Have you seen and heard a lyrebird?
I’ve heard the lyrebird called the “fanciest bird in the world” and indeed, their courtship is fantastical. The male begins by building a stage or clearing an area of the forest. He then starts his complex song, a mixtape of other birds, of forest sounds. He is a performer, a mimic, a collector of sounds. He is elaborate in his song and has a “tail made for display“.
However, is this impersonator still connected to his true self? What lies behind his actors mask? He is known for his song, a wondrous thing, which is a melody of plagiarism.
It is also worth noting that after this spectacular display, the male takes no role in parenting. They are promiscuous and seem much more concerned in showing off than in parenting.
The Animal Dreaming cards all have a prompt on them and to start with I was a bit puzzled by this one. Note, the deck comes with a book but I like to start with my own thoughts. The prompt in this case is “genetic memory”.
After a bit of scratching my head, and thinking on the idea of the crocodile and whale from the wild unknown as having a sort of shared knowledge, an innate knowing I felt a bit closer. It felt like this was about connection to those who came before you, the knowledge you have innately or intuitively, ancestral wisdom. Which was great, but why the lyrebird?
Well… Lyrebirds are well known for their calls. They mimic what they hear incredibly well and baby lyrebirds will hear a range of calls from their parents and will mimic those. This passing down of calls, this sharing knowledge from generation to generation, is perhaps why the lyrebird is here to talk to us about genetic memory.