This image is of Lara (left) and Erika (right) and Tater (middle.) Lara was my photography student while I was teaching at Oglethorpe and she graduated last year. Since the first class she always wanted to photograph animals and one of her main goals was to take beautiful images of rescued animals to help them get adopted. She talked about their personalities during critiques and her love for animals and dedication to help them was always clear.
Lara co-founded a non-profit animal rescue www.orphanannierescue.org/ here in Atlanta and Erika works with her and provides one of their wonderful foster homes. She takes in the dogs that need extra care and attention, like Tater who is in the photograph. He was found in awful conditions, chained up outside and there were cruelty/neglect charges against the "owners." He is an incredibly sweet boy but he needs extra patience as he gets past certain triggers that scare him. I communicated with Tater recently and he expressed a desire to get past it and gratitude for the loving care he is receiving. He feels protective of Erika and looks forward to being able to act like a "puppy" which he didn't really get to do when he was one because he was protecting his sister who was also rescued and has since found a home. He has a lot of love to share and he had to hide that part of himself until he was rescued and found himself in a safe and loving environment.
I was able to also observe his interactions with his foster mom Erika last week and I could feel his love for her and desire to protect her and his gratitude for both Erika and Lara. Even though I had previously connected with Tater energetically I made sure to give him space in person and was thrilled when he came over to greet me after a while and I even got a little kiss/groom! He is so full of love and I felt so much gratitude for the work that Lara & Erika and the other volunteers do. They rescue animals that many would give up on. I wanted to share this story to highlight the great work they are doing in our community. I think it's important we support local animal rescue as well as national and international efforts. Please follow them and offer support if you can. www.orphanannierescue.org/
This is their write up which includes ways to help them:
"Orphan Annie Rescue is a local non-profit animal rescue comprised of a group of amazing volunteers who come together to help save lives however they can. We are committed to working with all of the animals that we take in and treating them the way they deserve to be treated - as part of the family. There are numerous opportunities to contribute to the life saving efforts of this animal rescue including, but not limited to, opening your home to foster homeless animals, coming out on Saturdays to help set up and break down for adoption events, donating money and/or supplies, and sharing our adoptable animals on social media. With the help of the community, we can continue to thrive in our ability to help animals in need."
I got to pose with Tater! (Photo by Lara W)
***edit*** On October 14th, 2017 Tater was adopted and now he has his very own forever home and a loving human mom who understands all that he has been through and loves him so much!! Thanks to Orphan Annie Rescue he went from being chained in awful conditions outdoors to become a cherished & beloved companion. So thrilled to report this wonderful news!!
I am incredibly grateful I was able to participate in two very special events this month to give back to the animals in my community. The images above are at the Modern Mystic (Atlanta) September 16th where the wonderful Kelley Knight (top right photo) and I teamed up to provide donation based mini sessions on the Beltline for animal companions and for their humans. It was a beautiful day. Kelley gave mini tarot readings and I gave mini reiki and communication sessions. I loved meeting such sweet dogs and their loving parents and I was thrilled to be surprised by two lovely dogs & their moms with whom I had sessions earlier this year. It was so meaningful & special to meet them in person, when their energy felt so familiar already! Bacon (top middle) does incredible work helping his mom with her practice and Wynne (top left) is a true miracle pup I have communicated with many times. She has overcome a serious health issue with her mom's dedicated care and as a special treat I have invited Wynne's mom Colleen to write a guest blog post about this journey for us which I will share with you all very soon! When it got too hot to continue working outside we moved into the shop & I believe the dogs loved being surrounded by all the high energy crystals at the Modern Mystic Shop. We raised $257 in just a few hours which we donated to Lifeline Animal Project to help especially with animals that had to evacuate due to the recent storms. Many thanks to all who came! There are more photos from both events on my instagram account @sigrira
The above set of photos is from the Strut your Mutt event by the Atlanta chapter of Best Friends Animal Society on September 23rd. I was so excited to be invited to do mini readings (I donated all my fees to Best Friends) during this nation wide event! I have been a big fan of Best Friends for 20 years, and it was a joy to support a group who does so much good for animals. I was in a beautiful gazebo which made me think of a fairytale treehouse when I first saw it (top left photo) and I was able to bring in pillows to make it extra cozy. The Body Shop provided great gifts for me to give to those who came for the mini reiki & communication sessions and a wonderful Best Friends volunteer helped me and held space beautifully for the interspecies parents. There were some very emotional readings and I was touched both by the strength of some of the dogs' emotional support for their parents as well as the love shared between them. The dog on the bottom right photo is a certified therapy dog and she wanted to tell her mom that she knows exactly how much time each patient needs with her, it varies a lot, some need a long while and others simply a smile! I also loved that several dogs came into the gazebo of their own initiative to receive reiki, surprising their parents by staying as long as they needed the energy healing for! More photos of this event are on my instagram @Sigrira.
