Cockatoo: Animal Dreaming

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This is a Sulpher Crested Cockatoo and is the guardian of the east gate and an emissary of the sun.  Her sister, the Black Cockatoo, holds memories of creation and the dreaming.

These large parrots are noisy and conspicuous both when resting and flying.  They spend most of the time in flocks and when they are together, their raucous screeches can be deafening.  They can be found scratching on the ground, foraging for berries, seeds and nuts whilst some of the group watch out for danger.  They are curious, intelligent birds which can live a long time – up to 70 years in captivity.  This gives them a long time to gather wisdom and knowledge.

I have read that the sulphur crested cockatoo is symbolic of the light at the end of the tunnel although I haven’t found much about the reasons behind that.  Perhaps it’s simply the white and yellow combination and the symbology associated with that?

As I mentioned, this cockatoo is an emissary of the sun, and hence light and illumination and clarity.  Perhaps this card is asking you to shine light on your shadows to see them more clearly.  I think also the social nature of this bird and their intelligence are suggesting that seeking help from friends or reflecting on things more academically than emotionally may help you right now.

Bat: Animal Dreaming

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Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Bat

Australia has over 90 species of bat, ranging a lot in size and habitat.  This one though looks like the spectacled flying fox, also known as the spectacled fruit bat.  The head and body length is 22–25 cm and prefer life in the rainforest, eating, as the name suggests, fruit!

As we saw in the owl card, in some aboriginal cultures, the souls of women are associated with owls, and the souls of men with bats.  There is a lovely tale about the bat, Balayang, and how he found his wives and also the story of how Balayang came to be black.

In terms of the keyword rebirth, there are a couple of ways I see this:

The spectacled flying fox doesn’t live in caves, but let’s say we have a bat which does.  We can see the cave as a the womb, literally of mother earth, and the bat leaves the cave after hanging upside down, the same way that a baby leaves it’s mother during birth.  In the cycle of birth, death and rebirth, some aborigines place their dead in caves.

In one aboriginal story, it was all dark and the animals didn’t like this although bat did.  Eventually he was persuaded to help bring back the light.  Bat asked around to see if anyone had a boomarang.  Lizard did and even though lizard liked the dark, he handed it to bat.  Bat threw the boomarang and divided the darkness, giving light to the animals and keeping dark for himself. And thus the cycle of night and day continues, giving us a daily rebirth.

Brolga: Animal Dreaming

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As the card suggests, the brolga is known for it’s dance.  They are long legged cranes with long slender necks and a trill call.

The importance of dance for the brolga is illustrated in their elaborate courtship rituals.  They start by picking up grass, tossing it in the air and catching it.  Then they leap into the air, wings outstretched, necks stretched upwards.  This is followed by head bobbing, walking and calling.  These displays strengthen pair bonds which are important as they tend to mate for life.

Bonded brolgas also engage in singing, the female intitiates and both the male and the female have their own lines for the calls.  For each two calls from the female, the male does one longer call.

The brolga asks us to inhabit our bodies, to express ourselves through movement, to connect with others through dance.  The brolga is bringing us the ability to be uninhibited, to twist and turn with ecstasy, to call out with joy and aliveness, to dance as though no one is watching.

Whilst I feel like this is the message of the brolga, I realise it’s not very inclusive and actually I can’t really dance anymore.  Maybe think about how you could experience this freedom and sense of self and expression in other ways.  For me, some sort of art might be one way.

Bilby: Animal Dreaming

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Oh my, the bilby is cute!  Their huge ears and their long tails make this little creature look rather like a mouse-kangaroo.  These mini marsupials have poor eyesight but overcome that with nocturnal living as well as excellent hearing, excellent sense of smell and their long snout.

They are unfortunately getting quite rare which is worrying because they are considered to be an environmental barometer.  They have been described as “ecological engineers” because of their burrowing skills.  These tunnels help water get to tree routes and create homes for other animals.  The bilby is also really important when it comes to moving seeds around.

Bilbies they eat insects, seeds, fruit and fungi and don’t need to drink water which is just as well when they life in the desert!  They find their food by digging or scratching in the soil and using their very long tongues.

