Otters are awesome!!!
To get us started, and into the mindset of the otter, let’s kick off with a video!
To a certain extent, that says everything I could say… Otters are amazing, playful, curious, intriguing creatures. They are joyful, caring, graceful and delightful.
“The joyful, keen and fearless otter; mild and loving to his own kind, and gentle with his neighbour of the stream; full of play and gladness in his life; full of courage in his stress; ideal in his home; steadfast in death; the noblest little soul that ever went four-footed through the woods” – Ernest Thompson Seton
These fantastic animals tumble through the water with grace and playfulness. This sense of play coexists alongside the stormy waters that otters do face. They are prey for other animals, they have to deal with finding their own food, they have been hunted by humans and are facing habitat destruction, polluted waters and so on. But they know the healing value of play and joy and love. The card seems to show the otter in a lovely bubble of light and happiness. Whilst we can’t live in that bubble all the time, it’s nice to have it to retreat to from time to time. Have a think about what your bubble is like? How can you get inside it? Why not actually blow some bubbles? There’s something wonderful and delightful about doing it.
Whilst not all otters live in groups, some do. The smooth coated otters are the most social of otters and they maintain close bonds through group rubbing and play (I’m running out of synonyms so the word play will have to do!). They make delightful squeaks and yips as they frolic.
These are land animals which returned to water and are clearly at home there. They are agile, graceful swimmers and highly energetic. Their flexibility comes in handy as they need to be able to reach all over their body to groom their fur. These supple creatures move freely between the elements of water and land, between the emotional and practical, at home with both.
One documentary narrator commented that they seem to have two speeds – on or off. Action or rest. And it’s important to get the balance right with that. And that balance will be different for different people. For me, if I’m going to have a day trip, I’ll need to rest at least the day before and the day after. That is my balance and having chronic pain and fatigue really helps you tune into that. Balance here could also be between land and water. Between work and play. Otters have to actively hunt for their fish but they also make water slides. They work hard and play hard.
I think this card is a river otter but we’ll have a look at sea otters whilst we’re on the topic of otters. Sea otters have the thickest fur on the planet which keeps them nice and warm but makes them a target for hunters. They need this fur for warmth but it’s not so much the fur itself that protects them from the cold sea water. The fur traps air which acts as insulation and this also means the super furry babies bob on the surface!!! When you see sea otters rolling over in the water, this is sometimes to get rid of crumbs, they do eat off their tummies, but also to trap air in their fur.
You may also know that sea otters hold hands or wrap seaweed around themselves and this is to tether themselves so they don’t drift out to the middle of the ocean whilst they take a nap. Holding paws reinforces the idea of the otter as a loving, caring creature and also suggests a problem solving approach.
Otters are linked with selkie myths as well as other tales of shapeshifting. If you’ve ever seen an otter dancing, twirling, twisting and being one with the water, you’ll know how easy it is to imagine them shapeshifting. Which is interesting as they seem so completely at home in their bodies. Perhaps it is only when we are truly one with ourselves that we are free to explore other bodies?
In folklore they are generally helpful and friendly, bringing food to those who need it and warming cold feet!
The otter really is asking how you can bring more joy and more play into your life. I hope you find a way to embrace your inner child.