Native Symbols

 

 A Guide to the Energies of the Australian Bush

Ant

"You've got ants in ya pants!" Is there a young child who hasn't giggled and used this 'naughty' expression? Ants have the capacity to bring the giggles and squeals of childhood back - especially if you do get one in your clothes! Watching them as they struggle to carry a moth up a wall or a large crumb over a puddle can be fascinating... these tiny insects have entertained humans for centuries. This state of intense concentration is the same as that of a child focused on playing; time disappears and the wonder of the NOW is present.

Ant concentrates solely on the job at hand. They are found worldwide and archetypaly related to work, like bees. In fact, their social structure is very similar to bees, except for bull ants which are more ferocious and less organized in their approach.

In one Dreaming[1], Ant nests are built to withstand the power of the willy willy (whirlwind) which, although it can storm and pull up trees, cannot destroy an Ant's nest. The willy willy's anger resulted from Ant stealing his food, piece by piece, in the dark of night. Ant took the food because the willy willy wouldn't share. Even today, Ant will take any food hoards left untended and in the open. Nothing will go to waste with these critters! (Other Dreamings attribute the red colouring of the meat ant's body as evidence of their being the first creatures to possess fire[2] - maybe that's why their bites have such a sting!)

Ant has an uncanny ability to locate the smallest food source and in no time at all, hoards of them are in the vicinity, efficiently cleaning up and searching for more. The energies of concentration are evident here - a multitude concentrate around a single crumb, working together, focused intently. For those plagued in their homes, Ant can teach you that no matter how tidy and organized your life may be, there will still be something out of sight. Even the tiniest morsel is worth gathering by these productive and persistent creatures!

Ant may refer to any level where you think you have cleaned and tidied, including habits, mental patterns and unpicked skeletons in the closet. In this way, Ant can teach humility - or undermine your confidence if you allow a judgment to be made on these crumbs. Ant signifies a time of cleaning up small details, so be grateful - especially if the worst of the mess is over!

Traditionally Ant may highlight community endeavours and working with others for the benefit of the collective group. Take notice of the location of Ant and refer this place to the same place within yourself. For example, Ant in the kitchen may relate to issues of community care and providing for others; in the bathroom an issue might need to be released or cleaned up; and so on.

The smallest crumbs dwarf Ant who is able to carry many times it's bodyweight. In Ant's perspective the little things are enormous but worth struggling with! From another perspective, what you may be struggling with, although it seems huge, is not in reality. Tiny Ant can encourage you to broaden your perspective. You are, after all, a giant... and giants are powerful beings!

Butterfly

Butterflies are symbols of the soul; in many cultures they represent the cycle of birth, death and transformation. They are a spiritual affirmation if they appear in your life. In a well-known Dreaming about Butterfly, as caterpillar she goes off in search for the meaning of death. Her quest is laughed at by the other creatures because she is so small and insignificant. She returns as the first glorious butterfly, with much wisdom about death and life.[3]

The unfolding of a butterfly's wings is said to be capable of causing an earthquake on the other side of the world, (the Chaos theory.) Direct results in seemingly chaotic situations make hindsight more clearer. With the fluttering of Butterfly's wings, a good opportunity is presented to look at the patterns in your life and the seemingly haphazard events which resulted in the most profound and significant changes in your path. Similar changes to these will be gently fanned into your life - unless this action is what tips the scales and a full-force cyclone is unleashed! There is a pattern to chaos; it may be random yet predictable; a paradox and a challenge for you to look ahead.

With such power attributed to something so gentle, Butterfly is easy to crush, she is so fragile. This paradox, powerful yet weak, is a symbol of life. Every action, no matter how large or small, will bring a counter-action. Butterfly reminds you to be aware of consequences and to see those disparate aspects within yourself which are poles apart, yet create balance and unity.

