Sleek hounds of the Sea…
before Manannon and Fand,
hunt the Lands Between…
wind and wave,
dream and deed,
rainbow and sand…
Guiding storm-tossed souls
with velvet hands.
with velvet hands.
We teach how to
slip from fur to skin
and back again.
Waltzing from one world
to the next.
Whether Guiding yourself
through reef and rocks,
Listening to the Inner Song
Balance and flip
bright spheres of thought.
Feed upon elusive schools
so quick with creativity,
Don’t get tangled in nets
or succumb to siren song!
or succumb to siren song!
the Pale Huntress
and the ravenous throng!
Never become slave
to the clever tricks
Lest you lose yourself
in fairy glamour
or Life’s grand circus!
Honor your relations.
Hold fast to your dreams,
and you will live your divine purpose."
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 of us. Can you guess who is singing today? Congrats to Poppy (O.R.M.E.), Shay and Windi (Jaguarwombyn) for naming this Teacher!
“To accomplish great things we must dream as well as act.” Anatole France
“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” Lao Tzu
“Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain. ~Carl G. Jung
There are about 33 different species of Pinnipeds broken down into three Families; Phocidae (earless or true seals), Otaridae (eared or fur seals and sea lions), and Odobenidae (Walrus). Perhaps the most recognized Pinniped is the California Sea Lion which is found in zoos, aquatic parks, and circuses around the world. While not considered a “true” seal, I will be focusing specifically on this species as well as discussing general Seal Wisdom.
Sea Lions are opportunistic eaters whose diet includes: over 50 species of fish like salmon and mackerel, squids, octopus, occasional clams and lamprey. They either swallow their food whole or tear it into chunks. Sea lions are hunted by Great White, other large sharks, and orcas, but their largest fatalities are due to environmental poisons/stresses, fishing nets and a history of over-hunting by mankind.
Sea lions are roughly slender torpedo-shaped with larger fore-flippers and smaller flippered hind-feet. They have large eyes that see better underwater than on land. Unlike members of the Phocidae family, California Sea Lions have vestigial ear flaps near their ear holes. Male sea lions are larger than females, averaging about 700 pounds to the females average of 250. Males tend to be colored somewhat darker than females, with the traditional shades varying from dark gray or chocolate brown to near black. Adult males have a mane, although this physical aspect is not as noticeably pronounced as it is in other species.
Sea Lion pelts often have a purple cast when dry. These seals reach maturity between 4 and 5 years of age, and sea lion lifespans average between 17 and 20 years in the wild, and 30 years or more in captivity. These coastal sea lions are found on the Western coasts of North America from central Mexico to British Columbia.
After reaching maturity, or after about 11 months of gestating for females who have already mated, sea lion cows will land and birth a live pup within a day or two of arriving at their mate’s territory. Usually there is only one mating and one pup per season, although cows go into estrus somewhere between 2 weeks and 28 days after giving birth. Females are, understandably, extremely aggressive during the first days after birth, and stay close to their pup. They will make progressively longer foraging trips after the pup’s first four days.
Pups are gathered into loose pods where they play, socialize with peers, and begin learning life skills while their mothers are hunting. Alloparenting, common among pinnipeds, has been observed in the behavior of the California Sea Lion although whether this is “normal” or consistent behavior for this species is still debated. Alloparenting refers to males or females of a species that provide parental care for young who are not their own. In this case, pups are kept in the safer shallow waters and pod areas by several watchful females.
This group of babysitters is often formed of older juveniles or unmated adult cows. Bulls also participate in this behavior by barking a warning to cows and pups about the presence of a predator, and occasionally physically driving predators away. Female sea lions have also been observed adopting and fostering a pup who has been abandoned by it’s mother or lost it’s mother to predators.
Whether or not our own mother was a positive, nurturing figure in our lives, this Teacher reminds us that this maternal love is always there for us, a free offering from our Creator, All Our Relations, and the Universe. We need never feel like we missed out, are lacking, unworthy or abandoned, and should work to reconcile any issues we may have with our literal mother rather than carry around poisonous baggage. Sometimes the only healthy thing we can do with the toxic people in our lives is remove them. Too many people stay involved in bad relationships, familial or otherwise, with the very best of intentions only to have more of themselves worn away by an unhealthy relationship.
“The mother’s heart is the child’s school-room.” ~Henry Ward Beecher
“Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth.” ~Benjamin Disraeli
Sea Lion pups are born with open eyes and are capable of coordinated motor activities within approximately 15 minutes of birth. Both the pup and it’s mother will use unique vocalizations to call for each other when separated, after which the mother will examine the pup’s scent to determine whether or not it is actually her own. Pups nurse from 6 months to a year, and are typically weaned by 10 months. Pups and mothers can sort each other out by sound amidst 100’s of squalling seals.
Rather social animals, sea lions will form smaller groups, or rafts, as they live out their lives in yearly wanderings from sea to land. Being born with open eyes typically indicates that those called by such a Teacher are born with their Inner Eye already open. Such people often experience brief childhoods packed with life lessons, and often see things with amazing clarity. Highly intuitive and creative souls, Seal people need to channel their creativity, remember the importance of staying grounded and always keep their ears keenly tuned to their Inner Voice.
