Animal Wisdom: Connecting People and Animals

A blog encouraging deeper relations between people and animals.

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Virginia Carper

Virginia Carper

Virginia Carper, a Roman Polytheist, lives in the Washington D.C. area with her family. She navigates life with a traumatic brain injury which gives her a different view on life. An avid naturalist since childhood, she has a blog called “Nature’s Observations.” Having experienced the animals directly, she teaches on-line classes about the spiritual and natural aspect of animals. She has published articles on her brain injury, Roman polytheism, and working with extinct animals. In addition her writings on animals (including dragons and other mythic creatures) can be purchased her book site, Animal Teachers.  
Introduction of Correspondences for The Elements and Animals

 In their daily lives, animals are closely aligned with the elements. Based on their elemental correspondences, animals will often act as caretakers of that element. For example, the sandgrouse has a net of filaments on his upper body. After he returns from soaking at the water hole, his chicks drink from the water stored in his net. One could think of the sandgrouse as a guardian of water. This desert bird could be called upon for water magic in arid areas. (Since the elements correspond to the directions, an animal could be asked to guard a particular direction, as well.)  

For the next series of posts, I will be offering suggestions for the pairing of various animals with the elements. This is to give people an idea of how to go about doing this for themselves. I will first list the mammals, since many people have an affinity with them. In other postings, I will continue with birds, reptiles, and insects.

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Calling Upon the Animals

When you are feeling aimless, you might want to call upon Beaver to fill you with a sense of purpose.  If you are frightened, invite a courageous animal like Lion to fill you with courage.  Calling on animals for their gifts is a part of understanding the animals of whom you work with.  Remember to always thank them when you are done. 

The following examples of calling upon the animals come from “Shamanism Vol. III: Animal Medicine Powers” by Dolfyn.

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EGYPTIAN COBRA: Power and Protection

The most venomous of the naja cobras, the Egyptian cobra (Naja haje) is not afraid of people.  She enters their houses and gardens at will.  Hunting at night, the Egyptian cobra looks for a tasty rat or toad for her meal.

One of the largest cobras in Africa, the Egyptian cobra has a wide hood and a full-bodied build. Unlike other cobras, She has neither the distinctive eye spots nor does She spit. Said to be relatively docile, the Egyptian cobra is often the choice of snake charmers and pet owners.

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Cait Sith (Kellas Cat):Understanding Nonduality

 The Cait Sith of Scotland is a large black cat with dark green eyes, long ears and a white spot on her chest. If a person encountered the Cait Sith, they would hear a prophecy from Her. As a being from the Otherworld, She watches humans and reports on what She sees. In addition, the Cait Sith guards the secrets of the Otherworld. 

People should be wary of the Cait Sith for a number of reasons. First and foremost, She steals people’s souls from their bodies. In Scotland when a person died, the family would guard the body in a Feille Fadalach (late wake). The first thing, they did was to douse all the fires. Afterwards, they lit a fire far away from the body to entice the Cait Sith to its warmth. Catnip was also spread around there as well. To distract the Cait Sith, people played music, held wrestling matches, and told riddles.

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Connecting to Animal Spirits

Animal spirits are the collective consciousness and wisdom of their species.  When you call upon Wolf, you are invoking the power, knowledge, and experiences of all wolves living and who have gone on before.  When you call on the energies of an animal, you receive the totality of the species for guidance. 

A simple way to invite an animal in your life is to visualize and then call to them.  Some people find it helpful to have a picture of the animal nearby.  Others may adorn themselves with things of the animal, and some move like the animal. Other people have carvings of animals that they will use.

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STILETTO SNAKES (Mole Vipers, Burrowing Asps): Expect the Unexpected

Found in Africa, Stiletto Snakes (Atractaspis) are well-suited for their underground life. Burrowing through the earth, They look for a tasty Lizard. Finding one, Stiletto Snakes stab the unfortunate animal with their fangs, and then eat Him. These Snakes can kill without opening their mouths. Highly venomous, Stiletto Snakes possess huge venom sacs. Because They live underground, Stiletto Snakes are only encountered by people when they dig in their gardens.

Because of their large horizontal fangs, Stiletto Snakes can strike sideways and backwards. With a jerk of their heads, these Snakes kill by a sideways stab of their fangs. (Unlike other venomous Snakes, these Snakes stab their victims instead with their fangs.) The stabbing injects the venom, earning these Snakes the name “stiletto”. Although these Snakes are venomous, They are not considered to be Vipers. Causing much taxonomic confusion among scientists because of their unusual fangs, Stiletto Snakes have been placed in their own family for the time being.

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Animals and the Divine

Since prehistory, people have desired more intimate connection with animals.  Cave paintings in France and animals carved into the landscape in Peru demonstrate the depth of feeling and intimacy towards our animal relations. Study religious symbols, and you get a glimpse of how close humans’ relationship to animals is.  Moslems call camels, “God’s Gift,” and Incas refer to llamas as “Children of the Great Mother.”  In Christianity, Christ is called the “Lamb of God.”

The religious pantheons of many cultures feature the merging of animals and people.  In Egypt, Bast is depicted as a woman with a cat’s head, while Horus is symbolized as a hawk.  Zeus of the Greeks could transform Himself into various animals for his own purposes. The Hindu God Ganesha is depicted as an elephant, while Cernunnos, the Celtic Lord of the Animals, is shown with a stag’s horns on his head.

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