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Sharks: Mythology, Spiritual Importance and More

Sharks have been an essential part of native cultures along the coasts across the world for 1000s of years. You can find them in tales as being human hybrids, Gods, monsters with superpower like abilities and more. Since I was a young kid I have had a special love and connection to the oceans and Sharks have always been special to me. In fact the Hammerhead shark is one of my spirit animals. I even have two tattooed as a part of my left sleeve who swim around my matron goddess Rán. I even had my own personal spiritual experience with a school of Hammerheads in the U.S. Virgin Islands. So today I want to dive deep into the world of Sharks in folklore, spirituality and more.

Once Upon a Time in St. Croix

It is a long story so I will try to be brief with this personal experience of mine. During my U.S. Coast Guard career I spent a tour in the U.S. Virgin Islands, specifically on the beautiful island of St. Croix. With two friends of mine we decided to go dive a shallow water shipwreck right off the coast in about 50 feet of clear blue Caribbean water. My two friends were geared up with SCUBA and I was free diving with my snorkel and fins.

My two friends dove down to go inside the shipwreck as I was swimming along a reef nearby when suddenly a school of Yellowfin Tuna swam by me at such a fast speed I was surrounded by bubbles. I was maintaining neutral buoyancy when suddenly out of the distance appeared a school of Great Hammerhead sharks! It was incredible to say the least. This species of Hammerhead can reach up to 20 feet in length and one swam by me that I would guess was between 12 to 15 feet. I was surrounded by at least two dozen. It probably lasted for 30 seconds but felt like a lifetime. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

Sharks in Global Mythology

  • Greek

The Myth of Lamia: Lamia was the daughter of the sea god Poseidon. She had an affair with the king of the gods, Zeus. When Hera, Zeus’ wife found out about the affair she stole and murdered Lamia’s children, which drove Lamia mad. To help her get revenge, Zeus turned Lamia into a giant shark monster so she could devour the innocent children of others as revenge.

The Myth of Cetus: After Andromeda, the princess of Aethiopia’s mother Cassiopeia, was bragging that her daughter was more beautiful than the sea god Poseidon’s daughters. Poseidon decided to take revenge by sending a giant shark/whale monster name Cetus after her. Luckily for Aethiopia, the legendary hero Perseus was able to save the day and kill Cetus.

Akheilos: Akheilos is the son of Zeus and Lamia and was a lesser known sea god with a shark head and a fiery fish body. Akheilos was turned into a shark as punishment after boasting that he was more attractive than the god of beauty Aphrodite.

  • Hawaiian

Kamohoali’i: Kamohoali’i was the king of the sharks gods and guardian of the Hawaiian Islands. He could transform into both a human and a variety of different sea creatures to help people.

Ka-moho-ali’i swam in the area around the islands of Maui and Kahoolawe.

Ka’ahupahau: A shark goddess that was born a human. After being transformed into a shark god, she dedicated her life to protecting people from shark attacks.

Kane’apua: Was the trickster shark god, who could perform magical feats to entertain and delight all.

Keali’ikau ‘o Ka’u: Keali’ikau ‘o Ka’u fell in love with a human and gave birth to a green shark that would help people trapped at sea.

Kuhaimoana: Was a massive shark god that protected the Ka’ula islet and ensured fisherman had a bountiful catch.

Kane’i’kokala: Was a shark god that would save shipwreck victims.

  • Fijian

Dakuwaqa: was a major god of the Fuji islands. Dakuwaqa was half shark, half man. He would help fishermen avoid danger at sea, protect people from ferocious sea monsters, and would help ensure a bountiful catch. In the Cook Islands, Dakuwaqa was known as Avatea, and was also the god of the sun and the moon. In Tonga, he was known as Takuaka and was a warrior god that would protect people from other vicious gods.

  • Bahamian

Lascu: is a half-shark, half-octopus sea monster with a bad temper from Bahamian mythology. Lascu is responsible for sinking ships, drowning swimmers, and causing whirlpools. Lascu is said to be responsible for the blue holes, or sinkholes found along the island. It is said she will make a sinkhole whenever the residents of an island have angered her.

  • South American

The native tribal people of Brazil and Guyana, believed that the constellation Orion’s belt was actually the leg of a hunter named Nohi Abassi. After tiring of his mother-in-law, Nohi abassi trained a shark to eat her. What he did not know is his mother-in-law found out and disguised her other daughter as the shark. Instead of attacking the mother-in-law, his sister-in-law attacked him and sawed off his leg. That leg became the constellation.

  • Maori

Kawariki: was a princess who fell in love with a simple peasant boy Tutira. Her father, a sorcerer king was not happy and so he cursed Tutira, turning him into a shark. Rather than be defeated, the two still met in secret and would swim together at night. One day, there was a huge tsunami that destroyed the village and swept all the villagers out to sea. Tutira, as a shark, saved the villagers and brought them back to shore. Once Kawariki’s father realized the shark that had saved them was Tutira, he was so impressed with this heroic act, he turned Tutira back to a human and apologized by letting him marry Kawariki.

  • Zanzibar

The myth of the monkey and the shark is a simple fable about how a monkey living in a fruit tree and a shark became friends. The monkey would help the shark eat fruit from the tree and the two would talk. To repay the monkey, the shark offered to take him on his back to his home for a big feast. Turns out the shark only befriended the monkey because his king was sick and needed a monkey heart to cure him. When the monkey found out the shark’s goals, he tricked the shark into thinking he had left his heart back at the tree. The shark took him back to the tree where the monkey climbed up and mocked the shark for being stupid. The moral of the story, never trust a shark or a monkey. SOURCE

In #fijian #mythology, the deity of the sea known as Dakuwaqa is regarded as a shark-god. He was very popular with the fishermen because he would protect them from sharks and other dangerous creatures at sea. When Dakuwaqa was going to Kadavu Island to conquer it, he was attacked by an octopus. After a great battle, the octopus managed to pull out its teeth and restraining him with its 8 arms to prevent the massive attack by the demon. He was a helper during sea disasters but  was also a killer. Today, many parts of Fiji claim to have remnants of his former home and that he once lived among them. The village of Rukua in Beqa for instance has a cave where Dakuwaqa once lived with his two daughters. He is often described as a muscular man with an upper torso that’s usually associated with a great white shark but he can also alter his appearance due to his abilities of shape shifting. According to other legends, he can grow to 60 feet long and has the head and tail of a whale with a brown spotted or mottled back.
The Tiburones  are said to be flying sharks, with razor sharp teeth, crushing jaws, and able to circle their prey from the air. ‘Tiburon’ is Spanish for ‘shark’, most English translations of the Ibalon use this name for the creature (Triburon). In Bikol, these creatures are known as Pating na Pakpakan. In the Ibalon epic, they were tamed by the warrior-hero Handyong. SOURCE

The Cook Islands

From the Cook Islands comes the popular legend of Tekea the Great, the king of all sharks.

One of the most popular tales is that of Ina and the Shark. Though there are many versions of this story, it basically says that Ina was a beautiful, young maiden in love with the god of the Ocean, Tinirau. Tinirau lived on a floating island and asked Ina to come and see him. But she needed transportation across the waters and an unnamed shark offered to help her. She hopped on his back and they were off.

Afterwards, she became hungry and she wanted to break open one of the coconuts she had carried along. She hit it against the shark’s head to open it, denting his head in the process. The angry shark threw her off and she would have drowned (or he would have eaten her). Luckily, Tekea the Great came to her rescue and carried her to meet Tinirau.

Anyway, the islanders believe the knock on the head was how sharks got the indentations on their heads. SOURCE

I own a copy of this amazing book and one chapter covers the story of Nanaue, the Shark-Man of Hawai’i folklore and it is a book I highly recommend. You can purchase a copy HERE.

The Shark as a Spirit Animal SOURCE

Shark teeth have long been a symbol of strength and manhood.

Sailors and surfers often wear them for good luck and protection from drowning. In the Middle Ages people donned a shark tooth to protect them from poison in foods and beverages, which could easily translate into safeguarding us from toxic situations.

In Hawaii a story tells us that a young, brave warrior fought the God of the Sea. He won, and for his reward he received a necklace of shark teeth. So again we see them symbolic value of safety.

In this part of the world people consider the Shark spirit as a type of Ancestor or Deity known by the name Aumakua.

In Polynesia people wear a row of dots around their ankle to protect from Shark bites (or in this case whatever’s nipping at your heels). Shark as a Spirit Animal could be letting you know to watch for those who would try to bring you down by “cutting your legs out from under you”.

In the animal kingdom, males are often presumed to be the most dominant, but in the ocean, does this presumption hold water? Scientists search for answers to understand if the biggest and baddest sharks of them all are female. From the great white sharks of South Africa to the tiger sharks in the Maldives, scientist teams seek to uncover the ultimate rulers of the waves.

People born with a Shark Totem have amazing energy and deep emotions. Now, this may sound odd considering Sharks pretty much have only one facial expression that we are aware of. But, with Water as their element, of course they are creatures of the dreamscape and the real of psychic awareness.

In this, Sharks are not void of emotion but, rather, complete masters of it. They do not wear their emotions on their fins but you may rest assured they “feel” a great deal.

Wherever Shark people swim it seems like opportunity is only a cresting wave away. Shark people have intense drive and enthusiasm. You come by it naturally. Remember, Sharks never stop moving.

You may find yourself wanting to travel and find challenging adventures. In the pursuit of your goals, those with Shark as a Totem Animal will torpedo fearlessly forward until they’ve caught the bait.

Symbolic Meanings of the Shark

  • Comprehension
  • Family Safety
  • Sure Movement & Action
  • Personal Power
  • Leadership
  • Work Ethic
  • Advancement
  • Past Life Awareness
  • Transformation
  • Shape Shifting
  • Productivity
  • Independence
  • Bravery
A team of shark scientists from Florida International University, are on an expedition to try and find the world’s biggest great hammerhead.

