Teach them a spider does not spin a web. Spiders spin meaning. Cut one strand and the web holds. Cut many, the web falls. With the web’s fall, so too falls the spider. Break the web. Break the spider. So breaks the circle of life. – Frederic M. Perrin
Spiders. They either invoke reverence or revulsion in the eye of the beholder.
But what if the presence of Spider is much more than meets the human eye???
Spider energy, (or as my Cherokee ancestors refer to it, “spider medicine”) is a sign that your higher self is guiding you toward a deeper understanding of your place and purpose in this life. Grandmother Spider spins the web of time and knows all aspects of the future and the past. In Shamanism the Spider is an inventor. The creature’s 8 legs represent the medicine wheel, and Spider spirit was the sacred keeper of Native American history.
As the weaver of the web, the spider symbolizes the spirit of creation. In several traditions, she’s the totemic symbol of the Mother, strong feminine energy. To the Egyptians, Spider was sacred, and associated with the Goddess Neith – a mother figure. Similarly Native Americans see Spider as a creator and a symbol of the divine Feminine aspect. This creative energy is central to Spider’s lessons.
Spider says, “Haste makes waste. Go slow and steady and wait for the right time.” As you do, you’ll achieve greater understanding of all your aptitudes and traits and pull them together as a cohesive whole. Spider reminds us that planning and taking your time with a heartfelt project is the key to success.
Spider as a spiritual guide and mentor encourages you to try looking at a problem from different angles. Follow one strand – where does it take you? Try another – where are you then? Stay flexible and don’t be afraid to test out a new Path.
Spider asks us to ask ourselves, “Where do you want to build your web/network so that it’s strong?”
Most spider webs are round-ish spirals which unite at a central point. In this, Spider webs are mandalas! As the center of your own “web”, are you focused on what you truly want or are you spending time concentrating on negative energy?
I hope wherever you are, this finds you and yours at peace in all ways possible. As we release 2018 and welcome 2019 I offer you this blessing:
If I could lay before you the dearest gift this evening
It would be a time of no beginning and no end.
It would be life filled with good health and peace and inner joy that can only come from the Spirit.
You would quietly refine your thoughts and words so that you never draw to you anything but the finest.
You would rest deeply and breathe in sweet peace.
You would know the tremendous difference between the material and the spiritual – turning from anger and frustration to a safe haven of love.
You would always be the most loyal friend – not only to others but to yourSelf.
All the issues of life rise out of the heart – so this is a gift from heart to heart.
– A Cherokee Feast of Days by Joyce Sequichie
Below is a video I created a few years ago with that beautiful Cherokee blessing.
We are All setting aside 2018 and shifting into a New Year. As one chapter in life ends, another begins. Have you taken time out of your hectic holiday schedule to consider what this upcoming year has in store for our precious souls, and how you will create a new chapter???
Below are just a few of the questions that come to mind when I consider the new chapter that’s beginning for us all. In each question I’ve included my favorite inspirational videos or posts from the past few years. I hope you enJOY!
My husband’s stone, reflecting a sunset on the ocean
As we let go of 2018 and glide into 2019 …
Will this be a beautiful new beginning? – An ending to a complex chapter?
Will there be more joy and laughter? – An ending to shedding tears?
Will we know that with every thought and deed we Create ripple effects in unimaginable ways?
Will we lovingly release the past and graciously welcome the new?
I hope so.
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” (Little Gidding) ― T.S. Eliot
I am not one to dwell on the past. I rarely even glance a day behind me, but I do know that we can learn from the lessons that come through us; for the past challenges and future opportunities are lessons we can learn from now.
This year has been a blessing in innumerable ways. Many of these blessings are yet unrecognized, but they are there. It’s also been a challenge. As I look forward in gratitude to the new chapter, I am reminded of so much that family, friends, and countless communities have been moving through. But more importantly, I Am thankful for the tremendous healing and growth that have come from it. I am grateful for kindness, compassion, unity, and forgiveness.
We are All in this together.
We Are One.
On a more personal note, it’s been one helluva rollercoaster. I do love a wild ride, but I deeply miss someone whom we said goodbye to, so this video is near and dear to my heart. Although it highlights 2016, its message is still relevant today for many families with furry ones. I hope this speaks to your mind and heart; a reminder of what gratitude, empowerment, laughter, Joy, and Unconditional Love can bring.
This is a glimpse into what I feel our animal companions are thankful for:
“May Light always surround you; Hope kindle and rebound you. May your Hurts turn to Healing; Your Heart embrace Feeling. May Wounds become Wisdom; Every Kindness a Prism. May Laughter infect you; Your Passion resurrect you. May Goodness inspire your Deepest Desires. Through all that you Reach For, May your arms Never Tire.” ― D. Simone
May every moment of 2019 be filled with inexplicable peace.♥️
Watching the sun as it sets on the ending to 2018 and the beginning of 2019
I have not shared with you on this blog in FOUR months! We’ve had a lot on our plate since my last post. But today I am very excited about something in the skies, so I am making time to share.
