Sunday, November 30, 2008

Brief: Celtic Wisdom Tarot

Celtic Wisdom Tarot by Catleen Matthews

Celtic Wisdom Tarot is based on Celtic myths. The Major Arcana are the Celtic gods, while the Minor Arcana are based on the Four Treasures of the Celts: the spear, stone, sword, and cauldron. By traveling the path of the myths, the Soul gains wisdom to embrace the world.

In Celtic Wisdom Tarot, the Major Arcana are called Wisdom Cards. Through them, you will receive the Seven Candles of Wisdom. For example, there is the Candle of Will. This candle is represented by the “Three Unfailing Ones.” They are the Decider, whose words never fail, the Empowerer, who will never fail the Soul in deeds, and the Challenger, who will never stop questioning the Soul.

The Minor Arcana are the story cards. Representing the aspects of the Four Treasures, they are Battle, Skill, Art, and Knowledge. The Court Cards are Woman, Warrior, King and Queen. These cards exude qualities that are important to the Celts of the Iron Age and to us in the modern world

Choose a Reading from Me: Three-card spread: $U.S. 15
Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers, animalteachers @

Friday, November 28, 2008

More on Ma'heo'o Reiki

Ma'heo'o, a Cheyenne word, means Great Spirit, Great Creator or Great Mystery. This system of energy combines the elements of Earth, Air, Water and Fire with the Great Spirit to effectively promote and activate healing. Through the use of healing light and color, Ma’heo’o Reiki promotes calming, peace and relaxation.

This system combines the gentleness of Reiki with the raw power of the Earth elements. This unique style of Reiki beautifully combines the healing energy of Reiki with the ancient wisdom of the Native American peoples. Ma'heo'o Reiki was created by Rev. Sheryl “Rain” Carter, and employs symbols derived from the Native American Peoples and Mother Earth.

In Native American spirituality, the Great Spirit is manifested in all things. When an Indian Doctor heals someone, they first ask the Great Spirit to help in the healing. Meanwhile, Reiki is the application of Universal Life Force Energy. The healing energy of Reiki is transferred by one person to another.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What Is Ma'heo'o Reiki?

The tern Ma’heo’o Reiki is pronounced Mah-hay-oh-oh Ray-Key. Ma’heo’o is Cheyenne (a Native American language) for Great Spirit, Great One or God. Ma’heo’o Reiki combines the elements of Earth, Air, Water, and Fire with the Great Spirit to activate and promote healing. Simple yet powerful, this system can be used by anyone. Ma’heo’o Reiki combines the core teachings of Reiki with the Earth-based techniques of the Native People of our lands. It focuses on restoring balance to all of the natural elements within our bodies to that of Mother Earth and Great Spirit.

There are seven symbols that are incorporated into this healing system. The first four represent the four elements, thereby enabling us to connect with and channel Mother Earth’s energy. Combined with (and activated by) the last three symbols of Great Spirit, this becomes a very powerful system. It allows for a great energy channeling ability utilizing healing, light and color. Ma’heo’o Reiki promotes a higher intellect, grounded-ness, sense of calm, peace and relaxation. This system combines the gentleness of Reiki with the raw power of the Earth elements. Ma’heo’o Reiki can bring you into contact with your Spirit Totems, give you your sacred name and balance your body with the four elements of Earth.

There are 3 attunements involved in Ma’heo’o Reiki. The first two enable a better connection and a heightened sense of the elements through Mother Earth. Not only do the symbols allow harmony of the elements of Mother Earth, they also extend to the human condition. The third is the Master level which connects with Great Spirit. This enables you to harness the power of Earth and Spirit to effectively promotes your healing from within.

From “Ma’heo’o Reiki: A Program of Spiritual Healing, Growth & Development” by Sheryl “Rain” Carter.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Lessons of the Purple Finch

Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpuieus)

Found in the Northeast and Southern United States, Purple Finch is a stout bird. Unlike House Finch, he can lift his feathers into a near crest. Also his raspberry coloring on his head, breast, and rump distinguishes Purple Finch from his fellow finches.

Living in coniferous forests and in open pastures, Purple Finch forages for seeds and berries. During the winter, He often visits local bird feeders for sunflower seeds and millet. Fond of salt, Purple Finch appreciates the human who sets out a salt cake. Loving water, He will use a birdbath in the winter.

Purple Finch carefully weaves and lines her nest with animal hair and soft grasses. Her cuplike nest can be found in the front of conifers. So carefully constructed are these nests that Purple Finches will use them for generations to come.