The Sea Lion’s earthy coloring, small earflaps, and their continual return to land reinforce the need to stay properly grounded and in tune with Intuition. Issues with abandonment or parental figures, particularly with one’s mother, and relationship problems are all indicative of unbalanced Seal energy. Seals often appear to ask us if we are ready to really commit, or are giving/getting what we really need from a relationship. Their appearance often indicates the end of a relationship, or the clashing of masculine and feminine within a situation or person.
Our ears, the centers for our balance and hearing, are important in both physical and metaphysical ways. Just as we must find a harmonious Balance within our selves and lives, we must also remember the need for Listening, both to our Inner Voice, and to the people in our lives. Their keen hearing is what allows a mother to find her own pup amid hundreds of loudly complaining youngsters. It is important for people called by this Teacher to take time each day to enjoy some rejuvenating Silence and Solitude, particularly mothers!
The easiest lies and excuses are the ones we tell ourselves, and no one wants to believe the worst in any given situation, others, or in themselves. This makes it even more important to stay grounded, to use all our senses and skills to ensure that we are listening to our inner guiding voice and seeing reality for what it is, rather than what we would like it to be. This important Sea Lion lesson reminds us not to get caught up in illusions, to look beyond the surface of things, and not to get so enamored of our own cleverness that we end up juggling too many responsibilities or living in denial of reality. This aspect it what makes these Teachers such excellent counselors for troubled relationships.
Amazing survivors, these Teachers can show us how to stay Balanced during the turbulent moments in our lives, allowing everything to flow around us as we navigate. Sea Lions are more adept at moving about on land than the “true” seals, placing an emphasis on a need for grounding for those drawn specifically to the Sea Lion. This Teacher’s connection to the land-bound Lion should not be overlooked either, as well as other potential Balancing Energies.
Seals and Sea Lions, like Otters and Dolphins, have a wonderful reputation for play. Remembering the importance of, and the proper boundaries for Play throughout our lives are great Seal lessons. We all need joyful fun, and we should all act positively upon our duties and goals every day. Are you having too much fun or not enough? Do others criticize you for being a stick in the mud, for never being “serious”, or carrying playful moments too far? Seals and Sea Lions are excellent Teachers to turn to for guidance for the proper measure and boundaries of Play!
In ancient Celtic/Scottish/Welsh and Icelandic tales, Selkies, Phocaii, or Seal People, are kindly Faerie folk from the sea who can slip their seal skins and come ashore as beautiful people. Like Swanmaidens, Selkie tales are often ones of romantic tragedy where a fisherman steals a Selkie’s skin and traps her as his wife for a number of years until she steals back her enchanted seal skin and returns to the sea. A wonderful example of focusing too much on the Dream rather than Reality, especially within a relationship, which is a major Seal/Sea Lion lesson!
This strong connection to Faerie energy/wisdom is only reinforced by their ability to slip with relative ease from Land to Water, their common appearance at dawn and dusk as they feed on schools of fish, as well as their understanding of body language and soulfully expressive eyes. This connection also marks these Teachers as Shapeshifters and Masters of Transformation, which makes them excellent guides in all such matters. In other tales, these Teachers guide souls through water to the Underworld, disguise gods and goddesses, the cattle or kin of sea deities, or messengers, often carrying prophetic information.
Sea Lion asks us if we are feeling out of Balance? Are we listening too much to others and not enough to ourselves? Are we listening only to our own desires, and making light of the needs of others in our life? Are we so lost in the vision of our dreams that we aren’t focusing on real needs? Are we spending more time dreaming about our goals than putting in the action necessary to bring them to fruition? Are we making our friendships or relationships too complicated to distract us from what we are really lacking? Are we fearing commitment unnecessarily? How does this slippery, charming and powerful Master of Transformations appear in your life?
“You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep.” ~Navajo Proverb
“He whose soul is pure is never deceived by his dreams, whereas he whose soul is blemished is continually deluded.” Arabic saying
“There is deep wisdom within our very flesh, if we can only come to our senses and feel it.” ~Elizabeth A. Behnke
Potential Balancing Energies: Other seals, sharks like the great white, fish like salmon or sardine, cephalopods like octopi and squid, clams, oysters, lampreys, seaweed, orcas, dolphins, whales, otters, bears, dogs, seagulls, osprey and other birds, crabs and other crustaceans
Key Concepts: Inner Voice, Balance, Dreams, creativity, intuition, balancing imagination and intuition with intellect, transitions, messages, prophecy, shapeshifting, relationship issues, sexuality/fertility, balance between masculine and feminine
Associated Gods, Goddesses: sedna, selkies, underworld/faerie world, manannon maclir, lir/llyr, neptune/poseidon, Aegir, Amphitrite, Nereids, Nereus, O-Wata-Tsu-Mi , Mat-Su, Yamm, Proteus, Varuna, Samundra, Triton, Tritones, Pontos, Nammu, Aphrodite, Branwyn, Creiddylad, Don, Dylan, Ran, Nerthus, Njord