Monday, April 30, 2018

Stalking Wisdom Around the Wheel

Glowing Moon
White as Bone
Sails o’er Waters
O’er Hills
O’er time-darkened Stone

Gnawing the Moon down
to a crescent rind
Eerie voices rise and whine
along Earth’s shadowed skin

Each voice is different
yet each voice is akin.
A chorus of Uilleann pipes,
clarinet, and
penny whistle
runs along the spine
like an intuitive missile

One uilleann voice lifts above the chorus,
Complex, full-throated,
Wisdom winding toward us…

“I will Teach you to
Sift the Winds for secrets
to Trust your senses
to Go Within on stalker’s feet
Hunt down your worst enemy
within the darkness of your Soul

Around Life's wheel
at each sacred Corner I await you
Singing of Lessons unending
Noble Death
Balance between
Self and Duty
Walk in Beauty!

Follow the trail
of the Relentless Hunter,
for no path may be hidden
from My hunger!
I might raise a son of man
as one of my own
I suckled the sons of Mars
founding Rome
I might also devour Odin
or your sweet Grandmama
to gain the wisdom that they carry
before bringing it back
to enrich the pack at home

I am your courage
I am your fear
Light and Dark
struggling metaphorically
within each of you
Who will you feed
with your thought word and deed
increasing with all you choose to do?

Sharp of eye
White of fang
I will huff
I will puff
I will blow away the dust
cluttering your world view

We will give chase



For those new to the game, each piece is inspired by a Teacher found in Nature; a star, stone, animal, plant etc that holds lessons of Wisdom for those who listen. Can you guess who is singing today?

“Contemplate the workings of this world, listen to the words of the wise, take all that is good as your own. With this as your base, open your won door to truth. Do not overlook the truth that is right before you. Study how water flows in a valley stream, smoothly and freely between the rocks. Also learn from holy books and wise people. Everything-even mountains, rivers, plants, and trees-should be your teacher.” Morihei Ueshiba from The Art of Peace

“Throw me to the wolves, because there’s order in the pack.” Red Hot Chili Peppers, Easily

“Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.” Proverb

Uilleann or bag pipes, have a distinctive sound ranging from high to low in pitch and this instrument is capable of evoking great emotion. This made it perfect to represent the uncanny and unforgettable sound of a wolf howling in the distance. Wolves are often viewed as more dangerous than the domesticated Dog. They have been both boldly painted, and greatly misunderstood by Mankind in general. Seen as driven purely by instinct, wolf is often viewed as the ruthless killer of the young, the old and the sick, a harrier of the herds and flocks that feed us, a deadly and cunning foe, and because of this view the Wolf was hunted almost to extinction.

However, many today feel that how we will choose to treat the wolf that we nearly hunted to extinction, and whether or not we continue to protect the species now that it is burgeoning once more, will determine just how much we have truly learned about both ourselves and wolf society over the years. I believe much of our negative view of this Teacher reflects the worst we fear or see within our selves.

Curiously, our literature, films and even music will also take the fearsome qualities of a wolf and depict them as irresistibly attractive, and successful creatures. For example, Werewolves are most often depicted as both charming, very skillful, and bloodthirsty. Lycanthropes are rarely seen in a positive light though, and this fusion between Wolf and Man is a poor reflection of what the experience could really be like. For a recent example, I have been particularly impressed with the character Wolf from the mini-series “The 10th Kingdom” as he captures the dichotomy of being a Wolf quite naturally.

The actor does a marvelous job conveying a canine mentality and mannerisms in a completely natural manner. I loved how he would subtly draw in the scent of the “creamy dreamy girl of his dreams” whenever she was close, his paw-scratching-ear “Wolf’s honor!” motion, and how he struggled with his mood swings during the full moon. Okay, he did almost get her Grandma into the oven, but that was before he got to our plucky heroine.

The writers provided the framework of Wolf and his dialogue in yet another world where Wolves are commonly seen as bad guys. Actually, one of the only films that I can think of that doesn’t have everyone out to kill the mythical Wolf is the 1994 film entitled simply “Wolf” starring Jack Nicholson, James Spader and Michelle Pfieffer. A stunning work, by the way, and it too is an excellent example of the joys and sorrows that create Wolf people.

Noble, sexy, romantically gifted, and charming wolves of all sorts have been illustrated in countless films and books. Think of Tex Avery’s howling wolves in zoot suits, the traditional Big Bad Wolf (especially sly and charming in the stage production, “Into the Woods”) or Walter Wolf from the Animaniacs. Rudyard Kipling’s Akela and The Pack have influenced countless generations of not only readers, but specifically Boy Scouts as they have been using excerpts from the Mowgli stories to teach young boys how to behave in packs for some time now. Actually, this too is an excellent example of Wolf behavior!

The “lone wolf” is also a common hero figure in many works of fiction, although wolves are most definitely social creatures. To me this is symbolic of one of Wolf’s central lessons. It is the Wolf’s duty to Self, Pack and Creator to venture out into the world to gather Knowledge, and then return home to share this wealth with the Pack.

“Throughout the centuries we have projected on to the wolf the qualities we most despise and fear in ourselves.” Barry Lopez

“We humans fear the beast within the wolf because we do not understand the beast within ourselves.” Gerald Hausman

“Even when walking in the company of two other men, I am bound to be able to learn from them. The good points of the one I copy; the bad points of the other I correct in myself.” Confucius

Universal Pictures’ 1995 canine hero, Balto, gives us a fine example of how ostracized Wolves typically feel about society in general… and how they still carry love for others within them despite the many affronts and attacks. Yet, curiously enough, the Balto immortalized in film was depicted as a wolf/husky hybrid, and the real Balto was just sled dog! Perhaps this is a cultural indication that our collective view of this majestic creature is changing?

The animated film “Hoodwinked” has a reporter named Wolf who is also mistaken for a bad guy, and “Princess Mononoke” all paint very different pictures that share several positive traits, but ultimately all are Wolves. “Will you offer your throat to Wolf with the red roses?” as Meatloaf suggests? Just why is it that we see Wolves as both dangerous and sexy? Perhaps it is their power to draw us that we find as dangerous as it is irresistible…

“We have doomed the Wolf not for what it is, but for what we have deliberately and mistakenly perceived it to be… the mythologized epitome of a savage, ruthless killer… which is, in reality, no more than a reflexed image of our self.” Farely Mowat

“Wolves are not our brothers; they are not our subordinates either. They are another nation, caught up just like us in the complex web of time and life. " ~ Henry Beston

“To look into the eyes of a wolf is to see your own soul. " Aldo Leopold

Not everyone misunderstands the Wolf obviously, but perhaps our modern world has pushed him to the back of our technology-driven, busy city minds. Surely, Humans have empathized with the Wolf for many generations to be both so drawn and so repelled by this Creature Teacher, and I often feel as if this mirrors our own image of ourselves. Native Americans have understood and respected this wise Teacher for countless generations. We certainly can share a lot of similarities. We’re both social creatures who have a strong interest in our families and home lives.

