Wednesday, July 11, 2012

still-sound 83. Goose, grouse, octopus

I lifted these beautiful pictures of the spruce grouse from  The posting was credited to 'Vacation' 

I have been sailing choppy waters lately.  Many of the unspoken rules and routines that have shaped my daily life for years have dissolved.  This has left me feeling confused.  Perhaps, for this reason, I seek out bigger stories and different vantage points.  I want to see how I fit into a vast picture.

Yesterday my friend Laura brought her Animal Totem cards to work with her.  At lunchtime she took the deck out of a totebag made from white material adorned with a berry-colored floral print.  I wondered if she sewed the bag herself, but didn't ask.  A small book accompanied the cards, all housed in a cardboard box displaying a drawing of a bird and the name of the book's author, Steven Farmer.

Laura instructed me to hold the cards, to commune with them for a while, to imprint them with my being and my questions.  I then selected three; ones to represent my past, present and future.  She turned the cards over to reveal my animal totems.

This photo of a goose comes from Wikipedia.

My past was represented by a goose.  Laura read Steven Farmer's description of the animal aloud.  The goose symbolizes rest.  This seemed counterintuitive to me.  I would more readily associate rest with a fat orange cat sleeping in the sun or perhaps my pug Rosie, since she naps all day long.  Geese, to me, are on the go - enduring the ambitious journey from Canada to warmer climes.  Perhaps they represent rest because they need it.  A purposeful rest.  I wouldn't describe Rosie's naps as purposeful rest.

My present totem animal is the grouse.  Laura made the sound of what she imagined a grouse to make.  It sounded right to me, kind of like a turkey.  Steven Farmer's description didn't match my initial expectations.  The grouse is the official bird of my home state of Pennsylvania.  I imagined a speckled creature trotting across fields evading hunters in autumn, making the sound Laura just emitted.  I did not imagine it to be the embodiment of dance and primordial rhythm.  The grouse represents my connection to the sound of the drum - to the heartbeat of ebb and flow.  It is my duty to get my groove on.  Like the grouse.

This picture of an octopus comes from

My future is the octopus.  This was an interesting coincidence for me as I had just read an essay written by Terence McKenna about this very sea creature.  McKenna believed that as human consciousness evolves, so will language; ultimately becoming visual.  He describes the octopus' ability to communicate through its subtle shifts in appearance.  

Laura read how I will learn to change my appearance and blend in by observing other people -- how I will become an effortless, skilled shapeshifter.  The book did not explain why I would want this.  Perhaps I will know why I want this in the future which is why the octopus is my future, not present animal totem.

As I gathered the cards together to give back to Laura, I noticed that one of the animal totems was a unicorn!  Not even knowing what it represented I secretly wished that one of my picks was the unicorn.

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