Divining by Chipmunks

brown squirrel on branch of tree

Photo by Jim Fawns on Pexels.com

I first learned to divine by studying animals and noting what they did. I would comment on what they did, and if it was abnormal. Also, I documented anything that happened afterwards when I saw the animal. I wanted to establish any correspondences between the animal and an event. Included in my journaling were their natural history, folklore and myths.

Although I live in the city, I do see a variety of animals on a regular basis. Some like flies are more common than others like opossums. I see many squirrels but few chipmunks. Since chipmunks prefer living in hilly and rocky areas, they are not regular inhabitants in urban areas. The ones that I see in the city live under bushes by rock walls. I have seen some chipmunks sitting on fences or climbing tree trunks. Therefore for me, seeing a chipmunk is a memorable event. When one pops out of a bush, I note it.

Seeing this striped little mammal is always a surprise for me. Sometimes they will freeze, and then zip off with their tails up like exclamation points. At other times, they chirp loudly, and scurry under parked cars. Rarely, do I see one with their cheeks full or gnawing on seeds. Sometimes, after surprising each other, we would both freeze, and stare blankly at each other.

After taking enough notes, I finally sorted out my chipmunk sightings. Usually one or two meant a package in the mail. A chipmunk with seeds stuffed in their cheeks indicated money coming my way. One gnawing on seeds predicted bills in the mail. This association all stemmed from the chipmunk’s propensity to store seeds.

One sunny fall day, I was swarmed by chipmunks. They popped up on fence posts and under trees. They were everywhere I went. I could not escape the rabid furriness that enveloped me. I counted twenty of these chittering, scampering rodents. Unnerved by this experience, I went home to escape the horror. Then I got a call from my bank telling me that I had overdrawn by a substantial amount. After that, I associated chipmunks with money and finances.

Cait Sith (Kellas Cat):Understanding Nonduality

 

caitsith

The Cait Sith of Scotland is a large black cat with dark green eyes, long ears and a white spot on her chest. If a person encountered the Cait Sith, they would hear a prophecy from Her. As a being from the Otherworld, She watches humans and reports on what She sees. In addition, the Cait Sith guards the secrets of the Otherworld.

People should be wary of the Cait Sith for a number of reasons. First and foremost, She steals people’s souls from their bodies. In Scotland when a person died, the family would guard the body in a Feille Fadalach (late wake). The first thing, they did was to douse all the fires. Afterwards, they lit a fire far away from the body to entice the Cait Sith to its warmth. Catnip was also spread around there as well. To distract the Cait Sith, people played music, held wrestling matches, and told riddles.

On Samhain (Halloween), the Cait Sith goes from house to house looking for milk to drink. If She found a full saucer, the Cait Sith blesses the family. Otherwise the Cait Sith curses their luck and their milk cows.

The idea that a cat has nine lives comes from stories about the Cait Sith. A witch could transform into a Cait Sith eight times. On the ninth time, they would remain in cat form forever.

Various people have suggested that the Cait Sith is the Kellas cat. This hybrid animal is the result of a mating between the Scottish wildcat and a domestic cat. The Kellas cat is pure black with a white a spot on his chest. This large cat also has powerful hind legs. The Kellas cat was once believed to be a hoax, until a specimen was shot and killed in 1984. (This animal is named for Kellas, Moray, where they was first seen.)

The Cait Sith helps people to understand “nonduality.” Is She the Kellas cat or is the Kellas cat, the Cait Sith? They are neither and both, going beyond human constructs. The Cait Sith and the Kellas Cat are from this world and the Otherworld. At liminal places, the two worlds bleed into each other, making them nondual. This can be one way to grasp nonduality.

Note:
Nonduality has been defined as “the philosophical, spiritual, and scientific understanding of non-separation and fundamental intrinsic oneness.” To grasp what nonduality is has been elusive. Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Neo-Platonism all have their own understandings of this concept.

Squirrels: My Writing Muse

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Whenever I am blocked in my writing, I watch squirrels. I see them bouncing from tree to tree or chasing each other. At other times, one squirrel will dig up a nut that another had just buried. Once I witnessed a lone squirrel sneaking up on a curbside vendor to steal a nut-bar from her truck. Before the hapless vendor could react, this crafty squirrel leapt off the countertop and scampered off with its prize.

Squirrels inspire me with their activity. Rarely staying still in one place, they leap from one tree branch, grab another limb, and then jump to the ground. This reminds me of my free writing, when I jump from topic to topic. Working with my squirrel muses, I seldom know where they will take me in my writing or where I will finally end up.

Another thing that squirrels do is to bury nuts and forget them. Some of these nuts grow into oak trees, while other nuts are dug up for food by different squirrels. In several forms, these buried nuts provide food for the squirrels. Like the squirrels, I stash writing topics in a notebook. Sometimes, I add scraps of information to flesh out the topics. At other times, I mull over one topic until it emerges as a full grown essay. Like burying nuts, my habit of stashing topics and bits of information provide me with food for thought.

The inventiveness of squirrels is legendary. They foil the most determined attempts by ardent bird watchers to keep the squirrels from raiding birdfeeders. When I am stuck in my writing, I ask myself, “What if I was a squirrel…” I usually find an off-the-wall answer to my writing issue. In these ways, squirrels guide me in my writing.

Invocation to the Squirrel Muses
Lay out several nuts (acorns or hickory or walnuts, etc.) in your writing space. Then speak out-loud:

Welcome Fellow Squirrels into my space!
Let’s play, My Squirrel Friends!