We’re both highly adaptive, capable of great affection and loyalty to our pack members, and will respond in similar manners to our Alpha personalities. We both take the training, care, and time to play with our young as a very serious and often joyful duty. Also, both humans and wolves tend to be highly responsive to non-verbal cues of posture, expression, and general body language.

Unlike humans though, wolves can often settle any potential disputes without resorting to a physical act. Wolves take great care of their pups, and work very hard to insure the success of the Pack’s future by giving all the best attention and education to their young. For Wolf people who have no mate or pups of their own, I would advise you to volunteer your time in a group or organization involving kids; become a Scout leader, coach a sport, join Big Brothers/Sisters or a similar organization and you might be surprised at how fulfilling you find it!

“The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.” Robert Maynard Hutchins

“For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack” Rudyard Kipling

According to most Native Traditions, it is the nature of Wolf to travel out in each direction, learn the Wisdom held there, and then return to the Pack to share what has been learned for the benefit of all. The obvious directions, South, West, North and East, hold lessons on: self-reliance, developing and learning to trust ones own keen instincts, recognition and reverence of Creator and the divine spark of Spirit or Soul, learning from the mistakes of the past and carrying the best lessons (both our own and our ancestors) forward into the future, respecting our Elders, finding and maintaining a balance between our Physical and our Spiritual selves, and finally Sharing all that has been learned and experienced.

It is said that there is a Wolf who guards the door of each of the Four Winds, and each direction holds a different set of Lessons to be learned. I’ve written here about what I have heard of Wolf in regards to this story, but the best advice is Always to research, meditate and try to connect for yourself to the energy you are either seeking or feel drawn to…

Arctic Wolf would be of the North Wind, and He teaches us how to sift through our experiences for the Wisdom to treasure, as well as how to fashion that Wisdom into a useful course of action in life. It is important here to both be flexible in the face of Change and Adversity and to remain true to our values and higher purpose. That which doesn’t kill us does, indeed, make us stronger. Arctic Wolves survive amazingly harsh conditions by being adaptable, tenacious, resilient, creative and bold. While they can make it look easy, it is by no means an easy balancing act and running to any extreme can bring an abrupt and harsh end to everything!

Capable of incredible stamina against seemingly insurmountable odds, such people will pull themselves up by the bootstraps time after time…learning, adapting, and setting their sights on new horizons each time they pull through the last bout of Adversity. Perhaps the most valuable lessons the Arctic Wolf can teach though is the vital importance of caution and conservation. Knowing when to be bold and in what measure is even more important than the ability to be bold in the first place! This Wolf knows, better than most, that sometimes it is more important to conserve ones energy, to retreat and revitalize ones self while waiting for a better opportunity.

Gray Wolf stands at the door of the Western Wind. Gray is a color of neutrality; a conservative color, it is closely linked with sorrow, moodiness, temperance, uncertainty, and intelligence. Those that follow this path are personalities that see everything in life as a lesson and try always to improve themselves through the lessons they have learned. Change and opportunities to grow are always present in the lives of those who follow this Teacher. The trick is to recognize and then work with the natural cycles, like Seasons, in ones own life. Adapting to Change is vital to Gray Wolves.

Rather than worrying about the unknown variables of present or future though, it is best to simply accept that what will be will be. There will be Change, of that you can be certain just as you can be certain that we will all make mistakes or be blindsided from time to time. Better to focus on finding our best path to future events by making the best choices in the present that we are capable of making. After all “change comes from within” and ultimately it is our choices that will determine where we go in life. Set reasonable and clear goals for yourself.

Gray Wolf people recognize that all Life is sacred and work to protect Life in many ways. Some actively participate in, or support groups that protect and preserve the World around us. Some volunteer time at animal shelters, wildlife rescue organizations, forestry agencies, neighborhood clean-ups, community oriented drives and activities, or simply do their best to recycle and conserve in day to day life.

Wolf also teaches us that Loyalty is of great importance. Wolves are one of the few in the animal kingdom that mate for life and even the bond between pack mates is strong enough that one will lay down their life in defense of the others. So… Listen to your instincts, follow the rule of three (As in, three strikes and you’re out!) without exception, and do your level best not to blind yourself to the faults of others simply because you love them.

In the end, we save ourselves incredible soul and heartache by letting a disloyal person go, no matter who they are to us, rather than holding on to them out of our own fierce sense of loyalty. I spent a lot of years learning this, most painfully in the past three years, and hopefully I have well and truly learned my lesson this time. I still feel that I struggle against myself more than anything else in life.

Gray Wolf seeks constantly to balance Reason and Intuition. Indeed, such people are either drawn to others who seem to them to walk a firm balance between these two traits, or they are drawn to those who struggle with this balance. Uncertainty, moodiness, snappish or erratic behavior, sorrow/depression, self-indulgence (especially in a sensual way i.e. through food, uncontrolled emotions like rage or jealousy, sex, etc), and choosing to isolate one’s self as opposed to enjoying periods of solitude are all signs of unbalanced Wolf energy.

The red wolf is a survivor of the Ice age and (late) Pleistocene epoch. She stands at the door of the South Winds; home of the creative fires of life, passion, fertility, and courage. This magnificent Creature Teacher teeters now on the brink of extinction because of the predations of Mankind. This is a great sorrow to me as this is such a passionate and creative Teacher.

Red Wolf people would do well to follow their strongly developed Intuition without question. Once you start questioning yourself, it’s hard to stop! Red Wolf holds the Wisdom of the Compassionate and Innocent Heart. Red Wolf people tend to be very creative and artistic, and one can easily see the influence of their strong Intuition reflected there. They also tend to be very passionate individuals with a great willingness to shower others with compassion, to be trusting of new people. Such people should watch their impulsiveness and be careful of their tender hearts.

In general, Wolf people probably vary widely in their success at seeking to balance Reason and Intuition. Both are valuable, both should be nurtured, but neither one should take precedence in my opinion. Personally, I find that I struggle not to let Reason limit my Intuition. Like many, I am often my own worst enemy and second-guess myself far too often.

I do not know, according to these tales, which Wolf stands at the East door. My own intuition says that We are the Wolf that stands at the door to the East, for this is the place of beginnings. Here is where Wolf begins the journey of discovery by following the motion of the wheel South, West, North and then finally returning to the Pack and Family in the East as an illuminated Teacher to share all that has been learned and complete the sacred circle.

“A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not.” Author Unknown

“Teamwork divides the task and multiplies the success.” Author Unknown

“Respect your fellow human being, treat them fairly, disagree with them honestly, enjoy their friendship, explore your thoughts about one another candidly, work together for a common goal and help one another achieve it.” Bill Bradley

Knowledge begins with Awareness, and Peace begins with Balance. These are inextricably bound lessons essential to Wolf people. To all Wolves, it is the Pack that takes precedence over any other consideration. Two legged Wolves need to be aware, need to look within and around them with clear eyes to be good pack members.

“Know yourself”, both flaws and strengths, for if we are dishonest with ourselves, how can we clearly see anything else in life? Likewise, we need to really know those we consider “pack mates”. In a successful pack, everyone knows their place and can rely on the others to do their part. Being a team player, looking out for the welfare of your fellows, and feeling secure in their abilities, knowing how they will respond, brings contentment to Wolf far more than pushing for the Alpha position.

