Wild as thunder & lightning
We roam free
Black as the Void within
as dark nights of the soul
as Wisdom from the Ancestors
Striped with white blessings
Flashes of Purification
Each one unique
as a fingerprint
the watering holes.
We find our truest safety
Patterns of chaotic Balance
Hypnotize & Protect
Loners stand out
feeling vulnerable and isolated
We prefer to blend in
One with the herd
Wild as the Winds
We live Free
or die trying
keeping the beat
between sunbaked Earth
and savannah skies.
We will teach you
the paths of the sure footed
Bring you clarity
balance of opposites
We can teach you
how to dazzle the eye
and petty pests alike
we will awaken your instincts
To thine own self be true
diligently separating truth from illusion
and so as day follows night
you will serve Creator and Community.
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.), Stephen Berwaldt, and Jaguarwombyn for naming this Teacher!
"Light is meaningful only in relation to darkness, and truth presupposes error. It is these mingled opposites which people our life, which make it pungent, intoxicating. We only exist in terms of this conflict, in the zone where black and white clash."
"I experience a period of frightening clarity in those moments when nature is so beautiful. I am no longer sure of myself, and the paintings appear as in a dream” Vincent Van Gogh
"Freedom is power. To live a life untamed and unafraid is the gift that I've been given, and so my journey begins." ~ Catwoman
The Zebra is a single hoofed mammal native to Africa belonging to the same Genus as the Horse, Equus. Each species has its own general pattern of stripes, but the pattern on any individual zebra is as unique as a fingerprint! In fact this singular visual identifier, individualized patterns of white stripes over a black coat, is one way that zebras tell each other apart within their herd. No two are exactly alike.
There are three species of zebra found in the world. The largest species, the Grevy's zebra, weighs between 770 to 990 lbs (350-450 kilos), and stands about 5 foot at the shoulder. The Burchell's, or plains zebra, is the most numerous. The mountain zebra is comprised of two subspecies; the Hartmann's and the Cape. The mountain zebra is the only one to have a dewlap, a fold of skin along the throat. Regardless of species, zebras live about 25 years in the wild and 40 in captivity.
Most zebras arrange themselves very much like a horse herd with several mares and their young guarded by a single stallion. The Grevy's zebras have a different set up. Their stallions establish set territories that they defend rather than a specific harem of mares. Mares enter territories to mate and give birth, but once their foals are old enough to travel, the mother and child move on.
In the language of metaphor, these slight differences carry their own messages, and knowing which species you are drawn to can pinpoint specifics they are trying to communicate. The dewlap, for example, indicates attention to the Throat Chakras care and balance. A mountain zebra may bring messages of a journey that will lead to enlightenment. Zebra's overall lessons apply though no matter which species you are examining.
“In each of us lie good and bad, light and dark, art and pain, choice and regret, cruelty and sacrifice. We’re each of us our own chiaroscuro, our own bit of illusion fighting to emerge into something solid, something real. We’ve got to forgive ourselves that. I must remember to forgive myself. Because there is a lot of grey to work with. No one can live in the light all the time.” ~Libba Bray
In the language of color, Black often represents Mystery and the Unknown. Therefore it also represents the Journey Within, the unfathomable Void through which we journey and the potential Wisdom/Enlightenment we gain by making the spiritual voyage. Black can represent age and the Wisdom of our Elders. It can represent the sacred or the profane. Black is a power color that denotes strength, authority, formality, elegance, and prestige as well as Earth and the physical world. It is also symbolically linked with Fear, Grief and Death. In the Lakota Tradition, Black is the color of the West direction on the Medicine Wheel; the direction of water, of dreams, Vision Questing, deep introspection and healing. West is the home of the Bear, Great Thunderbird, and the Sun.
White often represents Divinity or Divine Blessings, Purity/Purification, Innocence/Wisdom/Enlightenment, Completion, Perfection, the spiritual realm, the Sacred and Faith. White is the North direction on the Medicine Wheel, representing the Great Mystery and the Wisdom of the Ancestors. In some cultures white is the color of grief and mourning. Science tells us that the color white holds the potential for all other colors and black is the absence of color. Symbolically, this makes white a good choice for meditations on new projects and beginnings. Black makes a good choice for meditations on eliminations and endings. Rising or Waxing moons are good times to begin important projects, spiritual or material. Just as Dark or Waning moons are a good time to ritually end things.
