What Can We Learn from Signs in Nature

Good Morning, Afternoon or Evening (depending on when you’re joining me today).

Well, I’ve posted often in the past on readiness.  In today’s economy, which is struggling to remain afloat,  I’m beginning to think that it might just be a good idea to be prepared — with food and water and anything else you can think of that you might need in case of an emergency.

Not that I’m predicting one, mind you.  But a very wise man once said “Prepare for the worst and it seldom comes.”  So along with that note, I thought I might talk today about signs in Nature.  As you might or might not know, Nature often gives us signs as to what is to be expected in the future.  This isn’t fortune telling.  This is simply reading the signs that are there and knowing what follows. 

In the past, the American Indian (the word Indian, by the way comes from the Spanish word, Indio, which means one with God — so I’ve decided that I like that word) was very attuned to his environment.  Whether he liked it or not or thought it was beautiful or dangerous, might or might not be.  It was  matter of survival that he be able to foretell what might be in his future.

Now I won’t even pretend to tell you that I’ve discovered these things for myself or from observation.  This is from research.  So here are a few of the things one might look for: 

From the book, INDIAN WHY STORIES by Frank B. Linderman,

“Tomorrow will be a fine day,” said Other-person, “for grandfather says that a red sky is always the sun’s promise of fine weather, and the sun cannot lie.”

     “Yes,” said Bluebird, “and he said that when this moon was new it travelled well south for this time of year and its points were up.  that mean fine, warm weather.”

Here’s another one, that I bet you all know.  A harsh winter can be judged by the heaviness of the animal’s fur.  Nature seems to have made it that way.  Here’s a few more — but these signs were helped along by man:  A bunch of grass tied together will give you the date of when the person left it passed that way — seen by its freshness.  Two or three stones that were deliberately piled on top of each other is giving a warning and the way in which they are placed indicates the direction.

Now one could also leave messages — and they were easy to read for a man or woman who knew how to look.  Depending on what you had to hand, rocks could show the direction in which the tribe went — or grass could be tied to show direction, too, by pointing.  Trees could be marked to show when one should turn and in which direction.  Important notices could be left by the inclusion of different signs.  Cutting the bark all around a tree meant “I am starving.”

  Even a pony could be used to tell a story.  Riding in circles, or backwards or forwards denoted danger or indicated the presence of an enemy or game.  The rapidity of riding in a circle or backwards or forwards indicated that immediate attention was needed.  If an Indian in the lead of a party road back and forth wildly and with great speed, and then hid himself, it meant that the others in his party were to do the same — the enemy was close to hand and too numerous to win the fight.

Here’s a few more signs in nature — these I don’t know how true they are — you’ll have to determine that for yourself.  It was told to me when I was growing up that a circle around the moon meant rain was in the forecast.   Now interestingly, in sign language the phrase of winning a woman’s affection was the same sign that was used for “kill,” meaning (according to the author of the book, THE INDIAN SIGN LANUAGE — W. P. Clark) that one killed all opposition.  Interesting…

Well, that’s all for today’s blog.  I’d love to hear if you know of any of these signs in Nature that foretell of things to come.  Or any other signals, also.  If I remember correctly, one of the badges of an Eagle Scout is to know many of these different trail signs.

So come on in and let’s talk.  And remember, if you haven’t done so already, pick up your copy of SENECA SURRENDER today.

Here’s the Amazon link for the book:

http://www.amazon.com/Seneca-Surrender-Berkley-Sensation-Bailey/dp/0425233847/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277169262&sr=1-1 or Rhapsody Book Club if you’d like a hard cover copy:


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KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
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20 thoughts on “What Can We Learn from Signs in Nature”

  1. Hi, Karen. Great post. I’m a firm believer that God designed this world in such a way that those who make careful study can learn much about how things are meant to be.

    I’ve always respected the Native American cultures for their dedication to learning all they can from the earth and using that knowledge to build their way of life. From the herbal medicines they discovered to the way they utilized every part of a buffalo without wasting a thing.

