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

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