I attended an advanced mediumship practice workshop this past wknd with Jamie Butler and I am so grateful for her. Jamie began helping me to develop my abilities 10 years ago and I've taken many classes with her including my Reiki 1, 2 and Mastership. If any of you ever have the opportunity to take a class with her, she is an amazing teacher!✨I would not be where I am today without her, she believed in me even before I did❤️
The class this weekend allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and approach readings in some new & different ways-the photo with Gracie shows that I pulled the courage card on Saturday from the Spirit Cats tarot by Nicole Piar-& you can see Gracie is still on my chair- the tree was my early morning view of the nature preserve behind the Center for Love & Light🌳
Some of the messages that came through made me very happy because it reinforced what I know in my heart already- that I truly do not see a species difference - and that I am indeed here to help others to understand animals are completely equal.💛The best messages are often those we already feel in our hearts, but it's nice to sometimes hear them spoken out loud or shown to us in meditation.
We did a beautiful meditation on Sunday to the sound of the earth's heartbeat (Schumann resonance) and Jarvis & Juneau (my sons in spirit) were there with me and showed me what it felt like to be a big cat, and to be able to create healing purrs in tune with the earth's vibration.
I also met a wonderful group of people and found out I had a past life as a sister (as cat and as a human)with a lovely friend.✨
Overall it was very inspiring and reinforced for me that I truly am happiest connecting energetically with animals and with the people who love them, and I'm already having lots of ideas of new ways to help more animals which I will share as they unfold! ✨
Our home was on the eclipse path yesterday-and even though it wasn't 100% totality (it was 97% I think) we chose to stay home to experience it in our garden. I brought all the crystals outside to be charged with the lovely eclipse energy and looked for moon shadows.🌙
Once the moon began to cover the sun, even at about 1/3 or so, the light dramatically began to shift. It had a surreal quality that photos couldn't really capture. It was very quiet for a while and the garden felt almost otherworldly.✨Sort of like a moment suspended in time. It was lovely to do a meditation outside as the temperature had cooled and become more pleasant🌘(here in Atlanta our summer temps can often be too hot to enjoy being outdoors during the middle of the day.)
Merlin and Gracie were safely in their screened catio so they could feel and see the changes without a direct view of the sun. Merlin did join me outside on the back deck (on my lap) for a bit, but Gracie stayed in the catio the entire time. I had images of her absorbing the energy and even moving it in ways beyond my comprehension. 💫🌗Afterwards she was pretty tired, the last photo shows her lying down and she went on to take a long nap until sunset. I was energized and tired at the same time & very grateful to have experienced such a magical few moments in our garden.✨🌳🌺
✨📷✨I post frequently on instagram - if interested in following it is @sigrira it is a private account but I will add you with a request to follow. I'm trying to keep it set to private as long as possible.
This afternoon I was sending Reiki to a lovely dog in India. That phrase alone makes me smile because it is really exciting to be able to serve as an animal communicator and energy healer for animals around the world. As if that weren't magical enough, my cat son Merlin positioned himself directly behind me as I sat down for the Reiki session and he remained there for the full duration of it. I had the distinct feeling that he was acting as my protector (energetically) as well as grounding me since the energies coming through for the healing were of a very high vibration. After the session I arranged crystals around Merlin so he could enjoy a "crystal bath" and he loved it! He shifted comfortably and stayed for about three hours! I tried to move one of the crystals once because I was worried it was about to fall off the pillow, and he reached for it so I wouldn't remove it.
I also feel my cat daughter Gracie Belle often is grounding energies for me and she is very diligent about helping me clear myself and our space. She and her brother both help balance me by playing and snuggling but they also lift up my heart and my vibration because theirs is naturally so pure and high. Merlin does not always sit behind me but he does almost always come into the room anytime I am about to communicate with an animal or sending Reiki. They are also very good at clearing their own energy and part of this for them is having access to fresh air and sunshine. Since they are indoor-only we have a catio (a screened in room with cat shelves for them) and a playpen so they can still enjoy the elements, and it is very apparent this is something they need to remain balanced & grounded themselves.
