Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Finned and Water Ones: Moving through fluid realms, with intuition

Fish were the first vertebrates to appear on earth, about five hundred million years ago. Since that time, They have evolved into one of the most diverse and successful of animal groups. The "lobe-finned" Fish such as the Lungfish, are the oldest, and can live for brief periods on land. Sharks and Rays have no bones, only cartilage. Bony Fish range from Sturgeon to Trout to Seahorses.

Other animals who live in water are the Crustaceans, Cephalopods, and Jellyfish. Crustaceans live in freshwater, deep oceans, and tidal pools. Their claws and hard shells serve to protect Them from predators. Cephalopods, with their tentacles, are known for their inky defenses. Jellyfish float from North Pole to South Pole, seeking food.

Not every animal that swims in water is a Fish, but every animal has something to teach. Since water is a fluid element, these Water Ones move and change. They demonstrate an innate grace. The Water Ones are unusual to land dwellers but They beckon all to come into the unknown depths to explore, to play, and to learn. Even the Ones who live between land and water teach lessons of flourishing and flexibility.

Many animal wisdom books list "Fish" or perhaps "Salmon" for Finned and Water ones. Since Fish range from the peculiar looking Seahorse to the fierce Great White Shark to the scrappy Largemouth Bass, to discuss Fish wisdom in general terms seems to be a bit absurd. One can generalize some characteristics for Finned Ones' or Water Ones' families such as Crabs walk sideways or that Salmon migrate home.
Finned and Water Ones' Teachings Include:
Sensitivity To Emotions
Energy of Transformation
The Unknown

Sunday, May 20, 2012

GROUND SLOTH FAMILY: Stories of the Imagination

One of the poster Mammals of prehistory was the massive Megatherium americanum (Giant Ground Sloth) of the extinct Ground Sloth Family.  This huge Mammal stood at twenty feet (six meters) and weighed about 4.4 tons (4 metric tons). As big as a modern Elephant, Megatherium was one of the largest Mammals ever to walk on land.  Moreover, this Ground Sloth ate over seventy different types of plants and as well as scavenged for meat.

            The diverse Family of Ground Sloths includes more than just Giant Ground Sloth.  This extinct Family as well as the Family of Modern Sloths belongs to the Order of Xenarthra (meaning “without teeth”).  Modern Two-toed Sloths (Choloepidae) evolved from the Flat-footed Ground Sloths (Megalonychidae).  Meanwhile, Three-toed Sloths (Bradypodidae) arose from the Browsing Ground Sloths (Megatheriidae).

            The Flat-footed Family of Ground Sloths walked on the bottoms of their feet instead of on their sides like other Sloths.  The Browsing Ground Sloths featured both the Giant Ground Sloths and the smaller Ground Sloths such as Shasta Ground Sloth (Nothrotheriops shastensis) of North America.  Meanwhile, Grazing Ground Sloths (Mylodontidae) such as Harlan’s Ground Sloth (Paramylodon harlani) lived in small herds out in open country.

            Although many species of Ground Sloths became large, some still remained as small as cats.  These Ground Sloths lived on the islands in the Caribbean Sea until the mid-1500s.  They, like every other Ground Sloth, had sharp claws and interlocking small boney plates under their skin.  Serving as chain mail, these plates made Ground Sloths virtually indestructible.

            By sparking people’s imaginations, Ground Sloths prompted humans to want to learn more about the world around them.  First discovered in Argentina in 1787, the fossils of Megatherium shocked people.  Her huge size created a world-wide sensation since nobody thought that animals could become that big.  Megatherium challenged people of that time to make sense of the concept of extinct and giant Animals. 

Meanwhile, the bones of Jefferson’s Ground Sloth (Megalonyx jeffersonii) were found in a cave in West Virginia (U.S.).  After receiving the bones of this Ground Sloth, Thomas Jefferson put them on display at the White House and later in his home at Monticello.  His intense curiosity about the life of this particular species of Ground Sloth prompted others to begin to study paleontology in earnest. (Megalonyx jeffersonii was named for him.)

Originating in Patagonia, Ground Sloths went to North America during the Great American Faunal Interchange (about eight million years ago (mya) to three mya).  They rafted and island hopped from South America to the north, traveling as far as the Yukon Territory.  Meanwhile, the last of the Ground Sloths went extinct on the Caribbean islands during the 1500s.  However there are rumors that Ground Sloths, now known as Mapinguari by the local people, still roam the Amazon River Basin.

