Sovereigns of a stark forbidding empire.
Arms spread wide, inviting peace.
Heads held high, chuckling apologies
as we shuffle through the crowd.
We gather in our frozen fields,
hundreds arrayed in formal attire.
"Self-discipline and sacrifice
are the keys to our kingdom.
Without them, we could never
bring forth a new generation
to cherish, and pass on our Wisdom.
endured every hardship.
Fasting throughout their vigil,
diligently attending our arrival.
from one world to another,
eluding fierce adversaries
as they seek to provide
for our survival.
We shelter in the warmth
of each others lives.
as Winter's winds
cut like knives.
By turns awkward and agile,
Confidently skimming across the snow and
diving deep into the Mother's
We sacrifice to evolve,
hearts beating in harmony to need,
through days of endless darkness
simmering twilight or relentless light.
Coherently dreaming legions
of sons and daughters."
For those new to the game, each poem is inspired by a Teacher found in Nature; a star, stone, animal, plant etc that holds lessons of Wisdom for us. Everyone has fun guessing who is singing, and once revealed we take a look at that Teacher from the point of view of science and world cultures. Can you guess who is singing today?
"Our dreams disturb us because they refuse to pander to our fondest notions of ourselves. The closer one looks, the more they seem to insist upon a challenging proposition: You must live truthfully. Right now. And always. Few forces in life present, with an equal sense of inevitability, the bare-knuckle facts of who we are, and the demands of what we might become." ~Marc Ian Barasch
"Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use. " ~Emily Post
“Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.” ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
The Emperor Penguin is the tallest, heaviest living member of the Family Spheniscidae Genus Aptenodytes. Males and Females are of similar plumage and size; about 43-51 inches tall, and 49 - 100 lbs. Heads, back, and dorsal sides are black, while the belly is a bright white; the traditional Penguin "tuxedo". Pale yellow colors their breasts and distinctive bright yellow ear patches define the appearance of this flightless aquatic bird. Emperors eat primarily fish although they do also include crustaceans like krill, and cephalopods like squid, in their diet. Their tongues have rear-facing barbs to keep prey from escaping once caught.
While hunting they can remain submerged for about 18 minutes and can reach depths of about 1,700 to 1,800 feet. Streamlined to minimize drag while swimming, their wings have also developed into stiff flat flippers that allow them to swim up to 12 mph in short bursts. Their average cruising speed in water is typically between 4 and 6 mph. The fastest human swimmers clock around 5 mph, but we have no hope of achieving their dexterity in the same element! On land they aren't quite so graceful. Emperors alternate between a wobbling pace and tobogganing. They propel themselves across the ice on their belly with their feet and flippers.
Perhaps the most remarkable adaptions of these Creature Teachers are those that allow it to survive in the harsh barren environment of Antarctica. A healthy layer of insulating fat and dense feathers provide a great deal of insulation against the cold. It has the highest density of feathers of any bird. Their muscles allow feathers to be held erect while on land which reduces heat loss by trapping a layer of air next to their skins. Conversely, plumage is flattened while in water, waterproofing their skin and downy under layer. Regular preening is vital as it keeps them properly insulated and maintains plumage at properly oily levels.
They have solid bones that reduce barotrauma ( the physical damage to body tissues caused by a difference in pressure between an air space inside or beside the body, and the surrounding fluid.) while diving for food. They also have the ability to withstand low oxygen levels due to their hemoglobin's unusual structure, which allows them to hunt and dive deep in the cold home waters. Even more amazing, they can reduce their metabolism and shut down non-essential organ functions, which enables males in particular to survive during their two month vigil tending their egg prior to hatching. Males will not eat during this entire time! Most males will lose about 26 lbs during this crucial period.
Emperors are the only penguins to breed during the Antarctic winter, and they will journey in the thousands between 31–75 miles to reach their traditional breeding grounds. Once successful, females will lay a single egg leaving it in the care of the males while they return to the ocean to feed. Once the chick has hatched they will take turns hunting, and caring for the young at the colony. Average lifespan in the wild appears to be about 20 years although observation suggests that some individuals may live up to 50 years!
"The first and best victory is to conquer self." ~ Plato
"A dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read." ~The Talmud
“How would your life be different if…You stopped making negative judgmental assumptions about people you encounter? Let today be the day…You look for the good in everyone you meet and respect their journey.”