I have done quite a few sessions where I communicated with animal companions of people who do energy work and different types of healing work for clients. I find it interesting that many of these animals tell me that part of their "job" is to help their human parent/companion to do their job! Sometimes they help the clients directly if they are in the space during the sessions and other times they assist their humans by protecting them energetically - or by giving them inspiration! Many animals are the reason their humans begin to explore alternative healing. I took my first Reiki class to help my cat son (in spirit now) Jarvis, and that started all of this for me. Most animals already communicate with their humans and they encourage them to learn which ways they most easily can receive their messages, whether by visual (mind)images, hearing, feeling, sensing or even in dreams. This also often continues after a beloved animal crosses over, they may continue watching over their humans and assisting them in finding their life's purpose or path or expanding their possibilities if already on it. Some enjoy becoming guides for us. In my case Jarvis wanted to take an active part in assisting me with the intuitive work I do with animals.
There are many animals that seem to be connected to energy from the stars as well as to angelic energies and they do so much to help us with our energy work both personally and professionally. I know Merlin and Gracie Belle and so many other companions are operating on levels beyond what I can possibly comprehend as a human. I can sense that they are doing this, but that is about it. I am grateful and I hope if this resonates you might consider the many ways your animal companion assists with your own energy work, whether they are helping during personal meditations or with healing work you may do for others.
For today's "shifting perspectives" series, where I highlight "unpopular" species to try to shift some of our dislikes/prejudices, I am discussing the humble cockroach. The photo in the middle I took of a jungle cockroach (way bigger than the ones here in Georgia) and other images are from a book I read many years ago called Cockroaches by Joanna Cole. The page on the right is what made the difference for me so that I was able to shift my feelings. It states:
"In its own personal habits the roach is a clean insect. It spends hours cleaning itself. If you get a chance to watch a quiet roach, you can see it washing its feet like a cat. Then, reaching up with a front leg, it will pull an antenna down into its jaws and wash it by letting it slide through them. "
The part about washing like a cat is what I think did it. This image allowed me to think of the roach as more than an occasional unwanted visitor to my home. It made me look past the "ick" and think about how these tiny beings that are despised almost universally spend hours carefully grooming themselves, just like my beloved cat children.
I am not suggesting anyone roll out the welcome mat. I don't like it when they come inside our house either. But I live in the American south and we have had a rainy summer, and no matter how spotless our homes are, they do find a way inside once in a while. It's an inevitability in this part of the world. There is even a local nickname for them here, Palmetto Bugs, because they often hide under the big leaves of our coastal palm trees in this region.
What I'm asking for is to see them as a being that deserves to live. Consider taking them outside and setting them free. There is no need to kill them. It is very easy to catch them with a plastic cup/container and a flat paper plate or piece of cardboard. Place the cup over them, then gently slide the paper plate under (cut the plate so it is fully flat.) The roach will walk unto it and then you can release him or her outside. When I do it I give them a little reiki & assure them they will be ok & I am only taking them outside where they will be safer, because my daughter Gracie Belle is a skilled huntress.
Please consider that if you have an interspecies family, your dog & especially your cat will most likely hunt and possibly eat a roach that gets inside. This is another powerful reason to refrain from using pest control chemicals because the poison that kills the cockroach will end up in the cat's stomach when they hunt them.
Cockroaches have little faces, like the cute insects do. We think grasshoppers are cute & lucky, why not roaches? They have souls too. Again, I also fully prefer they live outside the house, but it is fairly easy to take them out without having to touch them. I realize this will not be a popular post, but I'm sharing it because I received the most wonderful compliment the other day. Someone who attended my Intro to Animal Communication last year (part of the give back program at the Love & Light Institute) told me that ever since that class, she has been taking all the insects she encounters in the house outside instead of killing them. This may seem small, but it put a giant smile on my face to know that perspectives can shift with a little understanding & compassion.