Ground Sloths inspire us to imagine what could be from what we discover.  They invite us to expand the parameters of our world.  We may tell wild stories about Them such as prehistoric peoples once keeping Ground Sloths for food.  However like Jefferson who first thought that they were carnivores, we can change our minds when we uncover more information.  By surprising us around every bend in the road, Ground Sloths encouraged our stories of imagination.  Perhaps once we expand our imaginations further, we may see Ground Sloth in the Amazon as Mapinguari.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dragons: Meeting My Dragon Guide (2 of 2)

This particular Dragon was the shy one from the Arboretum. He had felt safe around me, and was willing to be my friend. Great Mother Dragon felt that we would make a good pair.

I would be his “mentor” for learning about humankind, and He would aid me in my recovery. This Dragon would help me to leave my home, and I would help Him to leave his forest. Meanwhile, Great Mother Dragon would watch over us both.

The shy forest Dragon was emerald green and dappled brown. Bouncing around with excitement, He told me that He liked shiny stones and bright colors. He especially liked my emerald-green Gaia stone (from Mt. St. Helens) and my bright purple charoite, Also, He liked that I had laid them out in my “dragon meeting space”, since it made Him feel especially welcomed. Then He took me on his back, and we explored his world of brooks, flowers, as well as met some of his friends amongst the small field dragons and forest fairies.

 When we returned from our quiet, gentle journey, the Forest Dragon told me that if I wanted to contact Him, I could use my forest stone – a large five pound green-brown polished stone with natural figures of various animals embedded in it. He said that this stone could act as a gateway to his forest. In my meditations, I could use this stone to travel to visit Him in his forest.

During my time with the two Dragons, I felt bittersweet joy. I was happy to meet the Forest Dragon, but sad that the Great Mother Dragon could not be my Guide anymore. The music that I was playing during this time was “The Unanswered Question” (1906) by Charles Ives (American, 1874-1954). This piece of music features a lonely trumpet asking the “perennial question of existence”. The responding woodwinds continually fail to give an appropriate answer. Meanwhile, the strings, who like the Druids, know the answer to the trumpet’s question. Ives had written that the strings were “a world of pure spirit, the silence of the Druids”. It is in this silence, that the question is answered. Ives’ piece made me realize that the dragons speak to me in silence now.

 I realized that I had not asked the Forest Dragon his name. He said that I already knew it. His name was “Peesey”, the name I that sometimes called my therapeutic ladybug toy. Since I carry this stuffed toy with me, I felt that “Peesey” would be close to me. In fact, I could sometimes feel his gentle energy inside the ladybug.  

Works Used:
Copeland, Aaron, “Fanfare for the Common Man” (1942), “From the New World” CD, In Classical Mood CDs and book, IMP, 1998.

Ives, Charles, “The Unanswered Question” (1906), “From the New World” CD, In Classical Mood CDs and book, IMP, 1998.

The State Arboretum of Virginia, Blandy Experimental Station, http://blandy.virginia.edu/arboretum/,  

Swafford, Jan, “A Question is Better Than an Answer”, Charlesives.org, 2011, http://www.charlesives.org/ives_essay/,

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dragons: Meeting My Dragon Guides (1 of 2)

A number of years ago, when I started to study dragons, a Great Mother Dragon presented Herself as my Guide. While I traveled back and forth to the Blue Ridge Mountains (Virginia), I would see this glorious gold-silver Empress sunning Herself. At other times, She would sit on the mountain tops and play with the clouds. Although her name is “Silver Heart”, I always called Her, “Great Mother Dragon”.

Sometimes in my travels, I would see a small dragon peering out of the trees at the State Arboretum of Virginia. I surmised that a very shy dragon, who lived there, seemed interested in people. At other times when I drove by, Great Mother Dragon would be extending one of her wings over Him in a protective gesture.

 After my traumatic brain injury, I felt that the dragons left me. Since that time, Great Mother Dragon had ceased to speak to me. Moreover, the glass Chinese dragon that I owned broke in two. I took this as a sign that my time with Dragonkind was at an end.

Later when I was asked to contact my Dragon Guide, I decided to follow my inner instincts. I chose special music to play for this meeting. Also, I gathered up several sparkly quartz crystals, a blue-green labradorite, and a red-orange zincite to decorate the meeting space. Then I prepared a space to welcome any dragon who may decide to come, and speak to me. Since I wanted the dragons to feel welcomed at my home, I also lit candles and made offerings of incense.