Aggressive in defending his territory, Purple Finch is no match for House Finch and English Sparrow. These two invaders have driven Purple Finches out of many nesting places. The State Bird of New Hampshire, Purple Finch is loosing out to these introduced birds everywhere.

Will this bird of glorious song disappear from the American landscape? Will the time come when people will not witness Purple Finch tenderly offer his mate a stick for their nest? As Purple Finch weaves her nest for posterity, so do we weave the web of our world. This bird gives us pause for thought.


Roth, Sally, “The Backyard Bird Lover’s Field Guide”, Rodale Inc, New York, 2007

______, “All About Birds: Purple Finch”, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, accessed 17 Nov 2008

______, “Bird Web: Purple Finch”, Seattle Audubon Society, accessed 17 Nov 2008


Copyright: Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers, 2008

From Universal Class, fun self-paced classes taught by me:

Finding Your Animal Teachers

Working with Your Animal Allies, Teachers, and Totems

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Spotted Hyena: The Power of Women

SPOTTED HYENA: The Power of Women

A gregarious Mammal, Spotted Hyena lives a socially complex life. Her Clan is ruled by the fiercest of the Females. Queen Hyena leads her Clan in chasing down prey. Within their Packs, Young Females inherit their Mother’s position. (Clans are broken into Packs ruled by Females.)

The most successful of large Carnivores, Spotted Hyena will gang up on Lions for their Kill. And, She will fiercely defend her Pups from Adult Male Hyenas. As a Mother, She nurses her Young until They are about 18 months old.

Spotted Hyena has a rich repertoire of calls. Whooping, She tells her Clan, “Here I am.” Her giggling and laughing tells Them that She is afraid of something. With loud grunts, Spotted Hyena warns Others. But most importantly She communicates to Her Friends by her rich scent. Her Clan marks their territory with scent, telling Other Hyenas to stay away.

Her Pack hunts different Animals using different methods. For example, to hunt Wildebeests, One Hyena will charge the Herd. The Rest watch for a slow Wildebeest and run after Them.

Spotted Hyena demonstrates the power of women. With great stamina, She brings down Zebra. With her Clan, She can challenge the mighty Lion for his kill or charge a Wildebeest Herd.

Wisdom of Spotted Hyena Includes:
Living a Complex World
Many Methods of Communication


Copyright: Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers, 2008

From Universal Class, fun self-paced classes taught by me:

Finding Your Animal Teachers

Animals For Everyone: Mammals

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hyenas: More Than You Expect

HYENA FAMILY: Do Not Overgeneralize

Hyenas (Hyaenidae), large doglike Mammals, are related to the Viverridae family of Civets, Genets, and Mongooses. Thought to be scavengers, Hyenas are actually skillful hunters. This small family of Carnivores are remarkable in their ecological and social diversity. Although Hyenas can be defined as Carnivores with jaws that can crush bones and teeth, They cannot be generalized as a group.

For example, Aardwolves of Africa are Hyenas that have specialized in eating Termites. While Aardwolf eats only Termites, Spotted Hyena challenges Lion for her kill. Striped Hyena scavenges but also eats fruit and insects. Meanwhile Brown Hyena scavenges and feeds on melons and ostrich eggs. Because of their eating habits, Hyenas produce the riches milk of carnivores.

Hyenas demonstrates the rich diversity of societies. Brown Hyenas live in a small society where the Natal Mothers will nurse Each Other’s Young. Meanwhile, Aardwolves live in monogamous pairs. While Striped Hyena lives only in a clan of a Female and several Males, Spotted Hyenas live in large female dominated Clans.

But, people only see Hyenas as one thing - vicious laughing scavengers. In Africa, legends of Were-hyenas abound. In Mali, They hunt people, Meanwhile in Ethiopia, people who were hereditary blacksmiths (known as bouda) became Were-hyenas at night to rob graves.

Hyenas teach us an important lesson of overgeneralization. This diverse group has became lumped together and then transformed into terrifying Were-hyenas. People need to look beyond first impressions to find the truth.

