My Own Personal Spring

As you can tell by the amount of pollen that’s decorating the cars now, it is officially Spring.

And other than seasonal allergies, I’m pretty stoked about that.

With the rebirth and reawakening of the world around me, I feel a reawakening inside my creative-self as well. Which after the last few months, is a really good thing.

Life has been difficult, to say the least. My husband’s health problems continue to plague him. As a caregiver, I’m beside him as he deals with the highs and lows of the battle. (He has diabetes that swings wildly. It’s funny because it’s true.) My youngest son, My little Doodle, is struggling in school and at this time is on a waiting list to see a developmental pediatrician. After a lot of testing in school with the school psychologist and his personal pediatrician, there are concerns that he may be on the spectrum. We are almost functioning on a reduced income. So yeah, life is difficult. And when life gets difficult, you go into survival mode. And for me, the first systems that get shut down in survival mode are creative and spiritual. Flying on autopilot requires all only the most necessary systems to run. And I’ve been on teetering on autopilot for a while.

So my writing, creating, and connecting had all stagnated throughout the winter. Writing was like pulling teeth, but I did it. I’m not sure how much was good, but it happened in a slow trickle. My connection to my Craft really took a hard hit. I was lazy, I was mindless, I was spiritually tired. So there was a lot of motions going through, but not a lot of actual thought and feeling behind them. Mostly because I didn’t have a lot of actual thought and feeling left.

But with the shift in the seasons, I’ve felt a shift in me.

And a lot of it has to do with a wee little snake.

Saturday past, we got the front lawn mowed for the first time of the year. I was a little sad because we had a patch of clover growing that I was for, some reason, totally in love with. A few hours after it was done, I was taking Jake, the dog, out for a much need bathroom break. And really, it was a nice break for me too to get away from the loudness of the house. Do you know how loud three kids can be? They are freaking loud.

Anyway, Jake is off doing whatever dogs do when they are done doing their business, and Im looking at the newly cut grass. And there, not far from my shoe, zipping through the leaves that we never raked up, was a deep reddish brown little snake. (I use the little in meaning width only, the little guy/girl was about the length of my forearm.)

I’m immediately mesmerized. I watch it for a moment, sure that it’s going to disappear into the ground and our meeting will be brief. But no! It doesn’t hide away. It stays out, enjoying the Sun no doubt. With Jake still busy shoving his big snoot into something snootable, I squat down to get a better look at the snake. Not even the audible protest of my knees scares it off. It turns and moves towards me for a bit, while I spit out the best babytalk I know. And trust me, my babytalk game is strong. And for one second, I swear the little snake and I have a moment. We inhabit the same spot, the same Sun, the same warmth. We share something. I don’t know what it is, but we share it.

Jake hears my cooing and decides it must be for him and starts trotting back over my way. His leash is still in my hand so I move away from the snake as it moves away from me. I rise to my feet as my big doofus comes closer and I use the leash to guide him away from the area the snake traveled and he was none the wiser.

And this isn’t the first time that I’ve had a run in with a reptile in my front yard that’s reconnected me to my lost self. A year or so ago, I happened upon the big black snake that used to inhabit our lot.

S/He was in the middle of eating a bird when a sudden rain shower lowered it’s body temperature and caught it in a pickle. That encountered was memorable, because not only did it involve a big freaking snake, it involved me waking up.

Just like the encounter on Saturday did. They both happened in the beginning of spring. And just like snakes shed their skin when they outgrow it, I’m finally able to shake off the binds of a Winter that held me too tight.


Since then, and I know it’s only been since Saturday, but I feel awake. I feel like my own personal spring has happened. I’ve been able to feel like I’ve been refreshed in my abilities to create and just, breathe. There’s air around me now and in it possibly. There’s room for my magick and my practices. There’s room for my knowledge. And there’s room for me to create.

This doesn’t mean my load has gotten any lighter. My husband’s illness is still here. My son is still struggling. But I am whole. I am more than just a caregiver, a maid, a housewife, and an errand handler.

I am a writer, a witch, a mother, a reader,  a healer, and all the other things hidden inside this meat suit.

I am not bound by a season of darkness. I am not bound by skin of a certain shape.

I am awakened. I am refreshed.

I am ready to begin.

And that is what Spring is for.

Beginnings. Regrowing. Reclaiming.




Tahlequah’s gift

If you’ve been active on social media for the last couple of weeks you’ve no doubt seen the story of the killer whale known as Tahlequah.

Tahlequah is a member of the smallest of the four residential communities of killer whales in the northeastern part of the North American Pacific Ocean. Called the Southern Resident Killer Whales (or SRKW), the group swims the waters between Vancouver and San Juan Island bordering the Pacific Northwest.