In any event, a true Alpha does not lead because he/she is stronger, fiercer, bigger or better at throwing their weight around. A true Alpha, Canid or human, leads by consensus of the pack because… in their eyes the Alpha exemplifies all that the pack strives for and has all the qualities needed to bring success to the pack. A leader is born, not made, and the best man for the job is usually the one who doesn’t want it! As Joel Rosenburg said, “Wanting to rule as opposed to being willing to govern is evidence of a diseased mind.”

Wolf understands this better than perhaps any other, and this is what makes aware and balanced Wolves such wonderful leaders and great Teachers. For every Wolf knows that someday, they may have to lead the pack and all that they strive for is to be worthy, whatever their position may be. I wonder how many “dog people” out there have found or expressed their connection to the Canid Teachers through their pets?

My favorite story about Wolf is often attributed as a Cherokee tale…

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside of me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then, eyes round, asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee replied, simply, “The one you feed the most.”

Wise words and very true! I love to share this cautionary tale with kids. There have been plenty of times in my own life where I’ve had to remind myself, “Don’t feed that one!” According to the Lakota the seven virtues everyone should strive for are: Generosity, Truth, Humility, Faith, Kindness, Hope and Joy. Wolf, as the Great Teacher, can help us find the path to each of these virtues.

Wolf people should beware gorging their appetites. Allowing anger, lust, gluttony or any similar emotion to rule you is always unwise but perhaps especially so to Wolf people as it can give one a false sense of power or contentment. Be especially careful who and what you invest your faith in.

Controlling one’s instinctual impulses, like our sex drive, is often an issue with Wolf people somewhere along their path. Loyalty is a theme that can be found running through all of the canine banners, and it is an important issue to all those who are drawn to any of the Canine Teachers. Wolf people often struggle to find a balance between their individuality and their genuine care of and concern for others.

It is very important for Wolf people in general to feel “needed” and to actively contribute to the Greater Good, but it is just as important that these social souls remember to take time for themselves, to contemplate in quiet solitude and reflect upon the needs and lessons of self, family, community and the World in which we all live. Personally, I know that if I don’t make sure to spend at least a little time purely by myself on a regular basis, I definitely begin to feel off-balance, depleted, and less capable in every aspect of my life. Many people in life actively fear solitude and even silence, which I had never really understood as quiet time alone is how I best replenish and revitalize myself.

My own recent and rather painful life lessons reminded me of another common problem that many Wolf people face. All Canines are rather sensitive souls. This means both sensitive to the world around us, which can be very beneficial, and sensitive to how we are treated by others, which is not so beneficial. The more we feel “driven into a corner”, the more likely we are to be overly defensive too. This is when most canines are at their most dangerous. Sometimes the harsh nature of Life’s Lessons can drive us into feeling like we would rather remain aloof from society, build up a protective wall between us and others.

For the first time in my life, I actually looked around me at my fellow humans and was shuddering in very real revulsion and fear. At that point, I would have seriously contemplated removing one of my limbs rather than come in any closer contact with people in general. This was just a reaction though to the pain that this last lesson caused me, and I chose not to harbor or nurture these emotions, so they eventually faded. Like the Wolf, Coyote, and Fox that have been pursued and hunted so vigorously, and like the Dog that has been beaten or abused until it’s great Spirit has been broken… I’ve been shy of people since and still struggle sometimes not to either retreat, burst out in emotions or become overly defensive. I still have to remind myself that any interaction between myself and others is not a trap from which I have to escape at all costs.

Healing takes time though and I’m trying to be patient with myself. I don’t want to feed that Wolf. I never have, and have worked my whole life to spread positive emotions and values with an optimistic attitude by living what I believe. Wolf, and all the Canine Cousins, have taught me a great deal, and I am grateful… even for the painful lessons. After all, they would have probably hurt a lot less if I hadn’t resisted them so! How does Wolf appear in your life?

“Wolf is the Grand Teacher. Wolf is the sage, who after many winters upon the sacred path and seeking the ways of wisdom, returns to share new knowledge with the tribe. Wolf is both the radical and the traditional in the same breath. When the Wolf walks by you – you will remember.” Robert Ghost Wolf

Friday, April 27, 2018

For Sentimental Reasons

Balanced and Bold
a new voice arises
Sensitive yet confident
full of surprises

“Hog-nosed, Spotted
Hooded or Striped
My Wisdom
is always ripe

Once you see me
there is no
middle ground
Though seldom aggressive
the memory of my wrath
is not easily drowned!

Black and white
Day and night,
Love and hate
It is all how
You choose
to relate
Tisn’t always a case
of Either/Or
Heed my cautionary stripe
At your own peril
do you choose
my warnings to ignore

Oh hush!
Silence is golden.
Why all the uproar?
Don't make such a stink
Those with true authority
feel no need
to sing their own praises
to dictate
or keep petty score

Trust yourself
Show no fear
Supplies are limited
Know thyself
Choose your moment wisely
Sacred self defense
not violence or aggression
reduce bullies to proverbial tears

Beginning with one’s self
Respect is both a give and take
Trust your own nose to scent
True friends from the fake

Follow me and all will see
just how desirable are we
No middle ground
Some will argue
Some agree
Others still will simply flee!

Potent, confident, diplomatic
curious and benign
We teach lessons
on how to attract or rebuff
by certain truthful sign.

We are maestros of Reputation
adorned with the musk of power
Become the masters
of sensual flirtation
find strength hidden
within every delicate flower

Respect must be
thy right I avow
Good judgement
thy sword and shield
Confidence thy plow."

For those new to the game, each piece is inspired by a Teacher found in Nature; a star, stone, animal, plant etc that holds lessons of Wisdom for those who listen. Can you guess who is singing today?

“Respect yourself and others will respect you.” Confucius

“I am ze locksmith of love, no?” Pepe Le Pew

“As welcome as a skunk at a lawn party.” proverb

Few animals command the instant respect that Skunk takes for granted. Only the foolish or ignorant will attack a Skunk, and Skunk’s supreme confidence shows in his attitude. Despite the power of their infamously smelly defense, Skunk’s are rather quiet gentle creatures much like Flower from the Disney film “Bambi”. I should note that this film falsely depicts skunks as winter hibernators though.

There are about 11 different types of skunk, and the most well-known is probably the Striped Skunk found over most of North America. Roughly the size of a house cat and instantly recognizable by it’s black body and double white stripes that run from head to tail, Skunk elicits an immediate response from those who encounter it. Anyone who has ever smelled Skunk from a distance could tell you why!

When a skunk feels threatened it will first growl and stamp it’s feet. Then it will aim it’s rear end with the sharpshooting scent glands at the source of the threat…if you have not headed these warnings and removed yourself by this point, a skunk will eye you up over it’s shoulder, take aim and shoot it’s offensive scent with amazing accuracy up to 10 feet! This horrendous smell is strong enough to ward off bears, and is difficult to remove.

