Dolphin: Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Cards

wp-image-506280627jpg.jpg

Those of you who are ardently following along will notice that this post is out of order.  The reason for this is that vertigo halted my writing so I haven’t been able to get my teeth into the water suit but as Dolphin Day is 14th April I wanted to get this up.

I am still struggling to read and write as I put together this post so apologies for any typos etc.  I also have a plaster on my finger which is having far more impact on typing than I imagined!  It is also likely to be shorter than I would have liked, perhaps that’s a good thing!

Now, to the dolphin!

If you’ve ever seen a dolphin, you are probably familiar with the sense of awe and wonder and the smile that spreads across your face.  These graceful, acrobatic sea queens are truly soul lifting.

It is probably because of this that we know so much about these sea dwelling creatures, especially when compared to the rest of the ocean inhabitants…

For the purposes of keeping this relatively short, I’m going to focus on a few key areas which I feel are most important when it comes to the dolphin as a spirit animal; breath, intellect, communication and mythology.

Breath

The dolphin is commonly associated with breath.  Whilst many people think of them as fish, they are mammals and as such they must surface regularly to breathe…

Their reliance on coming to the surface to breath links them with the element of air so we see the dolphin encapsulating the relationship and balance that comes with water and air, heart and mind.  The dolphin comes to the surfaces, takes a deep breath of thoughtfulness and then dives deep into the realm of emotions, thus shining some clarity on the chaos of the depths.  Air is also about communication so perhaps the dolphin can help you to share your emotions with others.

Anyone who has done any meditation*, yoga or mindfullness will be aware of the importance of breath in these practices.  Breathing is also important when it comes to anxiety, anger and many physical things.  When you are caught up in the moment and rushing 100 miles an hour, sometimes taking a moment to pay attention to your breath, just for a couple of seconds, can really help you to feel in control.  If breath work feels like it might be helpful to you, google it, there’s lots online and many people far better able to guide you than I am.

What I do want to add though, is stop for a moment and think about how you are breathing.  I know that I rarely breath properly.  Yes I get oxygen into my lungs etc but I have spent so much of my life constricting myself and making myself small that I don’t breathe as deeply as I should.  Similarly when I’m tense or in pain my breathing becomes shallow and that can feel like anxiety and as a result actually generate anxiety.  Even as I write this, I am aware I am not breathing in or out fully.  I am holding myself on the edge of something, fear?

 

Communication

Dolphins have echolocation which helps them to find their food but it also allows them to communicate with other dolphins.  In addition, they use a mixture of clicks, body language and movements to talk, for example somersaults and lobtailing to convey info and body rubbing and touching fins to strengthen bonds.

The dolphin is asking us to think about our own communication, especially non verbal communication.  We touched on this in another card and when I’m feeling better I’ll find the animal and add a link rather than repeating myself.  Essentially we considered whether what we are saying verbally is aligned with what we are saying through our actions and our body language.

This focus on communication echoes the dolphin’s emphasis on community and is echoed by what we will consider next.

Intelligence

Doplhins are highly sociable animals and they utilise this to help with hunting.  They coordinate themselves and work as a team to find and then corralle fish etc.  Perhaps the dolphin card is a message to you to take someone diving with you.  Plunging into your hidden emotions can be painful and difficult and having someone you trust alongside you may help whether that’s a friend or a professional.

Dolphin’s intelligence – they have a highly developed cerebellum and cerebal cortex which is involved in planning – and their long term memory will also aid their success.  When it comes to memory, at least in humans, they are not neutral.  Most people do not remember things precisely as they were and certainly not how they were from someone else’s perspective.  We can misremember major incidents which shape who we are today or may even have never known the full picture.  There is also a skewed sense of proportionality when it comes to memories – different experiences imprint on us more strongly than others.