The group is unlike other residential killer whale communities. Its population, cut down by food limitations, contaminants and vessel traffic disturbances, has been slashed to just 75. That 75 is made up of only one clan that contains three pods. Tahlequah’s generation is feared to be the last of her family. The youngest of her pod mates, a 3-year-old named Scarlett, has been seen to be extremely emaciated.  Scientists are struggling to track the young whale to try to feed her antibiotic-laden fish in hopes of keeping her from starving.

To describe this group as endangered would be an understatement.

animal aquatic diving mammal

Photo by Ghost Presenter on Pexels.com

In SRKW, 20-year-old Tahlequah was set to birth the first calf in three years. After about 17 months of gestation, on July 25th, 2018 Tahlequah gave birth.

For 30 minutes, it was a glorious occasion. Another life had been added to the diminishing pod. A new generation has begun. The struggling 75 had become a hopeful 76.

And then, the calf, small for its size but huge in it’s potential, died.

As of this writing, it’s been 17 days since the death of Tahlequah’s newborn. And in a move that’s caused the civilian and scientific worlds to both gasp in awe, it’s been 17 days of Tahlequah pushing and carrying her dead child with her.

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It has long been known that whales and their sea-dwelling neighbors, dolphins, are intelligent. Crafted in July 2012 during the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on the Consciousness in Human and non-Human Animals, The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness was signed by participating neuroscientists. The Declaration states:

The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.”

This evidence shows that not only are whales and dolphins conscious, they are also self-aware. They have complex brain structures to use on complex functions, just like us. They live in complex societies, just like us. They are capable of experiencing a range of emotions, just like us.

And, as Tahlequah’s actions have shown, they feel grief and sorrow, just like us.

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Grief is only one size fits all in the way a straight jacket is.

There is no way to compare it among people. The only similarity is an emptiness that wraps itself around you and hugs you so hard you often have trouble breathing. You become stuck in that weird space between fear and familiarity. It hurts, but you’re used to it. The pain is rooted so deep, it has become one of the cores of your foundation. You don’t want to feel it but without it, you feel empty. So with bloodied paws, you continue your march.

We are seeing now the same is true for the grief struggle in animals.

In Tahlequah’s quest, I see a reflection of myself. Since the morning of November 3rd, 2011, I have been swimming, just like her,  against the tide of child loss. Controlled not by the gravitational forces of the sun and moon but by the weight of love and loss, I have been struggling to move forward. I have often forgotten my purpose in life and just reacted on muscle memory. Like Tahlequah, I have abandoned everything that was normal about my life and turned my whole existence into carrying the memory of my child.

To see and share pain is the most honest form of connection. It is the ultimate namaskar of souls.

It’s saying “Yes, I see your pain. Yes, I feel your pain. I see you. I accept you.” And that connection, be it between humans or animals or any combination of the two, is something that is revolutionary.

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On a personal note, I think it is wonderful that the whole world has been so touched by Tahlequah’s journey. The stories, the poems, the art, and the political change her story has produced has been uplifting and heartwarming. It’s important that we see and celebrate the connection between and us (humans) and the animal kingdom. To understand how important these animals are to our shared existence is something that I think we need to feel down deep in our bones. We need to continue to realize that there are more things on this planet than us. We need to respect their feelings and do better in accepting them as the rightful heirs to this spinning hunk of rock.

At the same time, I’d like for you to remember that there are people in your circles who are carrying the same weight as Tahlequah. But they won’t be the focus of a national news story anytime soon.No website is going to run the story about how hard it is to listen to the favorite song of someone who isn’t there. A picture of a grief-stricken parent, smile tense and eyes hard because s/he has to exist in such an unfair situation isn’t going to be a viral story.

Often times we forget about those people and their struggles. It’s easy to chastise these people when they are not being their best self. It’s easy to expect them to follow your guidelines and timetables of grief. What’s hard is to acknowledge them and their pain and give them reverence. What’s hard is to accept that grief is a weight that will be forever carried and a fire that will never be extinguished.

Maybe by acknowledging and accepting the pain that Tahlequah is showing in the waters off Vancouver, we will be better able to acknowledge and accept the pain of our human friends. When we do right by the planet and our animals brother and sisters, we do right by ourselves. Expelling empathy to all of the creatures around us, from those in the oceans to those sitting beside us in traffic, is the key factor in keeping this planet and each other alive.

And in the face of tragedy, maybe that is Tahlequah’s gift.

Sources:
Time.com
Fisheries.Noaa.Gov
Washington Post
Us.Whales.Org
Cambridge Declaration On Consciousness