This will be a short post because we are still unpacking and getting settled after our PCS (Big Move) from the west coast to the east coast! Since we are still in the swing of Summertime, I thought this would be fun to share with you. I hope it inspires you!
Did you know … ?
The expression “dog days of summer” was not originally referring to the oppressive heat and laying around like a tired dog in the summer. It actually refers to the period from July 3 through Aug. 15 when the “dog star”, Sirius, holds a most prominent position in the nightsky! Sirius is nicknamed the “Dog Star” because it is part of the constellation Canis Major, which is Latin for “the greater dog.” Eventually the phrase “dog days” was poorly translated from Latin to English about 500 years ago; taking on a new meaning.
The History of Sirius
For centuries, the effect of Sirius’ light with the combination of our Sun’s energy was understood to have an effect on all life on Earth. In Egypt, Sirius’ return to the night sky became a precursor to the annual flooding of the Nile, and was associated with the goddess Sopdet. In Greece, the sighting of Sirius was the precursor to their hot summer and thunderstorms.
Today, this star is still considered powerful to life on planet Earth. Sirius, located in the Canis Major constellation, can be considered directly ‘upstream’ from our solar system in a cosmic sense that refers to its relative position in the Milky Way galaxy. A highly-charged stellar field, it is said to be currently bringing in high-end electromagnetic currents into our solar system, affecting the solar activity and planetary vibrations of every celestial being on Earth. It’s also known to be directly involved in the 8/8 Gateway that we are all currently in now.
When stars reach the end of their evolution, smaller stars—those up to eight times as massive as our own sun— become “white dwarfs.” These ancient stars are incredibly dense; a mere teaspoonful of their matter would weigh as much as an elephant.
Even as a dwarf star, Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky, even though it’s 8.8 light-years away from Earth! The Sirius system is the fifth known closest stellar system. Sirius observes a period of almost exactly 365¼ days between risings. Although this incredible star continues to return to the night sky in late summer, its position continues to gradually shift relative to the Sun. Several millennia from now, this astrological event won’t even occur during the summer. Roughly 13,000 years from now, Sirius will be rising with the sun in mid-winter. Scientists say that in 26,000 years, the dog days will completely move all around the sky.
Stars like our sun fuse hydrogen in their cores into helium. White dwarfs are stars that have burned up all of the hydrogen they once used as nuclear fuel. Fusion in a star’s core produces heat and outward pressure, but this pressure is kept in balance by the inward push of gravity generated by a star’s mass. When the hydrogen used as fuel vanishes, and fusion slows, gravity causes the star to collapse in on itself.
How to Locate Sirius in the Night sky:
Have you noticed a very bright, twinkling star in the predawn/dawn sky? That star is Sirius. It’s so bright that, when it’s low in the sky, it shines with glints of red and flashes of blue! Sirius is highly visible in the Northern Hemisphere night sky because it has a high relative luminosity to other stars, and it’s relatively close to Earth. If the star were placed next to Earth’s sun, Sirius would outshine our sun more than 20 times. To find Sirius, use the belt of Orion as a pointer. The three stars point downward toward Sirius to the left.
The very noticeable constellation Orion the Hunter rises before dawn at this time of year, recognizable for the short straight line of three stars that make up Orion’s Belt. And the sky’s brightest star Sirius – sometimes called the Dog Star because it’s part of the constellation Canis Major the Greater Dog – follows Orion into the sky as the predawn darkness gives way to dawn.
Orion and the nearby star Sirius will become visible in the evening by northern winter (or southern summer). But presently the Hunter and the Dog Star lord over the southeastern sky at dawn’s first light.
If you are into the stars and the night sky, I highly recommend getting the Sky Guide App. I wish I had this as a kid. I used to lug my huge telescope around the neighborhood at night. This is much easier! 😀 It is So Cool to see constellations so clearly on your phone! And the Sky Guide automatically adjusts to your viewing direction so you can easily identify stars, planets, constellations and so much more! You can see a demo here.
Must-See Meteor Shower!
Also, if you were not aware, the 2018 Perseid meteor showerpeaks this weekend. The upcoming new moon on August 11 guarantees darker nights, so it’ll be easier to see. The Perseid meteorstend to be bright enough to be seen in suburban skies. Sky Guides are saying the mornings of August 12 and 13 are best for viewing, but August 10 and 11 will be good, too. Check out these tips for watching 2018’s Perseid meteors!
I know this a switch-up from my usual posts about animal behavior, training, and enrichment, but this is no less important. I have discovered that when we allow wonder to permeate our being, this sense of wonder and awe flows into all other areas of our life. When we choose to see life through the eyes of a child, filled with wonder and awe, transformations occur. When we set out to see new sights, our perceptions change. If we are willing to see things differently, we change, as does the world around us.
I hope that you will create space to view the beauty of space with your beloved animal companions. May the nightsky and the bright lights within it remind you of the Light within you and your animal companions.
Blessings to you and your beloveds! And Happy Summertime!