If Butterfly flutters by into your life, she brings a spiritual affirmation of growth, transformation and deeper understanding. Butterfly is a symbol which clarifies the connection we all have in the web of life, especially if she is sighted trapped in Spider's web. Or Butterfly may need to fly directly into your face to get the message across. If so, do you automatically cringe from the expected contact? Is this how you react to any surprise elements in your life? Butterflies dancing an intricate mating dance and weaving around each other, are a lovely reminder of love in relationship as well as the other aspects of compromise and co-operation needed to achieve harmony. Wherever and whenever, with Butterfly it's easy to say, "it's a beauty!"

Take notice of what colour Butterfly is and link these colours and their meaning for you to your own journey in life. Also, is Butterfly drawn to any flowers - what colour are they?

Crow

These intelligent birds are found in other places of the world and universally symbolize cleverness and slyness as well as being messengers for the Spirit World. (They often appear as messengers for the devil or an evil force in movies and novels.) Crows feed from carrion; and so they are able to know the dead and are believed to be able to travel between the two worlds. As such, Crow may carry a message for you, if you tune in and listen to what is happening in your inner world. To many, he is an ill omen.

Like Bowerbird, Crow has developed the capacity to use 'tools'. Some time ago, Japanese Crows made international news with their ingenious way of cracking nuts - by placing them on the road for the cars to run over. Crows have been observed dropping stones from the air onto ostrich and emu eggs, and they have also been known to use sticks to pry prey from crevices. If you encounter Crow utilising his innate intelligence, look around, for the tools you require will be nearby. There is certainly something in your personal environment which is just waiting for you to pick up and use, and Crow can show you there is a much easier way of going about things. What you require is always provided, on some level.

The Crow is also a typical familiar for the traditional witch or wizard. Things of a psychic nature are emphasised when Crow is about. Inner messages and insights hurry along behind Crow's caw; the secret is to be aware and open to these, otherwise they might just slip by in the hectic demands of daily life. You could miss a valuable opportunity if you ignore Crow's message to keep your eyes, ears and heart open.

In the Aboriginal Dreaming, Crow generally represents the trickster, that aspect of the psyche which will go to any measure to get what it wants. These things relate to the impermanent, ego-satisfying desires which demand gratification and resist discipline, they seem exciting but carry a sense of wrongness or ignore the more important, lasting spiritual values of life.

Crow's tricks usually backfire and he often ends up worse off than before he started! Regardless of this, in the process something good always eventuates. It is due to Crow's trickery fire was released, even though he wished to keep it to himself his actions resulted in it being dispersed. Letting go of judgements is a message behind Crow's cunning plotting and self-gratification.

In the higher picture, Crow has ultimately achieved much good and in the process, taught humans by example the results of greed, trickery and betrayal! The laws of cause and effect are witnessed by Crow and may well make their influence felt in your life. To many Aboriginal people, Crow represents death - so some irreversible change is certainly about to appear in your life.

Dolphin

Dolphins are the archetype of the child within, free of inhibitions as they joyfully play and frolic. There are records of Aboriginal and dolphin interaction from the early days of settlement to as recently as fifty years ago; the dolphins would be called, (either by whistling and calling, or hitting the water with a boomerang or flat piece of wood,) to herd in fish to the shallow waters to be caught. Both benefited with a good meal! This special relationship was mutually satisfying as it also represented the connection between two different species and inter-species communication.

A Dreaming about Dolphin reflects the innate ability of these creatures for play, like joyful children.[4] However the Dolphins carried things too far with their teasing, similar to children who, being unaware and experimenting with personal power and human inter dynamics, may hurt each other.

This aspect of cruelty is opposite to Dolphin's popular appeal, however a few years ago the first ever footage was shown in the media revealing two dolphins cruelly tossing a porpoise between them. Whether this behaviour was normal was uncertain although we do know the beautiful, carefree Dolphin has the ability to reflect our deep, dark shadow.

