Monday, March 23, 2015

Manannon's Hounds

As we travel along 
chuckling like a brook, 
becomes a joyful song… 

“Slide along 
the Mother’s muddy sides 
Dive and splash 
into the healing 
waters of Life 
Drink from the eternal 
Fountain of Knowledge

in the face of strife! 
Coursing hounds 
of the Sea gods 
Ancient and skillful souls 
Faerie kings 
Healers of her wild waters 
Enchanted mystics 
with a pirate's smile 
Hunting through 
each reef and wave 
for elusive sagacity 
true sustenance 
to compliment 
our audacity 

will harbor you 
through lean times 
through darkest tempests. 

Dream deep
Dream true 
as you dream 

Tuck yourself 
into strands 
of Mother's 

waving green hair 
Most importantly 
heed Her wise warnings 
Her nurturing requests 

Hand in hand 
with your Sister 
Float in leisurely ease 
Down the gentle River 
into the ever-flowing Seas 

Fear not the Waters 
Stormy or Deep 
in Her rocking embrace
Dream Deep! 

All work is but Play 
in disguise 
T’wixt the Land
the Wind 
the Wave 
Life is too short 
to be angry or grave 

When cracking shells 
under the glimmering Sun 
Admire the Pearl, yes, but 
Tis the Shell’s sacrifice 
that feeds you. 
Be Grateful! 

joyous and often 
is our goal 
for Laughter is Medicine 
that multiplies in the giving 
and heals 
more than one soul!” 

Wisdom shining 
from every brow 
Who Sings Now?

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 Shay and Jan Neavill Hersh for naming this Teacher!

“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity. " Eleanor Roosevelt
“In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play.” Friedrich Nietzsche

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and – SNAP – the job’s a game!” Mary Poppins

“I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose. " Woody Allen

Otters are carnivorous aquatic mammals of the family Mustelidae which includes weasels, badgers, and polecats. As always, those drawn to Otter should also take a good look at their closest relatives. There are 13 different species of Otter and they can be found just about anywhere in the world where there is a habitat to support them. is an excellent place to begin learning about these fabulous frolicking “Old Men of the Sea” if you don’t know anything about them. Both Sea Otter and River Otter (specifically the North American River Otter) are referenced in this poem as I have been lucky enough to see both in my lifetime. I have a great love for this particular Teacher and it was one of my first “favorites” as a child.

Dolphin and Seal, also Children of Lir (the Sea), come close to Otter for excellence in Teaching us about the importance of Play and Laughter in our lives. The importance of Play and Laughter in our daily lives is the primary message of wise Otter. Sisterhood, the true balance of friend and helpmate without jealousy or distrust, is also Otter wisdom. Most Creatures that spend all or the majority of their time in Water, especially the Ocean, are strong carriers of Feminine energy, but it is important to remember that each of us have both a Masculine and Feminine side and both in balance are necessary for a good life.

I’m sure everyone has a favorite comedian who always makes them laugh, or perhaps even one of those special people in our lives who inspire us with their lively curiosity and playful nature. Those that never seem to loose that Inner Child are often Otter people. Perhaps my favorite example of Otter energy is the wonderful film, “Mary Poppins”. While Mrs. Banks is on the right track with her Suffrage crusade "Our daughters’ daughters will adore us and they’ll sing in grateful chorus, “Well done, sister suffragettes!”, her focus has left her children which is the most telling indication that her Otter energy is off balance. Mr. Banks who is so blatantly beyond such frivolous things like “fun” and “play” is a more serious case of unbalanced Otter.

Rosy-cheeked Mary Poppins “practically perfect in every way” guides everyone she comes in contact with into the wonderful world of Otter Wisdom. Fun-loving Bert the Chimney sweep is the perfect masculine counterpart to represent Otter energy and perched on a shelf in my living room as a daily reminder are two ragdolls made to look like Mary Poppins and Bert. When I’ve had a particular hard day, I’ll take them down from their place and share a comforting hug with them before letting go of whatever burdens I’ve recently found myself carrying.

“If animals play, this is because play is useful in the struggle for survival; because play practices and so perfects the skills needed in adult life.” Susanna Miller

Mary Poppins: "Our first game is called “well begun is half done”

Michael: “I don’t like the sound of that.”

Mary Poppins: "Otherwise entitled, “let’s tidy up the nursery.”

Michael:" I told you she was tricky."

Work is necessary to a good life. Even if we had everything we needed, we would still need profitable daily employment. Daily chores, gardening for food and pleasure, helping family and friends with their tasks, tending children, and whatever pursuits we like turning our hand to (I like to embroider my clothes) are the most basic kinds of work, but without an element of “work” in our lives we would soon loose our healthy sense of balance in idleness, boredom and apathy. But no one ever said that work had to be torturous or a burden! 