So as you can see there is a LOT regarding the world of Sharks in worldwide coastal culture and I could have kept going on but instead I feel it can conclude here but with some further resources I looked into that I highly recommend checking out. Sharks are given such negative representation by Hollywood and even in media yet Sharks are one of the most important species regarding the ecosystem of the oceans of the world and must be respected and protected. I can only hope that doing my part with this blog post will help others realize how essential they are not just in the balance of nature but in our spiritual lives as well.

Further Resources

Hawaiian Shark Mythology

Sharks in Hawaiian mythology

Sharks in Mythology

Unveiling the Mystical Connections: Sharks and Indigenous Mythology

Sharks, Sawfishes, and Rays: Their Folklore

Takuaka – The Myth of the Shark God

Shark Folklore Around The World: Myths And Legends

Fiji’s Shark Legends

In Photos: How Ancient Sharks and ‘Sea Monsters’ Inspired Mayan Myths

The Shark spirit animal : Symbolism and meaning

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The Kingfisher: Facts, Folklore and More

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I was exposed to a huge variety of Flora and Fauna in the beautiful nature that is Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. My favorite was and still is the coastal region of the PNW. It is common to see Terns, Seagulls, Orcas, Sea Lions and more. One little colorful and energetic coastal bird that is quite common to see, especially around the Columbia river bar is the Belted Kingfisher.

Recently after reading a small excerpt from one of my books and discussion with a close friend of mine I had quite the revelation that my bird spirit animal is indeed the Kingfisher. Making all four spirit animals of mine marine animals (Canadian Coastal Wolf, Hammerhead Shark, Giant Manta Ray and Kingfisher).

So with today’s blog post I want to cover the facts, folklore and spiritual meaning of this beautiful and very important species.

Kingfisher facts

kingfisher, any of about 90 species of birds in three families (Alcedinidae, Halcyonidae, and Cerylidae), noted for their spectacular dives into water. They are worldwide in distribution but are chiefly tropical. Kingfishers, ranging in length from 10 to 42 cm (4 to 16.5 inches), have a large head, a long and massive bill, and a compact body. Their feet are small, and, with a few exceptions, the tail is short or medium-length. Most species have vivid plumage in bold patterns, and many are crested.

These vocal, colourful birds are renowned for their dramatic hunting techniques. Typically, the bird sits still, watching for movement from a favourite perch. Having sighted its quarry, it plunges into the water and catches the fish usually no deeper than 25 cm (10 inches) below the surface in its dagger-shaped bill. With a swift downstroke of the wings, it bobs to the surface. It then takes the prey back to the perch and stuns the fish by beating it against the perch before swallowing it. Many species also eat crustaceans, amphibians, and reptiles. SOURCE

More Fun Facts

  • Kingfishers have something called a nictitating membrane which is a thin translucent eyelid that protects their eyes when they dive underwater.
  • When they breed they build their nest burrow into the stone-free sandy soil of a low stream bank. These burrows can also be utilized by Swallows.
  • You won’t see these birds near polluted waters since the fish population is not big enough to support them. Each Kingfisher needs to eat its body weight in fish everyday.
  • Males and females will combine their territories during breeding season in order to feed their young. During the colder months they will often divide their summer territory. Each territory covers about 1km of river. SOURCE
A Belted Kingfisher relaxing on the shores of the Columbia river bar Chinook Harbor, Wa. SOURCE

Cool facts of the Belted Kingfisher

  • The breeding distribution of the Belted Kingfisher is limited in some areas by the availability of suitable nesting sites. Human activity, such as road building and digging gravel pits, has created banks where kingfishers can nest and allowed the expansion of the breeding range.
  • The Belted Kingfisher is one of the few bird species in which the female is more brightly colored than the male. Among the nearly 100 species of kingfishers, the sexes often look alike. In some species the male is more colorful, and in others the female is.
  • During breeding season the Belted Kingfisher pair defends a territory against other kingfishers. A territory along a stream includes just the streambed and the vegetation along it, and averages 0.6 mile long. The nest burrow is usually in a dirt bank near water. The tunnel slopes upward from the entrance, perhaps to keep water from entering the nest. Tunnel length ranges from 1 to 8 feet.
  • As nestlings, Belted Kingfishers have acidic stomachs that help them digest bones, fish scales, and arthropod shells. But by the time they leave the nest, their stomach chemistry apparently changes, and they begin regurgitating pellets which accumulate on the ground around fishing and roosting perches. Scientists can dissect these pellets to learn about the kingfisher’s diet without harming or even observing any wild birds.
  • Belted Kingfishers wander widely, sometimes showing up in the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii, the British Isles, the Azores, Iceland, Greenland, and the Netherlands.
  • Pleistocene fossils of Belted Kingfishers (to 600,000 years old) have been unearthed in Florida, Virginia, Tennessee, and Texas. The oldest known fossil in the kingfisher genus is 2 million years old, found in Alachua County, Florida. SOURCE
The Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher is one of the most enigmatic and rarely filmed birds in the world. This fascinating documentary spends a year with them as they survive monsoons, droughts and predators to raise their brood for the next season.

Kingfisher as a Spirit Animal

In Polynesia, where the bird is sacred, the Kingfisher represents control over the seas. The connection is easy to see when you learn about the Kingfishers’ preference for living near water bodies where they can find food. Some clever Kingfishers even take to stocked backyard ponds!

When Kingfisher arrives in your life as a Spirit Animal, it heralds a time of abundance and peace. You have harvested the results of competent labor and begin attracting good fortune. Rejoice! Open your wings and fly on the winds of prosperity. Kingfisher will pull you back, however, if you misuse the blessing.

Kingfisher sometimes arrives as a Spirit Animal when you struggle with a specific fear. Kingfisher teaches you how to invoke courage and tackle anything coming your way head-on. The fear you experience may be because of an “unknown”- something you won’t truly discover until you reach the horizon. Kingfisher Spirit reminds you, such situations can open the way to expanded consciousness. Transform fear into anticipation.

The Kingfisher Spirit Animal brings new things into your life. Perhaps there will be a change in careers, a potential mate, or a skill you’ve been trying to develop. Whatever focus the Kingfisher brings, stick to it. Keep it in your sights. The best part? You will have a ton of fun.
For individuals who struggle with self-expression, the Kingfisher is a welcome ally. Explore the words you use and how you use them. Think about body language. Apply the psychic gifts you have for tapping into intent. If you heed your Spirit Animal’s advice, people will see you, hear you, and understand you fully.
SOURCE

Take a dive into the wonderful and diverse world of kingfishers. Explore their physical characteristics and how they differ between the different families, the habitats in which they abide and what they eat (not all is what it seems!) and the countries where they are found. Discover over 50 species of kingfisher and what makes them all incredibly unique.

Celtic symbolism connects the kingfisher to serenity, patience, and the vibrant beauty of nature. The way that kingfishers wait for their prey alongside ponds and streams evokes a sense of tranquility and watchfulness. The Welsh poet William Henry Davies wrote of the kingfisher in his 1910 poem of the same name:

“It was the Rainbow gave thee birth,
And left thee all her lovely hues;
And, as her mother’s name was Tears,
So runs it in my blood to choose
For haunts the lonely pools, and keep
In company with trees that weep.
Go you and, with such glorious hues,
Live with proud peacocks in green parks;
On lawns as smooth as shining glass,
Let every feather show its marks;
Get thee on boughs and clap thy wings
Before the windows of proud kings.
Nay, lovely Bird, thou art not vain;
Thou hast no proud, ambitious mind;
I also love a quiet place
That’s green, away from all mankind;
A lonely pool, and let a tree
Sigh with her bosom over me”

William Henry Davies

Kingfisher in Dreams

Dreaming of a kingfisher is largely a positive experience which indicates the start of a peaceful or joyous period in one’s life. A kingfisher’s appearance in a dream may mean that you have entered a period of rest or calm, and that you should take this time to renew yourself and acknowledge your blessings with gratitude.

A kingfisher dream may also indicate longing. It may be a sign that your energy is too focused on something unattainable. Be especially cautious about nostalgia. The past is perhaps the most unattainable object of all; you can only move forward. SOURCE

More than one hundred species of kingfishers brighten every continent but Antarctica. Not all are fishing birds. They range in size from the African dwarf kingfisher to the laughing kookaburra of Australia. This first book to feature North America’s belted kingfisher is a lyrical story of observation, revelation, and curiosity in the presence of flowing waters.

The kingfisher—also known as the halcyon bird—is linked to the mythic origin of halcyon days, a state of happiness that Marina Richie hopes to find outside her back door in Missoula, Montana. Epiphanies and a citizen science discovery punctuate days tracking a bird that outwits at every turn. The female is more colorful than the male (unusual and puzzling) and the birds’ earthen nest holes are difficult to locate.

While the heart of the drama takes place on Rattlesnake Creek in Missoula, the author’s adventures in search of kingfisher kin on the lower Rio Grande, in South Africa, and in London illuminate her relationships with the birds of Montana. In the quiet of winter, she explores tribal stories of the kingfisher as messenger and helper, pivotal qualities for her quest. For all who love birds or simply seek solace in nature, Halcyon Journey is an inviting introduction to the mythic and mysterious belted kingfisher.

Kingfisher Encounters and Omens

An encounter with a kingfisher is often a sign that you need to slow down and exercise some patience. Kingfishers are the ultimate stoics, placidly surveying the water below for as long as it takes. If you encounter a kingfisher, it may mean that you must wait in order to achieve your goal.

Additionally, a kingfisher encounter may be an invitation to stop and smell the roses. Do your best to enjoy the present without fixating on a singular goal or desire. Nature’s beauty is all around us and it never costs a dime. The kingfisher reminds us to be grateful for what we have and for all of the amazing things that we have the opportunity to experience each day. SOURCE

Kingfishers in Folklore and Mythology

The kingfisher is a small blue and orange bird that can be found in most of the world. In Greek mythology, Alcyone, a Thessalian princess, and Ceyx, the son of Lucifer, were married. They sometimes called themselves Zeus and Hera. This angered Zeus and he threw a thunderbolt at Ceyx’s ship while he was out to sea. Ceyx was killed. Morpheus, the god of dreams, came to Alcyone in a dream as Ceyx and told her of his fate. Alcyone was overcome and drowned herself. The gods took pity on them and turned them both into kingfishers. Kingfishers were also known as Halcyons in Ancient Greece. Any days of calm and peacefulness are called Halcyon days.