Unconditional love is one message in a Dreaming about Dolphin from northern Australia. She does not believe in her husband's views and blatantly disregards his wishes. Yet, when he suffers for his wrongs and changes to a human form (as punishment!), she yearns for him to the point where she heaves herself onto the land and is transformed into a human herself. Unconditional love goes beyond personality differences and theology, morals, etc. Dolphin dancing in the frothy waves brings times for appreciating and expressing unconditional love. Again, the aspects of the inner child and cruelty of children reflect this - children can be thoughtless yet evoke unconditional love and total acceptance of who they are rather than what they do.

A dolphin midwife will assist in the birthing of the young, gently guiding the baby to the surface for it's first breath of life. What are you birthing in your life? What projects are you giving life to? If Dolphin emerges from the ocean's foam, allow your inner child expression, to play and be in the NOW. Surf life's waves! Connect with your essence of freedom, unity and joy; have some fun!

Dolphin also highlights relationship and communication - between others in your community as well as those of a different species. Open your heart and make your connection within the web of life, network! As you sense the unity of all life, (which transcends time; a few hours dolphin watching seems to pass so quickly!) allow yourself the delight of reclaiming your essence, that of a loving, powerful being born new in the wave of each moment. Be as a dolphin!

Echidna

The echidna and platypus are both from the same family, although they are very different in appearance. Both possess a number of features which are characteristic of reptiles, and so are anatomically very primitive. The platypus and echidna are the only mammals who lay eggs. The female echidna lays one egg which is carried in her pouch until it hatches. The young, which is known as a puggle, is carried until the spines have developed and it is too uncomfortable to carry. The puggle is then placed into a burrow and fed every few days.

Largely nocturnal, echidnas are very well protected, they will roll into a ball or burrow rapidly if threatened. Their diet is almost exclusively ants and termites - those critters which bite and sting and spoil picnics! Our prickly brother Echidna, (who also has prickles on the back of his tongue and the roof of his mouth to 'chew' his food) can indicate a lessening of prickly, irritable situations, or at least point to their relief.

Echidnas are similar to the platypus also in the way that they detect their food. Movement of living creatures (muscle activity) causes an electrical emission or charge (in the case of ants, this is very small), and both of these creatures sense their prey through these electrical emissions. In the case of the platypus, he has electroreceptors in his bill; and for the echidna, they are found at the end of his snout.

Echidna finds some honey in a tree in one Dreaming from far north Queensland.[5] He asks the other creatures to lend their axes but they refuse. Echidna goes back to camp, and in revenge, drinks all of the water. The creatures later return, thirsty from feasting on honey. They discover their water gone, and the bloated Echidna refuses to return it. So the creatures spear the unfortunate creature, which is why he has his prickles today. The tribespeople decide from then on they will always share. Most Dreamings about Echidna attribute his quills to spearing. In another Dreaming, well-known to children, he drinks all the water out of thirst and without thought for the future.

The Aboriginal practice of sharing is largely misunderstood by Western people, it is not congruent with the generalised modern way of capitalism, of 'each to his own'. Ownership of material possessions is alien for the traditional Aboriginal person. The practice of sharing ensures everyone helps each other and this addresses not only the individual's concerns but the group's concerns. Personal and family values come first, good relationships are better than things.

If Echidna appears, these issues of give and take, sharing, 'yours' and 'mine' will continue to prickle away in your life until you have resolved where you stand. Values and learning the lessons of greed and possessiveness are all a part of Echidna's message.

Fly

The great Aussie salute has been devoted to the fly. Swarms of these pestiferous insects have been behind the development of the swaggie's hat with hanging corks designed to deter them. Strips of sticky paper, complete with an assortment of dead and writhing victims, is an outback, pioneering symbol of "we won't be beaten!"