This is one of the hardest things I’ve decided to write- it is about one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. It is difficult for me to share painful & sad news and I’ve been trying to post this for about a month but kept feeling not ready-so finally-in the hopes it may help someone who reads this-it’s a long one-here it is:
As some of you know, we welcomed a new girl kitten into our family at the beginning of March 2017. It was a joyous happy occasion and no different to us than the adoption of a human child. We named her Clary Sage. When I met Clary I had an overwhelming soul recognition moment and I believed this to mean she would be my daughter.
We lovingly prepared a room for her, carefully choosing toys we thought she might like and making it as cozy as possible. We did the kitty introductions between her and Merlin and Gracie Belle (our 3.5 year old cat kids) completely by the book. Carefully following all instructions and advice, we spent a week leading up to when they would first meet. We had baby gates blocking their access to each other but the first sight through the baby gates Clary charged toward them aggressively. We believed it was just fear. I spent many hours each day that first week with Clary and fell more in love with my new daughter each day. I gave her Reiki energy healing, and she absorbed it like a sponge. She had been spayed recently and her tiny belly was still shaved. Reiki helped her heal beautifully and also allowed her to relax enough to accept love and snuggle in my arms. I told her how much I loved her and how she was home now. I treasured moments in her room, it was sort of a bubble, a cocoon of cozy and love.
Then came the first evening they met in person, and we expected her to be fearful, growling and hissing. What we didn’t expect is that she would chase Merlin and Gracie aggressively. Most of the literature talked about the new cat being scared and the resident cats having to establish/assert their status in the hierarchy. I broke down in tears after the 45 minutes or so she was out and felt something deep down was wrong, but again believed it would get better in a few weeks/months. The kitties all did begin getting used to each other-there were no instances of a serious physical harm, so that gave me hope. I could sense that Gracie Belle especially was very stressed and I did not feel comfortable leaving them all out together in the house if I wasn’t there. Merlin and Gracie both tried to assert their dominance but Clary Sage never backed down and continually chased them and was determined to be the boss/dominant cat, which as a kitten coming in was not the norm. She would pounce on Gracie and fight Merlin on the top of their tall cat tree, again never backing down. When she was with me or my husband she would be curious and sweet. I felt constant stress, which I know was partially me sensing Gracie & Merlin’s stress. There would be calm moments when all 3 would fall asleep in the same room and those moments gave me hope for days. But inevitably it went back to Clary trying to be dominant and Merlin & Gracie are so mild mannered they would retreat eventually. Still, I had never before experienced kitty intros first hand, so even though it was stressful I still hoped it would get better.
I was so convinced that it would get better that even though I was sensing their emotions, I kept thinking it would be ok. There was not a single part of me that consciously considered it might not work out. After 4 weeks I received messages through a reading that confirmed the deep down feelings I was unable to face. That Clary Sage was an amazing cat, but that Merlin and Gracie were too stressed and that their energies were not a good match for hers and that it would not get better because it was a personality difference rather than a matter of time. This hit me like a tidal wave. It was like this veil got lifted from my eyes and I felt the truth of it and it was devastating to accept. I desperately wanted to believe it was going to get better-but deep down I now understood it wasn’t going to. I went home and I cried the entire night. I was still awake and crying when the dawn came. My heart physically hurt accepting this truth, which I felt in my whole being. I simply could not believe this was happening and that our dreams of a happy peaceful family with our 3 kids someday snuggling together would never come true.
Just to feel triple sure, I asked for help from another wonderful animal communicator, who also confirmed all of this. Even though I am a communicator myself, I was too close to the situation and my emotions were getting in the way of full clarity. I also received the message that Clary was feeling confined and that she loved being here but she felt ready for her next adventure and being at our home was sort of like when a plant outgrows their container and feels a bit root bound. We had been trying to keep her separate which meant she was spending more time in her room which was not ideal. I made sure to spend as many hours as possible with her and to take Merlin & Gracie out in their playpen so Clary could have the run of the house & the catio for a few hours each day too. I felt completely divided, and time sort of stood still. I couldn’t get much done because I was constantly split –when I was in the room with Clary sometimes Merlin would cry for me to come out. When I was with him & Gracie I was worried about Clary Sage being by herself. I would go in with her for a few hours before bed time and sleep there then go upstairs to sleep in our bed with Merlin & Gracie but wake up early so Clary could come out of her room. I was barely sleeping and the stress level was not sustainable.
