Wednesday, December 26, 2007

"An Introduction to Roman Religion"

John Scheid, “An Introduction to Roman Religion”, (Translated by Janet Lloyd 2003, Indiana University Press, 1998, USA, ISBN 0-253-34377-1).

I recommend John Scheid’s excellent book for an introduction to the Roman religion. In his book, the author emphasizes the major role that the Roman religion had in Roman government, both in the Republic and later in the Empire. Also, he analyzes the Romans’ perceptions of space and time, rituals, sacrifices, and their deities.

More importantly, Mr. Scheid tackles how modern people should interpret the intent of ancient Romans. How can people see the Roman religion beyond the prism of Christianity? Studying the religion of the Romans is more than comparing it to other Pagan religions such as the Norse. The author stresses that scholars need to decolonize the religion of the Romans from their modern sensibilities.

He writes, “But none of us can escape our prejudices and the assumptions drawn from our own society and history. Even if we were to bury ourselves in antiquity and read only the ancient sources, we would still hardly be able to guard against those insidious influences. A better tact is to remain conscious of weight brought to bear by the recent past and the implicit cultural attitudes which threaten to distort our judgment, and then act accordingly, with those influences in mind.” p.17.

Rome, the city, had also a major function in the Roman religion. The City defined both time and space. Gods of death and destruction had their sanctuaries outside the Pomerium (City boundaries as defined by Romulus, the Founder.) As Rome grew and added more Deities, those who were hostile to Rome, had their shrines outside the Pomerium. Meanwhile, the founding of the City and other important historical events determined the religious calendar.

According to John Scheid, the Roman religion fostered liberty and dignity for both the Romans and their Kindreds. The Romans approached their Kindreds with reason, and not in fear. They saw their relationship with their Deities as one of a client-patron relationship. The clients (people) provided support, while the patrons (Gods) provided favors. Together, they brought about the common good for Rome.

Because there was a compact between the Gods, the Senate, and the People of Rome, everything depended on proper ritual and sacrifice. By the auspices, the Gods informed the magistrates of their Will. However, the interpretation of the auspices could be contested by anyone with standing in the government. Therefore, the magistrates had to be mindful of the will of the People in their interpretations.

The Roman Civil Wars disrupted their religion. Since Caesar and Pompeii had equal standing, they fought over who the Gods wanted for Rome. When Octavian became Emperor Augustus, he reformed the religion. He changed the taking of the auspices from granting public liberty to ensuring his personal power. In addition, Augustus began the Cult of the Emperors by deifying Julius Caesar, his uncle.

The author sums up the religion of the Romans, thusly, “As we have seen, the only religious ‘belief’ for Romans consisted in the knowledge that the gods were the benevolent partners of mortals in the management of the world, and that the prescribed rituals represented the rightly expected counterpart to the help offered by the immortals.” P. 173

Friday, December 21, 2007

Nature Spirits

At first glance, “Nature Spirits” seems to only imply the birds, trees, and perhaps stones. But the world is full of spirits. The wind spirits dance and play with leaves. Dragons, sit on the top of mountains, sunning themselves. Lares of the house guard the door against the Manes, spirits that would do the family harm.

Everything is alive with a mind and spirit of their own. Walking along a small stream near my building, I encounter different kinds of Nature Spirits. At one mossy dip between the maple trees, the fairies dance. Further along behind several houses, the stream meanders to a dark place. Among the roots of a dark tree on the stream bank lives a spirit that wishes no contact with people. (I generally avoid that place.)

When I was little, my mother loved to go into the woods and look for birds. On our treks, she taught me the names of trees, flowers, and of course birds. From our forays into the forests, I became attuned to the Nature Spirits. From my mother, I learned the importance of learning the name of each one. Names give a deeper understanding of each spirit.

When I teach at a new school, I offer salt to the Lares of the parking lot. Then, I offer gemstones to the School Lares. This is to ensure a parking spot, and help in teaching the children. I have discovered that the Lares remember me when I return to a school.

In the Roman Hearth culture, the family has a guardian spirit called the Lar Familaris. They made daily offerings to Them to watch over the house. Several of the Dii Familaris are charged with specific responsibilities – the Penates guard the food stores, Forculus the door, Limentinus the threshold, and Cardea the hinges. Meanwhile every male-family member has their Genius, female their Juno watching over them.


Nature Spirits

Oh, Nature Spirits who inhabit the world
Look upon us with kind eyes.
Help us care for Your world.

Dii Familaris

Dii Familaris guard the home –
Forculus, the door
Limentinus, the threshold
Cardea, the hinges
God Janus, the comings and goings.

So many protecting the family
So many the family honors
We give, They give, we give…..
Round, round, round,
A circle of hospitality
How good knowing the door is protected.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


ADF’s definition of moderation is “cultivating one’s appetites so that one is neither a slave to them nor driven to ill health (mental or physical), through excess or deficiency.”

ADF couches moderation in terms of addiction. For me, it is more than that. I see moderation in terms of living a healthy life. Consider how disruptive a life is when ruled by excess emotions. People move from drama to drama, but never resolve
anything. The other extreme is having a life of suppressed emotions. How can anyone experience life, if they chose not to feel? Living a life with icy calmness is as destructive as being an erupting volcano.

Moderation encompasses many things – wisdom, prudence, and a desire not to live in the extremes. In the philosophical sense, moderation is the even handed approach to life. Moderation counsels, “choose the middle path, rather than fluctuate between the two extremes”. As the road map to a fulfilling life, moderation places boundaries on excesses.

In their practical way, Romans modified the extreme parts of the Greek philosophy of stoicism. Valuing moderation, the Romans wanted stoicism to apply to the actual challenges of daily life. For them, practical wisdom was the life lived with good sense. To me, that is the definition of moderation.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Giant Otters and the Virtue of Fertility

Diane McTurk and giant otter

ADF defines “fertility as the bounty of mind, body, and spirits, involving creativity, production of objects, food, works of art, an appreciation of the physical, sensual, and nurturing.”

“Fertility”, today seems to only apply to the reproduction of humans. Various pundits discuss the “birth dearth”. In other circles, fertility has become a “bad” word because of overpopulation. But fertility encompasses more than the reproduction of humans. Fertile imaginations give us great stories and art. Scientific breakthroughs are another form of fertility. People imagine what could be, and then invent it.

One example of this virtue is the Karanambu Trust, which works to keep giant otters in the wild. (Giant otters are the top keystone species of South American river systems.) When Diane McTurk was in her fifties, she started rescuing giant otters on her ranch (Karanambu) in Guyana. Her appreciation of the otters lead to her nurturing and teaching them important otter skills.

Then, Ms. McTurk employed her neighbors to play with the animals. (Play is important to giant otter development.) She also reached out to the local villages not to kill otters, but to bring them to her. Her efforts encouraged people to come to see the otters and visit the surrounding areas. The local villagers benefited from providing services for the visitors. By preserving an untouched part of the rainforest, Diane McTurk promoted ecotourism for a poor country.

Diane McTurk saw the sensual aspects of giant otters at play, mating, and rearing their young. She enjoyed watching them pet each other. By being a part of the natural world herself, she nurtured the giant otters to reclaim theirs. Through her work, Ms. McTurk has kept one of the most fertile parts of the earth alive.

Commentary on her work by the Zoological Society of San Diego:

Karanambu Ranch and Trust:

Monday, November 19, 2007

Animals in Culture

Various cultures had animals symbolize aspects of religion and nature.

In the Zodiac of the skies: we see Cancer the crab, Aquila the eagle, Capricorn the goat, Draco the dragon, Taurus the bull. and Lepus the hare, among other constellations.

In 19th Century symbology of Western Culture, the lion represented Africa, buffalo North America, bull Europe, and the elephant for Asia.

The Muslims have 10 animals: Abraham's ram, Balaam's ass, Balkis' lapwing, Johah's whale, Mohammed's Alborak (horse), Moses' ox, Noah's dove, Seleh's camel. Solomon's ant, and the dog of the Seven Sleepers.

Three of the Four Evangelists have animal representations - St. Mark the lion, St, Luke the ox, and St. John the eagle.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Shameless Self-Promotion: BOOK SIGNING

Meet and Greet Your Intrepid Blogger at

The Whispering Bear
310-C Mill Street
Occoquan, Virginia

January 13, 2008

I will be signing my seven published books.

For those who cannot make the signing, you can order my books and request for a signed copied.