Flies begin their journey hatching as maggots. With the accompanying aroma of rotting matter, these plump, wriggling, white, light-sensitive creatures easily evoke distaste and horror. Yet they perform an incredible transformation in the process of becoming flies. It has been claimed that Maggots, because they consume rotting flesh, are the cause of wounds not turning to gangrene in tropical climates, (in cases of harsh difficulty, i.e. a plane crash) where there is no medical access

A Dreaming about Fly highlights it's laziness compared to the Bee which consistently seeks and stores food in anticipation of winter. The bees suspect the lazy flies will request portions of their personal supplies during the cold months, so they decide to hide by making their homes in trees. To this day, Fly, who only eats for today and forgets about future needs, dies away in winter. [6]

Like Fly, it might be time to do some forward thinking. Acknowledging future needs is a good way of making the present NOW more productive and the future NOW more comfortable. As the expression goes, 'time flies', so it may well be time to put into action all those 'should do's' before it is too late.

It is quite appropriate Fly indicates the need for action, they certainly keep one moving, even though it is vigorous swatting and perhaps with a few curses thrown in! Irritations can be a great incentive to keep on going, and so are a blessing in disguise.

The presence of blow flies may be an indication that any physical blows or disappointments in your life can be brushed aside like these insects, even if they are as persistent and take their time getting the hint they are not welcome. A blow fly has the ability to disturb a lovely picnic as it has of bringing the lesson of patience. Yes, that blowie may have been feasting on still-steaming cow dung before it alighted on your luncheon delicacy - and yes, we are all connected in the great web of life. Flies contribute to the breakdown of vegetable matter and dead things which replenish the nutrient content of the soil which in turn makes it's way to us through the food chain or the oxygen produced by healthy plants. Can you break down any indigestible into easily assimilated portions?

Frog

Frogs are found the world over. Their relationship with water traditionally links them with the emotions, and the majority of the many native species live in areas which have a reasonable yearly rainfall. Surprisingly, some frogs have adapted to living in the desert, breeding when opportunity favours it. They mostly live buried in mud or dirt, their bodies filled with a store of water. At times, these frogs were used as a source of water by thirsty Aboriginal people who knew exactly how to meet their needs in the harsh and forbidding environment of the desert.

Frogs are singers, and can be heard welcoming the rains; their thirsty croaking sounds as if it needs a good, cooling drink of refreshing water! Frogs do seem to be especially loud after a drought has broken! A Dreaming from Northern Australia[7 ] claims the frog was mother to the Lightning-woman, Thunder-man and Woman of the Monsoon Rains, which explains Frog's joy when these elements arrive.

In a well-known Dreaming[8] about Frog, he is thirsty and greedily drinks all the water (similar in theme to Echidna, Koala). When all the creatures realise what has happened, Frog wants to return the water, but cannot. The creatures decide to make him laugh so the water will be pushed out of his mouth. After many antics and no success, a muddy eel jumps up and down, squealing angrily at the frog. Frog begins to laugh and as he laughs, the water comes out. He shrinks and shrinks until he is the size he is today. (It is interesting to note that metre long remains of prehistoric crocodile-eating frogs have been discovered in South America, along with platypus teeth; so perhaps this Dreaming about a giant frog will one day be 'proven' by a similar archaeology discovery in Australia!)

If Frog appears, reconnect with your sense of humour! Frog was so serious it took someone else being equally serious (in an angry way) for him to realise how funny it all was. So lighten up, Frog! If this seems impossible, there may be a reservoir of unshed tears which may need to be released before humour emerges again. Frog's thirsty croak, related to the human experience of body language and expression, could represent repressed words which are bottled up and awaiting release, hence the hoarse croak. (In other versions of Frog Dreamings[9], Frog continues to croak in an attempt to regain his once-beautiful singing voice. If this imagery relates to you, are you striving to re-create something which is no longer possible to regain?)

One of Frog's purposes is to purify the water, as explained in some Dreamings.[10] When he doesn't do this, and the water flows by muddy from silt, the kooris know there was is flood on the way. As Frog is capable of removing impurities until there is clarity, you might like to call upon his energies to gain a clearer understanding of anything which seems clouded or 'muddy.'