Polynesians believed the sacred kingfisher had control over the water and the waves.

Different Native American tribes have different symbolism for kingfishers. According to Makkah legend, when the earth was populated by the Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things, they turned a fisherman who was also a thief into the kingfisher. The white feathers around the kingfisher’s neck were the shells from the necklace that the thief had stolen. A kingfisher on a totem pole represents speed, agility, luck, and patience. The Sioux associate the kingfisher with fertility. Most North Coast Indians view the kingfisher as a sign of good luck.

The Dusun people in Malaysia consider the kingfisher a bad omen. Warriors who saw a kingfisher when going into battle were supposed to return home.

In China, kingfishers are symbols for faithfulness and happy marriages.

In Sabah, from 1982-88 the coat of arms depicted a kingfisher. Traditional fishermen considered the kingfisher a messenger of the gods. SOURCE

This is the story of an animal filmmaker who fulfilled a childhood dream: a documentary, featuring the reclusive and rare kingfisher. The material was not shot in some distant country; it was made here in Germany, in the centre of Europe’s green heart, near a tributary of the Rhine. Animal filmmaker Hans-Jürgen Zimmermann used to admire the flying diamond even as a small child. As an adult, he could at last capture this beautiful bird on film – closer and more intensive than ever before. The results enable us to share his observations as if we had actually participated in the film our-selves. Watch the kingfisher, caught on the wing whilst hunting. Experience how elegantly and powerfully the bird breaks the surface of the water, thereby catching small fish. Enjoy detailed footage of the exciting family life of these fascinating animals. The film reveals the secret life of the timid kingfisher, from the beginning of territorial conflicts in spring, the digging of a breeding hollow and the hostile attacks of a sparrow hawk, to the persistent expelling of the young birds from the parental territory – all captured in truly unique pictures. Experience a passionate and unforgettable documentary. Look forward to this delightful declaration of love to our wild nature – and to the flying diamond.

There is so much more I could add regarding this amazing global species known as the Kingfisher but I feel I have covered a really good amount of content. Even as I put this blog post together I have felt a deeper connection to the Kingfisher and even plan to purchase the book I found for this post. I feel like I personally need to learn more about this species and specifically focus on the Belted Kingfisher which I absolutely intend to do.

Further Resources

The Myth of Halcyon – Halcyon Days

Kingfisher Symbolism: 7 Spiritual Meanings of Kingfisher

The Ancient Greeks Believed Kingfishers Were Born of Epic Love

Native American Kingfisher Mythology

Take on Nature: Why the kingfisher is known as ‘the halcyon bird’

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Blue Whales: The Elusive Leviathans of the Deep

After getting a blog post request from a friend I decided it would be interesting to see what I might find regarding one of the most elusive mammals of the ocean depths. It turned out to be quite a challenge and to be honest I found far less than I had hoped for. You see this request was a post regarding the Blue Whale, their part in folklore, mythology and spiritual significance. So I did dive deep into looking to see what I might find which is what I will be sharing with you in today’s blog post regarding the Blue Whale.

Introduction

Blue whale, (Balaenoptera musculus), also called sulfur-bottom whale, the most massive animal ever to have lived, a species of baleen whale that weighs approximately 150 tons and may attain a length of more than 30 metres (98 feet). The largest accurately measured blue whale was a 29.5-metre female that weighed 180 metric tons (nearly 200 short [U.S.] tons), but there are reports of 33-metre catches that may have reached 200 metric tons. The heart of one blue whale was recorded at nearly 700 kg (about 1,500 pounds).

The blue whale is found alone or in small groups in all oceans, but populations in the Southern Hemisphere are much larger. In the Northern Hemisphere, blue whales can be seen regularly in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and off the coasts of Monterey, California, and Baja California, Mexico. They spend the summer in polar waters, feeding on shrimp-like crustaceans called krill. During a dive, the blue whale may engage in a series of turns and 360° rolls to locate prey and rapidly reorient its body to sweep up large concentrations of krill in a single open-mouthed lunge. A single adult blue may consume as much as eight tons of krill per day. In the winter blue whales move toward the Equator to breed. After a gestation of about 12 months, one calf about 8 metres (about 26 feet) long is born in temperate waters. While nursing, calves gain up to 90 kg (about 198 pounds) per day on the rich milk of their mothers. Young are weaned after seven to eight months, when they have reached a length of about 15 metres (about 49 feet). SOURCE

Blue whales are the largest animals to have ever existed. Learn why they’re larger than any land animal and why they were hunted for years, making them endangered.

Somewhere in the midst of the mammoth ocean; there exists the preposterously huge whale.

– Nikhil Parekh

Spiritual Significance

When Blue Whale symbolism appears to you, there are always big things happening in your life right now. However, this creature is reassuring you that although things feel overwhelming right now, these changes are necessary. Thus, you need to stay focused and connected to yourself so you can wok your way through to resolution. In other words, Blue Whale symbolism reminds you to have faith in your abilities and allow yourself to be still enough to see the way. SOURCE

Blue Whales are associated with the Virgo sign (August 23rd – September 22nd) and attributed to reliability, intelligence, being analytical, clever, liking to please and leadership.

When we take on the attitudes relevant to the symbolism of the blue whale, we are able to navigate safely through and back out of our emotional depths. This in turn allows for more perceptive both inward with our emotions/thoughts and outward in the world.

By deeply navigating our inner experiences we can develop a better understanding of what we are feeling; emotional clarity. With this clarity, we can develop more emotional creativity; more sensitivity to the nuances of our inner world.

For example, if we had a pattern that we wanted to change, we could make more lasting behavioral change by digging into the emotions around that unwanted pattern. With a clarity of what those emotions are and why we feel them, we can begin to step away from reactions and into responsibility.

Go to the depths of our selves. Dive deeper than the surface emotions to get to the root. Through that work we will develop a deeper understanding of the world as well.

The metaphor of the ocean as our emotions works well because emotions can be fluid, deeper than they appear, and holding many mysteries about our true selves.

This is why the blue whale symbolizes navigating our inner experience and moving through emotional depths. Embrace the unknown of our selves and dive through it. Continue reading HERE.

This provocative book of photography offers bold new insight into the lives of the world’s largest mammals, along with their complex societies. In these pages, we learn that whales share an amazing ability to learn and adapt to opportunities, from specialized feeding strategies to parenting techniques. There is also evidence of deeper, cultural elements of whale identity, from unique dialects to matrilineal societies to organized social customs like singing contests. Featuring the arresting underwater images of Brian Skerry, who has explored and documented oceans for over four decades, this book will document these alluring creatures in all their glory–and demonstrate how these majestic creatures can teach us about ourselves and our planet.

The size compassion of Blue Whales really puts it into perspective on how massive they truly are.

The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is a marine mammal belonging to the baleen whales. At up to 29.9 metres (98 ft) in length and with a maximum recorded weight of 173 tonnes (191 short tons) and probably reaching over 181 tonnes (200 short tons), it is the largest animal known to have ever existed.

So as you can see, unlike some other species of Whales, the Blue Whale is so elusive and in a sense rare that they have little involvement in human folklore or mythology but I did find a few snippets here and there which I will include below for you to explore. Being a man of the sea I have always considered Whales a favorite of mine and have been honored to see several species in the oceans including a few close encounters but yet to have experienced with my own eyes the Blue Whale, Hopefully someday I get the spiritual privilege.

Further Resources

Leviathan; or, Whale Theology

Blue Whale Mythology and Mystery

The Blue Whale

Blue Whale Songs

Whale Symbolism & Meaning

Whale Myths and Legends

Whales In Mythology | History and Interesting Facts

Icelandic Myths and Tales of Whales

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Seahorses: Folklore, Symbolism and More

Seahorses are certainly a unique aquatic animal of the oceans and has fascinating unique qualities that make them really stand out. I have always enjoyed watching these beautiful marine animals and even have one tattooed as a part of my left sleeve dedicated to the sea. What molts people may not know is that there are 57 species of Seahorses, including seadragons and pipefish. Also Seahorses can be found in mythology and folklore around the world anywhere there is land meeting the oceans. They also can be one’s spirit animal and have amazing symbolism which I will cover as well in this post.

Until you see one for yourself, it’s easy to believe that seahorses are pure make-believe. So curious, so magical, they seem to have wandered straight out of a book of fairy tales. Even a dead, dried seahorse washed up on a beach keeps its otherworldly shape, encased in its enduring bony armour, waiting for someone to come along, pick it up and wonder what it might be. A miniature dragon? An enchanted serpent? It’s no wonder seahorses have been puzzling people around the world for centuries, inspiring them to tell stories, pass on myths and legends, and find mystical uses for these most charming sea creatures.

Some of the oldest seahorse stories tell of the Greek sea god Poseidon galloping through the oceans on a golden chariot pulled by hippocampus, the beast that was half horse and half fish (today, the seahorses’ scientific name also happens to be Hippocampus). It’s thought ancient Greek fishermen believed the real seahorses they sometimes found tangled in their nets were the offspring of Poseidon’s mighty steeds.

All sorts of ancient Mediterranean art and objects depict the hippocampus. Phoenicians and Etruscans often painted these watery horses on the walls of burial chambers, accompanying the dead on their voyage across the seas and into the afterlife. There’s even a single hippocampus from ancient Egypt painted on a mummy’s coffin.

Many other legends tell stories of watery spirits that take the form of horses. Scottish lochs are said to be haunted by “kelpies”. They come onto dry land and graze with other, normal horses but if you mount and ride one you’ll be dragged underwater as your steed tries to drown and eat you. Similar malevolent beasts were called “tangies” in the Orkney Isles and “shoopiltrees” in the Shetlands. Scandinavian legends tell of the “havhest”, a huge sea serpent, half horse and half fish like hippocampus, that could breathe fire and sink ships. Continue reading HERE.

