Friday, February 6, 2015

Lit From Within

Grandmother’s lamp
they dance.
stellar guides
intermittently lighting our way
as we seek to advance.

“Step by step
build the stairway
towards your dreams.
Yet beware
that your vision
is worthy,
truly what it seems!
Look beyond appearances!
Follow not
the Faerie’s falsely
flickering lights
through swamp or
over the unseen edge
Lest disaster
you’d invite!

Bringers of Epiphany,
like lightning we appear.
We illuminate
the darkness
of your mind.
You only have
to look within,
and all answers
you will find.

We foster hope
and vision.
But to feed
your inner light,
and shine like the star
you are meant to be,
must be your own decision.”

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.” Carl Jung

“The first peace, which is the most important, 
is that which comes within the souls of people 
when they realize their relationship, their oneness,
with the universe and all its powers, 
and when they realize that at the center of the universe 
dwells the Great Spirit, 
and that this center is really everywhere, 
it is within each of us.”
Black Elk – Oglala Sioux

“Light gives of itself freely, filling all available space. It does not seek anything in return; it asks not whether you are friend or foe. It gives of itself and is not thereby diminished.” Michael Strassfeld

“His sanguine spirit turns every firefly into a star.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Lightning Bugs, also commonly known as Fireflies, are winged beetles of the Order Coleoptera, Family Lampryidae, and they can be found everywhere in the world except areas of extreme cold, or dryness. Fireflies need a water source for a successful habitat. Some species even have larvae that are gilled! There are about 2,000 different species in total with nearly 200 species in North America alone! Photurinae is the most common species in North America, and I will be looking primarily at that species, as well as fireflies in general. 

Lightning Bugs are the state insect for both Pennsylvania and Tennesee. They typically need warm, humid areas, preferably with a water source, long grasses they can climb up, or trees that keep the area darker longer than more open areas. Marshes, woodlands and the fields around them are excellent places to go looking for these magical Creature Teachers. Many thrive in rotting wood, and most require a healthy amount of forest litter for a successful habitat.

Infamous for their baffling bio-luminescence, most species of fireflies use their flashing glow to attract potential mates. Although it is suspected that they use their flashing glow for other communications, science still does not yet understand exactly how they control the on/off of their glow, nor what other communications may be going on. Even glowworms (firefly larvae) and, in some species, firefly eggs are luminescent, which does support the theory that this glow is a warning to potential predators of their foul and toxic taste. It is interesting to note that some species, typically diurnal, do not glow at all!

One species of firefly, Photuris, imitates the mating flash pattern of another and then devours the males that show up! Some species, particularly those found in Southeast Asia, are noted for their synchronicity, putting on quite a show as they all flash in unison. Being more used to local species that flash and then wait for an answering flash from the females, I really noticed this enchanting display of synchronicity while camping in the Laurel Mountains one year when a huge group slowly drifted out of the woods and began slowly dancing before me, flashing in complex patterns as a group. Truly magical!

“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” Kahlil Gibran

“Hope is patience with the lamp lit.” Tertullian

Fireflies typically emit shades of green, yellow or red light, and these tiny Teachers emit the most efficient light to be found anywhere. 100% of the energy they produce becomes light without heat. Incandescent bulbs only emit 10% and fluorescent bulbs 90%, but both produce heat, unlike the firefly. Science has found that fireflies produce both luciferase and luciferin in the organ located at the end of their abdomen. They draw oxygen into this light organ which activates the luciferin (which is heat resistant), which in turns activates the luciferase. ATP, found in all living things, converts to energy and this magical combination begins to glow.

Luciferase and luciferin are useful both scientifically and medically. Electronic detectors using these chemicals have been used in space to detect life in outer space, and have also been used here on Earth to detect food spoilage and bacterial contamination. These chemicals have also been used to detect and study cell changes in a wide variety of diseases from cancer to muscular dystrophy.

Glowworms eat earthworms, snails and other small soft-bodied critters. Adults only live for about two months, long enough to mate and reproduce. While some adults species appear to feed lightly on nectar or pollen, some species do not appear to eat at all during their brief lives. As an additional deterrent to predators, fireflies employ reflex bleeding. When attacked they shed some drops of blood loaded with bitter chemicals which can also be quite toxic. Pet owners should never feed fireflies to their lizards, snakes or other reptiles! Because of this defense, many potential predators have learned to avoid eating them.

“It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere.” Agnes Repplier

“Go within every day and find the inner strength so that the world will not blow your candle out.” Katherine Dunham

Sadly, firefly numbers are dwindling around the world though. The loss of suitable habitats and light pollution appear to be the main culprits. We can help them by turning off outside lights when not needed, refusing to use pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or bug zappers, encouraging healthy forest litter by leaving those rotting logs lie just where they are, adding a water feature of some kind and long grasses to our landscaping, introducing earthworms to poor soil areas, planting trees, avoiding excessive mowing, and perhaps most important… spreading this information to others can help future generations come to know the magical Firefly!