Otter’s endless curiosity reminds us that work engages us in Life, and that everything is interesting and worthwhile if we only look at it the right way. Her eternal childlike senses of wonder and play teach us that approaching our tasks with willing cheerful hearts united in purpose will turn even the most daunting endeavor into a game between friends.

This sounds lot easier than it actually is in practice! There are a lot of destructive behaviors out there, a lot of distractions and we are most definitely living in a time where we are feeling the consequences of the downward spiral that our society has been in for many generations now. While this makes it that much more difficult to summon up these positive and empowering Otter attitudes, it also makes it that much more vital that we make the effort! 

There are many days when I just want to snap at the next person who gets in my face with their attitude. There are many days when my own worries seem so overwhelming that I feel as if I am being crushed by their weight. Every day is a struggle to reach down and pull a reason to simply laugh, or better still, find a way to make someone else laugh. Some days I yell, even though I know it’s the wrong sort of energy to spread and therefore the very last thing I want to do. Most days I feel frustrated, sad or worried at least 50% of the time.

I spend a lot of time lately trying to find my center. To force myself to think positively, to laugh, to pretend all these positive things even if I don’t actually feel them simply because I know that this is the first step towards truly manifesting these things in my life. If I can’t imagine it, how can it appear? Besides, who knows, tomorrow may be better, and nothing lasts forever. Recognize when you’ve slipped off of your good road, but forgive yourself for it too. Even Mary Poppins wasn’t perfect, just “practically perfect”. We all make mistakes, we all get overwhelmed, we all have moments we aren’t proud of, or have “reacted to” a situation instead of “deciding” on it. It happens, but we make mistakes in order to learn.

Instead of being angry with yourself when something goes sour, take positive action. Apologize to those you've yelled at or wronged,and apologize to yourself too. Everyone needs comfort. One of the best ways to avoid these types of situations before they arise is making sure that you take time for yourself. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we get sick. If we don’t take the time to do those things that refresh and revitalize us, we become worn down. Sick and worn down means less able to stand under pressure, less able to respond appropriately or bounce back. All those many things that “must” be done or that we want to give our energy to, whether kids, job, schooling, or errands, will never receive our best attention if we are sick and worn down.

Beyond the things that everyone needs like good sleep, proper food and attention to our health needs, what makes you happy? What makes you feel centered and calm? What makes you laugh? For many years silence and solitude spent outdoors was my biggest rejuvinator, and while this is still important to me, it has become more important for me to write and to reach out to others with these thoughts I’ve carried around all these years. It is not uncommon for me to neglect things like housework in favor of writing lately because I know that the housework will still be there. The opportunity or inspiration to write or share with others might not be. What you do with what I share is, of course, entirely up to you. We all need to find our own balance between Work and Play, and these things can change over time. Flexibility and adaptability are important to Otters.

“It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them.” Leo F. Buscaglia

“I was like a boy playing on the sea shore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.” Isaac Newton

In the Sea and in Rivers, Otters feed primarily upon fish, shellfish, crustaceans and other hard-shelled invertebrates but have been known to make a meal out of amphibians, birds and their eggs, muskrats, or berries and fruit depending on what is available. Otters are very flexible creatures, not only in their skeletal structure but in their attitudes too. Some Otters are solitary, others pair off or form loose groups, and all are pretty open to opportunity when it comes to grabbing a meal. Otter mothers usually have From this we learn that Otter people have a craving for knowledge, wisdom, dreams, bounty, new beginnings, new ideas, and all the other things that are represented by those creatures and plants that they eat. We feed upon these things and they are essential to us in ways that we don’t often think about consciously. Curious by nature, we are drawn by the new and unknown, wishing instinctively to learn and expand our consciousness.

Otter people tend to be very creative, ingenious, adaptable and sociable people with a hunger for knowledge and wisdom. Deep dreamers, they often swim through their dreams as if it were the Waters that feed and shelter the four-legged otter. Sensitive to the needs of others, sentimental even when they try to hide it, and sensitive to the World around us. Otters do a lot of learning and healing while they sleep. Sea Otters sleep floating on their backs in the Ocean and will often sleep in a kelp bed using this “bread of the sea” as a cozy comforter. River Otters sleep onland in dens called holts or pretty much anywhere they feel like sleeping. Serene Otter has very few predators on land or sea, and isn’t too particular about where he sleeps.Keeping a dream journal is especially important for all deep dreamers, but so is simply noticing and appreciating the World around us, so make time for that too!