An example may help to show what I mean:  You may vividly remember that time when your sister stole your doll but not when she saved all her pocket money to buy you sweets.  You may not know that she stole your doll because she’d had a really awful day and wanted some support and felt that your doll was a way of having you close.  I know this is a trivial example and the memories and events which shaped you are probably much more serious but I hope they illustrate what I’m saying about memory.

The deeper the memory, the murkier the water and the harder it is to see clearly, intellectually and impartially.

Dolphins have been shown to be self aware, one of the traits that’s used to measure intelligence; that is they recognise themselves in a mirror and know it’s not another dolphin.  This self awareness is such a vital part of any emotional work and if you’re reading your own oracle cards, you will be continually developing it.

Being self aware can, at times, feel like a curse (at least to me) but it truly is a gift.  Being self aware helps you to understand your emotions, yourself, your reactions and your overreactions.  For example, when a colleague didn’t say hi to me in the morning I used to react with fear, this person hates me and doesn’t want anything to do with me and so on.  Through working with my psychologist, I was able to establish particular core triggers.  So in the case of my colleague, I went straight from them not saying hello to being rejected or ignored, my two major triggers.  This allowed me to bring myself back down to earth and acknowledge why I had reacted so intensely and then look to reframe the incident.  It’s far more likely that they didn’t hear me or were busy or on the phone.  For me, the self aware stage where I looked at why I reacted that way, is so important.  I could have skipped it out and in doing so I’d probably have got cross with myself for overreacting.  Instead, the self aware stage allows me to treat myself with compassion – another dolphin trait.  I can acknowledge that this is a painful area for myself, but that it’s ok and that things don’t go straight from trigger to complete disaster in a matter of seconds.  I’m not sure how well I’m explaining this but self awareness can be such a powerful tool!  It can also be a vital tool when it comes to memory work – being self aware can help you step back and consider situations from other people’s perspectives as well as look at why you reacted the way you did.

 

Mythology

When it comes to myths and legends, we see the theme of kindness, compassion and freedom repeated.

For example, in one Greek myth, there once was a great singer called Arion whose voice was so beautiful he won all the singing competitions.  He was sailing home with all his prizes when he was attacked by sailors who wanted to steal them. They threw Arion over the side of the boat and left him to drown.  Here he was saved by a dolphin who had been charmed by Arion’s music.  The dolphin carried him to shore and as a reward, was given a place in the sky and now appears to us as the constellation Delphinus.

The link between dolphins and music comes up in a variety of places and links us back to where we started, breath.

There are various gods and goddesses who could turn into dolphins or used them as transport.  There’s also the idea of the dolphin carrying the dead to the afterlife and they traditionally seem to be friendly.  Indeed, none of my exploration of the dolphin showed them portrayed negatively.  The closest I got was a link with the selkie myths (I shall go into them in more depth when I look at the seal).

The most powerful symbol of the dolphin I came across was the idea that two dolphins swimming together represents balance and two dolphins swimming apart represents involution and evolution.

And on that note, I shall leave you for now but I will return later to correct spelling and proofread it…


*I actualy wrote mediation which is interesting as a way of thinking about the link between the air and the water that keep the dolphin alive.  Perhaps that’s a topic for another day though…

 

Advertisements

With great responsibility comes great power

Note: I may have mulled over this idea or something similar before on my blog but I can’t check back (vertigo…) and it’s a lesson I need to relearn.  So as I can’t read back over my words, I’m trying to write myself back.  And typos are likely to continue as proof reading is still very tough…

With great responsibility comes great power

What on earth do I mean?  Well, I’m thinking here about personal responsibility and personal power.  I’ve not really thought any wider than that.  And when I say personal responsibility, I mean taking responsibility for myself.  Taking responsibility for my actions and my reactions, for my decisions and for my choices.  To take responsibility for oneself is a very empowering act.

When you take responsibility for yourself, you stop being able to blame external factors.  And when you can’t blame external factors, you find yourself in a position where you are responsible for where you find yourself.  And if you are responsible for that, you can change things by changing your actions and reactions, by changing your decisions and your choices.  Or not.  But you do so from your own power, not because of someone or something else.