Perhaps the most obvious lesson this Teacher holds is that of Illumination. This could refer to a spiritual or intellectual enlightenment, an enlightening discovery, or simply a moment when all the pieces of the puzzle click together in your mind’s eye, the “Ah-ha!” moment. Epiphany which is more often defined as the sudden perception, understanding, appearance or manifestation of Divinity and divine beings, is also associated with the Firefly. Lightning bugs the world over are the literal and figurative light in the darkness, and they encourage us to become a beacon to others with our choices and actions in daily life.

Their glow in all stages of their life reminds us that we are all sacred beings united by the spark of Divinity that we all carry, even if it isn’t readily apparent to ourselves or others. During the day, fireflies are quite ordinary and unremarkable in appearance. Only in darkness does their inner beauty and magical nature shine forth. This is a reminder not to be deceived by appearance, to remember that we all possess an inner light, and most often it takes hardships and dark nights of the soul before we can recognize, develop, or properly utilize our sacred spark of Divinity.

“There can be no transforming of darkness into light and of apathy into movement without emotion.” Carl Jung

“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.” Og Mandino

“People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Firefly also reminds us of the importance of properly feeding that spark, especially during trying times. If we do not take the time for ourselves to recharge, to engage in purely enjoyable activities, then we won’t really have the ability to stay properly grounded/centered, and are far less likely to feel peaceful, contented, inspired, or capable of encouraging any of those positive thoughts, feelings or actions in others. In this aspect, Firefly is associated with The Star card in the Tarot deck. Those drawn to this teacher should take a look at the Star card and Kundalini energy, as well as potential Balancing Energies like the Cherry tree, Coyote, Fox, Stars or Lightning. Their dependence upon Water is reminder to be aware of our emotions as we move through Lightning Bug’s trans-formative lessons. Also, they use their intermittent flashes to communicate. Are we experiencing flashes of temper or emotions? Are we having erratic success in communicating properly with others? Perhaps your Firefly energy is out of balance!

Of course, being one of the rare Creature Teachers that actually glow with their own visible light, the Firefly is also associated with Grandmother Moon (who is said to have charge of them before they fell to Earth), Stars and the Sky in cultures around the world. One of my favorite tales is a First Nations story in which either Fox or Coyote crashes into their village while learning to fly. This causes Fireflies to leave the Sky, in some tellings chasing Coyote and in others lured by the Trickster. Once these stars come to Earth though they are trapped by the Earth’s magnetism. Grandmother sadly tells them that she could release them back into the Sky, but to do so she would also lose all of her children that live upon her surface. Instead, they choose to remain and become the inspiring light in darkness, emblem of Hope and Inspiration, the Firefly. Sometimes it is a great storm with rattling Thunder which shakes loose the Stars which fall to Earth where they become Fireflies, so this Teacher is also associated with Thunder, Lightning and Thunder Beings.

Their ability to glow without wasting their energy in projecting heat, and the adult fireflies’ ability to live with little or no food illustrate the lessons of Efficiency and Conservation. Like so many Nature Teachers, the Firefly suffers and dwindles as we destroy their habitats and throw off their mating cycles with our tremendous amount of light pollution. Supporting or initiating acts of local conservation, and daily acts like turning off unused electronics and conserving water are excellent ways to acknowledge the lessons of this Teacher.

“We are all in the gutter, 
but some of us are looking at the stars.” 
Oscar Wilde

“Ideals are like stars, 
you will not succeed in touching them with your hands, 
but like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, 
you choose them as your guide, 
and following them, you reach your destiny.” 
Carl Schurz

“It takes more courage to reveal insecurities than to hide them, more strength to relate to people than to dominate them, more ‘manhood’ to abide by thought-out principles rather than blind reflex. Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles and an immature mind.” Alex Karras

The first step to true Illumination is Awareness. Their brief life cycle during the height of Summer reminds us that while Hope is eternal, Opportunity is never a lengthy visitor. If we wish for our dreams to become reality, we must put proper effort and groundwork in to see results. I often think that their greatest message to us is to simply Look Up. Both literally and figuratively, all too often we trudge through our days never stopping to look up and become aware of what is around us. Firefly reminds us that we may miss a magical moment of enlightenment, an opportunity for growth or success if we never look up, especially if we are so caught up in negativity that we never have a cheerful word to say!

They also remind us that even in our darkest hour, if we look up we may see the Stars, and even more importantly, that such heavenly aspirations are truly within our grasp. When we feel our most despondent or unbalanced, least worthy, or incapable of ever understanding, Firefly reminds us that we already carry a divine light within us because we are worthy, we are sacred… just like everything else in the Universe. This spark of Divinity should be the keel that keeps us balanced and our personal guiding light.