I reached out to friends trying to find a new home for her but nothing was available, and after another 4 weeks knowing we would not be able to keep her as our daughter, we made the decision to take her back to the rescue group we adopted her from. This was something I never wanted to even consider and it was only once I saw no other option and could not continue to put everyone through the unimaginable stress that we did. It is a wonderful cage free place, no-kill of course, with beautiful bright rooms, lots of environmental enrichment and adoption events like cat yoga. They actually have a contract stating they always want their cats to come back to them unless other arrangements are made with their knowledge, which I believe is a wonderful policy.
This is where my personal judgements came into play. I knew we were doing what was best for her. Clary Sage truly is a magical wonderful kitty and she deserves a home where she can be the queen of her castle, with a human who can be with her, love her and not be divided & stressed. The best place for a potential adopter to find her would be there. We were definitely doing what was best for Merlin & Gracie. Gracie had reached a point where she wanted nothing to do with Clary and just had to hide. She was upset she didn’t get a chance to do energy work with me, felt she couldn’t do her “job” with Clary around. Merlin was worried about Gracie and about Clary pouncing/attacking when I wasn’t looking. And I was emotionally and physically beyond exhausted. Still, even though I knew it was the best option we had, I was seeing the image of a Victorian orphanage in my head and could not get past the promises I made to her that I would not be able to keep. I wanted to be her mom forever. Clary felt like my daughter. I loved her and always will love her.
We made an appointment and the day came. I spent the entire night before with her. I explained everything and how much I loved her. I cried and my eyes were swollen again by morning. Putting her in the carrier and driving her there was truly one of the most painful & difficult things I have ever had to do. Leaving her there, even knowing she was in good hands, it broke our hearts. We left a pillow with her that my mom had made by hand and some of her favorite toys. It was truly devastating for us. I never thought something like this would ever happen to me. I tried not to, but I had a lot of judgements around people giving up animals. I could not imagine doing this. I still don’t think it is something that should ever be done casually, but I do “get” that there are circumstances that sometimes warrant it now. But giving up a child is never easy, no matter what the circumstances are.
I do understand that this kind of thing happens, and several people reached out to me telling me about situations where they tried to adopt but had to re-home the new animal because their resident animal companion did not accept them. I suppose I maybe should have entered into this thinking of it as a trial run, or a fostering situation, which is what it kind of ended up becoming, but I didn’t. I dove in fully and thought of her as my daughter immediately. I WAS her mom. I taught her to accept love & nursed her to health. I gave her antibiotics for 3 weeks & cleared up an ear issue (she let me rub ointment on her ears every day for a couple of weeks.) I played with her and most importantly I loved her with all of my heart. I still love her & miss her. But love was not enough, loving her would not change the fact that she and Merlin & Gracie Belle were not compatible. I have seen too many situations where cats are forced into a tense living situation by well meaning people and how the anxiety and stress affects them, especially if it is long term. I could not subject the 3 of them (and my husband and I) to this.
While I have encountered much love & support I felt like it was too hard to talk about this. There are close friends I still haven't told because it hurts too much to talk about, it's even painful to write about. I think because it is something I always thought of as a “bad” thing. This is why I decided to write about it, and maybe help someone else going through it, or who has gone through it. It has been almost 2 months now. Merlin and Gracie Belle have been so relieved. I could tell by their almost immediate change in demeanor and emotional state I did what was best for them. And I know in my heart Clary Sage needs the one thing we could not offer her-to be the one & only cat in the household. The hardest part now is trusting that the universe will take care of her and protect her since I can’t.
I received a Reiki session to clear some of the stress I went through during all this, and during this session-I heard Clary speak to me clearly, telling me “thank you” & “I’m ok.” I was also told that our souls have had many past lives together which explains why I felt that soul level recognition and felt I had to bring her home. Also that this was a soul contract between us, and our souls were so happy to see each other. And that she was meant to shake things up for me & help me release old belief & thought patterns. She absolutely did shake up my life and that of my family. It was a difficult and emotionally devastating lesson, but I know I have grown tremendously from this experience and I am grateful for the time, love and connection we shared despite the stress.
I do not regret bringing her home. I know we helped her get healthy & if she had gone somewhere else she may not have gotten treated quickly enough. I’m grateful Clary Sage is healthy and received a strong foundation with us – she learned how to accept being loved and treasured. I am grateful for the kind & loving support I received from dear friends & family through all of this- I so much needed it-you know who you are- thank you. I am now grateful for the peace that is present in our home again. I am working on moving forward, trying to acknowledge that it will take my heart time to heal from this separation.