If awareness and appreciation are the first steps, being grateful, and sharing with others are the next in our development. Otter lives in the lifeblood of the World and comes to us one of many emissaries that urge these Wisdoms upon us. Why have we resisted for so long? We learn best when work and play combine. Perhaps we have just been out of balance for such a long time that we’ve forgotten these crucial elements to a good life, but it is high time that we re-learn this piece of Otter Wisdom. All that we need is still there waiting for us, but until we learn to recognize, appreciate, show gratitude, care for and share the World’s abundance with All Our Relations…our downward spiral will continue to it’s inevitable conclusion.

“Mirth is God’s medicine. Everybody ought to bathe in it. " Henry Ward Beecher

“What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul. " Yiddish Proverb
“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.” Irish Proverb

Laughter, in my opinion, is not just Medicine but truly vital element in any Life. Laughter dismisses fears, banishes nightmares, heals wounds physical mental or emotional, lifts the heart and is completely contagious. Of course, it can also inflict embarrassment, distress or pain depending on the manner in which it arises. Laughter should never be used as a weapon any more than Love or any other constructive quality. 

As amusing as the antics or foibles of our fellows may be to us, we should always try to avoid laughing at another’s expense. We are, after all, one big family here on Earth and we should treat each other with the same respect, tenderness and consideration that we would like to receive. If you are laughing at someone you perceive is hopelessly offtrack…you may find yourself in a situation where the World is laughing at you!

Unlike other marine mammals, sea otters do not have blubber, instead they depend upon a dense, water-resistant fur to provide insulation against the cold. Sea otter fur is very dense and has a greater number of hair follicles per inch than any other mammal. Otters can be overly sentimental, either openly or secretly, and quite often appear insulated from the quips and barbs slung about them. Otters can also be quite tactless for all their considerable charm, being too familiar, too forward, too direct, or too prone to laughter. Nothing can offend someone like laughter at what is considered an inappropriate time or place! 

You may have noticed that a great many people don’t feel that laughter is ever really appropriate. The best thing an Otter person can do is look for ways to start others laughing in a good way. Otter people could be anywhere along the spectrum depending on their own sense of balance, life circumstances, and whatever they may have had for dinner.

Balance is important for Otters, as they suffer greatly or die off when their environment is thrown out of balance. Otter people also need to actively seek balance in their own lives. It’s wonderful to have a thirst for knowledge, for example, but if we are constantly exclaiming “Ooooh! Look at this pretty new shell” we could spend our whole lives picking up and dropping everything without ever really diving down to the bottom and finding a true pearl. 

The eternal Fountain of Knowledge is wider and deeper than the Sea. While we cannot know everything, neither should we merely skim the surface. Otters share a lot of the same traits as the zodiac sign Gemini, although the birth time of Otter is said to be between January 20th and February 18th which makes them much closer to Aquarians. Of course, Gemini and Aquarius are close signs. It is certainly true that Balance is often a difficult issue for both signs.

If you’ve forgotten how to play or can’t remember the last good laugh that you had, it is time to get in touch with your Inner Otter. We Otter be grateful to have such fine Teachers willing to share their Wisdom with us. To every Otter who has ever made me laugh out loud…Thank you! I really needed that. I think of you every time I sign a letter “Wishing You Laughter”. How does Otter appear in your life?

“The person who can bring the spirit of laughter into a room is indeed blessed.” Bennett Cerf

“Right now I’m having amnesia and deja-vu at the same time. I think I’ve forgotten this before.” Steven Wright

“May God grant you always…a sunbeam to warm you, a moonbeam to charm you, a sheltering Angel so nothing can harm you. Laughter to cheer you. Faithful friends near you. And whenever you, pray, Heaven to hear you.” Irish blessing

“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as judge in the field of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods.” Albert Einstein

Key Concepts: Playfulness & Joy, Laughter as Medicine, Sisterhood, Primal Feminine Energ, Intuition & Psychic Awareness, Curiousity & the quest for Knowledge, Healing, Innovation, Balanced Friendship, Tact, Independence, Conservation, Nuturing and Parenting, Birth/death/rebirth cycle, Reincarnation, Trickster energy, Dreamtime

Potential Balancing Energies: Fish like Salmon , Mollusks like Oyster , Birds like Seagull or Raven , Kelp, Metal like Silver, Trees like Aspen, Willow, or Pine Pearl, Butterfly , Earthworm, Insects like Dragonfly , Crayfish, Crab, Lobster, Shrimp, Frog , Sharks, Orcas and other Whales, Dolphin, Sea Lion, Seals, Eagle and other Raptors, Coyote , Bears from Black to Polar, Fox, Wolf , Rabbit, Raccoon, Turtle , Bobcat, Cougar, Muskrat, Fox

Associated with: Otr/Otter, Sea gods/goddesses, Kwan Yin, Mother and Maiden aspects of triple Goddesses, King Solomon, Taliesin, Cuchulain, Loki, Fafnir, Cerridwen, Gwion, Souls of Sailors lost at sea, Dreamtime

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