Animal Speak- the Cow

animal-bovine-cattle-cow-cows-dairy-farm-farmingYou may be surprised to see an animal as common as the Cow for a Totem animal. But as your foundation, you could not ask for anything more solid. Her direct associations with motherhood, receptive energy, the Goddess, affiliation with lunar energy, and the bounty of sustenance provide a foundation stronger than that poured with concrete reinforced with rebar.

Cow has been revered by many cultures throughout the ages. In both her feminine (Cow) and masculine (Bull) forms Cow has been venerated and worshiped. Cow provides us with much without having to sacrifice herself in the process. From her udders come the nutrients that have fed much of mankind since he began to settle and become an agricultural being rather than a hunter gatherer. Cow sustains us with her rich, creamy milk. From that milk we create a wide variety of foods – milk, cream, sour cream, cream cheese, cheese, butter, whipping cream, so much richness does Cow willingly give.

beef-alp-wide-switzerland-schwyz-fronalpstockCow features strongly in the history of the Celtic peoples. From the udder came the milk, butter and cheeses that were much a part of daily fare. Some bulls were kept for breeding while others were castrated and, as oxen, put to use hauling loads, carts, and turning grinding wheels. When a cow was slaughtered nothing went to waste. The hair was long enough to be spun into rough cloth. The skin was tanned into leather for myriad uses. The meat was eaten, salted, and stored. The hooves were boiled into glue. The blood was used to create food, puddings, and medicines. The bones became tools and decorative items, handles and spades. Sinew was stripped to be used for sewing, tying and binding. Even the stomach, brain and tongue were considered delicacies at some point. The horns became drinking vessels and storage containers. Even the fat was used in the making of tallow candles.

cow-bovine-rare-breed-coloredCows have been a measure of the wealth of a man from sub-Saharan Africa to the ranches of Australia; from the quaint rural farms of rural England to the large spreads of the American west; from the vast expanses of the Canadian Plains, to the wide stretches of China, the number of livestock one owns is still a measure of wealth. The history of the American west is rife with stories of cattle drives that went hundreds of miles to the advancing rail roads.

More evidence of the receptiveness of Cow Totem energy is easily seen in the color associations. Cows come in essentially three colors – white, black and red. These three colors are also associated with the three manifestations of the Goddess: white for the Virgin; red for the Mother; and black for the Crone. Cow Totem is strong in her abundance at whatever age.

longhorn-cattle-cow-steer-farmIt is to the symbolic significance of Cow that one must look to understand the ancient Scottish tradition of “lifting.” Many stories are still told around family gatherings of the great days of the clans, before the industrial revolution and the light bulb. The Scots have always prided themselves on their independence, on their self-sufficiency, and their traditions. “Lifting” was a mark of pride among many of the clans. Many times the same poor animal was hustled back and forth across clan boundaries in a running game of skill, nerve and derring-do. Most families have an ancestor that stole a cow out of a pasture that was guarded and the cow belled…a difficult feat to say the least! But one of which a Scotsman, who prided himself in skill and stealth, could indulge himself to show that he still had the right stuff.

milk-cow-cow-austria-mountains-graze-dairy-cowsThe Scots were not the only ones adept at “lifting” Cow energy. The Brigantes were a tribe who lived in North England. Brighid was their Goddess and was the most commonly worshiped female deity in Ireland. When Christianity crossed the channel and reached the British Isle, the priests quickly made use of the local pagan festivals and gods and goddesses to help convert the pagans. The Romans were great at absorbing cultures into the Glory that was Rome. They did this by “lifting” the pagan holidays and the gods and goddesses of the locals and turning them into Christian symbols. Brighid, the Brigantes’ Goddess became the Christian St. Bridget. Lore surrounding this “lifted” Goddess is that she was reared on the milk of a cow from beyond the veil and she took the cow as her personal totem.

Although we don’t see it as well now, there was a time when man would look up to the sky and what we call the Milky Way was a swath of soft creamy white haze across the night. When you get out away from the city lights look up to the sky and you can see why we call it the “Milky” Way. Some peoples called it the “Cow’s Path.” It is interesting to note that the names for what appears to be the largest feature in the night sky are related to the Cow, this shows the significance and importance of Cow Energy.

two_brown_cows-396x600Cow’s milk is the ultimate sustenance. By way of spirituality it does not harm the cow to produce the milk. Milk, representative of satisfaction and satiation (just watch a cat licking the cream or milk from their lips after receiving the white liquid treat), can nourish even the youngest of children, of a variety of species. Cow is normally docile, gentle and content to chew her cud. She does not hurry overly much. Cow can be skittish, but normally she is well content to just amble on her way. One can even drive through a herd of over 300 with dogs in the car without really fazing the cows much. It is far more nerve-wracking on the driver of the car. The cowboys moving the herd were amused when one of the cows showed us just how unmoved she was by our presence by using our car as her “proverbial” flat rock to relieve herself on.

