Monday, June 15, 2015

Marching Along a Good Red Road

Golden heat shimmers in the air.
Side by side the Singers come.
Hear their words as
Summer’s green blanket is spread before you. 
Feast upon the Wisdom that they share!
“Together we achieve our dreams.
With teamwork 
all burdens are lightened
all cares are shared.
all possibilities become reality.
Nothing good comes easy!
Work hard!
Share the load of thy brother
Labor under the blessed Sun
for our lives are One.
One purpose
One mind
One joy
One song
yet never one alone.
Together we gather..
Together we roam and
Together we return to
sacred home
to pay homage 
at the Mother’s throne.
Fill your larder with
and Equality.
For these are the things 
that will feed your soul
when Winter comes and
only stars blanket the grassy knoll.
Great or small,
each has their place
at the banquet of life.
Share your burdens
and halve your strife!”

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 Poppy (O.R.M.E.), Jan Neavill Hersh, and Jaguarwombyn's son for naming this Teacher!

“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live.” George Bernard Shaw

“While the spirit of neighborliness was important on the frontier because neighbors were so few, it is even more important now because our neighbors are so many. " Lady Bird Johnson

“We hope that, when the insects take over the world, they will remember with gratitude how we took them along on all our picnics.” Bill Vaughan

I spent countless hours as a child following, observing and interacting with Ants. They are, without doubt, one of the most fascinating creatures one can observe just about anywhere. Their highly organized colonies are separated into ranks of Queens (ant colonies frequently have more than one queen), drones (fertile males) workers (sterile females), larvae and pupae. Queen ants are winged and capable of flight until they have been fertilized in a mating flight. At that time, she removes her wings, like metaphorically rolling up her sleeves, and her real work begins. Birthing and ordering the colony will be her main concern for the rest of her life. This emphasizes the importance of self-sacrifice, not only as a Mother, but as a member of society at large.

“Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough but not baked in the same oven. " Yiddish Proverb

“Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box.” Italian Proverb

“Before God we are all equally wise and equally foolish.” Albert Einstein

There are different castes of workers, as so amusingly illustrated in the films Antz and The Ant Bully. “Soldiers” defend the colony from attack and invasion, reminding us that our homes are sacred space and need to be properly defended as well as tended. This care is exhibited even in the construction of the nest. The “mound” of an entrance to an ant colony protects the nest from being flooded by water during rains! 

A new worker spends the first days of its adult life caring for the queen and young. After that it begins to dig and participate in other nest work, and finally graduates to foraging and defense of the nest. There are a lot of theories as to why these abrupt changes in a worker ant’s life occur. A popular one at the moment is that as foraging has the highest mortality rate that ant’s don’t set out as foragers until they are already toward the end of their life. Other believe it is simply programmed into their being. Whatever the reason, it certainly seems to work for their society! Ant colonies can be incredibly long lived and ant queens have been known to live for 30 years!

Like Bees, Ants communicate a great deal through the use of pheromones. Foragers lay down a specific scent trail when they find food, which is how the other ants find their way to the food source so quickly. Antennae are used for touch, but also for communication through scent. A break in a scent trail can cause confusion in an ant, and they will begin “nosing” around for a familiar scent that will lead them in the right direction. This reminds us that it is easy to loose our way, but with a little patience, effort, attention to our surroundings and perhaps a little help from family and friends, we can easily find ourselves back on a good path once more. Ants recognize others of the same colony by scent. They also have scents for danger, “propaganda” which causes enemy ants to become confused and fight among themselves, and many others that signal the needs of the colony.

“The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.” Betrand Russell

“Willingness to compromise with others’ ways of living and cooperation in common tasks, these make living happy and fruitful.” ~Sri Sathya Sai Baba

“The service we render others is the rent we pay for our room on Earth.” Wilfred Grenfell

A most important Ant lesson that often gets overlooked is that of size. Ants are one of the smallest most humble creatures, yet than can lift 20 times their own weight and build complexes of staggering size and complexity. As of 2002, the largest ant colony covered a territory of about 5,760 kilometers with several Billion ants! No matter the size of the task before them, an Ant never gives it a second though, but steps right up and tries. If after a couple of attempts, the ant finds the task is beyond their abilities, they either a.) go for help or b.) break it down into portions that they can handle.Ant people are often much stronger and more capable than they appear…even to themselves!

The Ant Nation reminds us that when we meet with a situation too large or complex for us to handle alone, we would be wise to ask for help or break it down into smaller more manageable portions. Also, We have the ability to carry within us more than we, as individuals, need. Our best progress, as a society, is made when the majority of people realize this and begin to share what they have freely with those around them. Skilled forager ants teach their tricks to those less knowledgeable, we should do no less. Time, knowledge, resources, or simply ourselves, all are valuable and it is only by giving to society that we will achieve a harmonious and healthy society able to support individuals in the best possible way.

I still find it fascinating to watch a line of ants. They will pass along chunks of food, ant eggs, young, or building materials working together to ensure that what the colony needs to prosper…it has! An anthill is never built by a single ant, any more than one will witness only one ant at a picnic! If human society would learn and accept this vital lesson of Co-operation from Nature’s architects, we might be truly amazed at what we could achieve! Ants reminds us that hard work alone will only get you so far. Together, in harmonious co-operation, we could achieve limitless dreams and build the most glorious future ever imagined. In an Ant colony there is no “higher” or “lower”, everyone has their place and is valuable, nor does the size of the person sum up their capabilities and worth.