These aspects link this Teacher with the concept of Guidance. Whether we are looking for answers, hope, understanding, strength, change, culpability, or something else entirely, the humble Lightning Bug teaches that we must first look within, for that is where all Illumination begins. We must not only look up and within, we must also look with brave eyes if we wish to see clearly.

“Not all meanings are meant to be clear at once. Some ideas take time. Some words are designed to lead us on inner journeys, with truth hidden deep inside them.” Brian Froud

“Faeries tell as that small things can hold great truths.” Brian Froud

“What is light without dark? I am a part of you all. You can never defeat me. we are brothers, eternal.” Legend, 1985

Lightning Bugs’ magical dance appearing with the dusk, marks them as liminal zone Teachers and friends of all things Fae. Brian Froud’s Faerie Oracle is a wonderfully adult place to begin learning about Fae energy, and their are fairy tales of all sorts found in cultures around the world. Will O’Wisps are another liminal zone Teacher connected to the Lightning Bug. Fireflies, like Will O’Wisps or Corpse Candles, thrive in areas like swamps, bogs, and gorges created by waterways. Will O’Wisps however, are infamous for leading people astray, often to their deaths in these dangerous areas, with their magical light! This connection to Death makes me wonder about the old European folklore of a lightning bug appearing in your home being an omen of an impending death.

Lightning Bug warns us to not be deceived by appearances, or illusions, especially those that are self-spun. The easiest lies we tell are always those we tell ourselves. We all have aspects of our self which we are unhappy with, self-conscious, ashamed or even fearful of, but we must meet these things with a bold clarity if we wish to become truly Illuminated beings. We must be intuitively confident, centered, balanced, patient, and peaceful if we want to become Illuminated and Aware. We cannot be any of those things if we cannot face ourselves in all our brilliance and our darkness. Light and dark may seem like opposites, but only together are they whole. Once we look within and are sure of the Truth we see there, then we will begin to see that the lies others tell, both to themselves and others, become glaringly obvious.

Firefly also says to build a solid pathway from our Dreams to Reality in a good way we must be able to see clearly from the inside out. Only then will we truly understand what have to work with, what we are doing, and the truth of our goals themselves. When we grasp Illumination, suddenly we light up with a glow that answers that of the Universe around us, we connect, we receive the epiphany of true Unity, and all things become possible. From egg, to glowworm, to firefly this trasfromative, magical Teacher is like lightning in a bottle! Master of Communication, this humble and peacefully patient Teacher may not look like much, but he has a wealth of Wisdom to share with us and packs a powerful punch! How does the magical Firefly light up your heart?

“Someday perhaps the inner light will shine forth from us, and then we’ll need no other light.” ~ Johan Wolfgang von Goethe

“People often say that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder.
This empowers us to find beauty in places where others have not dared to look, including inside ourselves." Salma Hayek

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson

Key Concepts: Illumination, Synchronicity, Hope, Inner light, Guidance, Epiphany, Creativity, Connectivity/Unity, Communication, brief cycles, Vision, Patience, Attraction, Efficiency, Awakening, Peace

Associated with: the direction East, stars like the Pleiadies, summer, Fae, Will O’the Wisp, philosopher’s stone, Thunder Beings, Astraeus, Taranis, Thor, Zeus, Nut, the Star card in Tarot, Foxfire, Corpse-light, Kwan Yin, Grandmother Moon, Artemis/Diana, Fulgora, Dian Mu, Perkunas/Perun, Ptah, Vasilia, Asteria, Arianrhod, Sirona, Brighid, Ancestors, Ghosts, and Spirits

Potential Balancing Energies: Fire, Water, Earth, Air/Sky, Moon and Stars. Trees like Cherry, Willow, Pine, Oak, and Maple. Plants like American Ginseng, Grasses, Daisies, Violets, Angelica, Mushrooms, and Algae. Other bio-luminescent creatures like Angler fish, cookiecutter sharks, squids, krill and plankton. Other insects like ladybugs, crickets/grasshoppers, and moths. Earthworms, snails, Coyote and Fox. Stones and minerals like calcite or barite.

“Light up the candles to make the whole World see
It’s a sign that we should live in peace and harmony
Light up the candles, ashine in every heart
Bring a little brightness to the dark.” Bellamy Brothers, Light Up the Candles

“Factual information alone isn’t sufficient to guide you through life’s labyrinthine tests. You need and deserve regular deliveries of uncanny revelation. One of your inalienable rights as a human being should therefore be to receive a mysteriously useful omen every day of your life.” Rob Brezsny
“I am open to the guidance of synchronicity, and do not let expectations hinder my path.” Dalai Lama 

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