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.  

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Lost Species Day: Steller's Sea Cow

November 30 is Lost Species Day.

Steller’s sea cow, a cold water relative of the manatee and dugong, was unknown to modern people until 1741. At that time, the crew of Vitus Bering’s ship, the Sv. Piotr was ship-wrecked off the coast of Kamchatka, where the last remaining herds of these mammals lived. Through overhunting, Steller’s sea cow went extinct thirty years later.

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Mammals and Elements: Air and Water

 Air:
Without air, there would be no life. Air is the essence of life. On Venus, the gasses are too inhospitable for life as we know it. The gas giants of Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus have liquid nitrogen for an atmosphere, and are considered to be lifeless. Only Earth and Mars which have atmospheres seem to be capable of sustaining life. As an atmosphere, air keeps the heat in, and converts water gasses into liquid. This enables life to flourish. As the wind blows the seeds to the ready earth, so it also brings rain clouds to dry areas.

 Grey Squirrel
Agile and alert, the grey squirrel remains active throughout the year. Chattering on tree branches, she amuses people who watch her antics. What people do not know is that the grey squirrel was a creature of the virgin forests of North America. She is one of the few mammals who adapted to cities. In winter, the grey squirrel eats tree bark and nuts that she stored in the fall. She locates these stored nuts by smell. Any acorns that the grey squirrel does not find will grow into trees for future squirrel homes. She is at home in the trees.

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Earth and Fire Elements: MAMMALS

Earth Element:
With its bounty, the land sustains life. The plants and trees that grow on the earth nourish us and replenish our air. The earth provides the structure by giving us a firm foundation for our lives. The rocks are the bones that we build our homes on.

Brown Bear:
Brown bears are one of the oldest recorded totemic beings. Ancient legends tell of people sharing caves with bears. (People were contemporaries of cave bears (Ursus speleus) in Eurasia.) Early people often sought permission from the elders and from the bears themselves, before hunting a bear. Brown bears are powerful shamanic beings that connect people with Mother Earth through their caves.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Virginia Carper
    Virginia Carper says #
    Thanks for both. Interesting about Finnish Bear beliefs. The bear seems to be an universal animal for many cultures. The Ainu of
  • Meredith Everwhite
    Meredith Everwhite says #
    Fun fact, the specific term for bear worship is "arctolatry", which literally means just that. Came across it recently in my resea
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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