Just in case you’ve had too much of cutesy bunnies this season, Ms Vickie Lester, who blogs at Beguiling Hollywood, can fix that. Stop by to learn why Monty Python didn’t really know the first thing about scary rabbits. When I was a kid, I was terrified of lambs. My parents thought it was weird, but Vickie shows that there’s more going on than we think with these seemingly “harmless” creatures.
In the key news event of the day, I’m sad to report that it was sunny in Punxsutawney, PA, spooking the groundhog and plunging us into another 6 weeks of winter.
This has not been a winter anyone wants to linger. A mini-ice age threatens the east, while 11 western states are morphing into Death Valley. And to add insult to injury, here in northern California, where legions of disgruntled football fans are settling in to watch those other teams play – all the while muttering that at least spring training starts soon – spring may be on hold!
So as the blues settle in like the overcast on this chilly, cloudy, but rainless day, only three suggestions come to mind: (1) book a flight to Hawaii, (2) drink some more caffeine, (3) watch a funny movie.
It just so happens that I have an idea for number 3:
PostScript: For readers outside our borders, who may not get all my topical references, here is a brief glossary:
- February 2 is “Groundhog Day.” When the groundhog emerges (most famously, Punxsutawney Phil, in Pennsylvania), if he sees his shadow, it will spook him and he’ll return to his burrow for another 6 weeks of winter.
- Here in the western US, where we have no groundhogs, it’s sometimes called Prairie Dog Day, but that hasn’t gained much traction in the media yet.
- Local sports fans are disgruntled because our beloved 49’ers were knocked out of the playoffs by the devil-spawned Seattle Seahawks. No real rancor, although we hates them forever, my precious.
Let me know if I can be of any further assistance explaining my rant.
If wolves are removed from Endangered Species protection, the day may soon return when there are none in the lower 48. I’ve worked with these magnificent creatures as a volunteer at the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary, and in my opinion, that would be a tragedy. Please read this article and make your comment on the Federal website.
Update: As of November 6 at 5:00pm, the website is up again and I was able to comment.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is in its comment period on their proposal to remove the wolf from the Endangered Species Act in the lower 48. Hearings are being held throughout the country. If you can go, please do. If that’s not possible, please write or call. They need to hear from people who want the wolf protected, not only from those who don’t.
Many thanks to my good friend, Carmen Mandel, for providing a DIRECT LINK to add your comments. Please add yours. There are almost 32,000 signatures, as I write this, but this figure falls a long way short of previous opportunities.
This is so important
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“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi
October 4 is the Feast Day of Saint Francis, renowned for his love of animals. In 1931, a group of ecologists meeting in Florence, Italy, chose this date as World Animal Day to highlight the plight of endangered species. Since then it has grown to a world wide day of celebration of animals by people who love them in all nations and religious traditions.
The Singapore SPCA held a three day celebration in September, with a theme of “Friends for Life.” The Moscow Zoo is holding its celebration of Saturday. World Animal Day celebrations are scheduled in Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Dubai, France, Britain, Sweden, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the US, Canada, Serbia, Greece, Bolivia, Chile, Australia, the Ukraine, Palestine, Gambia – and these were just locations listed on a single website.
A revered Tibetan Buddhist teacher, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, urges his students to pray for the wellbeing of animals on October 4, and recite mantras to bring them auspicious rebirths. If one is looking for a pet, he says, it’s a perfect day to visit a shelter and adopt, or adopt an animal via a contribution to an organization that benefits them.
Friday is a wonderful day to notice and appreciate the birdsong in the morning, the hawk in the noontime sky, and the creatures who bring so much to our lives. What would our world be like without them?
“What is the single greatest predictor of a hero’s success in folktales around the world?”
A professor who had studied the subject at length once posed that question in a psychology class. The answer, he said, was finding an animal helper. More than any other human or supernatural guide, an animal ally can lead the hero or heroine through trials and dangers to the end of their quest.
The professor was a friend and colleague of James Hillman (1926-2011) who loved animals and began collecting animal dreams in 1956. Toward the end of his life, Hillman helped compile and update five decades of essays and lecture transcripts for a ten volume collection of his work. Five volumes have been published to date, including Animal Presences, 2012, which I am currently reading.
After serving in the US Navy, Hillman studied at the Sorbonne, at Trinity College, Dublin, and in Zurich, where he received a PhD from the University of Zurich and an analyst’s diploma from the C.G. Jung Institute where he served as Director of Studies until 1969. Versed in Jungian psychology, he charted his own path which he named “Archetypal Psychology.” His first major work, Revisioning Psychology, 1975, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
With 18 volumes in Jung’s Collected Works, and 10 in Hillman’s, it is clearly beyond the scope of a blog post to compare and contrast these two complex approaches to the depth psychology. That said, several broad generalizations are possible:
Jung’s psychology can be characterized as “monotheistic,” aiming at a realization of the “Self,” as the supreme archetypal principle. Jung understood the Self as “the God image within.” Hillman, by contrast, called the psyche “polytheistic,” and considered the Self as simply one of many psychic centers within us. Our nature, as we experience it moment by moment, is more like a pantheon of many gods than the kingdom of single inner supreme being.
As a corollary to these differing models of the psyche, development for Jung was often imagined as an ascent, a kind of upward climb toward spiritual clarity. For Hillman, growth was often a descent, leading to contact with the “Soul,” which for him was more like the “soul” of a blues musician or an artist than the “immortal soul” of organized religion.