Wisdom of the Hyena Family Includes:
Finding the Truth
Embracing Diversity
Finding Your Place


Copyright: Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers, 2008

From Universal Class, fun self-paced classes taught by me:

Finding Your Animal Teachers

Animals For Everyone: Mammals

Friday, November 21, 2008

Finding Balance: Animal Oracle Cards

Earth Mother and Sky Father Spread

Finding Balance

(Two Cards)

For people familiar with the Tarot, working with animal wisdom cards is another way to find balance in your life. With the Earth Mother and Sky Father spread, you learn to balance your maleness with your femaleness. Think in terms of giving and receiving when you are shuffling and dealing the cards. In traditional cosmology, Sky is dominant and giving, and Earth subordinate and receptive.

Use your dominant hand as Sky Father and your other hand as Earth Mother. Right-handed people would have the right card be Sky Father while left-handed people would have Sky Father as the left card. Pull one card with each hand and place them side-by-side. Right-handed people will have Sky Father-Earth Mother; Left-handed: Earth Mother-Sky Father.

When reading the two cards, notice any special relationship of the animals such as predator-prey or alliances. Do the animals belong to the same species group? Do they live in the same environment? These are clues as to what is out of balance in your life. Ask the animals to help you regain your balance.


Deck: “Druid Animal Oracle” by Philip Carr-Gomm, Stephanie Carr-Gomm, and Bill Worthington

This deck contains twenty-five animals important in Celtic Lore. Using this desk will restrict you to only animals of the British Isles. Therefore, you will need to look for more subtle clues in the cards.

After shuffling the cards, you draw Badger as Sky Father and Owl as Earth Mother. What do you know about this pair? They are different species, but both are warm-blooded carnivores. However, one prefers life on the earth, while the other prefers the skies. Badger lives in setts dug into in the ground; Owl lives in stick nests fashioned in trees. However in Celtic lore, Badger is the Keeper of Traditions, while Owl is one of the sixth Oldest Animals of the world. Seemingly opposite animals are subtly joined as one under Celtic traditions.

What is interesting is about this pair is that a land mammal is Sky Father; a bird is Earth Mother. What is significant is that they are warm-blooded carnivores that possess ancient wisdom. Badger and Owl suggests that perhaps you have been in one place too long in your life. It is time to move on. Use the wisdom of Badger and Owl to decide where your life path needs to go.


A Note On Handedness and Cards

Most people think in terms of “right” as dominant and male. Since “right” is traditionally associated with sun and light, people see “right” as the ‘yang’ side. “Left” is associated with darkness and night, and is the ‘yin’ side.

However, in using objects such as cards, handedness does matters. A left-hander goes to the left and sees the left as natural. This runs counter to traditional thinking, which labels left as “sinister”. However, left-handed people give with their left and receive with their right, which is the opposite of right-handedness. If you think in terms of receiving and giving, then handedness matters. In two and three card spreads, this is something to be considered, especially when direction matters. The hand you use is the dominant male hand.

In many cultures, left-handedness is viewed as a bad omen. In many places, the use of the left-hand is taboo. Left-handed people are forced to eat and write right-handed. In Tarot cards, the Devil is left-handed symbolizing Western cultural view on “left”.


For a two card reading ($US 15) : contact me at animalteachers @

Copyright: Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers Enterprises, 2008


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Symbols of Bull and Cow


Because of people’s familiarity with Cattle, they have labeled many Hoofed Mammals as “Bull” and “Cow”. Elephants, Moose, and even Seals are referred to in these terms. In addition, “Bull” is often used for powerful Males of other species as well.


As the King of his Herd, Bull rules absolutely, representing temporal power. In addition, for many ancient Europeans, He represented the Sky Gods. In Ancient Egypt, Apis Bull (a black Bull) was the incarnation of the Creator God Ptah. Now a force of nature, Bull becomes the fertilizing power of the heavens.

Ancient peoples often sacrificed Bulls for religious purposes. In the Cult of Mithras, Roman soldiers baptized their initiates in Bull’s blood. In the 1500s, Charles V, of Spain and the Holy Roman Empire, celebrated the birth of his son, Philip II, by killing a Bull. To stop the Black Plague in 1522, Pope Leo X allowed Bulls to be sacrificed.

Christians also had Bull represent aspects of their beliefs. A Bull being lead into an arena symbolizes Christ being led to the Cross. A kneeling Bull is a symbol of St. Silvester. To prove that Jesus Christ is the God of Life, St. Silvester brought a Bull back to life. Meanwhile, St. Luke’s attribute is a winged Ox (castrated bull).


Cow converts plants into food, thereby providing nourishment for humans. For many people, She is the productive power of the earth. Hindus have Kamadhenu, the Cow of Plenty. Among the Celts, Faerie Cattle (Crodh Mara) were the embodiment of plenty.