Planting ideas, chasing words, jumping from topic to topic, inventing new wonders of
writing!
Flicking our tails in constant motion, we “chee” at the world, while we
Build nests out of words,
Create snug homes for
Ideas, phrases, sentences,
High in the trees of thought.

Let’s play, My Squirrel Friends!
Who wants some nuts?
Chase you up the tree of words!

Periodic Cicada: The Nexus of Time

cicada1Right now, my area is experiencing a cicada emergence. I have found these insects to be magical in their own way. Even their singing has an otherworldliness to it.

In the eastern half of North America, Periodical Cicadas from Brood X invade the countryside every 13 and 17 years. Crawling up from the ground, They emerge at once, in May and June, leaving behind their exoskeletons. For a brief month, Male Periodical Cicadas fill the air with a deafening sound, advertising for a mate. These large Insects spend their brief adult lives with only one thing on their minds – mating. When a Female Periodical Cicada is ready, She will “click” to the Males, “Here I Am!” After mating, She lays her eggs in trees. When They hatch, the Offspring will move underground for another 13 to 17 years.

Living longer than any other Insects, Periodical Cicadas emerge as a single Brood. Each Brood is spaced 13 or 17 years between emergences. This long period prevents Predators from timing their activities to eat the Cicadas. The prime numbers of 13 and 17 insure that nothing can adapt to the Brood Cycle.

Called Periodical Cicadas (Magicicada)), these Insects differ from their cousins Locusts. Unlike Locusts, Periodical Cicadas do not jump. They seem like Locusts because of their larger broods that overwhelm predators by their sheer numbers. After spending many years developing underground, They come up for only two months. Then, the Adults mate and die. Then years go by before another mass emergence.

Besides Periodical Cicadas’ size and numbers, what also makes Them outstanding is their song. Male Periodical Cicadas makes the loudest sound in the Insect World. By vibrating the ribbed plate in a pair of amplifying cavities at the base of his abdomen, Male Periodical Cicada can make his sound heard for long distances. A whole chorus of these whirring sounds resembles a deafening roar of hundreds of kazoos played at once.

Many people have heard Periodical Cicadas, and have not realized it. The sound tracks of many science fiction movies that feature UFOs use the Cicadas’ droning to signal the sound of the alien space ships. Think space aliens, and you associate Periodical Cicadas with them.

The lesson of Periodical Cicadas is living at the nexus of time. For Periodical Cicadas, time merges into one Brood. When They emerge in the present, Periodical Cicadas encourage people to remember the past. Also, They prompt people to think about what the future will bring. In the present, their numbers simply overwhelm people. Periodical Cicadas bend time into a prism of past, present, and future in one moment.

The Mighty Dead: Toola, the Sea Otter

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Toola with a pup: Randy Wilder, Monterey Bay Aquarium

Toola, the first sea otter ever to foster stranded pups, is one of the Mighty Dead. She persevered, in spite of her daily seizures, to pioneer the rehabilitation of sea otters back into the wild. Moreover, Toola inspired important legislation for sea otter conservation. Most importantly, she fostered thirteen stranded pups who now have successfully raised families on their own in the wild. Toola is considered, by many, to be the otter who saved the southern sea otters from extinction in the wild.

Before Toola, the Monterey Bay (California) Aquarium’s Sea Otter Research and Conservation Program (Sea Otter Program) could not successfully release stranded pups to back into the wild. Raised by humans, these sea otters were too accustomed to people to survive on their own. The Sea Otter Program, which was started in 1984, was failing in its main mission. Then Toola was rescued in 2001.

Found on a beach, suffering from seizures, Toola, who was pregnant, was taken to the Aquarium. The vets determined that she was suffering from toxoplasmosis, a parasite spread by cat feces. Toola could never be returned to the wild, since she needed daily medicine to contain her seizures. Adding to her woes, Toola lost her pup.

The Aquarium was now faced with a dilemma – what to do with the grieving Toola and a weakened pup who had been stranded. They decided to see if Toola would nurse the young pup. No aquarium or sea rescue group had ever thought of having sea otters as foster mothers before. Toola took to mothering as her mission in life. She became the first of many sea otter mothers to foster pups. Toola taught the pup, now her foster son, how to dive, how to crack open clams, and how to successfully eat crabs. Her pup is now the head of a pod of otters, and the father of many pups himself. Since her arrival, the Aquarium has had a successful release rate, now they had Toola teaching them.

Toola raised awareness of the human impact on the environment for sea otters. Since her deadly toxoplasmosis could only be abated by daily doses of medicine, Toola had to remain at the Aquarium. This parasite found its way into the watershed system by the careless dumping of used cat litter. Assemblyman Dave Jones (D. Sacramento) enacted legislation to place warnings on kitty litter bags about the proper disposal. He also set up a donation box for the California Sea Otter Fund on income tax forms. More funding also was allocated to saving the southern sea otters.

Toola died of old age (about 16 years old) in March 2012. Dr. Mike Murray, the Aquarium’s veterinarian, said “I will argue that these is no other single sea otter that had a greater impact upon the sea otter species…” He joked that she ruled the Aquarium with an iron webbed fist. Dr. Murray said of her passing, “Toola did what she has always done. She went out her way on her terms. May we all be blessed to go out the same way.”

Salve Toola!
Great Foster Mother
Teacher of Sea Otters
Teacher of Humans
Wild Heart
Ruler of the Aquarium

Many are the wild pups
You fostered while
Captive.

Salve Toola!
Great Mother of Sea Otters