Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Swallowing the Moon

“Knee deep…
in the mud I squat.
Singing Wisdom
Croaking my predictions,
peering around
the Future's blind spot.

Leap and glide!
Faith and Wisdom will abide.

Gaze into my watery mirror
I will teach you how to sort 
Illusion from Truth
Scrying through
Psyche and
both given and sought.
Listen to our songs,
and we will help ensure
Dreams and Visions 
are properly caught.

We sing 
of the purifying First Medicine
Transitions and Transformations
Renewal and Fertility
Creating Fortunate opportunities
by which you may prosper
We all begin helpless and small.
Soon enough we grow, adapt, transform
to handle Life’s call…

Awareness is the tail that
grounds and guides,
Until all four legs
Keep you steady.
Lift you over.
Help you take it all 
in leaps and bounds.

Feeding on each airy thought
as about your head they fly…
Snap them up!
Roll them along your tongue,
savoring possibilities. 
Leap and Glide!
Faith and Wisdom will abide.

I am no pebble-skinned traveler,
dispensing my Dreams,
and Fortunes
by the roadside.

I leave that for my cousins
Squatting on their salientian thrones
Singing of the Luck that finds you
the Fortitude that comes 
from following  the
Moon’s bright code

Purify your environment
Breathe in Life 
through your very skin!
Dance in the rain
Remember all your kith and kin.

Leap and Glide,
I’ll show you how."

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 Sharonlee, BeadaBeada, Jaguarwombyn, Jan Neavill Hersh, and Chris Brockman for naming this Teacher!

“Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” Anais Nin

“It’s not easy being green
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over ‘cause you’re
Not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water
Or stars in the sky…” Kermit T. Frog

“I spend a few minutes in meditation and prayer each morning. I find that this really helps me to start the day with a good frame of reference. As part of my prayers, I thank whoever is helping me – I’m sure that somebody or something is – I express gratitude for all my blessings and try to forgive the people that I’m feeling negative toward. I try hard not to judge anyone, and I try to bless everyone who is part of my life, particularly anyone with whom I am having any problems.” Jim Henson

Frogs and Toads are cold-blooded vertebrate amphibians, Amphibia Salientia (“to jump”) or Amphibia Anura (“tail-less”). Frogs have smooth clammy or slimy skin, bulging eyes, strong webbed-hind feet that are adapted for swimming and leaping, and they lay their eggs in a cluster. Toads have legs better adapted to walking than hopping, dry warty skin, slightly different chest cartilage, poison glands behind the eyes, and they lay their eggs in a long chain, except for genera Nectophrynoides toads who bear live young! Frogs can be found everywhere except Antarctica, and prefer a moister environment. Toads do not inhabit either polar region, Madagascar, Polynesia, or most of Australasia, and tend to travel farther from their water sources than Frogs.

There are over 5,000 species of Ampibian Anura, making them one of the most diverse vertebrates. There are two other types of Amphibians, Caudates which consist of salamanders and newts, and Caecilians which are worm-like amphibians. Amphibians fall under the larger term of Herps along with Reptiles, and the study of them would make one a Herpetologist. The word Herps comes from the Greek term herpeton which translates roughly as “creepy crawly things that move around on their belly”. Fossil records show that frogs have been around, relatively unchanged, for about 190 Million years!

Grandmother Frog’s first lesson to us is revealed in the cycle of her own life. Change is the only constant and our ability to adapt, to transform ourselves to suit our situation or needs, is what ultimately determines our success. People seem determined to set one state of being as their goal and when they achieve it, they want to stay in that state. Everyone wants to be happy, for instance, but if that was all we experienced, there would be a vast range of experiences we’d be giving up. 

How would one develop spiritually if we could never experiences the full array of emotions available in life, and the many thoughts and lessons that are spun from those experiences? How would we even know what “happy” was if we had nothing to compare it against? Frog often appears to let us know that a cycle of growth is beginning or ending, or that we are being called upon to examine our lives for how best to transform to meet the challenges and changes approaching us.

