Friday, March 14, 2014

Animals


Thousands of years ago, our ancestors performed rituals and ceremonies.  They didn’t have tools ordered from an online catalog or purchased at the Local Wytchy Shoppe.  They made do with what they had. For the ancients, many of their tools - both magical and mundane - came from the animal kingdom.  Few things went to waste. Bones could be turned into anything from a knife to a sewing needle.  An antler could be used as a weapon or a farming tool.  A horse's bladder might become a pouch to carry herbs.  Anything was usable.
Animals have their own myths, folklore and symbolism.  They are here to teach and protect humans.  They have many powerful lessons to give.  They remind us that we are only a small part of creation; that each part of creation has a place; that each creature has its own skill and wisdom.  Animal spirit guides (sometimes called animal totems) are powerful guardians of the land and spirit realm.

In some Scandinavian countries, familiars were associated with spirits of the land and nature.  Fairies, dwarves, and other elemental beings were believed to inhabit the physical bodies of animals.  Once the Christian church came along, this practice went underground -- because any spirit other than an angel must be a demon.  During the witch-hunt era, many domestic animals were killed because of their association with known witches and heretics.

In many modern Pagan traditions, animal magic - and even actual animals - are incorporated into magical belief and practice.  In some traditions of modern Wicca and Paganism, the concept of an animal familiar is incorporated into practice.  Today, a familiar is often defined as an animal with whom we have a magical connection. 

Some Pagans use animal parts in ritual.  While this may seem a bit unsavory to some folks, it's really not that uncommon.  If your tradition doesn't forbid the use of animal parts, and the parts are gathered humanely and ethically, then there's no reason you can't use them.

 

Bee Honey                                                                                                                              Air

Honey bees (or honeybees) are a subset of bees in the genus Apis, primarily distinguished by the production and storage of honey and the construction of colonial nests out of wax.  The first Apis bees appear in the fossil record 23–56 million years ago, in European deposits.  Today, honey bees appear to have their center of origin in South and Southeast Asia. 
Honey is the complex substance made when the nectar and sweet deposits from plants and trees are gathered, modified and stored in the honeycomb by honey bees as a food source for the colony. 

The main uses of honey are in cooking, baking, as a spread on bread, and as an addition to various beverages, such as tea, and as a sweetener in some commercial beverages.  Honey is the main ingredient in the alcoholic beverage mead, which is also known as honey wine or honey beer. 

Worker bees of a certain age will secrete beeswax from a series of glands on their abdomens.  They use the wax to form the walls and caps of the comb.  As with honey, beeswax is gathered by humans.  For thousands of years beeswax has had a wide variety of applications, it has been found in the tombs of Egypt, in wrecked Viking ships and in Roman ruins.  Beeswax never goes bad and can be heated and reused.

With their hard work and diligence, bees can teach one to be productive while still taking the time to enjoy the fruits of one's labor. The industrious energy of the Bee will inspire you in matters of wealth.

You should never swear in front of a bee, they are thought to weaken in the presence of negativity.  If one should fly into the palm of your hand, legend has it that you'll soon receive money.  If a bee doesn't like your energy or actions, you get stung.

 

Boar                                                                                                                                           Earth
Wild boar or wild pig (Sus scrofa) is a species of the pig.  It is the wild ancestor of the domestic pig, an animal with which it freely hybridises. Wild boar are native across much of Northern and Central Europe, the Mediterranean region and much of Asia. Populations have also been artificially introduced in some parts of the world, most notably the Americas and Australasia.  Elsewhere, such as England, populations have also become established after escapes of wild boar from captivity.

The body of the wild boar is compact; the head is large, the legs relatively short. The fur consists of stiff bristles and usually finer fur.  The color usually varies from dark grey to black or brown, but there are great regional differences in color; even whitish animals are known from central Asia.   During winter the fur is much more dense.

In many countries, boar are farmed for their meat.  Boar hair is used in the manufacture of boar-bristle hairbrushes.  Boar hair is also used in the manufacture of paintbrushes.

Gullinbursti (meaning "Gold Mane or Golden Bristles") is a boar in Norse mythology. Likewise, in most European pagan traditions, the wild boar is associated with male solar deities, such as Endovelicus, Freyr and Apollon, due to the nature of death and rebirth attached to the boar's connection to the earth and necrophagous behavior.