“Don’t be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones will tend to take care of themselves.” Dale Carnegie

After watching the film The Ant Bully with one of my girls, I was taken with the wonderful examples of Ant lessons. I highly recommend this beautifully animated film. Hard work is vital to a good life, not an obstacle to it. Not only is it important for individuals to give freely to their society, but it is just as important to give to self, and to be willing to ask for and receive the necessary aide and support from your society. Whether you are an inch tall or a towering ten feet really makes no difference to your worth in society. The true measure of your value will be in the actions that you take. Lucas, the main character of The Ant Bully, is being targeted regularly by the local bully. “What are you gonna do about, huh?” the bully taunts, “Nothing, ‘cause I’m big and you’re small!”

Immediately, our dubious hero turns, yet again, from his latest altercation to taking out his anger, frustration, and humiliation on the innocent ant hill in his yard. This has become a regular occurrence and the ants, who know Lucas only by his actions and the nickname his mother uses, have dubbed him “Peanut the Destroyer.” While an amusing moniker, it does have ominous undertones and serves to remind us that our destructive actions are not relative to our size and will affect those around us in ways we cannot foresee.

“We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it.” George Bernard Shaw

“If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.” Buddhist saying

Personally, I couldn’t help the involuntary startle this scene gave me as I watched the boy turn the power of water against the unsuspecting colony. While understandable and, regretfully, none too rare, such behavior is the beginning of a sociopath’s lifestyle. Cruelty to animals is an early warning sign that an individual is not understanding or respecting crucial societal behavior in an acceptable way. For more information on sociopathy I most highly recommend the book, The Sociopath Next Door by Dr. Martha Stout. Dr. Stout realigns our sensational view of what defines a true sociopath and warns us that the best definition is simply a person without a conscience who is incapable of feeling guilt or remorse. According to this work, one out of every four people in the U.S. is a sociopath.

She further explains that these numbers are dramatically less in countries whose culture promotes the welfare of the society over the desires of an individual. The United States is notorious for its self-centered rabidly individualistic views, and this promotes sociopathic behavior! While an extreme example, behaving as a sociopath, in utterly remorseless selfishness is a prime example of unbalanced Ant energy. Most often though, a child being wantonly destructive of an anthill is seen as just another part of childhood, and most adults are happy to get rid of these “pests”. Anything larger than an Ant or Fly, and then it becomes cause for concern, typically.

Personally, I have always taken the view that size and potential peskiness doesn’t devalue the life in question. I tried to teach our children that observation of an Ant colony is a wonderful activity, and that offerings of breadcumbs was far more acceptable than disrupting their lives and habits in a destructive manner. This was a great place to start teaching them that all Life is sacred and worthy of our respect; that All Our Relations have their rightful place on the Wheel of Life and that it is wrong to assume we have the right to deny them that place. A far more common example of imbalance for Ant people, being a “workaholic” is a sure sign that you are out of harmony with your inner Ant. "

Idle hands are the Devil’s playthings." is true enough as a proverb, but it is just as potentially destructive to focus on work to exclusion of all else. What are we working so diligently for, if we aren’t taking the time to appreciate and enjoy the good things in life? So, Ant may make an appearance in our lives carrying any number of important messages. “Think of others.” “Put in that extra effort.” “Get to work.”, or simply “Enjoy the fruits of your labor!” are all potential Ant messages.

“A days work is a day’s work, neither more nor less, and the man who does it needs a day’s sustenance, a night’s repose, and due leisure, whether he be painter or ploughman.” George Bernard Shaw

“Heaven is blessed with perfect rest but the blessing of earth is toil.” Henry van Dyke

“I have no more than twenty acres of ground,” he replied, “the whole of which I cultivate myself with the help of my children; and our labor keeps off from us the three great evils – boredom, vice, and want.” Voltaire

It is a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual necessity to work. Without a proper occupation to devote ourselves to, we would rot away in idleness and apathy. Labor keeps the body fit, the mind sharp, emotions in balance, and the spirit in harmony. A truly good work ethic finds a proper balance between work and play, diligence and rest. Finding satisfying employment is important, but it is also important that we have regular physical exercise. 

Gardening and walking are excellent activities that will get you out where you can also observe Nature and the World around you. Swimming and swinging on swings are my personal favorites when it comes to physical activity. Swimming gives you a total work out without causing undue stress and you will use muscles you never knew that you had simply by swinging on a swing. Swings are a good reminder of both retaining youthfulness and the healthiness of looking at life from a variety of perspectives too!

“There’s no labor a man can do that’s undignified, if he does it right.” Bill Cosby

“How can a society that exists on instant mashed potatoes, packaged cake mixes, frozen dinners, and instant cameras teach patience to its young?” Paul Sweeney

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” John Quincy Adams

If I were to list life necessities in a priority list, First would come Awareness, as all things must begin there. Second, Balance is vital and perhaps even more difficult to obtain! Extremes are dangerous and should be avoided in all things. Even a good thing can become poisonous if we take it to an extreme. Thirdly, and no less vital, is Patience. Another fine Ant virtue, you never see an ant throw up its antennae in disgust and walk away from a tedious or difficult task.

