Friday, March 24, 2017

AYE-AYE: Self-Determination and Magic

One of the most bizarre mammals, Aye-aye of Madagascar can frighten people by pointing her spectral middle finger at them. With her large pointed ears, blood red eyes and large bushy tail, She is a figure from a nightmare. Aye-aye looks so supernatural that people on Madagascar believe Her to be capable of great magic.

Even for naturalists, Aye-aye has been a nightmare. When they first encountered Her in the 18th century, nobody could determine what Aye-aye was. Because of her bushy-tail and chisel-like teeth, Aye-aye was believed to be a squirrel. Later naturalists said that She was marsupial, although they could not find a pouch. Finally, scientists determined that Aye-aye was a specialized lemur, the only survivor of her family – the Daubentoniidae. (This makes Her a prosimian, a forerunner of monkeys.)

On Madagascar, Aye-aye takes the role of a woodpecker. (Among the mammals, only She and the striped possum uses percussive foraging.) Tapping with her long bony finger, Aye-aye searches for beetle larvae moving about in the tree bark. No one is sure whether the tapping disturbs the beetles or simply allows Her to locate them. Once She finds the grub, Aye-aye chisels a hole with her rodent-like teeth. Then inserting her middle finger, She scoops out the bug and eats it.

Building nests at the forks of trees, Aye-aye will have several throughout her territory. Although She lives by Herself, Aye-aye will tolerate other aye-ayes whose territories overlap Hers. When She is not using her nests, other Aye-aye may sleep in them. This makes it difficult for naturalists to determine the actual population of aye-ayes.

Many stories abound about how Aye-aye received her distinctive name. Some claim that it comes from one of her distress calls. Others say that it is her Malagasy name, “hay-hay,” which is probably Malagasy for “I don’t know.”

Because the people of Madagascar believe that Aye-aye can be an evil presence, they dislike saying her name. Whomever She points her middle finger at will die. A fearless animal, Aye-aye spooks people by simply walking into the middle of their villages. They usually respond by killing Her and hanging her corpse as a warning for other aye-ayes.

However, there are Malagasy people who believe that Aye-aye brings good luck. Since She was once human, Aye-aye will bless people. Sometimes, She will make a grass cushion for a sleeping village. Placing the pillow under their head, She brings them wealth.

Aye-aye has always been a puzzle for people. Few could figure out what She is or how She came to be called “Aye-aye.” She confounds people and their expectations. Therefore, they have opposite reactions to Her. Aye-aye lives by her own rules of self-determination and magic.

Drawing by Joseph Wolf

Friday, March 17, 2017

Grey Wolf: Trust of Self

The largest of Canis Family is Grey Wolf, the quintessential wild Animal. Loved by those who regard Her brave and loyal. Hated by those who fear and misunderstand Her. For example although the Norse admired Grey Wolf for her courage, they were afraid of her fierceness.

As an Individual, She is not formidable, but in her complex social relationships, Grey Wolf makes up for this. She travels, hunts, and dens together with her Fellow Grey Wolves. Her Pack is an extended Family, centered on the two Leaders, Mother and Father Grey Wolf. The Pups are cared for by their Older Siblings, while Adult Cousins hunt for food for Everyone.

The Native Americans of the Plains heeded Grey Wolf’s wisdom since She taught them how to live properly. The Kiowa taught their children to respect Grey Wolf through prayer and proper hunting. In addition, many Indian people regarded Grey Wolf to be a good sign since She was strong, wise, and courageous.

Among various European peoples, Grey Wolf was a symbol of valor. The Celtic god, Cernunnos, Lord of the Animals, had Grey Wolf as one of his closest companions. The Romans said that the founding of their city began with a She-Wolf suckling Romulus and Remus. In Iceland, one Norse tribe claimed they were descended from Grey Wolf. In Scotland, the MacLennan and MacTyre Clans claimed lineage with Grey Wolf.

