Again, apologies for typos and not being proof read… The vertigo continues and I am so bored of not being able to do anything that I am typing these posts mostly with my eyes closed…
Crocodiles are ancient creatures but before we jump into them, what is the difference between a crocodile and an alligator? Well, the spelling for one thing… But seriously folks, they are not the same. If you’re feeling brave, take a close look at their mouth; crocodiles have more of a V shaped snout, alligators’ are more U shaped, When their mouths are closed you can still see crocodile teeth, like in the image, but not alligator teeth. If you aren’t feeling that courageous, then their habitat gives a suggestion – in general crocodiles are in saltwater areas and alligators in freshwater.
Ok, so now we’re all looking at the same animals, let’s get into a bit more detail.
Firstly, I think it’s a really big deal that crocodilians (the family of crocs, alligators etc) have barely changed since their ancestors who were wandering around with the dinosaurs over 65 million years ago. Isn’t that amazing? This creature was so perfectly adapted so far back in time that they’ve had no need to keep evolving. Think of all the changes this animal has seen. Think of all the experiences the species has had.
This is the first animal in the water suit and whilst the ordering is not of strict importance, it seems an excellent place to start. Why not start with one of the oldest animals? And such a primeval creature. When we think of crocodiles, we get a feeling of the dinosaurs, of something very ancient and instinct led.
So, what do we know about these terrifying creatures?
Well, they are excellent predators. They wait patiently, often just below the water, their nostrils barely visible above the surface, until prey comes along. Once they are ready to kill, they strike with lightening speed and immense power. Their vice like grip snaps shut, imbolising the prey. Despite their huge and strong jaw, tyhey can’t actually chew! They employ a bite and roll system to pull chunks of meat off the carcass. When food is aplenty, they may work together, one croc holding the animal whilst the other has it’s share. The food is then swallowed and digested in super strong stomach acid – so acidic that they can digest bones and horns… And just in case that’s not enough, they can switch their four chambered heart (like humans) to a more primitive system which allows for a boost in production of gastric acid. Isn’t that amazing?!
This may be a period of waiting for you. And we aren’t in general good at waiting. Especially not at waiting quietly and patiently. Especially if we don’t know what we are waiting for. Which syncronicitly is where I am right now. I am writing this tiny bit by tiny bit as vertigo continues to consume me. I did a meditation this morning where I realised I am spending alsmost every moment of the day waiting to recover. And there is no way of knowing when that will bve. And the experience of waiting makes it feel longer. It took the meditation to realise this and also to see that the stress of waiting and getting frustrated is probably actually hindering my recovery. We are not good at waiting. But there is often need to find a way to do so peacefully.
Side note: The gorgeous flow magazine had a great article all about waiting in it in issue 17.
Despite being such incredibly hunters, they don’t need to eat that often and don’t participate in gratuitous aggression. I saw a nature documentary where a group of otters were taunting a crocodile and although it was getting a bit annoyed, it didn’t seem to be considering attack.
Again, related to their role as a predator, one interesting thing I discovered is that tghey play a key role in maintaining ecosystems and are actually beneficial to people who are fishing in croc infested waters. This is because they eat animals which eat fish. So without crocodiles, the population of animals they eat would explode and thus the amount of fish eaten would shoot up. So the human-croc relationship needed be viewed as all negative. Yes, they are dangerous to humans, mostly because of the speed they strike – we can’t react fast enough – but like most wild animals, if we treat them with respect, and respectful distance, we would be ok. The main problem seems to be down to a lack of space – as human development encroaches onto crocodile land, they are inevitably ending up in gardens and swimming pools.
Crocodiles are also very well adapted to be protected, despite their role as apex predator. They have thick skin, as though they are clad in armour. Their senses are concentrated on the top of their head which enhances their stealthy nature. I wonder if their protection is to keep them safe from other crocodiles or perhaps the dinosaurs which lived alongside them.
Talking of which…
When it comes to relationships, they tend to be solitary but when food is abundant will hang out in groups. They also come together to mate as you’d expect! They attract mates with an alluring low vibrational groan which makes the water on their back appear to dance!
Once mated, the female croc takes herself off to lay her eggs somewhere safe – lots of animals like to eat eggs and will risk the wrath of the mother if the reward seems high enough. When laying the eggs, she goes into a trance like state which I don’t think scientists understand yet. It would seem unintuitive really – mummy croc is surely putting herslef and her eggs into a more vulnerable situation than they already are? Anyway…
The eggs which escape thieving paws hatch and mummy croc carefully carries them in her powerful jaw to the water. That extremely powerful mouth which can trap and kill is gently holding her babies. As we saw with the bear, this dichotomy of aggresive predator and nurturing mother is a powerful metaphor.
The croc, like many of the creatures we’ll see in the water suit, straddles land and water and patrols along the riverbank almost like a guardian of the emotions that swim in the muddy depths. Symbolically, again this makes the crocodile a good starting card. Before you even start to enter the water, the emotional realm, you must first face the guardian. What is holding you back from your emotions? What walls and obstacles have you created? How real are they? How can they best be met? In the case of the croc, it appears that you sneak up behind it and tie it’s jaw shut. Not sure what that means metaphorically!
Further to treating them with respect, some cultures have revered the crocodile. In ancient Egypt, we see Sobek, a crocodile-headed god, as well as Taweret who had the back and tail of a croc and was goddess of childbirth and fertility. This ties back to the idea of the crocodile as creator of life. In Hinduism, some gods and goddesses are depicted riding crocodiles and for Aztec people, Cipactli was the giant earth crocodile who makes up land in a similar way to the turtle of Native American traditions.
These associations with creation and life bringing mean the crocodile is also associated with destruction and death – the giver of life can also take away life as we have seen with other animal spirit cards. Linking back to the crocodile as guardian of the water, what do you need to let go of or what needs to die before you can enter the element. The crocodile here appears to not just be a keeper of water but also the growth and wisdom that entering it will bring.
When it comes to symbology, the crocodile is a sign of treachery. It is perhaps best known for the phrase “crocodile tears” which means a false and insincere display of emotion eg fake tears of sadness. It was once thought that crocodiles shed tears in order to lure their prey or that they wept for the death of their prey. If you have drawn this card perhaps it is a caution about inauthentic emotion in yourself or others. Or surface level emotion in yourself. The emotion you let yourself feel rather than the emotion you need to feel. The emotion related to the now rather than the deep and complex emotion that drives you as a person.