Sin Eater


“The Latin name of the Turkey Vulture is Cathartes aura, which means “Golden Purifier” or “Purifying Breeze”

“The generic term Cathartes means “purifier” and is the Latinized form from the Greek kathartēs. The species name, aura, is Latinized from the Native Mexican word for the bird, auroura.”

“Cathartes is the Greek word for “purifier,” referring to these vultures’ role as “cleansers” that remove decomposing corpses in nature.”

“…vultures play a very important role in the ecosystem by disposing of carrion that would otherwise be a breeding ground for disease”

“Although they have excellent vision, they are searching for the odor of a carcass with their highly developed sense of smell.

“They have been known to be able to smell carrion from over a mile away which is very unique in the bird world. The turkey vulture has the largest olfactory (smelling) system of all birds.”

“Turkey Vultures can eat the meat of animals that died of disease and not get sick themselves, because of special enzymes in their stomachs which destroy bacteria and viruses.”

“…its incredibly acidic stomach and powerful immune system keeps it safe from diseases that would kill other animals, diseases such as botulism, anthrax, salmonella, and e-coli.”

“Their droppings are disease-free.”

“Vultures have bare heads and often bare necks so that when they feed on rotting carcasses, bacteria and other parasites cannot burrow into their feathers to cause infections.”

“Considering what they eat, these are some of the cleanest animals around….Turkey Vultures often bathe in water. They constantly preen cleaning out their feathers with their bill.”

“Vultures urinate on their legs and feet to help cool off on hot days, and their urine also helps kill any bacteria or parasites they’ve picked up from walking through carcasses to help keep the birds healthier”

“Vultures display another odd bit of behavior in their perpetual battle against bacteria. They will frequently stand with their wings outstretched [in what is a called a “horaltic pose”]….In addition to warming the body and drying the wings, it is believed that the pose also helps kill bacteria by exposing it to sunlight.”

“If attacked, its primary form of defense is regurgitating.”

“Their defensive vomit is foul-smelling enough to drive away predators. If enemies approach too closely, the high amount of acid in the vomit is strong enough to burn them as well.”

“Seen on the wing, the Turkey Vulture is an awe-inspiring and graceful bird. Designed for soaring flight, with a nearly six-foot wing span and a light body weight, turkey vultures are able to buoyantly ride rising columns of warm air to heights of almost 5,000 feet and to travel up to 40 miles per hour.”

“…their days look like bliss, gliding for hours on end without a wingbeat, maintaining lift and stability at lower altitudes by canting their wings upward in a dihedral V, teetering left and right, then riding corkscrew thermal elevators to the penthouse without so much as the twitch of a muscle.

“Groups of perched vultures are called a wake. Imagine them mourning over something with their heads hung down.”

Metaphorically ~ People with Turkey Vulture Medicine possess a highly tuned sense of what is of death and not of life, and willingly take it into themselves; taking only what is dead, they purify the world around them, cleansing what could otherwise prove an emotional or energetic contagion to others.  They are protected in this endeavor, not subject to taking the contagion into their minds, and the contagion is destroyed as it passes through them.  Nonetheless, they must be ever mindful of cleansing themselves and immersing themselves in the Light.   Regrettably, if they feel threatened, they will spew whatever unprocessed contagion they have taken into themselves onto their perceived attacker.  They possess an inherent grace; far from being harbingers of death, they are Angels of Light.


“The term Sin-Eater refers to a person who, through ritual means, would take on the sins others.”

This was done so that the Individual Soul could be purified and reconciled to the Universal Spirit.

This tradition can be found in many cultures, including European and Meso-American.

“Tlazolteotl, the Aztec goddess of earth, motherhood and fertility, had a redemptive role in the religious practices of the Meso-American civilization. At the end of an individual’s life, he was allowed to confess his misdeeds to this deity, and according to legend she would cleanse his soul by “eating its filth”.”

In the Jewish tradition, there was the “Escape Goat” – in the celebration of their Day of Atonement, the sins of the community were placed upon a goat that was released into the desert, thus it “escaped”. It was considered the “remover of sin” or the “sender away of sins” – and is the origin of the term “scapegoat”.

In the story of Jesus of Nazareth, he became the “Scapegoat” in that he took the sins of others upon himself, in an act of atonement. Though he is called “The Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world”.  Which to my mind, moving from the goat to the lamb, symbolizes the shift in emphasis from a legalistic to a heart-based spirituality.

It’s fascinating to observe that Jesus is immortalized in the same horalitc pose that Turkey Vultures strike to bathe in the Light.

If there are Sin Eaters in the world today, they have chosen a most difficult path, and they would do well to call upon, and emulate, the energies of the Turkey Vulture.

One does wonder what might befall such a person if they were unaware of their role and failed to cleanse themselves and to neutralize internally whatever they have naturally, though unconsciously, drawn into themselves.  Without sufficient spiritual transmutation, the contagion would thus build up within them, and they would lead tormented lives, presumably acting out and spreading the contagion when under duress.




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36 thoughts on “Sin Eater

  1. Big fan of turkey vultures. Your post is much appreciated. Thank you for sharing the concepts of sin eater in relationship to this very important service this majestic bird serves.

    Very synchronistic timing to receive this. A friend and I were out yesterday searching for turkey vulture feathers from a favorite roosting spot.