    Jesus, too, spoke of how the people could read the signs of the sky – red at night means fair weather but red and overcast in the morning means a storm. (Matthew 16).

    Today with all our fancy technology, sometimes I think we forget to simply look around us and observe. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. ooh, i love your posts karen
    i’m on a run of reading your books and i’m just falling more and more in love with the native american people…i think i’m going to have to read more on their culture–your books make me long to know them–it’s created almost a painful longing sort of ache in my heart

    i have a friend who married a native amercian and some of the traditions they have woven into their lives are so interesting
    recently they had a laugh party for their baby…and the background behind it is very cool

    okay…so i’m off track
    anyhow–i would love to know more signs in nature–i think that it’s so interesting!

    i have hear the red sky one like this-
    “red sky at night, sailors delight, red sky at morn, sailors take warn”

    i have heard that the amount of black in the fuzzy brown and black catipillar determines how cold the winter will be

    i know i have more somewhere in my head…will have to think on it

  3. Hi Karen,
    I know several of these from growing up around midwest farmers. And “tabitha” already mentioned my sailing one.

    Oh, I’ve always heard that the more black on a wooly worm, the colder the winter will be. Don’t know how true that is, though.

  4. Kay, we’ve been taught here in Texas to watch the birds, dogs, and cats when there’s a tornado coming. Birds hide and the sky is vacant of life when a tornado is imminent. Also, dogs and cats exhibit strange behavior. Of course, you have to know your animal to be able to read the signals. Another sign of a tornado is that the wind grows perfectly still right before it hits. The people in the Samoan Islands tell that right before the tsunami hit that the birds quit flying. I firmly believe in watching for signs. It can save your life.

  5. Gosh, Karen, what wise observations you have to say. I, too, agree with you that God made the world to be very well organized and that there are signs one can learn that can foretell what is to be in the future. Actually medicine men took that a few steps farther — and could foretell other things in the future — but since I don’t know how they did that, it’s not something I can post. Thanks for your observations.

  6. Hi Tabitha!

    You have truly made my day brighten with you compliments. They come few and far between for us authors and so it truly has made me brighten up today. 🙂

    Like you, when I started this post, it seemed I had many of these observations in my head from various research that I’ve done. But when I went to post them, I couldn’t think of as many as I thought I’d known. But there were so, so many. One I didn’t mention was when an eagle or maybe it was a crow flies over your war party (ahead of you)it means that the enemy is ahead of you. Beware.

    That was in one of George Catlin’s books I think.

    Anyway, thank you so very much. 🙂

  7. Good morning, Tracy. Yes, when I started to post this, I really thought I knew more than what I posted — and then I couldn’t find them in my research and couldn’t remember them either. But as the day goes on, hopefully I’ll remember both.

  8. Hi Linda!

    Wow, thank you for those observations. Speaking of tornados, I grew up in the tornado belt in southern Illinois and one of the ones my mother would always watch for was a storm whose tail end dipped down to the earth. She always said that when that happened, take cover — even getting into a ditch and in Illinois, ditches were dug in front of all houses and sidewalks and roads.

    I don’t notice too many ditches here in So. California in front of sidewalks or along the highways. Perhaps that’s because tornados here in So. CA are a rare happening.

    Thanks for your observations, Linda.

  9. Oh yummo, Adam. Thanks, Kay. fascinating material aw always. I learn so much from you. I remember learning trail markets at Girl Scout camp but am hard pressed to recall them now.

    This isn’t exactly natural, but I seem to think a carving of a dragonfly indicated a spring nearby.

    I’m also remembering, I think, during tht horrible tsunami a few years ago, no animals died. They all knew to get to high ground.


  10. I remember hearing some when I was younger, but at the moment they are not coming to me… wonderful post… love reading them!

  11. Hi Tanya!

    Yes, I remember that also about the tsunami a few years ago. The animals all left that area and so none were killed.

