How to Understand Spiritual Signs & Symbols

Something I get asked about a LOT are how to interpret or understand signs and symbols that appear in daily life. What's so amazing is that, if you know how to look or take notice, life will constantly bombard you with signs, symbols and validation to understand (and even predict) your path.


As spirituality and even witchcraft/brujeria has grown, expanded and become influenced by social media, trends and aesthetics; I've watched over the years as 'signs' become more and more complex and convoluted. It's a little worrying because it fosters exclusivity, and also takes us out of ourselves, handing our power over to someone else to determine if we'll be okay - I stopped doing Full Moon or New Moon posts because literally, every time, I'd have 25 inbox messages going "But what does this full moon mean for meeeeee?!?!?!" from people in such a state of panic from the information overload.


So let me talk to you about receiving 'signs'. These can be numbers, animals, items, music, smells, signs, overhearing conversations... oh and also, once you're open to them, they will rain on you FOREV. I'm not kidding. Somedays I leave the house with no contact lenses in, and noise-cancelling headphones on, so that I can witness LESS. Good times!


First up:


SIGNS ARE DESIGNED FOR YOU TO UNDERSTAND THEM.


Think about this: in the spiritual realm, beyond limits of language and words, we aren't bound by specific little semantics. So it makes me laugh when I hear of a spiritual guru saying something like 'seeing the number 623 means that your stepmother is wishing ill will on you' or 'if a feather lands on you it means that you need to quit your job and become a healer'. Not because those things couldn't possibly true (nothing is beyond the realm of possibility!) but because the earth, the Universe, the ancestors (this extends to what you might call God, Allah, your angels, intergalactic or celestial beings, Ascended Masters, Mother Nature) simply don't operate in that pernickety, limited, complicated way.


I had a client once who mentioned that a medium had told her that her mother (in spirit) would visit whenever she (my client) saw a robin. And that she felt sad because she hadn't seen a robin in three years, and did I think her mother still visited? Bless her, she was clearly feeling vulnerable and missing her dear Mum. However, my client was also... on a work secondment (and had been for over two years) - in South America. A continent on which there are... no robins.


Don't laugh! In this situation, what her (probably really well-meaning) psychic had a responsbility to do was not 'prove her gift' by predicting and defining only this mythical robin as a sign, but working with her client to find a way to communicate with her dear departed Mum, so that she could take comfort and feel connected and indeed, experience her Mum's wisdom - wherever she was in the world. Without needing to book in and pay various mediums and psychics and healers. That is the REAL spiritual work, do you see the difference?


Together we worked on setting up an altar and actively 'calling in' and acknowledging her Mum in her day-to-day routine - playing her favourite song in the car every afternoon, displaying a bottle of her favorite perfume. My client months later reported that she was seeing signs EVERYWHERE, whenever she needed support, and had made some really big life changes based on those messages and was doing really well. The signs were probably there all along, but she was too busy looking for that damn robin in the middle of a sweaty Latin American city.


If we define a 'sign' from the Universe (and all beings as above) as an unusual or repeated symbol appearing on our path, we can trust that it IS designed for us to understand the message based on what we know already and what we've experienced in our lives. For example, the smell of baking peanut cookies may be a sign for YOU that your grandmama in spirit is nearby and supporting you. It means nada to me. For another person, it may be the smell of menthol cigarettes (their grandmama's vice). There is no singular 'Universal Ghostly Granny Signal' so when we really run rings trying to over-interpret signs and repeated symbols, we tend to lose the messaging that is meant for US.


So what I'd suggest first of all, if something appears to you like a 'sign' and you have no idea what it means - sit with it. Don't overthink or go ham on Google just yet or start getting tooooo cosmically complex. Think about how that symbol relates to your childhood or your daily routine, or how it behaves. For example, that laughing kookaburra bird that you keep suddenly seeing on your morning walk to the train station? Do you need to laugh more? Do you actually need to stop more? Do you need to stop taking your working life so seriously; is it maybe leaking into your personal value system (as in, you are valuing yourself as a person based on how your boss responds to you or how many looks you attract from other commuters)? Do you need to respect how fickle, how silly, this system is in order to stay sane in it? Kookaburra may have all of these messages for you.

Think about books, think about nursery rhymes, think about the basic structures of things, think about how that animal acts or its family behaves or its body moves. You have more absorbed knowledge and spiritual wisdom than you think you do.


(*Also, and I think this requires saying - it's important to be mindful and in a state of learning, when interpreting symbols that may be rooted in another culture, especially if sharing with someone else. Spiritual wisdom is universal, but more than once I've had an Australian/British 'guru' quote something about, say, goddess Kali Ma or Quetzacoatl that they've only picked up from a Doreen Virtue oracle deck, and not any schooling or mythology from a Hindu/Mesoamerican-descended person or book. There's deeper understanding to be had, don't ever be afraid to learn more from the source).


