How to Spot a Sacred Sign

Feather on Water

Sacred signs, messages, and synchronicities appear in a multitude of expressions and forms. Some are easier to notice and understand than others. Quite often we may sense or feel that we have encountered a sign, but then all to often dismiss it for lack of concrete evidence. Although signs and messages speak to our intuitive nature and frequently bypass logic and reasoning, they tend to have telltale characteristics and attributes that can alert you to their presence. Adopt an open-minded and curious attitude and they will begin to come to life all around you.

Sacred signs, messages, and synchronicities use the unique language of metaphor and symbology to convey guidance and direction. When you perceive all that you encounter and experience through a symbolic lens, even the most inert and mundane object or event can transform itself into a guiding oracle.

Since the beginning of time, we have used symbolic language to express ideas, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and spiritual awareness. Egyptian hieroglyphics, the Mayan calendar, and the runes are a few of hte early symbolic systems that were developed to communicate and express meaningful information. Mysteries and complex ideas that are difficult to explain and comprehend are often best understood through symbology.

As an example, one of the most popular symbolic systems is astrology. Astrologically, the sun represents the sign of Leo and the individual self. The moon represents the sign of Cancer and the intuitive, emotional nature. In Chinese astrology, each year is represented by an animal. Each of these creatures represents innate characteristices and personality traits of the individuals born in that year. The year characterized by the animal also foretells the positive and negative potential of the year. For instance, someone born under the year of the rabbit is said to be agreeable, noble, and not aggressive. The year of the horse is said to be a good year to start new projects and take relationships to a higher level. Planets are also associated with certain characteristics and embody specific energetic attributes. Venus is the planet of love, beauty, and harmony while Saturn represents limitation, structure, and time.

We regularly use symbols to convey specific attributes and represent qualities and ideals. For instance, athletic teams use symbols to establish characteristics that they would like to embody and project. For example, the Wild Cats, Bears, Giants, Hawks, Pirates, and Hurricanes are a few of the symbols professional sports teams use to represent their brand. Some symbols are so common that we don't give them a second thought. Common symbolic associations include such things as hearts and love, four-leaf clovers and luck, and the color red with stop and green with go.

Signs and messages communicate in a similar way. Everyday objects, activities, things, and natural occurrences can represent specific attributes and characteristics. Many of the signs you may encounter contain symbols that have globally understood and accepted meaning. For instance, water is symbolic of emotion and spiritual energy. A rainbow is symbolic of happiness and fulfillment.

There are also signs that are more personal in meaning. As an example, my friend Emma has always felt a connection with turtles. She felt they were symbolic of slowing down, peace, and wisdom. When she came across a painting at an art fair of turtles lined up on a log, she had to have it.

Besides loving the painting, she felt that there was a message within it that she needed to pay attention to. Busy working two jobs, she knew that she needed to slow down and take time to pursue her creative passion. She had wanted to take a jewelry design class for some time. As she contemplated the message of the painting, she realized that As she it was a sign for her to work just one job and use the extra time to develop her creativity.

When you begin to develop an appreciation of the symbolic meaning contained within all things, it becomes easier to notice signs and understand their message.

Exercise to Strengthen Symbolic Awareness
All that you encounter during your day-to-day routines and activities can speak to you. Encoded within all form is the energy and wisdom of the formless. What you notice and experience is symbolic of your feelings, thoughts, desires, and beliefs. Not only does the world around you respond and express your energy, it also expresses your higher self and the divine presence.

When you notice and understand the symbolic meaning of things and activities, you can make enlightened choices and flow within the current of divine support. With a little practice you can develop symbolic vision, which will empower you to better decipher the meaning within signs and messages.

Try This
To begin, see with beginner's eyes, without judgment and preconceived ideas, as to what something is and is not.

Notice one object or thing in your immediate environment. What draws your attention and seems to have a message for you? (For instance, when I look around my room the first thing that draws my attention is a lamp.)

What comes to mind in relation to the object that draws your attention? Freely associate other meanings and connections that the object my have. (Besides bringing light to the room and allowing me to see other objects and things. I realize that the lamp offers light, illuminates the darkness, and aids in seeing in more detail and depth.)