Skunks usually don’t become truly aggressive unless they feel cornered (like the one that got caught in the outhouse at Girls Scout camp!) or are defending young. Skunks are reluctant to spray as they have around five good shots in them after which it will take up to ten days to replenish. The show “Mythbusters” found that a mixture of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and liquid soap was most effective in removing the skunk scent, although tomato juice is a common home remedy that is also effective. Skunk’s showy black and white coloring is usually all the warning needed by any creature that has experienced Skunk’s defense before! These glands can be removed, however, and domesticated skunks have been kept quite happily as pets.

Skunks are typically solitary except when breeding, which begins around February or March. They have a 63 day gestation which results in one to seven young, which are born blind and will stay with the mother til around June or July. Males have no part in raising young and will even kill them. Largely carnivorous but considered omnivores, Skunks eat frogs, salamanders, mice, insects, snakes, moles and the like, which makes them handy for keeping down rodent populations. They will eat fruits and seeds, and are notoriously troublesome scavengers of garbage.

The statistics for a skunk to be a rabies carrier are quite high, being second only to raccoons. Nocturnal, skunks are excellent diggers and can be difficult to remove once they have entrenched themselves. An individual skunk can claim a territory of about 30-40 acres. Skunks are a favorite food of Great Horned Owls, so Owls are one of the first balancing totems for Skunks that should be examined.

“They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them.” Mahatma Gandhi

“If I despised myself, it would be no compensation if everyone saluted me, and if I respect myself, it does not trouble me if others hold me lightly.” Max Nordau

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." Maryanne Williamson

Skunks embody confidence and their biggest lessons revolve around Respect. Skunk shows us how best to develop, give and receive respect. He teaches us first and foremost to respect ourselves and our own abilities. Well balanced Skunk people often seem fearless but in reality they are simply well aware of their capabilities and this gives them a firm self-confidence from which anything is possible. This quality either draws or repels others, and Skunk people are typically either liked or disliked strongly within one’s first meeting. Unbalanced Skunk people can be arrogant, brash, or ill-mannered with little understanding of personal space.I particularly wanted to share the Williamson quote above as it so perfectly captures balanced Skunk energy. “As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Skunk people attract others who either display or desire these confident qualities.

The wisdom of Owl makes an excellent balancing energy for the bold Skunk. It is important that Skunks understand how to develop a good reputation without being ruled by having a reputation. In other words, don’t become so enamored of yourself simply because others find you such good company. The simplest way to cultivate this is just by being true to one’s self, doing what you know is right in any given situation irregardless of what others think… in essence, living a good life. Most Skunks have to work at learning how to balance their attractive/repellent abilities.

Finding comfort in silence, accepting that there is a time to be social and a time to be alone is a big step for a Skunk. Others will notice Skunk people whether they are trying to be noticed or not, so it is best to remember not to boast or behave too outrageously as this will most likely put others off when you are trying your best to attract them.Balanced or not, Skunk people will not tolerate abuse of any sort and will take action if their warnings to desist do not meet with the desired results, often with a dramatic result. When a Skunk puts someone in their place, everyone remembers it! Powerful yet peaceful, Skunk is, nonetheless, not someone you want on your bad side.

“One can survive everything nowadays, except death, and live down anything, except a good reputation.” Oscar Wilde

“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” Benjamin Franklin

“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it, the tree is the real thing.” Abraham Lincoln

One of my favorite cartoon characters ever has to be the breezy and romantic Pepe Le Pew. He never hurried, never doubted himself, was multi-talented, optimistic, and was even content with himself when he failed in his objective! It is their basic self-confidence that makes Skunk people so sexy to others, not necessarily their looks. Skunk people make enthusiastic, energetic and inventive lovers, having an innate understanding of all things “sexy”. All the better for Skunk people then if they can develop a solid and balanced relationship with someone who understands their need to be solitary on occasion, their independence and flamboyant nature; someone who truly revels in them simply being themselves, warts and all. If your going to leave bite marks on someone, it ought to be someone you love.

“Being a sex symbol has to do with an attitude, not looks. Most men think it’s looks, most women know otherwise.” Kathleen Turner

“You know, it is possible to be too attractive.” Pepe Le Pew

The white stripes of a skunk relate to kundalini energy, and those unfamiliar with this term should give some study to the matter. This is a highly creative, powerful yet subtle feminine force laying dormant within us that can purify one’s being, open and travel through all chakra points, inspire us and lead us to our higher selves. Yoga is an excellent activity for Skunk people. Because of their bond with scent, Skunks often have a highly developed sense of smell. Skunk people will find that they have strong responses to odors of all sorts and it is good to be mindful that smell is the strongest link to memory that we have.

Studying the language of flowers, and Aromatherapy will also greatly benefit Skunks. Through this, one could unlock lost memories of childhood or past lives, retain information longer and more vividly, heighten sexual responses (can’t you just hear that trademark Pepe growl? lol), and unobtrusively sway things towards your favor. For example, I have found that wearing a combination of eucalyptus and ylang ylang oils elicits an excellent response during job interviews of all sorts. This combination of “energetic” and “attractive” is a confident aroma that often leaves an interviewer favorably disposed towards you without being too intrusive. Skunk people will find that using scents will not only be pleasing to them personally, but will draw a powerful response from their associates. Again, finding a proper balance between “too much” and “not enough” of these sexy, scentimental qualities is part of the life challenge for Skunk people.

“Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains; another, a moonlit beach; a third, a family dinner of pot roast and sweet potatoes during a myrtle-mad August in a Midwestern town. Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years. Hit a tripwire of smell and memories explode all at once. A complex vision leaps out of the undergrowth. Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses

“Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.” Helen Keller

“Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.” Sherlock Holmes

Consider the phrase, “I smell a skunk” which is commonly used to mean “my intuition is telling me something is wrong with this person or situation.” Listen to these intuitions! Skunk people need to develop a trust in their instincts, as they will have a strong intuitive sense that will allow them to “smell” trouble. Skunk can help anyone learn to recognize, accept and properly react to warnings of all sorts. Like most of us, the challenge here is for Skunk people to learn to trust their instincts without their mind’s many logical arguments getting in the way. Skunk will often appear to deliver a warning, and one should proceed with caution whenever she appears.

Because of their powerful presence, Skunk people will often experience difficulty in achieving a workable balance between confidence and hubris. They make an impact and it is inevitable that others will notice a Skunk…how they notice us is up to us. The silent nature of Skunk is a subtle reminder to such people that they are best off being quiet in most situations, until they are sure just how to react. “Look before you leap, and think before you speak” is a pretty sensible outlook to have irregardless.

Black is the color of wisdom, the void, mystery, death, sorrow, extremes, everything and nothing in balance, power, strength, earth, sexuality, and is considered both grounding and calming in color therapy. White can also represent death, but it more commonly represents purity, innocence, femininity, peace, harmony, security, blessings, hope, virginity, and surrender. In color therapy, White is commonly used to provide energy, achieve balance, stimulate the production of serotonin, to cleanse, and refresh. Skunk’s black and white self is a visual reminder of both his strength and the need to find and maintain a balance in life.