If disaster strikes a colony, all ants pour forth in an effort to save and protect that which they hold most dear…each other. With unruffled Ant diligence and patience, the colony will be cleared, repaired, and rebuilt in short order. We meet with many kinds of destruction and distraction throughout our lives. It is easy to loose patience, most especially with ourselves, and fall away from living our lives in a good way. Ant reminds us not to fret or fight the adversities of Life. Respond with patience and diligence in all things and Harmony will flow into your life as freely as life-giving rain.

Perhaps it is because the Ant so often makes his home within the calm and nurturing environment of Earth that he so easily remains grounded and centered? With all six legs firmly on the ground and antennae receiving higher spiritual orders, the humble ant moves through life steadily and with great patience. Balanced ants are hard workers, loyal personalities who are community oriented. Such people often have an amazingly large supportive network made up of friends and family. Woe betide anyone who stirs up their nest as their personal Calvary is likely to pour forth out of cracks you didn’t even see!

Ant says that the key to success is not individualism or community mind. Instead, a balanced Ant person strives diligently to love and care for themselves and the world around them in equal measures. Co-operation, equality, and hard work in their proper proportions as a society would make every day a picnic in a Garden of Delights! Ants ask us to look below the surface for the Truth. How do Ants appear in your life?

Earth teach me quiet – as the grasses are still with new light.
Earth teach me suffering – as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility – as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring – as mothers nurture their young.
Earth teach me courage – as the tree that stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation- as the ant that crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom – as the eagle that soars in the sky.
Earth teach me acceptance – as the leaves that die each fall.
Earth teach me renewal – as the seed that rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself – as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness – as dry fields weep with rain.
Ute Prayer

“Many hands make light work.” John Heywood

“Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.” Kenyan proverb

Key Concepts: Community, Patience, Perserverance, Observation, Order, Discipline, Co-operative effort, Self-sacrifice, Equality, Success through effort, Industry, Society over Individual, Unity, Size does not define strength or power, Storing Energy for Future use, Healing, Conservation, Attention to Detail, Savoring the small gifts of Life

Associated With: Masau’u, Indra, Wang Ta-hsien, Ceres/Demeter, Myrmidons, Zeus, Lakshmi, Xulab, Messor, Nunbarshegunu, Ninlil, Ezinu, Ashnan, Sud, Kusu, Nissaba, Lugh Lamfada, Cerridwen, Cernnunos, Kolams and Sandpaintings

Potential Balancing Energies: Anteater, Birds like Crow/Raven , Sparrow , Robin , or Woodpeckers/ Flickers, Bear, Badger, Lepidoptera like the Monarch , Chimps and other Primates, Spiders , Praying Mantis, Aphids, Wasps, and other Insects, Trees like Oak , Apple , Willow , Rowan , Pine , Cottonwood, Cacao , Frog/Toad ,Plants like Grass, Grain, Sunflower , Dandelion, Honeysuckle, Fungi, Pennyroyal, Mint, Tansy Roses , Pitcher plants, Venus flytrap, or Peonies, Rabbit , :Snake ,Chipmunks and other burrowing creatures

Bow-song of the Compassionate Warrior

Elusive and beautiful,
A bright ribbon for Sky Woman’s hair.
This magical teacher appears
like a loving memory,
or sunny smile 
after a storm of tears.

“Be of good cheer!
For I am the Herald
of messages Divine;
emblem of the Optimist, 
the Fortunate, 
and the Kind.

Compassionate Warrior, 
I mark the passage between…
Prophecy and Truth,
Sky and Shore,
Magical and Mortal,
Body and Soul.
I bear the tread 
of Heimdall’s duty,
Set loose 
the seven sacred arrows
of mighty Indra,
and reveal 
hidden Faerie gold!"

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 Robin Smith, Jan Neavill Hersh, and Jaguarwombyn for naming this Teacher!

“The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears.” ~ John Vance Cheney

“Have you been half asleep
and have you heard voices?
I’ve heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors?
The voice might be one and the same.
I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it.
It’s something that I’m supposed to be.
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection,
the lovers, the dreamers and me.” The Rainbow Connection ~ Kermit T. Frog

As a symbol, the Rainbow may today be most popularly associated with Gay and Lesbian Pride, but this enchanting refraction of light has more myths, legends and stories associated with it from every culture around the World than a cloud has raindrops. In the Vedic tradtions, rainbows represent the Antakaranha of humanity, our connection between body and soul. To the Mayans, rainbows were thought to be oracles, signs of the gods being appeased, a symbol of life and renewal. To the Norse, it is the magical bridge between Midgard and Asgard . For the Celts, rainbows are magical roads into or out of the Faerie realm, closely associated with fantastic creatures like Unicorns, or Leprechauns and their gold. And in the Bible, this beautiful natural occurence symbolized a covenant between God and Humanity.

They are associated with the 7 rays of Wisdom, the 7 Chakras, wishes, redemption, Hope, good Fortune and Luck. Through many Traditions, the Rainbow is also associated with snakes, serpents and dragons. In Aboriginal Tradtion this connection also associates the Rainbow with Dreamtime. In Native American Traditions, the Rainbow is often associated with the Whirling Rainbow Prophecy which promises a return to Sacred Ways, a time of great renewal, peace, enlightenment and spiritual growth for Humanity and All Our Relations.