A final bright note is that I received a lovely tarot reading where the card for Clary indicated she will be the “empress” of her own home soon!
Yesterday Clary Sage was adopted!!! I am so thrilled and relieved that she will truly have her very own family & home now and am imagining her happily snuggling with her new parent(s) and exploring her new home and knowing she is the "empress" of her home!
-This is a photo from Good Mews before her adoption-I was so glad to see how comfortable she looks. There is a similar cat tree in our living room and she always wanted to be in the circular enclosed bit like this, so I know she must have been very satisfied to claim it there. (This excellent photo is by Rebecca Pruett Photography)
There is a special meaning of the word cozy that I reserve for something that I consider one of the absolute pleasures of life. Once in a while, if I happen to have a bit of time (or sometimes when I don't really) and the kitties are sleepy I will get in bed for a little while with a good book, ideally an inspiring book. If the stars align, the cats will sleep on or next to me while I read. The bedroom is cool and outside is either stormy or sunbeams shine on their fur. The combination of feeling inspired by the book, whether it is an engaging story or lovely art, while listening to tiny kitty snores and maybe feeling a paw reaching out for me while they dream makes my heart happy.
I had the opportunity to do this recently with a new book I received for my birthday, a big hardcover retrospective of Susan Seddon Boulet's life & work written by Michael Babcock. I was drawn to her images when I was still in highschool in the 90's starting with Shaman:The Paintings of Susan Seddon Boulet. I had a poster in my bedroom then of one of her paintings and have continued to find new inspiration in them. I remember one in particular had light flowing from the subject's hands and after I began to do Reiki energy healing this painting made sense to me in a completely new way.
Doing this even for only an hour, completely re-charges me and calms me if I have been experiencing stress. I make sure to leave my cell phone in another room with the ringer off. I may bring in a cup of coffee or tea. My cat kids seem to know when I need this, and it is one of the many ways they/our animal companions help us raise our energy-vibration. They will even act the part and yawn extra sweetly looking at me with sleepy eyes as they sometimes wake up briefly and shift.
Any time we spend together is a joy for me, we also watch movies together and last night Merlin slept by my head as I was working on the computer until 2 am. There is something special about the combination of reading and cozy sleepy furkids for me (maybe because I love reading.) I have vivid memories of an entire Sunday afternoon doing this in Tucson almost 20 years ago (where we lived then and where we adopted our first sons Juneau and Jarvis from the Tucson Humane Society in '98.) They were my first cat kids -as many of you know- they are in the middle photo above. I remember exactly how the sun sparkled on their coats, they were still kittens and their downy soft fur smelled a little bit like the corn we used to feed to chickens in my childhood. I was reading a fantasy book, I believe it was by Charles De Lint but I don't remember the exact title, only that it had fae elements which of course were heightened by the my magical cat sons at my side.
Last Wednesday we returned from a short vacation and saw a wild bunny in our backyard through the kitchen window. This may not seem that extraordinary, but to me it was pretty exciting! We have been at this home for 7 years now, developing and maintaining our garden as a wildlife sanctuary, but this is the very first rabbit that has visited. He (or she) is a young bunny, and appears to be alone. He spends time under the giant blooming gardenia bush which is great shelter and I saw him nibbling on native geraniums and native St. John's Wort. I have not tried actively communicating with him yet, will probably do so soon, but I was a bit distracted by how utterly adorably this bunny is. I've seen him most mornings and he seems fine with being photographed from a short distance.
Even though I love all animals and believe they are all beautiful, I am not immune to cuteness. Bunnies are objectively ridiculously cute and I think this is evident by how often they appear in art & illustrations for children's (& adult) decor and books. Even the name sounds sweet. Rabbits also have symbolic associations with the faerie (elemental) realm. The times they are most active are dusk and dawn, which are considered "in-between" times and all "in-betweens" are doorways to the fae realms. The most popular example of this is "Alice in Wonderland" where Alice follows a rabbit and has great adventures.
Apart from the magical symbolism of rabbits and their beauty, I rejoiced at seeing one because the larger variety of wild animals indicates a more diverse eco system which is healthier since we are all interconnected. Neighbors have reported seeing foxes and more wild rabbits lately too. I am so grateful that we don't use poisonous herbicides or pesticides because I know our greens are safe for the bunny and everyone else to eat.