Absolutely captivating creatures, seahorses seem like a product of myth and imagination rather than of nature. They are small, elusive, and are named for their heads, which are shaped like miniature ponies with tiny snouts. They swim slowly upright by rapidly fanning their delicate dorsal fin, coil their tails to anchor themselves in a drift, and spend days in a dancing courtship. Afterward, it is the male who carries the female’s eggs in his pouch and hatches the young. Seahorses are found worldwide, and they are highly sensitive to environmental destruction and disturbance, making them the flagship species for shallow-water habitat conservation. They are as ecologically important as they are beautiful.

Seahorses celebrates the remarkable variety of seahorse species as well as their exquisiteness. 57 species, including seadragons and pipefish, are presented in lush, life-size photographs alongside descriptive drawings, and each entry includes detailed and up-to-date information on natural history and conservation. Sara Lourie, a foremost expert on seahorse taxonomy, presents captivating stories of species that range from less than an inch to over a foot in height, while highlighting recent discoveries and ecological concerns. Accessibly written, but comprehensive in scope, this book will be a stunning and invaluable reference on seahorse evolution, biology, habitat, and behavior.

Masters of camouflage and rarely seen, seahorses continue to be a fascinating subject of active research. This visually rich and informative book is certain to become the authoritative guide to these charming and unusual wonders of the sea, beloved at aquariums the world over.

In Roman mythology, seahorses were the steeds of Neptune, deity of the Upper Waters. As attributes of Neptune, they represented cosmic forces and the rhythm of the waves. They were also the steeds of Poseidon, a Greek sea god. Daily, Poseidon rode through the ocean on a chariot pulled by seahorses.

Seahorses represented the lunar and humid element of the sea and chaos. Seahorses also carried the dead safely to the underworld. Because of their unique form, the Chinese regarded seahorses as the lesser sons of dragons. In Norse myth, they symbolized the power of water. SOURCE

These animals aren’t like any other living creatures on Earth, they look like they came from some other planet. Biologically speaking, they are quite different from all other terrestrial beings, which has put them in the spotlight a long time ago. At the same time, they look very funny, especially when dancing in the water. The offspring of these creatures are born not by females, as usual, but by males, which sets them apart from all other terrestrial beings. The smallest species of these creatures are only 2 centimeters long, and the largest are up to 30. Their body is covered with spikes. They serve both as camouflage and protection from predators because they don’t know how to defend themselves.

Seahorse Spirit Animal

The Seahorse teaches balance in parenting, how to get in touch with the Masculine Divine, and to get through difficult periods with greater ease. Delve deeply in Seahorse symbolism and meaning to find out how this animal spirit guide can support, assist, and inspire you.

Many ancient cultures connected the Seahorse with various Divine beings.

In Rome and Greece, for example, the Seahorse was sacred to Poseidon and Neptune, potent sea gods. As a result, one of the keynote meanings for Seahorse is one of power and authority, particularly in matters of emotion and intuition because of the Water Element involved.

A rather lovely story from Greco-Roman times indicates that the Seahorse is a guide to drown sailors.

This creature safely guides them through the spiritual vortex until they reach their ordained fate in the afterlife (is it any wonder that sailors used seahorse images as luck charms?). SOURCE

Seahorse Symbolism

  • Water Elemental
  • The Afterlife
  • Power
  • Luck
  • Alchemy
  • Safety
  • Kindness
  • Perception
  • Kindness
  • Manners
  • Pacing
  • Tenacity
  • Progress
  • Ingenuity
  • Stealth
  • Authority
  • Fatherhood
  • Partnership
Frederick Stuart Church’s The Mermaid, 1887

Further Resources:

10 Seahorse Symbolism Facts & Meaning: A Totem, Spirit & Power Animal

Seahorses in Myth, Legend & Art

What are the links between seahorses, folklore and Newcastle upon Tyne?

Seahorse Symbolism & Meaning & the Seahorse Spirit Animal

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Praying Mantis: Spiritual Meaning & Symbolism

Ever since I can remember I have been fascinated by Praying Mantises. I remember the first house I lived in in Oregon had these bushes around the house that seemed to be a haven for these majestic predatory masters of the insect world. I always would go hunting for other insects to feed them and felt as if I was doing a service for them. Little did I know at such a young age the importance and amazing symbolism that are the Praying Mantises. Many years later after building my own greenhouse I even had acquired a Praying mantis egg pod which I placed into my greenhouse and after a few weeks it hatched over 100 of these beautiful creatures. About 25 or so stuck around living in their new dwelling and that was quite beneficial for my garden.

The fact that there are approximately 1,800 species of this amazing carnivores of the insect world that reside on every continent except Antarctica, there should be no surprise they would hold significance in spiritual symbolism with Human civilization for thousands of years. So today I decided to share with you some great resources regarding my favorite insect, the Praying Mantis.

In some cultures, a praying mantis can be a sign of good luck or fortune.

Native Americans believe the insect came before the creation of man and Earth. Paintings, inscriptions, revered symbols and carvings have the insect depicted as a symbol. The bugs represent wealth, success, large families and the cycle of life.

The stealth movements of the praying mantis have made it a symbol of meditation and contemplation. In China, the insect has long been honored for its mindful movements. It never makes a move unless it is certain that is the right thing to do.

In Japan, a praying mantis is a sign of autumn. The bug is often portrayed with the typical gourds and mums that are popular in the season.

Additionally, the fragile looking insect is an emblem of military strength and courage in both China and Japan because it always moves forward to advance and never retreats. SOURCE

Physical Characteristics

A praying mantis head has a triangular shape with two compound eyes with thousands of light sensors that provide them with three-dimensional vision; it’s believed they’re the only insect able to see this way.

Praying mantis don’t have pupils; instead, you see an optical illusion that’s actually just more light receptors, which is why scientists call this a pseudo pupil.

Their neck is quite flexible, so they achieve a 180° range of vision. They generally measure between 1/2 to 6 inches long, with females usually larger than males.

They have an organ similar to an ear located in the thorax, capable of hearing frequencies above the 20,000 hertz that the human ear can perceive. This allows them to hear and recognize the ultrasonic frequencies used by bats who often hunt praying mantis. SOURCE

Why Are They Called Praying Mantis?

The ancient Greeks gave them the name mantis, which means diviner because it was believed a praying mantis possessed magical abilities. This idea is still reflected in its name, mantid, meaning soothsayer.

They’re called praying mantis because their front legs join together when hunting. This method consists of staying motionless and camouflaging itself until the prey approaches close enough to catch it. Then the mantis snatches its prey with jagged forelegs and begins eating it in less than a second. Since all mantids are carnivorous, preying describes them more accurately than praying. SOURCE

Photo of squatting mantis man from Dr. Mohammad Naserifard SOURCE

A Quick-List of Praying Mantis Symbolism

  • Stillness
  • Awareness
  • Creativity
  • Patience
  • Mindful
  • Calm
  • Balance
  • Intuition

The mantis never makes a move unless she is 100% positive it is the right thing for her to do. This is a message to us to contemplate and be sure our minds and souls all agree together about the choices we are making in our lives.

Overwhelmingly in most cultures the mantis is a symbol of stillness. As such, she is an ambassador from the animal kingdom giving testimony to the benefits of meditation, and calming our minds.

An appearance from the mantis is a message to be still, go within, meditate, get quite and reach a place of calm. It may also a sign for you to be more mindful of the choices you are making and confirm that these choices are congruent.

A Divine Messenger

The Kalahari Bushmen in Africa worship and consider the Praying Mantis as the oldest symbol of God. They believed it to be an incarnation of God, and whenever they would sight one, they would try and decipher its message.

Have you ever come across a praying mantis in most of the places you’ve visited? Or may be it appears in your dreams? I’m guessing that you might have passed it off as just a coincidence, or may be you think you’ve become too obsessed with this special visitor that you see it just everywhere you go? Oh no, you haven’t become obsessed with the praying mantis neither is it a coincidence! It could mean something else too; a divine message for you, or a wake up call to view your situations more closely. SOURCE

They are killers! They kill with unbelievable precision. They fight Kung Fu style and are seen in Japan as a symbol of vigilance – the mantises. Their triangular head with its unique flexibility is conspicuous. Two overdimensioned eyes fixate the distance to their prey rapidly and three-dimensionally. The chest segment of the mantis is prolonged and equipped with spiny appendages that can spear their prey as fast as a jack knife. The mysterious aura that surrounds the praying mantis has a lot to do with the fact that they are rarely seen. They have adapted to their surroundings perfectly. No matter whether leaves, blossoms, tree bark, sandy floors or even orchids – the mantis blends in to all environments.

Did you know?

Spiritual teacher Alyson Charles trusts that animals have a way of coming to us when we need to hear their messages the most. “It’s a guide trying to come into our lives, trying to get our attention,” she explains.

In the case of praying mantises, they can represent everything from precision to prophecy, contemplation to deliberation, as well as vision, prayer, perception, and synchronicity, Charles explains.

If they show up around you, it could be a sign you need to make wise choices and act with precision, deepen your mindfulness practice, or be more patient. This is a creature that encourages us to slow down and connect with inner wisdom and even sharpen our clairvoyant abilities.

Historically, she adds, the praying mantis actually inspired a form of kung fu martial arts. During the Northern Song period (A.D. 960–1126), a Chinese kung fu master named Wang Lang was inspired by the movements of the praying mantis after he lost a martial arts competition.

“He watched a praying mantis trying to catch a cicada and was inspired by the agile moves of the mantis. It is said he then collected praying mantises and took them back to the Shaolin Temple to observe closely, going on to create his own form of kung fu inspired by the mantises’ moves,” Charles writes in her book Animal Power: 100 Animals To Energize Your Life and Awaken Your Soul. SOURCE

Prepare to be enchanted with an in-depth and up-close view of the most loved of all invertebrates, the praying mantis! Keeping the Praying Mantis is a huge resource designed to give mantis enthusiasts every tool needed for feeding, housing, and rearing these magical (almost mythological) creatures. Details on their biology, relationship with man over the ages, behavior, and captive husbandry will give you a solid foundation for successfully keeping fascinating species from around the world. From ant mimics and unicorn mantids to Devil’s flower, orchid, and ghost mantids, there are species to entice every insect hobbyist.