A handful of years ago, I was STALKED by the numbers 44 and 144. I'm not kidding, they would appear dozens times a day. I even changed my phone number twice and both ended in 144. Every single online order, or receipt, or booking confirmation, ended in 44. My phone and email both would only allow messages in at 44 minutes past the hour. It. Was. Everywhere. And although, yes, there are fairly complex spiritual assignations to the number "144" that were relevant, the repetition of the number 4 is what got me thinking.


Broken down to its simplest form, 4 represents the sides of a square/rectangle. It's the number that represents the house, our foundation. And what I was doing that year was, literally, rebuilding my own personal foundation. The repeated number 44 became my sign, my reminder, that this is what I was doing and that everything that happened to me that year was an opportunity to take apart ANYTHING that wasn't right - no matter how glossy or perfect or seemingly opportunistic it was - and just focus on rebuilding my 'home' within myself, my physical, emotional and mental foundation. Basically I broke everything down to "there is no way that you will survive your whole lifetime in this body and brain if you keep on like this, no matter how much money you make or how high you climb or how fit you get. You need to learn to be at home in your life and your beliefs and your mind. It ain't about THEM, baby girl".


It wasn't about who said what or thought what or how much money or how good a thing would look. Any time I was tempted to get 'outside of myself' and either get swayed by a proposition or an idea or a person that was glamorous but flaky, I'd see that 44 and get right back to work. It sounds weird to say that a recurring number was my greatest spiritual support during that year... but it truly was. It wasn't a fun year, by any means (nor is laying the foundation of a house anywhere near as exciting as purchasing decor and hosting dinner parties!) but I developed, at last, some super-honed new foundations in terms of my sense of my own value, my physical strength, how I existed in workplaces and relationships and how I defined my boundaries. All necessary lessons that it would be way too easy to sidetrack for trying to over-achieve and impress and do other, non-foundational things that year. And all of which I've built amazing things on in the years since for myself and others. All from two numbers driving me batty!


So think about this! There's a lot of 'gurus' out there who tout seeing 11:11 as the one and only sign of a 'spiritually awakened person'. And not that 11:11 or even 22:22 isn't a special number vibrationally but - you're not MORE 'awakened' if you do see this, or 'less' if you don't. What if you're a shaman in a traditional tribe that doesn't have a written language? What if you're powerfully intuitive.. and illiterate? Or blind? This might sound ridiculous but you see my point - a sign IS meant to be understood and WILL appear in a way that YOU best access the meaning (with a little understanding and contemplation, of course).


9:11 is a number folks tell me that they see a lot. What does that mean to you? If you're in the Western World, there's probably two main affiliations - the USA's emergency number, and also, of course, the 9/11 World Trade Centre attacks. What themes can you take from this, personally, it it appears for you? The desire or ability to help others? Your own power (if you step into it) to change a painful situation? Could it be time to seek a helping profession, to seek help yourself, or even to simply reconnect to HUMANITY itself and the experience of being human, without needing a tragedy to bring you to your knees first?


Another one is seeing 123. Seeing this a lot? Break it down! It probably reminds you of the Jackson Five ABC song, if you're like me. 'Easy' would be a key word here to think about. Where do you need to go easier or begin anew? Or, more deeply, the experience of being a child, your school experience or first experience of learning, perhaps time to embark on a new learning now and risk knowing nothing. It may be easier than you think.


If you work with symbols (say, in Tarot or oracle cards), don't be afraid to build more personal affiliations with particular cards based on your lived experience. Again, don't think you need to go ham on the cosmic complexity! The most accurate answers are usually the simplest. For example, the Empress card in Tarot usually represents the 'Mother' archetype. For me personally, when interpreting for myself, Empress represents my own personal process of self-love and nurturing, my experiences with fertility and healing and comfort. Despite the 'rules', it doesn't to me represent MY mother. My own mother appears as the Hanged Man card - for a long time this card used to fall out of my deck at the mere mention of my mother and one day, many years ago, I realised that the Hanged Man card did literally signify my mother in ways that only I personally would recognise - her work uniform in matching colours to the HM, her halo of golden hair, and even the fact that she lives, literally 'Down Under' - like the upside-down HM. The Hanged Man, when it appears a lot in my own readings, has acted as my sign to check on my mother.


