“Two-spirited and humble,
We patiently tend to the land
for we know
that even the smallest effort
might one day raise mountains
or move us vast distances
from where you now stand,
Follow us and we will show you
that the past never dies
Nothing is forgotten
in all that remains
Recycling all we can
to create a fertile tomorrow
Become the apple of Creator’s eye
doing best what you love most
Les't you be snatched up
by some be-feathered
image of your self-imposed lies,
squirming on a hook
of your own making.
Haste makes waste,
breeds spiritual evolution!
We till the fields
feed the flocks, tend the dead,
tempt schools of wisdom and inspiration
from watery depths.
to drown in a puddle
we can show you
how to digest memories
cast off clutter
bring renewal to the Earth
We might come out
under cover of darkness
when we're safer from prying eyes
Hopefully we're curled up
safely behind our leaf doors,
dreaming of past or future lives
learning something new
No eyes to see
yet sensitive still
to light, to vibration
Tread lightly please!
Mascot to many libraries,
We symbolize those most well-read!"
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. Can you guess who is singing today? (Congrats to Karen Erdman, Shay, Sharonlee and Mark Henderson for naming this Teacher!)
“We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“To work in the world lovingly means that we are defining what we will be for, rather than reacting to what we are against.” Christina Baldwin
“The work I do to let go of my suffering diminishes the suffering of the whole universe. When I have room for my own pain, I have room for the pain of others. Only then can I be transformed into joy. As I heal, the Earth heals.” Christiane Northrup, MD
“A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.” William Shakespeare Hamlet
There are over 5,500 named species of worm known worldwide, and they can be found just about everywhere except the polar regions and arid deserts. These invertebrates range in size from less than an inch to over tapeworms found in whales up to 120 feet long! For the purposes of this article, I will be talking about the common Earthworm, megadriles which include the families Tubificidae, Lumbriculidae, and Enchytraeidae, and are characterized by having a multilayer-ed clitellum, vascular system with true capillaries, and male pores behind the female pores.
A clitellum is a ring or saddle-shaped region of glandular tissue in the body wall of certain annelids, like earthworms and some leeches, that after copulation secretes a cocoon in which the eggs and sperm are deposited for fertilization and development. Although earthworms (aka nightcrawlers, dew-worms, angleworms, and rainworms) are hermaphroditic (having both male and female reproductive systems), it takes two worms to mate and reproduce.
Having both genders in one body is the sign of a Two-spirited Teacher. The term “Two-spirited” (first discussed in Starfish Totem “Who Sings Now?” XIX) was derived from interpretations of Native languages and has been used to describe people who display both male and female characteristics. In these Traditions, the Two-Spirited are sacred gifts to society from Creator. It is believed that such people are gifted with a greater vision, a more balanced view of the world as a whole, and a closer connection to Creator. Honored and also feared for these qualities, their advice was sought on matters of weight and they fulfilled certain roles in society. Including: healers, medicine people, gravediggers/undertakers, teachers of oral traditions and songs, war-time nurses, prophets, bestowers of lucky names, admired crafters, official matchmakers, ceremonial dancers, council member/leaders, hunter/trapper/fishers, warrior/raiders, guides, diplomats, and vision seekers.
Not every Native Nation positively recognized the Two-spirited, and some even outlawed them. While the subject of Gay and Lesbian rights is no longer the barely whispered of tabu in current society that it once was, society at large still has a long way to go before attaining a truly enlightened and balanced view that transcends mere physical realities and looks to the eternal soul, which knows no gender. I believe that Two-Spirited Teachers like Earthworm project the view that all things should be approached with a healthily Balanced view. Imagine what the World might be like where everyone was raised to respect everyone/thing else no matter their nature, and each generation was raised to pass these ideals onto the next generation. That’s something I’d love to see!