The wild boar and a boar's head are common charges in heraldry.  It represents what are often seen as the positive qualities of the boar, namely courage and fierceness in battle.  Native American Indians recognize the pig as a symbol of the abundance of daily life and believe that it teaches us to celebrate life and share it with others.

 

Cat                                                                                                                                               Fire

The domestic cat is a small, usually furry, domesticated, and carnivorous mammal.  It is often called the housecat when kept as an indoor pet or simply the cat when there is no need to distinguish it from other felines.  Cats are often valued by humans for companionship and their ability to hunt vermin and household pests.

Cats are common pets in Europe and North America, and their worldwide population exceeds 500 million.  Feral cats are domestic cats that were born in or have reverted to a wild state.  They are unfamiliar with and wary of humans and roam freely in urban and rural areas.

A Neolithic grave was excavated in Shillourokambos, Cyprus, that contained the skeletons, laid close to one another, of both a human and a cat.  The grave is estimated to be 9,500 years old.  In ancient Egypt, cats were sacred animals, with the Goddess Bastet often depicted in cat form, sometimes taking on the warlike aspect of a lioness. 
Freya—the Goddess of love, beauty, and fertility in Norse mythology—is depicted as riding a chariot drawn by cats.  Vikings used to give kitten to new brides as an essential part of a new household.  Cats were considered appropriate since they were associated with Freya.

Many other cultures have negative superstitions about cats.  An example would be the belief that a black cat "crossing one's path" leads to bad luck, or that cats are witches' familiars used to augment a witch's powers and skills.  The killing of cats in Medieval Ypres, Belgium is commemorated in the innocuous present-day Kattenstoet (cat parade).

Wiccans have always had friendly felines as familiars and animal companions.  During the Middle Ages in Europe through the seventeenth century, cats were often burned at the stake with their owner. 

Call upon cat to aid in psychic ability, intuition, instincts and shamanic journey.  Used to connect with the lunar energies of the moon.  The cat represents agility in body and spirit and can teach one to develop clearer perceptions.  This animal totem is resourceful, strong and fearless.  Use it to increase courage and confidence.

 

Chicken                                                                                                                                    Air

The chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) is a domesticated fowl.  In the UK and Ireland adult male chickens over the age of 12 months are primarily known as cocks, whereas in America, Australia and Canada they are more commonly called roosters.  Females over a year old are known as hens.  Humans keep chickens primarily as a source of food, consuming both their meat and their eggs. 

Roosters can usually be differentiated from hens by their striking plumage of long flowing tails and shiny, pointed feathers on their necks (hackles) and backs (saddle) which are typically of brighter, bolder colors than those of females of the same breed. However, in some breeds, such as the Sebright, the rooster has only slightly pointed neck feathers, the same color as the hen's. The identification can be made by looking at the comb, or eventually from the development of spurs on the male's legs (in a few breeds and in certain hybrids, the male and female chicks may be differentiated by color).

Since antiquity chickens have been, and still are, a sacred animal in some cultures and deeply embedded within belief systems and religious worship.  The term "Persian bird" for the cock appears to been given by the Greeks after Persian contact "because of his great importance and his religious use among the Persians".  The ancient Greeks believed that even lions were afraid of cocks.

The Rooster heralds the sun at the beginning of each new day. For the Chinese, the rooster represents a vigorous, joyful embrace of life, as well as a hearty sexual appetite. The rooster also has spiritual symbolism and may assist you with prophetic insights as you approach new beginnings in life.

 

Dog                                                                                                                                             Earth

The domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) is a subspecies of the gray wolf (Canis lupus).  The term "domestic dog" is generally used for both domesticated and feral varieties.  The dog was the first domesticated animal and has been the most widely kept working, hunting and pet animal in human history.  The word 'dog' can also refer to the male of a canine species, as opposed to the word 'bitch' which refers to the female of the species.

The oldest fossil specimens genetically linked to the modern dog's lineage date to approximately 33,000–36,000 years ago.  Dogs' value to early human hunter-gatherers led to them quickly becoming ubiquitous across world cultures.  Dogs perform many roles for people, such as hunting, herding, pulling loads, protection, assisting police and military, companionship, and aiding handicapped individuals.  This impact on human society has given them the nickname "man's best friend" in the Western world.  In some cultures, however, dogs are also a source of meat.  In 2001, there were estimated to be 400 million dogs in the world.
 