Meanwhile among the Baltic peoples, Grey Wolf was associated with the Other World. Sniffing amber, Grey Wolf received the power to communicate with the Unseen Forces. For the Baltic peoples, She acted as a guide to the Other Side.

The human hatred and fear of Grey Wolf has ancient roots. Stories of people fighting wolves spread from Siberia to Greenland, and from Mexico to Spain. At first, people and Grey Wolf competed in hunting for the same game Animals. Later when people domesticated Sheep and Cows, their hatred grew as Grey Wolf ate their Livestock.

Because of her independent spirit, Grey Wolf is both feared and respected by people. Unlike Dog who attends to people, She prefers her freedom. Though often misunderstood, Grey Wolf teaches you to trust your instincts. She helps people understand that they have the courage and endurance to face their problems. In a Grey Wolf Pack, She displays proper manners, but still keeps her sense of identity. Learn to trust yourself as Grey Wolf does.


“The return of the gray wolf to the American West isn’t just a triumph for conservationists. It’s a victory over the darkness in our own human nature. We see parts of ourselves in them, parts of our self that aren’t always acknowledged.” Copyright: “The Wolf in All of Us”, Katharine Mieszkowski.

Conservation Note: Grey Wolf is endangered in Europe and North America. Various governments are involved in reintroducing Grey Wolf to these areas.

Note:Red Wolf (Canis rufus) is the closest Wolf relative to Grey Wolf (Canis lupus). They are members of the Canis Family. Other wolves, such as Maned Wolf, belong to the larger family of Canidae, of which Canis is a subfamily. Other members of the Canis Subfamily are Coyote, Dingo, Domestic Dog, and Jackal.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Guardian Dragons

My latest is up at Witches and Pagans on Guardian Dragons.

"Usually a younger dragon, who likes to play will want to become a guardian dragon of a human. (Age in dragons is different than with people. They age more slowly.) Being curious, the young dragon often find people fun and intriguing. For these reasons, they enjoy the company of humans. In return, these dragons expect kindness and love from their human companions.

Sometimes, an older dragon will ask a person to mentor a young dragon. Watching her unawares, the older one has decided that the human is mature and steady, the qualities of a good dragon mentor. Although the older dragon will guide her at various times, they expect the human to know that she has the responsibility for caring for the dragon “child.” The person must also remember that in her relationship with these two different dragons, they have placed their trust in her. Both expect to be treated with love and consideration."

Rest the rest at Guardian Dragons

Thursday, March 02, 2017

VIRGINIA OPOSSUM: Seize Opportunities and Make Them Your Own

One thing that people know about Virginia Opossum is that She plays dead or “playing possum” as people call it. When confronted with a predator, Virginia Opossum will hiss and squirt a foul-smelling liquid. Then She goes limp, with her eyes shut and tongue hanging out. Usually the attacker loses interest and leaves her alone.

However, there is more to Virginia Opossum than simply “playing possum.” The most ancient of marsupials, She has not only survived the placental mammals coming into her territory, but also expanded her territory from South America to North America. An excellent climber, Virginia Opossum has thumbs on her hind feet to help her grip tree branches. In addition, her prehensile tail is capable of grasping a branch (Contrary to popular folklore, Virginia Opossum cannot hang upside down for long periods of time.)

After their initial encounters, Europeans regarded Virginia Opossum to be ingenious and versatile. In her search for food, She is both. Ranging far and wide, Virginia Opossum eats garbage from dumpsters, dead animals from roadsides, overripe fruit under trees, and rats in nearby homes. Virginia Opossum even eats poisonous snakes without being harmed.

However, Virginia Opossum is also known for her maternal caring. She gives birth to tiny underdeveloped young. Just after birth, her babies (joeys) crawl into her pouch, which faces towards to her rear. When her joeys are ready to come out, they cling to her back until they become adults.
(Adults are called Jacks and Jills, respectively.)