My Book Catalog is at:

Books include:



“Finding Your Animal Teachers” by Virginia Carper

“Learning From Your Animal Teachers” by Virginia Carper



“Mammals (Volume One)” by Virginia Carper

“Birds (Volume Two)” by Virginia Carper

“Insects, Reptiles, and Fish (Volume Three)” by Virginia Carper



“Dragons!” by Virginia Carper

“Mythic Animals!” by Virginia Carper


Friday, November 02, 2007

Tawny Owl: The Crone of the Night (Cailleach-oidhche)

(Picture Copyright : The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds(www.

The earliest records show that tawny owl has inhabited Eurasia since the end of the Ice Age. Nesting in tree holes and squirrel dreys, tawny owl is the most numerous owl of the forests. Largely nocturnal, she is extremely adaptable, and has made her home in city parks.

Tawny owl’s distinctive “twit twoo” is well known to people. Some of their many names for her reflects this: Brown Hoolert, Ferry Hoolet, and Hill Hooter. However, the hooting is a mated pair of tawny owls communicating with each other. The male owl says, “twit”, and female owl answers, “twoo”. Together it sounds as if one owl is calling.

The Celtics were of two minds concerning tawny owl. They regarded her to be both wise and a bringer of death. They called tawny owl “Night Hag” and “Corpse Bird”. Her Gaelic name “cailleach-oidhche” is a direct reference to the Celtic Goddess of Death (The Cailleach Bheur), the blue-faced crone of winter and death.

However, tawny owl is one of the five totem animals of the Celts. The earliest story of King Arthur tells of his search for the Divine Youth Mabon. He went to the Blackbird of the forge, who sent him to the Stag, who lead him to Owl of Cawluryd. This Owl guided him to Golden Eagle who took him to Salmon, the Source of All Wisdom. In this myth, each animal imparts a certain wisdom to those who seek them. Owl’s wisdom is that of objectivity and detachment. Adept at disappearing from view, tawny owl came to symbolize esoteric wisdom and secrecy. Druids wore cloaks of owl feathers for this reason.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Horny Toads

Horny Toads of Texas, which are actually lizards, are becoming scarce. This writing from Duckworks Pottery is perceptive about the scarcity of some reptiles these days. I would like to think that people could resolve problems of traffic and animals. One place to go is the Critter Crossings Website:

This is from Duckworks Pottery (

"I make ceramic sculptures in the Texas Hill Country, home to horned toads and lots and lots of cactus.

We don't see many horny toads these days. No one knows where they have gone--there are different ideas. Being cold blooded, they like to lie on warm pavement and some speculate that many have been squished flat by car wheels. Their favorite food is large red ants, and the red ants have largely disappeared as well. Fire ants are the favorite reason for that. I like to think that horny toads are way smarter than anyone could imagine (unlike the white tailed deer who just cannot seem to realize that cars will win every time), and that they have formed a secret underground society, perhaps with the red ants--a sort of symbiotic relationship where the toads consume just enough ants to stay alive and meanwhile exhude some sort of substance that repels fire ants and at the same time attracts whatever the red ants like to eat."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rescuing Box Turtles from Maryland’s Planned ICC Highway (part 3)

As promised more on the turtles!

Major construction is supposed to start in October-November 2007.

The Humane Society and the Box Turtle Advisory Commission are now seeking out turtles. They are marking and inventoring the turtles. Later these turtles will be outfitted with a transmitter, when the groups receive them. However, worries for the turtles abound.

For one, there may not be enough transmitters. Some of the transmitters are too large for the baby turtles. Once construction begins, the groups will have to search and dig for the turtles. Disrupting a turtle during hibernation is not helpful for the turtles. Plus no one have moved 150 turtles at one time. Also since not all of the turtles have been found, construction workers are trained to pick up the turtles and call the environmentalists.

It does not bode well for the turtles. Meanwhile, the lawsuits concerning the ICC are still pending in the courts. However, notice has been received that construction will start - date unknown.

Find out more about the ICC:

WikiPedia: ICC

Toll Road News

Monday, October 15, 2007

Meaning of the Red Kangaroo

From Scott Alexander King, "Animal Dreaming"

"If Red Kangaroo has leapt into your life, ask yourself: Are you taking adequate responsibility for your life, your role as parent or leader and the welfare of your people? Do you live in a constant state of stress, just surviving from one day to the next? If you are, do you consider this as taking responsibility for your actions? Have you sacrificed a part of yourself for the benefit of the family that you now regret letting go? Have you put some part of your life ‘on hold’ and feel annoyed that no one appreciates it? If so, what prompted you take this action, and for how long are you going to wait to reactivate them? If now is not the right time then set a goal for which you can aim, thus making the wait more bearable."

Contrast this with the previous post about kangaroo slaughter.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Kangaroo Slaughter in Australia and Language

I am still working on the box turtles. The ICC has been allowed to go forward. Tomorrow....

(Anti-Greenpeace Press Release, edited by me.) I edited it because it included language that does not promote civil behavior. The message is a good one but when you branch into inflammatory language, it ceases to produce the results you want. Instead such language promotes a hostile reaction.

I do agree that this should be looked into and examined. Why slaughter kangaroos? How does it help to end global warming? How does eating meat contribute to global warming? Are there other ways to end global warming?

Today Greenpeace is actually calling for the commercial slaughter of millions of kangaroos as a solution to . . . global warming! Now Greenpeace energy campaigner Mark Wakeham is urging Aussies to eat kangaroo to help reduce land clearing and the release of methane gas. "It is one of the lifestyle changes we can make," Mr. Wakeham said. "Changing our meat consumption habits is a small way to make an impact."

Obviously, Mr. Wakeham is not a vegetarian, which of course is the more positive way of changing meat consumption habits. The proposal to ommercially slaughter kangaroos is contained in a report, Paths to a low-Carbon Future, commissioned and released by Greenpeace. Roughly three million kangaroos are killed and commercially sold for meat each year. They are shot between the eyes at night with high-powered guns. Greenpeace wishes to see this number doubled. Australians eat only about a third of the 30 million kilograms of 'roo meat produced annually. This "delicacy" is exported to dozens of countries and is most popular in Germany, France, and Belgium.

The Greenpeace report has renewed calls for the Australian state of Victoria to lift a ban on harvesting kangaroos for food. Kangaroo meat presently sold in Victoria is imported from out of the state. The commercial kangaroo meat industry has seized the Greenpeace report to strengthen its demand to remove the kangaroo slaughter ban in Victoria.

**The Australian kangaroo population has been cut in half over the past five years because of excessive drought. A major commercial slaughter is hardly going to be beneficial to this diminished population.** The Greenpeace report by Dr. Mark Diesendorf, from the University of New South Wales, states that greenhouse gas emissions need to be slashed by at least a third by 2020 in order to avoid a climate change catastrophe. One of his recommendations is reducing beef consumption and increasing kangaroo meat production. "There's a small sub-set of environmentalists who see the kangaroo as a cuddly animal which should be left alone. They are entitled to their view, but more and more people are moving towards eating it,'' said Dr. Diesendorf.

What is Greenpeace thinking? Or are they thinking at all? Greenpeace is actually calling for a massive slaughter of a wildlife species for commercial purposes. To openly support the largest massacre of any wildlife species in the planet is going beyond the bounds of acceptability. What would possess them to issue a call for a kangaroo slaughter?

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Founder and President Captain Paul Watson was also a co-founder of Greenpeace. "I feel a little like Dr. Frankenstein, having helped to create this green mean monster. There can be no justification for this insane proposal." Al Johnson, who founded Greenpeace USA and was a member of the film crew in 1984 that made Goodbye to Joey was shocked when he heard this proposal. "This is inexcusable. How can we produce a passionate film denouncing the horrific kangaroo slaughter and then advocate the mass slaughter of kangaroos a few years later?"

"It is interesting that Dr. Diesendorf does not mention vegetarianism as a solution to global warming, nor does he mention the need to reduce human populations or to curb our excessive consumption of fish," said Captain Watson. "Instead, he has chosen to become Dr. Death for the 'roos and is advocating the mass slaughter of a wild native animal that has been a positive member of the Australian ecosystem for tens of thousands of years. And he dismisses those who disagree with him as a 'small subset of environmentalists.' "

Please contact Dr. Diesendorf and voice your opposition to the mass commercial slaughter of kangaroos for dinner. Tell Greenpeace that far from being a member of a "small sub-set," you are a true environmentalist, and it may choose to push this plan, but not in your name or the name of environmentalism.

Dr. Mark Diesendorf:

Monday, October 08, 2007

Rescuing Box Turtles from Maryland’s Planned ICC Highway (part 2)

What is the ICC Highway?