Respect is a key issue for Skunk people; having a healthy balance between respect for self and respect for everything else in the Universe is the focus. Balance is an equally important topic for Skunk people. Skunk’s black and white self is a visual reminder of both his strength and the need to find and maintain a proper balance in life. If you need help in communicating, self-esteem, confidence, developing a good reputation, charisma, developing your sensuality or finding balance, Skunk is an excellent Teacher to ask for help. Indicative of Kundalini energy, sensitive, intuitive, attention attracting, and born with a keen instinct for non-aggressive self-preservation.“Look before you leap, and think before you speak” is a pretty sensible outlook.

Think of the typically black and white image of YinYang energy and imagine it swirling into Skunk’s vibrant form. If you need help in communicating, self-esteem, confidence, developing a good reputation, charisma, developing your sensuality or finding balance, Skunk is an excellent Teacher to ask for help. Just remember to approach him with respect and you should get along just fine. Powerful, protective, a living example of extremes in balance…How does Skunk appear in your life?

“It is better to rise from life as from a banquet – neither thirsty nor drunken.” Aristotle

“Enough is as good as a feast.” English Proverb

“Even nectar is poison if taken to excess.” Hindu Proverb

Key Concepts: Balance, Respect, Confidence/Self-esteem , Power, Leadership, Sensuality, Peace/Pacification, Natural Law/Magic, Warnings, Awareness/Sensitivity, Creativity, Prudence/Sound or Discerning judgement, Defense/Protection, Fertility, Fears and Shadow work

Associated with: Creative energy and Kundalini, bad odors, mistakes, peskiness … I know of no direct association between Skunks and any old deities, but being crepuscular creatures, Skunks would definitely be associated with Faerie energy and liminal zones

Potential Balancing Energies:
Owls , Hawks , Eagles , Vultures , Robins ,Blue Jays , Sparrows , Crows/Ravens , Quails, Swans , and other birds, Frogs/Toads and other Amphibians , lynx, bobcat, domestic Cats , Dogs , Wolf , Coyote , Fox , Trees like Apple , Oak , Willow , Pine , Cottonwood ,Bears , Crickets or Grasshoppers , Flies , Plants like Roses Plantain , Sunflowers , Corn, Ants , Earthworms, Bees , Beetles, Lepidoptera , Grubs and a wide variety of insects, Rabbits , Badgers, Raccoons, Opossums, Wolverines, Mice/Rats , Turtles , Deer , Moose , Bats, Snakes Spiders and other Shadow Teachers

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Sacred Clown Karaoke

A clarinet note dragged out like smoke
smudged across the Sky
as the Stars dance within the Medicine Bowl

Change unending I sing!
Eternal are
Painful lessons, yes
and the Medicine of laughter I bring
to the World’s vast community.

Wise Fool, Wild Sage
Opposites inverted
Fire Thief, Blanket Shaker
Be mindful, but lighten up
Trickster, World Maker
Get messy, make mistakes
I dance to my own heart’s beat
I’ll hand you Wisdom on one side
then fall to my own conceit

Hold an innocent place
within your heart
For I am both the Illusion
And the Mirror that cannot lie

For you, oh my den mate, I sing
With you I survive, or die"

For those new to the game, each piece is inspired by a Teacher found in Nature; a star, stone, animal, plant etc that holds lessons of Wisdom for those who listen. Can you guess who is singing today?

“Strong people make as many mistakes as weak people. Difference is that strong people admit their mistakes, laugh at them, learn from them. That is how they become strong.” Richard Needham

“Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it’s a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from.” Al Franken

They must have been thinking of Coyote or at least a similar Trickster! Coyote is Infamous for his wily ways that are just as likely to end in huge embarrassment or a seriously painful lesson for this tricky Teacher. In fact, sometimes Coyote is viewed as such dangerous company that I have actually heard someone say, “Coyote is evil! That’s bad medicine!” I couldn’t disagree more. Sure, He can occasionally come off as the Father of Lies, or lead his chosen friends into a world of trouble they would rather do without, and most times everything Coyote attempts seems to work backwards… but He teaches us through his examples some of the most important lessons we can learn in life.

Medicine in the Western sense (aspirins, cough syrups, and other medications) are meant to aid us when we are ill or otherwise physically afflicted. However, just like Totemic Medicine, which is also meant to heal us, both medicines are not meant to be taken lightly. “If one dose is good, three will get me better quicker” is a good way to end up in the hospital and the Medicine we are discussing here isn’t very different in its results if abused or treated casually. However, it can be a Lot harder to recover from such an abuse or even to find a qualified Spiritual Healer in today’s society. So tread carefully!

That being said, Coyote says that it is just as important to remember…“The person who learns to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused.”, and “Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand”. Sometimes, we need to realize that we are acting or feeling foolish because we have put ourselves forward, opened our mouths, or put our oar in when we Should have been sitting silently and paying attention. Laugh at yourself, learn your lesson and let it go. Coyote is the Sacred Clown, the Wise Fool and His is the power to turn the sacred into the silly, to cross, juxtapose and then revert anything to it’s original state while still respecting everything. Like Tom Bombadil from the Tolkien epic when he handled the One Ring, His shining blue eye twinkling merrily through this ancient and powerful artifact that had caused so much destruction and death could just as easily have been Coyote’s. There is a wonderfully eternal sense of Innocence about this Wise Fool.

“You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm. Colette

“Our blunders mostly come from letting our wishes interpret our duties. Author Unknown

Like the eternally beloved Wile E. Coyote, the super genius of cartoon fame, this Creature Teacher’s colossal mistakes are usually caused by convincing himself that his desire is a necessity. Most people also confuse “want” with “need”, and are often left in a haze of smoke wondering just how and why everything blew up in their face. Wile E. is forever so blindly focused on his desired goal, that he never considers that perhaps it is his “goal” that is actually the problem. After all, if he is clever enough to order, build and then operate a complex gadget, surely he could order out for pizza and wings!

He was never daunted by his mistakes though. He was willing to revise plans while plummeting towards the ground and attempt something new. His adaptability never caught him that Roadrunner, but his perseverance ensures that he will dust himself off and come up with a new plan soon enough. It takes tremendous courage and powers of self-healing to continue in the face of such odds. As Ray Bradbury once said, “You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.” Coyote is the Fool of the Tarot, yet he is also the Magician for when He gets it right… there is no miracle He can’t pull off simply by using the tools at hand.

Wisdom and Folly in equal measures can be found within the Coyote soul. It is up to us to temper, guide and monitor ourselves, and sometimes the hardest thing for anyone to admit is that they were wrong. Awareness, moderation, discipline, clarity, integrity, balance, forethought and impulse control are all important issues to the Coyote. I have learned, through my own painful lessons over the years, to look at every “failed” attempt very closely for my part, what I truly own out of that failure. Tell yourself, tell others… “Man, I should never have said/done fill in the blank. That was a really bad idea. I’m sorry for what I said/did and I hope I never make that mistake again.”

Beat Fate to the punchline, accept responsibility for your mistakes and most importantly learn from them. Karma doesn’t have to hit you like a cliff’s edge you didn’t see coming provided you watch your step and don’t get carried away. Karma is inevitable, but we can lessen it’s painful impact if we have done all that we can to face our choices and their effects head on. “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” ~M. Kathleen Casey You’ll only draw out your painful lessons or be doomed to repeat them if you don’t look at yourself with awareness and accept full responsibility for your share of the load. A life well lived is worth living for it’s own sake. Why wait for someone else to set the example? Become the person who inspires you, and by being your own Muse… perhaps you will inspire others to live up to the best of who they can be.