Cows offer connections to various Gods. In the Vedic tradition, when people die, Celestial Cows guide them along to the Kingdom of the Blessed. In the Norse Sagas, Audhumla licked the ice and freed the Elder Gods. She nursed Ymir, who formed Buri, the first Man. Ancient Egpytians used Red Cows to pull the dead to their tombs. Among Jews, a Red Cow was sacrificed for the sins of Israel.


Copyright: Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers, 2008

From Universal Class, fun self-paced classes taught by me:

Finding Your Animal Teachers

Animals For Everyone: Mammals

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cattle: Many Gifts

(Uruz, Fehu)

COW (Bovine Family): Many Gifts

Wild and Domestic Bovines have provided nourishment for people’s minds and bodies since Prehistory. These large Cud Eaters are at home nearly everywhere. Relatively low maintenance, Bovines breed well in captivity. Moreover, They can convert plants into nourishment for Themselves and people.

Providing milk, meat, hides and fuel, Bovines formed the foundation for many civilizations. Domestic Cows not only supplies meat and milk to people, but homes and fuel as well. In treeless areas, cow patties are used for fires. Meanwhile, Oxen plow fields and pull carts. Mongolians rely on Yak for everything. The Masai say that all Cows were given to them from N’gai, the Great God. Hindus see Zebus (Tropical Cattle) as “Second Mothers”.

Early Europeans tested their strength against Aurochs, the ancestor of today’s Domestic Cattle. Paintings of powerful Aurochs decorate caves of European Prehistory. Once roaming all of Eurasia, the last Aurochs became extinct in Poland in 1620. Aggressive and powerful, Aurochs became the Norse idea of strength (the Rune Uruz).

The closest relatives to the Aurochs today are the White Cattle of Chillingham. In his Herd, Bull rules his Harem like royalty. Only when He dies does a new King emerge. Meanwhile Cow leaves her herd to have Her Calf. When She is ready, Bull will escort Her and Her Calf back and introduce Them to the herd.

Because of what They have provided humans, Bovines are considered a symbol of wealth. In the Norse Runes, Fehu (cattle) meant wealth. Therefore cattle stealing became a crime worthy of death and of warriors. In stories of the American West, rustlers were hung. Ancient Greeks sang about the boldness of Hermes (Mercury) stealing the Cattle of Apollo (God of the Sun). The Cattle Raid of Cooley (Ta’in Bo’ Cuailnge) was the central epic in the Ulster Cycle of Irish literature. Stealing Cows from other tribes became a part of Masai culture.

Bovines offer people many gifts - of material wealth and of the imagination. The humble Cow feeds people meat and milk. Wild Aurochs feed the imagination of daring and courage. Together, They offer people the gifts of life.

Wisdom of the Cow Family Includes:
Interspecies Cooperation
Foundation of Life

Science Notes:
Wild Bovines includes: Gaur (Bos gaurus), Banteng (Bos javanicus), and Aurochs (Bos primigenius).
Domestic: Cattle and Zebu (Bos taurus), and Yak (Bos mutus)


Copyright: Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers, 2008

From Universal Class, fun self-paced classes taught by me:

Finding Your Animal Teachers

Animals For Everyone: Mammals

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lessons from the Willow

Willow: Enchantment

As a tree of enchantments, willow was connected to love, magic, and the moon. Poets and seers would sit under a willow to gain eloquence and prophecy. Because the willow grows near water, the Celtics associated this tree with the lunar rhythms of life. In the Celtic Tree Alphabet (Ogham), willow (Saille) governs February, the fourth month of the Celtic calendar.

There are over 100 varieties of willows in North America. Most are only shrubs, but about forty attain tree size. Since willows like damp, wet places, they help in saving stream banks from eroding. Their strong roots seek water and hold the soil. Unlike oaks, willows are fast growing and short-lived trees.

Willow provides for people in many ways. The bark is used to bring down fevers. Not only do people make use of the bark, but they also cut the willow's supple branches for basket weaving. In early spring, people cut branches of pussy willows to decorate their houses.


From “Whispers from the Woods” by Sandra Kynes: “Willow can teach you to go with the flow of life and be flexible.”

From “Nature-Speak” by Ted Andrews: “Willow alerts us to new opportunities to learn and explore.”


