A Visit from Sah Sen

I woke up and kept on doing the work. Phone calls and texts.

I woke up from dreams of terror filled cramped spaces, piles of dead humans burning, black arm bands, Mogen Davids and pink triangles. Not a good night.

I never wanted to know what the Germans felt like after Hitler won. I never wanted to believe that people would truly vote for someone so ugly and reprehensible. Those numbers mean people of color voted for him. Those numbers mean women voted for him. Those numbers mean LGBT+ voted for him.

Those numbers mean the war on education and the neglect of our country’s poor allowed an agenda of hate to succeed. That constant policing of what to say rather than what can be done to fix our extreme economic troubles finally bore the fruit of fascism. Knowing this makes it hard to keep going when you have fought so hard.

You go to dark places.

Then something small happens.

I am forty years old and I have seen a hummingbird twice in my life and always across a garden. Swift seeds of half glimpsed wonder.

Today after comforting people on the phone I sat out back where there is no plant based reason for hummingbirds to be. I heard a loud sound and thought my heart was speeding up, that the stress had me. I actually thought “not now, please, I have too much to do”.

I looked up, and not three inches from me there she was:


And she stayed. She circled me and faced me for several minutes. She was color and sound and beauty and grace and power. She stayed and when she left I was still in awe that such moments could be.

My heart which I thought was failing me was full again. I believe it has to do with me knowing where my land was. With choosing where to return and make a stand. (I don’t do portents either so you all know this is a big deal for me).

A Hummingbird is a guide, an advocate, and a storyteller.

I can do that.

I’m just a guide who happens to be a dragon, and I may have to burn down some shit down to make a path.

But there will be a path damn it!

I am not an indigenous American, but I am a native American great grandchild of Jewish and Italian immigrants. We are travelers and dream makers. I am not ready to give up and I will not let them destroy this beautiful amazing country.

I’m coming for you fascism.

You WILL know what hit you.

The below story was taken off of Northwest Tribal art .com and is as told by Robert James Challenger in the book Eagle’s Reflections and other Northwest Coast Stories available at Hill’s Native Art.

A literal messenger of joy, this beautiful tiny bird, also called Sah Sen, represents friendship, playfulness, and is a symbol of good luck in Northwest Coastal Native art. It is a positive sign to see Sah Sen prior to a major event such as hunting or traveling to another village. Hummingbird’s ability to hover back and forth at great speeds is believed to be a skill for guiding the people; if they fall behind Hummingbird can easily back up to keep pace.

One story of Hummingbird tells of a warm, spring day. Summer was coming and the wild flowers were in full blossom. A young girl and her mother waded through the green grass, enjoying the bright colours. They stopped as Hummingbird joined them; bussing and darting from flower to flower.

The little creature fascinated the child. She asked, “why does such a tiny bird want to fly so fast? Why doesn’t it just stay at one flower instead of visiting every one?” Her mother sat down on a hill overlooking the field and said, “let me tell you the story of Hummingbird.”

Many years ago there was a fragrant flower that rose every spring to display her beautiful petals and bright colours for all the world’s creatures to enjoy. The people and animals waited anxiously each spring for this special flower to appear. On that day they knew the warm, kind rays of summer had arrived. Raven saw how much joy this flower brought to the world, so the next spring when it appeared, he transformed it into a tiny bird. The bird had the colours of the green spring grass and the flashing red of a setting sun. Raven gave the bird a special gift – to fly like sunlight flickering through tall trees. He also gave it a message to take to all the flowers. That’s why today we see Hummingbird buzzing from flower to flower, whispering a message. Hummingbird is thanking each flower for making our world a more beautiful place.

The mother looked at her child and said, “as you grow up, remember that like each flower, each person has gifts to give the world. In return that person will be thanked by the birds, animals and flowers for helping to make our world a better place for every one.”

She was a Rufous Hummingbird for those of the curious type.






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  • This made me smile. The first painting I ever had in an art show was of a hummingbird, I was 16. Thirty five years later I’m still trying to retrieve the painting, it’s had several owners, each time I’m unsuccessful. Much as I want it, I love that it’s brought joy into so many homes. Just the way I feel every time I see a hummingbird.

    Virginia Cumming GillNovember 10, 2016

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