In many tales, the Rainbow is a bridge between magical places or the magical connection between things or people. For me, it is always a moment of joy, wonder and optimism… a reminder that we are capable of magical transformations, dazzling enlightenment and contagious inspiration. Each time it appears in my life, I consider it a gift and a special reminder to return to the Universe the best I am capable of no matter what opposition, internal or external, I am facing.

“Where troubles melt like lemon drops,
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me

Somewhere, over the rainbow, bluebirds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow,
Why then, oh, why can’t I?"

~Over The Rainbow, music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg

Leonard George once said that “Spiritual values are an attitude.” I believe that people tend to lean in the direction of their attitude, so I do see the Truth in this statement. If we are positive, we are more likely to lean in the direction of good spiritual values and their practice. When we are focused only on the negative, we lean away from acting on those good spiritual values. When we are angry or sad, for example, we tend to be so focused on our selves and our issues, that it is more difficult to be Aware and react in a positive way to any situation.

Walking up the long hill towards home after a long day at work, the last thing I want to do is stop and pick up other peoples’ trash that they have thoughtlessly tossed out on the roadside. Seeing this litter often makes me angry, resentful or sad, especially after a hard day, but I resist the urge to simply ignore the litter and be angry at others. I push myself instead to collect as I go so I can properly dispose of or recycle these items, and to concentrate on fond hopes of such people waking up, becoming aware, and caring about their smallest actions.

A small thing to many, a simple example and perhaps not a topic of great importance to anyone but myself. So why care? Why pick up after strangers? Because I live in this World. I love it and All My Relations. Because I believe we are all connected and should do the right thing whenever we are presented with the opportunity simply because it is the right thing to do. I believe you get out of Life what you put into it, and I hope that somewhere in the World someone else is doing the same thing somewhere, putting that same good thought/action out into the World. Every little step we take towards living what we believe has the potential to turn the tides, to inspire, and provide opportunity for our spiritual growth.

It seems so easy to feel overwhelmed, lost in a sea of uncaring unaware people. It feels so easy to be angry, frustrated, disappointed, and resentful in today’s society, and there are often many people around us projecting those very emotions, spreading like germs. Perhaps the details have changed and it’s just always been that way. The Rainbow is a reminder that even the darkest storm will pass eventually though, and that we must all pass through trials to reach the bright reward waiting for us. While it is good and healthy to express your anger or shed tears to relieve the burden of sorrow or grief, it is even better to remember that afterwards… a smile, a laugh, a song is also necessary, also naturally good; for ourselves and everyone around us. Inspiration, Love, Beauty, and Joy are always there around us simply waiting to be noticed, accepted, and enveloped by our own gratitude for the moment.

Sometimes we need the Rainbow’s bright message more, and sometimes it is more important that we be the Rainbow’s magical messenger in the lives of others through our choices, actions, and words. On my most difficult days, I ask myself, “Which is better? To chase the Rainbow, or be it?” Some days this is a real challenge and I’m not always successful, but I do believe it is well worth my effort. Often times, our window of opportunity is as brief as the appearance of the elusive magical Rainbow, so isn’t it best to be in the habit of leaning towards the positive? How different our World might be if we all worked to live the Rainbow’s lessons! Someday we’ll find it… the Rainbow Connection.

“Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray. ” Lord Byron

Key Concepts: Fortune (good and bad), Optimism, Connectivity/Unity, Bridging, Liminal Zones, Magic, Faerie energy/wisdom, Hope, Faith, Charity, Compassion, Dreams/Dreamtime, Wishes, Innocence/Youth, Happiness/Laughter, Natural order/wisdom/balance, Inspiration

Associated Deities, Popular and Mythic figures: Heimdall, Iris, Indra, Ixchel, Binbeal, Dhakhan, Rainbow Serpent, Julunggul, Ungud, Mbaba Mwana Waresa, Nenaunir, Ochumare, Danh, Ambisagrus, Taranis, Wizard of Oz/Dorothy, Rainbow Warriors, Rainbow Bird

Potential Balancing Energies: Storm, Clouds, Sky, Air, Light, Rain/Water, Crow, Rainbow Lorikeet, Swan, Rainbow Bee-eater, Scarlet Macaw and other birds. Butterflies and Insects like Dragonfly, Rainbow Shield Bug, Rainbow Grasshopper, and Rainbow Beetle. Fish like Rainbow Trout, Rainbowfish, or Koi. Stones like Rainbow Hematite, Opal, Pearl, Tourmaline, or clear Quartz. Animals like Coyote, Dolphin, or Rabbit. Rainbow lizards, Snakes, other reptiles and amphibians, Plants like Rainbow Eucalyptus, Byblis, Rainbow Cactus, Rainbow Fern, Rainbow Chard, or Iris

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Unmasking Wisdom

“I steal across the midnight of your soul,
revealing truth behind my ever shifting mask.
Mystery, magic, and true dreaming,
or larceny, fraud, and self-deception…
which you may truly desire in your life
is the question you must ask.

I teach balanced sensitivity,

When to awaken and when to rest,
How to wash away deception and negativity,
Though I am oft considered
a rabidly unwelcome guest!

Clean hands make for true heart.