I am thankful because sometimes something as simple as a beautiful bunny sitting under a flowering bush at twilight fills me with such an immense sense of wonder. The feeling I got from discovering this bunny visiting (& possibly moving in) was magical in itself. I believe that for me that feeling of wonder is essential to continuing to see the beauty in life and taking a true breather from problems going on in the world. Wonder creates balance and makes our hearts stronger. Adults need wonder as much as kids do (if not more!) It's not only bunnies, I feel this when I see a lovely alien-looking praying mantis guarding our front door, when slugs move their adorable antennae, when mice hold food in their tiny paws, when ferns unfurl or when a seedling grows and blooms for the first time. I could list 100's of examples and sometimes when I am sad I like to make lists of all the "everyday" beings who gift me with wonder simply by sharing our garden.
Last week I was sitting on my deck early in the morning and I heard a beautiful sound while looking at the backyard and noticing bright red feathers behind tall grasses. For a moment I thought someone's chickens had gotten in the yard, but then I saw this gorgeous large pilleated woodpecker fly toward one of our pine trees and perch there for a moment. I took a lovely 20 second video because the moment seemed so magical. There was a squirrel on the tulip poplar tree which is entwined with the pine, and it was misty (rare in Georgia.) I recorded until the woodpecker flew to another tree and I posted the video on my facebook page as well as on a neighborhood page where people sometimes share this type of thing since we are fortunate to live in a neighborhood with mature trees and much varied wildlife. (The above photo is of a different pilleated woodpecker on a tree in our front yard a while back.)
As expected there were "likes" but then there were also some less positive comments. One person referred to the woodpecker by an expletive I won't repeat because he supposedly had pecked at their house. Another person said they were "not a fan" (?) and yet another, more kindly at least, with a smiley face emoji, said she loves them but draws the line at property destruction. I was fully prepared to have jokes made about the poor quality of the video (I didn't have a tripod) but sort of shocked that there would be animosity toward a rare beautiful woodpecker. This gave me pause. I considered the comment of drawing the line at property destruction, which I suppose sounds reasonable to most people, but I do not draw that line. I feel like having to repair a few holes on the side of the house or the deck is a very small price to pay for the privilege of living along side these amazing beings. I feel this way about all wildlife not only woodpeckers. Part of me also keeps thinking they were here first and we built houses on top of where their home was and now they have to deal with us in their habitat. The least we can do is care for them and protect them in our shared home environment.
I suppose everyone "draws lines" somewhere. I think it is helpful to pause and consider where our lines are and why. Do we feel like our property is more important than a living being? Is it money? Does money matter more? Or is it convenience? Do we draw the line at safety? When are we actually in real danger versus imagined danger? Which beings are "magical" and which ones are "pests?" What if it's a sweet looking rat gnawing on something in the shed? A mature tree casting shade where we would prefer sun?
We all make choices constantly that affect our environment. There is no way to avoid this, even if we are very careful. All we can do is our best, but I believe it is easier to do our best when we approach it from a place of love and compassion and awe.
Due to my connection with animals I am often forced to consider & reconsider choices, something that may have appeared simple ten years ago is more layered & complex now. I am in a human body too and I make imperfect choices. I killed a wasp once, probably about 12 years ago. She was inside our condo and I was afraid she would sting my cat kids. As soon as it happened I knew & felt I had done something very wrong. It was a choice made out of fear. I still carry the weight of taking that life. If I could re-do it I would have captured her and taken her outside. Which is what I have done ever since if one got in and what I have done with other insects for a very long time. So I suppose I was drawing the line at protecting my kids, but in retrospect I'm not sure they were in imminent danger. I still would protect my children from anyone, human or animal, but I hope that I would be more discerning about whether the danger was immediate and real or perceived. My lines shifted. Many insects suffer and die because of perception, whether they are poisonous or not. Having spiders does not mean we will be bitten by them. Often an insect will sting or bite out of fear too. It is all they can do to defend themselves and their young. It helps to imagine ourselves in their position, considering the size difference. What if a giant picked up our house & threw it in a giant vacuum? It sounds silly but we sweep & vacuum spiderwebs all the time!
If we can see ourselves in their place and allow heart based compassion rather than fear to guide our choices we have a chance at shifting where we draw our lines while still feeling safe and doing the least amount of harm possible.