Copyright: Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers, 2008, animalteachers @

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sacred Baboon (Hamadryas): Many Aspects of Male Power

SACRED BABOON (Hamadryas): Many Aspects of Male Power

Living around the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea, Sacred Baboon has been a part of the religion of the Ancient Egyptians since the Predynastic period. Because the ruling Sacred Baboon has a silver-grey mane, the Kings of Predynastic Egypt were referred to as the “Great White One”. Since Sacred Baboon barks at the sun at dawn, Ancient Egyptians also associated Him with Ra, God of the Sun.

However given Sacred Baboon’s aggression towards other Baboons, He is also Babi, the Devourer of the Souls of the Unrighteous. Babi controls the darkness, and opens the doors to Heaven only for the King. Since He kills people on sight, Babi is a dangerous God.

Unique among Baboons, Sacred Baboon lives in a patriarchal system. Bull Sacred Baboon has distinctive silver fur, marking his status as the Ruler. Larger than the other Baboons, He fiercely fights to keep his Harem.

Moreover, Sacred Baboon lives in a four-level social system (called fission-fusion). First level is a Harem of Bull Sacred Baboon and his Females. Second level is a Clan of two to four Harems. Third level is a Band of two to four Clans. The last level is a Troop of several Bands.

Life for a Troop consists of rising at sunrise and foraging for food. They rest at noon, and then are off for more foraging. At dusk, Sacred Baboon leads his Troop to a cliff ledge to sleep and to be safe from Leopard.

Sacred Baboon demonstrates the many aspects of male power. As an attendant of Ra, He greets the Sun. As Hapi, He is One of the Four Sons of Horus who guards the organs of the deceased. However as Babi, Sacred Baboon murders humans. Choose carefully which aspect of maleness you want to employ at what time.

Wisdom of Sacred Baboon (Hamadryas) Includes:
Touched by the Divine
Reconcile the Positive with the Negative
Effective Social Organization


Copyright: Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers, 2008

From Universal Class, fun self-paced classes taught by me:

Finding Your Animal Teachers

Animals For Everyone: Mammals

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tree Dassies

Tree Hyrax (Tree Dassie): Setting Boundaries

One of the dominant arboreal Mammals in Africa is Tree Hyrax. Living high in the tree canopy, Tree Hyrax has a small area of the forest that is His, usually a single tree. Contorting his body, He navigates the “branch ways” of the rain forests with great agility. In the upper levels of the African jungles, He lives quite comfortably.

What people notice the most about Tree Hyrax is his screaming match with other Tree Hyraxes at night. Starting at dusk, He calls from his tree, using a low ringing sound. Repeating this sound, Tree Hyrax’s calls become louder and harsher. Finally, He screams out unearthly sounds, which resembles metal scraping against metal. Then silence falls in the jungle. After awhile, other Tree Dassies answer Him. As the night deepens, silence once again covers the forest.

Tree Hyrax screams out for all to hear, “This tree belongs to *ME*!” Then, Other Tree Hyraxes return with their screams, “This is *my* tree over here!” Together, They establish their boundaries without trouble.

Wisdom of Tree Hyrax Includes:
Being Agile
Effective Use of Screaming
“Walking on Air”


Copyright: Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers, 2008

From Universal Class, fun self-paced classes taught by me:

Finding Your Animal Teachers

Animals For Everyone: Mammals


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rock Hyrax: Being Helpful

Rock Hyrax (Rock Dassie): Being Helpful

Moving with great agility among the rocks, Rock Hyrax has feet that act like suction cups. Often seen sunning Himself on the rocks, He spends a lot of his time in large huddles with other Hyraxes. What makes Rock Hyrax unusual among Mammals is that He will share his rocks with Bush Dassie. These two Animals can be seen using the same sleeping areas as well. (Only Forest Monkeys will share their trees with other Monkeys.) Rock Hyrax grazes on grasses, while Bush Hyrax feeds on trees and bushes.

For such a small Animal, Mother Rock Hyrax has a very long pregnancy– about seven months. (Scientists believe that Rock Hyrax was once the size of an Ox, hence the long pregnancy.) Another unusual aspect of Mother Rock Hyrax’s life is the ‘dassie kindergarten’. While the other Mothers forage for food, one Mother Rock Hyrax will watch over Everyone’s Youngsters in a kindergarten.

In spite of being so unusual, Rock Hyrax has been apart of people’s lives for a long time. Described in Jewish and Christian Scriptures, as ‘Coney’ or ‘Rock Badger’, He referred to as ‘an unclean animal’. However, Rock Hyrax produces large quantities of hyraceum (dung and urine mixture), to make into epilepsy medicine for people today.