Now ask yourself: is there a condition or situation in your life where you may need more clarity or to see something in more depth and detail? (For instance, what comes to mind for me is a family situation where I feel left out in the dark. I would like to better understand and have more clarity as to how my family members will work out their situation and if there is anything I can do to help them. Perhaps the message of the light is symbolic of my desire to have someone or something "turn on the light" and help me to perceive this situation more clearly and become aware of what my role may be in it.)

The more you practice perceiving everyday things and events symbolically, the more you will be able to discern and understand the signs that a loving and wise higher power is sending your way. There is no right or wrong answer; trust what feels right for you.

Signs and messages are repetitive. They tend to occur over and over until we acknowledge them and understand their meanings. If we do not notice a particular sign, another sign may appear in an attempt to better get our attention. Sometimes when we ignore or fail to perceive signs they gradually increase in intensity in an attempt to get our attention. When this happens, the soft nudge of a gentle message can build momentum and become this a disruptive event.

This is what Claire, a client of mine and a project manager at a technology firm, experienced. Although she felt in her heart that her purpose was to help other women develop business leadership skills and abilities, she did not act on it. Opportunities to become a certified business coach and requests from colleagues for guidance still came her way, but she ignored the synchronicity of these opportunities. She told herself when she was less busy, she would look into it.

One morning on her way to work, a hawk came swooping down close to her car only to turn around and again fly unusually close. She knew that this was a sign but didn't understand its meaning. Later that week she was called into her manager's office where she was told that the company was making broad layoffs. Her job, along with many others in her department, was being eliminated. She was given two weeks' notice.

After being let go, Claire went to her car to sit in the quiet and reflect on what had just happened. One by one she recalled the signs and synchronicities that had come her way in the past several months, all of which seemed to be directing her to a new line of work. She realized that someone or something was watching over and guiding her. With a sigh of relief, she felt that everything would work out. A soft feeling of peace and excitement for future possibilities moved through her when she committed to pursuing her heartfelt career desires.

Be especially alert and observe patterns and synchronicities when you have a choice to make, when you are undecided about going forward with something, or when you begin a new relationship or undertaking.

Signs, messages, and synchronicities also often occur at the beginning of a project, enterprise, or life change. For instance, some Hindus in India may look for signs and omens when leaving the home to begin a new endeavor or go on a trip. When stepping out of the house, they may look and listen for auspicious signs such as hearing a pleasant conversation, or seeing an umbrella, flowers, fans, or mirrors.

Naturally occurring signs tend to be more common during times of need, illness, loss, or during anniversaries or special occasions. They are also prevalent during times of celebrations, achievements, and milestones. Even if the world does not recognize a job well done, our personal growth, or accomplishing a personal goal, the spirit realm often does. Signs may also accompany and highlight an important event or connection.

For instance, Stella met Jake at her cousin's wedding. She was sipping champagne when the six-year-old flower girl came running toward her holding Jake's hand.

"It was almost like she was bringing me this wonderful gift,” Stella said. "Our eyes met and I knew that he was special. There were two birds sitting on a tree limb not far from me, singing and chirping. I felt as if they were a sign that we were meant to meet."

Signs and messages tend to come in repetitive patterns. In many of the ancient cultures that looked to the unseen for guidance and direction, the observance of patterns was a significant factor in identifying characteristics of signs and interpreting their message. In ancient China, the cracks and markings on tortoise shells were considered signs and interpreted as an oracle. In many regions and cultures, including Roman, Greek, and Native American, the pattern that birds formed while flying overhead was used to foretell the outcome of upcoming conditions and events.

The observance of patterns is still helpful in identifying signs and interpreting their meaning and significance. For instance, glancing at a clock at 1:11 may not seem particularly significant, but glancing at a clock at 1:11 a few days in a row, or during the day and night, highlights its importance. Hearing the name of the same physician, therapist, or financial advisor from different sources within a few days signifies a sign. This is also true for finding feathers, pennies, or seeing butterflies. The more often a sign repeats itself or forms a pattern, the more likely it is an important sign or message. The meaning of a sign will also become more obvious when it forms a repetitive pattern that is connected to an event, condition, or desire.