Further Resources

Praying Mantis Meaning – What does it Mean to See a Praying Mantis?

Praying Mantis Symbolism: 14 Spiritual Meanings Of Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis Symbolism & Meaning

Ancient mantis-man petroglyph discovered in Iran

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Owls: Myth, Folklore and More

Today’s animal blog post on the folklore, mythology and symbolism plus more will be covering the Owl. With approximately 250 species of Owls around the world it is expected that these predators of the night would absolutely become embedded in culture, folklore and even associated with Deities which indeed is the case. Owls to me are very fascinating both with their important roles in nature and how they have had an effect in humans. So today let us dive into the world of Owls and their significance in the myths, folklore and more.

Introduction

Owls in Mythology & Culture By Deane Lewis

Throughout history and across many cultures, people have regarded Owls with fascination and awe. Few other creatures have so many different and contradictory beliefs about them. Owls have been both feared and venerated, despised and admired, considered wise and foolish, and associated with witchcraft and medicine, the weather, birth and death. Speculation about Owls began in earliest folklore, too long ago to date, but passed down by word of mouth over generations.

In early Indian folklore, Owls represent wisdom and helpfulness, and have powers of prophecy. This theme recurs in Aesop’s fables and in Greek myths and beliefs. By the Middle Ages in Europe, the Owl had become the associate of witches and the inhabitant of dark, lonely and profane places, a foolish but feared spectre. An Owl’s appearance at night, when people are helpless and blind, linked them with the unknown, its eerie call filled people with foreboding and apprehension: a death was imminent or some evil was at hand. During the eighteenth century the zoological aspects of Owls were detailed through close observation, reducing the mystery surrounding these birds. With superstitions dying out in the twentieth century – in the West at least – the Owl has returned to its position as a symbol of wisdom. Continue reading HERE.

OWL MYTHS AND LEGENDS by Shani Freidman

Owls and humans are connected from the dawn of history. The nighttime activity, large eyes, acute vision, and “wisdom” of owls were known by the ancients. Dating from a Sumerian tablet (2300 to 2000 BC), Lilith, the goddess of death, has talons for feet, wears a headdress of horns, and is flanked by owls. She is probably the inspiration for Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and warfare. The rock crevices of Athens and the Acropolis were filled with small owls, believed to be the embodiment of Athena. When the Athenians won the battle of Marathon from the Persians in 490 BC, the warrior goddess Athena assumed the shape of an owl and led them from above.

The Romans, who appropriated many of the Greek beliefs, associated owls with Minerva, the goddess of prophesy and wisdom. Minerva’s role was similar to Athena’s. The prophetic qualities of owls were known. Virgil writes that the hoot of an owl foretold the death of Dido. Pliny reports great confusion and fear in the Forum when an owl entered. Horace associates owls with witchcraft. Romans used representations of owls to combat the evil eye. Owl feathers and internal organs were found in magical potions and pharmaceutical remedies. For example, the ashes of an owl’s feet were an antidote to snakebite, and an owl’s heart placed on the breast of a sleeping woman forced her to tell all her secrets. Continue reading HERE.

Silver tetradrachm coin at the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon depicting the owl of Athena (circa 480–420 BC). The inscription “ΑΘΕ” is an abbreviation of ΑΘΗΝΑΙΩΝ, which may be translated as “of the Athenians”. In daily use the Athenian drachmas were called glaukes (γλαῦκες, owls). This silver coin was first issued in 479 BC in Athens after the Persians were defeated by the Greeks.

6 Myths and Superstitions About Owls

  1. Owls are famous for their exceptional eyesight and it was thought that you could gain better eyesight by ingesting parts of them. In England, the method was to cook owl eggs until they were ash, then incorporate them into a potion. Folklore from India had a more direct method: just eat owl eyes.
  2. Owls are a sign of death in many cultures, including some Native American tribes. For instance, dreaming of an owl signified approaching death for Apache people. Boreal owl calls were a call from spirits to the Cree people, and if you answered back to the owl with a whistle and didn’t get a response, it was a sign that your death was imminent. On the other hand, Dakota Hidatsa people believed that burrowing owls acted as protective spirits for warriors.
  3. For some cultures, the owl was sacred. Among Australian Aborigines, owls are the spirits of women and so are sacred. The Kwakiutl people also thought owls were the souls of people and shouldn’t be harmed because, if the owl was killed, the person whose soul the owl carried would also die. In fact, many different cultures believed that a person became an owl after death.
  4. Owls are often viewed as a symbol of wisdom. The “wise old owl” character comes from an old English nursery rhyme, which suggests that listening more than talking is a valuable character trait that we would all benefit from developing. As such, the owl has become a sign of learning and mental change. Many people believe that seeing an owl is a profoundly good thing, as it indicates the start of a new phase in life.
  5. Owls are, of course, associated with witchcraft—particularly white ones, which are the most elusive. Greeks and Romans believed witches could turn themselves into owls, and in this form would come to suck the blood of babies. In other cultures, owls were simply the messengers of witches, or hooted to warn of the approach of a witch. Unfortunately this led to many owls being hunted and killed in the Middle Ages.
  6. Though the owl’s nocturnal activity was at the root of many superstitions, the amazing ability of an owl to rotate its neck to extraordinary degrees was even turned into a myth. In England it was believed that if you walked around a tree that an owl was perched in, it would follow you with its eyes, around and around until it wrung its own neck. SOURCE

“You don’t need anything but hope. The kind of hope that flies on silent wings under a shining owl moon.”

-Jane Yolen
Perhaps no other creature has so compelling a gaze as the owl. Its unblinking stare mesmerizes; its nocturnal lifestyle suggests secrets and mystery. This lavishly illustrated book celebrates owls from every corner of the world and offers abundant details on fifty-three of the most striking and interesting species, from the tiny Elf Owl of southwestern American deserts to the formidable Blakiston’s Fish Owl, the largest of all owls.
 Mike Unwin has long studied and admired these remarkable birds from cold northern forests to tropical rivers and beyond. He explains how owls evolved into the supreme feathered predators of the night, and he examines their breeding and hunting behaviors, unusual calls, and the cultural myths and superstitions that surround different species. More than two hundred dramatic color photographs in the wild, taken or selected by David Tipling, capture the wondrous beauty of each owl and the drama of life in its own home region. 

The Owl as a Spirit Guide

When you seek out Owl, it is a way of reaching your Higher Self and truly seeing things from a spiritual perspective; This refreshing vantage point allows you to open doorways into other realms and connect with the Devas, Ancestors, Angels, and the Divine.

Owl has a strong connection with the element of air. Travel with Owl Spirit to the heavens and soar through the halls of the Akashic records. Owl will show you things that might otherwise remain hidden to you, so be open to seeing things in a whole new way.

You cannot deceive Owl, which is why this Spirit Animal reminds us to remain true to ourselves, our voice, and our vision. Owl does not tolerate illusion or secrets. If there are skeletons in the closet, you can trust that Owl will find them and start house cleaning.

It is no surprise that the Goddess Athena held Owls as sacred. Athena is beyond doubt, one of the most complex Deities in history, and Her attributes included wisdom and strategy – so Owl Spirit became the perfect companion. In Greek tradition, Owl was also a protector. It was believed that an Owl flying over a soldier or army portended victory because Owl would remain watchful.

As a creature of the night, the Celts and Egyptians regarded Owl as a gatekeeper to other realms, particularly the souls of the dead. In some stories, this bird actually accompanies a soul, so it doesn’t get lost on its journey.

In Native American tradition, Owl represents sacred knowledge (you’ll get to know me, I live for puns). When you begin studying the mysteries, this Spirit Animal Guide is an amazing helpmate and mentor.

Overall, Owl is a symbol of being able to navigate any darkness in our life; this Spirit brings clarity, prophetic inklings, and a strong connection with the mystical world. SOURCE

“Owls are known as lonely birds, but it is not known that they have the forest as their best friend!”

– Mehmet Murat Ildan
This petroglyph, the ‘Spedis Owl‘ was salvaged from along the Columbia River just before The Dalles Dam flooded the area in 1956. This carving is on display at Horsethief Lake State Park, Washington. Photo © Ralph Turner.

Symbolism

Perception, Silent Observation, Wisdom, Deception

The Owl has a dual symbolism of wisdom and darkness, the latter meaning evil and death. They are symbolically associated with clairvoyance, astral projection and magick, and is oftentimes the medicine of sorcerers and witches, you are drawn to magickal practices. Those who have owl medicine will find that these night birds will tend to collect around you, even in daytime, because they recognise a kinship with you.

The two main symbolic characteristics of the Owl, its wisdom and its nocturnal activity– have made it represent perception. Considering perception in a spiritual context, Owl medicine is related to psychism, occult matters, instincts, and clairvoyance– the true ability to see what is happening around you.

The owl can see that which others cannot, which is the essence of true wisdom. Where others are deceived, Owl sees and knows what is there.

Use your power of keen, silent observation to intuit some life situation, Owl is befriending you and aiding you in seeing the whole truth. The Owl also brings its messages in the night through dreams or meditation. Pay attention to the signals and omens. The truth always brings further enlightenment.

The Owl, symbol of the Goddess, represents perfect wisdom. Owls have the ability to see in the dark and fly noiselessly through the skies. They bring messages through dreams. The Owl is the bird of mystical wisdom and ancient knowledge of the powers of the moon. With wide-open, all-seeing eyes, Owl looks upon reality without distortion and acknowledges it, yet is aware that with ancient magickal and spiritual knowledge, he or she can make changes. SOURCE

This video will discuss about 20 mysterious facts about Owls. As recognized as owls may be, most people don’t actually know a whole ton about them. But the truth is, these birds are incredibly complex creatures with a catalogue of surprising facts.