Rock Hyrax demonstrates how to be helpful. He shares his home with Bush Hyrax. Through his efforts, people with epilepsy have medicine. Meanwhile Mother Rock Hyrax runs a “day care” center for her Friends. These are examples in real helpfulness.

Wisdom of Rock Hyrax Includes:
Caring for Children
“Live and Let Live”


Copyright: Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers, 2008

From Universal Class, fun self-paced classes taught by me:

Finding Your Animal Teachers

Animals For Everyone: Mammals


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

From Out of Africa: Dassies (Hyraxes)

Look Deeper

Often seen sunning Themselves on rocks, Hyraxes were first called by Europeans ‘rock rabbits’. In addition, Afrikaners named these Survivors of an ancient order of Mammals, ‘Dassies’, which means “Badger”. Eventually, biologists placed Hyraxes in their own order – Hyracoidea.

What are these confusing Mammals? Very adaptable Animals, Hyraxes live in habitats ranging from dry savanna to dense rainforest. There are three families of Hyraxes – Rock, Bush, and Tree. Among the rocks and brush, Rock and Bush Hyraxes live together and have Kindergartens for their young. Meanwhile, Tree Hyraxes are known for their screaming matches conducted at night.

What makes Hyraxes relatives to Elephants are their toes. Like Elephants, Hyraxes have toes tipped with rounded nails. Hyraxes have surprises that people find fascinating, defying everyone’s ideas about Elephants. These rabbit sized Animals with short tails and peculiar hind feet are the closest relatives to Elephants.

Look deeper counsels Hyraxes. Neither Rabbits nor Badgers, They are relatives of the mighty Elephant. Expand your knowledge and see beyond the surface.

Wisdom of Hyraxes Include:
Solving Puzzles
Be Surprised
Expand Your Horizons


Copyright: Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers, 2008

From Universal Class, fun self-paced classes taught by me:

Finding Your Animal Teachers

Animals For Everyone: Mammals

Monday, November 10, 2008

Teachings of the Oak Tree

Strength and Warmth

Regarded as a symbol of strength of character, the oak has been the most widely revered of all trees. The oak hosts different forms of life in its branches, trunk, and roots. Because of this, oak is an emblem of hospitality and protection. In addition, many peoples have regarded oak groves to be sacred places.

In Maryland (USA) grew the famous Wye Oak, which had been the largest white oak in North America. In 2002, a wind blew down the 500-year-old tree. But before the tree fell, various people cloned the tree and saved acorns from the tree. One clone of the tree is growing at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home.

When the tree died, people came from miles around to say good-bye to an old friend. The State of Maryland wrote this about Wye Oak, “The tree became more than just a living symbol of the State Tree. It stood to represent time passed and time to come, the generations of people it witnessed in life, and the perseverance of man and nature.”

From “Celtic Messages” by Joules Taylor: “The massive, sturdy Oak was the Tree of Life, sacred to the Druids. Its roots went deep into the Underworld, while its branches brushed the vault of the sky.”

From “Nature-Speak” by Ted Andrews: “The oak tree provides strength to everyone and reminds us that true strength is also gentle.”

“The Quiet Giant, The Wye Oak” ,
“Oak Trees Stories and Pictures” ,


Copyright: Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers, 2008, animalteachers @

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Lessons of the Starlings

Endemic to Eurasia, starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) are incandescent purple and green birds. Called “the poor man’s Myna”, starlings have a gift for mimicry and song. When they call to each other, starlings use their musical language. Their complex and varied calls include “flock”, “threat”, “attack”, and a host of others.

Flocking in the thousands, starlings will clean out fruit in orchards and seed sown in fields. As generalists, they can live anywhere except in dense wet forests. Moreover, these aggressive birds will chase other birds out of cavity nests, and take over.

Gathering in the thousands, starlings in flight are an awesome sight. In March, at Jutland Denmark, many starlings congregate in anticipation of their spring migration. As they rise as one, the birds blot out the sun. People call this gathering of the starlings: “Sorta Sol”, the Black Sun.

Introduced in North America and South Africa for their beauty, starlings now crowd out native birds. Meanwhile in Australia and New Zealand, they have not stopped the crop pests they were released to control. In contrast, starlings are almost extinct in their northern European range. (Large industrial farms have caused this decline.)

