Signs, as a rule, tend to be highly personal things. For some people, they are seemingly everywhere, while for others they are strangely absent. But what exactly does it mean to receive a sign? Let’s explore this concept a bit further, and why so many people are in search of signs that they can say without a doubt feel genuine.
I get a lot of questions from querents about what it means to get a sign. The way the question is phrased may vary, but a lot of times the theme is something along the lines of how do I know that all this isn’t just in my head? Or why haven’t I heard anything from the gods/spirits? I try to answer these kinds of questions to the best of my ability, based on my own personal experience and what I have learned from teachers I trust, but due to the staggering array in which people can have spiritual experiences, I am by no means an authority on the subject.
Receiving a sign, or interpreting signs in the world at large, is almost always a highly subjective event, and even I oftentimes find myself caught up in the quest of trying to prove or disprove whether or not something I have perceived is “real” or not. All I can do is assure others to the best of my ability that if a sign feels significant to you, it probably is, and that you shouldn’t obsess about things like the Placebo effect.
When Signs Seem Absent
Because signs are so personal, there’s a wide spectrum for how receptive we are to them or how often we seem to receive them. Many people have never had a mystical connection to a deity or have never received what they felt were profound messages in their dreams, and that’s fine. It doesn’t mean that the gods or the divine are absent from your life- in fact, it means that you are likely much more rational in your approach and are less likely to be deluding yourself with a ‘chosen one’ complex that some people starting out on their spiritual path are inclined toward having. So I would like to reassure everyone who says they’ve never received a sign that there’s nothing wrong with them, and that I appreciate their honest self reflection.
This doesn’t mean that signs haven’t been present, however. Many of us expect signs to be physical, or to be obvious in some way, to be true. In my experience, this only describes a small minority of the signs I have been given from spirits or deities that I work with- far more often, the clues I pick up on are very much so intangible and are usually quite subtle.
Many authors going back to the philosopher Carl Jung have spoken at great lengths about the idea of synchronicity, and how inexplicably related things can appear in our lives when we least expect them. Simply paying attention to the odd patterns is sometimes all it takes, but this can be tricky in of itself- and for some us, we don’t want to be told just to trust our gut! But that’s exactly what I’m going to tell you- you need to approach signs using your intuition, not your more logical and rational mindset. When we overthink things and diminish a sign’s significance, we also reduce our ability to perceive them in the first place.
Signs of Spring
So bearing in mind that I am speaking primarily from personal experience, I will say that doubt is a normal part of the spiritual process. Like waiting for spring to arrive after a long winter, waiting for a sign can be fraught with uncertainty. This is especially true when we are going through rough periods in our lives, times when we feel depressed or particularly stressed by life circumstances.
Yet it is during these times of difficulty when signs, when they are perceived, can feel especially potent. Whether or not the appearance of a majestic stag on a hike is actually a sign meant just for you, we can choose to view it as a positive omen or of one’s connection to nature, especially if it provides us with the associated feelings of hope or unity.
Walking to Find Signs in Early Spring
As winter begins to release its icy grasp, it becomes gradually more possible to venture outdoors. If you’re like many people, you likely look forward to having the opportunity to once more emerge from indoors-focused activities. If you’re not, you will still likely benefit from an exercise that promotes getting a little fresh air, all while expanding your awareness of your own neighborhood.
Taking a mindful walk to a local park or other green space is an excellent way to experience some of the early signs of spring, as well as to hone your powers of observation when it comes to signs in general.
Begin your walk by taking a few deep breaths and setting the intention to be aware as possible of your surroundings- all sights, sounds, sensations- while trying as hard as you can to dim the chatter inside your own mind. Focusing on the breath to begin is a great way to do this, as is focusing on the steady rhythm of your footsteps as you begin to walk.
As you walk, scan your surroundings and continue to observe as much as possible. The key here is to observe without processing or necessarily trying to categorize or understand whatever it is you are seeing. You are simply accepting whatever you see on face value, as much as possible, and trying to make note in as much detail as possible.
Doing this, you will likely become more aware of the more subtle details in the environment around you, from the delicate hues of a precious new flower to the way light reflects off water droplets on a spider’s web.
Continue this exercise a few times a week, and you will not only become more aware of the seasonal changes in your neighborhood, but more aware in general of your surroundings. It may feel as though a filter you never knew was present in the first place has been lifted, and it is very likely that you will begin to notice to a greater degree all the synchronicities and other odd patterns that underlie the busy current of everyday life.