When She hunts for food, Virginia Opossum carries her joeys on her back. When they are grown, her joeys leave Her and take up their solitary lives.

Virginia Opossum teaches people to seize opportunities and make them theirs. Instead of having one territory, She wanders around eating what She finds. Because of her activities, some people regard this solitary and nocturnal animal as “nature’s clean-up crew.”
Virginia Opossum’s Wisdom Includes:
Expert Strategist
Loving Mother
Ingenious and Clever
Dexterity
New Life Cloaked in Death
Avoidance
Holding Opposing Points of View
Transmutation of Poisons

Note: Virginia Opossum is also known as ‘Possum. However, Virginia Opossum is not the same as the Possum of Australia. They are different animals with the same name.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Animal Relationships: Symbiosis

My new post is up at Witches and Pagans.

When two animals team up, they may form a beneficial partnership called symbiosis. In symbiosis, the two animals provide something, which the other cannot, for each other. It could be food, protection or eliminating parasites. In many cases, neither can survive without the other. This other animal is in a special relationship with your animal teacher. Therefore that animal is also one of your animal teachers.

Read more at: Animal relationships: symbiosis

Friday, February 17, 2017

Animal Relationships: Partnerships

My latest posting up at Witches and Pagans. Animal Relationships: Partnerships

Another aspect of working with your animal teachers is to study the partnerships that they form. Many animals work with others to achieve their goals. In that case, the relationship with the other animal should also be studied. How they work together can aid in your understanding of how you can partner with others.

Various types of animal relationships have lessons to impart. For example, zebras drink at a water hole with wildebeests and ostriches. While the others see danger, the zebras smell danger. Together, the animals provide safety for each other at the communal water hole. This is an example of a community forming from diverse entities for a short duration. This could be something that festival organizers could benefit learning from.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Teachings of the Phoenix

Copyright: Maryann Sterling
The only one of her kind, Phoenix lives in isolation. Greeting the dawn, She spreads her shimmering wings, and sings beautiful songs in praise of the Sun. When her feathers become drab, Phoenix gathers up herbs, and flies to a wild desert place. There She builds her pyre, and waits for the Sun to ignite it. Once engulfed with flames, Phoenix dies only to be reborn, three days later.

Invocation
“Ancient Phoenix, renewed by fire,
Beloved of the Sun sing sweetly to me.
Grant to me, your gift of a New Beginning.”


To contact the Phoenix, who lives beyond, first ask the Golden Eagle to help you.

Voice of Golden Eagle:
 
“Come with me to the Sun. As we fly higher and higher, feel the fire in your body. Touch the searing flames without harm. Smell the sweet herbs – sandalwood mixed with frankincense. Hear the mystical song without words. Watch the Phoenix greeting the Sun from the tallest tree of the highest mountain in the Land of the Dawn.”

“Dear Phoenix, we are here to accompany you into the Dark Night.”

The Phoenix sings to you.
 
“Come, greet the Dawn with me. Bathe in the Spring of Life. Drink the Dew of Generosity. Eat the Dates of Sweetness. Share this glorious day with me!”

“Come Dusk, I will build my funeral pyre. As the setting sun strikes my tree, the flames will rise up to consume us both. Ashes we will be, dead, waiting to be reborn.”

Comes the Night -- the unending darkness, the infinite blackness, the unrelenting bleakness. Nothingness are we, waiting, waiting. Oh, how we long for Daybreak.”

“Look the Bright Sun comes! Behold the Glorious Light bathing all with its golden hues! Embrace the Light! Let the Cycle of the Cosmos renew itself in you. Become life, death, and rebirth.
“Be reborn! Sing songs of gratitude to the New Dawn! Embrace the Rainbow! Become the Prism of the Universe. ”

“Now reborn, it is time for you to return home. Golden Eagle will take you back to the Spiral Tree. When you are again facing the long, cold night, call upon Golden Eagle. She will bring you back to the Land of the Dawn. Back to me -- back to our cycle of renewal.”