This 18 mile highway would run north of the Capital Beltway (Washington D.C.) aka 495, connecting Interstate 270 with Interstate 95 in Laurel MD. This highway has been debated for years now to help the traffic flow in Maryland. One problem, it goes through prime turtle territory as well as other animals. This road is to be a six lane toll road.

My Opinion

The problem with building more roads is that they increase the traffic. Instead of roads, mass transit is needed. However, in this area (VA-DC-MD), people prefer driving to using the bus or subway. Sigh, we have the worst air pollution outside of L.A. Instead ozone actions days, we go one step higher - Code Purple.

The Turtles?

This highway costs $2.4 billion. They have only allocated $20,000 to finding the turtles and putting transmitters on them. The transmitter will allow for turtle evacuation when the highway construction starts. However, the time is limited and will probably occur when the turtles are hibernating.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Rescuing Box Turtles from Maryland’s Planned ICC Highway (part 1)

This is a first in a series of blog entries about saving Box Turtles.

First the facts about turtles:
As you may not know, eastern box turtles are a dwindling species. They have low egg counts, dwindling habitats, collisions with cars, and been beat up by children with sticks. Since box turtles live long lives, most people don't know that babies are not being born in great numbers.

Turtles hardly venture a few miles from their homes. Therefore when a major highway or development happens in their areas, many turtles start wandering in search of a new home. They rarely find one.

One thing that people can do is record the turtles in their areas. Make note of them, and try to keep children away from the area. Some areas have worked with their various Department of Highways to set up safe animal crossing areas for turtles and other slow moving areas.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Meaning of Sugar Gliders

Enough with the sugar gliders? Not quite. This is the final post in this series.

The meaning of sugar gliders from Ann Williams-Fitzgerald, "Australian Animal Tarot Deck":

In the Tarot, they are the Lovers. The key words are "faith, choices, love, and relationship".

From the Animal Dreaming Forum
By Ravenna:

"Sugar glider teaches the wisdom of being able to fend for what is important to you in an assertive manner; without appearing fearsome or threatening. It is important in life that we don't go through it submitting to everyone's desires and suppressing our own wishes, or for that matter, being so aggressive that we scare off everyone! Sugar glider encourages a middle path, that is often quite masculine in nature.

Sugar glider also teaches us the value of the child in community. Often children are pushed to the side and rarely listened to, but sugar-glider teaches us that it is very important to actually *listen* to our children, and the children of a community, and what they have to tell us. This doesn't just include the cuter 6-8 year olds, but also the more obnoxious teenagers.

There is also value, in your life (if you have always been attracted to sugar gliders) in really respecting your sleep patterns and your occasional need to be introverted. It is important when distancing oneself from society that we still maintain a close connection to our family and friends, but introversion and rest is something your body and spirit crave.

Sugar-glider reminds us that we can do this. Finally, all the gliders tend to teach us that sometimes we need to do a bit more lateral thinking in order to reach a goal. As the gliders soar sideways and laterally to other trees to reach food sources, and communal nests - so glider can teach us to look beyond the square for that which nourishes us and feeds our spirit. Our lives and our lifestyles might seem a bit eclectic, but they literally help our spirit soar."

After reading this, I know understand why Gilbert Arenas choose the sugar glider to be a part of his cartoon series.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Sugar Gliders (part two)

More on the Sugar Gliders. After reading about them on the net, I have discovered they are the latest in pocket pets. I have a hard time with people having wild animals as pets. Sugar Gliders need a lot of care and feeding that most people do not know about.

From Australian Fauna:
These amazing little animals are native to Australia, and have taken their name from their ability to glide through the air and their love of sweet things such as sugar.

These creatures are found along eastern and northern Australia. The Sugar Gliders are small creatures with a shiny grey-silver coat. They are around 40 cm's long from nose to tail, and weigh just 150 grams.

They feed at night, mainly on insects found in trees, but also the sap from trees such as the eucalyptus. They can move about very efficiently from tree to tree, and glide through the air.

More editorial content from Sugar Glider University :

Sugar glider husbandry is very difficult for the average pet owner. Sugar gliders are not domesticated animals, and are, therefore, not a "companion pet."

Owning and maintaining a sugar glider colony is more like maintaining a small zoo exhibit than having a pet. It is very important to practice good husbandry with sugar gliders, as most captive sugar gliders in the U.S. die very prematurely due to inadequate husbandry practices.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sugar Gliders (part one)

Sugar gliders are marsupials from Australia. They are kept in the U.S. as an exotic pet. Please, note that I do not condone keeping exotic pets, since they become pests in their adopted country. However, here is some information about them as a pet.

From Pawprint:

"Sugar GlidersThe sugar glider is a small arboreal marsupial from northern and eastern Australia, New Guinea and other nearby islands, where they live in the eucalyptus forests.

Sugar gliders reach up to 6 inches in body length. They have long bushy tails, velvety gray fur with black markings, large black eyes and feet well adapted to their life in the trees.

Their most striking feature is their gliding membrane, which stretches from wrist to ankle. This gives them the ability to glide through the air, up to 150 feet in a single leap.

Pet sugar gliders have a life span of 12 to 15 years. Intelligent animals, they recognize voices, can solve problems and love to play.

Pet sugar gliders enjoy spending time with their humans and make wonderful pets. However, they require much more time and attention than most small animals and have special dietary and housing needs. Extremely social animals, they should always be kept in pairs or small groups. "

More information can be found at:

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sugar Gliders and Basketball Players

At the Washington Wizards' media day, Gilbert Arenas, one of the star players, passed out stuffed sugar gliders to promote his cartoon series. "Gazo the Pranksta". The sugar glider is called "Agent Zip". As Mr. Arenas explained, "He's a sugar glider. He's a character, but not really a character, and he was the cutest thing I could give you guys."

(The cartoon series is about Mr. Arenas' high school days.

Inside the sugar glider's zippered pouch was the following poem:
"Hypocrites, fools and the oversensitive beware.
Embrace your differences.
Who said life was fair?
Conforming for the inside.
What are you doing?
Watching from the outside.
Creativity brewing.
Don’t take yourself so seriously.
Things aren’t always as they appear.
It’s cool to be different.
Especially here.
We’re Generation Zero."


What are sugar gliders, you may ask?

Stay tuned for tomorrow's blog!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Dolphin Statue at Shell Station in Springfield, VA (3)

This is the third installment in the saga on the Dolphin Statue at the gas station.

This dolphin was purchased as part of "A Dolphin's Promise" Project sponsored by Virginia Beach (VA, USA), "Our dolphins, our city, our promise" for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program. As the city officials state, "Every time a Dolphin is spotted in Virginia Beach it will be a symbol of our commitment to help find a cure and our promise to help those battling with cancer."

As their website states:

"A Dolphin’s Promise is a non-profit organization working in partnership with the city of Virginia Beach. Our goal is to bring hundreds of life size sculptures of dolphins to the shores and neighborhoods of our beautiful city. This is a project with a very important purpose; to raise one million dollars for cancer research and to help save and protect marine life. "

Visit them at A DOLPHIN'S PROMISE:

Monday, September 24, 2007

Fair Trade Products

At my vending events, I will be featuring Fair Trade Products from the Purple Rhino.

From Go Green Giraffe (which wholesales Purple Rhino products)

Indigenous Handmade Art is what you’re buying. No matter what size value, you will purchase a "one of kind" product made by dedicated third-world artisan. This art is passed on from generation to generation and is their main source of income. The art is an integral part of their culture. When you take indigenous art and have it copied in China you are eliminating needed jobs, culture and a chance to break the chain poverty in third-world countries.

Our Community of Artisans need these jobs to break the chain of poverty and sustain their families. Your purchase provides them with jobs and gives them hope and dignity. If at all possible, we avoid the "middle man". This helps us standardize what the artisans are making and avoids mark-ups incurred through third-parties. We can than pass the savings onto our US customers and provide better wages for the artisans.


From the Fair Trade Federation

FTF members link low-income producers with consumer markets and educate consumers about the importance of purchasing fairly traded products which support living wages and safe and healthy conditions for workers in the developing world. By adhering to social criteria and environmental principles, fair trade organizations foster a more equitable and sustainable system of production and trade that benefits people and their communities.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

More on Dolphin Statue at Gas Station

I wrote about the Dolphin Statue at the Sunoco Gas Station near my home in August. It is a sparkly blue statue. Today, they put up a sign saying that it is for the Lance Armstrong Foundation: Live Strong.

Dolphins are being enlisted in the fight against Cancer!

Workshops and Classes In October - December 2007

Spiral Grove Witches' Faire: October 27, 2007
Harvey L. Pearson National Guard Armory,
692 Waterloo Road, Warrenton VA.