The music I chose to play for this time was “Fanfare for the Common Man” (1942) by Aaron Copeland (American, 1900-90). This musical piece prominently features trumpets, other bass instruments, and cymbals. It seemed to be the perfect piece to have for the entrance of the dragons in my prepared space. (I played this music several times on my CD player.)

The Great Mother Dragon came and kindly told me that because of my broken brain, her dragon energy would harmful to me. However, She had been waiting for me to formerly contact Her, since She reasoned that I would be well enough, at that time, to be told. She gently explained that since I could not hold her energy, She could no longer be my Guide. But Great Mother Dragon would not be leaving me; She would oversee my relationship with a young dragon.

Monday, May 07, 2012


Cousin to the Stegosaurus, Frilled Lizard has his own special heating and cooling system. Like many an ancient dinosaur, He uses his frill to regulate his body temperature. In fact, the spitting dinosaurs of the movie, “Jurassic Park” (Spielberg, 1993) are based on Australian Frilled Lizard.

Frilled Lizard is a tree dweller of northern Australia and Papua New Guinea. He is often seen on branches basking in the sun. Lazily, this Lizard stretches to another branch using his slim forelegs and enlarged hind legs. Sometimes, if motivated, He will jump from branch to branch.

Known for his colorful frilled ruff, Frilled Lizard raises it during courtship or when threatened. Normally the ruff lies folded flat against his long neck, acting as a solar panel absorbing heat. With his ruff raised and his long tail whipping, Frilled Lizard can be a frightening foe.

Sometimes when threatened Frilled Lizard will dash to the nearest tree. More often He will unfurl his ruff and make Himself twice as large. If the frill doesn’t scare off attackers, Frilled Lizard will rear up on his hind legs and swipe the air with his claws. Being bipedal, He will hop up and down like a Kangaroo.

In all He does, Australian Frilled Lizard maintains his dignity and self-assuredness. He teaches pride and confidence in yourself. He also reminds you that you should have an alternative plan for escape when necessary.

Frilled Lizard’s Teachings Include:
"One thing Frilled Neck Lizard has not forgotten but, alas, man has, is how to let go. If man would only remember to trust his inner Dream and learn to let go, his enlightenment would be ensured." Copyright. "Wisdom of Australian Animals," Ann Williams-Fitzgerald.
Frilled Lizard’s Wisdom
Trust Your Inner Dream
Being Self-assured
Looking Dignified
Having Alternative Plans

Note: The Agamidae Family, which Frilled Lizard belongs to, are Old World counterparts of the Iguana Family

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

LYSTROSAURUS: The Ultimate Survivor

During the Great Dying (at the end of the Permian Period (about 300 million years ago)), nearly 95 percent of life on earth died out.  One animal that did survive this terrible time, and latter populated the earth was Lystrosaurus.  This remarkable Therapsid (Mammal-Reptile) dominated the earth for about ten million years (approximately 230 million years ago) during the early Triassic Period.  Referred to the “Noah” of the Great Dying, Lystrosaurus was considered to be “disaster taxa”.  While the world was recovering from this near-total mass extinction, She took advantage of the hot and dry environment, and thrived.  However, this primitive animal eventually became unable to compete with the species who emerged during the later Triassic Period.
            Lystrosaurus was the size of a modern Pig, and possessed two tusks for teeth.  In addition, She had a horny beak like a Turtle.  Since her jaws are structured for shearing not chewing, Lystrosaurus ground her food instead.  Also, this heavy-set Therapsid walked like a Reptile, using a semi-sprawling gait.
            Since She lived on nearly every continent (except South America), fossils of Lystrosaurus have been found everywhere.  Because her bones were discovered in both southern Africa and Antarctica, Lystrosaurus proved that these continents were once joined together as a single landmass.  Moreover, these fossils demonstrated that the theory of continental drift was indeed a fact.
            A remarkable animal, Lystrosaurus survived the Great Dying to populate the earth.  At one time, She accounted for 95 percent of all of the land animals in the world.  This was the only time that a single species (except for modern Humans) utterly dominated the landscape.
            A lot can be learned from Lystrosaurus.  For starters, She is a survivor who lived through extremely tough times.  In fact, She thrived in terrible conditions.  By being Herself, Lystrosaurus proved a major scientific theory – Continental Drift.  Throughout it all, Lystrosaurus, a plant eater, dominated life at a time of needed recovery.  Let Lystrosaurus teach you survival skills for your difficult times.