Transformation is another energy of Frog's. From an egg in spawn, to tadpole, to land-going creature, Frog is capable of changing to grow and explore new terrain, and to adapt naturally to the changes in his environment. (See also Lyrebird.) In one Dreaming[11], frogs were created when a woman was abducted by a crocodile who kept her locked in a cave. She removed the heavy boulders by tying her hair around them, and pulling. When she escaped, she gave birth to long, elongated eggs which her tribes people smashed open to reveal little frogs. Frogs have no hair, because this woman lost hers in her escape; and they can also live on land or water like their parents.

Kangaroo

This beautiful creature is one of Australia's favourites, unless of course, one is a cattle farmer! Kangaroos feature in many children's stories, songs and television shows. A popular symbol of Australia, many are familiar with it's bounding gait. In the modern Dreaming, a kangaroo trying to make the leap over the harbour died, it's bones forming the structure of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Kangaroo is held in high esteem, like the Buffalo in America. They provide fur, meat and sinew, and are an integral part of Aboriginal spiritual lore. It is mainly a kangaroo bone which is pointed in the famous 'pointing the bone' rite and its related phenomena, although in some areas it is a jabiru beak or other item. Kangaroos are intelligent creatures, and because they are wary and vigilant, they pose a challenge for hunters. On the other side of this, there are negligent, lazy mothers who contribute to the high mortality rate of joeys. This rate is estimated to be high, with dogs, dingoes and eagles taking their share.

Kangaroos live in large mobs and their relationships are well organised, containing a hierarchy. Kangaroo young are born very tiny and they crawl up to the pouch. During times of drought, the unborn embryo can be reabsorbed into the mother's body - recycling or a clever way of utilising available resources? Also, when mating, one dose of sperm can fertilise several ensuing pregnancies as the female kangaroo has more than one uterus. It is believed Kangaroo mothers have the ability to choose the sex of their young, preferring to have females in their younger years because they stay by their mother's side; the males on the other hand, have a higher mortality rate and leave the family unit to join another mob, so they are born in the later years of their mother's life.

Look out for some insights around generosity if Kangaroo bounds into your life. It is because of Kangaroo's kindness and consideration, all female marsupials have pouches. Kangaroo, especially with joey, can highlight your relationship with your mother, other mothers or children, or your ability to nurture others, regardless of your sex. Even the kangaroo in the children's classic, "Dot and the Kangaroo," is very wise, kind and helpful, a real 'mother figure'.

And on the opposite side of kindness, Kangaroos have been known to attack human beings. This has been attributed to animals raised by humans that have been released back into the wild. They no longer fear people, and when a mate is nearby, food is scarce, or they feel threatened, attacks can occur. If news of an attack makes an impact, look closely to see where you are being cruel by being kind. You may need to let something go before it begins to depend upon you. Some things need to fend for themselves with a total break; is there an element of rescue in your issue? And is this rescue necessary, or is it an inability to let go?

A dead 'roo on the side of the road can indicate wastage, a misuse of your resources - accidental of course! And a direct hit - did your bullbar get dinted? Kangaroos instinctively attempt to leap over blinding car lights, making a hit virtually inevitable if they are not seen in time. An injured or dying roo might be a reminder to be more alert, to focus on what is around you as much as the direction in which you are heading.

In the Dreaming, it was a kangaroo who, unable to resist the rhythms of the Kooris dancing, joined in. The people were amused and imitated his dance, thus we have the origins of the "Kangaroo dance." Because the kangaroo joined into a sacred dance, instead of killing him for being present at something very secret and beyond his initiation level, the people initiated him. Kangaroo is regarded as being very wise and spiritual.

The origins of his gait is attributed to when man first came to the mainland of Australia. To escape a hunter, he used all four legs (instead of his usual two), and so leaped, adopting the movement for good. Kangaroo has the ability to try out new ways of moving through the world, and favouring what works the best.

Koala

Endearing like a teddy, but definitely not a bear, Koala is a popular symbol of Australia. These unique creatures have little intelligence. Their success can be attributed (in part) to their ability to live exclusively on eucalyptus leaves and not need to drink water. In fact, their Aboriginal name means, 'no drink'. It could also just as easily refer to the role they played in the Dreaming.

