The thump on my head was sudden and unexpected. I was walking through the park and thought I had been hit on the head by a branch. The blow caused me to stagger and, I admit, shriek a bit, but it did not knock me out. I grabbed my head and glanced behind me to see if there was someone there, and to find out what had collided with my head. But within a second it was clear that the staggering squirrel in front of me was the culprit. He was a bit off balance, and obviously regaining his footing. He turned and looked at me, chewed me out, and ran up the tree next to me. I had been hit in the head by a falling squirrel, who was blaming me for the encounter. A squirrel was scapegoating me for his own awkward imbalance.
Luckily I was wearing a hat and had my sweatshirt hood pulled up over my head. After checking my head for damage, of which there was none, and having a moment’s worry about the possibility of squirrel-cussion, I headed home wondering what to make of this experience. Was this a targeted attack? Was it a random squirreling event? Or was it possibly the start of some larger and more sinister squirrel terrorism?
And of course, because this was just so odd, I wondered if this was a common occurrence. An internet search on “squirrel hitting a person in the head” revealed several other head-seeking squirrel events, but they were by no means common. And of course, none of those people had any Intel about what the event meant. The search also resulted in interpretations of squirrel dreams, but none about dreams with squirrel-head encounters. And finally, there was great discourse on the spiritual meaning of squirrels as power animals.
I might as well have been reading about the trickster, coyote. According to the experts, squirrels can be telling me that I am hoarding old emotions, situations or problems, or that I need to hold on to things that have meaning to me. On the other hand, it might be that I need to have more fun, or conversely, be more focused and persistent. Then again, perhaps a project or relationship that I have been working on is about to come to fruition, or perhaps those same ventures or relationships are failed efforts and I need to walk away.
By the end of the day, I had shared the story with several friends in a stand-up comedic style, joking about an impending squirrel-apocalypse, and cautioning everyone to wear bike helmets when near trees. Perhaps this was a variation on one of the ten plagues, or the Hitchcock movie “The Birds.” There had to be a meaning, because EVERYTHING happens for a reason, right?
At best, it depends. Yes, there was a reason the squirrel fell out of the tree. It was a misjudged jump. Yes, there was a reason that he hit my head. I was right there. Was there some deep spiritual reason for me to discern when those events collided? Probably not. Not everything that happens around me is about me. Not everything that happens to me carries deep mystical insight. Of obviously my choices and actions cause events. If I do not fill up my car with gas, I will eventually run dry and be stranded. But in this world not every “what” has a personal “why.” Some things happen because we are humans on a crowded planet.
Maybe , in this case, I just need to paraphrase Freud; sometimes a squirrel hitting you in the head is just a squirrel with bad balance.
Dr. Elisa Robyn, a modern-day Renaissance educator and leader, is the author of The Way of the Well, a spiritual romance, and Pirate Wisdom, lessons in leadership. Her eclectic career positions include geologist, Dean of Arts and Sciences, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Futurist, and Innovative Mojo Coach. Currently, Elisa is an executive director at Regis University. She holds a Masters degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her most current writings can be found at