Ever full of dichotomy, Coyote represents both that which tempts us most, AND developing the skills to recognize, as well as actively avoid temptations that will lead to a canyon splat! Many Christians believe that the Devil is a separate entity that can be blamed for our choice to give in to temptation, to justify actions we know are not for the greater good or even for our own good. Coyote tempts us. Coyote is that voice inside that argues with your conscience and tries to rationalize and justify your desires to the point where they sound like reasonable options. But Coyote is most proud of us when we don’t follow his bad examples, when we learn from his mistakes, and outsmart him by refusing to either give in to the temptation or place the blame for our decisions on someone or something else.

“I never make stupid mistakes. Only very, very clever ones.” John Peel

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” ~Pablo Picasso

“The few wonders of the world only exist while there are those with the sight to see them.” Charles De Lint

While Coyote people often learn their lessons the hard way, their amazing capacity for innocent trust is truly a gift. It is up to the individual to protect that gift by developing their powers of discernment, and living life from moment to moment making the best choices possible. Being burned by others, or even setting yourself up time after time for disappointment does not mean one should retreat from society, respond in kind to bad treatment, or actively seek to deceive or take from others as a “payback”. Like draws like, and you get back what you put out in the world so ultimately you’d only be harming yourself by such behavior, drawing more of the same into your life, setting fire to your own tail. Not everyone can look at the world with the wonder and enthusiasm that comes naturally to children. Not everyone can find the element of fun in a mundane task. While he isn’t always the best example, Coyote values these things.

Being so clever means Coyote people can be easily bored. They often work best if they have several different projects to play with as it helps to soothe their restless nature. Society often dictates that we must take on one task at a time and focus only on it until we have completed it. But Coyote finds this method tedious and restrictive. Meeting with continual failure or societal disapproval can frustrate Coyote people and make them loose faith in themselves. The Wise Coyote recognizes that their ability to multi-task is an asset as long as they finish the projects that they start. “Unique” methods do not mean “wrong” methods.

Those who have feed the wrong parts of their Coyote nature will find that their addictions, lies, philandering, and other tricks will always come back home to roost. Others, who have inverted Coyote energy will often appear to others as if they are almost literally doing everything backwards. Those who’s every attempt to help only ends up making things worse are often in the Shadow of Coyote. If Murphy’s Law seems to haunt your every waking moment, Coyote is probably trying to speak to you.

There are ways to embrace this and there are ways to reverse these effects as well. My best advice to such folk is to a. research b. to soul search and c. ask the help of those who have proven themselves worthy of trust over the years in aiding you to find a person who truly understands these spiritual dilemmas and is qualified to guide you in the changes you would need to make in your life. In my experience though, when you ask the Universe and Creator for help or guidance, the help will find you.

Whether or not Coyote is your personal Totem, His lessons are invaluable. It is all too easy to see the folly in others, to ridicule them, or belittle them and overlook the same fault in ourselves. Gossip is one of the easiest ways that Coyote catches us. If you find yourself talking about others in negative way, or even just talking about others at all…stop. Thumper’s Mom was so wise to teach him, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” For this is Coyote’s favorite snare and eventually you will find yourself swinging from a rope you fashioned yourself.

Ultimately, Coyote is about overcoming our own folly and addictions and become the Teacher we would most like to have in our lives. Choose your words carefully and think twice before you speak, three times before you speak about anyone else. Sometimes it is important to speak the Truth, sometimes we cannot speak the Truth because our own emotions color our perspective, but most of the time it is wisest to keep our own council and just be silent. Hubris, the spreading of negativity through word or deed, recognizing and conquering our worst enemy…ourselves, are all vital to Coyote. Are we seeing things clearly as they are, or coloring our desires and wishes over the reality before us? Are we so busy planning how to achieve our goals that we never stopped to ask ourselves if our goals are truly worthy?

Most people are sleep walking through their lives, not truly Aware of what they are doing or what is going on. It is so easy to be lulled, hypnotized by our own destruction and dream ourselves to be awake. Sometimes it takes a nightmare to wake us up, or we might be so slumbering lives might be so lovely to us that we react aggressively to the hands that try to wake us, preferring our phantoms to reality. Life is a series of waking and sleeping in more than the literal sense. Remember though, despite the treacherous, thankless, misunderstood and misunderstanding path Coyote people walk, above all, Coyote is a survivor with many stories to tell. Hunted, trapped, driven out by man and machine, still Coyote can be found in the heart of nearly any city thriving right under your nose despite even his own worst mistakes because…

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” ~John Powell

“To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower: Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour.” William Blake

“We become innocent when we are unfortunate.” Jean de la Fontaine

“It is well for the heart to be naive and the mind not to be. " Anatole France

Potential balancing energies:

Mouse Buffalo Cattle Horse Deer Crow/Raven Rabbit/Hare Turtle other Canines Cats, like Jaguar Dragonfly Frog/Toad Butterfly Grasshopper/Cricket Otter Turkey Vulture Crow Meadow Lark and other birds Earthworm Spider Fly and other insects

Associated with a wide variety of Native American tribes. Trickster tales. the Night, the Moon, Fire, Creation, Destruction, Opposites inverted, Sacred Clown

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Lady of Graceful Mercy

From the orchard
From the field
Rooted in Loving Kindness
Adrift in sweet blossoms
of pink and white
This Singer's gracefully branching Wisdom
is revealed...

“Sweet as Love’s first kiss,

I ease aching bones,

quiet winter coughs,

evoke joyful bliss.

Grace, Protection and

good Health I bequeath

to every child waiting to be born,

every blushing bride

beneath my wreath.

Sacred kodama
waist bound with thick twisted rope
I show you Life's balance of 
sweetness and impermanence 
the way of the Samurai
My tiny fruit crowns achievements
My blossoms evoke hope.

Sweet or tart,

Generous Heart

leads to

Generous Mind.

I will show you the path

of the Gentle Warrior,





For those new to the the game, each piece is inspired by a Teacher found in Nature; a star, stone, animal, plant, etc that holds lessons of Wisdom for those who listen. Can you guess who is singing today?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Healer's Duet

A delicate home above the waterless sea
cradling a pearly seed in shades of purple, pink and green…

“Ivory blooded, I am beloved by insect, bird and bee
Twist me into sturdy twine or use my fluff to fill, to stuff
When I split my pods to scatter seeds in fecund glee
I alone nurture the royal scions of Transformation and Joy
Beneath my slender hands of green, they wake each spring
brightly striped, hungrily munching before they spin their wings
Listen now and hear them sing…”

“As children we simply feed, learn and grow.
Our youthful raiment striped with
the Yellow of Beginnings, Joy, clear Thought
White of Unity, Divinity,  the Purity of snow
Black which banishes all negativity,
cradles Creation, yields all Wisdoms sought

Then we spin our glassy jade retreat.
Withdrawn from the world,
we ponder and dream
Until our Transformation is complete.
Reborn in royal splendor, I gleam!