In mythology, dogs often serve as pets or as watchdogs.  In Greek mythology, Cerberus is a three-headed watchdog who guards the gates of Hades.  In Norse mythology, a bloody, four-eyed dog called Garmr guards Helheim.  In Persian mythology, two four-eyed dogs guard the Chinvat Bridge.  In Philippine mythology, Kimat who is the pet of Tadaklan, God of thunder, is responsible for lightning.  In Welsh mythology, Annwn is guarded by Cwn Annwn.  In Hindu mythology, Yama, the God of death owns two watch dogs who have four eyes.

Frigg was believed to travel in a chariot drawn by a pack of dogs, perfect symbols of fidelity and faithfulness. Dogs are incredibly psychic.  Dogs are also sensitive to weather changes.  So if a storm is brewing and your are out in the wilderness, follow your four-legged friend - he'll take you to safety.  Use dog spirit for protection, companionship and unconditional love.

One of the domesticated dog's greatest attribute is the capacity for unconditional love. He helps protect the family from bad feelings toward one another. Dogs have long served as guardians for man. They are infinitely loyal and steadfast in loving kindness, service and protection.

 

Eagle Golden                                                                                                                        Air

The Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is one of the best-known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the most widely distributed species of eagle.  These birds are dark brown, with lighter golden-brown plumage on their napes.  Immature eagles of this species typically have white on the tail and often have white markings on the wings.  Golden Eagles use their agility and speed combined with extremely powerful feet and massive, sharp talons to snatch up a variety of prey (mainly hares, rabbits, marmots and other ground squirrels).

For centuries, this species has been one of the most highly regarded birds used in falconry, with the Eurasian subspecies having been used to hunt and kill prey such as Gray Wolves in some native communities. Due to its hunting prowess, the Golden Eagle is regarded with great mystic reverence in some ancient, tribal cultures.

The Golden Eagle is the most common national animal in the world, with five nations—Albania, Germany, Austria, Mexico and Kazakhstan—making it the national animal.  Another large tradition of using the Golden Eagle can be found in the Arab world, where the eagle is historically a symbol of power in Arabic poetry, and was according to legend the personal emblem of Saladin.
Earlier Eurasian cultures and faiths also feature eagles quite prominently. In Hellenistic religion, the golden eagle is the signature bird of the God Zeus, a connection most notable in the myth of Ganymede.  In Norse mythology, the Golden Eagle sits atop Yggdrasil, the great ash tree that runs through the universe.  A squirrel, Ratsatosk, carries messages and insults between the eagle at the crown and a serpent gnawing at the tree roots.

In many cultures, eagles were viewed as a link between terrestrial mankind and celestial deities.  Many banners, coins and insignias from Rome feature eagles.  One of the most prominent eagle-related Celtic myths is that of Llew Llaw Gyffes who escaped death at the hands of a hunter who spears him by taking an eagle’s form and killing the hunter.  When the Roman Empire blended with Celtic tradition, many symbols feature both eagles and the Celtic sun Gods.

http://nordicwiccan.blogspot.com/2013/04/eagle.html

 

Elk                                                                                                                                               Earth

The elk or wapiti (Cervus canadensis) is one of the largest species of deer family in the world, and one of the largest land mammals in North America and eastern Asia.  Elk range in forest and forest-edge habitat, feeding on grasses, plants, leaves, and bark. 

Male elk have large antlers which are shed each year.  Males also engage in ritualized mating behaviors during the rut, including posturing, antler sparring and bugling, a loud series of vocalizations which establishes dominance over other males and attracts females.

Some cultures revere the elk as a spiritual force. In parts of Asia, antlers and their velvet are used in traditional medicines.  Elk are hunted as a game species; the meat is leaner and higher in protein than beef or chicken.

Algiz is the name conventionally given to the z or x-rune ᛉ for elk, protection.  The Algiz rune’s traditional meaning is ‘protection’.  It is the rune which comes between us and harms way in the physical world as well as the spiritual.  This rune often also represents ‘peace’ and interestingly, today’s ‘Peace’ sign/symbol is the Algiz rune, encircled.

Pictograms and petroglyphs of elk were carved into cliffs thousands of years ago by the Anasazi of the southwestern U.S.  More recent Native American tribes, including the Kootenai, Cree, Blackfeet, Ojibwa and Pawnee, produced blankets and robes from elk hides.

