[This is a guest post by Ari.]
Birdshape in general is one I know well: shoulders shifting, hands folding, the sudden sensation of air bending around pinion feathers. Pulling my legs up as if jumping and there they stay, shorter, but my feet stretching into the lower leg and claws. The hard feel of beak. The muted sensation of air over feathers instead of skin.
I was taught the form by Golden Eagle a long time ago, and its a very comfortable shape to be in, like a big, thick, well-worn sweatshirt you stole from your last high school boyfriend, the one you never broke up with, you just stopped seeing as often. I feel Golden Eagle there with me when I wear it, in a small way.
I don’t know that this is the case for all jotnar, though I know I’m not the only one. But I do think differently when I wear another form. The brainshape changes too, the wiring is shifted as surely as tendons and ligaments, designed to work in a different way. I can fight it if I want to, but it’s not usually necessary; I don’t lose myself completely. It’s simply that my priorities are a little different.
While jotnar society is largely polyamorous, Golden Eagle is monogamous. I’ve gone through periods of feeling more comfortable with one or the other arrangement. While I end up identifying as poly for simplicity’s sake, sometimes it’s nice to build a nest you know you and your mate can come home to. (Ask me sometime about how I want to but a farm and settle down and also own nothing and wander…)
I suspect this is why so many jotnar who take elemental forms end up staying in them. Once you’re used to looking at things from mountain-perspective or tree-perspective, anything else is going to feel small and unnecessarily rushed.
I’ve learned some of my best traits from Golden Eagle. He’s one of many teachers who taught me the importance of making do and taking advantage of what’s in front of you, whether it’s a small rabbit or fox or a full-grown deer. Even carrion is fair game.
Golden Eagle is sometimes named as the parent species of the Thunderbird, and that rings true to my experience. There’s a reason we’re called Lightning Clan, after all. I’ve learned to ride the storms and to call them.
It’s interesting to compare the experience of being Golden Eagle to that of being Canary or Starling. I’ve spent a fair amount of time with the passerine bird spirits in this life, and they seem a better match for my human self. Golden Eagle, though, is much closer to my jotun self – an apex predator, unafraid and wild.
Working again with Golden Eagle has brought me back to a shape that I know well, and reminds me what it is to be large and fearless.