Workshop: 11AM

Whispering Bear,
310-C Mill Street, Occoquan, VA
$15 at the door.

Classes: Thursdays, 7-9PM

November 1: "Finding Your Animal Teachers"
November 8: "Working with Your Animal Allies, Teachers, and Totems"
November 15: "Animal Divination"
December 6: "Dragons!"
December 13: "Magickal, Mystical Animals"

More info can be found at my website: Animal Teachers Services:

See You There!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Alex, the Grey Parrot has Passed Over the Rainbow Bridge

For those who do not know who Alex was - he was an African grey parrot who could use human language to converse with people.

Here is the release from The Alex Foundation:

WALTHAM, MA (SEPTEMBER 10, 2007)—Alex, the world renowned African Grey parrot made famous by the ground-breaking cognition and communication research conducted by Irene Pepperberg, Ph.D., died at the age of 31 on September 6, 2007. Dr. Pepperberg’s pioneering research resulted in Alex learning elements of English speech to identify 50 different objects, 7 colors, 5 shapes, quantities up to and including 6 and a zero-like concept. He used phrases such as “I want X” and “Wanna go Y”, where X and Y were appropriate object and location labels. He acquired concepts of categories, bigger and smaller, same-different, and absence. Alex combined his labels to identify, request, refuse, and categorize more than 100 different items demonstrating a level and scope of cognitive abilities never expected in an avian species. Pepperberg says that Alex showed the emotional equivalent of a 2 year-old child and intellectual equivalent of a 5 year-old. Her research with Alex shattered the generally held notion that parrots are only capable of mindless vocal mimicry.

In 1973, Dr. Pepperberg was working on her doctoral thesis in theoretical chemistry at Harvard University when she watched Nova programs on signing chimps, dolphin communication and, most notably, on why birds sing. She realized that the fields of avian cognition and communication were not only of personal interest to her but relatively uncharted territory. When she finished her thesis, she left the field of chemistry to pursue a new direction—to explore the depths of the avian mind. She decided to conduct her research with an African Grey parrot. In order to assure she was working with a bird representative of its species, she asked the shop owner to randomly choose any African Grey from his collection. It was Alex. And so the 1-year old Alex, his name an acronym for the research project, Avian Learning EXperiment, became an integral part of Pepperberg’s life and the pioneering studies she was about to embark upon.

Over the course of 30 years of research, Dr. Pepperberg and Alex revolutionized the notions of how birds think and communicate. What Alex taught Dr. Pepperberg about cognition and communication has been applied to therapies to help children with learning disabilities. Alex’s learning process is based on the rival-model technique in which two humans demonstrate to the bird what is to be learned. Alex and Dr. Pepperberg have been affiliated with Purdue University, Northwestern University, the University of Arizona, the MIT Media Lab, the Radcliffe Institute, and most recently, Harvard University and Brandeis University.Alex has been featured worldwide on numerous science programs including the BBC, NHK, Discovery and PBS. He is well known for his interactions with Alan Alda in an episode of Scientific American Frontiers on PBS and from an episode of the famed PBS Nature series called “Look Who’s Talking.” Reports on Alex’s accomplishments have appeared in the popular press and international news from USA Today to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. The Science Times section of the New York Times featured Alex in a front-page story in 1999. That same year, Dr. Pepperberg published The Alex Studies, a comprehensive review of her decades of learning about learning from Alex. Many other television appearances and newspaper articles followed.

Alex was found to be in good health at his most recent annual physical about two weeks ago. According to the vet who conducted the necropsy, there was no obvious cause of death. Dr. Pepperberg will continue her innovative research program at Harvard and Brandeis University with Griffin and Arthur, two other young African Grey parrots who have been a part of the ongoing research program.

Alex has left a significant legacy—not only have he and Dr. Pepperberg and their landmark experiments in modern comparative psychology changed our views of the capabilities of avian minds, but they have forever changed our perception of the term “bird brains.”

For press contacts: The Alex Foundation and Dr. Pepperberg can be reached by e-mail at the or by phone at 781-736-2195.

If you choose to help support this research, please consider making a donation in Alex's memory to The Alex Foundation, c/o Dr. Irene Pepperberg, Department of Psychology/MS-062, 415 South Street, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02454.


The goal of The Alex Foundation is to support research that will expand the base of knowledge establishing the cognitive and communicative abilities of parrots as intelligent beings. These findings will be used to encourage the responsible ownership of parrots, conservation and preservation of parrots in the wild, and veterinary research into the psychological diseases and care of these birds. Through these efforts, The Alex Foundation will accomplish its mission to improve the lives of parrots.

Friday, September 07, 2007

National Zoo: Anteater

In July, the Washington D.C. National Zoo was surprised when they found that their giant anteater had a little baby. This baby looked like the Mom in every way. They found her clinging on her mom's back. However, since the two were inseparable, it took awhile before anyone knew the baby's sex. So every one called the baby, "Little Snozzie" because of her long nose. Her official name is Aurora.

"The giant anteater may be five to seven feet long, from nose to tail, and weigh 40 to 86 pounds. It has a narrow head, long nose, small eyes, and round ears. Its coarse hair may be gray or brown, with a white-banded black stripe running along the body to mid-torso, and a long, bushy tail, which can be two to three feet long. Its front feet have large claws, which are curled under when it walks. It has poor vision but a keen sense of smell. "

"The giant anteater detects termite mounds and anthills with its keen sense of smell and tears them open with its strong claws. Its long nose, which contains a bone tube formed by the fusion of the upper and lower jaws, functions as a vacuum, sucking in the insects. The anteater's sticky tongue—up to two feet long—collects more insects. An anteater may eat as many as 30,000 ants in a day."

Monday, September 03, 2007

Meanings of Water: Fresh water

Freshwater regions include ponds, lakes, and rivers. Each has been endowed by people with their own particular meanings. People are purified in the River Jordan (Jordan) and the River Ganges (India). Springs have healing properties that people seek. Monsters live at the bottom of lakes ready to frighten people.

Rivers are water in motion. They start in mountains and flow to the seas. Since human commerce moves with rivers, people’s lives are closely tied to them. Human civilizations first rose along the banks of rivers.

In literature, rivers stood for the flow of time, ebbing, and flowing, but constantly moving. An animal metaphor for the river would be salmon. These fish swim from small pools to their rivers to the seas. When it comes time for salmon to spawn, they fight the river current to return to their home pools upstream.

Deep in many lakes are cold-loving fish that took refuge in the cold waters, when the glaciers receded. Birds may live on the banks and fish for the many frogs and insects, but refugees from previous ice ages live near the bottoms. The subjects of legends, prehistoric monsters are reputed to be dwelling in the bottom of deep water lakes.

Lakes are mirrors into the other world. Ladies of Lakes beckon people to dive deeper for enlightenment. A lake may seem inert, but power lies just underneath the still waters. Dive in and encounter a magical world.

Life is lived small in ponds. They provide breeding spots for small animals like salamanders and frogs. Ponds attract a unique collection of animals to their shallow fresh waters from dragonflies and water snakes. Ponds are friendly places for people to enjoy nature.
If you want to know more about your nature guides, I can help you.
Inner Journeys: Nature Journeys:
("Jackson Creek" by Mary Ann Sterling)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Finding Your Tree Guide

Unlike animals, trees do not move. However, like animals, trees have particular personalities and teachings. Trees, that grow by running water, will have a feeling movement within them. Meanwhile, trees in fields reflect the peaceful energies of those places.

To know a tree is a subtle and quiet process. Each group of trees (grove) has a head tree that needs to be acknowledged. This tree is usually the oldest or tallest. Once you speak to the leader tree, you can freely walk among the other trees. Remember though, some trees prefer not to be touched, while others beckon to be sat under. As you open yourself up to the trees, you will feel one call to you.

Trees are subtle in their relations with people. For a response, watch the movement of the leaves or the dropping of a nut. Sometimes, you will feel energy from the trunk of the tree. Rarely are trees dramatic in what they do. Trees move very slowly, and are in no hurry. They expect the same from people.

When you are with a tree, watch, listen, and remember. Your experience may not seem much to you at the time. Over time though, the tree’s answer will have relevance. Be calm when conversing with a tree. Remember to thank the tree, when you leave.

During a hurricane, a huge oak crashed into my living room. Why this tree chose my condo to die in, I did not know at the time. Later, I discovered that He passed his strength on to me. He opened the door to other worlds for me to step through. The oak has been my companion on my walk. Trees offer their wisdom to those who listen quietly and with an open heart.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Why Animal Empowerments?

