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When I am working in a fantasy world, or a fantasy setting within the real world, one of my favorite tasks in creating a believable backdrop is weaving a unique bestiary into the story scape.

Mythology and folklore are rife with magical creatures and power animals, macabre monsters and demonic beasts. While researching familiars for me new book, I got to thinking about my own fascination with hummingbirds.

There are several species native to the area wherein I live, and I diligently cultivate their presence year round. During the winter I bring the feeders in at night to keep them from freezing, and wake before dawn to put them back out for any early morning visitors.

My office is filled with tiny totems — gifts from family and friends, and some I have collected on my own.  I began to wonder — is the hummingbird my spirit guide?

To answer THAT question, I had to examine my personal belief system a bit. While I love the IDEA, am I truly convinced that such a thing could be true? In the end, I decided that wanting it to be true was good enough.

In many traditional cultures of the western world, the hummingbird has powerful religious and spiritual significance. In the high Andes of South America, for example, the hummingbird is taken to be a symbol of resurrection. This is because the hummingbird becomes lifeless and seems to die on cold nights, but reawakens with the warmth of dawn each day. A Mayan legend says the hummingbird is actually the sun in disguise, and he is trying to court a beautiful woman, who is the moon.

Finding a hummingbird nest, or having a hummer nesting near your home are considered omens of good luck.

Legend and lore aside, I find them to be remarkable little beings, full of vibrance and vigor and courage. Wonderful qualities for any spirit, human or animal.