Cow bestows her Totem on those she cares for. Her energy is that of bountifulness, nourishment, nurturing and satiation. Cow nurtures her young. In the herd setting it is not unusual to see several calves gamboling and playing under the watchful eye of one of the mothers. The cows chew and amble along slowly while watching the calves jump and play with the exuberance of their youth. Cow knows how to enjoy the bounty of her pasture. Through the bounty of her granting you her Totem you need only to look to her to find your foundation.

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A Walk Through the Runes, Part I

Here we begin our exploration of this ancient alphabet with the Runes Uruz, Othila, Ansuz, Gebo, and Mannaz.

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A walk through the Runes, video series intro.

The first in a series of videos from Love Dr Nikki at, sharing her knowledge of the Rune system of divination! Enjoy!

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The Runes of the Elder Futhark

fotolia_199755-337x213 Runes are an old and long recognized writing system, far more than most people believe. While most people think Viking or, thanks to Tolkein, Elf, or Hobbit when they hear the word “Rune,” the history is actually older and far more involved than that. Now
lost to the pages of history, the origin of the rune is still unknown. Believed to have begun before the Christian era and having been a transmutation from the Iron Age pictographs to a phonetic representation. Those who follow the Viking Mythology believe that Odin was given the gift of the Runes after hanging suspended upside down from the World Tree Yggdrasil for a period of nine days. It was after receiving the Runes that he was finally able to come down from the tree. In the 13th Century Saga of Eric The Red there is an indication of the status and value of the Rune casters held in the Teuton and Viking cultures. The description from the saga of a contemporary Rune Mistress (yes, women could and did hold the power of the Runes):

“She wore a cloak set with stones along the hem. Around her neck and covering her head she wore a hood lined with white cat skins. In one hand, she carried a staff with a knob on the end and at her belt, holding together her long dress, hung a charm pouch.”

The unique clothing description shows the level of honor and prestige the Rune Mistress or Master held in the culture. In many of the older religious belief systems everything is alive. From the twigs and smallest pebbles to the mountains and the skies above, they were from and of the earth and thus sacred.This relationship to the sacredness of earth energy is still seen in the modern use of Rune Stones as an oracle device. The Runes as an oracle goes back to pre-historic times. Runes were always carved into something that was “of the earth” such as stone, hardwood, leather, or metal. The runes were either carved or painted onto the items. Some runes have been colored with paint in which one of the components was human blood. These runes were considered to hold an even higher power and the words they represented were even more important because they were bound by blood to the stone. Called runemal, the Runemaster (or mistress) would shake their pouch and scatter the runes (made from whatever media, normally made by the Runemaster themselves to grant the personal power to the runes). Those which landed right side up were read as auguries of the future. In 98A.D, the Roman historian Tacitus gives us the best description of the prevalence of casting in Chapter X of his Germanica:

“To divination and casting of lots they pay attention beyond any other people. Their method of casting lots is a simple one: they cut a branch from a fruit-bearing tree and divide it into small pieces which they mark with certain distinctive signs (notae) and scatter at random onto a white cloth. Then, the priest of the community, if the lots are consulted publicly, or the father of the family, if it is done privately, after invoking the gods and with eyes raised to heaven, picks up three pieces, one at a time, and interprets them according to the signs previously marked upon them.”

The Runes by this time were already developing a consistency on the European Continent. They were carried from place to place on the ancient trade routes, many warriors had them as part of their packs as they carried their weapons to the wars of the dark age. It is believed that by the time of Tacitus’ quote that the Runes were more than just squiggles on a stick. They were a recognized written language understood by those who had been educated in it.

Through the centuries the Futhark (the name for the runic alphabet…this is based on the first six runes) has evolved. The Anglo-Saxon alphabets expanded on the Runes and had as many as 33 letters in Britain. However, it is the ancient Futhark, the elder stones, that are used for divinatory purposes. These were more common among the Germanic tribes. The twenty-four runes are broken down into three groups of eight and are named for gods from the Norse Pantheon. The first eight futhark are attributed to Freyr, the second eight to Hagal, and the third eight to Tyr.

Somewhere through the history of time, probably much later, the final Rune was added. This Rune is called the Blank Rune. Many represent this rune as being indicative of the emptiness or that the Runes are declining to answer. The Blank Rune is called “Odin’s Rune” and is emblematic of the endless possibilities of the Universe.

What are called “Rune Stones” today are actually a misnomer. Rune Stones truly do exist. There are standing stones which still contain their markings across the paths of the northern explorers. Rune stones were larger stones (some weighing multiple tons, some twenty pounds) which were inscribed with runes to mark boundaries, commemorate that “on this battlefield Sven of the long axe went berserk and killed twenty of the enemy – Hail Sven, sword arm of Lungar,” or to put the magic of the runes to work to bind a contract or treaty.

Today Runes are used by many for simple self-introspection, to look ahead, or just as a way to learn how to read an ancient language! Many of the sagas of the ancient tribes exist today, but only in their original languages. Many scholars and history buffs are learning to read the runes to enable them to peer into the depths of history. There are those, however, who take the time to truly go within and learn the information about themselves and the world around them, reconnect with the energies and can become true practitioners of runemal. Dr. Nikki is just such a person as she has been using the Runes for nearly twenty

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Animal Speak- the Otter

riesen-otter-mammal-swim-furThose who have had the opportunity to watch an Otter at play can well understand the traditions who associate Otters with happiness, joyfulness and innocent play. Long associated with female energies and home and hearth, the Otter as a Totem reminds you to delve into the fun side of life. Those with Otter Totem do well at using humor to dispel tense situations. Otter calls out to you to get off the couch and back in to life.

Known throughout folklore and now confirmed through research, the Otter has been revered as a special animal. It’s sleek body, fine fur, and sense of fun can easily and quickly turn a snow bank on the side of a pond into a fantastic slide to the water. It was believed by some Celtic tribes that a Warrior wore the skin of an otter was invincible and could not be hurt. The Otter is another of nature’s kind who mates for life. Very protective of their family, the Otter normally builds its home near water. Rarely on land during the summer months Otters are adept in the water environment.

otter-zoo-rhino-life-togetherSymbolic of Spring and Summer, the bounty and joy of life, Otter is a strong totem. Steadfast, caring, and joyful Otter reminds us to remember to keep fun in our life.

The ancient tales of Celtic Underworld, the Immramms includes The Voyage of Maelduin. During his voyage in the otherworld Maelduin and his fellow travelers land upon the Island of Otters. This was the thirty-second island of their travels. The island is shaped like a bird. Careful to observe hospitality, Maelduin and his men asked the sole inhabitant, a man clothed in his own hair who was making protestations on a rock, if they could walk upon the island. They also demanded to know who he was.

The old man had been a cook on Tory Island. He confessed his transgressions to them. He had been a thief and stole from the church. While cheating in yet another way – attempting to bury a sinful man in a grave placed over the resting place of a holy man, he was terrified upon hearing the voice of the holy man. The ghostly voice promised hell fire and damnation for eternity if he did not stop, but if he did stop what he was doing the gates of Heaven would open to allow him entry. Scared but scoffing the cook demanded proof. As the grave began to fill in all by itself his proof was undeniably delivered.

otter-animal-wild-wildlife-european-otter-closeupTaking his treasures the cook ran to the sea, hoping that the he could run far away with his ill gotten-gains. In the strong winds his boat (traditionally a curragh, a small roundish boat made of animal hides) was taken from him and he struggled among the waves. In the winds a ghostly image appeared by him. The image was that of the holy man. The specter told him to release his pilfered booty. The cook, terrified, dropped it immediately into the depths.

He came to this barren rock and through the generosity and caring of the otters on the island he was well fed from the salmon they provided him. Through the caring of the otters of the island the man wanted for nothing and was content. Maelduin and his men received the same type of treatment from the helpful sharing otters. Before the group departed, the cook told Maelduin that he would reach his destination, accomplish the quest of finding his father’s killer, but that he should forgive the murderer. For Maelduin, the forgiveness of his father’s killer is the personal choice that allows for him to return to his beloved Ireland.

mammal-carnivore-fish-freshwater-lying-grass-otterThrough this Celtic tale we can learn much about the Otter and the guidance Otter gives as a Totem. First, both the cook and Maelduin have to give up something precious (the cook his booty; Maelduin his hatred for his father’s murderer). Both the old man and Maelduin’s journeys started selfishly. Through going within themselves they both have found an inner peace that can be reached and appreciated at will. Through the Cook and Maelduin we learn how the otters are a helpmate for man.

Folklore abounds of Otter Kings. Mainly brown, exceptionally large, and capable of speech and much more, Otter Kings hold high position in many tales and fables. They are known for being ferocious fighters when defending their “towns” and legend has it they can only be killed if the small white star under their chin is hit true. The tales of Otter Kings may be grounded back in history in the fact that following the birth of her new pups, the female chases the male out of the den. Daddy is not allowed to return until the young are old enough to get out and about and learn about the world.

Long associated with female energy the Otter as a Totem calls strongly to the receptive energy in all of us. Water is the element in which Otter swims faster than the fish, darts and dashes in a bewilderingly graceful path through the liquid realm. When not in the water the Otter is strong upon the land. Although more interested normally in making a new mud slide to play on, Otter never looses sight of the joy of life.

clawed-otter-short-marten-endangered-species-prey-1As Otter slips easily between the world of life on land and life in the water, Otter is an excellent totem for those who work with spirit. Otter helps to keep you grounded. Otter’s play is sheer joy and exuberance. Yet, they are some of the best and most tenacious mother’s of the animal world. Otter teaches us to find joy in helping others. Otter knows that the work she puts in to making the slide to the water will bring rewards far beyond that of her thrill of the ride.

Associated with the Mother Goddess Ceridwen, Otter energy is strong and definitely feminine. Receptive, the Otter has learned how to use currents of water to help propel them through the liquid realm. On the earth they are strong and fierce, although preferring to avoid confrontation.

Those with Otter as their totem are often recognized as givers in their family or community. The otter is symbolized with the traits of service, charity and helpfulness; of caring, tenderness and dedication; of knowing when to take joy in even the smallest of things in life. Otter totem always reminds you to make sure you take time to play, laugh, and enjoy. Whether you are a man or a woman, as a carrier of Otter Totem, you know that by “letting go and letting it happen” (after you’ve properly set the appropriate groundwork in place) what you need will come to you. Dance in a puddle, sneak in a ride down the slide at the park. While you strive to achieve your higher goals, don’t disconnect from the mortal world and what is fun and enjoyable.

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Animal Speak- the Bear

bear-animal-british-columbia-canada-natureThe primal energy of Bear is a powerful Totem. During the days of western expansion and settlement, stories of the great grizzly bear that lived in the mountains of the west abounded. Movies have shown this ancient being as sinner and savior, devourer and protector. The bear is one of the oldest of animals. Cave drawings and ceremonial skulls show how early man venerated the great animal. Due to it’s physiology, the birthing process of a bear was long held to be magical. It was believed that the cub was born as a shapeless mass within the hibernation cave or chamber, and during the long nights of the winter cold the mother licks the cub into shape. It has only been until recently that the full process was understood. Even now, with our modern technology it can be weeks to months following the birth of a bear before the sex is known. Many a frustrated zookeeper can tell stories of how long they had to wait to be able to actually see the cub.

Bear is primal power. Associated with the North, even the stars hold evidence of our ancestor’s reverence for the power of this great animal. The constellations of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor show the bear as she ambles across the skies. The seven stars contained in Ursa Major have links to the seven great rays of the Divine. Bear guides us to the North Star. In high places and simple pleasures bear shows us the joy of life.

polar-bear-swimming-water-diver-white-blue-clearIn some places Neanderthal man venerated the great bear. In Switzerland caches of bear bones indicating sacred ceremonies or rites were found and dated as early as 65,000 years ago. The Lascaux caves in France, nearly 20,000 years old, also show the bear in a ceremonial state. The headless model of a bear awaits the “crown” of head and fur. In Neolithic age sites in Northern Britain jet amulets in the shape of bears have been found. In an Iron Age burial a chieftain was laid on a bear skin to spend eternity.

Some scholars believe that Bear was the first totem animal. With Neanderthal and Early Modern Man living in caves, a meeting with the cave bear was inevitable. Bear was the closest to man in many ways. Bear ate many different foods- the fish of the waters, the bugs and worms of the earth, the flowers and berries and nuts of the plants, and the meat of the animals that walk upon the earth. Contrary to popular belief, Bear is not truly a raging carnivore. Instead Bear is more of an opportunistic feeder, enjoying the bounty it finds by following the guide of its sensitive nose.

grizzly-bear-dangerous-animal-wild-life-canadaBear is the survivor. The grizzly, hunted nearly to extinction in the American west is making a come back. Along the Rocky Mountain corridor the Grizzly is seen more and more frequently. Even David Letterman can’t escape the power of Bear energy…his Montana cabin was broken into by a bear. Throughout their active period the news media is full of articles and vignettes of bears interacting too closely with humans. With a disappearing natural habitat, the Bear finds sustenance how and where it can. A true omnivore of the first order it will eat anything. Normally though, Bear doesn’t become problem to man unless there is a reason. Bears become conditioned to finding food around humans.

Bear is primal power personified. Her name is used as the base root of the “berserker” warrior. “Ber-serker” can literally be translated as “Bear Warrior.” Various parts of the bear’s physical body have been used for medicinal or spiritual purposes. The teeth were thought to be potent charms of power and protection. Eastern medicine used many parts of the bear for healing purposes.

bear-cub-animal-tree-young-garden-summerWhether the white bear of the frozen places, the massive Polar Bear, China’s mysterious and beautiful two-toned Panda, the Kodiak Brown Bear, or a Grizzly, the Bear walks the continents with primal force and power. Independent and normally living a solitary life except when mating or rearing young, bear has long been worshiped by man.

Artio was the Bear Goddess, the Primal Mother. With her is Artaios, the Bear God, mighty warrior Arthur, the Pole Star of Ursa Major. The Bear’s connection with sovereignty is obvious in the name association. Nearly everyone has heard of the Once and Future King Arthur who ruled over Camelot. Celtic heroes paid each other the highest of compliments when they called one an “Ar an neart,” which is translated as a bear in vigor.

grizzly-grizzly-bear-bear-baer-bears-canadaBear’s time as a totem seems to be as old as mankind itself. With her feminine energy, primal power, connection with the seven rays of the divine, and her reputation as the perfect mother Bear’s connection to the North calls us to go into the night. In many cultures Bear is the keeper of the dream time. It is through the association with Bear in her Cave that you can go within and find your higher self, your primary self.

In alchemy the bear is the symbol for the primary state of matter. Even the biblical David did battle with a bear. Although seen as cruel punishment now, medieval and renaissance man found bear baiting to be a viable entertainment. Some origination stories are focused on the bear – for both the Ainu of northern Japan and the Algonquin Indians cherished the bear as an ancestral figure.

From the time before memories man has walked with Bear by his side. For courage, strength, maternal instinct, care for women during childbirth, maternal instincts and motherhood, to light his way across the northern skies, to warm his body, and to challenge his soul; man has looked to Bear across the millennia.

bear-braubbaer-grizzly-pets-animal-restIn some Native American traditions Bear is aligned with the intuitive or West side of the brain. Bear Medicine calls you to go into the cave within and reclaim your power of knowing. Bear Totem is strong and her power can overwhelm you if you don’t understand her intent. Bear knows herself. She knows her range…where the best berries are, when they are ripe. She knows when new animals cross into her territory. She moves at her own pace and tests the wind before she chooses her direction. Her energy is receptive. She knows how to make a feast from worms and grubs. With Bear choosing you to carry her Totem you are sure to be able to find your path through the cave into the inner realm of personal knowing. Seek Bear when the difficult choices are at hand. She will help guide you to your inner knowing and wise choices.

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Happy 4th of July!


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Animal Speak- The Grouse

Ruffed_grouseThe grouse is the totem that protects the inner child.  In a sense it holds your social conscience by  reminding you that through humility and judiciously granted trust an inner innocence can be  maintained.  Balanced with your life experience and personal knowledge, the inner child can  survive and continue to grow and develop.

Grouse has chosen to give you her medicine for the Southern Totem.  Don’t scoff.  Thought by many to be just a lowly “prairie chicken” the Grouse is actually a noble bird.  Grouse uses the art of subterfuge to lead a predator away from the nest and the young.   Through her willingness to sacrifice herself and protect her young, the Grouse displays the height of bravery and courage.  By thrumming into the air announcing her fleeing flight, she puts herself at risk to ensure the safety of her brood.

Adult_Male_Blue_GrouseIn Native American tradition the Grouse is seen as the keeper of the sacred spiral.  It is through the dance of the sacred spiral that inner truths can be found.  Sacred spirals appear in ancient art all over the world.  From Australia’s aboriginal cave drawings, to the iron-age burial chambers in Northern England, to the stylized spiral of the meso-American cultures.  North America’s native inhabitants left many spirals on rock faces and pottery designs.  Even some of the lines on the plains of Nasca have spirals or spiral representations.  Those that are attracted to mazes and maze meditation should look to Grouse for inspiration.

The Grouse and its spiral association are a strong Totem power.  Grouse understands the power of self-sacrifice and giving.  Grouse understands that we can find inner peace and knowledge through more than just the stillness within.  Grouse Medicine is aligned with that of the energy of the Sufi Dancers, commonly called “Whirling Dervishes.”  Through the dance the dancers become more connected with themselves and can transcend into levels of higher thought and awareness through their spinning.  Grouse flaps her wings and spins in a spiral to show you she is there.  Grouse asks you to enter into the dance of life.The Sufi are not the only dancers aligned with Grouse.  Many of the Plains Indian Tribes honor Grouse medicine by dancing the Grouse Dance to pay honor to this powerful totem figure.  Although different from the circular dance of the Sufi, the Grouse Dance is a dance which follows the line of the spiral.  As the drawn spiral spirals inward into itself, it is through entering into the spiral and following its spinning design inward we enter further into ourselves.

800px-Sage-Grouse_(7448281486)Those that have been chosen by Grouse need to beware of stalling and “running around in circles.”  Look around you.  Are you connecting with the you within and the Universe without?  Are you allowing enough time for your observances.  Are you avoiding going within because there is a difficult decision that you are avoiding making? Another calling for those Grouse has granted her totem is to go within.  The Sufi believe that while in the dervish state (just try spinning in a circle for a few seconds and see how dizzy you get – Sufi dancing is truly a form of physical meditation – total concentration and focus is what keeps them from spinning out of control) they enter the Great Silence and can then have direct communion with their Creator.  As the spiral spins tighter and tighter it shrinks down within itself to a point of nothingness at the center.  This great spiral is played out in the dance of the Grouse, and it is repeated in the movement of the stars in the heavens.

Astronomers now say that entire galaxies revolve around “super massive” black holes.  The galaxies revolve in huge arcs of circular motion that mimic spiral drawings depicted on rocks in Neolithic sites.   As galactic “generators” these are massive symbols of the ultimate in female energy (remember, so far science has not been able to find anything that can resist the inexorable force of a black hole…everything it comes in contact with is swallowed in its inky depths.  So  passive are these massive galactic gobblers that they can’t even be seen themselves.  We only know of their existence by the light of the stars shining before they slip into the depths of the black hole’s proposed point of singularity.

800px-Ruffed_GrouseGrouse reminds us that we are all connected.  Grouse calls a mate by thrumming.  This thrumming sounds much to our ears like drumming.  Grouse is associated with the drum and its power as a primal instrument. The drum is used in ceremony and religious observance around the world.  The tambourine, made famous by gypsy dancers, is a modified drum.   Saturday afternoon “B” movies about jungles told us that those on the African continent used the drums to talk to each other over great distances.  Drumming is also prevalent in healing ceremonies.  Drumming connects to the primal in all of us with its rhythm.  Sacred drumming is celebrated at Indian Pow-Wows and a breeze through the percussion section of your local music store will show an availability of various types of ethnic drumming on recorded media for sacred and spiritual purposes.

Grouse calls those with her totem to join in the great dance of life. How many times have you caught yourself tapping a toe or finger to a beat without even realizing you are doing so?  Grouse Totem calls you to enter into the great dance.  Try some spiritual movement.  From church floors to the lair of the Minotaur, walking mazes are a true meditation path to follow (which is why there are a lot of small altar or devotional areas in some mazes).   This tradition encompasses many  civilizations and belief systems.  Whether it is walking a Native American Medicine Wheel, dancing the dance of Grouse, or following in line with hundreds of others as they complete their meditations and prayers by following the maze laid out on the floor of the chapel, it all can be capitalized by those with Grouse Totem.

Remember the spiral of Grouse when you want easy access to the you within. Grouse invites us to join in the dance of life.  Grouse shows us that if the matter is important enough that it is okay to take risks.  But Grouse is careful.  She does not reveal herself to the predator unnecessarily.  Only if the predator is close and putting her brood at risk does she fluster and flutter into view hopefully drawing the danger away from her chicks.   However, most of all, Grouse pushes us to travel inward on the spiral, in to the inner self, in to the inner knowing, in to the inner dance of creation.  When Grouse has granted you her totem don’t forget to take joy in the dance of life.

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Animal Speak- the Moose

-moose-mooserack-male-bull-animal-nature-antlersThe direction of the North makes most of us think of cold winters, ice and snow.  Your animal to the North should be your personal “jiminy cricket.”  The direction of North has been held by many cultures to represent those who have survived the passage of time as North is associated with Winter, the last season before rebirth of the new Spring.  From the North we can learn when it’s time to listen to what others have to say and when it is time to hold the floor and say our piece. The North Animal will always give you aspects to consider you may not have seen on your own.  Finally, those who have eeked out an existence in the far north truly understand how to be grateful for each and every blessing that comes their way.

It is interesting to note that Moose is the Animal of the North in many Native American traditions. This large ungulate that can grow to nearly a ton in weight at first appears odd and gangly.  Those who have seen Moose feeding in a pond, ducking his head below water and resurfacing is a spray of water as tender underwater vegetation is pulled to the surface, know this appearance to be false. A moose in motion is actually amazing.  In some ways it seems impossible that that much weight could be supported by those spindly legs. However, Moose easily moves quickly on her path as she uses the length of her legs to best advantage.  Whether used to bend so that she can dip down to ground level for a tasty treat, or to stretch so she can reach the tender shoots of willow, Moose is in full control of her long limbs.  Moose can either laze along, gently stepping from food source to food source as she grazes undisturbed, or run swiftly escaping Grizzly or Man with ease.

alaska-moose-animal-wildlife-antlers-male-largeMoose must also be respected.  As the largest of the deer family, Moose reigns over the lands of the north.  More than twice, and sometimes three times, the size of it’s relative the Caribou (or reindeer), Moose travels the vast northern regions.  Moose is not always the most congenial of animals.  Moose enjoys her personal space and is normally a solitary animal, however she can be seen in herds of up to 50-60 animals at one time.  Moose Totem is strong energy for the carrier, but it can be a load to carry as well.  Moose has little patience for those that disturb her.  She has even been known to attack and kill humans who have irritated her or gotten between her and her young.

The MicMac Indians of Nova Scotia have oral traditions that tell a story of how moose will return to the water if it is hunted too persistently in any one area, hiding in the safety of the seas.  In northern Maine the Penobscot Indians have oral traditions of how the moose was once a denizen of the deep as a great whale.  These are just two of the many associations between Moose and water in native traditions.

Moose doesn’t have much patience or caring for the constructions of man.  She will jump fences with relative ease, she will cross high traffic roads with a nonchalance that can be terrifying to passing motorists.  She can be fierce in her nonchalance.  There are numerous cases where Moose has killed man in recent history.  Moose appears often in the towns of the North, caring naught for the boundaries set by man.

As a Totem, Moose is strongly aligned with feminine energy, primal and strong..  Moose is also associated with late fall and early winter because that is the time she is most often seen by man.  Moose’s love of the wet places – swamps, ponds and streams – shows her alignment with the receptive energies.  Water has long been associated with the veil between worlds, and Moose moves easily in this realm.  Snow is literally frozen water than has crystallized and fallen from the sky.  Whether passing through a swamping cove at the side of the lake on a warm summer evening, or stepping through the deep snows of the back country, moose is always at ease in water.

With the advantage of excellent depth perception, Moose is quite adept at gauging appropriate jumps, steps, gaits and trots for the terrain in which she travels.  Moose reminds us not only is all not as it seems, but that grace and stamina are a strong combination.  This is part of the energy Moose gives to those of her totem. Moose, when searching for the most tender of aquatic plants can plunge to the bottom of a lake and spend up to a minute feeding before she has to resurface.  Moose understands that the work of diving down into the depths can bring her the reward of the best of nutrients.  With Moose as your Totem you are invited to dive deep into the depths of the receptive force of the divine feminine and open yourself up to the awareness and sensitivity that Moose provides.  Moose energy is often found in those who have walked the earth for some time and have gained the wisdom and knowledge of experience.

moose-calf-young-animal-mammal-wildlife-plantsMoose energy speaks of wisdom.  Living in a harsh and unforgiving environment Moose has learned where to find sustenance throughout the year.  If the snows become too deep in the high country, Moose wisely moves to lower elevations where food is more easily found.  Moose cares for her young and is known as an extremely protective mother.  She is wise to understand the importance of caring for those outside herself.  Yet Moose cares for herself so that she may take care of her children as well.  Moose energy was considered to grant the carrier of her totem great wisdom and discernment.

Moose is herbivorous.  The tender shoots of a willow branch, the juicy shoots at the bottom of the pond, the buds of new growth.  These are delicacies for Moose.  Those who carry Moose medicine would do well to blend both modern and traditional (specifically herbal) remedies.

Although imbued with feminine energy the Moose is also well known for it’s antlers. Except for the rare genetic aberration, only the male of the species grows the well recognized antlers.  Of all the animals of the earth that grow antlers, Moose is one of the largest.  Moose’s antlers differ from those of any other animal in several ways.  One of the most obvious is the broad wide shape of the antlers.  Moose’s antlers are distinctive among “horned” animals of any type.  The antlers, which are grown annually for display and combat for females in the rutting season, are a symbol of Moose’s power and strength and are shed every year.  The antlers start as nubs on the head and grow to their full length covered in what is referred to as “velvet.”  The velvet is actually the outer sustenance layer to the antlers.  As the antlers reach their full growth the velvet is rubbed off.  Moose rubs his antlers against trees, brush, shrubs, even rocks and logs.  There is a specific significance in this annual rubbing of the head.  Moose’s action helps to remind us that a mental “housecleaning” every year,  can be a good thing.

Moose is determination, strength, primal power, the guardian of the North.  Although at home in the high northern cold places, Moose is also a symbol of sexual energy and sensual power.  Many traditions celebrate sexual energy and power as being directly related with creative power.  Creative energy can be boundless because by it’s very nature it continues to recreate itself.  Moose grants many who carry it’s totem a great capability for creativity.

Moose is a totem of great power.  Most often seen in the fall or early spring when the feeding cycle brings her more within the sights of man, Moose is associated with the harvest.  Moose is related to Samhuinn.  Harvest and abundance are emblematic of Moose Energy.  Moose was believed to give extra strength and energy to those who ate of her flesh.  Those who walk with Moose are granted easier access to the otherworld.  Moose allows those who share her path and carry her Totem to absorb many of her traits.

If Moose has come to you, listen to her message of bounty and fulfillment; agility and determination; ability to move between the realms; and concern for the interconnectedness of all things.  Moose watches and then acts decisively.   Moose survives by her intuitive nature and heightened senses of  smell and sight.  Fearing only the great Grizzly Bear, Moose relies on instinct and intuitive to find her way.  Allow Moose’s feminine flowing Energy to help you as you seek the one within.

giveaway-animalDon’t forget, I’m giving away an Animal Speak Tarot Reading this summer! You can enter daily, so stop by often…


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A Summer of Animal Speak

-moose-mooserack-male-bull-animal-nature-antlersHere in Montana we are all keeping our eyes on the mountain peaks where the final vestiges of last winter’s snow still hold tenaciously to the heights. Down on the valley floor summer has arrived in every way but name only. Gardens are sprouting up the hopes of a bountiful fall harvest, birds fill the air with myriad calls, and the scent of lilac and lavender fill the air. Calves and colts are frolicking in the fields while the sprouts of alfalfa, hay and wheat are turning the hillsides from gold to green.

For many the coming of spring heralds a time to return to the outdoors for fresh air, sunshine and just communing with nature. To honor that “call to the outside” that many of us feel this time of year I hope you will stop in for some “animal speak.” Animals can be a strong messenger if we but keep our eyes open to what they to say. From the crane that flies over the highest mountain in the world during their animal migration to the lowly insect world, our fellow members of nature can have messages for us in a number of ways.

Over the summer months, we will take a close look at some of our friends in the animal kingdom. From eagle, to bear, to grouse and more we will visit nine members of the animal kingdom through August. Make sure to check back on a regular basis so you do not miss any of the articles!

As we live in our homes or apartments, drive our cars or ride the bus/train, talk on smart phones and wear smart stylish clothes we disconnect from the natural world of which we are all a part. These very things separate us from the natural world around us! This year, try getting outside. You do not have to take a major hike or climb Mount Everest. You can receive animal messages just sitting on the stoop or walking in the back year.

There are things that can help you find the messages for you. Maybe you notice a new web from an orb weaver spider as you walk up the steps, or it could be a family of robins who has moved in on the ledge outside a third story apartment. You might even receive a great gift and see one of the many mammals that we share space with – even in our cities. It might be that you notice that you see a hawk at almost the same time every day as she returns to her nest with food for her brood. Granted, not all encounters with other members of the animal world are messages, but many times, they are!

So, while you are out and about enjoying the summer weather, take time to look around and see what you can see. Peel back what you expect to see, and look to see what is there. Insects, birds, reptiles, and mammals live around us more than we know. Pay attention…if you see the same type of animal many times all of a sudden you may want to see what that animal’s message could be for you. So keep your eyes open and see if our friends in nature have a message for you.

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