Animals have gifts that they are willing to offer people. One gift of the animals is their energies to empower people on their journey of life. With their energy gift, animals offer their particular wisdom to the person. People in need of serenity will benefit from Manatee’s soft, calming energy. Meanwhile, Wolf offers people a strong sense of self. For people who need to walk without fear, Jaguar offers his formidable gifts.

For those who are willing to listen and respect the animals, the energy gifts are theirs for the asking. When you first receive their energy, you may notice a powerful shift in the beginning. Your “guide” animal will infuse the energy in you. United with the animal, you will be in tune with their wisdom. Because you receive inner guidance from the animal, you will have a healthier point of view.

How does an empowerment works? Feeling stifled? Killer Whale will help you facilitate a process of self-transformation. She will swim with you, teaching you, your soul song. Together, you will enjoy the richness that life has to offer.

Feeling poor? Buffalo will adopt you into his herd. He shows you how to create abundance. As the Native Americans know, He fosters abundance through his life. Roam with Buffalo and know prosperity.

As you can see animals, many benefits come from the animals. Have them infuse you with their gifts, and see your life change. Just ask, and the animal will help.

("Heart" by Maryann Sterling)
For those interested in empowerments. I will be at the Holistic Health Fair in Dale City, Virginia ( ), on September 9, to do the empowerments in person.

If you can’t make it, I offer distance empowerments. Check out Animal Teachers: Empowerments:

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Dolphin and people

Recently a local gas station put up a beautiful statue of a leaping dolphin in from of their building. The dolphin sits next to a busy intersection. Imagine a gas station thinking that dolphins will make people feel good about them! Well, everytime I pass by the Shell station, I feel a smile coming on.

Here is a writing on dolphins.

Dolphin’s qualities are life force energy, manna, inner child and Universal Consciousness.

(Copyright: unknown)

Dolphin medicine people have a strong life force energy within them. They have a loving and tender nature. Within their soul is a young, vibrant and alive child. They love to live near, and connect to the seas and oceans. Other animals connect with these people. They treat all life forms with love, gentleness and compassion. All life is sacred in their eyes. These people are connected to the universal awareness. They have strong psychic gifts and an ability to communicate love and compassion through their eyes. They breathe in the energy of air, and allow this energy to flow through their being. They are people who believe that love can cure all. They are attracted to the ancient arts of yoga and meditation. They understand the workings of our spiritual energy centers. They live their lives through their feeling centers. When a Dolphin medicine person walks into a room, you are filled with love and compassion. As you breathe in their presence you are filled with compassion, hope and gentleness of spirit.

When reversed, Dolphin people have become quite hurt and fearful. They have held their breath and as such, have closed down their ability to love and express themselves. They are denying their inner child access to their outer life. They have become old and set in their ways. They have become stressed out and are causing themselves sickness and emotional trauma. They are refusing to listen to the signals that Mother Earth is sending to them. They have forgotten how to play and enjoy the wonders of life.

Release your breath and remove the fear that is invading you today. Use your breath to remove the negative emotions that are eating away at you. Connect to your inner child.

When Dolphin is your protector and guide, he is calling to you to awaken your love of life. He is telling you to heal your childhood traumas and become playful. Dolphin teaches you the art of release. By breathing in his energy, you release sickness, stress and fear. Become open to your connection to Mother Earth and Great Spirit. Use your qualities of love and compassion to help others heal.

Call on Dolphin to aid you in your healing. His love and compassion will guide you to happiness and fulfilment. Dolphin will teach you the sacred ways of breath. He will show you how to release the old and bring new life force energy into your being.
For those who want a deeper connection with the dolphins, check out my Gifts From the Dolphins!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

What is Reiki?

What is Reiki?
Founded by Dr. Mikao Usui, Reiki is a system of hands on healing. This system provides the body with the ability to restore itself to balance and harmony. Reiki seeks to regain order to the body whose vital energy has become unbalanced.

For those who know Japanese will be confused by the Kanji (Characters) reading. “Rei”, according to Mrs. Hawayo Tanaka, means “universe”, and “ki” means energy. Since she introduced Dr. Usui’s system to the West, people have accepted the Kanji reading to be Reiki, “Universal Life Force Energy.”

Why are there so many different types of Reiki? If the healer channels the energy into the person, then is that not the same energy for everyone? In the real world, different bodies require different types of energy or can only handle certain kinds of energy. Energies can be softer or harsher depending on how they are focused. In Ocean Friends Reiki, manatee energy is softer, while seahorse energy is more energetic.

Reiki healing is warm, enlivening, and peaceful. The main goal is to nourish the body on many levels. The different energies heal physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels. Manatee energy is used for heavy emotional distress, while sea turtle energy is for spiritual distress.

Therefore, Reiki can be described as a combination of 'spiritual healing' and 'energy healing' techniques. Reiki can be effectively used in combination with other therapies - both allopathic and 'alternative'. In fact, some studies have demonstrated that Reiki stimulates the relaxation response.

Ocean Friends Reiki Principles
Just for today do not worry.
Just for today do not anger.
Honor your parents, teachers, and elders.
Earn your living honestly.
Show gratitude to every living thing.
Love and respect all the oceans and marine life.
Give back what has so freely been given to us.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

"Behold a Pale Horse"

What does it mean to see horses of a certain color? In Western folklore, there is a wealth of information regarding this. "Behold a Pale Horse" meant death is afoot. Here are some more colors and their meanings.

Color and Meaning

Black: Death, Mourning, Underworld
Brown: Sadness
Golden: Sun
Grey: Death
Pale or Greenish: Death, Pestilence
Red: Sun, War
White: Moon, Sun, Purity, Victory

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Teachings of the Sea Turtle



(U.S. Forest Service)
One of the largest of the Sea Turtles, Green Turtle likes living in warm, shallow waters where sea grass, Her favorite food, grows. She locates the vegetation with Her excellent underwater eyesight. Swimming at great speeds underwater, She travels near the coasts in search of sea grass.If you find Green Turtle far out to sea, She is on Her way to Her nesting beaches. She is meeting the male Turtles there for mating. Both male and female Green Turtles return to the same beaches year after year. Usually, these beaches are the same ones from which the Turtles were hatched.

Although Mother Green Turtle is awkward on land, She still comes up on the beach to build Her nest. Mother Turtle drags herself on to the beach to dig a large hole with Her flippers. Once She lays Her eggs, Mother Turtle pushes sand over the eggs. Then, She hauls Herself back over the beach to the sea.

Green Turtle teaches perseverance. Watch Her as She struggles to lay Her eggs. Graceful in the sea, Mother Turtle comes on land, an alien hostile environment, to provide a nest for Her young.

Green Turtle’s Teachings Include:

“As about, so below, and within. The gentle turtle acknowledges the delicate balance between ocean and earth, and reminds us of the importance of respecting both.” Copyright: “Wisdom of Australian Animals”, Ann Williams-Fitzgerald .

Green Turtle’s Wisdom Includes:


Being Grounded

Healing Knowledge



Friday, July 13, 2007

Mockingbird by Sayahda

The Mockingbird

The Northern mockingbird is approximately 10 inches inlength with a long tail that twitches vigorously when excited. It has strong legs suited to scratching through dead leaves and underbrush for insects. Although their dull gray color doesn’t impress the eye their various calls definitely demand attention. Known for their songs the mockingbird was given its name because of its ability to mimic the calls of other bird species. In Latin the word mockingbird means “many tongued mimic.” The song of mockingbird is a medley of calls of many other birds. They are master imitators and usually repeat an imitation several times before they start another song in rapid succession. They are one of the few birds that sing while in flight.

Mockingbirds hold a variety of teachings. On a subtle level they show us how to mimic ourselves. What we mimic reflects back to us and helps us see what we truly are. Discovering oneself in this way can be a powerful transformational experience. Those with this totem should ask mockingbird to help them connect with their personal sound frequency. Once this connectionis made healing on all levels takes place. It is common for an individual bird to have as many as 30 songs in its repertory. It can also mimic the sounds of barking dogs and cats.

They teach us about the power of the voice through song. Appearances are not important to those with this totem. They are always heard before they are seen, if they are seen at all. Those with this medicine can learn new languages easily and make excellent interpreters and spokesman. Mockingbirds are fearless and will defend their nest and territory. Courageous birds they will dive and attack intruders that come too close. They teach us how to develop confidence within ourselves, sing out our truth and stand up for what is rightfully ours.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

From Nature to Myth: Owls and People

Owls spark people’s imaginations. These silent predators of the night both inspire and frighten people. For nighttime, when owls are most active, is also when magic is afoot. To many people, seeing these shadowy birds with their glowing yellow eyes is to experience the Other Worlds.
This worldwide Order of Birds ranges from tiny elf owl of North America to huge eagle owl of Eurasia. As predators, owls regard anything that moves as fair game. While elf owl eats insects, eagle owl feasts on deer. Because most owls fly at night, they occupy the same niche in the eco-system as hawks and eagles. Native Americans called the Owl Family “Night Eagles”.

