Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sharks in Danger! (2)

In light of the recent shark attacks, I want to remind people that it is the sharks that are being overfished, and are in danger. They are needed to keep the oceans healthy!

Sharks come in all shapes and sizes, and live nearly everywhere. This diverse group of Fish vary in size from the small Dogfish to the huge Whale Shark. They have adapted to living in freshwater, saltwater, and even the ocean depths. Sharks inhabit all the seas and oceans, even the icy waters around Greenland.

Although Sharks are feared, They often fail to live up to their fearsome reputations. Only a few Sharks attack people. Whale Sharks are plankton feeders, and Leopard Sharks are considered to be docile. However, Sharks are quite good at defending Themselves. Great Whites, Blues, Bulls, and Mako Sharks are the world’s only uncaged predators left. Sharks teach self-defense but also warn that the reputation for ruthlessness may overwhelm others.

Contrary to popular belief, Sharks are not instinctive killing machines. Like everyone else, They learn through experience how to hunt. Sharks are a much maligned Fish. Without them, the ocean would be a cesspool. Sharks eat sick, dying, and dead animals, and Some even help coral reefs to grow. Sharks have survived eons taking care of the earth's seas for everyone's survival.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Skunks: Weigh Your Risks

Originally placed with the Weasel Family, Skunks were later moved to their own family of Mephitidae (meaning “stench”) which includes the Stink Badgers of Southeast Asia. (Skunks’ DNA were found to be different from the Weasels’.) These bold patterned Mammals go about their business, self-assured and self-confident since no other animal wants to be squirted with a bad smelling musk. The world “skunk” comes from the Abenaki (Native Americans of New England) word segonku which means “One who squirts.”

Before a skunk sprays an intruder, They will warn them first. First a Skunk will arch their back and walk towards the offender. Then the Skunk will lift his tail and click his teeth. After stamping his feet, the Skunk does a headstand and sprays the offender.

Thought of as brave and feisty, Skunk goes about His life unperturbed. But his spraying comes with a physiological cost. While replenishing his spray, Skunk is defenseless for ten days. However, most Animals do not wish to gamble on that chance. So They avoid Skunks.

Skunk Family teaches us to weigh the risks before taking action. Do not be too clever for your own good. Go about your business with self-confidence.

Teachings from Skunk Family Include:
“We saw a couple of skunks -- odious animals. Conscious of its power, it roams by day about the open plain, and fears neither dog nor man. Certain it is, that every animal willing makes room for the Zorillo (skunk).” Copyright: “Voyage of the Beagle” by Charles Darwin.

“Skunk teaches us to be clever but not foolish. Take risks when they are worthwhile, but do not become a daredevil, flaunting your mortality to the universe.” Copyright: The Nahualli Animal Oracle by Caelum Rainieri and Ivory Andersen.

Skunk Family’s Wisdom Includes:
Having a Reputation
Nonviolent Action
Honor Yourself
Self-respect Brings Other’s Respect


Science Note: Although Skunks are also called “polecats”, they are not relatives of the European Polecat (Mustela putorius). Meanwhile Zorilla (Striped Polecat), Ictonyx striatus, which looks like a typical Skunk, is a member of the Weasel Family.

Note: Hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and liquid soap mixed together is the most effective to remove the smell. DO NOT PUT THIS MIXTURE INTO A BOTTLE OR IT WILL EXLODE.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Periwinkle (2)

On my walks around the neighborhood, I connected with this plant elder. Whenever, I went, I encountered “many hills of purple”. In his natural places, I could relate to Periwinkle and meditate with Him.

Periwinkle is a plant of the semi-wild places, and not of the home. Silvanus, the Roman God of the uncultured land and woods, watches over this plant elder. It is best to meet Periwinkle outdoors on the fringes of gardens.

I understand why Periwinkle has so much strength and intensity. This plant elder is a wild untamed flower living in the city. Periwinkle creeps around seemingly tame, but then takes over without notice. For me, this plant cannot be contained on an altar but must be free. I see Periwinkle as a Spirit of the Semi-wild Places.

Meditations on Periwinkle

Periwinkle, Your Most Purpleness
Periwinkle, Your Most Intenseness
You envelope me.

Your blossom small
Hides your spirit wild.
I say to all
Watch for the Periwinkle.

Note: I think of Periwinkle as a male.

Andrews, Ted, “Nature-Speak: Signs, Omens, and Messages in Nature”, Dragonhawk Publishing, Jackson TN, 2004.

Bradford, Nikki, “Heal Yourself with Flowers and Other Essences”, Quadrille Publishing Ltd, London, 2006.
“Periwinkle”, A Modern Herbal by M. Grieve,, 2008, 21 April 2008,

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Periwinkle (1)

With his bright purpleness, everywhere I walk, Periwinkle greets me. Peeping through the groundcover, He and his Relatives welcome me. However from time to time, I find myself overwhelmed by this plant elder.