    Interesting, isn’t it? I sometimes think that in the long, long ago, the Indians must have been escaping some kind of suppression in order to have learned so well the “signs” in nature. This would then attest to their incredible scouting abilities and that sort of thing.

    Just a thought.

  12. The black and brown wooly bear caterpillar prediction goes this way: There are 13 segments to its body, one for each week of winter. The color of the segment is supposed to be an indication of the weather, black for cold & brown for not so severe. There is a Wooly Worm Festival in NC every Fall. They have races and the winning caterpillar is the one they use to predict the coming winter weather.
    The height that wasps build their nests in trees is supposed to be an indicator of how bad a winter will be. Higher up, more snow.
    Animals are great indicators. The 4 legged ones will be restless before a big event like a bad storm or even an earthquake. Like was mentioned above about the tsunami, they can “feel” a disaster coming and will take what measures they can to survive it. Birds will get quiet and take shelter before a storm or if there is danger in the area. Our peacocks always get noisy well before a storm moves in then quiet down and most times hide in their house.
    For trail markers, we use the rocks and sticks. You can also break a twig to indicate the direction you are going. If you don’t want everyone knowing where you are headed, it is less obvious than the other trail markers. If you are careful, only a good tracker can follow you. (Useless trivia I read somewhere – the Indians left the fringe on the back cuff of their buckskin leggings long enough to drag the ground. It worked to help erase their tracks. The fringe on the side of the leggings and on the coats & shirts wicked away water when it rained.)
    If you go into a wooded area, the branches are often the same height. This is especially noticeable in areas of cedar. This is a browse line. In winter, when food is scarce and snow is deep, the deer will eat twigs and buds. They will get up on their hind legs to reach as high as they can. Everything within reach gets eaten or stripped back. This makes a sort of ceiling in the woods. The height of the browse line is a good indication of how bad the weather was during the past few winters. Not a predictor, I guess, just an indication of how bad it can get.

    Sorry, long winded and off topic as usual. Thanks for another interesting post.

  13. Hey, Kay. Good post. Most of the weather sayings I know have been mentioned already, except for this one…

    A cat eating grass is supposed to mean it will rain soon. I’ve always wondered if it was true of if the grass contained some nutrient they couldn’t get elsewhere. The next time I see one of our cats eating grass, I’ll document it, though, and let you know.

    Anita Mae.

  14. Hmmm…I’m not great at reading signs, but looking at Adam means I’m going to smile. I know that much.
    I did hear that before the big tsunami in Asia a few years ago, many of the animals ran to high ground and were safe. And in the research I did on the SF quake of 1906 (for HIS SUBSTITUTE BRIDE) the first signs that something was about to happen came from barking dogs and restless horses. Thanks for a great blog, Kay. We need to pay more attention to our wise animal friends.

  15. Hi Patricia!

    Wow! What knowledge. I don’t know — in our everyday world which seems to be getting more and more to the point of — well, I just don’t know — but it’s not good — some of these things may well be good. I didn’t know that about the fringe on their leggings. I knew they kep them long on their feet, but I didn’t know the purpose of it.

    I learned some things from you post today. Thank you!

  16. Hi Anita!

    Now that’s an interesting one that I’ve never read. I have several cats, I must say, and they do eat grass — but here in So. CA — it’s hard to tell because it so seldomly rains.

    But I, too, will have to observe it and see what happens. Thanks for passing that along.

  17. Hi Elizabeth!

    Yes, I thought some might enjoy Adam’s picture again. It’s been a while since I posted it and I thought it might bring some smiles.

    So glad you appreciated it.

  18. We live right next to an area where Menominee Indians held their meetings. The chief was Menominee John and this is located on Menominee Johns Lake in Waushara County Wisconsin. There is a huge red granite rock with carvings of a buffalo head and an Indian face with flowing hair. The tree in our front yard has been bent into an arrow pointing right at the rock. There are also trees bent to form half circles pointing in the direction an Indian would want to go to get to the rock in the woods surrounding the lake.

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