Owls are divided into two families-True Owls (Strigidae) and the older family of Tytonidae, to which only barn owl and bay owl belongs. Barn owls can be thought of as the more ancient version of “Owl”. They do not hoot like true owls, but instead make a hoarse “Khurrew” noise. In addition, they have heart-shaped faces, longer beaks and heads, and forked tails. Barn owls live in Europe and the Western Hemisphere, and bay owls live in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Australia. This makes the Barn Owl Sub-Family, one of the most widespread land birds in the world. The round-headed owls, that most people see, are from the larger Strigidae Family which contains 300 species.

Because so few birds are nocturnal and the majority of owls (Strigiformes) are, most people respected but distrusted them. The Japanese regarded barn owl and horned owls as demonic. In Borneo, Scops owls were thought of as ill omens to be avoided at all costs. The Romans believed that any owl sucked the blood of babies.

However, the ancient Greeks welcomed little owl as their Goddess of Wisdom’s Friend. In Hawai’i, Pueo (Hawaiian Owl) is a protector. As ‘Aumakau, Pueo is the ancestor guardian who watches over the family. Because barn owl saved Genghis Khan from his enemies, Mongolians revered her. Meanwhile, the Celts look upon tawny owl as one of the five oldest animals on earth.
For owl empowerments and other animal consultations:

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Otters on youtube

Hi everyone,

"Ferrets have a golden rule that we humans could teach to our sons and daughters,
Do unto Otters, as Otters would do unto you."

This is on youtube - a short video of sea otters holding paws by Cynthia Holms, taken 5 years ago. I watched it several times and it was truly remarkable. The otters were not simply floating or rafting together. I thought it was great.

Watch the whole 1 minute and 40 seconds, it is not an accident these otters are holding hands!

The otters are Niack (She is a survivor of the Exxon Valdez Oil spill) and Vido, of the Vancouver Aquarium.

Otters at the Otter Trust, Earsham, Suffolk, UK

Watch European Otters play and eat and swim to music (not the otters, the sound on the tape.)

Baby otter learning to swim:

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Midsummer is when the sun stands the highest in the sky. Daylight dominates, and the night is short. Then, the night reclaims its due.

In the past, on Midsummer Eve, people gathered herbs for healing. (Plants of the wort family were especially prized.) For more healing and cleansing, people then bathed in various springs. After the Midsummer bonfires burn out, people gathered the ashes to mix with water. Then, they sprinkled this ‘glop’ around their houses for protection in the coming year.

To the Norse, Midsummer was as important as Yule. At this time, the Norse gave thanks for the prosperity and fertility of their lands. Also, they prayed for continued prosperity and good health. Sunna (the sun) was honored at Midsummer, as well as Balder (the God of Light) and Nanna (His Wife).

For me, Midsummer is a bittersweet High Day. Because of my on-going depression, I crave the sunlight. At Midsummer, the sun is at its peak, and then daylight lessens gradually. Midsummer is time of joy tempered with the shadow to come.

Monday, June 18, 2007

My connection with Nature (2)

How do I live on the earth right now? I live modestly in a garden condo. I do not feel the need to have a bigger house. I dislike clutter, and strive for simplicity.

Clutter comes in many forms. Financial clutter is when you overspend to feel good. Demanding more and falling behind in payments has a cascading effect. The things no longer please you, and they take up valuable space. You accumulate debt, and more things. After awhile, you become trapped, unable to function as the debt piles up. You think that a bigger house is the answer. Of course, that eats up more resources both financial and physical.

Body clutter is when you over focus on food. You demand food in fashion or out of season. This uses up scarce resources like the rainforest and oceans. The transportation system becomes congested with shipping more and more food. More land is only used for roads. Moreover, the air becomes more fouled as more trucks put out exhaust. Buying food in season focuses on replenishing the local resources.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My connection with Nature (1)

My connection with Nature is complex. Although I live in an urban area by the railroad tracks, I am surrounded by nature. For me, the various plants and animals have adopted this unnatural place.

The oak and maple trees behind my garden condo shade my small balcony. A little intermittent stream appears when it rains between the two garden condo buildings. The rocks, lining the stream, provide places for snakes to sun themselves. Of course, there are the squirrels, who nest in the trees.

How do I honor the earth? I do it in small ways. The local woodpeckers bother the neighbors with their noise. They like to drum on the gutters at daybreak, waking everyone up. I teach the neighbors the names of the various woodpeckers in our neighborhood. (We have Pileated, ladder-backed, downy, and hairy.) I think that my neighbors will appreciate these birds. One elderly man now refers to them as the ‘big bird, middle bird, and small bird.’

Also, I am known as the snake lady. Often, I will see someone with a shovel ready to whack a snake. I scream, “DON’T KILL THAT SNAKE! IT EATS RATS!” They generally thrust the snake and shovel at me, demanding I get rid of it. I usually take the snake to the local wildlife rescue person.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Sky and Earth Powers

In Roman Cosmology, the Sky is the traditional province of the Dii Consentes (The Council of Twelve Gods). In the Roman mind, the powers of the Sky were just and right. The Romans sought to divine the will of the Dii Consentes from birds in flight and other sky omens. Iuppiter, Optimus and Maximus (Jupiter, the Supreme Sky God) signaled His Will through thunder and lightning.

In Rome, the Sky Power supported civic society. Iuppiter’s temple was the center for Roman politics. Victorious generals made sacrifices there as well. In the Roman worldview, the Sky Gods with the Senate and the People governed Rome.

Meanwhile, the Earth was the province of the Dis Pater, God of the Underworld. Under His Rule, the earth is chaotic and dark. For that reason, the Mundus (Well to the Underworld) is only opened three times a year. Once the Mundus is opened, Dii Inferi (The ‘Infernal Ones”) move about. For that reason, these days are considered to be unlucky.

However, the Earth Power used sacred snakes to convey prophecies to to the people. Caves and grottos were his sacred places. The Dis Pater not only ruled the Underworld but also governed wealth and riches. Meanwhile, the Penates, guarding the family’s food stores, lived in underground chambers.

In the Roman sense, the mingling of the Two Powers is one of order working with chaos. Snakes, associated with various Gods, crawled out of caverns offering omens. Lightening bolts from the skies were more signals of Divine Will. The powers of Earth and Sky mingle, but then separate.

As the Sky and Earth Powers mingled, it was for the good of the Roman people. The Sky brought the governing power and the Earth brought riches and kept people safe. Together, they supported the people of Rome.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Sharks in Danger!

Sharks are not glamorous subjects but without them, our oceans would become cesspools. Take a look at the website in the following post. Shark cartillage has no medicine value. It will not cure cancer. Don't eat shark fin soup - taking of the shark's fins is cruelty to animals.


I found your website through the Shark Webring and thought you or your family might be interested in this story about sharks from Conservation International:
Preying on Predators: Shark Tagging Data Will Guide Conservation Policy, Efforts
"Contrary to popular belief, sharks are not preying on people as much as people are preying on sharks. Millions are harvested every year, primarily to fill a ravenous craving for shark fin soup."

The story describes the plight of sharks endangered by the demand for shark fin soup and the efforts of scientists to learn how to best protect them by shark tagging. There are maps of the sharks' movements, photos, and video.

Learn more at:

Please consider adding this link to your website to help spread the word!

Lindsay Walter-Cox
Conservation International

Friday, April 13, 2007

Mythic Animal Teachings


He can guide us through dreams and astral travel experiences, as well as meditation. As directed by the Muse of Poets, he brings inspiration, teaching us how to express ourselves eloquently.

As a symbol of innocence, gentleness, and purity, they often tell us it is time to find those things within ourselves and see through childlike eyes in order to rediscover our personal sense of wonder at all the beauty around us. Also they help us to find and develop our individual power and then nurture it carefully.

Dragons represent the supernatural, and infinity itself and help us to understand both. They help us to find andcreate change and transformation and aid us in spiritual growth. Dragons represent ageless secrets and ancient energy, and can be helpful in working with those things.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Persistence as a Virtue

The ADF defines persistence as “the drive, motivation to pursue goals even when that pursuit is difficult.”