“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” ― Carl Sagan, Cosmos
I leave these powerful words of wisdom with you today:
Touch the earth, love the earth, her plains, her valleys, her hills, and her seas; rest your spirit in her solitary places. For the gifts of life are the earth’s and they are given to all, and they are the songs of birds at daybreak, Orion and the Bear, and the dawn seen over the ocean from the beach.
When the Pleiades and the wind in the grass are no longer a part of the human spirit, a part of very flesh and bone, man becomes, as it were a kind of cosmic outlaw, having neither the completeness and integrity of the animal nor the birthright of a true humanity.
We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion.
We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man.
In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.
They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.
“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.” ― Lauren DeStefano, Wither
Blessings! I hope this find you and yours well.
I am so very, very happy today. The winds of change are blowing. The Autumn Equinox is finally here!
It. Is. Now. Fall. 🍁✨🍂
Here on the west coast we are enjoying a crisp, cool breeze coming off the ocean, with sunny skies hovering around seventy degrees. Although there are no colorful changing leaves denoting Fall is here, I am in heaven. Autumn is my season. Fall makes my heart sing and lights a spark inside of me. No matter where we are living I look forward to Autumn all year long.
If you have been following this blog since it began in 2012 then you know my focus usually surrounds nature and animal companions, but every so often I allow the energy of the season inspire me. The current energy is Autumn, so this is is where we will let the winds blow us today.
Although most of us associate Autumn with cooler weather, dancing fires, cozy snuggles, seasonal drinks, squash, scarecrows, pumpkins, and spice in all slices of life, there is another side to Autumn. -One that permeates the world we live in. It affects us all; plants, animals, and people.
Note: This was written in 2016, so the dates & times of the Equinox have changed.
The Energy of The Equinox Around the World
The Autumnal Equinox arrives precisely at 10:21 a.m. (EST) today (Thursday, September 22). Unlike an event such as New Year’s midnight, a time that follows the clock around the time zones, equinoxes happen at the same moment everywhere all around the world!
“Equinox” comes from the Latin words “equi” meaning “equal” and “nox” meaning “night.” On the Equinox the hours of light and dark are equal. But because of atmospheric refraction the light is bent which makes it appear as if the sun is rising or setting earlier. Technically September 25 marks “equal day and night” -sunrise will be at 6:47 a.m. EDT and sunset at 6:47 p.m. This day is known as the Equilux “Lux” is Latin for “light”. During this time of year the light and dark are now in balance. This time represents a shift in the seasons, and a time where the energy of the Sun and Moon are in complete balance.
The autumnal equinox happens the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator, which is an imaginary line in the sky that corresponds to Earth’s equator. The Old Farmer’s Almanac describes it as a plane of Earth’s equator projected out onto the sphere. Every year this occurs on September 22, 23, or 24 in the northern hemisphere.
There are two equinoxes annually; vernal and autumnal, each marking the beginning of spring and fall. Those in the Northern Hemisphere are now in the season of Autumn. Those in the Southern Hemisphere are in the season of Spring. In the Northern Hemisphere, many tree species are getting ready to shed their leaves; letting go of the old and unnecessary parts of themselves in order to prepare for winter. In the Southern Hemisphere flower buds are beginning to bloom. Greenery is returning after the long winter. Here in the northern hemisphere, from today onward, the days get shorter until the winter solstice arrives in December.
A Bit of Background About Autumn
Long before White Contact spread like wildfire across the “New World” my ancestors had a huge celebration for Autumn. Cherokee and other first nations referred to it as Harvest Time. During the height of harvesting and gathering there were great celebrations of thanks. This included music, song, dance, gifting, and feasting. The celebrations lasted around a week. Sometimes longer. The community had drumming sessions where they honored all walks of life: water, birds, Mother Earth, snakes, wind (willow trees), and rabbits. All of these represent the Equinox. It was a celebration of the “West” -The “direction” of Autumn. They tribe would perform a smudging ceremony to cleanse and purify, and then use sweetgrass to bring in the “sweetness” of community and of the new season.
September also held the corn harvest, which was referred to as “Ripe Corn Festival”. It was customarily held in the early part of the Nut Moon (Duliidsdi) to acknowledge Selu, the spirit of the corn. Selu is thought of as First Woman. This festival respected Mother Earth and gave thanks for providing all foods during the growing season. The “Brush Feast Festival” also customarily takes place in this season. All the fruits and nuts of the bushes and trees of the forest were gathered as this time. Hunting traditionally began in earnest at this time. October was a time of traditional “Harvest Festival” (the Nowatequa) when Cherokee people give thanks to all the living things of the fields and earth that helped them live, and to the “Apportioner”, Unethlana. The Cheno i-equa or “Great Moon” Festival is customarily held at this time.
There are many legends surrounding Autumn. I will share just a few with you. As I mentioned above, Selu, the spirit of corn was honored at this time. She represents the harvest, weather, and growth. The legend states that this Native American corn Goddess planted her very heart so people wouldn’t go hungry. The legend tells that her spirit teaches us how to re-fertilize the earth to bring sustenance to all.