Disclaimer: I know there are many unavoidable things in life.  I have ill health and taking responsibility for my health is not going to change that.  But I can take responsibility for how I react, for the related choices I make and so on.  I know I’ve written about my relationship between my mind and my body here and that change in my relationship vastly improved the way I felt about myself.  Yes, I am ill.  So I can choose self care, pain management etc.  I can also choose to overdo it one day but now I am doing so consciously.  Before my mind and body started to get on the same team, I would overdo it and then get angry with my body.  Now, I can plan in rest time if I think I’m going to overdo it or I can choose to cancel plans rather than keep pushing through.  But I do so knowing that I have made the decision to overdo it.

Right now, literally this moment as I type, I am making the decision to push my vertigo and I know I will make myself feel awful physically but equally I know that this will help clarify my thoughts and I know that this post is something I need to hear.

I wonder if this is one reason I’m not really into most religious ideas.  A lot, not all, have this idea of a god who is there to blame and to thank.  An external entity which has responsibility for your life.

I don’t know how much sense this will make to anyone who reads it but there you go…

Anyother example, I have depression.  And depression sucks.  To put it lightly.  In one sense I am not really responsible for my depression – it’s probably a mix of nature and nurture – but I am entirely responsible for how I react to my depression.  My ability to respond, my response-ability.  And that takes me from a place where I am a victim of my brain chemistry to a place where I can respond kindly to myself, to do what I need to to keep myself mentally healthy, to a place where I am empowered.

I feel like there’s a muddle between empowerment and everything being shiny and rosy sometimes, especially online and in circles where empowerment is a nice buzzword.  Empowerment doesn’t mean everything is great.  It means you are embodying the power you need to react.  Whether you react helpfully or unhelpfully probably isn’t the point.  The point to me seems to be that you are in a place where you can, and feel you can, do something with your situation, choice, reaction etc.  To feel you have some power in the way you live your life.

Anyway, vertigo is sharting to shout so I’m ending here…

Pondering authenticity…

With the delights of vertigo I’ve had a lot of time to think… Always fun!  And one of the many things I’ve been mulling over is my own values.

For me, these include helpfulness, kindness, compassion, understanding, efficiency, genuineness and authenticity.

And it is authenticity that I’m going to write about today.

It is so important to me that people are who they are.  One of the things I hated about my job (which I loved by the way), was the politics side of things.  Things like barbed comments which could sound perfectly friendly.  Emails where you have to read between the lines for the actual meaning.  Meetings where people would use words which were essentially meaningless or overly complicated as a way of making themselves sound better.  Those people where you have to really watch what you say because they will spin the meaning.  The smooshing and cooing and making yourself sound more fantastic that you are to higher up people.  It really drove me mad.

I was so bad at it.  I would be straight up.  I didn’t spin double meanings in my emails.  Although if I was really annoyed with someone I would sign off “regards” rather than “kind regards” in that passive aggressive english way… But I wouldn’t claim credit for things I hadn’t done or which were a team effort.  I am a huge fan of plain english.  Talk in a way that makes sense.  Jargon is isolating and if there is a simpler way of saying something, use it.

It helped that my team were awesome and we were great at what we did and the service we provided spoke louder than I ever could.

And then there were the people who were completely different in work than out of work.  I know we all wear masks, we all play roles in different situations but I strongly feel that you can still be authentic.

And I know authenticity can be terrifying.  It’s so hard to put yourself out there and make yourself vulnerable.  If you are authentic then you are in a position where people can judge your true self.  They can cut you to your core.  They can really kick you where it hurts.

So why do it??

Because the rewards are so amazing. You can build genuine relationships with people.  It is easier to live a life aligned with your values.  You can openly follow what interests you and have the joy of sharing it with others.

Have you ever had that moment where you make yourself vulnerable and the other person is like me too?!  That’s such a great feeling.

