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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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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The Giant Squid: The Repository of Our Fears

Before the giant squid was officially discovered in 2004, She was known as a sailor’s nightmare. For centuries, mariners whispered of a tentacled horror rising from the deeps. No one knew when a tentacle would suddenly wrap itself around a hapless ship and pull everyone down into the briny darkness.

Before Japanese oceanographers photographed a giant squid, the proof of her existence were shapeless blobs that washed up on beaches. Occasionally, people would find squid beaks in the stomachs of sperm whales. Others did notice the scars on sperm whales, where a giant squid must have grabbed them with hooked tentacles.

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CRYPTIDS (UNKNOWN ANIMALS): Humility

Animals that are rumored to exist such as the Yeti and the Loch Ness Monster are called Cryptids. These animals differ from Mythic Animals since they do exist in the here and now. (Being more supernatural, Mythic Animals have magical attributes, which Cryptids do not.) Once believed to be figments of people’s imaginations, the giant squid and coelacanth have been found in the world’s oceans. Cryptids can be thought of as elusive and unidentified animals waiting official recognition.

Cryptozoologists (scientists who study cryptids) will generally divide the animals into several descriptive groupings. There are animals, which are unlike any known species, such as the Thetis Lake Monster (British Columbia), a bipedal water creature with silver scales. Extinct animals which are often sighted like Pterosaurs or Giant Ground Sloths (Mapinguari of Brazil) are in another group. (Coelacanth was included in this group.) Animals that are not found in their usual ranges such as such as the Giant Kangaroos of North America and British Big Cats make up the third group. These would be a breeding population of kangaroos outside of Australia or pumas from North America that are consistently sighted in the United Kingdom. The last group comprises of animals who are unlike those of their own species. A notable example is the Kellas Cat, an intraspecific hybrid between the domestic cat and the Scottish wildcat.

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    I'm curious enough to attend the International Bigfoot Conference. https://www.internationalbigfootconference.com/

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Extinct Animals: Embrace Life

 The grouping of Extinct Animals includes Other Hominins (e.g. Neanderthals), the Dinosaurs, the Remotely Extinct (e.g. Trilobites), and the Recently Extinct (e.g. Stellar’s Sea Cow). (Each sub-group relates to humans differently.) Many of these animals have shown how life started, and how it has continued through mass extinctions. The Recently Extinct animals demonstrate the end of life, and how they are still a part of those living today. Living in the place between reality and imagination, the Extinct Animals have taught me that life endures.

 The Remotely Extinct have survived mass extinctions. Moreover, during the Great Dying of the Permian Era, about ninety percent of all life went extinct. The Ancestors of all beings today are the ten percent who managed to survive the “Time of Hell on Earth,” which occurred 250 million years ago. As generalists, the Remotely Animals were flexible, possessed sheer stubbornness, and had good luck. From them, I learned that extinction happens, but as long as we are flexible, we can transform ourselves.

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Cryolophosaurus: Use Your Imagination

In 1991, the first dinosaur to be found in Antarctica was Cryolophosaurus. This opened up a new continent to dinosaur discoveries. Named for the geologist David Elliot, who first excavated this dinosaur, Cryolophosaurus’ full taxonomic name became “Cryolophosaurus elliotti.” In 1994, He became the first Antarctic dinosaur to be named. This dinosaur’s name means “frozen crest lizard.”

 Life in the Antarctic during the early Jurassic was much different than today. At that time, Antarctica was further north and closer to the equator. Also, the warm Jurassic oceans allowed for plant and animal life to flourish there. However, there were still long periods without a sunrise. This continent was also cooler than other places. Not many large dinosaurs of the Jurassic could tolerate either condition very well. Medium sized Cryolophosaurus did and thrived. This meat-eater had little completion for the Pterosaurs and Prosauropods that He hunted.

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Megalosaurus: The Door to New Worlds

The first dinosaur ever to be named was Megalosaurus. The first fossil to be “officially” discovered (England, 1676), Megalosaurus was believed to be a giant human. As the first dinosaur to be drawn, her thigh fossil was depicted as a piece of male anatomy by Robert Plot. This prompted Dr. Richard Brookes to name it “scrotum humanum” in 1763.

Meanwhile, Reverend William Buckland had different ideas about Megalosaurus. An avid fossil collector, Rev. Buckland realized that the bones he possessed were instead from an ancient animal. After reviewing Buckland’s collection, Baron George Cuvier said that the fossils were of a giant lizard creature. (Cuvier was the first scientist to realize that extinction occurs.) In 1824, Rev. Buckland wrote a scientific paper and named this “lizard,” Megalosaurus, which means “great lizard.”

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MOUSE FAMILY: Examine Life’s Lessons

Mice have taken up residence in my kitchen. The old building that I live in is a haven for snakes and mice with my kitchen being a thoroughfare. Of course, I wondered what message the mice have to tell me. 

Mice are natural archivists. Besides storing seeds, they carefully line their nests with grasses. Using the materials at hand, their nest becomes a time capsule of their home area. In cities, mice nests are treasure troves for archeologists. These nests contain bits and pieces of paper, buttons, and other historical objects.

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