Virgil’s “Aeneid , the great epic of Rome’s founding, celebrates persistence. Writing of the voyages of Aeneas to find a home for his people, Virgil sought to codify the beginnings of Rome in an epic poem. However, Virgil died before finishing his “Aeneid”. Personally, I think that the “Aeneid” celebrates not only Aeneas’ persistence but Virgil’s as well.

After the Greeks destroyed Troy, Aeneas took his people on a journey find a new home. While searching, he was constantly harassed by Juno, the Queen of the Roman Gods, who bore a grudge against his mother, Venus, the Goddess of Love. While the two Goddesses sparred, Aeneas coped with the death of his father, shipwrecks, and attacks by vicious harpies. Finally, he landed in Italy, where his dead father had told him to go. However before Aeneas could settle, he has to fight the Latins and other local Italic peoples.

In my life, doing the family laundry exemplifies persistence. Every week, I have to walk two blocks to the laundry room in my complex. (Parking is not allowed in the area.) Carrying the soap and my bags, I walk in all types of weather. Furthermore, the laundry room of my complex is freezing in the winter and stifling in the summer.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Chinchilla

The Chinchilla

by Sayhada

A member of the rodent family, the chinchilla has big eyes, round ears and thick silky fur. Because of their beautiful fur they are captured and bred by the fur industry. It takes over a hundred chinchillas to make one fur coat. Unfortunately supply and demand could lead to its extinction.

Chinchillas have a persistent undying curiosity and will explore every nook and cranny of their surroundings. The like sitting high up as if to observe the world below. Once they feel an area is safe for them to enter they explore it with a sense of adventure and innocence. Their observation skills are acute. They instinctively know when to act and when to retreat. Chinchillas teach us the importance of timing. Those with this medicine intuitively know the right time to act and the right course of action to take, although caution is advised not to become too analytical. Balancing observation skills with a sense of innocence is an important lesson.

Naturally robust and hardy the chinchilla has an extremely sensitive yet effective digestive system which is designed to extract the most out of its food. It does not have a vomit mechanism like other animals and is unable to expel bad food out of its system. This serves as a warning to those with this totem. Good nutrition, a proper diet as well as physical exercise is a necessity for optimum health. Difficulty in eliminating toxins from the body can lead to many health problems.

The chinchillas predominate form of communication is the variety of sounds it makes. Each sound relays a specific message. When upset it chatters its teeth, when nervous it lets out a shrill squeal, when agitated or alarmed a sequence of loud high cries is heard. If it is hungry it will make a rasp like snarl. It knows how to use its voice to convey a message and teaches us the art of efficient communication.

The chinchilla is an important messenger that demands respect. It requires us to heed its advice. If we choose to listen it will serve us well. If we don't honor its message it will scamper away and find someone else to help. When it appears in your life ask yourself the following questions.

Do you need to apply more discernment in your life to avoid chaotic situations? Are you using your observation skills to help you reach your goals? Do you take the joy out of an experience by over analyzing it? Does the wonder and magic of life still excite you? Does your health need attention? Do you communicate effectively with others?Although the chinchilla holds a variety of messages one thing is certain. When it appears in your life something is out of balance that needs to be corrected immediately.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

"A History of Pagan Europe"

Prudence Jones and Nigel Pennick, “A History of Pagan Europe”, (Routledge U.K., 1995, Reprint 2005, ISBN 0-415-15804-4)

People new to Paganism will benefit greatly from this book. By tracing Pagan religious history from early Crete to modern Europe, Jones and Pennick introduce people to the depth of Pagan philosophy. By placing the European peoples in their Pagan religious milieu, the authors eliminate various Christian filters. Unlike many other books, Jones and Pennick do not assume that monotheism is the epitome of Western civilization.

By detailing Christian versus Pagan thought, the authors give the readers a solid grounding in Paganism. In discussing Roman piety, the authors write, “Interesting the Latin word superstitio simply meant religious practice which was outside the State rituals…private religion which could well be duly registered…. The Romans regulated people’s actions; the Greeks with finer sophistication, also judged people’s attitudes,” (p. 49) What I conclude from this is that Pagans usually regarded the structure of worship to be the most important.

This book expands on the tensions between Pagans and Christians. Two concepts in the Christian religion put them on the offensive. As a rule, Pagans were tolerant of other Pantheons, as long as the State Gods were properly honored. Christians, on the other hand, regarded the belief in any God but theirs (heresy) was a sin. Sin, another alien concept, baffled many Pagans. People break laws but they do not ‘stain their souls’. To “save” them, Christians had to forcibly convert Pagans.

What surprised me is the durability of Paganism. Instead of disappearing, it forced Christianity to adapt to it. For example, many early Christian saints are Pagan Gods in disguise. Many Pagan customs are intertwined with Christian holidays. Few Christians, today, know that many of their holidays are Pagan High Holidays, with a Christian flavor.

After discovering the varieties of various Pagan faiths, the reader takes heart that people can go back to their ancestral faiths. The history of Paganism in Europe is a fascinating one. Rather than the progression to monotheism that many histories present, this book shows how Pagan philosophies borrowed from each other. Each had their own specific focus but adapted from others. Celts borrowed from the Romans, while the Finns borrowed from the Norse. The Gods remain eternal, worshipped in Their various Aspects by peoples.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Swan Teachings

Symbology: transformation, loss of innocence, beauty

The painting of a swan maiden represents a common motif found in the mythologies and folktales of many cultures around the globe – from Native American to Slavic. Although the story varies from place to place, the basic plot is the same: a young man finds the feathered robe or skin of a swan maiden – a goddess-like creature – which she ahs temporarily shed to assume a human form. Although the youth attempts to hide the feathers from the maiden, which allows him to possess her, the swan finds its feathers, assumes its animal form, and leaves the youth. The lost swan thus symbolizes the departure from youthful innocence and the passage to maturity. In some versions of the story, the swan dies. In Greek mythology the "swan song" is the beautiful song sung by the swan just before death.

From: Animal Spirit Knowledge cards

To the Ancients, all things in nature had a sacred or spiritual meaning. The world was inhabited by the higher beings, who took the form of fantastical creatures that were part animal, part human, and exceedingly powerful. These beings are the spirit guides who lead the departed to the next life, heal the sick, and restore balance and harmony to a troubled world. The tribal healers knew the animal spirits well. The journeyed beyond the threshold of ordinary reality to invoke the power of these great beings.


The 48 paintings by Susan Beddon Boulet (American, b brazil 1941 –1997) reproduced in this deck resonate with an ethereal energy and speak the language of the soul. Each image is accompanied by a brief description of the animals’ power and symbolism in various cultures.

Animal Spirit Knowledge Cards
Text by John Nagiecki
© The Susan Eleanor Boulet Trust
catalog number K152
Published by Pomegrante communications Inc.
Box 6099, Rohnert Park, CA 94927


Read more about the Swan Family at Animal Teachers

Friday, March 23, 2007

More Animal Predictions

Whatever occupation one has, when he hears the frogs croak for the first time in the spring, will be one's occupation for the entire year.

Make a wish when you see a spider spinning a web and the wish will come true. If you see a brown spider crawling around on any clothes in your closet, don't brush it away! The spider means you will be getting new clothes.

A bee flying into the house means a stranger is coming.

If you say "mumbly up" repeatedly over an anthill, the ants will come up out of the hole.
Saying "mumbly down" makes the ants go back down.

It is lucky to have a snake live in, near, or under your house.

When you see a crow for the first time in a new year, observe its flight-- that will indicate the distance you will travel that year. If the crow just sits there, it means no journey; if it flies out of sight, it means you'll take a very long journey.

Monday, March 19, 2007

"Plants as Spirit Helpers"

"The Shaman Way: Plants as Spirit Helpers"

By Shaman Elder Maggie Wahls

A Shaman learns to use the assistance of animals in journeying and in healing, but also enlists the power of plants - as spirit helpers. Plants are a powerful source for healing. All things on this planet garner their power from the sun and as plants live and breathe the sun, they as a whole have much to offer. Plants however live at a lower vibration than people or animals. They move more slowly and can have a much longer life than humans in some cases such as the giant sequoia. So their power is used for longer methods of healing just as the herbologist prescribes doses of tinctures for several days.

How do you choose which plants to work with?

Each plant has a particular kind of power to it. Some plants are for growth and some for retardation, some for light and some for dark. Each plant has two sides to it as well. The outer side - that which you see with your physical eyes; and an inner side which you can learn to see with your inner eyes. Sometimes the inner side is not a plant at all but an insect or some other being.