Your intuition is a valuable tool through which you can better discern the presence of signs and messages. A natural and innate ability, there are four basic ways that we all naturally intuit. A mental intuitive intuits through thoughts or a sense of knowing, while an emotional intuitive intuits through emotions and feelings. A spiritual intuitive intuits energy information through the energy field or aura, and a physical intuitive receives energy information through the physical body or by holding objects or looking at photos.

Most people are a combination of these four intuitive types, with one or two that are more naturally developed. Understanding these four basic ways of intuiting will help you to become better aware when you are receiving a sign as well as help you to understand and interpret its meaning.

A mental intuitive may become aware of a sign and its meaning through a spontaneous sense of knowing or through listening to their inner voice. Intuiting in this way differs from overthinking or analyzing, in that intuition is receptive and not active. You quickly know when you are in the presence of a sign and you do not have to try to understand it; you simply do.

A physical intuitive has the innate ability to tune in to messages from the natural world and can often intuit the energy contained within objects and photos. More than the other intuitive types, a physical intuitive may innately understand the meaning of signs that come through birds, animals, and other natural things and occurrence. In the presence of a sign, message, or synchronicity, a physical intuitive may experience tingling or shivers running up their spine or the hair of their arms may stand up.

For a spiritual intuitive, feelings of expanshion and oneness with a greater power or presence often occurs when noticing a sign. Because they are more sensitive to the spirit realm, they may quickly intuit who or what has sent them a message or sign. A spiritual intuitive also has an easier time perceiving and understanding the symbolic language encoded within signs.

An emotional intuitive naturally receives the vibrations of love from the spirit realm. Compared to the other ways of intuiting, it may be easier for an emotional intuitive to open their heart and receive the healing and transformative energy within a sign. They may become alert to signs and synchronicities through spontaneous feelings of love and comfort. As they soak in the positive vibrations of the sign or message, its meaning unfolds and reveals itself.

Your intuition can empower you to go beyond superficial appearances and shallow understanding and perceive the deeper significance and meaning encoded within signs and messages.

Take the Leap
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to fully noticing and interpreting signs and messages is doubt and limited thinking. Even if you want to trust and believe that you have experienced a sign or message, there may be a voice within you that would like tangible proof. Unfortunately, signs do not usually come with concrete scientific evidence that fits neatly into the box of logic and reason.

When you encounter or experience what you believe to be a sign or message, you have the choice to take the leap and trust that there is a wise and benevolent higher power and presence that is guiding you, or to dismiss your experience as mere coincidence or magical thinking.

To make it easier to fully benefit from the inherent goodness within all of life, trust in a meaningful universe that knows and cares for you. Albert Einstein said: "If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it." When you perceive a universe full of unlimited possibilities, you can receive the full bounty of spiritual grace and presence.

As you let go of judgments and preconceived ideas of what is possible, you come into a more receptive state of awareness. Mindfulness is the ability to be present in the moment and to be aware of what is, with full acceptance of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Noticing and discerning signs and synchronicities requires a similar state of attentive, open, and nonjudgemental awareness. When we are busy rushing about and overthinking, it is easy to miss the signs and messages that are being sent our way. It is even more difficult to experience and embrace their guidance, comfort, and connection and message.

The ability to notice and gain insight from signs and messages churns deep in our collective unconscious. Open your heart and mind and fully trust. Doubt is focused in the material perspective. It is not able to penetrate beyond the boundaries of finite reasoning. Even when you doubt, signs and messages will still come your way. The spirit realm is constantly emanating its love and guidance. Yet, when you attempt to control what is happening by being overly skeptical, you shut the door to beneficial support and direction. A grateful and open heart and mind allows you to receive the healing and transformative power of a sign or synchronicity.

Excerpted from Sacred Signs and Symbols, by Sherrie Dillard.

About Sherrie Dillard

Sherrie Dillard (Durham, North Carolina) has been a professional psychic, medium, and therapist for over thirty years and she has given over 50,000 readings worldwide. She has taught intuition development at Duke University ...

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