Another legend tells the story of how leaves turned red. A battle was fought by the Deer and the Bear in the land of the sky. The colors in the leaves are a result of the blood of the Bear thrown down from the sky upon the trees in the autumn. You can read the fascinating Wyandot (Huron) Legend: “Why the Leaves Have Many Colors in Autumn” here.Another legend of why the leaves turn red in Autumn can be found in the story, “Chasing the Great Bear.”
According to Greek legend, autumn beings when Persephone returns to Hades in the underworld. Heartbroken, her mother, the goddess of grain and harvest, allows the crops on Earth to die until her daughter returns in the spring. The word “harvest” comes from the Old Norse word haust, which means “to gather or pluck.” As people moved to the cities, “harvest” fell out of use and city dwellers began to use “fall of the leaf,” which was shortened to “fall.”
What’s In The Name?
Etymologists are unsure of the origin of the word “autumn,” though they believe it comes from the ancient Etruscan root autu, which implies a change of season. In this scenario, the Romans then appropriated the term and formed the Latin word autumnus. Americans typically use the word “fall”. The British use the word “autumn”. Both terms date around the 16th century. Before these terms this period was called “harvest.”
The Autumnal Equinox is also called the Fall Equinox, the Second Harvest Festival, Festival of Dionysus, Wine Harvest, Cornucopia, and Winter Finding. Ancient people celebrated each change of the seasons, knowing that nature’s changes outside correspond to inner changes as well. Autumn is now associated with Halloween – a day greatly influenced by Samhain, a sacred Celtic autumn festival.
Autumn’s Effects on Plants and Animals
Humans are not the only ones affected as we shift from Summer to Autumn. Animals and plants respond to the changes in light surrounding the season of autumn. At this time, in response to cooler temperatures and less available light, leaves stop producing chlorophyll. This green pigment assists with capturing sunlight to power photosynthesis. As the green fades the other pigments of the leaves shine through. This why we see orange and yellow carotenoids and vibrant red anthocyanin.
Plant cells produce compounds called phytochromes in response to different portions of the light spectrum. During late fall and early winter, when the sun remains low in the southern sky, the indirect light produces an increase in far-red phytochromes. The ratio of these two compounds mediates the hormones involved in flowering, leaf drop, and bud development. Even seeds below the soil are affected. Even the amount of red and far-red light that penetrate the soil is sufficient to govern germination.
To the untrained eye Autumn appears to solely represent a season of leaves changing, but there is much more happening now. In addition to the energy shift of the season, there are massive ecological changes occurring. Thankfully, attention and enthusiasm for examining the ecological effects of climate change on autumn is rapidly increasing.
Each autumn, many animals experience gonadal recrudescence, or behavior in response to environmental cues (e.g., daylight). Specifically, in early fall, the amount of available daylight, or photoperiod, matches the photoperiod in spring, which triggers mating instincts in animals.
Each autumn, monarch butterflies migrate from the U.S. to Mexico and some parts of Southern California. Monarch butterflies are the only insect that migrates to a warmer climate that is 2,500 miles away. Thanks to the milkweed I brought into our yard we have dozens of Monarchs hatching out of their chrysalises! You can view them in action here.
In autumn the male Siberian hamster’s testes swell up to 17 times bigger than normal to prepare for mating. And every Fall the black-capped chickadee’s tiny hippocampus enlarges by 30%, which enables it to remember where it collected seeds in different spots in trees and on the ground. How cool is that?!?
There is evidence that song birds living near sources of artificial light begin singing to attract mates, as well as laying eggs, earlier in the spring than their counterparts in places that remain dark at night. Migratory birds are a great example. Dark-eyed Junco nesting in northern Canada respond to the shortened days of summer with a series of physical changes: their reproductive organs become inactive. They shrink in size, and hormones stimulate the rapid growth of a new set of feathers (non-breeding plumage), and fat deposits develop to provide fuel for the long migratory flight ahead. So amazing!
Some even say that levels of testosterone in both men and women are at their highest in the fall. Scientists speculate the surge may be a result of ancient mating instincts -the fall “rutting season” or that decreasing daylight somehow triggers it. Who knows. I am not sure we need any more testosterone in the world right now. 😉
Regardless of whether you are a lover of nature, science, energy, or animals, we all have the opportunity to learn so much from Mother Nature as she is beautifully in sync with the natural rhythm of the energetic shifts of the changing seasons.
Ancient Chinese medicine teaches the importance of elements within each season. The season of autumn is associated with the element of Metal, which governs organization, order, communication, the mind, setting limits, and protecting boundaries. This time is a great time to finish projects you began in spring and summer – harvesting the bounty of your hard work! Fall is a time of organizing your life for the winter season ahead and coming more inside your body and mind to reflect on your life.
The lung and large intestine are the internal organs related to Fall and the element of Metal (or air) in both pets and people. Lung is associated with the emotion of “letting go.” Sleep is another important aspect of staying healthy in the Fall. The ancients advised that people should retire early at night and rise with the crowing of the rooster during the autumn. I might have a full-on freak out if I had to rise to the sound of a crowing cock, but you get the idea. They are suggesting we do as many plants and animals do; rise and rest with the sun.
