Be sure to read Part One!
The Intelligent Bird Kind Part Two: Interpretation and the Primary Totem
We have seen how the Intelligent Bird kind relates to their environment, so we can apply that information to how such a bird seated as a human totem, particularly the Primary totem, responds to various situations, thoughts, and conflicts within a human soul.
Like all birds, the Intelligent Bird kind carries a natural Air association. Many people want to ascribe a Dark energy connection to Corvids due to their black coloration and their relationship to death and/or warfare in folklore, but we have found that an animal must be nocturnal to carry Dark energy and Corvids are diurnal. Similarly, some people make the case for a Fire association for Parrots due to their bright colors and feisty, energetic temperaments. A Fire elemental association is more difficult to assign in our tradition as no animals naturally live in fire. Therefore, it is my opinion that for some of the more energetic species of Parrot (such as Caiques, Conures, Cockatiels, etc) a Fire connection is possible, but it is secondary to their connection to Air.
The Primary totem reflects the entirety of the human soul, so someone with one of the Intelligent Bird kind as their Primary totem would display the qualities of such a bird quite prominently. They would be quite clever and value intellect as a virtue; they would be fun-loving but also (oddly) regimented and habitual; they would have a reactionary temperament; perhaps have a love of sounds or loud sound; and have a predisposition toward a sense of humor based in teasing and bullying.
That last point regarding a teasing sense of humor requires particular exposition, as such a trait is not looked upon favorably by everyone. To understand, keep in mind that this kind uses intimidation and bullying to gain status over other birds in its flock, so a desire to tease others is instinctual. However, equally important is the fluidity of flock status— that is to say, one bird may be at the top of the tree this morning, but another may take her place by tomorrow. So people with dominant Intelligent Bird energy will expect that their teasing will be returned, that they will get back whatever they “dish out” and that’s it’s all in good fun. They will possess the ability to take teasing, and to some extent criticism, with little to no lasting offense. Unlike some kinds of totems that may carry a grudge, Intelligent Birds instinctually expect lively banter, a back-and-forth of friendly insults, and be quite confused by someone’s anger or true offense over what they see as honest observation or a joke.
Also worth discussing is the instinct of Intelligent Bird kind people toward habitual and regimented behaviors, which can seem at odds with their often silly and fun-loving nature, as well as contradictory to their creative intelligence which one would assume requires exciting and novel experiences. It all comes down to the idea that prey animals are naturally suspicious of new things and situations, which could contain potential threats. The behaviors that kept them alive yesterday should be repeated today, because anything deviating from those proven-safe behaviors carries risk. Parrots especially tend to see every new person as a dangerous stranger, and every unfamiliar food as potential poison. Yet, they do often get bored with the status-quo, and it is certainly true that they require intellectual stimulation. A lifelong challenge for the Intelligent Bird person will be finding that balance between the comfortable and the familiar, and the new and interesting things in life.
Another factor affecting nearly every member of the Bird kind (Intelligent or otherwise) is a predisposition toward needing to be the center of attention. Because they have the ability to quickly fly away from terrestrial hunters, Birds respond differently to predators than most other animals; rather than hiding from them or fighting them, Birds will often try to draw potential danger out into the open— often with loud noises or very visible coloration— where they can be seen and watched. That means people bearing any Birds as totems often feel safest when all eyes are on them (as opposed to feeling intimidated by this, as many other animals would). For some Bird people, this makes them natural orators, hosts, speakers, and performers who love being the center of attention.
However, the bearer of such as totem needs to take note of the fact that not every Bird naturally wants all eyes upon it all the time. Within our totemic tradition, we believe a person doesn’t just have the species of animal as their totem, but an individual animal spirit— who, as an individual, has an age, a ranking in its social group, and a sex. The bearer of a Bird totem should be aware that the young of many Birds as well as the females, often do not wish to be seen and employ camouflage to hide. It does depend on the individual Bird in question. And some species of Birds, such as some of the medium-sized to smaller Parrots, employ both tactics— that is, hide with camouflage and draw attention to itself to bring predators into the open— at various times, depending on the situation.
Now, according to our tradition, the six elemental totems are situated around a person at the six cardinal directions, and a totem must always balance its influence with the one on the opposite side to it, usually Fire against Earth, Water against Air, and Dark against Light. Each elemental energy has an association to an aspect of the person’s character or sacred self. Birds carry the elemental of Air with them and Air represents the influence of the mind, of thoughts and creativity. Therefore, a person with an Intelligent Bird in any totem other than Air will find they tend to intellectualize that aspect of themselves. (For example, an Intelligent Bird in Water, the elemental totem of emotion, would mean that person could not separate their thoughts from their feelings.)
The ability of the Intelligent Bird kind to get along both in a flock and within a pair-bond can lend itself to an elemental totem “getting along” well enough with its opposite, counterpart totem— usually. Such a totem is used to the idea of being agreeable with a partner and coexisting harmoniously, but remember, Intelligent Bird flocks do not have leaders, so flock members have no instinct for taking orders. They usually want things to go the way they expect them to and squawk indignantly when they don’t. Birds are independent minded creatures, for all that they navigate complicated social dynamics.
A human attempting to navigate the influences of an Intelligent Bird elemental totem would do well to remember several points. Such a bird will follow the will of the flock if they are bullied to, but if you take that avenue, be prepared for a long and drawn-out battle, as such birds contain an incredible amount of stubborn willpower. Instead, I would recommend looking to the world of Parrot training, and convince the totem it’s in its best interest to change its own mind. (Cookies go a long way toward this goal, and a nice reward is a better way to influence such a totem.)
Intelligent Bird people are complicated people, containing many paradoxes and contradictions. They are usually intensely intelligent, therefore requiring regular and novel mental stimulation; yet, they are often regimented in their behaviors, and therefore resistant to change and unfamiliar situations. They are social, requiring regular interaction with interesting and fun people; yet, they can be jealous partners, expecting a level of intimacy from their mates that they themselves are not prepared to give back. They can thrive on attention, but want to be controlling of situations. They are self-centered, yet intensely interested in other people’s business. They are fun-loving, good natured, even silly people of good humor. But they can be stubborn, difficult— and loud— when things don’t go the way they like.
Further understanding of Intelligent Bird kind people can come from the world of pet Parrot owners, who come to grasp the idiosyncrasies of the kind quite well. And Parrot owners will be the first to tell you that this pet is not for everyone. To coexist with this kind, you will have to get used to the idea of someone who will bite you for no clear reason— and then get their feathers ruffled because you got angry about it. That’s just the way they are.
Just like with pet Parrots, Intelligent Bird kind people may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Unfortunately, it has been our observation that finding a compatible mate can be difficult for someone with an Intelligent Bird kind Primary totem. Some people will never like them, and will consider them self-involved know-it-alls. But others will be able to appreciate them for the uniquely charming and beautiful people they are.