What Sees the Owl by Elizabeth Sears Bates

His velvet wing sweeps through the night:
With magic of his wondrous sight
He oversees his vast domain,
And king supreme of night doth reign.

Around him lies a silent world,
The day with all its noise is furled;
When every shadow seems a moon,
And every light a sun at noon.

How welcome from the blinding glare
Is the cool grayness of the air!
How sweet the power to reign, a king,
When day his banishment will bring!

For him the colorless moonlight
Burns brilliant, an aurora bright;
The forest’s deepest gloom stands clear
From mystery and helpless fear.

He sees the silver cobwebs spun,
The dewdrops set the flowers have won,
The firefly’s gleam offends his sight,
It seems a spark of fierce sunlight.

Clear winter nights when he so bold,
“For all his feathers, is a-cold,”
Sees the Frost-spirit fling his lace,
And fashion icicles apace.

At his weird call afar and faint
A sleepy echo, like the quaint
Last notes of some wild chant, replies
And mocks his solitude—and dies.

Owls of the World, second edition, is the ultimate photographic resource dedicated to the identification of these charismatic birds of prey. It is packed with spectacular photography of 268 species of owls from all over the world, including extinct species. Many of the images are of highly elusive species very rarely caught on camera.
The vast majority of the roughly 200 species of owls are so-called true owls which possess large heads with round faces short tails and muted feathers with mottled patterns. The remainder accounting for a little over a dozen species are barn owls which can be distinguished by their heart-shaped faces long legs equipped with powerful talons and moderate size. With the exception of the common barn owl—which has a worldwide distribution—the most familiar owls at least to residents of North America and Eurasia are the true owls.
Evolution has an efficient way of relegating animals to particular niches: because other carnivorous birds (like hawks and eagles) hunt during the day most owls have adapted to hunting at night. The dark coloration of owls makes them nearly invisible to their prey—which consists of insects small mammals and other birds—and their wings are structured so as to beat in almost complete silence. These adaptations combined with their enormous eyes makes owls some of the most efficient night hunters on the planet wolves and coyotes not excluded.
One of the most remarkable things about owls is the way they move their entire heads when looking at something rather than simply moving their eyes in their sockets like most other vertebrate animals. The reason for this is that owls need large forward-facing eyes to gather in scarce light during their nocturnal hunts and evolution couldn’t spare the musculature to allow these eyes to rotate. Instead owls have astonishingly flexible necks that allow them to turn their heads three-quarters of a circle or 270 degrees—compared to about 90 degrees for the average human being!

Further Resources

Owls Mythology & Folklore

Owl Names in Mythology – Nocturnal Birds Of Prey In The Mystic Realms

World Owl Mythology

Native American Owl Mythology

Owl Folklore

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Dragonflies: Folklore, Spiritual Meaning and More

Long before Humans walked on this planet and even before Dinosaurs existed there were winged hunters gliding across primordial ponds and through wind blown grassy fields looking for their prey. They come in a variety of shapes and colors from glowing blue to looking like red dragons to even having the appearance of a stained glass mosaic. For about 300 million years Dragonflies have been an apex predator of the insect world and it is not a surprise that during ancient human civilization to present time the Dragonfly has melded into folklore, mythology and deep spirituality.

I personally have always enjoyed watching them fly around and even hearing other’s stories regarding them and even more spiritual experiences regarding Dragonflies. So this inspired me to put together this blog post for my readers to enjoy.

The Dragonfly in Folklore: Good Luck Symbol and Weigher of Souls

by Icy Sedgwick

Seeing swarms of dragonflies mean rain is on the way.

In some cultures, dragonflies represent good luck or prosperity. So make a wish when you see a dragonfly and it’ll come true.

Fishermen used them as an indicator of good fishing grounds. Plenty of dragonflies meant there were plenty of fish around. If a dragonfly hovered near the fisherman, he took it as a good luck sign. In various spiritual pathways, the dragonfly acts as a messenger between the worlds. They teach those who see them to ‘go with the flow’. But seeing one in your dreams is a warning.

If a dragonfly lands on you, you’ll hear good news from someone you care about. Seeing a dead dragonfly means you’ll hear sad news. And catching a dragonfly meant you’d marry within a year.

In Japan, dragonflies bring good fortune. The dragonfly often appears in haiku poetry, representing strength and happiness. The red dragonfly is thought of as sacred. One name for Japan is ‘the Island of the Dragonfly’. That’s partly because its curved shape is believed to resemble a dragonfly at rest.

One of the reasons dragonflies are so beloved in Japan is due to a legend about the 21st emperor, Yuryaka Tenvo. While out hunting, an insect bit his arm. Some legends say it was a horsefly, others say it was a mosquito. Either way, a dragonfly appeared and ate the insect, rescuing the emperor from further harm. Continue reading HERE.

Image by FerenghiFoto [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0] via Flickr

Dragonfly

Dragonfly with wings of Blue, what makes me wonder just like you
You hover over a yellow flower, mesmerized by her power
I see myself attracted to, the colours of life, just like you
Something bright will pull me in, to take my light deep deep within
Oh dragonfly Oh dragonfly lets savour life, just you and I

© johnnydod 2010

Folklore & Nature: Dragonflies

by Keller Brenner

Devil’s Darning Needle, Snake Doctor, Devil’s Horse, Horse Stinger, Mosquito Hawk, Adderbolt, Ear Cutter, Water Witch, Hobgoblin Fly — dragonflies have had many names owing to the folklore and superstitions surrounding these colorful insects.

The ‘snake doctor’ name for dragonflies comes from Pennsylvania and the belief that they acted as guards of the serpents found there, warning them of any danger. Some believed that the dragonflies could even revive a dead snake, bringing it back to life. Killing the servants of the snake was inadvisable lest the serpent retaliate.

On the Isle of Wight, residents believed the dragonflies possessed a painful sting and legend had it that the dragonflies could tell if a child was good or bad. When good children went fishing, dragonflies would hover over the water’s edge where the fish were, but when bad children went near the water, the dragonflies would instead sting them.

Dragonflies possess no stingers, the appendages on their tails are only for mating and they have no venom. The shape of the dragonfly’s body has led to another of their names, ‘devil’s darning needle’.

In several areas of the United States the dragonfly was thought to sew shut the mouths, eyes or even ears of misbehaving children or profane men. Others believed that dragonflies would sew fingers or toes together if they were exposed while sleeping. In parts of Europe, including Sweden, dragonflies could tell if children were lying, and would stitch their their eyes or mouths closed as punishment. Today, the Aeshnidae family of dragonflies is still called darners in North America. Continue reading HERE.

Dragonflies and damselflies are often called birdwatchers’ insects. Large, brightly colored, active in the daytime, and displaying complex and interesting behaviors, they have existed since the days of the dinosaurs, and they continue to flourish. Their ancestors were the biggest insects ever, and they still impress us with their size, the largest bigger than a small hummingbird. There are more than 6,000 odonate species known at present, and you need only visit any wetland on a warm summer day to be enthralled by their stunning colors and fascinating behavior. In this lavishly illustrated natural history, leading dragonfly expert Dennis Paulson offers a comprehensive, accessible, and appealing introduction to the world’s dragonflies and damselflies.

In most cultures dragonflies have been objects of superstition. European folklore is no exception. Many old myths have been lost during the history, but fragments of these old myths are still living in old local names for dragonflies. Only in Germany dragonflies have had over 150 different names. Some of these are Teufelsnadel (“Devil’s needle”), Wasserhexe (“Water witch”), Hollenross (“Goddess’ horse”), Teufelspferd (“Devil’s horse”) and Schlangentöter (“Snake killer”). Also the name Snake Doctor has been used in Germany. In England the name Devil’s darning needle and Horse stinger have been used. In Denmark the dragonfly have got such different names as Fandens ridehest (“Devil’s riding horse”) and Guldsmed (“Goldsmith”). Different names of dragonflies referring to them as the devils tools have also occurred in many other European cultures, some examples are the Spanish Caballito del Diablo (“Devil’s horse”) and the French l’aiguille du diable (“Devil’s needle”).

The Swedish name for dragonfly is trollslända, which means “hobgoblin fly” in English. Long time ago people in Sweden believed that hobgoblins, elves, brownies and such creatures lived in our great woods. In that folklore the dragonflies was considered to be the hobgoblins twisting tools. During the history the dragonflies even have been connected with love and female, the names damselfly (England), Demoiselle (France) and Jungfer (Germany) are some examples of those nice associations. An old Swedish name for dragonfly is Blindsticka (“Blind stinger”), this name comes from the opinion that a dragonfly could pick out your eyes. Other people thought that the dragonfly could sew together your eyelids. The same name appears as well in Norway (“Öyenstikker”) as in Germany (“Augenstecher”).

In certain parts of Norway, the dragonfly is also known as “ørsnildra”. The exact meaning of this word is unknown to me but the part “ør”, does obviously refer to the Norwegian word for “ear”, as people (and especially children) often thought that the dragonfly would poke holes in their ear-drums if it got inside their ears!

An other old Swedish name is Skams besman (“Devil’s steelyard”), this name probably depends on the dragonfly’s body shape that, with some imagination looks like the weighting tool. In the folklore this was interpreted as that the Devil used the dragonfly to weight the people’s souls. When a dragonfly flew around your head, your soul was weighted and you should expect seriously injury as punishment. It is very interesting that, despite of those ideas that the dragonfly should be the Devil’s tool, the dragonfly have been a holy animal in Scandinavia. In the Æsir cult the dragonfly was thought to be the love goddess Freya’s symbol.