Koalas were a popular food source for the Aboriginal people. Even though Koala skin is the most insulating of all the native furs, using it was taboo. This marsupial had to be roasted with his skin intact as a sign of respect. In return, Koala would not hoard the water and cause a drought. (Then for everyone, it would be 'no drink'.)

In one well-known Dreaming, Koala does exactly this[12]. The other creatures suspect him, so they send Lyrebird to track and spy on him (in some Dreamings, it is Wombat or another creature.) In those days, Koala had a tail and Lyrebird saw him climb a tree, then hang from a branch to drink water hidden below in a hollow. In anger and thirst, Lyrebird sets fire to the tree, dispersing the water. Koala, in his haste to retreat, left his tail behind. (Perhaps Koala was originally a possum?!) Also, you can still see the singe marks on the edges of Lyrebird's two lyre (outer) feathers.

This Dreaming certainly answers a question which has confounded biologists for decades - why an tree-dwelling animal has no tail! Koala appearing in your life can remind you to see what you keep secret from the outside world. What could you share?

In some Dreamings, Koala is an orphan, very much alone and ignored.[13] It is interesting to note that even today babies lose their mothers by climbing onto a male's back, and not realise until it is too late. If you relate to the archetype of orphan in any way, examine these issues in your life more deeply. How can you satisfy that orphan's needs? Koala looks cuddly and may be a message to seek out some nurturing for yourself. Grab someone you care about and give them a big cuddle!

In a Dreaming[14] about the populating of Australia, a child removes the intestines of a koala, which forms a bridge (a coloured rainbow) to the new land. This Dreaming, like that of Whale, describes the first people here coming from elsewhere.

Owl

Night birds of prey, owls universally symbolise the powers of night, mystery, and wisdom. In Aboriginal culture, owls were often a kobong (similar in concept to totemism) for women as a whole.

In the Dreaming, Eerin the grey owl was a very good watchman. He lived to an old age and was a valued member of the tribe. When he died, the Elders performed a sacred rite, cutting themselves and allowing their blood to drip over his body, giving him of their life force - and as a sign of his highly-held esteem. That night, as they held a great corroboree in his honour, an enemy tribe, taking advantage of the distraction, crept upon them. In the billowing smoke of the fire, they heard Eerin's warning call. Looking up, they saw a grey owl flying overhead.[15]

Owl can refer to the issue of protection and implies there is a threat. Owls are very alert, keen of hearing and sight. They are silent on the wing, making them efficient hunters. Owl can call for the use of the qualities of watchfulness and silence. And this is where the archetypal wisdom of Owl is invaluable.

Nocturnal, owls have universally been linked to the mysteries of the night and the moon; to women and witchcraft, occultism, paganism, animism, myth and superstition. Owl symbolises special talents, and if encountered in the New Moon, the emergence of something new. Owl during Full Moon can symbolise the fruition or rewards of practicing one's talents. It can point to acceptance and recognition in some way. In the dark of the moon, take particular notice of your dreams and their ability to convey sub-conscious issues influencing your life. Things may seem to be especially mysterious and hidden at this moon time.

Seal

The Australian sea lion is one of four native seals, and the only one uniquely Australian. These beautiful creatures are very curious by nature and are well-loved performers. Their diet in the wild has been known to include fish and fairy penguins. The male Australian sea lion and elephant seals live with their harems, protecting the females and young. Some bulls become very ferocious fighters, their bodies adorned with many scars as testimony to battle.

There are two species of fur seal which are native Australian mammals, although they are found elsewhere. The male fur seals, unlike the previous two just described, leave the family unit after mating or the birth of the young. It is these unprotected seals which have been clubbed for their insulating coats. Fur seals may be likened to any victimised group. Because of this, Seal can highlight environmental issues and may call for your assistance. Any issues around the use and abuse of resources will be in the focus, and may require some adjustment be made before it deserves a 'seal' of approval or acceptance.