Starlings’ impact on their environment is complex. Because they flock in the thousands, starlings leave their guano everywhere. This is good for seed dispersal but creates health problems for humans. Also, by roosting in the thousands, starlings short out power stations.

Released in 1890 by Eugene Scheiffelin (of the American Acclimatization Society for European Settlers), starlings have spread from New York City to Alaska by 1970. In 1920, the starling population exploded in Ohio (which now hosts the largest breeding population of starlings in North America). By 1950, they ranged from Oregon to Florida.

Some naturalists have suggested a link between the extinction of the Carolina parakeet and the explosion of the starling population in North America. Living in similar regions, both species flocked in the thousands. Already in decline, Carolina parakeets were driven out by the aggressive starlings in some regions. By 1920, the parakeets were gone and starlings took over the niche of huge flocks of birds.

Starlings teach us the Law of Unintended Consequences. Before we do something, we need to be prepared for the ramifications of our actions. If we forget to do this, the starlings will remind us..

Adeney, Jennifer Marion, “Introduced Species Summary Project: European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)”, Columbia University, October 18, 2001, accessed 7 Nov 2008,

Withers, David Ian, “Origins of the European Starling in the United States”, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. March 1, 2000, accessed 7 Nov 2008

______, “European Starling”, National Invasive Species Information Center , U.S. Department of Agriculture, May 15, 2008, accessed 7 Nov 2008,

______, “Starling Fact Sheet”, Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission (GSMFC), June 10, 2008, accessed 7 Nov 2008


Copyright: Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers, 2008

From Universal Class, fun self-paced classes taught by me:

Finding Your Animal Teachers

Working with Your Animal Allies, Teachers, and Totems


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Teachings of the Apple Tree

In the myths around the world, apples are symbols of choices and the giving of love. In many stories, people chose between innocence and knowledge. Furthermore, they must decide between the beauty of life and the beauty of youthfulness. Often times, people use apples as a symbol of love. Bobbing for apples was a folk custom to discover who your suitor would be.

In North America, the native apple tree is the crab apple tree. The fruit bearing varieties of orchards are from Eurasian trees brought over by early. However both species of tree are member of the rose family. Wild apple trees have thorns similar to roses.

Although apples stood for choice in myths, people used apples for medicine. Applesauce is easy to digest, and is often given to sick children. Even today, apples are used for diets of people with internal disorders, such as constipation. The saying of “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” has a basis in folk medicine and in fact. Apples contain much nutrition, aid in the digestion, and provide for tooth health.

From “Celtic Messages” by Joules Taylor: “The apple has long been regarded as a magical fruit, the fruit of gods, gifting the eater with immortality.”

From “Nature-Speak” by Ted Andrews: “The apple is a tree that awakens true desires of the heart.”


Copyright: Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers, 2008, animalteachers @

Friday, November 07, 2008

Nature Spirituality

My belief system is nature spirituality or what is known these days as “Eco-spirituality” (a movement that started in the 1980s). Nature spirituality is one of the oldest of the religions, and also one of the newest. In eco-spirituality, to experience nature is to experience the Divine.

In a nutshell, nature spirituality is about having an intimate relationship with nature. In this earth-based spirituality, people gain inner wisdom, balance, and healing through their personal experiences with the natural world. The goal of nature spirituality is to revere the interconnectedness of all. We live in a Sacred Circle of Life. We do not consider ourselves above others but instead regard the animals, plants, and rocks as our relations. We all share the same Mother Earth and Father Sky.

In their respective belief systems, many indigenous people honor nature. The people care for the earth, which cares for them. The earth offers her wisdom to those who are willing to receive it. The concept of interconnectedness is expressed as a circle also commonly known as a “medicine wheel”. All life exists in an interrelated system of harmony and balance that reflects the continuous flow of the Great Mystery between each being.

The salmon best symbolizes this interconnectedness. Salmon spawns in the clear inland pools. Growing, they swim to the seas where they live their adult lives.Then, the salmon return to their original spawning grounds to procreate and die. The dying salmon provides food for other animals. Or their bodies sink to the bottom to provide nutrients to the next generation of salmon.

Included in nature spirituality is the sense of “natural justice”. Since we are all related, what harm I do, will return to me. Also the concept of reciprocity is a part of the Sacred Circle. As we give, we receive; as we receive, we give. The circle ebbs and flows as in the Wheel of the Seasons. Life is never static, but always dynamic, always returning to the beginning.

