Whippoorwill: Voices from the Otherworld

published on May 19, 2020

CATEGORIZED AS: Spirituality

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.


  • Death
  • Night
  • The Otherworld
  • Rest
  • Darkness
  • Transition


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

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Fen Druadìn

Fen Druadìn (they/them) is a storyteller, a visionary, and a book midwife.

Fen's mission is to change the world for the better, one paradigm-shifting book at a time.

Fen works with CEOs and consultants who care deeply about their impact on the world and want to enhance both their legacy and their personal effectiveness through the power of a professionally published work, in their own words.

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When they're not working with clients or writing their own books, Fen can usually be found wandering the woods alone, sitting around a campfire with friends, or swimming in the cold spring waters native to the Southern Appalachians.

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