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.  
WOOLLY MAMMOTH: Warmth and Hospitality

Best known of the Ice Age Mammals, Woolly Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) received her name from her outer layer of long hair. Underneath that layer, She had another dense inner layer of fur. To cope with the icy temperatures, Woolly Mammoth had a compact body, a high domed head and small ears.

Woolly Mammoth had a shorter but more flexible trunk than other Mammoths. At the end of her trunk was a finger-like appendage as well as another protuberance. She used these to gather grasses and other plants for eating.

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Mastodon Family: Look Closer and Think.

Often confused with Mammoths, Mastodons (Mammutidae) are in their own family, since They split off from Elephants and Mammoths earlier. Therefore, there are many differences between the two Animals. Mastodons have larger and flatter brows than Mammoths. Moreover, They have paired low conical cusps for teeth, and upper jaw tusks. In addition, Mastodons are shorter and more muscular than Mammoths. Scientists have liken Them to a bus, whereas Mammoths are more like construction cranes.

Living side by side with Mammoths, Mastodons colonized Eurasia and North America about fifteen million years ago. As browsers, They preferred to live in spruce forests and open woodlands. During the winter, Mastodons had a double coat of fur to prevent Them from freezing in the icy cold. However, they preferred warmer climates to live in.

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Prehistoric Elephant Family: Partnership

(Deinotheres, Elephants, Mammoths, and Mastodons)

Of the myriad Trunked Mammals who once roamed the earth, only African and Asian Elephants still remain today.  At one time, Proboscids (Trunked Mammals) lived everywhere except Antarctica and Australia.  Spreading from Africa where They originated, these Mammals flourished during the Miocene Period (from 20 million years ago (mya) to 5 mya).  Since many Proboscids were not immune to the cold, only a few survived the Ice Age.

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Shadow Animals:The Trickster and the Bringer of Death

Two difficult types of Shadow Animals are the Trickster and the Bringer of Death. Most Pagans are familiar with Tricksters since they know about Coyote and Loki, who transgress societal norms. The Bringer of Death is an animal who causes a near-death experience. People who undergo a Near-Death Experience (NDE) often gain more spiritual power by dying and then being reborn.

Dark Trickster

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YOWIE (Australia's Bigfoot): Tenacity

When the Europeans first arrived in Australia, they encountered “the hairy man,” of Aboriginal myth. According to the Aboriginal Australians, humans share this continent with apemen. These Yowies (“hairy men”), as they were called, had inhabited Australia before the coming of any humans.

 Amongst the Aboriginal Australians, the “hairy men” were called many names and possessed different attributes. “Yowie,” the name They are called today comes from “Yuwi” as referred to by the Yuwaalaraay People of New South Wales. To them, Yowie is a spirit from Dreamtime. Meanwhile, the “Yaroma” of the Blue Mountains was a cannibal. According to the Gundungurra People, the Yaroma sharpened their long fangs on rocks. A human could escape from this cannibal by jumping into a waterhole, since the Yaroma could not get their feet wet. Other myths describe Yowies to be gigantic “hairy men,” with muscular bodies and powerful arms.

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YETI (ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN): Reflections on the Sacred

Mention “Abominable Snowman,” and people will conjure up a picture of a huge apeman with a cone-shaped head and snow white hair. This particular man-like creature has captured the public imagination with stories, toys, and TV shows. Now, people entertain notions of unknown humans and their hidden lives in the inaccessible places of the Himalayas.

Stories of Yeti (“Abominable Snowman”) reach far back in history. Pliny the Elder, of Rome, wrote about Yeti in the First Century C.E. In his writings on the natural world, Pliny described a man-like creature, who walked on two legs, living in the mountains of India. Meanwhile ancient writings of Tibetans told of a man-beast who roamed the high passes. Also the peoples of the Himalayas regarded Yeti to be the God of Hunting.

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APEMEN (HAIRY HOMINOID): Shadow of Humanity

All over the world, myths and sightings about mysterious Apemen abound. The most famous of these hairy hominoids are Yeti (the Abominable Snowman) of Asia and Bigfoot (Sasquatch) of North America, both of whom have captured the public imagination. Meanwhile, Australia has Yowie, Europe Wudewasa (Woodwose), Southeast Asia Orang-Pendek, South America Mapinguary, and Africa Ngoko. Many stories about these various Apemen speak of their wild nature, hairiness, and strength. Today, sightings of these hairy hominoids come from the world’s wild places – the jungles, swamps, forests, and mountains. However, people still see these wild “men” even in settled areas from time to time.

What makes Apemen different from other myths about fantastic animals is that They are believed to exist. In fact, Apemen dwell on the knife’s edge between myth and reality. Throughout the centuries, ordinary people have reported their encounters with these hominoids. Sir Edmund Hillary of Mt. Everest fame reported seeing giant foot prints of a Yeti in Nepal in the 1950s. In 2004, an elderly woman in Florida encountered a Skunk Ape in her backyard. Meanwhile, The Cryptozoic and Rare Animal Research Center of Vietnam is searching for Nguoi Rung. However Apemen continue to remain elusive as to what or who they are.

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