Sort the treasure from your trash! 
I will show you how healing
and transformation start.
Be daring, but never brash!

Washing Bear

Masked Dog
Thieving trickster
Clever leader,
I always leave a scout behind
guarding our foraging gaze.
Clearest vision, even in darkest night,
I know when to slip away unseen, 
and when to stay and fight.

Follow my rings of wisdom

from Underworld to Sky.
I will guide you on shamanic journeys,
although my humor might
be mischievously awry!"

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 Chris, Jan Neavill Hersch for naming this Teacher!

“It is a mask of truth, for to wear it is to look inward – toward a true reflection of yourself. Yet some of us can bear to hold the mask for only one brief glimpse.” Brian Froud
“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” Oscar Wilde
“Why do you wear a mask? Were you burned by acid or something like that?”
“Oh no. It’s just they’re terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future.” Fezzik and Wesley from The Princess Bride
Raccoons belong to the New World Family Procyonidae which includes coatis, kinkajous, olingos, ringtails and cacomistles. Raccoons have been introduced in parts of Europe and Asia through escapes and through choice, expanding their potential habitat. Fossil evidence from France and Germany suggests that first known members of this family lived in Europe about 25 million years ago, coming to the Americas across the Bering Strait about 19 million years ago. 
Their teeth and skull formation indicates that they might share a common ancestor with weasels, but molecular analysis shows a much closer relationship between raccoons and bears. The Native Nations throughout the Americas had many names for this audacious little Teacher, many of which make reference to bears or dogs. Perhaps none too surprising, names for this Creature Teacher across Europe reflect a similar impression on people there.
Here are just a few names Raccoon has been known by: Mapachitl (from Aztec, meaning “they take everything in their hands”, Ah-rah-koon-em (from Algonkin meaning “they rub/scrub/scratch”), Weekah tegalega (from Dakota-Sioux meaning “magic one with painted face”), Shiuaa (from Hopi meaning “painted one”), Macho-on (from Cheyenne meaning “one who makes magic”), Macca-n-e (from the Sioux meaning “one who makes real magic”, Asban (from Abnaki meaning “one who lifts up things”, Mayuato (from Guyana meaning “doglike leaper”), Wacgina (from Klamath meaning “tamed like dog”), Ausup (from Narragansett meaning “night doglike one”), Nachenum (from Lenape meaning “they use hands as a tool”, Siah-opoots-itswoot (from Chinook meaning “long-tailed bearlike one”), Mauyato (from Guyana meaning “doglike leaper on crabs and crayfish”), skjob (from Danish fur traders meaning “fisher”), raton laveur (from French meaning “little washer rat”), Siupp (Finnish for “fisher”), washbaer (from Germany meaning “washer bear”), jenot (from Russian meaning “fisher”), and sunluskis (from Lithuanian meaning “dog-bear”). As one might expect, Raccoon is a Teacher with many faces!
“People who cannot invent and reinvent themselves must be content with borrowed postures, secondhand ideas, fitting in instead of standing out.” Warren G. Bennis
“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask.” Jim Morrison
“In order to keep anything cultural, logical or ideological, you have to reinvent the reality of it.” Ani Difranco
Raccoons tend to be solitary creatures, but recent evidence is pointing out that raccoons are more socially involved with others of their species than previously thought. Females from the same family will often share a common area, and meet in feeding, playing, and foraging areas. Raccoons working together as a raiding party, complete with a lookout, is a rather common sight! Unrelated males might form groups of up to 4 so that they are better able to hold their territory against other males or other potential competition, especially during mating season when territories are widened in hopes of finding new potential mates.
The size of a raccoon’s home range can vary, anywhere between 0.01 square miles and 7.4 acres, depending on their abilities, needs, and location. Those living in cities, for example, may need to range a wider territory to meet their needs. Wherever they call home, however, they won’t be far from water. Raccoon people, like their furry Teachers, revel in their individuality but often work best one on one, or in small groups where a bond of respect has been established. Raccoons, and Raccoon people, do like their solitude though and are very independent creatures.

Mating season begins in February and can extend into June depending on the weather and location. Gestation is about 65 days, and average litters are from 2 to 7 kits which will be raised by the mother until they go their separate ways, typically after the first year. Young are born blind, usually in a tree where the mother has made her den. Raccoons have been known to den in a wide variety of places though, including; city sewers, abandoned buildings, under porches, in hollow logs, or the abandoned dens of badgers, groundhogs, etc. The kits open their eyes for the first time in 18-24 days, are capable of foraging with their mother after about 20 days, and are completely weaned after about 70 days. They may go their separate ways late in the fall, but quite often won’t do so til early spring. Either way, kits don’t have to travel too far from their birth nest to set up a successful den of their own.
Adult raccoons are typically between 4 and around 22 lbs, and about 24-37 inches (603-950 mm)long, depending on general health, available food supply, and gender. Males are generally 10-30% heavier than females, and raccoon tails typically make up 40- 50% of their overall length, however raccoons who have lost their tails to accident or predators are fairly common. They do put on fat for winter , and may be found sleeping many cold winter days away with little activity, although they are not actually winter hibernators. They can achieve a 50% body fat mass to see them through those lean months, although usually only reaching that kind of ratio in the more northern areas. This mammal’s distinctive black, white, silver/gray and reddish brown markings, especially it’s black and white facial mask and ringed tail, make it instantly recognizable.
As one of the masked Teachers, Raccoon can teach us when and how to awaken a sleeping part of ourselves when it is needed, and put to rest the part that is not needed at the moment. This little wood witch is a master shapeshifter who teaches us how to recognize masks (either our own that we wear for others or those worn by others), when to wear them, when and how to change them, and when to remove our masks to reveal a hidden truth. Masks (from designs painted directly on the face to elaborate constructions) have been worn for many ceremonies from cultures around the world for a wide variety of purposes. 

