I don't know what provoked my latest journey into the world of symbols this Friday last, but I suddenly had the urge to explore the world of fauna and the wealth of collateral symbolism that world happens to embody. In particular I was drawn to the notion of animal as totem, which is a more personalized approach to animal symbolism. Here is a very nice definition for this phenomena.
After reading various explanations about the nature of animal totems, I began exploring the individual symbolism for each of the animals and was intrigued. So intrigued, in fact, that I spent the entire afternoon reading about each and every animal, mostly on this website. Yeah, yeah, slow day at the office. Whatever. Anyway, should you have any interest at all in this subject and you don't want to sift through virtual page after page of animalia, check out the abridged version here.
Anyhow, as I was exploring the array of feathered, fuzzed and scaly beings, certain creatures and their collateral symbolism began to resonate for me, nine of them to be exact. And all nine of them I have had a life long fascination with, I might add, and are presented below in no particular order.
First and foremost, the crow. Birdies, as some of you may know, are my most favoritest of pets for I am owned by nine such feathered friends. My buzzards are intelligent, loyal chatterboxes and I just love them!
At any rate, back to the crow. Keeper of knowledge, keenly observant, maker of mischief, sophisticated communicator, ebony thaumaturge. I believe crow walks with me at all times, my feminine side.
Second, buffalo. My entire life I've been drawn to all creatures bovine. I believe these animals are majestic and beautiful, intelligent and protective, at times unpredictable and dangerous. Buffalo is about balance, respect, acceptance, service and sacrifice. Last winter I had the privilege to walk amongst a small herd of buffalo at a relative's ranch in Northern California. It took my breath way to touch the coats of these beautiful creatures, watching them, watching me. Literally, I was awestruck by the experience and I shall never forget the eyes of those amazing beings, dark and full of depth. Reverence is the word that comes to mind when I think back on my encounter with the herd. I believe buffalo to be my other constant companion, my male side, for I have much to learn.
Third, the batty bat.
Bat wings are a recurring theme in my work.
Yet another animal with which I've had a life long fascination. Bat speaks to balance, identity, truth, wisdom and the ability to face fears and accept change. Bat is my Western totem.
Fourth, the chicken. Don't ask me why, but I just love these birds! Chickens are another set of creatures that inhabit a very special place in my pantheon of motifs.
Chickens are inquisitive by nature, place huge importance upon their personal space, have an uncanny ability to remove obstacles from their path, exhibit patience, are determined and require a certain amount of personal time or solace away from the hen house, so to speak. Chickens are also sensitive, empathic, yet high strung. A person with poultry as totem quite literally feels his or her way through life. My chicken resides above.
Fifth, the moth. Another thing with wings that has often flitted about the recesses of my gray matter.
A pair of knitted insect-like wings.
And their crocheted counterparts.
Moths symbolize the process of change, a magical transformative process that characterizes this creature's journey from chrysalis to flight. This being is also a symbol for great sensitivity and nurturing, optimism, opportunism and clairvoyance. Moth urges the release of negative influences and teaches the carrier of this totem how to discover the joy within. Moth flanks my Eastern side.
Sixth, the camel. For as long as I can remember I've held deep interest for anything concerning the Middle East and Egypt in particular. As one who has been a serious student of art history, I cannot ignore the role this region has played in the art historical lineage of the western world. In addition, I was fortunate enough to have inhabited this portion of globe for a year of my life. It was a profound experience that has had lasting effects on my consciousness. No animal, for me, symbolizes that landscape more than the camel.
Camel is resourceful and a master of survival, able to protect itself in the harshest of climes. Camel retains its clarity of senses despite distractions from outside influences and as such teaches the totem carrier to remain centered no matter the circumstances of a given situation. Although gentle when handled with care, Camel is prone to fits of rage when mistreated. Respect is a right and demanded when not given. As such, camel embodies a sense of honor, fair treatment and justice above all. Camel is powerful, strong, focused and determined, shoving its totem carrier into the darkness, demanding the use of inner resources to ensure survival, transform oneself and awaken to the transformation. Camel walks below my feet.
Seventh is parrot. Yes, I would be perfectly content to sport wings and feathers! However, lacking such plumage and appendages I instead surround myself with creatures who have been given these divine gifts.
My husband's "girlfriend", Drumstick.
Parrots are powerful magicians, invoking the properties of color and light. They are healers that symbolize positivity and are instrumental in healing the ravages of depression. Parrots also have the ability to teach totem carriers when to be silent and when to opine. These creatures ask us to notice the joy that surrounds us, live life to it's fullest and enjoy! Parrot occupies my north totem.
Eight is for octopus. No pun intended. This is an animal I have long revered. Agile, flexible, regenerative, the octopus possesses keen sight and is believed to be the most intelligent of all invertebrates. This eight tentacled wonder asks the totem holder to let go of his or her inefficiencies, stop trying so hard and focus upon fine tuning the skills that come naturally. Octopuses are masters of camouflage and can adapt to myriad environs because of this ability. This animal is a powerful totem to possess. I believe octopus embodies my southern totem.
Ninth is jellyfish and my jelly resides within.
Jelly is my power animal. This umbrella-like creature is the consummate survivor that has the ability to live in harmony with life's currents, teaching totem holders about nature's forces and flow. Some believe that jellies embody true spiritual knowledge within their transparent forms; balance is key.
Wow! It's crowded in here...
So as you may have gleaned from my not so little post, I rather enjoyed this bit of research into my symbolic animal self. I relied heavily upon this site for much of my research. Although, if you find yourself similarly intrigued I encourage you to Google away! Needless to say, I've now a plethora of imagery that will accompany me as I devise new works to unleash upon my creative landscape and that, my friends, is a gift.