In one Dreaming, Seal Rock in Victoria was created and populated with the first seals.[16 ]When white man came they were all exterminated (the seals' fate was sealed); an apt symbol of Western society's attempts to control and exploit nature without thought for the future. Seal will challenge any 'each to his own' attitude. You may be asked to help save something you never thought twice about before - and this could refer to a relationship, concept or something that may include a real life creature or place. Seal, of course, potently symbolises conservation and helping, rather than harming, the environment and our brothers and sisters in the animal kingdom.

Seal balancing a ball on the end of his nose for you may indicate exploitation on some level, confronting as that may seem. It has been argued that these 'tricks' give captive seals a means of exercising their intelligence. Perhaps the emphasis may be on expressing yourself in 'trivial' ways which are highly enjoyable, if you see Seal performing. However, in Seal's case, his obedience in performing the tricks could well be a means to forget the limitations of his situation - captivity. Conversely, Seal will quite likely bring some kind of endorsement or authorisation into an issue in your life.

Another point of interest, to seal something is to render it airtight or watertight; both air and water being the two elements required by Seal to thrive and enjoy his aquatic lifestyle. This meaning highlights limitation and prevention, something our brother Seal is very familiar with!

Snake

Australia contains the highest proportion of venomous snakes in the world. However, they are very shy of human contact and will flee before attack as first option. For reasons unknown to modern science, (the Dreamings have an answer though!), the swift neurotoxins of the deadly taipan and tiger snakes are ineffective against the largest monitor lizards or goannas. A deep enmity exists between the two species and a battle between them will often be evenly matched, although the goanna is said to win often. No other species can withstand this poison.

Snakes are a symbol of fear worldwide, as they are also revered and worshipped as a symbol of rebirth and transformation. As Snake sheds his skin (which includes skin upon the eyes and tongue), we are reminded of our ability to change our old skin and grow something new (and see through new eyes and speak with a new tongue!); perhaps an this could relate to an attitude or way of living. It's always an inevitable change, and it requires a time of slowing down and resting. Finding a snake skin is like reading a signature - and you would certainly tread carefully if it was a big skin! Snake skins are a great sign of transformation, especially on the spiritual levels.

I have seen sleek red-bellied black snakes sunning themselves in groups on rocks along a creek in an isolated area, once the site of womens' initiations. This ancient sacred place also echoes the sounds of past chants and stamping, voices rising into the night like a specter. Many snakes in the vicinity can certainly point to strong metamorphic fields. These could be perceived as a time vortex where the past infringes upon the present - psychic energy is boosted and unusual things happen. If you are staying in the area it may be worthwhile to record your impressions and dreams, maybe even tune into the energy of the place through conscious meditation.

In the Dreaming, the Rainbow Serpent is part of the beginning of all, having created the mountains, rivers and landscape in epic journeys (or songlines) across the country. The Serpent always left special energies, like a record or morphogenetic field which can be tuned into, for example through corroboree, relaying the songlines or meditation. Snake will always call you back to the voice of the land in some way.

The Rainbow Serpent is one of the great spirits and should never be angered because he would wreak great revenge causing drastic destruction. This means living in harmony with the land and nature. Any serpent crossing your path emphasises the journey you are making in your own life, as personal creator of your destiny and even fate. How safe was the encounter? Was it a close call, were you about to tread on trouble? This could be an auspicious time. Care is needed, however welcome the opportunity you have to wield your personal power and create exactly what you want. The medical symbol of the sword (or caduceus) with double entwined serpents is a good one to visualise holding because it represents many empowering qualities including healing, health, acumen and decisiveness.

If Snake slithers and slides into your life, take precautions you are following your path in life, journeying on the right track. Are you happy in your life or are you angered easily, irritable? Will the archetypal Serpent of Eden waylay you? Many Dreamings describe serpents as being very vengeful, their retribution delivered through their bite. Do you carry your own personal set of deadly fangs?