Raccoon can teach us how to release our inner Shaman, guide us through the transformational and powerful experience of conducting a ceremony and becoming a vessel of Divinity during such ceremonies. Lessons on how and when to reinvent ourselves to meet the shifting challenges in life are more common perhaps, but make no less of an impact.
One of the most basic of Raccoon lessons is the value of pretending, “putting on a brave face”, until the aspect we wish to bring to fruition in our lives ripens into a reality. There have been plenty of times in my own life where the last thing I felt like doing was interacting positively with anyone or making the effort to even smile. Yet, by putting out that effort and going through the motions even though I wasn’t truly feeling them, I’ve been able to turn things around until I’m genuinely feeling content, sociable, uplifted and positive.
Stealth and disguise are key aspects to the masked Teachers (like other Procyonidae, Fox, Skunk, the Small-Footed Bat, etc.). Like Fox (one of the potential balancing energies for Raccoon), Raccoon people may find themselves disappearing in a crowd when they feel threatened, nervous, or excessively stressed as this Teacher may boost your natural ability to hide behind a mask in a protective response. People will simply not notice you, even when you are standing in plain sight. If you find that people are frequently forgetting to include you, aren’t recognizing you or mistaking you for someone else, if people keep walking into you, or startling because they “didn’t see you there”, you may be experiencing an imbalance in your Raccoon energy. This ability can be tremendously useful though when properly employed, and the temptation to use such Raccoon gifts for nefarious purposes is a large contributor to this Teacher’s reputation as a thief and trickster.
Raccoon can teach us how to properly utilize such skills like few other Teachers though. Raccoon people are often drawn to theater arts where their skill with personal reinvention and masks can really shine. If we look at our stories about masked individuals, we begin to see themes and archetypes which we can apply to our own lives. Don Juan, Phantom of the Opera, Zorro, Casanova, Don Juan Demarco, Lone Ranger, the Joker, the Mask, Jason Voorhees, Wesley (from the Princess Bride), and comic book heroes and villains of just about every stripe are just a few individuals known for their masks.
Some show us the value of defending those weaker than ourselves and promoting justice in society. Others use their shifting mask skills to deceive others, feed off of society and enrich themselves. Some use their masks to hide their most monstrous selves, usually from themselves. And still others use their masks to protect their identity and heighten the sexual tension, as they successfully dance from one lover to the next! Some study on Archetypes and Shadow self will be useful to those called by Raccoon.
“Some people are uncomfortable with the idea that humans belong to the same class of animals as cats and cows and raccoons. They’re like the people who become successful and then don’t want to be reminded of the old neighborhood.” Phil Donahue
“So, you think they have enough? Well, they don’t. For humans, enough is never enough! And what do they do with the stuff they don’t eat? They put it in gleaming silver cans, just for us! Dig in!” RJ the Raccoon from Over the Hedge
Raccoons are omnivorous opportunistic creatures who are infamous for using their sensitive and dexterous paws, along with their exceedingly clever minds, to successfully get into an amazing variety of places and containers, usually for food. They will be utterly unconcerned with your presence, and proceed to raid your camping supplies, garbage or any other item that catches their interest perhaps sparing you a rather disdainful and amused look as you stand helplessly by. Raccoons can create quite a mess and are capable of doing a fair amount of damage in their efforts to get in or out of something that has caught their interest.
Raccoons aren’t particularly intimidated by humans or other large creatures. They will stay far calmer in a potentially confrontational situation than one might expect from a wild creature, and are more likely to be a nuisance than an actual threat. However, if defending kits or pushed into a corner they will defend themselves quite fiercely considering their size. This penchant for mischief along with their 
susceptibility to the rabies virus has given this Teacher an indelible reputation as both a bandit and potential menace. Raccoons are very adept at assessing a situation to it’s own advantage. If they don’t see a likelihood of success for their goals, they will slip away before you have time to react. Raccoon people are also quite good at assessing their odds in any given situation. Perhaps this is why the audacious Raccoon is a patron of gamblers!