The elk was of particular importance to the Lakota and played a spiritual role in their society.  At birth, Lakota males were given an elk's tooth to promote a long life since that was seen as the last part of dead elk to rot away.  The elk was seen as having strong sexual potency and young Lakota males who had dreamed of elk would have an image of the mythical representation of the elk on their 'courting coats' as a sign of sexual prowess.  The Lakota believed that the mythical or spiritual elk, not the physical one, was the teacher of men and the embodiment of strength, sexual prowess and courage.

 

Falcon Peregrine                                                                                                               Fire

The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), also known as the Peregrine and historically as the Duck Hawk in North America, is a widespread bird of prey.  A large, crow-sized falcon, it has a blue-grey back, barred white under parts, and a black head and moustache. 

As is typical of bird-eating raptors, Peregrine Falcons are sexually dimorphic, females being considerably larger than males.  The Peregrine is renowned for its speed, reaching over 200 mph during its characteristic hunting stoop (high speed dive), making it the fastest member of the animal kingdom.  According to a National Geographic TV program, the highest measured speed of a Peregrine Falcon is 242 mph.

The Peregrine's breeding range includes land regions from the Arctic tundra to the tropics.  It can be found nearly everywhere on Earth, except extreme polar regions, very high mountains and most tropical rainforests.  This makes it the world's most widespread raptor. 

The Peregrine Falcon has been used in falconry for more than 3,000 years, beginning with nomads in central Asia.  Due to its ability to dive at high speeds, it is highly sought-after and generally used by experienced falconers.  Peregrine Falcons are also occasionally used to scare away birds at airports to reduce the risk of bird-plane strikes, improving air-traffic safety and were used to intercept homing pigeons during World War II.

Due to its striking hunting technique, the Peregrine has often been associated with aggression and martial prowess.  Native Americans of the Mississippian culture used the Peregrine in imagery as a symbol of aerial (or celestial) power and buried men of high status in costumes associating to the ferocity of 'raptorial' birds.  

The falcon is the womanly match to the eagle.  Both Freya and Frowe in Norse myths have falcon-cloaks.  In the late Middle Ages, the Western European nobility that used Peregrines for hunting, considered the bird associated with princes in formal hierarchies of birds of prey, just below the Gyrfalcon associated with kings.  It was considered "a royal bird, more armed by its courage than its claws".

 

Goat                                                                                                                                            Air

The domestic goat (Capra aegagrus hircus) is a subspecies of goat domesticated from the wild goat of southwest Asia and Eastern Europe.  There are over 300 distinct breeds of goat.  Goats are one of the oldest domesticated species, and have been used for their milk, meat, hair and skins over much of the world.
According to Norse mythology, the God of thunder, Thor, has a chariot that is pulled by the goats Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjostr.  At night when he sets up camp, Thor eats the meat of the goats, but takes care that all bones remain whole.  Then he wraps the remains up, and in the morning, the goats always come back to life to pull the chariot.  When a farmer's son who is invited to share the meal breaks one of the goats' leg bones to suck the marrow, the animal's leg remains broken in the morning, and the boy is forced to serve Thor as a servant to compensate for the damage.

Possibly related, the Yule Goat is one of the oldest Scandinavian and Northern European Yule and Christmas symbols and traditions.  Yule Goat originally denoted the goat that was slaughtered around Yule, but it may also indicate a goat figure made out of straw.  The Gavle Goat is a giant version of the Yule Goat, erected every year in the Swedish city of Gavle.

Work with the spirit of goat to climb higher and to go beyond yourself imposed limitations.  Goat magic is used for prosperity, success and having the will to get where you want to be.

http://nordicwiccan.blogspot.com/2013/05/goat.html

 

Gull Herring                                                                                                                          Water

The American Herring Gull or Smithsonian Gull (Larus) is a large gull which breeds in North America.  Adults are white with gray back and wings, black wingtips with white spots, and pink legs.