Now matter where we are, or what species we are, the equinox is symbolic of change. We are all connected to each other and to Mother Earth. So when seasonal changes occur in nature, many can feel these changes resonating within. These changes will be reflected in our own vibration and we may find that our energies begin syncing up with that of Mother Earth.
Energy of Autumn
This Autumn equinox will bring about a number of changes around the world in both people and nature. This time of year marks the annual beginning of a series of transformations that take place not only in nature, time, and space, but also within each of us, and our animal companions! We will all experience the autumnal shift in both our conscious and subconscious. For some it will be monumental; for others it will be barely noticeable.
Regardless of how you experience them, the changes are here.
The Equinox comes at a time when the Sun will shift into the energy of Libra. Libra represents a highly creative time where beauty, joy, and aesthetics are highlighted. Libra is also all about partnerships and being able to balance energies. Libra is the sign of balanced scales. As we experience equal day and night there are “balanced scales in the sky” Heaven and Earth. Equality and Balance on many levels.
Libra is recognizing the objective identity of the other person and seeing how they can fit together as a team. Scorpio is seeing into the emotional depths of those they are relating to and seek kindred souls they can bond with. Sagittarius responds to the urge to uplift society and thus the emphasis is on reaching into the loftier realms of religion, philosophy and law. They feel drawn to help raise people’s spirits though helpful deeds, a joyous and trusting nature, and an interest in spirituality, culture and the arts. Thus the Fall Equinox ushers in the Autumn months – a time for reaping what has been sown individually and joining with others as a team to bring in the harvest and enjoy it together!
This Equinox is a reminder that we all change and that transformation is natural and a normal part of life. If the trees resisted the shedding process, they would not be prepared for what is to come. If the flower resisted to bloom, she would never know the fullness of heir own beauty. She would hide from the sun; the light that allows her to grow and bloom.
The Symbolism of Seasons Changing
We have so much to learn from nature, and from the changing of seasons. Animals and nature know how to flow with these winds of change. It’s instinctual. But we humans tend to resist change. But we can learn how to learn from nature.
Release. Clarity. Creativity. Balance. These are the major themes of Autumn this year. This is a time when we can learn to trust that whatever we release is meant to go. We will gain clarity. Whatever we feel called to create will bloom. We are guided to balance all aspects within ourselves and in our lives. As the light and darkness of autumn days become in balance we can become attuned to the dark and the light within ourselves. We can create balance in every aspect of our life.
With the energy of Chrion and the Sun in Libra, we are being guided to remember: regardless of the form we are all one in the same. This energy is helping us to heal cultural and deep-seeded wounds we all have around our connections with “others.” The energy is here now to help us see the truth: Our differences are just an illusion. Deep down, we are all connected; We Are One.
The winds of change are preparing us for what is ahead. Allow the Autumn winds to lift and carry you forward. Harvest what you want to reap. Release what no longer serves. -There is much to embrace and much to let go. As the ancient poet Rumi said, “Life is a balance between holding on and letting go.”
This is Autumn.
May this season bring you and yours all that your heart desires. May the changing of the season inspire you. May you find time to play in nature. Dance with the wind. Embrace the energy of autumn. She has so much to offer us all.🍁🍂 🍁✨🍂
“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love – that makes life and nature harmonize. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”
[Letter to Miss Eliot, Oct. 1, 1841] ― George Eliot
“It is a happy talent to know how to play.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
In our family we make a point to be playful and silly as much as we can. We laugh a lot. And we make time to play. I am also a huge advocate of using play when teaching kids and especially adults. Play is a powerful tool!
Play can lift a person’s mood. Play relaxes everyone in the room, and eases tension any time things get tense. Play is a great way to remember to not be so serious. Play is also great exercise. We all need a lot of playtime in our lives.
People aren’t the only ones who play. Nature plays, too!
Every once in a while, we are fortunate to get a glimpse into the hidden lives of animals in our homes, and in the wild. When this happens we are surprised how much animal species are like us. They love. They protect. And they play.
Every time I think I know enough about a species, I am given another opportunity to learn something new from a new animal teacher, and see life from another’s perspective.
Today my teacher was a wild coyote (Canis latrans).
Check out this new perspective on the importance of play:
Have you ever seen an animal in nature playing like this?
Do you play?
Please share! I would love to hear your favorite play stories!
“Snow falling soundlessly in the middle of the night will always fill my heart with sweet clarity”- Novala Takemoto
I hope you are enjoying a most relaxing weekend. We sure are. This morning I awoke to discover a soft fluttering of snow falling outside our house. Considering the extreme lack of snow we have had in our nation’s capital this year, it was a most welcomed sight!
My heart leapt with joy when I saw the gorgeous details unfolding just outside my window.
The evergreen tree boughs held the falling snowflakes ever so gently, and the grass gladly accepted each falling snowflake as if it were a dear friend helping a loved one settle down to rest. The snow was falling effortlessly. Not one of the snowflakes struggled. Each unique snowflake drifted down with ease and grace. They appeared to be so light and free. I wanted to be those snowflakes!
