Learning from Our Pets (and Outdoor Friends)
Sometimes we get stagnate in our pursuit of knowledge, forgetting to learn about the earth from the earth. We forget that lessons from Spirit are all around us. This includes our own pets.
It is important that we are always learning, always moving forward on our journeys and observing animals can teach us much.
The animals in our lives can be the pets we have in our family, our neighbour’s dog, and our furry wild friends in our own backyard or even a local park.
I like to keep a journal of all of my observations and interactions with nature. The journal allows us to go back and re-read to pick up on observations we made but haven’t processed. After journaling for longer periods of time it also shows you how far you’ve come with your observation skills. After a couple of months you will notice that your mind has expanded to allow you to see things you would have missed before. In my journal I also like to include “traditional” symbolism of the animals I’m observing.
An example of one of my house pets and the learning process regards my hedgehog Fury. When we first brought her home, I looked up the symbolism of these amazing creatures and learned that hedgehogs represent wisdom. This is bang on considering how hedgehogs adapt to keep themselves away from predators. One of the most amazing (and disgusting) things hedgehogs to is called self-anointing. When they come across something that tastes bad to them, they put some of it in their mouths and create this foam that they then spread all over their bodies. They figure that it will make them taste bad so bigger creatures won’t try to eat them. Pretty clever if you ask me. However, the most important lesson I learned from my sweet hedgie was patience. We needed a lot of patience when we brought her home because she didn’t know us she would spike and bite us. It took a couple of weeks to get her comfortable enough with us that she stopped. Trust takes great patience. That is true for any new relationship. Getting to know who people really are also takes patience. Reciprocal love takes patience.
I learned the same lesson from the little pine squirrels that visit me on my property.
From the outdoor birds I learned what community truly means; along with the sharing of abundance with those around us and how to take care of our communities. The first time I put birdseed in the feeder one bird came and checked things out. It happened to be a nut hatch. Very cute tiny birds. The bird tasted the seed and immediately left. I was a little disappointed. Did the bird not like the seed? Will it ever come back? After about 20 minutes of wondering, I heard all these squeaky noises. There were about a dozen nut hatches in my tree! The one who came first right away went to tell every nut hatch in the forest that there was delicious food in my yard. Nowadays it is not uncommon to have 20 birds in my yard. All different types too. Each new visitor does the same. They taste it and go get everyone they know to come to the feeder. This is a great lesson on sharing abundance and taking care of our communities.
There are many ways to learn from animals. If you do not have a yard or nearby park, you can always visit a bird conservatory, a butterfly sanctuary etc. Do you have friends with pets? Don’t rule out “city” animals either. You can learn a lot from pigeons, raccoons and squirrels if you pay attention.
Share with us your favourite lesson you learned from an animal!