It occurs in a variety of habitats including coasts, lakes, rivers and garbage dumps. The breeding range extends across the northern part of North America from central Alaska to the Great Lakes and north-east coast of the USA.  Its broad diet includes invertebrates, fish, and many other items.  It usually nests near water, laying around three eggs in a scrape on the ground.
The first seafarers kept in sight of land. That was the first trick of navigation—follow the coast. To find an old fishing ground or the way through a shoal, one could line up landmarks.  But what if land were nowhere nearby?  The sun moving across the commonly cloudless Mediterranean sky gave them their direction and quarter.  At night, they steered by the stars. 

The Norsemen had to have other navigational means at their disposal, for in summer the stars effectively do not appear for months on end in the high latitudes. One method they relied on was watching the behavior of birds. A sailor wondering which way land lay could do worse than spying a seabird flying past. If the beak of this seabird is full, it's heading towards its rookery, land; if empty, it's heading out to sea to fill that beak.

 

Horse                                                                                                                                         Earth

The horse (Equus ferus caballus) is an odd-toed ungulate mammal.  The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today.

Humans began to domesticate horses around 4000 BC.  There is an extensive, specialized vocabulary used to describe equine-related concepts, covering everything from anatomy to life stages, size, colors, markings, breeds, locomotion and behavior.

Horses' anatomy enables them to make use of speed to escape predators and they have a well-developed sense of balance and a strong fight-or-flight response.  They are used for working and sporting activities, as well as many products derived from horses, including meat, milk, hide, hair, bone and pharmaceuticals.
Ehwaz is the name of the e rune ᛖ, meaning horse, movement, loyalty, adaptability.  The Ehwaz rune symbolizes inner strength and fortitude.  It is a rune of strength, will and determination to perform one’s duties diligently.  Ehwaz represents energy and motion and the force and power by which to achieve.

In Norse myths, God Odin is closely connected with a horse called Sleipnir, a spear called Gungnir, a pair of wolves named Geri and Freki and two ravens Huginn and Muninn.

Many horses become very skittish or frisky around people.  Once a horse settles down a bit and gets used to you, a true friendship can be made.  Horses are dependable, trustworthy, thrive with mutual respect, and bring a special brand of joy and beauty to anyone who befriends them.

http://nordicwiccan.blogspot.com/2013/02/horse.html

 

Human                                                                                                                                     Spirit

Modern humans (Homo sapiens) are the only remaining species of the hominids, a branch of great apes characterized by erect posture and bipedal locomotion; manual dexterity and increased tool use; and a general trend toward larger, more complex brains and societies.  Homo sapiens reached anatomical modernity about 200,000 years ago and began to exhibit behavioral modernity around 50,000 years ago.  Humans have become the most cosmopolitan species, with established populations on all but the smallest, driest and coldest lands; and permanently manned bases in Antarctica, on offshore platforms and orbiting the Earth.  By 2012 the global human population was estimated to be around 7 billion.

Spirituality, belief or involvement in matters of the soul or spirit, is one of the many different approaches humans take in trying to answer fundamental questions about humankind's place in the universe, the meaning of life, and the ideal way to live one's life.  Though these topics have also been addressed by philosophy, and to some extent by science, spirituality is unique to humans in that it focuses on mystical or supernatural concepts such as karma and Gods.

Ancestor worship was an element in pre-Christian Scandinavian culture.  The ancestors were of great importance for the self-image of the family and people believed that they were still able to influence the life of their descendants from the land of the dead.  Contact with them was seen as crucial to the well-being of the family.  If they were treated in the ritually correct way, they could give their blessings to the living and secure their happiness and prosperity.  Conversely, the dead could haunt the living and bring bad fortune if the rituals were not followed. 

 

Mouse House                                                                                                                        Earth

The house mouse (Mus musculus) is a small mammal, characteristically having a pointed snout, small rounded ears, and a long naked or almost hairless tail.  Although a wild animal, the house mouse mainly lives in association with humans.

The house mouse has been domesticated as the pet or fancy mouse, and as the laboratory mouse, which is one of the most important model organisms in biology and medicine.  The mouse is often found in fields, farms, houses and other urban areas.

Mice use their sharp front teeth to chew things into small pieces.  This totem teaches to break a problem into smaller sections in order to deal with it one part at a time.  The magic of mouse is used to increase the sensitivity of the senses other than sight.  The Mouse teaches that persistence and devotion will eventually permit passage to a greater awareness.

 

Narwhal                                                                                                                                  Water

The narwhal, or narwhale (Monodon monoceros), is a medium-sized toothed whale and the animal with the largest canines.  It lives year-round in the Arctic.   Narwhal males are distinguished by a long, straight, helical tusk, actually an elongated upper left canine.