Like Raven or Crow, Raccoon warns that his lessons, powers and wisdom can be used for either great good or great harm. It is up to those called by Raccoon to choose to use their gifts and live their lives as conscientious, responsible and compassionate individuals. This Creature Teacher has quite a reputation among the Native Nations as a master of natural magic, a seer of spirits, and a guide for shamanic journeys. Their black and white masks have been likened to the ceremonial paint used by Medicine People, and creating law out of chaos in a naturally flowing rhythm to meet life’s constant challenges is an important Raccoon lesson.
However, Raccoon is equally notorious as a splendidly accomplished Trickster, another caution to be aware of what we are doing and why we are choosing to do what we do. In other words, like the Raven/Crow, it is vital that Raccoon people be completely honest with themselves, to choose truth over deception (especially self deception), and to walk our talk. In some tales, Raccoon has been so sly and clever, he has even outsmarted Raven and Coyote!
There is a touch of the Heyoka, the Sacred Clown, to this masked black-handed Teacher. Quite often they will use Humor to open a door of enlightenment for us… although we don’t always receive it well! Raccoon people will also find that Humor is an important element in their lives, however their sense of humor may not always be understood as humor or received well by others. Raccoon people, like their Teacher, are often a curious mix of charming sociability and shyness. Being either too introverted or brashly extroverted is a sign of potentially unbalanced Raccoon energy.
“Children reinvent your world for you.” Susan Sarandon
"Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." Elizabeth Stone
“Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve.” Roger Lewin
As the female raises the kits on her own, Raccoon is often viewed as a strong mothering figure who raises her children to be capable and independent leaders. They will pass on every skill they know to their kits to better equip them against the many predators and dangers they will encounter. Protecting those not able to do so for themselves, and especially empowering others are key Raccoon lessons. Raccoon likes for everyone in the group to feel competent, useful, and confident. This is a wonderful Leadership quality, and Raccoon teaches that the best leaders encourage the skills and best attributes of each member in a group because they know that this makes for an elite team that can get any job accomplished successfully. The mating habits of the Teacher indicate a tendency for Raccoon people to hold back a piece of themselves from children or spousal figures which can be seen as cold or aloof behavior, especially by people who need a constant intimate connection. In reality, this bit of Raccoon wisdom is often misunderstood or rejected out of hand.
In a tale from one of the Native Nations, After a terrible fire in the forest it is the Raccoon Tribe that provides everyone with food using their thiefly skills. Mother Raccoon works so hard trying to tend everyones wounds and needs that she ends up collapsing. Only then can she hear the voice of Mother Earth saying, “You have given all your strength away without considering the consequences.” Now, Raccoon teaches others to give to the best of our abilities without depleting our health or sense of well being. This lesson is vital for any parent, perhaps particularly important for mothers to remember, as they tend to put the needs of the family before their own consistently. If we don’t take care of ourselves, if we give away all that we have without saving something for just ourselves, then we won’t be strong, balanced, clear-minded and capable enough to be there for our loved ones.
Perhaps the first thing everyone identifies with the Raccoon is their habit of “washing” their food. Raccoon’s five-toed paw is very nimble, allowing them to handle and successfully manipulate a wide variety of items, including door handles and jar lids, despite the lack of an opposable thumb. If you looked at their paws closely, you would see the vibrissae located around their non-retractable claws. Water softens the vibrissae, increasing the Raccoons already well developed tactile sense as they “wash” their food. According to studies, almost 2/3 of the raccoon’s brain area responsible for sensory perception is specialized for interpreting tactile input! This allows the Raccoon to identify objects without ever seeing them! Feeling blindly along stream beds hunting for fish, crayfish, or other tasty morsels is such common behavior that their reputation as a successful fisher is known wherever raccoons live.
Many theories have been put forward on why raccoons wash their food, but the one that makes the most sense to me is that they are using this heightened sense to check their food of inedible matter, like bone or shell pieces. This particular association with water and the motions of cleansing make Raccoon an excellent Teacher for learning how to keep ourselves spiritually clean, how to clear an area or other person of accumulated negativity, and how to wash away lies to reveal truth, especially self-deception. While they are excellent swimmers, their fur is not water resistant.