Snake is a very spiritual symbol and can point to a transcendence over something which is out of harmony in your life.

Spider

Spiders are found the world over. To many Australians the word 'spider' recalls the deadly funnel web and the red-back on the toilet seat. These two species have been known to cause severe reactions, and even death with their bites.

A Dreaming about Spider[17] from northern Queensland links her with sexuality and desire - a recently bereaved seductress (or 'black widow'!) who ignores propriety and focuses obsessively on her sexual desires, seducing some men and rejecting others. Her selectiveness causes trouble, as well as jealousy among the married women, resulting in a great rift among the tribespeople. In this Dreaming, Spider and her lovers turn themselves into spiders to escape punishment for not resisting their carnal desires. This Dreaming is quite in depth with drama, intrigue, magic, and, of course, desire and seduction. It teaches an important moral about sexual restraint and the importance of obeying tribal law; it's equivalent in the Bible would be the law not to covet another's wife (or wife's husband, as Spider did!)

Another Dreaming from the Victoria Desert region[18], has a young Spider girl who goes to great lengths to seduce a boy undergoing initiation. To remind all of the importance of obeying tribal law, they are now two identical stars in the heavens. The analogy of the seductive spider is seen in the web which entraps. As a universal symbol, Spider represents the great mother in her devouring aspect, seeking prey or victims. Power, charisma, intrigue and cunning are all Spider qualities.

The opposite of seduction, one Dreaming[19] has spider a faithful wife who is very good at weaving bags. Her husband disappears, and a bad spirit abducts her, thinking of making a profit (by bartering - she just gave them away) on her woven bags. She refuses to make them, (in case her husband returns and finds her with another man), so the spirit makes a rope and ties her between two trees. To this day, the spider weaves her web between trees.

The web in various cultures depicts the web of life, fate and ensnarement. A spider web is a sign to cast your own web, to actively seek what it is you want. If a web is discovered torn, it may be time to backtrack and cover old ground, to make amendments in some way. It is a good time to clarify your goals. Spider focuses on attracting her blessings, why don't you? A web with plenty of entombed insects is a good sign your own web is strong and well constructed.

During the course of writing this text, I was bitten on the crown by an Eastern Monkey Spider. Until recently, this spider was thought to be almost as toxic as the funnel web. I was certainly sick, and although this spider fell off me, I did not attribute it as the cause of the bite until a week later in meditation it 'hit' me! Most likely I was too sick to connect the two, and being in the middle of moving house was too busy (or seduced by the changes and improvements in living conditions from a garage to a 'real' home) to closely examine what was really happening on other levels, ignoring the nausea and other symptoms. One message which came through meditation was that of caution; an obvious one!

Also, I normally feel great compassion for anything trapped or dying, yet this spider elicited no such response from me as it stayed in the jar in which I had caught it. This spider took three weeks to die, and my cruelty, when later examined, showed me how I do the same to myself with those qualities I dislike, lacking any feelings of acceptance or empathy due to judgements. Issues around the concept of punishment and deserving may be important if you kill a spider - was Spider 'in the wrong' to warrant death - or just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Understanding and accepting the negatives of life is a Spider lesson, as well as releasing the need for self-sabotage. How often do you plan to do something or make a change, then for some reason, it just doesn't happen?

If you have no fear of Spider, and especially if you feel drawn to her, look at your life and see if you are not about to be caught in some soft, strong silky threads! You may feel passionate or excited about something. Stop and look, is there an almost invisible web which can ensnare you in some way? Or, are you weaving one yourself?

If you are frightened of Spider, look at the other fears in your life. What are you frightened of? How does it affect your life? Is your reaction to Spider similar to another reaction, to something else? What else in your life gives you these feelings? Spider appearing can call for exploring your shadow side, that side which experiences fear, terror and powerlessness. By bringing your fears into the light they are unable to sneak up on you unawares - like removing potential 'hidey holes' for a spider to lay in wait for unwary victims.


 

 

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