Narwhals have been harvested for over a thousand years by Inuit people in northern Canada and Greenland for meat and ivory, and a regulated subsistence hunt continues to this day. 

In Inuit legend, the narwhal's tusk was created when a woman with a harpoon rope tied around her waist was dragged into the ocean after the harpoon had struck a large narwhal.  She was transformed into a narwhal herself, and her hair, which she was wearing in a twisted knot, became the characteristic spiral narwhal tusk.
Some medieval Europeans believed narwhal tusks to be the horns from the legendary unicorn.  As these horns were considered to have magic powers, such as the ability to cure poison and melancholia, Vikings and other northern traders were able to sell them for many times their weight in gold.

 

Owl Barn                                                                                                                                 Air

The Barn Owl (Tyto alba) is the most widely distributed species of owl, and one of the most widespread of all birds.  It is found almost anywhere in the world except polar and desert regions.  The Barn Owl is a pale, long-winged, long-legged owl with a short squarish tail.
It is known by many other names, which may refer to the appearance, call, habitat or the silent flight: Common Barn Owl, White Owl, Silver Owl, Demon Owl, Church Owl, Cave Owl, Hobgoblin Owl, White-breasted Owl, Straw Owl, Barnyard Owl or Delicate Owl. 

This wise bird is said to hold all the secrets of the universe.  Speak aloud to the owl and ask your question.  If it hoots once, the answer will be no, but if it hoots twice, the answer will be yes.

 

Platypus                                                                                                                                  Water

The platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) is a semi-aquatic mammal endemic to eastern Australia, including Tasmania.  Together with the four species of echidna, it is one of the five extant species of monotremes, the only mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth.

The unusual appearance of this egg-laying, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed mammal baffled European naturalists when they first encountered it, with some considering it an elaborate fraud.  It is one of the few venomous mammals, the male platypus having a spur on the hind foot that delivers a venom capable of causing severe pain to humans.  The unique features of the platypus make it an important subject in the study of evolutionary biology and a recognizable and iconic symbol of Australia; it has appeared as a mascot at national events and is featured on the reverse of its 20-cent coin.  The platypus is the animal emblem of the state of New South Wales.

The platypus has been featured in the Dreamtime stories of indigenous Australians, who believed the animal was a hybrid of a duck and a water rat.  According to one story, the major animal groups, the land animals, water animals and birds, all competed for the platypus to join their respective groups, but the platypus ultimately decided to not join any of them, feeling that he did not need to be part of a group to be special.

The platypus is sometimes jokingly referred to as proof that God has a sense of humor (at the beginning of the film Dogma, for example).  Robin Williams implied that God was also stoned on marijuana when he invented the platypus.

 

Rabbit Cottontail                                                                                                                Earth

Cottontail rabbits are among the 17 species in the genus Sylvilagus, found in the Americas.  Most Sylvilagus species have stub tails with white undersides that show when they retreat; giving them their name, 'cottontails'.

Cottontails are rarely found out of their burrows looking for food on windy days.  This phenomena is due to the fact that the wind interferes with their hearing capabilities.  Hearing an oncoming predator approaching is their primary defense.

Being a symbol of fertility, the Rabbit is very beneficial to woman.  If a rabbit is found in your garden, it could mean news of a baby for you or someone close to you.

The Rabbit survives by its wits and is a quick thinker.  He is often associated with timidity and fear.  This can remind us to move forward despite our fears and use our intuition to get through difficult situations.

 

Raven Common                                                                                                                  Air

The Common Raven (Corvus corax), also known as the Northern Raven, is a large all-black bird.  Found across the Northern Hemisphere.  Some notable feats of problem-solving provide evidence that the common raven is unusually intelligent.  Over the centuries, it has been the subject of mythology, folklore, art and literature.  In many cultures, including the indigenous cultures of Scandinavia, ancient Ireland, the northwest coast of North America, Siberia and northeast Asia, the Common Raven has been revered as a spiritual figure or God.

