longer serves your highest good. Something that you already Know is no longer for you. It asks you to let it go.
Whippoorwill reminds us that there is tremendous beauty in endings, just as there is in dusk, dawn, and under the full moon (which represents the beginning and ending of a lunar cycle).
If you follow the call of the Whippoorwill, allow yourself time to grieve what you are letting go of. Death is necessary, and grief is natural and sacred. Allow the grief to flow through you like the mournful cry of a Whippoorwill.
Meaning of Whippoorwill
Meaning in a Reading
Fen Druadìn (they/them) is anamchara, storyteller, dragon, student of trees, and a breaker of generational curses.
Fen's mission here is to love and remember themself completely, connect deeply with the world, and help others do the same for themselves.
Fen connects deeply with the universe through their relationship with a sacred land in the Appalachians of North Carolina, and shares messages here and elsewhere. When not in the woods, they can be found on Facebook and Patreon.
If you feel led and are able, you can support Fen's work in any of these ways:
You can also contribute to the work of reconnecting with yourself and the world in any or all of these ways:
Stand in front of a mirror, look in your eyes, and say, "I love you." Repeat daily for as long as it takes
Send your love to the trees and stones and water and Earth
Spend time in quiet meditation with a plant or stone person, and listen for messages
Clean up litter in your neighborhood and/or engage in other acts of environmental restoration
Build a personal relationship with the plants and animals in your area by spending time with them and listening for their messages and responding to their needs
Reconnect with your own strength and power and truth via meditative practice such as yoga, guided meditation, chanting, drumming, dance, or any other tool that feels right and helps you ground and connect
Engage in this community and/or other communities committed to re-establishing our right relationship with ourselves and the earth
Wherever you are, on your journey and in your life, may you be well, may you be at peace, and may you always find the next good step.