Some of the Latin names of dragonfly families have interesting meanings: The name Libellula might have been derived from the word libella (“booklet”) referring to the resting dragonfly, which wings, with some imagination, looks quite like the pages of an open book. The name Odonata was created by Fabricius in 1793 as name for the whole dragonfly order, means “toothed”. In some countries, e.g. Indonesia, many African and South American countries both the adult and larva dragonflies are caught to be eaten fried or in soup. In China and Japan the dragonflies has been treated as holy animals, and believed to have medical qualities. Even today the dragonfly Sympetrum frequens is used as fever reducing drug. SOURCE

They hover over ponds and pools and inhabit the banks of rivers and streams. With their dazzling metallic colours and unique ways of flying they are truly jewels of the air. This film presents dragonflies as they have never been seen before. Fascinating close up shots take us into the world of these insects, which have lived on earth since the age of the dinosaurs. Spectacular super slow motion shots and elaborate computer animation uncover, for the first time, how dragonflies capture their prey at lightning speed while flying and how they mate in the air. Underwater photography reveals the development of the predatory dragonfly larvae while time lapse sequences show the emergence of the fully grown insect. However these amazingly colourful flying acrobats are in danger. The dragonfly’s preferred habitat in and around water is rapidly diminishing, which, in Europe alone, has pushed around 80 species to the brink of extinction.

Further Resources

Worldwide Dragonfly Association

Dragonfly Symbolism & Meaning

Native American Dragonfly Mythology

Dragonfly Folklore and Mythology

Dragonfly Symbolism in Europe

Scary Myths About Dragonflies

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Foxes: Folklore, Myth and More

The Fox is an incredible animal who is as diverse in its sub-species to where they live which is every continent except Antarctica. They can be found from Australia to the Arctic and just about everywhere in-between. So it is not surprising that when it comes to folklore and mythology both newer tales to those of ancient times you will find the Fox mentioned more than any other animal from Japan to the Native American tales. The Fox also happens to be a personal favorite of mine so featuring them on my Blog for me is a must.

Foxes in Folklore

Symbolism and metaphor are often used in folklore to explore the depths of human emotions and how we have connected with the world around us. Animals in particular, have long been a popular source of inspiration, acting as reflections of our best and worst qualities, or appearing to us as magical creatures linking the mortal and spirit realms.

There are maybe only a handful of animals, both real and mythological, that are more commonly found in folklore globally than the fox. Considering the relatively close proximity humans and foxes have had with each other, it is no surprise that we included this relationship in our mythologies and tales. Even the ancient Sumerians were inspired by foxes and included one in the Eridu Genesis myth, first recorded around 1600 BCE.

In general, there is a split consensus cross-culturally when it comes to the depiction of foxes in folklore. The fox is perhaps most well known as a trickster, sneaky and cunning in behavior, creating devious plans which they occasionally fall victim to. In Aesop’s Fables, they are egotistical, con artists, and benefit from the misfortune of others. Phrases like “sly as a fox” and “outfoxed” are references to the trickster persona. Continue reading HERE. And find Part 2 HERE.

Fox Carved in Stone Göbekli Tepe. Acsen. Shutterstock.
Göbekli Tepe is a world heritage site in Turkey. The monolithic structures are thought to have been erected around 9,600-8,200 BCE.

It would be difficult to compile a complete list of all the available fox mythology. In the Scandinavian countries, foxes were believed to cause the northern lights. These aurora were called “revontulet” in Finland, meaning “fox fires”. SOURCE

The Scandinavian legend of Aurora borealis by CORinAZONe on DeviantArt

A more modern version of the of the Northern Lights regarding a Fox written by Don Fowler is a favorite of mine which I want to share with you.

Long ago when the world was young there lived in the forest of Midgard a small fox named Rav who was as black as night. He was a sly little fox who liked to play jokes on the other animals of the forest. Needless to say, he didn’t have many friends in the forest.

One day he was confronted by some rabbits that wanted to make fun of his abnormal black fur. He ran past them and swiped his tail over the grass in passing, lighting it into flames. The scared rabbits bound off in fear and hasted deep into the forest to escape the flames.

The land wight of the forest lake got upset with Rav and scolded the fox for causing such trouble. Rav tried to lie to the forest lake, telling her that he would not do such a thing again. But the forest lake knew better than to trust a fox and sent him from Midgard across Yggdrasil to Jotunheim, the land of giants and trolls.

Jotunheim is a cold, icy land, and there the fox found his lovely black coat had gone arctic white. Worse than that, now the little arctic fox was all alone and had to constantly flee from the giants and the trolls of the wild north. He did well at protecting only his own hide and the years passed before he knew it.

Then on a bitter cold day he spied a small fire where two travelers were eating. One had red hair and a beard and carried a mighty hammer. The other had black hair and seemed, to Rav, to be very cunning and fair. But as he was watching the giants played a trick on the travelers by making the snow storm so hard the travelers could not find their way. Rav knew the lost travelers would come under attack by the giants soon.

It was then Rav felt regret for his own actions in the past, and felt sympathy for the bold travelers. Running ahead, he swept his tail over the snow, sending up a whirl of fire into the sky making it like day. It was enough to startle the giants as he lit a path to the Bifrost bridge for the travelers.

At the top of the bridge one of the travelers companions could make out what was going on far below. He quickly alerted all in Asgard of the danger of the trouble making giants. So it was that in the end the travelers made it back to their land safely despite the snow storm.

Impressed with the little arctic fox they made Rav a small home at the base of the Bifrost bridge where it meets the frigid snow of the north. It would be the little arctic fox’s duty to send up flames nightly so that anyone lost could see and find their way back home. He was so good at making his northern lights that they became known as the Foxfires or the Revontulet.

The Fox is the star of more fairy tales and fables than any other animal! Find out why by reading this book. From California to Norway, Africa to Ancient Greece these stories have traveled with the people who loved them best. You can learn to be witty, clever, and outsmart your foe with the help of these fox tales. Maybe you too can learn to sing your own fox songs! The author, Brian “Fox” Ellis once had a pet fox! He has studied the science and folklore of foxes and shares his love of these cunning creatures with all who will listen. He infuses the folktales with solid science and writes science with a fairy tale spin. He has performed Fox Tales around the world and because his name is Fox, folks have given small fox carvings of virtually every style imaginable. This book is the fourth in a series called Fox Tales Folklore that blends history and ecology, poetry and personal narrative to explore themes like A River of Stories, Prairie Tales, Bird Tales and Fish Tales. All of the books will soon be available here on Amazon as a paperback or eBook, but you can also visit www.foxtalesint.com to download an audio book or you could even watch a live performance of these stories on his YouTube channel Fox Tales International.

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 19. 1 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
“On this highway is a place called Teumessos (Teumessus), where it is said that Europa was hidden by Zeus. There is also another legend, which tells of a Fox called the Teumessian Fox, how owing to the wrath of Dionysos the beast was reared to destroy the Thebans, and how, when about to be caught by the Hound [Lailaps (Laelaps)] given by Artemis to Prokris (Procris) the daughter of Erekhtheus (Erechtheus), the Fox was turned into a stone, as was likewise this Hound.”

THE ALOPEX TEUMESIOS (Teumessian Fox) was a giant fox sent by the gods to ravage the countryside of Thebes as punishment for some crime. Kreon (Creon), regent of Thebes, commanded Amphitryon destroy the fox–an impossible task for the beast was destined never to be caught. The hero solved the problem by setting the magical dog Lailaps (Laelaps) on the trail, for it was destined to always catch its quarry. Zeus, faced with a paradox of fate–an uncatchable fox being pursued by an inescapable dog–, turned the pair to stone, so freezing their contest in time. SOURCE

Kitsune

Kitsune (狐, キツネ, IPA: [kitsɯne]) in the literal sense is the Japanese word for “fox”. Foxes are a common subject of Japanese folklore; in English, kitsune refers to them in this context. Stories depict legendary foxes as intelligent beings and as possessing paranormal abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. According to Yōkai folklore, all foxes have the ability to shapeshift into human form. While some folktales speak of kitsune employing this ability to trick others – as foxes in folklore often do – other stories portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives.

Foxes and humans lived close together in ancient Japan; this companionship gave rise to legends about the creatures. Kitsune have become closely associated with Inari, a Shinto “kami,” or “spirit,” and serve as its messengers. This role has reinforced the fox’s supernatural significance. Continue reading HERE.

The Role of Foxes in Slavic Mythology and Folklore

By @Dunoss.Art on Instagram

The early Slavs often had a similar perception of the fox that is still popular in modern culture across the world today. No matter the species, foxes were seen as sly and cunning tricksters. They use this skill often to deceive protagonists, and this makes them often villains in folk tales. Among the Slavs, though, the fox has positive roles as well.

When tricksters are mentioned in Slavic mythology, it’s impossible not to mention Weles (Veles), god of the lowlands, underworld, serpents, and cattle. Like the fox, Weles is often incorrectly perceived as evil, stealing Perun‘s cattle as well as his son, Jaryło. The god serves a crucial role, though, and so does the fox, serving as the symbol of mind over brute strength. Continue reading HERE.

The fox is a scavenger carnivores dog generally found in urban city areas in the northern Hemisphere. The fox is a nocturnal mammal meaning that the fox only goes out a night to hunt for prey. Wild foxes tend live for around 6-7 years but some foxes have been known to be older than 13 in captivity. The wild fox hunts for the mouse and other small mammals and birds but foxes appear to enjoy all species of insect.

Further Resources

Foxes and Fox Lore

The Nine Tailed Fox of Chinese Mythology

Foxes in Mythology

Native American Fox Mythology

Vulpes, Vixen and … Vulpix? Foxes in folklore and popular culture

Fox Symbolism & Meaning

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Fireflies: Folklore, Myth and More

Fireflies are in my top five of favorite insects and a lot of those reasons will be within what you find in this post from their mystical appearance at night to the significance they hold in a lot of folklore. The Firefly also known as a lightning Bug can be a significant meaning in your dreams, as a totem and even a spirit animal which will be covered here as well but first let me share with you a story about myself and Fireflies which sometimes I wonder if there are Fae among them in disguise.

Many years ago I lived in a beautiful part of the Appalachians on a property with a pond in front of my house over an acre in size with it surrounded by grass. Every day right at dusk I would sit or lay on the grass in front of the pond. I would watch the fish nipping at the bugs on the surface of the pond ass the Bats began swooping like acrobatic jets above beginning to feed. All the time as it darkened the Fireflies would emerge from the grass undergrowth and it truly looked like a scene from a fantasy movie. Truly an amazing experience every time.