It has a longish, strongly graduated tail, mostly black iridescent plumage and a dark brown iris.  The throat feathers are elongated and pointed and the bases of the neck feathers are pale brownish-grey.
In recent years, biologists have recognized that birds engage in play. Juvenile Common Ravens are among the most playful of bird species.  They have been observed to slide down snow banks, apparently purely for fun.  They even engage in games with other species, such as playing catch-me-if-you-can with wolves, otters and dogs.  Common Ravens are known for spectacular aerobatic displays, such as flying in loops or interlocking talons with each other in flight.  They are also one of only a few wild animals who make their own toys.  They have been observed breaking off twigs to play with socially.
 
In Norse mythology, Huginn and Muninn are a pair of ravens that fly all over the world, Midgard, and bring the God Odin information.  One of the first Norwegian sailors to hazard the voyage to Iceland was a man known as Raven-Floki for his habit of keeping ravens aboard his vessel.  When he thought he was nearing land, Raven-Floki released the ravens, which he had deliberately starved.  Often as not, they flew "as the crow flies" directly toward land, which Raven-Floki would reach simply by following their lead.

Raven is used for all manner of magic.  Being a spirit that is connected with the powers of creation, communication, transformation and navigating in the dark.

 

Salamander Red Backed                                                                                              Fire

The red back (or redback or red-backed) salamander (Plethodon cinereus) is a small, hardy woodland salamander. It inhabits wooded slopes in eastern North America.  It is also known as the eastern red-backed salamander  or the northern red back salamander to distinguish it from the southern red back salamander (Plethodon serratus).

The red back salamander is a small (6 to 10 cm) terrestrial salamander which usually lives in forested areas under rocks, logs, bark, and other debris.  It is one of the most numerous salamanders throughout its range.  The red back salamander exhibits color polymorphism and two color variations are common: the nominate 'red back' variety has a red dorsal stripe that tapers towards the tail, and the darker variety, known as the 'lead back phase', lacks most or all of the red pigmentation.

Numerous legends have developed around the salamander over the centuries, many related to fire.  This connection likely originates from the tendency of many salamanders to dwell inside rotting logs.  When placed into a fire, the salamander would attempt to escape from the log, lending to the belief that salamanders were created from flames.  They work with the ability to cloak in the face of adversity. 

 

Shark Greenland                                                                                                               Fire

The Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus), also known as the gurry shark or grey shark, or by the Inuit name Eqalussuaq, is a large shark that is native to the waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. These sharks live farther north than any other shark species.

Greenland sharks grow to 21 feet and 2,200 pounds.  The Greenland Shark is a thickset species with a short, rounded snout, small eyes, and very small dorsal and pectoral fins.  Coloration can range from pale creamy-gray to blackish-brown and the body is typically uniform in color, though whitish spots or faint dark streaks are occasionally seen on the back.
This species of the shark holds the world record for being the most poisonous in its type.  However, it can be eaten if it is boiled in several changes of water or dried or fermented for some months to produce Kæstur Hákarl.  Traditionally this was done by burying the shark in boreal ground, exposing it to several cycles of freezing and thawing.  It is considered a delicacy in Iceland and Greenland.

The Greenland shark plays a role in cosmologies of the Inuit from the Canadian Eastern Arctic and Greenland.  Igloolik Inuit believe that the shark lives within Sedna's urine pot, and consequently its flesh has an urine-like smell, and acts as a helping spirit to shamans.

 

Snake Common Garter                                                                                                   Fire

The Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) is an indigenous North American snake found widely across the continent.  Most garter snakes have a pattern of yellow stripes on a brown or green background and their average length is about 22 inches, with a maximum length of about 54 inches.  The average body mass is 5 ounces.

The habitat of the garter snake ranges from forests, fields, and prairies to streams, wetlands, meadows, marshes, and ponds, and it is often found near water. It is found at altitudes from sea level to mountain locations.  

The snake has been a source of controversy as to its symbolism for centuries.  In some religions it represents the lower elements (devil) and in others it symbolizes healing and higher transformation.

In Egyptian history, the snake occupies a primary role with the Nile cobra adorning the crown of the pharaoh in ancient times.  It was worshipped as one of the Gods and was also used for sinister purposes: murder of an adversary and ritual suicide (Cleopatra).

India is often called the land of snakes and is steeped in tradition regarding snakes.  Snakes are worshipped as Gods, even today with many women pouring milk on snake pits.  There is a Hindu festival called Nag Panchami, each year on which day snakes are venerated and prayed to.