“Mending the Sacred Hoop” is a Native American concept. It means to heal the broken places of the earth and all her children. This includes ridding the landscape of toxic waste, preserving natural places, and helping people to connect with their ancestral roots. To mend the Sacred Hoop means to restore respect for the Mother Earth and all things in the Universe.


"Spirit Animals & The Wheel of Life: Earth-Centered Practices for Daily Living", by Hal Zina Bennett

"Earth Medicine", by Jamie Sams

Spirit Wolf’s Pagan Path: “Wheel of Life”

“Understanding Death from A Nature-Spirituality Perceptive”

Thursday, November 06, 2008

White Elephant

Southeast Asia is known as the “Land of the White Elephant”. People there consider it an high honor to be compared to White Elephant. As a symbol of power and good fortune, White Elephant brings prosperity to those who respect Him. According to Buddhist scriptures, White Elephant presented Lord Buddha’s mother with a lotus flower to announce His Birth.

White Elephant’s Teachings Include:

“This was set out in a Buddhist text, the Three Worlds says: ‘The magnificent king has seven things: a perfect wife, and able treasurer, a wise chief minister, a swift horse, a wheel of the law and a precious gem to guide his actions: and the most noble of white elephants.’” - Copyright: “Talented Thai Elephants” website.

Copyright: Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers, 2008

From Universal Class, fun self-paced classes taught by me:

Finding Your Animal Teachers

Animals For Everyone: Mammals

Monday, November 03, 2008

Teachings of Cheetah

CHEETAH : Learning the Lessons of Overspecialization

Since the time of the ancient Egyptians, Cheetah has been a part of royalty. Called the Pharaoh’s Leopard, this speedy Mammal hunted game for Egyptian and Assyrian Pharaohs and Kings.. Genghis Khan and Charlemagne kept pet Cheetahs. Moreover, Jahangir, the Mughal Emperor of India (1605-1627) had a thousand Cheetahs for his hunting trips.

Built like a Greyhound, Cheetah is the fastest Mammal on land Unlike Horse, all of Cheetah’s feet leave the ground during his running. Cheetah’s major advantage for speed is his long flexible spine. His unusual body has baffled scientists about Cheetah’s “catness”. Finally, they placed Him in his own Cat Family (Acinonyx jubatus).

Widespread before the last Ice Age, now only a handful of Cheetahs survive today. Some scientists believe that all modern Cheetahs are descended from one Mother Cheetah. However, many do agree that there is little genetic diversity among Cheetahs. In fact, long before people started hunting Them, Cheetahs were in decline.

Known as the Spotted Wind, Cheetah does one thing and only one thing supremely well - chase down fast prey. However, this ability does not always help Him. While He is resting, Lions and Vultures can force a Cheetah to leave his kill. Instead of perfecting your running, perhaps you need to work on other skills. Learn the lessons of overspecialization from Cheetah.

Teachings of Cheetah:

Quick Decisions
Being Speedy
Flying While Grounded.


Copyright: Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers, 2008

From Universal Class, fun self-paced classes taught by me:

Finding Your Animal Teachers

Animals For Everyone: Mammals


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Asian Elephant: Close Friendships

For thousands of years, Asian Elephant has been a part of people’s lives. She has carried people, their burdens, and cleared their lands. Revered by Hindus as the God Ganesha, Asian Elephant represents wisdom and strength. Meanwhile, Buddhists see Her as a symbol of peace.

Once ranging from Iraq to China, Asian Elephant now lives wild in only a few areas. Led by an elderly Matriarch, Her Herd follows the same path through the jungles as their Grandmothers. Her Herd’s paths are known as “Elephant roads”, and are also traveled by people.

In her Herd, Asian Elephant forms fast friendships. If She becomes separated, She will emit a grumbling purr. Her low calls are heard by her Friends, who answer Her back. With her Friends, Asian Elephant is never alone.

When Asian Elephant is ready to deliver her Calf, She finds Her Best Friend. Together, They go off alone to deliver her Baby. Her Friend helps Asian Elephant in her time of need, and stands guard over her Calf, as well.

Asian Elephant Values close friendships within her Herd. They look out for Each Other and help with their Calves. Surrounded by loved ones, Asian Elephant the value of demonstrates close Friendships.

Asian Elephant’s Wisdom Include:

Wisdom of Grandmothers
Service to Others
Being Respected and Loved


Copyright: Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers, 2008

From Universal Class, fun self-paced classes taught by me:

Finding Your Animal Teachers

Animals For Everyone: Mammals