I stepped outside. The moment I stood there under the gently falling snow my heart was happy. My mind was quiet and at peace. Every time a snowflake landed on my eyelashes and caressed my face I lit up with the joy and laughter of an innocent and playful little girl.
After my giggles and laughter subsided, I felt another sensation. What I noticed almost immediately was the calm, quiet, stillness of what I was witnessing. The world was silent. No cars. No kids. No sirens. Just beautiful silence. It was if the chaos of the world had been put on pause by a giant mute button. I was taken aback by the beauty in that silence. And a part of me longed to experience that forever.
In moments like these, the entire world appears to be completely at rest and in harmony. Experiencing this kind of serene silence, stillness, and peacefulness is when I remember that we all have the power to experience this kind of peace of mind and stillness, no matter what appears to be happening outside of us.
Life gets chaotic. Work and home can get hectic. It can be hard to weather the storms that come straight at us. But we canlearn how get through them all with grace and ease.
Whether we are struggling with finances, health, a relationship or career, or if one of our beloveds is aging or dying, we can still find peace despite the heartache and stress. We can experience moments of deep peace in the middle of one of life’s storms. Animals do this all the time. In fact, it’s one of the most miraculous and beautiful gifts they give us; they know how to find that peace within. They show us how to do this.
We can also go within and find this peace. We can find this peace when we look into the eyes of our beloved animal companions, our children, friends, and life partners. We can find this peace in art, nature, meditation, prayer, and a million other ways. We can find this kind of peace watching the snow fall with grace and ease.
This peace and stillness is always available to every one of us; we just have to choose to experience it.
Where do you find moments of peace? Where and when can you enjoy the silence?
“Thank goodness for the first snow, it was a reminder–no matter how old you became and how much you’d seen, things could still be new if you were willing to believe they still mattered.” ― Candace Bushnell
All things are connected like the blood that unites us. We do not weave the web of life, we are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. – Chief Seattle
I was deeply saddened and angered today when I learned of another senseless and preventable death. His name is Cecil. He was a 13 year young African male lion (Panthera leo). Cecil was a regal male who was breeding and helping to increase Africa’s lion populations. Cecil was -and remains- a symbol of strength, beauty, and courage. Cecil was in the prime of his life just weeks ago.
His body was found decapitated and skinned outside of his preserve earlier this month.
This Was Not an Honorable Death
According the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF), a charity which focuses on the conservation and preservation of wildlife in the southern African country, Cecil was lured from the safety of the private safari across an old railway line, which acts as an invisible boundary, onto hunting lands. It was here where the hunters were waiting to take advantage. They used a goat carcass to bait Cecil onto their land -an all too common and dirty practice seen throughout Africa.
Cecil was then shot with a crossbow in the Gwaai concession about 1,100 yards from the protection of the national park. Cecil did not die immediately; it took two days to track the lion and kill him with a rifle. Cecil was then skinned and his head was removed as a trophy. They left his body there to rot.
Hwange conservation consortium says this hunt was illegal.
Although it is legal to kill Big Game such as lions, giraffe, elephants in some of these areas, the hunters claim they had not realized who this lion was: “It was a magnificent, mature lion,” they said. “We did not know it was well-known lion. I had a licence for my client to shoot a lion with a bow and arrow in the area where it was shot.”
Apparently, there were other irregularities in the hunt which are being investigated, including the fact that in the Gwaai Conservancy no lion hunting quota was issued for 2015, and the GPS collar on Cecil was destroyed by the hunters.
Cecil Was a Part of a Conservation Research Program.
When he was killed, Cecil was wearing a GPS-collar. A team of researchers in Hwange National Park have been conducting an ongoing study on behalf of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford University since 1999. It’s been an ongoing ecological study of African lions in Hwange. They are measuring the impact of sport-hunting beyond the park on the lion population within the park, using radio-telemetry and direct observation. The research they have gathered to date is startling.
34 of 62 tagged lions died during the study period; 24 were shot by sport hunters. These sport hunters killed 72 percent of tagged adult males from the study area. This caused a decline in numbers of adult males in the population.
Conservationists are concerned that by killing Cecil, his death leaves as many as 12 cubs vulnerable to infanticide by male lions who will assume leadership of Cecil’s prides. (Males commonly kill the cubs of ousted pride leaders so that they may sire their offspring with the females they inherit.) Cecil was in coalition with another male lion, Jericho. Between them they had two prides that consisted of six lionesses, and about a dozen cubs.
Cecil’s death is a tragedy, not only because he was a symbol of Zimbabwe, but because now his cubs will die too; a new male won’t allow them to live, to encourage Cecil’s three females to mate. Hunting predators on the boundaries of national parks such as Hwange causes significant disturbance and knock-on effects such as infanticide when new males entered the prides. As a single male, Jericho will be unable to defend the two prides and cubs from new males that invade the territory. This is what we most often see happening in these cases. Infanticide is the most likely outcome.
-Dr. Andrew Loveridge
Cecil the African Lion in Hwange, Zimbabwe
The video below shows Cecil, like many of the species in the area, enjoying life on the preserve with his family.