My relationship with authenticity has been a strange one.  I don’t think anyone would ever accuse me of bowing to peer pressure.  I’ve always known my own mind.  But equally, those people who knew me before I left my parents house would not be able to say they knew me.  I didn’t do things I didn’t want to and I did a lot of things I did want to.  But I didn’t tell anyone about anything.

I had severe depression, bouts of eating disorders, ongoing self harm, suicidal feelings and so on that no one knew about.  Less dramatically, I wrote poetry and loved textile arts and photography that went beyond the snapshots I was allowed to take (the cost of film and development meant my parents were very cautious about using rolls of film).  But no one knew these things about me.  My parents didn’t know.  My friends didn’t know.  And these were really important things about me..

As I moved from my teens to my twenties I slowly started to share more of myself.  I got heavily involved in a student activist society.  I got my first digital camera and started to share my photos with people.  I was started to project a more authentic image of myself.  But I still didn’t tell many people about my mental health or my bisexuality.

After uni, I did various temping jobs before ending up in my awesome team.  And to fit in at those jobs, I felt I had to dress a certain way and be interested in certain things.  These were places filled with diet talk and tales of getting completely and utterly drunk and gossip and such.  Nothing that I could really relate to or feel interested in.  It literally felt like I was in the school yard.  There was the cool guy, the pretty girl etc etc…  And for a while I did change how I dressed and I hid a lot of what makes me who I am.

This meant that when I started my job with my awesome team, my sense of self was crushed.  I struggled to find myself in amongst the masks I had created and I was struggling to recover the parts of myself I had hidden.  So when people asked what I’d been up to at the weekend I’d just say nothing much, a quiet weekend.  Even when those weekends had been filled with feminist group meetings, coffee with friends, craft afternoons, reading great books and so on.

And when you feel you can’t tell someone what you spend your time doing, it makes it very hard to build a relationshup…  The people I worked with can’t really have had much of a sense of who I was.  Thankfully over time, I worked there in varoius roles for six years, I started to refind and rebuild myself, my authentic self.

By the time I retired, I think my team had a good idea of who I am.  They all knew about the physical side of my health, a few people knew about the mental health side of things.  They all knew I was into craft.  My manager knew I wrote poetry (he was the only one who was there for the full six years so obviously had more chance to get to know me).  They knew I wasn’t going to go out and get pissed every Friday night and that didn’t matter.

A lot of how I interact with authenticity today is down to those colleagues adn my amazing manager who continually accepted me for me when I did start to share myself.  There are other people outside of work who were also critical but I think the most important thing for me was to feel able to share myself with people who were not there voluntarily.  I was going to say friends but I do consider some of those people to still be my friends.  But to be accepted by people who had not chosen to know me was important.

I know my blog and twitter and also my retirement have all helped me to live as my authentic self and to unpick what that means to me.

BUT…

And there’s always a but isn’t there?  I am not my authentic self when I am interacting with my family.  And this is about self care and self preservation but the part of me that so strongly values authenticity jars strongly against this.

When my family visit, thankfully rarely, I hide so much of my stuff.  I hide my art, my tarot, my craft, some of my books… I can’t handle my mother critising, belittling or devaluing these parts of who I am.  And I know that she would.

I had a poem published at 16 and needed a cheque to pay for a copy of the book.  When I finally summoned the courage to tell her she told me the poem didn’t make sense and that the only reason the poem was being published was to get the poets to buy the book.  Basically it was all a con and money spinning and my poem was shit.

That delightful anecdote is probably the best way of explaining how my mother reacts to my authentic self.  She wants me to be her.  To be interested in chemistry and biology and when I was working, to follow her career path.  And perhaps that’s the case for most parents.  But in doing so she has repeatedly crushed who I am.  Over and over.  And maybe one day I will feel courageous enough to show her my true self.  But for now, doing so would almost certainly cause a downward spiral in my mental health.