The Magic & Folklore of Fireflies By Patti Wigington

In China, long ago, it was believed that fireflies were a product of burning grasses. Ancient Chinese manuscripts hint that a popular summer pastime was to catch fireflies and put them in a transparent box, to use as a lantern, much like children (and adults) often do today.

There’s a Japanese legend that lightning bugs are actually the souls of the dead. Variations on the tale say that they’re the spirits of warriors who fell in battle. Our About.com Japanese Language Expert, Namiko Abe, says, “The Japanese word for a firefly is hotaru… In some cultures, hotaru might not have a positive reputation, but they are well liked in Japanese society. They have been a metaphor for passionate love in poetry since Man’you-shu (the 8th-century anthology).”

Even though fireflies put on a pretty great light show, it’s not just for entertainment. The flashing of their light is how they communicate with each other – especially for courtship rituals. Males flash to let the ladies know they’re looking for love… and the females respond with flashes to say they’re interested.

Fireflies appear in a lot of Native American folklore as well. There’s an Apache legend in which the trickster Fox tries to steal fire from the firefly village. To accomplish this, he fools them and manages to set his own tail on fire with a piece of burning bark. As he escapes the firefly village, he gives the bark to Hawk, who flies off, scattering embers around the world, which is how fire came to the Apache people. As punishment for his deception, the fireflies told Fox that he would never be able to use fire himself.

Using Firefly Magic

Think about the different aspects of firefly folklore. How can you use them in a magical working?

  • Feeling lost? Catch some fireflies in a jar (please, poke holes in the lid!) and ask them to illuminate your way. Release them when you’re done.
  • Use fireflies to represent the element of fire on your summer altar.
  • Fireflies are sometimes associated with the moon – use them in summer moon rituals.
  • Incorporate firefly light into a ritual to attract a new mate, and see who responds.
  • Some people associate fireflies with the Fae – if you practice any sort of Faerie magic, welcome the fireflies into your celebrations.
  • Incorporate firefly symbolism into a ritual to honor your ancestors. SOURCE
Firefly (Junkiri) glowing at night. Image credit: Nepali Times 

The Symbolic Meaning of Crossing Paths With a Bright Little Firefly or Lightning Bug This Summer by Rebecca Norris

Fireflies—which are technically a type of nocturnal beetle!—often go unnoticed until nighttime. But, as soon as the tail of their abdomen begins to glow, the little bugs (also called lightning bugs) transform into seemingly-magical creatures that create specks of light in the dark evening air, leaving children and adults alike in awe. What makes them extra special is that they’re only around for a few weeks in the summer, and only in certain areas (in the U.S., that means warm, humid climates east of Kansas).

According to Honigman, fireflies serve as powerful and empowering reminders for anyone who sees them. “A little light shining bravely in the darkness,” she says of their symbolic meaning. “Small and alone, showing us that we are each worthy, that every person shines their own unique light, and in our own world, be represented in the global struggle for illumination. Light over dark. Positive over negative. However tiny you are, your light still illuminates the darkness.”

Honigman says they’re also reminders to be intentional about the light you seek in others. “Fireflies have a unique way of shining their light, in order to draw the exact right mate to them,” she explains. “They flash their light in specific patterns, and only the right mate responds to each individual pattern. This reminds us to be specific with the people we keep around us, and to be intentional with our circle. One firefly won’t be drawn to another one unless communication is exact and specific. Similarly, the right people for you will heed your call. If it feels ‘off’ then this isn’t your person.” Continue reading HERE.

Fireflies, Glow-worms, and Lightning Bugs is the first-ever comprehensive firefly guide for eastern and central North America. It is written for all those who want to know more about the amazing world of lightning bugs and learn the secrets hidden in the flash patterns of the 75+ species found in the eastern and central United States and Canada. As an independent researcher working with numerous university teams, naturalist Lynn Frierson Faust, “The Lightning Bug Lady,” has spent decades tracking the behavior and researching the habitats of these fascinating creatures.

Fireflies

by Bliss Carman

The fireflies across the dusk
Are flashing signals through the gloom—
Courageous messengers of light
That dare immensities of doom.

About the seeding meadow-grass,
Like busy watchmen in the street,
They come and go, they turn and pass,
Lighting the way for Beauty’s feet.

Or up they float on viewless wings
To twinkle high among the trees,
And rival with soft glimmerings
The shining of the Pleiades.

The stars that wheel above the hill
Are not more wonderful to see,
Nor the great tasks that they fulfill
More needed in eternity.

Sir David Attenborough explores the world of bio-luminescence, the often spectacular natural light produced by some creatures. Specially designed cameras reveal nature’s leading lights.

Further Resources

Firefly Symbolism & Meaning

Spiritual meaning of fireflies: the symbolism! Does it indicate good luck?

Common Names for Fireflies

The Light of the Firefly: What is its Role in Japanese Culture?

Symbolic Meaning of the Firefly

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Canadian Coastal Wolf: My Spirit Animal

A person’s spirit animal is discovered in numerous ways which could be through a dream, spirit-walk or by other means in which they connect. For me it was a personal experience I prefer keeping private but the out come has led me on a path of deep connection and passion to a species of Wolf known as the Canadian Coastal Wolf also known as Sea Wolves. The Canadian Coastal Wolf is said to have “one paw in the forest and one paw in the sea” which is a saying that deeply resonates with me. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest and spending a lot of my adulthood in Oregon, Washington and even British Columbia I have always been partial to the coastal forests. Even more so being a man of the sea who had a career in the U.S. Coast Guard I have a passionate love of the sea. I resonate so deeply with these Wolves on so many levels from their diet to their lifestyle that it is almost overwhelming at times when I get to see new footage taken of them in their coastal environment on the coast of Canada.

The Canadian Coastal Wolf is so unique that they get their own classification as a sub-species of the Gray Wolf. So now I am going to load you with a tone of great resources of articles, documentaries and books I highly recommend you browse through. This species of Wolf is so unique and special yet very few are aware of them and their essential part in the balance of the Canadian coastal environment. Sadly they are in danger of hunting and humans encroaching upon their environment. It for me and others so important these Wolves are protected and their feeding grounds be preserved so that the Sea Wolves can carry on with many generations to come.

The amazing sea wolves of the Great Bear Rainforest By Ziya Tong

The wolves eat the brains” says William Housty. If you’re walking along the creek beds of the Great Bear Rainforest and see decapitated salmon scattered about, it’s a tell-tale sign that sea wolves have been in the area. “They just take a bite take out of the head, and everything else is left fully intact.” This unusual feeding strategy has evolved among the coastal wolves that live in and around Bella Bella, B.C. 

First, sea wolves — or marine wolves as they’re also known — are fast, powerful swimmers. Housty remembers an encounter he and his father once had while boating: “We looked ahead of us and we could see something in the water. We couldn’t tell what it was, but it was moving. As we got closer, it was actually two wolves swimming across the channel.” One reason the wolves are tricky to spot, is because they move stealthily in the water, their backs and bodies submerged, and with only their eyes, ears and snouts peeking above the surface.

The wolves aren’t just dog paddling, either; they’re distance swimmers. There is at least one pack on Goose Island off the coast, about 13 kilometres from Bella Bella, and there is no other way to get there except to swim. We also know that the wolves aren’t sedentary. Many of them migrate through the archipelago, swimming from island to island throughout the year. At times, they’re tracking the salmon, but other times they show up even when there’s no salmon to be found. That’s because sea wolves have a diverse diet. A recent study found that it can be up to 85 per cent marine-based: lone wolves take down seals and otters, while packs have been spotted feasting on the occasional whale carcass. The carnivores also, surprisingly, eat shellfish. Using their paws, they dig in the sand for clams, and use their powerful jaws to crack open the shells of mussels. As for the remaining terrestrial diet? Like their larger mainland counterparts, the timber wolf, sea wolves also hunt moose and black-tailed deer. SOURCE

Canadian Coastal Wolf going for a swim

Unfortunately as far as books regarding Sea Wolves there are only two I know of and one of them I recently ordered from Canada which I am eagerly awaiting its arrival. The one I do have is absolutely fantastic which is called The Sea Wolves: Living Wild in the Great Bear Rainforest. This book is filled with stunning photography and wonderful detailed information about these special Wolves. The two men responsible for this excellent book are Ian McAllister and Nicholas Read. Ian is and award winning photographer and filmmaker as well as a co-founder of a great organization called Pacific Wild which supports the protection and preservation of the Canadian coastal environment. Nicholas Read is a life long lover of animals and a retired journalist and was an instructor at Langara College in Vancouver, British Columbia.

I absolutely love having this book as a part of my library.

The other book which I am eagerly waiting for can be found on Pacific Wild’s website store which is The Last Wild Wolves by Ian McAllister and you can get your copy HERE.

My Recommended Documentaries

I really enjoy documentaries of many different subjects but to find some all about my beloved Sea Wolves is fantastic. Below are three videos I thoroughly enjoy and are a part of my online video collection.

This wildlife mini documentary follows the daily life of one wolf pack as they fight to survive along the wild west coast of Canada. Some of the most secluded beaches of British Columbia are home to a unique wolf species that has evolved to gather their sustenance from both land and sea. Call of the Coastal Wolves follows a group of filmmakers over a two week expedition as they endeavor to film the elusive wolf. This short film asks us to reflect on our impacts to the natural world as we witness these compassionate, loving animals that deserve more attention and respect.
In the towering rain forests along the northern shores of the Pacific, scientists recently discovered a new subspecies of the gray wolf. Unlike its genetic kin anywhere else in the world, this wolf swims, fishes for salmon and roams great distances from island to inlet across both water and rough terrain.
An introduction to the wolves of the coastal rainforest

Further Resources

Moving like ghosts along the shoreline, these wolves forage for their meals and can swim miles between islands and rocky outcrops to feast.

The Extraordinary Sea Wolves

Meet the Rare Swimming Wolves That Eat Seafood

Biodiversity: Coastal Wolves

The Coastal Wolves of British Columbia

These Rare “Sea Wolves” Have Researchers Utterly Captivated