Change is perhaps the single most frightening concept in life to most people, which is why it is represented by Death in the Tarot deck. Grandmother Frog reminds us that there is nothing to fear from Change, that it is, in fact, a natural part of life. Tadpoles don’t resist their growth into frog-dom, trying vainly to suck their new legs back into their bodies. They don’t panic, try to escape or deny the natural flow of Change in their lives either. Change is often awkward and leaves us feeling off-balance. Change can even be a painful process, but fearing it is as pointless as fearing our next breath and resisting the changes in our own lives just makes the process more difficult and unpleasant

Most frogs have tongues that are long and sticky that roll out and pull in their prey. Some frogs and most toads have shorter tongues and stalk their prey before pouncing, much like a cat. Once caught, a frog’s bulgy eyes close and actually push down into its head to create the force needed to swallow their food. This is reminder that often times the only way to deal with what needs to be is to just shut your eyes and swallow! So, the next time Frog appears to warn you of impending change, just take a deep breath, relax, and let it happen.

Frogs don’t actually drink water. They absorb moisture, and even breathe, through their skin! Many frogs secrete a slimy mucus that helps them retain the moisture they need to survive. The toad’s tougher skin does not dry out as easily which is why they can travel farther from water. Frogs can be killed by dropping them into a container filled with caffeinated soda pop or alcohol. Frog people are equally sensitive to their surroundings, and should be very careful about the people they allow into their lives.

These Teachers’ connections with Water do not end with their life cycle. Both have been considered to be closely associated with the weather in general, and their songs were once believed to call forth rain. In fact, in India it was once believed that Frog personified thunder and the Sanskrit word for Frog also means “cloud”. Perhaps because certain species lie dormant and only appear during an area’s rainy season, Frogs and Toads have carried the association with rain and weather from the days of Ancient Egypt, and many cultures around the world have also recognized this connection.

Their close association with cleansing, life-giving rain is a powerful sign of the healing and cleansing power of tears in our own lives. Balanced Frog people have an innate understanding of how to not only keep themselves emotionally cleansed, but also the importance of and how to go about clearing negativity out of their environment. If you are having difficulty with such issues in your own space, Grandmother Frog and those she has tapped will certainly be able to help you. In fact, Frog people are typically nurturing environmentally concerned individuals, and thrive on opportunities to “clean up” both physically, spiritually, or metaphysically. They know in their hearts, even if they can’t explain it, that since we are all connected, helping others and the World we live in is also helping themselves.

Typically, male frogs sing by squeezing their lungs with their mouths and nostrils shut, which causes air to flow over their vocal chords and into their vocal sacs. This is what causes that bubble-gum bubble blowing champion look as they croak. In some species, only males sing and in others both sexes join the choir. Large frogs sing at low frequencies and small frogs sing at high ones. They might sing for a variety of reasons besides mating such as; proclaiming territory, fear, injury or weather change. Song is a powerful tool to Grandmother Toad. She reminds us that song can preserve traditions and histories, teach young and old, heal body, mind and soul, or bring dreams and visions.

When I first began writing these poems, it was a Squirrel singing in a tree who sounded, at first, like a hawk that first inspired me. After writing that first poem, I wondered what to title it and Grandmother Toad leaped first to my mind. “Everything carries Wisdom, child.” I could hear her creaking, “and everything sings with the joy of that privilege.” I knew as soon as I had begun writing that this single poem was going to become a series in which All My Relations who have so patiently and kindly inspired me and taught me over the years would take a turn sharing their Wisdom through my simple words. It was this Teacher though who inspired the question that became the working title for these pieces… “Who sings to you now?” She asked, and I’ve been writing about Who Sings Now ever since!

There are countless tales that emphasize this Singer’s connection to ancient wisdom, magic and fortune. The Man in the Moon has also been known in China as the Frog or Toad in the Moon. These Teachers are heralds of Nokomis, Grandmother Moon, and have been associated with the Moon and the wisdom of the feminine Elder. In Ancient Rome, the frog was believed to bring good luck to the home and in Ireland it was considered to be a close relative of the Leprechauns, thus capable of playing fairy tricks upon the unsuspecting. A 3-legged toad was the companion of Liu Hai, the God of Wealth and Luck. This toad symbolizes the riches of the Earth and is often depicted with a gold coin in its mouth.

Heket (or Heqet), was the Ancient Egyptian Moon goddess of fertility and childbirth who assisted Isis in performing the ritual that resurrected Osiris. Heket is depicted with a frog’s head, and her priestesses were trained as midwives. They wore amulets, jewelery and other ornaments that bore Heket’s image, and they placed frog shaped knives on the bellies of pregnant women and newborn babies as a powerful protection. Frogs in general were so important to the early Egyptians they were often embalmed after death, especially as an insurance of a healthy rebirth for someone who died diseased. The tadpole was their symbol for the number 100,000, and it was a potent symbol of fertility and fortune.

