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.