The Inner Side of Moss

I was walking in a strange forest far away from my home as a young girl enjoying the day and not paying attention to my path. Suddenly the sun disappeared behind a dark ominous cloud and I realized that it would soon be storming and worse than that, I was lost! I began to run in the direction I thought would take me home. But it just went deeper and deeper into the dark forest where the trees were now being whipped back and forth by the rushing wind. Leaves blew across my face as the sky turned darker and darker. The rain started to come down in a hard pelting that hurt my bare skin and I knew I had better take cover and try to remain calm. I found an open trunk of tree, hollowed out by a lightning strike many years before that offered some shelter now so I jammed myself inside and began to cry at my situation. I recognized the moss growing inside the tree trunk as the same moss my mother used for a soup we all liked very much. I wished I could go right now and take some of this moss to my mother and she would make us all a hot bowl of soup. I looked again and there were little green people standing in the moss no bigger than the moss itself and I told them to get my mother. I must have fallen asleep there because when I opened my eyes my mother and father were lifting me out of the tree trunk. We went home and my mother had prepared the moss soup earlier in the day for our supper. It never tasted better than it did that day!

Copyright © 2007 Shaman Elder Maggie Wahls. All rights reserved.

Excerpt from her online Shamanism course
Discovering the Shaman Healer Within: Apprentice Course.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Animal Lore

Saying "white horse" seven times will help you find a lost article.

Saying "white rabbit" on May 1st will bring good luck the rest of the year.

If when starting a journey, you see a rabbit cross your path, it will bea safe journey.

If a squirrel runs across the road in front of you, it means good luck and wealth are soon to be yours. (Be careful not to run over the squirrel. Very bad for the squirrel.)

Buzzards are a long time in between wing beats. So if you see a lone buzzard, make a wish before he flaps his wings and your wish will come true.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Courage in Norse and Roman Myths

ADF defines courage as “Acting appropriately when faced with danger.” This is more than just being brave. Courage also includes acting rationally. In Norse and Roman mythology, two similar myths show that both cultures defined courage as ADF does.

Tyr, Norse God of the Thing and Justice, lost his right hand to Fenris, the Great Wolf. An offspring of Loki, Fenris was known as the devourer. To prevent the destruction of Asgard, the Gods had to leash him. However, Fenris only trusted Tyr, and asked the God to prove that nothing awful would happen. So the God put his right hand into the wolf’s mouth. When Fenris was leashed, he bit off Tyr’s hand. Afterwards, Tyr became known as the One-Handed God for his sacrifice to the greater good.

During the Roman-Etruscan War, Lars Porsena, the Etruscan king, laid siege to Rome. An ordinary citizen, Gauis Mucius, went to the Roman Senate, and volunteered to end the siege by killing the king. Unfortunately the Etruscan king caught Mucius. To demonstrate Roman fortitude, Mucius put his hand in the fire. Lars Porsena, not only admired his courage, but was also unnerved by his actions. The king let Gauis Mucius return to Rome. Afterwards, Lars Porsena decamped, ending the siege.

In these myths, courage is tempered with reason. By volunteering for a greater good, both Tyr and Mucius both lost their right hands. Afterwards, they both had to learn to live life one-handed. They displayed quiet courage, going about their business not completely whole but coping nevertheless.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

March is a Tough Month For Wildlife

"Tough Month For Wildlife"


Copyright 2007

"March is the most difficult month of the year for birds to find adequate food to survive winter in most of North America. That’s because the supplies of natural food....last year’s seeds, fruits, berries and insect eggs and larvae...are at their lowest levels after months of birds feeding on them. March is too early for a new crop of seeds, fruits, berries, and insects to be available. Therefore, birds have to work harder to find sufficient food during a month when it is still very wintry in much of the country."

"That’s why March is the best time of the year to feed birds in the backyard. They will respond more readily to feeder foods offered in March than at any other time of the year. Isn’t it curious that in fall...October and November...when natural foods are most abundant, people take the greatest interest in feeding birds? It is in fall when there are the greatest number of bird seed sales, bird feeding seminars, bird store sales, and start-up backyard bird feeding efforts. By March, the interest in bird feeding has waned, at a time when the birds need it most.

Though birds are not dependent on feeders for their survival (studies have shown that birds glean 75 percent of their daily food from the wild, even when feeder foods are available), feeding them in March will make life a little easier for them, and under severe conditions, may even save them from starvation. "
-- George H. Harrison

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Norse Birds of Lore

Many cultures had animals as part of their lore. Here is a samply of Norse culture about birds. You can learn a lot about a culture from the animals they regard as important.

Bird : Name : Lore

Cock : Salgofnir (Hall Crower) : Wakes up the Einherjar
Cock : Gullenkambi (Golden Comb) : Informs the Gods of Ragnarok

Golden Eagle : Sits at top of Yggdrasil

Greylag Goose : Pyschopomp

Hawk : Habrok : Best Hawk
(Grimmer’s Sayings)
Hawk : Vedrfolnir (Storm-pale) : Sits on top of Yggdrasil

Raven : Hugin (Thought) : Odin’s raven
Raven : Munin (Memory) : Odin’s raven

Whooper Swan : Valkyries

Friday, March 02, 2007

Honoring Animals

Honoring Your Sacred Animal

Create effigies of your animals. Place their images in your personal areas. You are reminding yourself about the true significance of your encounter with your animals.

Nature walks. Note details about the animal.

Education. Educate yourself about these animals. Research their roles in mythology, history, and art.

Maintain an open mind. This quality is especially important when it comes to snakes. Most people either like them or feel repulsed by them.


You can find out more at my website: Animal Teachers

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"The Song of Amergin" - My Meditation (part 3)

“Who calls the cattle from Tethys?”
Who indeed? Who does the cattle listen to? Who commands cattle and men? The One who knows the ages of the moon. The One who knows the place of sunset.

“On whom does Tethys smile?”
On the Boar of Boldness. On the wind on sea, on the One who fills the head with fire. Tethys smiles on the fair and wise.

“Who is the Troop?”
Who indeed? The Troop of men? The troop of the fairy folk?. The Troop of all? I am the roar of Sea. I am Lake on Plain. I am all this and more.

“Who is the One who places infections in Blades?
...enchantments on the Spear?
....enchantments of Wind?”
The Bull of Seven Fights. The Dewdrop. I am One who does all. I am Spirit of all. I am on whom Tethys smiles.


The Entire Poem

I am Wind on Sea,
I am Ocean-wave,
I am Roar of Sea,
I am Bull of Seven Fights,
I am Hawk on Cliff,
I am Dewdrop,
I am Fairest of Flowers,
I am Boar for Boldness,
I am Salmon in Pool,
I am Lake on Plain,
I am a Mountain in a Man,
I am a Word of Skill,
I am the Point of a Weapon,
A weapon fierce in battle,
I am One who fills the Head with Fire.

Who makes smooth the rugged mountain?
Who knows the ages of the Moon?
Who knows the place of the Sunset?
Who calls the Cattle from House of Tethys?
On whom does Tethys smile?
Who is the Troop?
Who is the One who places infection on Blades?
Enchantments on the Spear?
Enchantments of Wind?

(From the Lebor Gabala Erenn, The Book of the Taking of Ireland, Part V, R.A.S. Macalister, trans. and ed., London, Irish Texts Society, 1956. Some lines are revised.)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

"The Song of Amergin" - My Meditation (part 2)

“I am Salmon in Pool”
I am the wisdom of ages. Navigate the currents of life with me. Go into the world; swim the oceans and rivers. Return home to quiet pools. I am the circle of life.

“I am Lake on Plain”
Dive into me, discover the Otherworld. Look up my still waters and seek wisdom. I am the mirror to the soul.

“I am a Mountain in a Man.”
I am the giant of the earth. I am father to the sky. I am mother to the earth. Raise your eyes to the skies and see me.

“I am a Word of Skill,”
I am knowledge. I am tradition, culture, wisdom. Come with me, down the pathways of knowing and understand.

“I am the Point of a Weapon....A weapon fierce in battle.”
I sing the song of bloodlust. Join me in victory. Join me in battle. Like steel in fire, I make all stronger.

“I am One who fills the Head with Fire.”
I inspire the poet and warrior. Feel the fire in the blood of the spirit, of the mind. Burn brightly in me.

“Who makes smooth the rugged mountain?”
Who set the stars in the sky? Who put the fire into men’s souls. Who is the One?

“Who knows the ages of the moon?”
Who knows the age? The Salmon in the pool. The Boar of Boldness. The land, and the sea. The stars and sun know.

“Who knows the place of sunset?”
Who knows where goes the sun? “I do,” says the sky. “I do,” says the earth. Hear us.


(Picture copyright by Maryann Sterling)

I offer mythic journeys and more at my site "Inner Journeys"