Footage of Cecil with one of his prides
Lions Are Complex.
A recent study conducted on the socio-spatial behavior of lion population following the perturbation by sport hunting shows that there’s growing evidence that lion populations which are socially disrupted may be more prone to coming into conflict with human communities on the boundaries of protected areas. They believe this is largely because movement patterns become erratic and lions are more likely to leave the park.
“These cats are complex, which is why disturbance of their social system has such far reaching knock-on effects.” – Dr. Loverage
Lions By the Numbers
600 lions are killed by tourists each year.
Lions have vanished from over 80% of their historic range.
Lions are listed as “Vulnerable” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
In West and Central Africa, the species is now classified as Endangered.
Lions exist today in 29 countries, including 28 countries in Africa and 1 country in Asia.
Illegal killing, relentless habitat loss, and over hunting of wild prey by humans have left lions precariously close to extinction.
Kenya loses 100 of its 2,000 wild lions every year due to killing by humans.
At this rate, lion experts believe there will be no wild lions left in Kenya by 2030.
100 years ago there were 200,000 lions living in the wild in Africa. Today there are fewer than 30,000.
Lions are extinct in 26 countries.
The premature death of this lion highlights a sobering reality: lion populations are in catastrophic decline across Africa. A century ago, more than 200,000 lions roamed the continent; yet recent surveys estimate that in the last two decades alone, lion numbers have decreased from approximately 30,000 to around 20,000. –Panthera
Lions have slipped under the conservation radar for too long. If we do not act now, lions will find themselves in the same dire predicament as their Asian counterpart, the tiger. – Dr. Guy Balme, Panthera’s Leopard Program Director
Below are recent statements from sport hunters and conservationists in the area where Cecil resided.
“Zimbabwe Parks Wildlife Management Authority, are currently still conducting an investigation on the legalities of the hunt that took place and for which they are the appropriate authority to do so. We therefore can not and will not comment on the legal aspect, whilst this investigation is ongoing. ZPHGA are working together with ZPWMA and Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe (SOAZ). ZPHGA confirms the Professional Hunter in charge of the Safari is a member of ZPHGA. Therefore ZPHGA can make a ruling on the aspect of ethics and his membership at this time. ZPHGA in the follow up of the investigation concludes that in regarding the responsibility of his membership, the PH was is in violation of the ethics of ZPHGA. ZPHGA therefore with immediate effect, suspend his membership indefinitely. The professional hunter and company he works for have been co-operative in the investigation. ZPHGA re-iterates it will not tolerate any illegal hunting or any unethical practices by any of its members and their staff. ZPHGA will await the completion of the current investigation by ZPWMA before commenting any further. We ask all members of ZPHGA, as well as the general public, to please respect the ongoing investigation underway by the appropriate authorities ZPWMA.”
Bhejane TrustJuly 23 at 1:58am · An update on the killing of Cecil, the famed Hwange lion.
“The PH, Theo Bronkhurst, and the concession “owner”, one Honest Mpofu, were arrested and appeared in Hwange Magistrate court on the charge of illegally killing a lion. According to sources, there was no permit for lion on their hunt, and the concession area (Antionette) does not have any lion on quota. They have been remanded out of custody until August 6th. so Parks can continue their investigations. Cecil was shot at night, no doubt after being blinded with a spotlight, undoubtedly over a bait which would have been dragged along the Parks boundary (supposedly for a leopard!) – indicative of the poor ethics and the poor quality hunter that we see too often these days. Undoubtedly, the PH intended to do a “quota transfer” where Cecil would have been recorded as shot in another area which had a quota and permit – the satellite collar blew the plan ( although Bronkhurst apparently tried to destroy the collar and all evidence of the dead Cecil). Had this lion not been collared, Bronkhurst probably would have got away with this crime, and I very much doubt this is the first dodgy episode in his hunting career. Lets hope that corruption does not prevail and the full force of the law falls on both these characters – we do not need these types operating in Zimbabwe.”
“Theo Bronchorst, a professional hunter with Bushman Safaris is facing criminal charges (VIC FALLS Police CR 27/07/2015) for allegedly killing a collared lion on Antoinette farm in Gwayi Conservancy, Hwange district on 1 July 2015. The lion named ‘Cecil’ was well known and regularly sighted by tourists in the Main camp area of Hwange National Park. It is alleged that the hunter connived with the Antoinette land owner, Mr. Honest Trymore Ndlovu to kill the lion. Ongoing investigations to date, suggest that the killing of the lion was illegal since the land owner was not allocated a lion on his hunting quota for 2015. Therefore, all persons implicated in this case are due to appear in court facing poaching charges. Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management as the Regulatory Authority and custodian of all wild animals in Zimbabwe issues hunting permits and hunting quota for all hunting areas in Zimbabwe so that only animals on quota are to be hunted. In this case, both the professional hunter and land owner had no permit or quota to justify the offtake of the lion and therefore are liable for the illegal hunt. Both professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst’s licence number 553 who was involved in the hunt and the owner of Antoinette farm, Mr. Honest Trymore Ndlovu are being jointly charged for illegally hunting the lion. The two are due to appear in court on Wednesday, 29 July 2015. Efforts are being made to interview the other professional hunter, Zane Bronkhorst, licence number 558, who was also involved in the illegal hunt. The Professional Hunter Theo Bronkhosrt’s Licence has been suspended with immediate effect. The lion trophy has also been confiscated. The relevant stakeholders have been informed and are being updated about this matter.”