Indeed, my psychologist was on board with me hiding my stuff and not confronting my mother and the related issues.  She thought maybe at some point in the future I should face them but that right now, self protection was the most powerful thing I could do.

So, I do not live fully in line with my value of authenticty.  But I do for the most part.  And the part where I don’t is an act of self love.  You wouldn’t intentionally step into a firing line you knew was going to kill you.  And thus, I do not share my full self with my family.

 

Water: Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck

wp-image-506280627jpg.jpg

After fire in our series of wild unknown animal spirit cards, comes water.  Unsurprisingly, here we have collection of animals who spend either their entire life or a significant part of it, in water!

We have a mix of fresh and salt water animals, and I’m interested to see if that has any bearing on the cards.  But regardless, they are all water dwellers.  And water, in tarot, is the element of the suit of cups.  Which is all about emotions, feelings, relationships etc.  This is about matters of the heart. It’s about intuition and the unconscious.

Think of a body of water as an emotional scale – the surface showing your surface level emotions, the things that you probably understand a bit, the deeper you go the further into your unconsciousness you get.  So right down at the bottom is the tough stuff, probably where your greatest pains are buried.  And there’s no light at the bottom of the ocean, there’s vast amounts of pressure down there which would easily kill a human, so we tend to stay clear.  Coming back up to the visible aspect, this can be used to describe your more conscious emotional state.  If the water is flowing freely, so are your emotions, you feel them and then they pass.  If the water is stagnant, you might be holding on too tightly to your emotions, trying to control them etc.  This will all be relevant when we look at where in the water our animals live.

I love water, I love being by the sea and (if you’re into that sort of thing) I’m a Pisces with Cancer rising so, astrologically speaking, I’m very much a water maiden.


I have been really looking forward to this suit as I’ve been working my way through the deck and have been very frustrated by the vertigo which was stopped me from getting stuck into it.  I have very much glossed over a lot of the wonderful things about water as the vertigo is still persisting… This also means this post may involve lots of typos as I can’t really proof read right now! 

Vertigo Interlude Part 4

And it continues…

A random collection

“Eating the Past: Why and How To Study Food History” by Dr. Megan J. Elias

The Rise and Fall of Sourdough: 6,000 Years of Bread – Professor Eric Pallant

The Birds And The Bees Are Just The Beginning… with Carin Bondar

Neil Bartlett discusses ‘WOULD YOU MIND?’ a sex survey for the Institute of Sexology exhibition

A Journey through Scotland’s Past: The Age of Bronze

Vertigo interlude, part 3

For context, please see part 1.

I am desperate for the vertigo to leave… I just want to watch some really comfy tv and read and such things…

In the meantime, here are some more lectures and talks that are keeping me company…

Animals

The Extinct Ice Age Mammals of North America

Parasites are Way Cool Because…

Forensic Ornithology is Way Cool Because…

Peacocks are way cool because…

A History of Cats and Humans

The Search for Slow Lorises

Fishes are way cool because…

Secrets of the Crocodile MummiesSecrets of the Crocodile Mummies

Bowhead whales are way cool because…

The Surprising Lives of Insects

Penguins are Way Cool Because…

Vertigo interlude, part 2

For context, please see part 1.

The vertigo continues… Overall I am still getting better but having better days and worse days… So bored!

History-ish

The History of Local Anaesthesia – Dr William Harrop-Griffiths

Pigs for Historians: A New View of Early America

The Struggle Against Slavery in History and in the Present – Dr Aidan McQuade

Historical Uses of Honey as Food

Ladies, Pugs, and Porcelain

Maria Tatar: The Big Bad Wolf Reconsidered

The Material History of the Color Blue

Cultural Impacts of Astronomy: Astronomy Of Indigenous Australia

Ghosts of women past

Venomous Women: Poison murderesses in nineteenth-century Germany

Holding it Straight: Sexual Orientation in the Middle Ages

Dr Jennifer Evans: “Aphrodisiacs, Fertility and Medicine in Early Modern England”