a boots-on-the-ground view of the change that's a-foot

Animal Medicine – easy to swallow

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

If I really wanted to believe it, I swear the animals have been speaking to me, you know, sort of looking out for me. First, at the beginning of the Summer, as the drought set in and I learned of my mom’s illness, I found myself filled with fears about the future. It was during one of my many morning hikes that I saw an owl in the tree above me. I’d noticed it before, but this time, it was sitting in a branch just a few feet above me. I stopped and we looked at each other intently for several seconds. As I walked on, I kept looking back, seeing the head turning slowing and the yellow eyes following me up the hill. When I returned home, this is some of what I read about my owl friend:

Owl represents the illumination that brings wisdom which comes from seeing what others cannot. Use your powers of keen, silent observation to intuit a life situation. The owl can can show you how to speak the whole truth.

A month later, I was pretty stressed about the continued oven-like weather and didn’t know how I could reconcile dying trees and dried up creeks with my water-loving self. On this day in the woods, I found two turtles directly in my path. I went home and opened my animal medicine book to this: Turtle is the oldest symbol for planet earth and the personification of the goddess energy. Be mindful and remember the cycle of give and take – the protection that earth employs through evolution. You can protect yourself from hurt by going inside. The turtle’s two homes, earth and water remind you to place your feet firmly on ground, but also to flow with your situation harmoniously.

A week later, after a particularly rocky couple days, I decided to pull an animal card for guidance and I drew the Grouse in the inverted position. This is what I read: Many Plains Indian tribes dance the Grouse Dance, following a spiral, which is the ancient symbol of birth and rebirth. Learn how to harmonize your life dance with Mother Earth’s cycles. The Sacred Spiral will take you to the Center and is one of the oldest known symbols for personal power, vision and enlightenment.

Last week, I was sitting on the deck answering an email from my neighbor who was asking others to help “host” the abundant butterfly larvae found in her yard. I hadn’t seen many butterflies this Summer with the flowers and plants all dried up, but just then, one landed at my feet. In animal medicine, Butterflies represent the art of transformation. If the Butterfly is speaking to you, you should ask yourself what needs transforming in your life. Be where you are in this process and wait for clarity. (It rained a few inches here the other day. My larvae are now catepillar size and happily munching on potted parsley on my porch.)

The journey continues, but it seems like I’ve got plenty of company.

(These are mere excerpts from Animal Medicine lore, summarized in my own words. To learn more about Animal Medicine, go here.)

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