Heket, who breathes the spark of life into everything living, is the goddess which eventually evolved into Hekate or Trivia, goddess of triple crossroads, childbirth, magic, the night, the underworld, and keeper of the gates between life and death. She can be seen as Sheila na Gig in Ireland, the second Sephirah on the Qabalistic tree of life -Chokmah who became Hagia (holy) Sophia to the Gnostics, which became the Holy Spirit of Christianity. Wise Grandmother Toad continues to transform herself bringing power, learning, good fortune, and the joy of humble servitude to Creator to those who follow her example. For all her endless changes, Hekate remains as a much beloved deity to the Neo-Pagans of today. Witches have been linked with toads and frogs for centuries, and for many generations these amazing creatures were just as shunned and reviled as the witches who were believed to be servants of evil.

""Elegant Lady, I was once a handsome prince, until an evil witch cast a spell upon me. One kiss from you, however, and I will turn back into the dapper, young prince that I am and then, my sweet, we can marry and set up housekeeping in your castle with my mother, where you can prepare my meals, clean my clothes, bear my children, and forever feel grateful and happy doing so."

That night, as the princess dined sumptuously on lightly sauteed frog legs seasoned in a white wine and onion cream sauce, she chuckled and thought to herself… “I don’t freakin think so!” ~ Unknown

“Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it.” E.B. White

The number 3 and multiples of 3 are important to this Singer and those called by her. Three stages of life, three graces, three fates, three wishes, and three magical tasks to be completed by those breaking a curse can be seen in more tales than I could possibly list here. “The Frog Prince” is perhaps the most well known. A golden ball, like the moon, in-debts the Princess to him and is the first step towards transforming himself back into the human Prince who will bring so much joy to her life and lands. Frogs are potent protection symbols for children, heralds of joy and humor, bringers of good fortune and pleasant dreams. As always, the kind, color and habits of the particular Frog or Toad you are drawn to should be carefully examined to bring you greater understanding, along with balancing energies like Fly, Snake, or Raccoon.

Frogs and toads since ancient times have been highly regarded for possessing magical and medicinal properties of all sorts, and have been used as aphrodisiacs and to boost fertility. Frog’s liver and the mythical “toad stone” were believed to be sure antidotes to all poisons. Hunting darts have been tipped with poison extracted from frogs and toads. Hallucinogenic compounds derived from toads have been used in religious rituals for communication with the Spirit world and to transcend self. In the Middle Ages, this jeweled stone when placed in a ring or a necklace, was said heat up or change color in the presence of poison. Most likely, these stones were actually Amber.

The Romans believed that if the figure of a frog were carved on an aquamarine, it served to reconcile enemies and make them friends.The Greeks and the Romans also knew the aquamarine as the sailor’s gem, ensuring the safe and prosperous passage across stormy seas. Humorous, lethal, powerful, humble, ancient and forever in the process of rebirthing herself, the Frog teaches us many things not the least of which is to look always beyond the surface of things to find Truth. 

It wasn’t until about the Middle Ages that frogs began to accrue this negative reputation that transformed it from being a symbol of fertility and creation, to a manifestation of pure evil. Some European myths say that it is bad luck to kill a frog as they house the souls of dead children. In the ancient Zorastrian religion, the frog was associated with Ahriman, the most evil of all beings. So, while Frogs symbolize the magic of Creation and fertility, they also symbolize death and rebirth. Of course, the wise know that you cannot be reborn if you do not die first, nor can you fully manifest new power and knowledge without first shedding your old skin.

In Native American tradition, this is the Teacher who nourishes the dreams of the mind so that they may bear fruit in a mind/body/spirit harmony. She encourages merging with Great Spirit and developing our intuition. Frog sits in the Northeast on the Medicine Wheel and is represented by the 6th stone. A group of frogs is an army and a group of toads is called a knot. Humorous, lethal, powerful, humble, ancient and forever in the process of rebirthing herself, the Frog teaches us many things not the least of which is to look always beyond the surface of things to find Truth. How does this Singer appear in your life?

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Charles Darwin

“Be proud of your flippers
and the flies that you catch
and the logs that you leap
and the eggs that you hatch.
We’re under the stars
and we’re smaller than men,
but I’m proud to be
one of the frogs of the glen.” Kermit