As I mentioned, bilbies are endangered and vulnerable, both from an individual perspective and a population wide one.  With this danger resting on them, it’s little wonder they are nervous, fearful creatures.  And as we saw with the rabbit, fear breeds fear.  Are you viewing the world through a lens of fear?  If so, examine it, are these reasonable fears.  Perhaps your amazingly sensitive nose is sniffing out trouble where there is none…

In the case of the bilby, unfortunately their fears are reasonable.  The introduction of invasive species has been bad news for the bilby; feral cats and foxes hunt them and rabbits eat similar food so compete for resources.  Indeed, the lesser bilby went extinct in the 1950s-ish because of this as well as habitat changes and changes in fire clearance.

The bilby enjoys a lot of the plants which grow following a fire and their burrowing nature probably protects them from much of the damage.  They build extensive tunnel systems in their home ranges and use them to get around without encountering predators and without having to deal with the heat.  Amazingly, their burrows go down into the earth in spirals and can be up to 2m deep!  Because of all the digging involved in their lifestyle, their pouches face backwards to stop dirt getting in when they’re burrowing.

The bilby’s underground life is explained in a tale about Bilba, the bilby, and Mayra, the wind.

Dragonfly: Animal Dreaming

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Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Dragonfly

Of the 6000+ dragonfly and damselfly species worldwide, 320 of these are from Australia and it is said that dragonflies are a sign of the coming dry season.  A time of heat and mirages, illusions.  These beautiful, deceptive creatures are reminiscent of faeries and wishes but this belies a vicious fighting nature.  Don’t let yourself be distracted by appearances, they can be illusions.

And be aware of your illusions about yourself.  We all deceive ourselves, we create limits to protect ourselves.  Look at these, are they real?  Are they illusions?  Why have you spun these webs of invisible silk?

 

Oystercatcher: Animal Dreaming

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The oystercatcher was one of those creatures I’d never heard of and was also the first card I drew from this deck.

These birds are white underneath and black on top, similar to that of a penguin.  As we’ll see when we get to that card, the penguin uses it’s colouring to help it camouflage – the black from above blends into the sea and white underneath blends into the sky.

Oystercatchers are common in Australia, found along sandy coastlines, but apparently don’t actually eat oysters…  Instead they eat molluscs and crabs, using their strong, long beak to break them open.  They also use this amazing tool to probe the mud to find food.

By virtue of their diet, they are waders which inhabit the liminal space between the tides.  They relish in the inbetween.  A space which is neither here nor there.  Between the physical and the spiritual.  This also links us with the moon which pulls the tides and creates this space.  Perhaps you can find your own comfort and nourishment in the rhythms of the moon and the tides.

These shy birds engage in courtship flights over the sea and although they don’t breed until 3-5 years, they form bonds earlier than this.  As parents, they share care duties, nesting on sand or shingle just above high tide.

The keyword is concealment, something we tend to associate with secrets, which we tend to associate with deception and pain.  But secrets and concealment can be about protecting yourself and I discussed this a lot in a post about authenticity.  The ambiguity which this bird is comfortable with, this liminal space is one that you too should feel able to inhabit.  There is a difference between lying and deceiving, and concealing and sheltering.  This is something I have struggled with, feeling that unless I am completely upfront about everything about me that somehow I am not being authentic.  Of course this is not the case and boundaries are different for different relationships.  This is about self protection not about dishonesty.

I feel the oystercatcher is asking you to check in, is concealment still necessary?  Who are you concealing things from?  What are your motives?

Owl: Animal Dreaming

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Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Owl

The owl, with her wide eyes and night vision, has the ability to see clearly, to see through deception and to get to the truth.  Perhaps it is because of this, plus the element of surprise they have due to their silent flight, that some cultures find them such frightful birds.  Watch out for people trying to deceive you, or self deception.

In some parts of Australia, we see the owl representing the souls of women (and the bat represents the souls of men) which echoes the feminine ideas discussed in relation to the wild unknown owl.

One myth recounts the great flood when people were all drowned.  It began with a group of children teasing Dumbi the owl, a bird sacred to the Wandjina (spirit beings) .  They were horrible and cruel but eventually Dumbi escaped and flew to the Wandjina to complain about how we was treated.  The Wandjina became angry and reacted by sending thunder, lightning and rain.  Lots of rain.  It rained and rained and the water rose and rose and everyone drowned.  Except for two children, a girl and a boy who were saved by a kangaroo.  These children would eventually begin the repopulation of earth.