Hillman was also concerned with anima mundi, the soul of the world. How can people be healthy when the world is ailing? Hillman had little patience with ego psychologies that pretend human health is possible when our cities are blighted and we work in sterile, windowless offices bathed in florescent light? As a result, his method of approaching dream and fantasy was unique. He shunned methodologies that seek to aggrandize ego by asking what the figures of dream mean. He insisted we treat the beings who visit us nightly with the same courtesy we would show to a guest in the waking world.
“the animals are right here. You have to be careful you don’t say something stupid because the animals are listening. You can’t interpret them; you can’t symbolize them; you can’t do something that is only human about them.”
“the image is the teacher. We have to endure a laboriously slow method of dreamwork…A dream brings with it a terrible urge for understanding. We want dreams decoded for their meanings. But the dream, like the animal in it, is a living phenomenon. It goes on displaying itself, pointing beyond itself to ever further interiority if we can hold back the hermeneutical desire so that the image can elaborate itself.”
“I am suggesting that the dream animal can be amplified as much by a visit to the zoo as by a symbol dictionary.”
Something within us mourns the animals missing from our lives. We wear their pictures on t-shirts and sometimes collect little animal figurines. We cherish domestic pets in ways that might seem bizarre to earlier generations who weren’t as estranged from the natural world. We thrill at the sight of Coyote or Deer moving through twilight woods at the edge of the housing tract, and we mourn them dead on the road as we drive to work.
We are energized when animals visit our dreams – sometimes. We’d rather they weren’t fierce, threatening, or slimy. We prefer majestic and noble: an eagle, a dolphin, or wolf will do nicely. We’re not so fond of ants or mice, pigs or slugs, skunks or rats.
With the natural world in tatters, however, anima mundi is not dreaming of Disney creatures and love and light. That’s all right. Black Elk said the Lakota people knew every being has it’s place in the medicine wheel. And if we don’t know what’s broken in ourselves and in the world, said Hillman, we don’t have the slightest idea of who and what and where we are.
What animals have recently come to your dreams? What did they seem to want? Don’t remember any animal dreams? Just ask. If you mean it, if you are truly interested and repeat the suggestion until it brings results; if you prime the pump by leaving a notebook and pen you your bed stand, the creatures will visit.
They want to be heard and are looking for those who will listen.
While strolling through Petco this morning to pick up some dog food, I decided to get a new rope toy for Kit, the older of two our two rescue dogs. She never tires of chewing these things and nagging humans to throw it so she can play fetch. I rounded a corner and stopped. Dead in my tracks. Stunned by the horror spread out before me. On the dog Halloween costume aisle.
Let’s be clear – I don’t mean all canine Halloween outfits. Some are funny, and some dogs seem to enjoy the attention.
What I came upon were princess and ballerina outfits. I suffered an instant flashback to the two hour wait I once endured at O’Hare Airport, sitting across from a woman whose poor little dog was dressed in a pink tutu. I’m serious. This really happened. I’ve never seen an animal look more miserable outside a vet’s waiting room.
Let’s face it, very few dogs can pull off a tutu with any kind of style and grace:
Our dogs are both females. While they appreciate small accessories, like an understated pumpkin scarf, they know that canine traditions at this time of year go deep – far deeper than any Disney concoction.
They’re both working hard to release their inner wolves on October 31.
Okay, so maybe there’s more work to be done, but credit where it’s deserved. I think they’re progressing nicely.
Back when I was in grade school _______________ (insert a phrase like, “When dinosaurs roamed the earth”), school resumed after Labor Day. To add salt to the wounds, there really were essays and/or discussions along the lines of, “How I spent my summer.” Fortunately, a blog makes that whole exercise obsolete, but just because the morning began in unusual fashion, I offer a mini-retro style essay called:
How My Labor Day Began
I woke up to see the streets damp (not really wet) with the first rain since May if I am remembering right. A pleasant and cool morning, so after a cup of coffee, I leashed up the dogs for a walk in the park. As I opened the door, the skies opened up as well. After a flash and the crash of nearby thunder, all three of us did a 180, back into the house for breakfast.
Fortified by cheerios and kibble, we set off again, and this time the downpour did not resume until we were out in middle of the park. I don’t know how to describe what a magical moment it was. I haven’t had that much fun in the rain since those bygone grade school days, when I took my mother’s warning that I would catch pneumonia as a challenge.
True, I called a halt after one lap around the baseball fields because the drops got fat and hard I thought we might be in for hail. But nobody melted and good times were had by all.
Little wet Missy (now dry) and I wish you all a wonderful Labor Day and a Happy Start to Fall!
Meet Lidia the Seal. She stands as tall as I can reach, in a vacant lot in Bandon, Oregon, the creation of artists and volunteers of the Washed Ashore Project.
The group’s goal is to turn plastic and other ocean garbage into art that illustrates the harm to marine life and the entire food chain resulting from careless dumping. So far, 1000 volunteers have collected three and a half tons of marine debris along 20 miles of coastline and used it to create 18 giant sculptures.
Plaques beside the sculptures explain a little about the dangers of the degrading petrochemicals in plastics in the ocean, as well as the process of collecting, washing, sorting, and recycling what the volunteers collect.
One of the plaques affirms that, “Every action you make in your life has an impact. Even small actions make a positive difference. People working together CAN create results. This project proves it!”
I wish you could have been there to share the delight of rounding a corner to find Lidia and Henry, but for the next best thing, please visit the project website: washedashore.org. There are many more photos and descriptions illustrating the process of turning these castoff items into art, as well as information on exhibits in other locations.
Maybe one day soon, one of these washed ashore creatures will visit a spot near you! Meanwhile, enjoy these, and perhaps, as one of the plaques says, you will be moved to see art where others see garbage, right where you are today!