In spite of this plant’s intenseness, I was drawn to meditate on Periwinkle. After studying his natural history, I realized that my efforts to know this flower would be fruitful. According to “Heal Yourself with Flowers and Other Essences” by Nikki Bradford, “Periwinkle can help wash away memories of those past experiences and beliefs, which drain the flow of your energy.” A plant that can clear away the past would have to be intense. Therefore, I thought that this plant elder would be a good ally in dealing with life issues.

Since the time of the Anglo-Saxons and later Chaucer, Periwinkle has been a friend of people. In the Old World, Greater Periwinkle (Vinca Major) is used as an astringent and tonic. Lesser Periwinkle (Vinca minor) is used as a part of a tincture for hemorrhages. Because of this plant’s usefulness, Europeans transplanted Him to the New World.

In Europe, Periwinkle is also called the Sorcerer’s Violet. Planted on children’s graves, this plant elder would protect them from malevolent spirits. Since this plant has the power to exorcize evil spirits, people used Him in healing and magic.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Animal Individuals and Families

Many books and websites that discuss animal wisdom have Snakes, Lizards, Frogs, and Turtles listed as one animal each. However, the individuals in each group are widespread in their characteristics and habits. A Rat Snake is different in temperament from a Cobra. The Lizard species encompasses tiny Geckos, huge Komodo Dragons, and fierce Horned Lizards. Turtles range from the quiet Box Turtle to the rapacious Snapping Turtle.

Since some characteristics pertain to the entire species, one can offer some generalizations about the group, for example, such as Snakes have no legs or that Turtles have shells. However, bear in mind what most members of each group may have in common, some animals will not. Therefore it is wise to learn about both the family and the individual.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Working With Your Shadow

Our shadow animal is the dynamic that brings change to our lives. They test us, and give us energy to change ourselves. They help us break out of our comfortable places, and push us out into the world.

Welcome the animal into your life. Regard it as an ally. Remember you do not have to cuddle up with your shadow animal or feel warm feelings towards them. Accept that they are there to help you.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mole (2)

The mole that lives around my dumpster is a Common (Eastern) Mole (Scalopus aquaticus), who constructs a vast series of deep tunnels for living. One of the largest and strongest of moles, Common Mole is also the most adapted for life underground. With his bullet-shaped head, powerful muscles, and web-like claws, Common Mole is an earth miner swimming in search of earthworms. A prolific tunneller, He has his own exclusive burrow system of summer and winter tunnels. During cold weather, He uses the deeper tunnels for warmth. In warm weather, Common Mole constructs surface tunnels, which may include hornets’ nests (one of his favorite foods).

Eating hornets is something I never thought that a mole could do. For me, Common Mole is a powerful totem, since He transmutes poison into food. As a hunter of hornets, Common Mole protects those around Him.

Most people see Common Mole as a pest since He digs up their lawns. But people should welcome Common Mole, for He mixes and aerates the soil, provides tunnels for water to reach plant roots, and eats many destructive insects. Instead of cursing Common Mole, watch Him as He swims through your lawn, making it greener for the future.

Perhaps people can see this mole the way the Lakota (US) do – as a care taker of the earth. According to the Lakota, moles know the earth’s aches and pains. Being nearly blind, moles also see the world without bias.

In their underground world, moles are unseen and solitary. However like Mole of Kenneth Graham’s “The Wind in the Willows”, we can go outside of our comfort zone. Following brave Mole, we can come into the sunshine and make friends. We can be as fearless as Mole.

Forsyth, Adrian, “Mammals of North America”, Buffalo: Firefly Books, 1999.

Jones, David, “North American Wildlife”, Vancouver: White Cap Books, 2002.

Palmer, Jessica Dawn, “Animal Wisdom”, London: Element, 2001.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Mole (1)

After I found a mole near the common dumpster, I learned that moles live underground in many urban areas. This particular mole was trying to find his way home amid the concrete. With my handkerchief, I carefully picked him up and deposited him on the grass.

Nearly forty kinds of moles live in the woodlands and fields of Eurasia and North America. Moles spend most of their lives underground. In the darkness of their burrows, moles eat, sleep, mate, and raise their young. These insectivores, with their small eyes and ears, eat many insects and other invertebrates. As underground tunnellers, moles have taken advantage of where they live.

Usually out of sight and underground, moles are the least understood among mammals. As swimmers of the earth, moles’ bodies are digging machines with their shovel-like paws. Similar to a person swimming the breast stroke, moles push the dirt behind them as they dig. Once their burrows are done, moles spend much of their time patrolling their system of runways. Since their burrows act as a giant pitfall trap, moles often find worms or insects that fall into one of the tunnels. With their sensitive snouts and Eimer’s organs, moles can detect juicy worms, one of their favorite foods.

The mole’s ability to tunnel underground reminds me of an explorer hacking his way through the jungles. But the mole not only finds a path, he also makes the path for others to follow. To me, mole is more than an explorer; he is also the guide into the unknown. The mole is the Pathmaker!

