Discovering Your Personal Oracles
By Ann Bolinger-McQuade



Growing up, I was surrounded by a family who saw signs in just about everything. My father often stopped kitchen table conversation to point out an image that appeared in his piece of toast or a cookie with a bite he had just taken. We all interpreted the appearance of any cardinal during difficult times as the comforting presence of a deceased uncle. Lying under the clouds identifying the significance of shapes that floated by in the big Western sky was another favorite Bolinger family past time.

This perspective of the world as a sentient, engaged entity that speaks to each one of us individually is deeply rooted in our Native American ancestry. Having faced many life challenges, I realize what a gift this perspective is and how lucky I am to have it. I find great comfort in recognizing that all of life is interconnected.

Over the years I became aware not everyone shares this vision of the universe. So, I started thinking about how to describe the very flexible and adaptive mode of communication I sense in the world around us. For me, the term “personal oracle” defines significant messages offering us guidance through every form imaginable.

Because we experience the world through our own perspective, each of us operates in the world in a way that is unique. We draw out what is meaningful and specifically suited to us from our surroundings. Recognizing images in clouds comes naturally to me and I have found many of my most powerful personal oracles in the clouds. Shortly after my father passed, his cloud-likeness hovered over my house, accompanied by a rainbow. Seeing this I felt my grief ease slightly and was embraced by the reassurance that his spirit was still close by.

When Rusty, our beloved golden retriever, was undergoing treatment for lymphoma, my awareness was drawn to a cloud image which looked like Rusty lying comfortably on his back and surrounded by heart-shaped clouds. I immediately breathed more easily, sensing that the dog I loved so much was protected and surrounded by love during that difficult time. As with many personal oracles, these images were more than just some identifiable shapes, they were infused with an undeniable energy and messages custom-made for me.

Personal oracles always appear in forms that are most comfortable and accessible to each of us. Many people I talk with notice messages in the same objects repeatedly, like clouds, trees, birds, timely lyrics of a song, or a phrase in a book. At other times oracles may arrive as a series of coincidences, synchronistic events and/or metaphoric experiences. Regardless of the form, personal oracles act as a signal to catch the observer’s attention and point to something significant going on in his or her life.

My cousin Liz received an amazing message through a song on the radio. One of her good friends, Steve, had been in a serious bike accident and was in ICU for a month in a coma. She visited him regularly and liked to talk and joke around Steve, acting as though her friend could hear her, which my cousin believed was true. She gave her friend massages and played CD’s they had listened to together before the accident. A favorite song was “Anytime” by Brian McNight.

One day when Liz went to visit Steve, the doctors were performing an operation to ease the pressure on his heart. A nurse promised Liz they would call her with any changes in her friend’s condition. She left the hospital and had only driven about two blocks when the song “Anytime” came on the radio. She started crying. Liz knew her friend had died. When she got home there was a message to call the hospital.
She returned the call and talked to a nurse who told her that her friend had passed. Liz said she already knew and inquired if the time of death was 2:35. The nurse was stunned and asked how she had known. My cousin told her that Steve had said good-bye with a song on the radio at that very moment. Personal oracles are not always this dramatic and unforgettable, but they are always directed specifically to the individual and to what is occurring in their life at the time.

Have you ever been thinking of someone at the instant the phone rang, and that very person was on the line? Or, sensed the driver in front of you was going to change lanes and they did, in the next moment and with no signal at all? Often, when these things occur, the person on the telephone tells us something we need to hear precisely at that moment. Or, we decide not to speed up and pass that car in front of us, avoiding a potential accident. I call these everyday occurrences personal oracles.

Metaphoric experiences offer yet another valuable source of guidance if we take time to reflect on them. A co-worker of mine had just had her first child and was tired, as new mothers often are. At one point when we were discussing metaphoric experiences she had an “aha” moment. She realized that the trouble she kept having with her car tires going flat was meaningful. She said, “I get it! I’m just ‘flat tired.’ ” Understanding this oracle message at a deeper level, she was more apt to give herself a break throughout the day instead of pushing ahead so hard.

Recognizing your own personal oracles starts with simply paying attention to the world around you and how you respond to it. Though you may have never contemplated the existence of oracles before, you might already have a place that makes you feel more comfortable, connected and “at home” than any place else. It could be a peaceful path you like to walk, a quiet room where you meditate or listen to music, or even a cozy café where you go to relax and drink tea. If so, start there. You may want to think of this as your “sacred space.”

When you are in this space, consciously open your heart and mind, and you may very well encounter a meaningful messenger. Pay attention to anything that gives you a gut feeling or the thought that “hey, this is important.” What you are tuning into is your intuition. Although your intuition can make itself known anywhere, at first it may be easier to identify in a place where you are the most comfortable and at ease.

Your intuition is a hard-to-put-your-finger-on sensation that delivers thoughts or feelings and comes bearing a definite energy that is unique and hard to ignore. This intuitive sense can clash with data that our rational mind sends us because this intuition taps into the very fabric of the invisible network of connections that unifies everything in our universe. But, as grand as that sounds, intuition can be as simple as having a gut-feeling that tells you to take a sweater with you on a sunny day; later, the wind turns cold and you’re glad you listened to that inner voice. Intuition is our key to discovering personal oracles. All we have to do is to listen and trust.

When you start this process of personal oracle exploration, write down your experiences while they are fresh in your mind. This will help you remember details and recognize a pattern if one develops. Journaling, photographing, drawing, or otherwise recording your observations of personal oracles will help you build confidence in your ability to identify what speaks to and is meaningful for you.

I have learned to trust my intuition when that little voice urges me to take my camera along on walks or car rides. Years of experience and rolls of images shot at the most unlikely moments has allowed me to see that these spirit-signposts are everywhere. No matter how we record them, personal oracles surround us. The more open and aware of them we are, the more we will receive.

Sometimes it is easy to feel like we are alone and isolated in the people-packed, high-tech world of this new millennium. But that is only one perspective. My experience, and those of clients and friends, has proved to me that our all-inclusive universe is alive and filled with supportive and nurturing messages for every one of us. You can choose this perspective for yourself by looking out with an open heart to discover oracles meant just for you. They are right there, hiding in plain sight, just waiting for you to notice.

Ann Bolinger-McQuade is a regular contributor to magazines, a popular workshop facilitator, and a radio talk show guest. Her book “Cloud-Speak: Oracles in the Sky: Tuning into Personal Oracles,” is pending publication. For more information, visit:

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