Let’s Talk Turkey

“Most people don’t realize turkeys are friendly, they’re social, they’re loyal and they have emotions.”  ~  Shannon Elizabeth

The idiom “talk turkey” means to speak frankly and seriously, especially about things of importance.

Some friends of mine raise turkeys.  Each time I go to their property I pass by the hen-house and the run where these girls and their Tom live.  “Hello girls…..!”   All heads raise up to see who’s calling right away.  Many start a slow walk over to the fence when I call again. Low vocalizations, talking among themselves before answering me.  “Hello girls….!”  They’re curious about me and now talking to me.  Have I come to offer them a bit of scratch?  Cracked corn perhaps?  They turn their heads this way and that – eyeing me – I wonder what they are thinking. “Oh girls….”!

Intelligent birds, Wild Turkey are indigenous to the North American continent.  Fossilized remains dating back some 5 million years have been found in southern North America and Mexico.  In the early 1500s, European explorers brought home Wild Turkeys from Mexico, as Aztecs and Mayans had domesticated the birds centuries earlier. Later, when English colonists settled on the Atlantic Coast, they brought domesticated turkeys with them.

Like many species, the Wild Turkey populations was nearly decimated to extinction in the US due to over-hunting and habitat loss.  The efforts to save the wild bird and reintroduce them into their historic ranges has been wildly successful – this gives me such hope for other species as we put our attention onto salvaging populations of winged creatures, four-legged ones, the creepy crawlies and others.

To find Wild Turkeys it helps to get up early in the morning, when flocks of these large birds are often out foraging in clearings, field edges, and roadsides.  Turkey live and travel in large flocks.  Their communal living can teach us much about sharing the blessings of life.  They are unique in that their young stay with the many moms in the flock for up to two years.  Each sex has an independent pecking order, with a stable female hierarchy and a constantly changing male hierarchy. You’ll usually find turkeys on the ground, but don’t be surprised if you run across a group of turkeys flying high into their treetop roosts at the end of the day.  This earth and air connection speaks of higher realms of intuition and knowing.

As we gather tomorrow with our families and friends, let us remember that giving thanks is a practice best offered every day.  There is so much to be thankful for and practicing gratitude multiplies the many gifts in our lives.  Gratitude for our Mother, for the bounty of gifts is best practiced daily too.  It is this time of year when many people remember to open their hearts and serve.  There is a constant need for service, a constant need for sharing the wealth of abundance Mother Earth has to offer.   My gratitude for those of us who are willing to share, willing to serve, willing to give thanks.

It’s estimated some 46 million turkeys will be eaten tomorrow.  It is a sad statement of fact that the majority of those consumed have been raised on factory farms.  The practice of factory farming is devastating to both the birds and animals raised in this way and human community who live nearby these inhumane operations.  This farming practice is extremely harmful to the environment as well.   Organic farming is on the rise, thankfully, raising both domesticated turkey and what are known a heritage birds.  It is still a very small percentage of what is being raised and consumed at this time however.  Birds and animals grown without antibiotics and growth hormones, fed a proper diet, allowed to grow in a natural life span with access to normalcy, then harvested with care and intention, with gratitude, are far less stressed.  The consumption of food grown and raised sustainably and humanly is far superior for our own overall health – we have enough stress in our lives without eating it.  “The hurt of one is the hurt of all.  The honor of one is the honor of all.”  ~ Chief Phil Lane, Jr.  as retold from his Grandfather.  Eat with intention.  Eat with prayer.  Eat with gratitude.  Honor the Turkey.

Nourish yourself in a good way.


The medicine or power of the Wild Turkey is generous and multifaceted.  Turkey is symbolic of all the blessings the Earth contains and the ability to use them to the greatest advantage of all.  Adaptability, intelligence, spiritual nourishment and growth, as well as wisdom are among the lessons of the Turkey.  Higher vision and feminine energies can be tapped for greater good of the whole – family, community and the world.  Turkey is the medicine of the give-away.  What is done to and for another is done also to and for oneself.  Share the abundance as there is truly enough for us all.  Quick and alert, Turkey teaches us that we have the capability to act in a worthwhile way.  Virtuous, Turkey medicine is about transcendence, acting and reacting for the benefit of others.  Help and sustenance are given by Turkey out of the realization that all life is sacred, it is the knowing that the Great Spirit resides in us all.  With an open heart and higher vision  all can be fed and made whole.

I would like to express my thanksgiving to the First Nations who welcomed the “boat people” as I’ve heard it call, to North America.  I would like to offer a prayer of apology for the disrespect they received subsequent to their openness.  A prayer for the healing after the many long years of darkness, a prophecy that accompanied their arrival.  A prayer too for the light that is coming to illuminated the shadow aspects of humanity, as I turn inward to reflect upon my own shadow side.  May these darker days of the mid-autumn season hold us all, the Global Family, in a good way.  May we be held in the Light.

It is my practice to count my gratitude at the end of each day.  This acknowledgment is my nightly prayer.  I am deeply grateful for my own health and well-being, that I was given the day to be alive by the Creator – for all my sense perception to fully experience the world around me.  I am grateful for my son and family of origin, for my extended family – blood and marriages, for community and friends.  For my Ancestors.  My Allies.  For the abundance of a warm bed and a home, a full belly and an open heart.  For all the joys that filled the day when I stopped to notice them.  For my work.  For any lessons – those take came with ease as well as the painful one – as Jung said, “there is no birth of consciousness without pain”.  And I am grateful to be a being with a conscious.   Grateful for the birds.  Grateful for Grandmother Buffalo.  Grateful for self-love.  And anything else my mind overlooks, let my heart speak of thanksgiving.  Aho.

Mitakuye Oyasin  ~  All My Relations

Phil Lane, Jr. is the founder of The Four Worlds International Institute.  I listened to him speak last week on the Indigenous Wisdom Summit on The Shift Network and again last night.   Beginning December 10th a Live Circle will begin, indigenous teachings and wisdom for today.  Join in the Circle.

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