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When an Animal or Bird Counts Coup on You


Recently, I had a shamanic client ask me about an experience that left her quite unnerved and quite puzzled.

“I’ve had two recent experiences in the last two months, both were owls swooping and almost crashing into my car. And then yesterday, it finally happened. One actually dove into my windshield and I know it died, but I could not stop because I was on the highway. I was so shaken, I was crying uncontrollably.  Why would that happen? Does it mean anything?”

I, too, have had this happen to me many times with animals, most recently I-55 north as I sped toward a Reiki session. A beautiful red-tailed hawk flew off in the distance, and as I watched with fascination and horror, it flew directly toward over my windshield from left to right, passed my car and did a U-turn and came back into the passenger door with a THUD. It tumbled over my car and toward the deep ditch in the median.

I, too, was shaken and could not stop the car to see about the hawk.

It’s always a trying and sad experience when this sort of thing happens, and sometimes its just bad luck. But other times…well, that animal is definitely coming at you, and it’s impossible to deny.

I’ve had hummingbirds and dragonflies literally fly right in front of me and drop dead at my feet.

I’ve had a series of chipmunks run into my house… not counting the ones Sol the cat brings to me! And these guys have to work at it, because I’m upstairs!

Raccoons, rabbits, snakes, wasps, lizards and birds galore have crossed my path in unusual ways, along with a few strange fish, sharks, eels and manta rays (I scuba). 

And once…I was charged at by a bison.

What does it all mean? Here is my explanation, and I hope that it may  help anyone who has had, or will have this experience. ~tac

When an Animal Counts Coup on You

by Dancing Crow   

When an animal comes close to you, whether a swooping bird, or a charging buffalo or bear, and you are left without harm, the animal is “counting coup” on you.

With indigenous warriors, such as the plains Indians of North America, counting coup was a way to show adeptness at the art of being a warrior.

Touching a sleeping enemy without killing him earned points and added to the “coup”. Getting close but not harming your enemy meant you took some of his power for yourself, and then left a part of your power – in the form of mercy.

A warrior built up his coup over time, and the larger the coup, the more decorated the warrior. Different cultures used this method in different ways, but generally this is the meaning.


While animals are not your enemy, they can sometimes perceive you as a danger. If they feel threatened- say you happened upon an owl in the forest, or a mother bear – they swoop or charge at you to show their power, and to show their mercy.

They could have harmed you, but they did not.

That is one form of counting coup.

Another way is when you are minding your own business, and a hawk comes flying at your head, or at your car.  Or perhaps a raccoon continually appears at your back door, and you chase it away many times, only one morning to find it dead on the stoop.


What is the meaning of these types of strange events?

In a spiritual way, they are interacting and giving you a little of themselves, and taking a little of you back with them. They are getting your attention, asking to work with you. They are trying to give you their powers and gifts. In this way, they form a relationship with you.

Why, you ask, would they choose to have relationship with you?

One reason could be to help you heal. Offering their energetic gifts to you is a sign of love and relationship. Perhaps you are being paid back for being kind and caring for animals.

It could also be that you are waking up. Animals often count coup on the awakening “spirit warrior”: a being who has the capacity to understand and work with the energies of the other beings on this planet. They have recognized your spiritual light and are coming to help you, to test you, to see if you are ready to receive and share their gifts and their powers and to be in relationship.


It often isn’t long after a coup experience that the animal will then dive into you or kill itself in front of you, or offer itself to you to be killed (as with  proper native hunters)

It is up to you at that moment to acknowledge this death as a “good death” and to honor that animal and the powers it has just given you.

You must receive and be grateful and begin to understand and use the powers they have just imparted in order for the gifts to remain with you.

You don’t want that animal to have died for nothing.

If no honoring or acceptance of the gift takes place, the gift is lost.  An animal, either the same one or a different one, may try again, but not for long. Soon, you will no longer be offered these gifts, as you will have proven not to be ready.

Can you attract the gifts of the animals without them having to die? Of course. How? By asking, studying, doing ceremony and honoring the animals, they will begin to relate to you and share their gifts in the spiritual realms. This relationship grows as you begin to understand how and when to call on them for help and knowledge, and they begin to show themselves to you more often and at crucial times.

This is good way to prevent the “crashing” experience.

However, if on occasion an animal counts coup on you, remember: it is their choice. They know it is time to share their gifts and you must understand that you are the one they have chosen to share with.

They have determined this is the way to get your attention! And they mean to act swiftly and decisively.


They have called out to you, and now you must choose whether or not to heed that call.

So, if a coup comes: acknowledge, accept, be grateful!

Know that you are in the flow of life!

Step into the flow and be at peace, knowing that you are

being looked after and supported by the four-leggeds and winged ones.

Join with and be a part of this right relationship.


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