    I can only imagine how difficult a life would be who had no knowledge of this trait they carried with them. God bless them

  2. Reblogged this on Reiki Dawn and commented:
    Love this post by Ethereal Nature. I have a soft spot in my heart for these amazing birds. They have been in my life allot since 2007. Had a number of magical encounters with them. Thank you Cnawan

  3. Reblogged this on Laura Bruno's Blog and commented:
    What a fascinating post! My mom has always loved turkey vultures, and I have fond memories of watching them with her while hiking parts of the Appalachian Trail. I must confess, I thought them rather ugly up close, but that was before I learned the essential value and necessity of things like compost, death, decay and Nature’s perfect recycling. A magical, consciousness expanding read.

  4. Pingback: Sin Eater | radupopescublog

  5. Very interesting. A few years ago I lived in a rural area and these Turkey Vultures would tend to congregate in the field or yard, I found that I was both amazed (wow, that wingspan!) and yet slightly repulsed simultaneously at them. So, I ended up researching a bit more about them in order to quell the repulsion and came across some of this information which led me to an appreciation of them. Although, I can’t say the same for my dogs who still insisted on trying to pick fights with them 🙂

    • Thank you, Angelina. Yes, I think most people share that initial revulsion to the turkey vulture’s appearance and behavior, but, as with you, inspired by their flight, for they are poetry in motion, one does look deeper, only to discover the great service that they provide to the world.

  6. Reblogged this on Tania Marie's Blog and commented:
    This is an incredibly insightful post from the soulful Cnawan. Turkey Vultures have been a consistent companion anytime I am hiking and they also fly above my car when driving. I’ve been meaning to explore their depth, so I am extremely appreciative of this share and think that it has a lot of value to impart. I believe that animal spirit guides message us in a multitude of ways in terms of questions we may be asking ourselves and wondering about others around us, events and experiences currently taking place in our lives or on a global scale, new encounters, life paths, direct support, prophetic insights, and yes, the power of the medicine you carry in life or at this time. It’s always so incredible to dig deep and discover the amazing richness in all of life. I find this post especially synchronous and timely.

  7. I have seen these birds at Letchworth State Park in NY. They are magnificent birds and as I read about them, I was just fascinated. And as I was reading, the Turkey Vulture kept putting one particular person on my mind, and I’ll be darn if this person is not a “Turkey Vulture”. This person is learning how to cleanse the body/mind through my suggestions, and the difference is truly amazing. Thank you so much for this post. Incredible information. I too in certain respects can be the Turkey Vulture …. it took me a long time to figure that out and how to keep myself clean from all the lower energies that I “transmuted”. Again, thank you!!!! Love, Amy

    • I had heard of the vulture crisis in India, but not of the resulting consequences…this is horrific, and truly underscores the importance of these birds and the ecological niche that they inhabit. Thank you for sharing this link!

  8. Pingback: Laura Bruno – Sin Eater – 14 September 2014 | Lucas 2012 Infos

  9. Most interesting! This word “horaltic” got me curious… At first it made me think of Horus, the Egyptian god, as he’s sometimes pictured with outspread wings. But in doing some research, it appears to be a misspelling of “heraldic.” In heraldry, birds and mammals were often depicted in certain ways, such as “rampant” which refers to a mammalian animal, usually a lion, rearing up on its back legs to fight or defend.

    • I searched in vain to find the etymology of the word “Horaltic” – there is nothing definitive, but some opinions link it to Horus, some to heraldic, some to “horal” meaning “of or pertaining to the hours, marking the hours. So ‘horaltic’ implies the wings held out like the hands of an (analog!) clock. Don’t know if I buy that. A variation of heraldic seems as good as bet as any.

  10. really nice post, Cnawan. I always liked vultures. Can relate with what you have written personally. Also, a condor comes to mind, when talking about vultures. And then – that old tale from turtle island about the marriage of condor and eagle. What does that mean? Both are birds of death,and perhaps both birds are about being initiated into a death process, and then, understanding it properly.

    • Thank you, Bostjan, The prophecy you refer to:
      “When the Condor of the south flies with the Eagle of the north, a new day for Earth will awaken.” is South American prophecy.

      In 2000, I believe that was the year, I played a small role in a ritual that honored that prophecy.

      To my knowledge: There was a convocation of North and South American Shamans that met in in South America 1998 or 1999, at which they suggested that prophecy was beginning to be fulfilled. There have been many gatherings since built around this prophecy.

      One Source:

      “The path of the Condor is the path of heart, of intuition, and of the feminine. The path of the Eagle is the path of the mind, of the industrial, and of the masculine.”

      “The prophecy says that the 1490s would begin a 500 year period during during which the Eagle people would become so powerful that they would virtually drive the Condor people out of existence.”

      “The prophecy says that during the next 500-year period, beginning in 1990, the potential would arise for the Eagle and the Condor to come together, to fly in the same sky, and to create a new level of consciousness for humanity. “

  11. The time of turkey vultures is about to begin here in Florida. My two cats and I have spent many hours gazing at their gliding dance on the wind currents each Fall/Winter season. This post was fascinating! Thank you for delving into aspects spiritual & scientific regarding these balletic birds:)

  12. Hi, just your standard, “thanks for the follow” comment. Not because I’d like more followers, though I do, but because I found your blog, and I’m luckier once more to see a view of the world in a way I get. Blog on dude. Oh, and thanks for the follow.

  13. Also I think the modern term for “sin-eaters” is “empaths”, those who are super-sensitive to thoughts, feelings, physical sensations of others and assume that it is what they are thinking, feeling etc until one looks just that little bit more closely as to why, when one minute I am happy and everything is going well and then in the next 5 minutes out of the blue, this sadness or depression or anxiety comes over one.

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