Sometimes with cards, (and I teach this a lot in my Tarot courses) it helps to stand back and look at each card as a very simple picture like a flash card with numbers. What does the number 2 mean to you? Two people in a relationship, the Yin/Yang symbol, two halves, pairs, night and day... see how much meaning you can glean from keeping it simple? Maybe the Two of Cups reminds you of your first coffee date with your girlfriend, or giving a toast at your sister's wedding and how that made you feel. As a lesson, what could you take from that personally?


There's a lot of other ways that you may experience 'getting a sign' - funny-shaped clouds, hearing a particular song lyric, even the ubiquitous meaningful car number plate while stuck in traffic! Some people do get feathers and music and feelings of love, some people pick up a book or a Chinese takeaway menu and find a few profound words they needed to hear. Once, my sign was getting hit by a truck. Literally. Scroll down through my IG a year or so to read that story! My grandmother also told me that when she died, she planned to 'let me know' by sending me an EAGLE. I had to let her know that if I was at work in a skyscraper in Britain and a screeching eagle came shattering in through the window as a 'sign', I'd probably die of shock on the spot and/or lose my job. She finally agreed to tone it down and 'send me a sign' by appearing as a bird on my window. (What can I say? She's an Aries...)


Keep that in mind though - if you're looking for a sign, allow it to show up in ways that would make sense for you. 'Follow the feeling' if you feel compelled to walk a different path, to watch a certain film or stop and read that graffiti on the wall. There are signs and symbols all around to help you, if you create space for them to appear. The more 'natural' items you interact with - fresh food, dance, art, being outdoors, having plants or pets, even conscious breathing - the more in-tune you'll be.


Now finally! Do you want me to tell you the most overlooked, the most profound and powerful message that is coming to people? The thing that more people than I can count, need to know? The message that is probably for you right now, if you keep seeing signs but have no idea what they mean?


PAY ATTENTION.

It is:


PAY ATTENTION.


Seriously. That's it. In the age of experiencing everything through social media and smartphones and insane clickbaits, our ability to pay attention to ANYTHING for more than a second, has suffered.


So when you keep seeing '6278.43' every single day or the word HOTDOG keeps appearing in your daily life or you keep finding butterflies in your kitchen or an abandoned child's sock on your desk (that happened to me once)... it's not that the Universe wants you to magically calculate a deeply cosmic download of complex factoids. It may not even be about the SIGN itself, if you've thought about it and cannot glean a single meaning from it.


Sometimes I see people get all up in arms with either hysterical excitement or panic because their 'sign' has been interpreted to mean something, usually disempowering or disembodying. Think THAT PERSON on your feed who is convinced her married neighbour is her soulmate/twin flame because she keeps seeing 22:22 and hearing the name 'Darren'. You know what? He might be. BUT he IS also, currently, not available. So the sign may simply be a reminder of that. Or, indeed, any other 'sign' that forces you into a 'waiting anxiously' position for this cataclysmic THING to occur. No no no. Be present in your life in its current form. Getting out of your body & current existence is only getting out of your power.


Your sign, in this case, is to pay attention. If you want your life, body, mind, money and relationships to improve - which they may be about to - you need to start, right now, with PAYING ATTENTION. Learning how to stop what you're doing, put your judgements or ego or fears aside, and just... watch. Watch yourself. Watch your thoughts; how fast they are, how frantic or stern they might get. Watch how you interact with others when you feel good or upset. Pay attention to your children or your partner - without recording on your phone. Pay attention to that concert or museum without photos - make a memory instead. Pay attention to the sign, to the sunset, to the weather or the season, to your posture, to yourself right now in your life and body. Stop being so self-conscious! PAY ATTENTION instead. There's something in your life trying to get your notice that you may not yet be aware of. (And remember - everything in the Universe happens FOR us, as a gift to appreciate and share, or as an opportunity to correct, mitigate and grow - a sign is only going to help you with either of those GOOD things).


The fact is that we cannot move with grace and ease into a new phase of our life, if we aren't paying attention to it as it is right now. The fact is that life seemingly passes much more quickly, if we don't store things in our memories that effectively 'break up' the time (This is why school seems to last forever in childhood, because our memory is constantly recording minutae). And as people become ever more disconnected, and more and more folk are awakening and yearning for interaction, relationships, joy, understanding, love, a feeling of success... paying attention is the single most profound skill that we need, in order to do so.


So when you're receiving a sign of some kind, you don't need to overcomplicate with some complex cosmic interpretation from Magical Goddess MoonBabe on Instagram. Keep your interpretation simple and profound. Start with taking it as a reminder to pay attention to your life. Something is likely coming, that you'll really want to see, and the Universe wants you to be present to experience every moment of it.

© 2019 by Kelsey Avalon. All Rights Reserved. All medical, financial and legal enquiries must be directed to your prescribing medical health professional or legal representative.