“Our lives can be considered a sacred quest. It is a quest which may have begun in this lifetime or many lifetimes before. It is a quest to find ourselves: who and what we really are. To do this we must first cease to pretend to be what we are not. We must cast away our Persona or mask. We must be prepared to confront the Shadow, that which we are and rather were not. Only then can we unify our conscious and unconscious minds and so give birth to the hidden Sun – the Self.” Vivianne Crowley
Thus, Raccoon invites us to explore our emotional selves, to dip into the stream of the collective unconscious and heighten our ability to feel, to empathize, but only to fully immerse ourselves when truly necessary as we are likely to take on too much if we aren’t careful; throwing ourselves out of balance and becoming bogged down, overly emotional, and generally less able to maintain the calm calculating mind of Raccoon which is so valuable during any crisis or stressful situation.

Symbolically, hands represent either giving or receiving, and Raccoon will often show up when we are holding ourselves up by clinging to something when we should be letting go. This Teacher reminds us that we won’t be able to receive whatever new treasures and lessons Life is trying to bring us, if our hands are already full! As a Teacher of Natural Law, Raccoon likes to keep the many Wheels we move across in life moving smoothly, making him an excellent guide to turn to when we are feeling stagnate or stuck.
Skills that require clever hands and keen mind are often of interest to Raccoon people, and they often make very talented crafters of all sorts, jewelery smiths, artists, surgeons, detectives, magicians … or pickpockets, safe-crackers, conartists, and general light-fingered individuals! Kleptomania could indicate imbalanced Raccoon energy. The study of massage therapy, acupressure, or Reiki can be highly beneficial for those called by Raccoon, and a wonderful way to use their natural abilities to help others. The study of marital arts, yoga and meditation are all personally valuable to Racoon people.
Spiritually cleansing activities like smudging, meditation, communion with Nature, sweat lodge, etc. are a must for those called by this Teacher as these are vital tools to maintaining a healthy Balance and clear truthful perspective. By working to properly maintain these aspects in our lives and participating regularly in activities that keep us well grounded, we are best able to receive the spiritual enlightenment and natural wisdom held by this Teacher, and so frequently offered to us by the Universe in other forms as well. Establishing a personal routine which incorporates a cleansing activity with some form of prayerful meditation in which we return feelings of love and gratitude to All Our Relations is also highly beneficial.
Raccoons are frequently found either climbing or living in a tree. They are one of the few creatures able to climb down a tree head first, and they are as comfortable in the highest branches as they are in a den at a tree’s roots. Like Trees, this Teacher speaks to us on the importance of maintaining and being a part of a healthy and connected community. Like so many of our Relations, Raccoon longs for our people to become more aware, connected and responsible in our interactions with everything around us. Those called by this Teacher should also closely examine Trees, Bear, and one of the canine Teachers like Dog or Fox.
“Always tell the truth. That way, you don’t have to remember what you said.” Mark Twain
“Truth comes as conqueror only to those who have lost the art of receiving it as friend.” Rabindranath Tagore
Raccoon understands that sometimes the Truth must come to us disguised and clouded so that we can become involved in the process of stripping away that which deceives, reveal Truth, and become enlightened. We must be most alert for self-deceptions of all sorts as these are most often the first dangerous step out of Balance and Harmony with our selves, universe, Relations and Creator. Raccoon can help us see clearly both our selves (flaws and strengths) and our situations so that we can make the best decisions possible. We all experience those “dark nights of the soul” where we are being tested and tempered by, usually, a traumatic or otherwise profoundly challenging experience. Raccoon’s keen sight allows us to see every nook and cranny as we negotiate our way through such moments. We cannot successfully walk our talk if we can’t see where we are truly going!
Well balanced Raccoon people can be both shy and charismatic, sociable and solitary, playful as a child and wise beyond their years. They tend to be endlessly curious, excellent puzzle-solvers with a strong sense of adventure and humor. Serene under pressure, a well-balanced Raccoon makes an excellent leader who is less concerned with putting themselves forward or seeking praise, and more concerned with utilizing all skills available to achieve the chosen goal. Good parents who provide for their children and focus on equipping them with useful life skills, Raccoon people should work to stay connected and involved with the lives of their loved ones. Finding a proper balance between generously giving and wisely holding back for one’s self is always a challenge!
This clever Teacher encourages us to develop our understanding of and skills with Masks, as well as cautioning us to use what we learn for the good of all around us. Macho-on teaches us how reinvent ourselves to meet the needs of the moment, and how to awaken or put to rest parts of ourselves as needed. Raccoon excels as a guide to connecting us to the Spirit World, as well as how to properly navigate for ourselves once there, making this Master Shapeshifter an invaluable companion on any shamanic journey. Raccoon asks us to be honest with ourselves and keep our hands clean so we can live as an example to others. With their five-fingered forepaws and footprints so like our own, Raccoon reminds us that we are more alike than we are different, but more importantly we are all connected and what we do impacts on the lives of everyone around us. How does this Teacher appear in your life?

“Whosoever wishes to know about the world must learn about it in its particular details. Knowledge is not intelligence. In searching for the truth be ready for the unexpected. Change alone is unchanging. The same road goes both up and down. The beginning of a circle is also its end. Not I, but the world says it: all is one. And yet everything comes in season.” Heraklietos of Ephesos
“I do not think the measure of a civilization is how tall its buildings of concrete are, but rather how well its people have learned to relate to their environment and fellow man.” Sun Bear of the Chippewa Tribe
Key Concepts:
revealing Truth, Natural magic/law, Shapeshifting, Curiousity/Exploration, Cleansing/Purification, Creativity/Creation, Dexterity, Disguise/Camoflauge, Masks, Cunning/Planning, Transformation, Adaptability, Mystery/Secrets, Shamanism/Shamanic journey, Healing, knowing when to let go and when to receive, Receptivity, Feminine energy/power/wisdom, Self-Reliance/Independence, Leadership, Co-operative effort/Empowering others, Shadow self/work
Associated with:
Largely a New World Teacher, Raccoon could none the less be associated with Old World deities who deal with Truth, Magic, Masks, Wild animals, Trickster energy, Luck or the Moon. Like- Ma’at, Alethea, Bagalamukhi, Diana/Artemis, Hermes/Mercury, Cernunnos, Dis Pater, Pan, Herne, Cerridwen, Syn, Isis, Hecate, Freya, Danu, Ganesha, Fortuna, Tyche, Daikokuten, Eshu, Ptah or Veles. This Teacher is also associated with Fae energies and the Underworld.
Potential Balancing Energies:
Trees, Fox/Coyote/Wolf/Dog, Cats (both domesticated and wild), Frog/Toad, Salamander, Crayfish, Fish, Dragonfly, Grasshopper/Cricket and other Insects, Fruits and Nuts (like persimmon, cherry, acorn, grapes, apples, corn, etc. Or Tomatoes, which are usually avoided by Raccoons as they are too acidic), Water, Earth, Bears, Birds from Sparrow and Chicken to Raven and Crow, Owls and other Raptors, Snakes, Earthworm, Butterfly, Raccoon Dogs, Clams, Turtle, and other Procyonidae