Earthworm is a powerful Totem that speaks of Renewal, especially renewal of the Earth, a truly vital Singer at this point in our history. It is possible for a dissected worm to heal and become two separate worms, and as a Totem this Teacher can also help us to heal from devastating wounds; physical, mental or spiritual. Stamina, transformation and healing of all sorts can be helped by the Earthworm. On the Medicine Wheel, Renewal is a gift of the Spirit Keeper of the North, where Earthworm can be found along with Peridot, which stimulates personal growth, and Red Clover, a Healer herb especially useful for Cleansing. Cleansing is an essential step before any healing or renewal as you wouldn’t want to renew harmful habits, destructive thoughts or emotional baggage. Earthworm encourages us to proceed in all endeavors slowly, with conscious thought and full heart.
Worms have been around for 120 million years. Cleopatra claimed that they were sacred beings and Aristotle called them the “intestines” of the soil. Earthworms aerate the soil with their burrowing which allows for proper drainage and helps to keep soil healthy. They are essential in the natural composting process as they convert dead organic matter into rich soil, leave soil enriched with their high nitrogen/phosphate/potash body waste (castings), encourage healthy plant growth, break down stones up to 1/20 of an inch in their crop all of which creates a more perfectly balanced selection of minerals and plant nutrients in a more accessible form in the top 6 inches of soil where they live.
Good soil can have as many as a million worms per acre, and successful gardeners and farmers should encourage a healthy worm population in their growing spaces. Earthworm populations depend on both physical and chemical properties of the soil. Factors such as soil temperature, moisture, pH, salts, aeration and texture, as well as available food, and the ability of the species to reproduce and disperse affect the population. Most earthworms favor a neutral to slightly acidic soil. Today, society’s frequent application of chemical fertilizers, sprays and dusts can have a ruinous effect on earthworm populations, and I would love to see a healthy return to more organic methods in this, and many other areas.
In conjunction with Renewal, Earthworm teaches us how to examine our lives, digest our experiences properly, and extract all the best to carry forward with us. Earthworms are a vital base to a healthy environment, and feed many different animals. Fish, Frogs/Toads and Snakes are all symbolic of great Wisdom (like the Apple on which Worm may feed!), and humble Worm which feeds on dead organic matter and the smallest bones of the Earth, is the Teacher that feeds them! Earthworm speaks quietly of the interconnectedness of all things, encouraging us to look beyond the surface and superficial things like perceived differences, time, distance, etc. So many Creature and Nature Teachers depend upon this humble Singer, that sooner or later in following one, it will lead you to Earthworm. Like a tiny seed of Hope, Earthworm is busy coaxing renewed life and healing from the Earth; whispering of days gone by and days yet to come, encouraging Awakening, and inexorably clearing away the detris… usually unnoticed or at least unappreciated!
As a child two worms stand out in my memory as Teachers. Richard Scarry’s Lowly Worm with his single shoe and feathered hat. And the magazine “Cricket” was a great inspiration and delight to me. There are reoccurring insect characters, including an earthworm known by seperate names depending on which end you are speaking to! Both taught me the value of taking one’s time to absorb all the information available before taking action, as well as the importance of not underestimating someone simply because of their appearance. How does the mighty Earthworm appear in your life?
Key Concepts: Renewal, Examing the past/past lives, Ancestors, Digesting information/knowledge/wisdom, Duality, Healing and the cleansing that must occur before healing can begin, Grounding, Transformation, Examing minute details, Reflection, Looking beyond appearances, Birth/Life/Death cycle
Associated With: This Teacher might be associated with any deities relating to the Earth, the Underworld, Renewal, Healing, Plants or Knowledge.
Potential Balancing energies: Earth, Birds like Chickadee, Sparrow, Robin, Crow, or Blue Jay, Frog/Toad and other amphibians, Snakes, Badgers, Fish like Salmon, Plants of all kinds like Plantain, Daisies, Sunflowers, Grasses, Blackberries, Angelica, Red Clover and Milkweed, Trees like Apple, Rowan, Oak, Willow, Sequoia, Cacao, and Pine. Moles, shrews, mice/rats and other rodents, hedgehogs, wolf/fox/coyote/dog, cats from domestic to Lion, Stones of all kinds like Periodot, Moss Agate, Amethyst or Rose Quartz, Rabbits, Ground hogs and other burrowing creatures. Ants, Lepidoptera, Slugs, and other Insects.