Who wants to know what lies beyond the bend? Who is unafraid to go there? Who makes a road to get there? The mole!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Guardian Dragons

One Nature Spirit that people are fond of is the dragon. Many of our experiences with them are usually with the “small ones”. Being curious, young dragons find people fun and intriguing. For these reasons, they enjoy the company of humans.

Usually a younger dragon, who likes to play, will become a guardian dragon. Sometimes, an older dragon will ask you to mentor a young dragon. Watching you unawares, the older one has decided that you are mature and steady, qualities of a good dragon mentor. Although the older dragon will guide you, understand that you have the responsibility of caring for the dragon “child”. (Age in dragons is different than with people. They age more slowly.) Remember in your relationship with these two different dragons, that they have placed their trust in you. Treat both with love and consideration.

Before inviting a guardian dragon into your home, first make it “dragon friendly”. Place dragon pictures around your house. Have gems, crystals, beads, bells, and bright shiny pendulums for them to play with. “Baby” dragons love to swing on pendulums and bounce up and down.

At first, you will only sense their presence. You will see an eye, a flash of wings, or a face in the window. Eventually, when the dragon feels comfortable, they will make themselves visible to you. When that happens, speak to them kindly. Enjoy their antics, and include the dragon in your daily activities. Remember to leave them little gifts, and above all express your love to your guardian dragon.

Read more about Dragons - purchase my book "Dragons" from my website.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Magic of Forsythia (2)

People frequently plant this shrub because it is adaptable to many conditions. Few diseases can attack a forsythia bush. It is easy to reproduce either by cuttings or by pruning it back. In addition, the shrub will root itself by drooping branches on the ground. Later, these branches will root on the spot.

People also like the forsythia because it acts as a living wall or a privacy fence. When this bush is leafed out, it forms a dense screen. Forsythia shields people from unpleasant things, and offers privacy.

With its vigorous growth, one forsythia bush can overrun a large area. According to horticultural experts, in five years, a shrub can grow eight feet tall (nearly three meters) and five feet across, (almost two meters.) Because of this ease in taking over an area, it is often listed as an invasive plant species. Unless forsythia is carefully monitored, it can crowd out native plant species. The shadow side of forsythia is its heedless dominance.

These aspects of the forsythia help me to understand its relations with the fairies. The bush provides places for the fairies and other nature spirits to dance. The forsythia protects them from view, and offers them shelter.
In this aspect, forsythia acts as a gateway to the Otherworlds. If you stand quietly on a bright spring day, you can see the fairies come and go. Also on quiet summer evenings, the nature spirits peer shyly from underneath the leaves. This ordinary plant keeps secrets well.

The forsythia helps people to understand that they can grow where they are planted. They can be transformed into something better. Be brave and go out into the cold world to bring happiness is what the forsythia counsels us. However, always be aware the shadow side of forsythia - excessive and overwhelming force. As we do with the fairies, we must also approach the forsythia with caution. This bush’s good qualities must be tempered with moderation.



Bradford, Nikki, “Heal Yourself with Flowers and Other Essences”, Quadrille Publishing Ltd, London, 2006

Wells, Diana, “100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names”, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, 1997

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Magic of Forsythia (1)

According to “Heal Yourself with Flowers and Other Essences” by Nikki Bradford, the essence of forsythia can be used to help people with their addictions. The author writes that the plant can give a person the strength to change their engrained habits. From the book,
“Allow the golden yellow of my blossoms to bathe you in the light of transformation. Let me strengthen your willingness to move forward.”


The natural history of the forsythia does suggest this particular attribute of its magical qualities. Brought from China in 1842 by Robert Fortune (famous plant explorer), this bush thrived unexpectedly well in both England and North America. Robert Fortune named the plant after William Forsyth, who had started the Royal Horticultural Society of Great Britain.

Before that in 1833, another species of forsythia had been introduced in Europe as a lilac. After further taxonomic work, botanists decided it to be a new genus of the olive family, and classified it with the Forsythia family. Since then, this plant has mutated several times, providing gardeners with a variety of choices, such as being more upright or having larger flowers. Forsythia demonstrates the ability to start over fresh.

Often seen as one of the first signs of spring, the bright yellow flowers of the forsythia bush shouts, “SPRING IS COMING!”. Walking down a drab street on a cold, grey day, a person feels often happy after seeing this cheerful bush. Its flowers give hope and reassurance that warm weather is soon to arrive. Like the forsythia, we can be bright on the greyest day, knowing that a better day is coming.

Forsythia is a brave shrub. When many other plants wait for warmer weather, the forsythia pops out, in cold March, with all its glory. A person can draw strength from the courageous saffron flowers of this plant.

Bradford, Nikki, “Heal Yourself with Flowers and Other Essences”, Quadrille Publishing Ltd, London, 2006

Wells, Diana, “100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names”, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, 1997

If you want to journey further into Nature: see my website Inner Journeys: