Squirrels are Real

squirrel

This last year when I travelled back to Canada to attend Kaleidoscope Gathering a Pagan festival near Ottawa, I got to spend some time hanging out with my friend Pamela and got to see more of the wild country.  It HUGE!! And awesome and I love it, bit I digress.   We spent a bit of time driving down country roads around many wonderful lakes and eating custard filled donuts at Timmies.  It was during this time that I got to see Deer eating apples in somebodies front yard, on our way to a Wolf Sanctuary, or it might have been the sight of Turkey Vultures circling above as we got out of the car, that I had the sudden realisation, that squirrels are real, along with a whole slew of other animals that are native to Canada like crows, toads, eagles, groundhogs, chipmunks, vultures and of course squirrels.  I have learnt about all of these animals via wildlife documentaries, books and wonderful teachers such as David Attenborough, and Jane Goodall as well as the various magical books where I have learnt about there more magical spiritual meanings.  

Trip to Canada 2014 268

But the realisation and understanding that these animals where real, and something more than pictures on cards or what I had watched on tv, was quite an interesting revelation.    These animals were real and whole and you could actually see them in the physical form going about their lives, in the wild and to a degree in the cities to.  Up until that moment I had believed that they were somehow not quite real, that they were something that was far away, almost fae like in a sense.  For me growing up I had only seen them as cheery picked scenes in a variety of nature programs, or they were animals behind bars who were captive breed rather than wild, and of course I had seen them beautifully illustrated pictures on cards or in natural science book but that had left be with a sense that they were somehow not real. 

Needless to say my mind was blown.  Along with this realisation that squirrels were indeed real, was a new understanding and realisation that Pagans in Canada have a very different relationship with the spirit and magic of the animals that lived amongst them. And the realisation that many of these animals are the ones that you read so often about in traditional witchcraft and magical books.  Crows, Hares, Eagles, Wolves, Toad (OMG I love Toads so wonderful *coughs*) the list goes one.  This in turn meant that omens, spirit and the magic of these animals, where proudly different in Canada from what I had experienced in New Zealand.  For one there was more of a chance of actually running into the physical animal, send by that animal spirit that you work with, rather than just seeing a picture or statue. 

Trip to Canada 2014 018

In New Zealand that kind of interaction with traditionally through of magical animals is difficult, and our relationships traditional magical animals, such as wolves, eagles and indeed Squirrels, becomes a lot more symbolic, and to a large degree a lot more distant.  We are less likely to run into any of them in physical form, in that sending you a message kind of way that I have read so much about in books and on internet forums. 

From my experience I have run into magical animal spirits, in the form of dreams, but more often than not via the trusty medium of TV programs, movies, pictures, the internet and statues.  This can make it difficult to decipher if these are messages you are reciving or just pictures, or the whim of the program director at the particular channel, which you happen to be watching.   It is not impossible, and it does work after a fashion.. But nothing like what I was experiencing driving down those country roads in Canada, on something call the mother rock. (Igneous rock covers a large part of countryside where my friend Pamela lived.)  

I was prepared for how different the land and its energy would feel, and to a degree for the change in the direction in sunwise as well as how the moon is upside down, but I was totally taken by surprise by the realisation that squirrels are real in Canada and not some ethereal idea or image, that in comparison feels removed.  

Trip to Canada 2014 463

What does this all mean I ask myself, a common question in my musings?   The experience I had with these Canada mammals and birds, was familiar but at the same time it was not.  It was a lot more intense, when they had messages I was a little in aww, and even when they didn`t I was still in aww and staring, maybe squeezing, much to the amusement of my Canadian friends.    And while on the one hand it was no more difficult to discern which messages were and which were not, it was more difficult, as I spent so much time being all excited that these wonderful animals were just running about,  or as with a chipmunk, trying to get on my lap.  All of it felt a little bit surreal. I was just as excited to see them as I was when I was getting a message from the spirit sense of them, which did I have to say make it a little more difficult at times, albeit pleasantly so. 

It is different now that I am back in New Zealand with the lack of traditional magical mammals physically running about as they do in Canada.  The realisation that Squirrels are very real along with wolves, otters, ospreys and toads is an important one, and one that has reshaped how I see the world.  

But how will that translate that now that I am back in little old New Zealand with its prominence of birds?  While we do not have eagles, wolves and those very real squirrels, we do have a complex system of birds.  David Attenborough noted in his series The Life of Birds that many of our birds have taken on the rolls that mammals would have in other countries..  Where in a folkloric type of way squirrels can be considered cheeky arseholes delivering gossip and messages in equal measure, here in New Zealand the Fantail fills a similar roll.  Although it is also different, as it would not be ok to just copy past meanings to Birds who take on a mammal type roll, after all a fantail is not a squirrel.  

But rather than relying on the animals that are traditionally written about in magical books, it is more about working and exploring with what we have locally.  And now that I am more familiar with the feelings and sensations from spending time in Canada with the traditionally magical animals, I can use that to be more aware of when it happens in here in New Zealand. 

Messages will still be received from those traditional mammals, such as squirrels, hares and ravens, as it is my heritage, but rather than in physical form they will be delivered in dreams and images, or indeed parcels that are received in the mail

IMG_1704

I now have a deeper understanding and experience so that I may with a bit more ease, translate the magicality? For the native flora and fauna here in New Zealand.   It will be a matter of experimenting, walking in the bush, and around my city, reading a lot about the habits of our native birds as well as revisiting the mythology and legends of Aotearoa.  Something I am quite looking forward to.   

31613-pc

Bone Collecting

Albert bath time 024

Bone Collecting, so much nicer that saying I like dead things, sometimes without their skin.   but I digress a little.. Of late I have started to look at my wee bone collection and realise that I am a little bit of a bone collector, amongst all of the other things I do, like sewing modern tapestries of Ancient Gods and Magical Doorways.  It a Witch thing I am sure of it.  Samhain has just past here in New Zealand, so I figured that Bone collecting would be topical.  And it is time for me to begin awakening the newest bones to my collection, Albert the boar skull.

A few years back I obtained two English Leicester sheep skulls, from a friend who used to look after a flock of sheep for several months a year here in Wellington.  The woman who owned the flock was a spinner who grew her own sheep, and as happens on occasion some of the flock grown old or get sick and die.  There was a place in a small copse of pine trees where the bodies were left to return to the earth.  (Basically rot away)  My friend used to look after these sheep and knew where to find the good skulls and bones.

Bone collecting 121

Mrs Lester, the larger of the two skulls, was found with a very large and very scary bush spider in one of her eye sockets.  Luckily I have excellent hearing and could hear spider calling over that persistent squealing. .. … that might have been me.   *shudders* I might work with Grandmother Spider but I am not so fond of large scary looking bush spiders..

After carefully and politely thanking the spider for showing me which one, which involved quickly stepping away as she scuttled into the forest.. and then asked my friend who is less spider averse if she had gone yet.. Witchcraft not always as glamorous as you want it to be *coughs*

This was the beginning of my conscious bone collecting and learning of how you honour the spirit that once inhabited the skull and how you prepare it for a new spirit, entity energy, depending on what you are going to be doing with your new skull or bone.

I now have a growing collection of bones, skulls and animal skins that I have gotten to know and work with.  After Mrs Lester was taken to a Samhain ritual some years back she became the matriarch of my little bone tribe.  Lester junior was recently gifted to a fellow Witch to begin her bone collection.  And now it is time to start working on Albert the Boar skull I was given some years back by a fellow witch.

Albert bath time 026

Albert will become a part of my growing bone collection and a sacred housing for the spirit of Boar and all he brings with him.  For me personally it will begin a new understanding and insight of myself and where my path is leading.  He will be cleaned, scrubbed and painted with magical symbols to create a guide who will guide me into and through the spirit world, and other magical  places  And maybe he will be a mascot, a magical focal point, so to speak, as I take this next step with my art and turn it towards making a living.

But how did I come to this conclusion, and understanding? What is it that makes this skull an important part of my spiritual path and learning?  How do I know that it is not just a skull of a long dead pig?

Several things have led me to this understanding and they are difficult to explain and pinpoint.  I have read up on the spiritual and magical meaning of Bore’s via several books and card sets that I have.  I have used divination to ask questions about this skull and its meaning or path direction.  I have meditated and communed, and the biggest sign if will, is that it feels right, and that feeling of rignness  in regards to your spiritual work and path is impossible to feel.. but you know when you do.

Now as it is edging past the season of Samhain, we are well into the season of the dead.  Albert is languishing in a tub of water to soften the last remaining flesh that is still clung to the skull and hopefully near the winter solstice I will be able to remove the rest of it and he can degrease over the last of the winter.  And while this is happening I will also be working on the energy and magic of crafting him into a bone tribe member.  Like most things I have learnt with magic, oft times it is a long process and that process is just as important as the finished bit.

Bone collecting 124

According to the druid animal oracle Boar stands for warrior, leadership and direction which now that I am reading about it makes some strong sense.  As the seasons of autumn turns more fully into the winter, here in New Zealand, the ancestors are honoured and themes of introspection are becoming more prominent, I will be working with the energy and spirit of the boar.

I will put into action what I have learnt and hunker down to create and work on my art and business so that come this July after the winter solstice my exhibition will be and roaring success.

instructions 120

 

 

 

The Autumnal Equinox

Autumn 005
The first of the winter storms

The Autumnal equinox is just around the corner  for us in the Southern Hemisphere.  It is the mid harvest festival on the Pagan seasonal wheel and this year for me, it is about Foundations. For I am starting a new business, one that I hope will grow into a strong creative path and living, but for that to happen I need to create strong foundations, both magically and physically and find the balanced between both.

Autumn 007

The Equinoxes are about Balance, but as I have learnt, it is not so much a static balance but more like fluidity of finding your balance.  Like the tilting and balancing of a tightrope walker when they cross from one side to the other. Summer here in the southern hemisphere is well over and we are now heading into the cold dark winter.  But before that can happen we must make preparations to store the things we have begun to harvest, if you will, so that we will survive the long winter.

For me the busy equinox energy as brought with it influx of creativity, that has been difficult to keep up with.  At first I wondered if it was spring fever, given that the energy was very busy and chaotic like.  And I have had two Lughnasadh’s in the last year, one in Canada at Kaleidoscope Gathering, and then one in New Zealand this past February. But as I began to create my new business, I realised that this was more of a foundational building energy rather than rising sap energy.  I have been designing and making fabric wall hangings, tapestries and banners for several years now and I have made a little bit of name for myself, but it was disjointed, and spread across several different social media sites under several different names.  So I have made plans to consolidate the various web sites and social media sites, which I have, to create a unified front, under one name.

Polly Lind artist and witch no boarder

This is a time of high energy which is similar to that of the spring, except the spring symbolism is about planting seeds, whereas the autumn symbolism is about gathering up the new seeds and storing them for the winter.  In modern terms this is a time when we find ourselves very busy laying the groundwork for the coming winter and winter projects. Sales are about and food is brought, and plans made for those long winter nights.

Here in New Zealand it is tax season, which can add whole new dimension to the energy of the season, a bit of chaos and a bit of stress, as businesses take stock of their financial year and plan for the next.  This can be a good thing if you are stocking up as many businesses will be having stock taking sales.  However if we are not careful at this time of year, the busy chaotic energy can be quite overwhelming, and more so if you are setting up a new business.  So I am being careful not to get carried away on the chaotic energy.    Instead I have a plan in place to launch everything in July with an exhibition opening which will coincide with the coming of spring.

wall hamging 017 - Copy

Soon I will be welcoming back the Cailleach, she who brings the winter, and all of that busy chaotic energy will die away, as the season turns from harvest to death.  And hopefully I have built strong enough foundations and laid away enough for the coming winter.

This post was cross posed to Pagansquare hooray