Cecil Is Not the Exception.
The premeditated killing of Cecil is tragic and heartbreaking. People all around the world are in shock. But be aware, friends: This situation is not the exception, but rather the rule all around the world. American hunters kill hundreds of African lions each year. – 600 in fact. That’s almost 2 per day. Poaching, sport hunting, illegal animal trade, and everything between happens every day. Most people don’t know about it until a story like Cecil’s strikes a deep nerve.
The loss of Cecil is absolutely reprehensible, and sadly, this case is not an anomaly. Many people around the world are unaware that what happened to this lion is happening all over Africa, dozens of times a day. Illegal killing of lions is a real threat to the species’ survival. If we are to save the lion, the international community must come together, as it has in support of Cecil, to fund conservation initiatives that are mitigating the species’ greatest threats. -Panthera’s President, Dr. Luke Hunter
We are all outraged today because an iconic animal and protected species was lured out of his sanctuary and murdered for sport, but this kind of business has been, and continues to happen in every country in the world. And what’s really happening is a much greater problem than we are willing to recognize and admit. Killing for sport, trophies, profit, and fun is happening within younger generations. We are even seeing young girls being encouraged to hunt and kill for the thrill of taking life.
Cecil’s story has gone viral within hours, but there are countless other species whose lives have ended for much less profit; species far less iconic and less “attractive” than Cecil. Whether it’s critically endangered species such as the Blue Iguana, Pangolin, or Northern white rhino, people are treating all species as if their lives don’t matter.
The team of hunters who killed Cecil are going to be prosecuted, but honestly, I am not focused on blaming this guy and his hunting team in particular, because there are a thousand more rich Americans who are willing to do what he did, and they do it legally every day. In fact, while we all mourned Cecil’s death, 5 of Kenya’s endangered elephants were killed. This is insanity to me.
I have to ask, Where is the disconnect?
When did honor and dignity of life become so undervalued?
How did we become so disconnected from the other lives with whom we share this planet?
How are so many of us behaving unconsciously?
Where is the compassion and connection?
May Cecil’s Death Shed Light On Our Darkness …. and Our Ability to Love.
Conservationists are heavily involved in working to stop this illegal (and legal) activity. These people and organizations are incredibly passionate and dedicated, but they have their work cut out for them. I know because I have been involved with various conservation projects for decades. In the process I have witnessed incredible people doing amazing things to save species and conserve lands, but I have also witnessed more ugliness, greed, disdain, complacency, and tragedies than I care to recall.
Along the way I learned something: When we are disconnected from ourselves, each other, and the world that surrounds us, people can easily do what we have witnessed with Cecil.
Understanding this fact has helped me to rise above the disgust, anger, and judgement that I initially feel.When I see blatant disregard and respect for life I am urged to look at the situation from a broader perspective.
Once I get the anger and sadness out, I am free to be able to ask, What can be learned from this? How can we grow from this? How can we guide and inspire others to respect all life? It’s not enough to be angry and judge “the people who did this”, or merely want things to change. We have to do more.
Change Begins with Each of Us.
If you want to see change, look within. Once we look within and are honest with ourselves we are better equipped to make a real difference out there in the world. This current situation with beloved Cecil is an opportunity for that.
If we want to end this kind of heartless and disconnected behavior around the world, we must ask ourselves tough questions:
What are we looking away from that needs to be discussed?
Are we idly sitting by and allowing this to happen?
Where can we take productive and meaningful action?
Have I done something like this to another species?
How can we remove the hate and prejudices that blind us?
Am I withholding love to anyone or any form of life?
Have I taken any specie’s life without forethought?
Am I disconnected from others?
Am I disconnected and from nature?
How can we maintain and enhance our connection to all life?
How can I become more connected?
How can we remove judgement and blame and find solutions?
How can we infuse Love into situations like these?
How can we do our part to protect species and the Earth?
How can we encourage children to appreciate all people and all species of life?
What are we teaching our children?
Before we judge anything outside of us, before we throw hate, anger, and blame at others, we must look within.
Cecil’s death has inspired millions of people to see things from a different perspective, and to take action around the ongoing global issue of animal abuse. His death has shined light on how disconnected so many are from our fellow travelers on planet Earth. Cecil, thank you for bringing awe, joy, and awareness into countless people’s lives while you were here with us. Thank you for the lessons that you continue to teach us. May your soul be at peace. May the circumstances of your death be the catalyst for change. May all nations learn from this. May one day, we all see every living being as our kin.
I see a world in the future in which we understand that all life is related to us and we treat that life with great humility and respect. -David Suzuki