Saturday, May 22, 2010

NORTHERN LAPWING (PEE-WIT): Encounters with the Sacred

Common in Eurasia, Northern Lapwing is well-known for his haunting ethereal cry. In the lonely places of the land, the marshes and moors, you hear Him singing in his plaintive voice. According to folklore, those who hear his evocative sound, will have someone close to them die soon.

Since his wings make a lapping sound, this Wader, with rounded wings, became known as “Lapwing”. In addition because of his call, Northern Lapwing is also called “Pee-wit”. In Old English, He was called “Hleapwince”, which means “leap with a waver in it”. (This name came from his seemingly erratic flight.)

Many legends worldwide allude to Northern Lapwing’s association with holy people. According to the “Qur’an”, this Bird became a trusted confidant of King Solomon. Northern Lapwing brought news to the King about the Queen of Sheba.

Meanwhile a Swedish myth tells of Northern Lapwing being a servant of the Virgin Mary. After stealing a pair of scissors from the Virgin, she fled. When she was caught, the servant turned into a Lapwing. Even today, people could hear her crying, “Tyvil! Tyvil! I stole them.”

The Hindus speak of Lord Krishna’s mercy towards a nesting Lapwing. Just before the Battle of Kurukshetra, He heard the cries of a mother Lapwing, who had her nest on the battlefield. Lord Krishna, then, placed a huge elephant bell over her nest to protect Her and her eggs from the battle’s fury.

The Celts speak of Northern Lapwing and his wail of warning to people. There are Seven Whistlers of the Otherworlds to tell people of the world’s end. Six of them are searching for the seventh one. When they find him, the world will end. Lapwing’s cries remind people of the Whistlers.

In contrast, Ben Jonson, the English scientist noted that rash people were like “Lapwings running about with shells on their heads”. He was referring to Lapwing Chicks, who hatch with bits of eggshell on their heads. These Chicks will run about as if They are fleeing danger.

When you want the Sacred near you, listen to Northern Lapwing. His voice transcends the Heavens, allowing holiness to find Him. Follow Northern Lapwing to encounter the sacred in your life. But be careful not to be too rash, running about with a shell on your head.
Copyright: Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers

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