Laughter given wings,
My banner flutters in the Sky
like fiery amber and starry night
Benign Ruler of all I spy!

Only mine enemies most dire
taste my poisonous nature
For I am Herald of eternal Spring,
messages of Love and Joy I bring
Joyful treasures
Youthful trials
Forges Soulful Evolution
and flowery wiles."

For those new to the game, each piece is inspired by a Teacher found in Nature; a star, stone, animal, plant etc that holds lessons of Wisdom for those who listen. Can you guess who is singing in our duet today? Congrats to Alan and Cathi for naming this Teacher.

“May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond.” ~Irish Blessing

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” ~World Health Organization, 1948

“Joy and Temperance and Repose Slam the door on the doctor’s nose.” ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Asclepias syriaca, better known as Milk Thistle or Common Milkweed, is considered by many to be an aggressive and troublesome weed. It is commonly seen in empty fields, ditches, light woodlands, waste areas, and along roadsides all across North America. It is toxic to cattle (sheep, cows, etc) but is also distasteful to them. Typically cattle are only poisoned by Milkweed if they have been forced to eat it. Humans on the other hand, have been eating Milkweed for many years as well as using it for a variety of medicinal purposes.

The name “asclepias” comes from the Greek demigod Asclepius who represents all healing aspects, surgical, herbal, or other of the medicinal arts. His daughters ( Hygieia, Meditrina, Iaso, Aceso, Aglaea/Aegle and Panacea) represent, in order: cleanliness, longevity, recuperation, radiant good health, and all medicine/cures/healing. One of Apollo’s mortal sons, Asclepius achieved immortality as the constellation Ophiuchus, and his name, which can be translated as “cut up” shares the same root word as the word "scalpel.

The smoke from his mother’s funeral pyre was said to have turned the once white feathers of the Crow to the black suit we see them in today. Asclepius was rescued from this funeral pyre by Apollo in the first cesarean operation, after which he was raised and taught by Chiron. His staff, similar to that of Hermes, is entwined by a single serpent, and snakes were often used in healing rituals or kept in temples associated with Asclepias. Therefore, this Teacher has a connection to both Crow/Raven energy and Snake energy so both of those Teachers should also be examined by those drawn to Milkweed.

Both Asclepias and Milkweed are apt names, as all parts exude a milky juice when cut and this humble plant has several important uses. It can typically grow up to 3’ high, although it can be twice that high or much lower depending on conditions. It has flowers that could be a dusky purple, a soft pink, or even greenish white. Leaves are opposite and oval shaped. In John Lust’s “The Herb Book”, Milkweed rootstock is said to be used as a diuretic, emetic, and purgative. It is used for kidney problems, water retention, asthma, stomach ailments, gallstones, to induce sweating, and treat painful coughs. The roots are also a mild anodyne (painkiller). The milky latex has been used as a chewing gum (not recommended due to the plants generally toxic nature) and as a treatment for all kinds of warts. It is currently touted as a treatment especially for genital warts.

The silky down of Milkweed pods has been used for ages as a soft stuffing and cord material, and the dried seed pods have been used as decorations. Young shoots of Milkweed can be eaten like asparagus. Milk Thistle stimulates and protects the functions of the liver. It can stimulate the growth of new liver cells and is used to detoxify our systems too. Asclepias tuberosa (aka Butterfly Weed, Chiggerflower, or Pleurisy Root) also has a long history of helping mankind. The root is used medicinally as an "antispasmodic, carminative, mild cathartic, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, tonic and vasodilator. Pleurisy root has been used to treat all manner of chest complaints and lung diseases. Other parts of the plant, like other milkweeds, have been used in the making of clothing, cordage and food.

“If you have health, you probably will be happy, and if you have health and happiness, you have all the wealth you need, even if it is not all you want.” ~Elbert Hubbard

“The milkweed brings up to my very door. The theme of wanton waste in peace and war…. " ~ Robert Frost

During WWII, children were encouraged to collect milkweed pods and turn them in to the government. The exceptional buoyancy and light weight made them an inexpensive and highly effective stuffing for life-vests and flying suits.

Milkweed, like the Monarch Butterfly who relies solely on it for food and shelter, is indicative of all forms of Transformation. The solid healthy green of the milkweed leaves and pods agrees with its many ties to Healing and is useful for drawing both healing and a stronger connection to Nature. Purplish flowers link it to spirituality and protection, and whitish-green ones would indicate special blessings and purity as well as healing and nature connections. Milkweed, like Thistle, casts its’ seeds to the winds like wishes, and as a “wild” flower commonly found in empty fields and ditches, Milkweed is also associate with Fae folk and energy.

Those experiencing or needing healing transformations, or those drawn to the healing arts are often called by this Teacher. Milkweed speaks to us of the importance of tending to all aspects of our health; physical, mental, emotional, and even cultural/societal health. It is also important to remember that believing yourself ill or health has powerful effects too. People who have been convinced that they were burned have actually produced burns upon their skin even if a source for the burn is not present! Denying clear signs of an illness is just as dangerous as convincing yourself that you really do have that rare tropical skin disease. What affects the mind will also affect the body, and Butterfly and Milkweed together remind us of this vital link.

Being especially associated with lung health, Milkweed asks us to pay particular attention to our breath at all stages and in all contexts. Breath is vital for life and it is also necessary for verbal communication. When we say something out loud, we are announcing our intentions to the Universe and drawing energy towards the subject of our statement. Keeping our words positive and constructive is important, whether our words are directed outward or inward. Sometimes, the things we talk most about changing in our lives aren’t as important as recognizing that sometimes what we really need to change is how we think about the topic.

For example, instead of worrying aloud about how I’m going to pay all the bills on time when money is tight, I focus instead on voicing my gratitude for these conveniences being in my life at all. When I have to do without hot water until the next paycheck, I am so grateful that I have running water and don’t have to haul it up to the house from the nearest river! Milkweed also reminds us that there is a natural rhythm to everything, a time to bloom and a time to lie dormant; that all life is transition.

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” ~Anatole France

“The caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly gets all the publicity.” ~Attributed to George Carlin

“Beautiful and graceful, varied and enchanting, small but approachable, butterflies lead you to the sunny side of life. And everyone deserves a little sunshine.” ~Jeffrey Glassberg

Plants, birds and butterflies have strong ties to each other. Anyone who is called by one of these Totems should carefully examine the particular web of connectedness that exists between that specific bird and the plants or insects that they rely upon. The Monarch Butterfly is an excellent and simple example. It lays its eggs under the leaves of the milkweed, and as a caterpillar it feeds only on the leaves of this plant. This is what gives the Monarch, caterpillar and butterfly, it’s protection from feathered predators.

Because it feeds on the toxic milkweed, the Monarch is toxic too and other butterflies, like the Viceroy, have come to mimic the Monarch’s look as a defense mechanism. Any bird that has eaten a Monarch and recovered will never again willingly eat any butterfly that looks like it might repeat the unpleasant experience! The color and habits of your particular butterfly will influence the message it carries for you, as always study the entire family as well as near relations or balancing energies like bird, spider, preying mantis, etc.