Iar used for io/ia (serpent), binding or encircling.  j  Ior symbolizes dual natures, evident in the amphibious habits of many water beasts (like the World Serpent).  In Norse mythology the World Serpent (or Midgard serpent) known as Jormungandr encircled the world in the ocean's abyss biting its own tail.  It also signifies the unavoidable hardships in life that we can do nothing about, but should still not worry about.

In Neo-Paganism and Wicca, the snake is seen as a symbol of wisdom and knowledge.  Snake is the power of regeneration through shedding your old skin.  It also helps with grounding, mysteries and transformation.

 

Spider Common Garden                                                                                                Fire

Garden spiders are found on many continents throughout the globe.  As their name suggests, they can be found outdoors and in gardens.  Garden spiders are not aggressive and are more likely to retreat from than attack humans.  The garden spider uses its web to capture food.  Although their eyesight is poor, garden spiders are extremely sensitive to vibrations along the strands of their webs.  Positioning themselves at the center of their web, garden spiders hang upside down and jump on the prey.  Like other spiders, garden spiders must liquefy their prey in order to consume it.

Spiders have been the focus of stories and mythologies of various cultures for centuries.  They have symbolized patience due to their hunting technique of setting webs and waiting for prey, as well as mischief and malice due to their venomous (and sometimes deadly) bites.

The spider is said to be the only living creature that can understand the human language like a human.  Some witches talk to spiders and some are known to put one in their pocket for a few moments to increase their wealth.  

 

Tortoise Giant                                                                                                                      Earth

Giant tortoises are characteristic reptiles of certain tropical islands. Often reaching enormous size—they can weigh as much as 660 pounds and can grow to be 4 feet long.  These animals belong to an ancient group of reptiles, appearing about 250 million years ago.
Giant tortoises are among the world's longest-living animals, with an average lifespan of 130 years or more.  But they move very slowly on dry land, at only 0.17 mph (0.27 km/h).

Due to their long lifespan, slow movement, sturdiness, and wrinkled appearance, they are an emblem of longevity and stability in many cultures around the world.  Tortoise shells were used by ancient Chinese as oracle bones to make predictions.  The tortoise is a symbol of the Ancient Greek God, Hermes.

 

Turtle Painted                                                                                                                     Earth

The painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) is the most widespread native turtle of North America. It lives in slow-moving fresh waters, from southern Canada to Louisiana and northern Mexico, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

The turtle's top shell is dark and smooth, without a ridge. Its skin is olive to black with red, orange, or yellow stripes on its extremities.

Indian tribes were familiar with the painted turtle—young braves were trained to recognize its splashing into water as an alarm—and incorporated it in folklore.  Painted Turtle is the star of the legend and uses his distinctive markings to trick a woman into holding him so he can bite her.  An Illini myth recounts how Painted Turtle put his paint on to entice a chief's daughter into the water.  In the traditional tales of Algonquian tribes, the colorful turtle played the part of a trickster.

Turtles are regularly incorporated into human culture, with painters, photographers, poets, songwriters, and sculptors using them as subjects.  They have an important role in mythologies around the world, and are often implicated in creation myths regarding the origin of the Earth.

Turtle's main power is its shell, the power of protection.  It is also called upon for grounding, centering and connecting with the Earth Goddess.

 

Zebra                                                                                                                                         Earth

Zebras are several species of African equids (horse family) united by their distinctive black and white stripes.  Their stripes come in different patterns, unique to each individual.  They are generally social animals that live in small harems to large herds.  Unlike their closest relatives, horses and donkeys, zebras have never been truly domesticated.

Zebras have been the subject of African folk tales which tell how they got their stripes.  According to a San folk tale of Namibia, the zebra was once all white, but acquired its black stripes after a fight with a baboon over a waterhole.  After kicking the baboon so hard, the zebra lost his balance and tripped over a fire, and the fire sticks left scorch marks all over his white coat.

 

 

I have several more pages, hundreds, on animals and spirituality.  And there are dozens of sites with more information on animal magic.  If there is a request, I can post more on animals or a type of animal.  But this can be a fun one to study.  There are thousands of types of animals out there so you could spend a lifetime reviewing them and still not know all of them.  Start by looking out your window, right now.  Study that animal first, use your backyard and start spreading out. 




Blessed Be!

No comments:

Post a Comment