― Steve Maraboli
We have discovered that these penguins are very social and perform a wide range of activities together, such as nesting and foraging. As they have no fixed nesting site which would allow them to easily locate partners or their chick, Emperors must rely on vocalization alone for identification. They use complex sets of calls that are critical for recognizing individuals and display the widest variation in individual calls out of all penguins. They use two frequency bands simultaneously, and chicks us a frequency modulated whistle to beg for food or contact parents.
During inclement weather, they will huddle together in compact groups anywhere from 10 to several hundred. Each bird will lean forward on its neighbor and those on the outskirts will face inward. Their positions are not static though and eventually each one will obtain a spot inside the huddle before it is forced back to the outskirts again by those seeking the warm center. There are about 40 different colonies of Emperors on Antarctica, the smallest of which consists of no more than 200 pairs. The largest may consist of more than 50,000 pairs! Estimations suggest that there are between 150,000 to 200,000 breeding pairs of Emperors. As the only way of numbering breeding pairs is to count the males during incubation and this occurs during the relentless winter, making such observations with success is easier said than done when you aren't a penguin!
Powerful birds, one recorded case details how a crew of six men trying to capture a single male Emperor for a zoo were repeatedly tossed around and knocked over before all of them collectively tackled the bird which weighed about half an average human male! Predators include birds like the Southern Giant Petrel which primarily hunts chicks, the Orca which focuses on adults and the Leopard Seal which will snatch either fledglings or adults as they enter the water. Sadly, if one of a breeding pair dies or is killed during breeding season, the survivor must abandon it's egg or young and return to the sea to feed itself.
High on the list of lessons from this Teacher are the subjects of Lucid Dreaming and Astral Travel. Those called by this Teacher should study these concepts. Just as the Penguin can leap from water to shore and back, we are encouraged to not only explore the Astral and Dream realms, but also to take lessons learned there back into our waking lives to implement changes needed there. Emperors see better in water than they do on land, a reminder that often it is easier to see our selves and situation most clearly when we let go the confines of the waking world. Keeping a dream journal is always a helpful suggestion, but perhaps especially so for those called by Teachers like the Emperor Penguin.
This Teacher reminds us to work together, both as couples and as groups, to achieve the greatest results for everyone. We are asked to temper our choices and actions with an eye toward sacrificing personal gain for the greater good as well as developing a keen self-discipline. Both of these attitudes will do more for us personally than simply serving our own interests ever could. Their social interactions remind us of the importance of formality, social niceties and rituals, as well as simply using polite cultural behaviors regularly. Good manners do not cost us a single cent, but they can make a huge impact individually and collectively. Common courtesy is sadly not so common any more, and actually becomes more of an effort as more people behave outside of acceptable social parameters.
The very best leaders lead by example and politeness is the simplest lesson in leadership. Respect, properly balanced between respect for self and respect for others, and walking our talk are perhaps two of the most difficult. Although at this time perhaps it is the Emperor's guidance on the importance of properly caring and raising future generations to be successful self-confident respectful leaders that is most vital. We must pay attention to our dreams to recognize, achieve, and pass them on. Nothing worthwhile is gained without self-discipline and sacrifice. All forms of Love spring from these lessons, and we cannot truly love anyone, even our selves, until we become Aware and actively respect the World around us. Whether waking or dreaming, not everything is black and white, but everything does come into clearest focus when we work to become Aware. All of which are lessons this amazing Teacher can help us discover.
"The best thing about dreams is that fleeting moment, when you are between asleep and awake, when you don't know the difference between reality and fantasy, when for just that one moment you feel with your entire soul that the dream is reality, and it really happened." ~James Arthur Baldwin
"Dreaming is an act of pure imagination, attesting in all men a creative power, which if it were available in waking, would make every man a Dante or Shakespeare. " ~H.F. Hedge
"You know that place between sleep and awake? That place where you still remember dreaming? That's where I'll always love you... That's where I'll be waiting." ~ Tinkerbell from the film Hook
Keywords: Astral Travel, /Dreaming/Dreamtime/Lucid Dreaming, Leadership, Self-Discipline, Sacrifice, Formality/Manners/Etiquette , Appearance, Determination
Potential Balancing Energies: Other birds of the Antarctic like Southern Giant Petrel , Leopard Seals, Orcas,