Research has shown that the Butterfly is the only creature capable of changing its entire genetic structure during its transformations. Symbolic of all kinds of Transformation and Rebirth, this Teacher reminds us that all change, and Life itself, is a process. Everything happens in stages and in its own due time. When we are looking to make changes in our lives, we must understand that this will affect us and those around us down to the smallest measure and in ways we have not even considered. This Teacher is especially concerned with those changes necessary in our individual lives that will bring about or encourage an evolution of our souls.

“A sensible man will remember that the eyes may be confused in two ways – by a change from light to darkness or from darkness to light; and he will recognize that the same thing happens to the soul.” ~Plato

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” ~Maya Angelou

“Just like the butterfly, I too will awaken in my own time.” ~Deborah Chaskin

“We must remain as close to the flowers, the grass, and the butterflies as the child is who is not yet so much taller than they are. We adults, on the other hand, have outgrown them and have to lower ourselves to stoop down to them. It seems to me that the grass hates us when we confess our love for it. Whoever would partake of all good things must understand how to be small at times.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche

True change, and the acceptance of this never-ending cycle, requires great Courage. Butterfly teaches us this quiet form of Courage; the courage of Spring. Many think of Spring as a soft and gentle time, the reward after the harshness of Winter. Yet this season and the many changes it brings are not for the faint of heart! Without the Winter’s rough edges, enforced slumber, and harsh cleansing we would not truly appreciate the softness and life-bursting splendor of Spring. The power of Spring is evident everywhere one looks and will not be denied, held back, or discouraged. Life bursts forth from every crack, determined to thrive, and even Entropy and Death cannot deny the strength of Spring. Healing, especially deep healing of body or soul, requires the same level of Courage.

A certain amount of awareness, surrender and introspection is necessary too for we cannot be truly open to such potent and deep powers like Life, Healing, Change or Divinity without these elements. Butterfly asks us to examine where we are in our individual process of Transformation so that we will better understand our needs for the best progression and results. Perhaps one of the most difficult things to accept in life isn’t accepting that change is the only constant, rather that everyone learns and transforms in their own time. What one person learns, understands, accepts and incorporates into their lives in an instant may take someone else years!

Frustrating, painful and even as destructive as this can be to everyone and everything else, we as individuals must understand this and work to encourage the best Transformations possible. We cannot force others to change or to accept change, but we can encourage in a loving and supportive manner. Whether looking at our selves, others or a specific situation, when we understand that everything is moving through its own course of Transformation we understand that we are destroying some things to make way for others just as Death makes way for Life, and Winter makes room for Spring.
“You can’t change who people are without destroying who they were.” ~ Lenny from the film “The Butterfly Effect”

“Say not, “I have found the truth,” but rather, “I have found a truth.” Say not, “I have found the path of the soul.” Say rather, “I have met the soul walking upon my path.” For the soul walks upon all paths. The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed. The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals." ~Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” ~Ferdinand Foch

Butterflies have represented the Soul, Joy, Laughter, Love, childlike Innocence, Rebirth, Beauty, Grace, and Freedom in many cultures. To the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, Butterflies represented the soul. The Greeks believed that a new person was born every time a butterfly emerged from its cocoon. Psyche, beloved of Eros, translates as both “soul” and “butterfly”. The Blackfeet believed that our dreams were brought by the Butterfly, and other Native traditions state that this Teacher will carry our whispered wishes to Creator.

Long associated with Mother Goddess images, butterflies, like women, go through distinct stages in their lives, and are feminine in energy. They are associated with the elements of Air, and of Fire because of their flickering movement and link to the creative fires of the soul. Moths, the Butterfly’s nighttime counterpart, are linked with lunar rather than the solar energy of the butterfly. The Butterfly appears in the North on the Medicine Wheel and is a Clan leader for all the Birth Totems in that direction. Butterflies bring the seeds of change and new ideas.

Most butterflies have quick life cycles, the Monarch is an exception to this rule as it can live up to 6 months! Butterfly people often experience hard lessons early in life, but this early turbulence can also provide the individual with greater tools and methods to deal with later difficulties. Difficult childhoods often produce the most interesting adults, and those called by Butterfly will find that they began their spiritual awakening early in life.

Butterflies are often messengers of the moment though, appearing in our lives to announce a period of Transformation or in Joyful acknowledgement. Their delicate systems will cause butterflies to leave a polluted area rapidly and in numbers. This is a reminder to be aware of what is going on in our environment, whether at home or in the world at large, and to protect ourselves from potentially poisonous influences.

“Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man.” ~Rabindranath Tagore

One of my last memories of living in California as a child is standing barefoot in the grass on a perfect summer day. In complete awe and delight I watched the air up and down the block fill up with Monarchs and other beautiful butterflies. I stood in this rain of butterflies with head back, laughing, arms spread wide with palms up…much as I did during warm summer showers. A huge Monarch chose my left palm as a perch and I stilled. I can still remember its delicate beauty as it looked up at me with its faceted eye, slowly uncurled its silken tongue and drank of the fine sweat that covered me after a good day of playing outdoors. I did not know before or after this incident how much Butterfly was guiding me, teaching me. It would be many years before I would look back on how this winged messenger has so gently brushed through my life.

Happiness seems to elude most people. We seem to lay all sorts of conditions upon our happiness. “I’ll be happy when…” when in truth we can be happy whether there is a storm raging in our lives or we are enjoying currently sunny skies. At the end of this article I’ve included one of my all-time favorite poems. The poet speaks of Happiness as a crystal that, once perfect, has been shattered and spread across the paths of all our lives. None of us will find all of the pieces, but we can share the pieces we do find and be happy anyway.

Perhaps more than any other lesson, Butterfly would like to teach us how to move through life as if it is all a playful dance, to live life in a state of innocent joy with the simplicity and strength found in every child before we learn to hide pieces of ourselves. Children are much closer to Divinity than we are, and we can learn some amazing things by listening to them and watching them at their play. This is the strength of Butterfly who appears like a living rainbow or winged laughter to brighten up our dull existence. How does Butterfly appear in your life?

“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

“I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man.” ~Chuang Tzu

Happiness is…
" …Yet the wise as on they journey
Treasure every fragment clear,
Fit them as they may together,
Imaging the shattered sphere,
Learning ever to be thankful,
Though their share of it is small;
For it has so many pieces
No one ever finds them all.
~ Priscilla Leonard

For Butterfly/Caterpillar
Keywords: Transformation, Joy, Renewal/Rebirth, Happiness/Laughter, Creativity, Grace, Luck, Potential, Metamorphosis, Patience/Determination

Associated with: natural cycles, the soul, the psyche, change, movement, and individuation. Itzpapalotl, Hina, Eros and Psyche, Xochipilli, Xochiquetzal, Jesus, Thanatos, Etain, and Parvati

Possible balancing energies:Ants, Dragonfly, Spider, Preying Mantis and other Insects, Birds like Crow or Robin, Frog/Toad, flowers and other plants like Violet, Apple Tree or Milkweed, Sky/Air, Water… Bats make an excellent balancing energy for Moths, butterflies for Night time!