Together, White and Black symbolize Polarities, the Balance or Union of Opposites in many cultures. Zebra reminds us of the importance of fully understanding and balancing our own polarities. This Teacher places special significance on the quests for Creative Expression, Truth, and Introspection. How do we define the "black and white" in our perceptions of the World? Do we focus on the healthy or unhealthy aspects and choices in our lives? Destructive or constructive? Light or dark? How do we define and address the good and bad within ourselves?
"Seeking Clarity is seeking connection with the universe. To connect is to understand; to be clear is to be enlightened." ~ Annie Zalezsak
In my opinion, much of society today is geared towards isolation without any of the healthy introspection one might expect to find in solitude and silence. There are endless distractions from introspection provided for us every day, and a great many of us never choose to put distractions aside. Therefore a majority of us are diligently ignoring our individual spiritual growth, as well as hindering the overall health of society at large! Another of Zebra's primary lessons or gifts is that of Clarity.
I find that a great many people live in the "World as they would like it to be" rather than dealing with the World as it really is, warts and all. Most of us don't want to examine ourselves too closely for faults or flaws, which means that we seldom if ever focus successfully on correcting our individual or group misbehavior. Want to change the World?
Well young Grasshopper, like all Change it comes from Within! Wish the world were more compassionate? Go out and participate in compassionate acts. Wish people were happier? Spread good cheer throughout your day, and choose happiness over and over throughout your day's challenges. "Where there is a will, there is a way" could be a Zebra motto. There can be a fine line between determined and stubborn though!
Zebra reminds us that all Change begins within us; requiring honest examination, reflection, planning, balance and action. Zebra is a potent, protective and even demanding Teacher. They teach us how to remain individuals while simultaneously instructing us on how to blend into our group. The health, needs and well being of the individual reflect that of the community, and vice verse. In this way, Zebra reminds us of Life's Interconnectedness.
Zebra reminds me of the Heyoka, the Sacred Clown or Wise Fool who knows that "as plain as black and white", like much of Life, is just illusion; that all of reality is a perception agreed upon by a majority. Zebra knows that both humor and pain, joy and sorrow, love and fear are necessary lessons on the road to Enlightenment. For those drawn to the Zebra, I highly recommend an examination of the concept of a Sacred Clown as well as Jung's Fool Archetype.
Freedom is an important Zebra concept shared by their cousins the Horse. While the Horse has aided mankind and worked cooperatively with our species, the Zebra has refused throughout the ages to "be tamed". Thus, while Horse can teach us of the importance and freedom to be found in choosing to harness ourselves, Zebra reminds us of the importance and freedom to be found in refusing constrictive methods symbolized by harness, bridle or saddle.
Zebra teaches us of the wild creative energy still remembered at genetic levels by even the tamest of creatures. Their freedom and strength comes from endurance, persistence, agile adaptability and the instinctive intuitive harmony found within a healthy community. Zebra says with great wisdom comes great responsibility, and asks us to remember that very little is as simple as black and white. Clarity, perspective, wisdom, balance, freedom... to Zebra, all good things come with patient introspection, determination and playful good humor.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie
“I asked the Zebra,
are you black with white stripes?
Or white with black stripes?
And the zebra asked me,
Are you good with bad habits?
Or are you bad with good habits?
Are you noisy with quiet times?
Or are you quiet with noisy times?
Are you happy with some sad days?
Or are you sad with some happy days?
Are you neat with some sloppy ways?
Or are you sloppy with some neat ways?
And on and on and on and on and on and on he went.
I’ll never ask a zebra about stripes...again.”
Keywords: Clarity, Balance, Freedom, Social, Community, Endurance, Determination, Separating Truth from Illusion, Memory, Individuality, Instinct/Intuition, YinYang, Co-operation, Blending in, Safety in numbers,
Associated with: the constellation Orion, Serengeti, deities associated with equines like Epona or Astarte, deities of the wild like Artemis, Pan or Herne, deities of Balance or deep Mysteries like Ma'at or Thoth
Potential Balancing Energies: sun, wind, water, grasses, wildebeests and other hoofed animals, other equines, lions and other big cats, hyenas and other wild dogs, insects like grasshopper, ticks, or flies.