On Christmas Eve, 2017, I was inspired to produce an Australian version of the traditional carol, the Twelve Days of Christmas. Over the following twelve days, I relied on intuition and a deck of Australian Bird and Animal cards to decide which bird or animal, my true love, the creative force, would bring to guide me.
On the twelfth day, it all came together as a collection. It had been a significant commitment to come to the page each day and work with the bird or animal who tapped on my chamber window. I considered leaving it at that! But then all these Aussie birds and animals crowded around me demanding to be noticed. It was like a classroom of small children, all with their hands up, anxious to have their say.
In his book, ‘Animal Wise’, Ted Andrews suggests that the reader take the time to learn more about the animal world. He suggests studying a different animal each week. He says that if we do this, within 52 weeks our knowledge will have grown by a significant amount.
I have decided to spend 52 weeks in 2018 undertaking workshops with Aussie birds and animals in order to discover just what they will teach me about the creative life. This page will maintain a record of the birds and animals who agree to provide workshops for me.
The Superb Blue Wren is a tiny charismatic bird who has flitted into my life. The wrens found the green corridor I had created in my backyard and the neighbours have also been enjoying their presence.
Common Blackbirds are, for some people, considered a good omen. Others believe that the Blackbird brings the lessons learned in meditation. It is also associated with travel to the Otherworld and the mysteries found there. A family of blackbirds have made my place home! These timid birds keep to themselves most of the time. They love to bathe in the water bowl I have left out for them.
The Musk Lorikeet is a gregarious, comical bird. The Musk Lorikeet is usually seen in small flocks, and often occurs with Rainbow, Little and Purple-crowned Lorikeets. Like other lorikeets, this species forages mostly on flowers, specialising in those growing at the tops of tall eucalypts and paperbarks. It often feeds in association with other lorikeets, forming noisy mixed-species flocks.
The Possum, like the Opossum, inspires us to see opportunity in every situation and to harness all opportunities to our best advantage. Possum urges us to see life as being built on foundations upon which great things can be built. Sloth may have been promoted as one of the seven deadly sins but Possum reveals that there are advantages to idleness.
Over the Australia Day long weekend, I stayed at a coastal Airbnb on the Bellarine peninsular. While there I closely observed an Australian Pelican nesting in a mangrove thicket. This bird reminds me to take it easy. It is suggesting that it would be beneficial to an effort to float through life and float through my emotions. The challenge is to savour each special moment.
It is timely that Echidna has nosed its way into my life. Echidna is urging me to step out of my comfort zone; that it is time to lower my boundaries and tear down the brick walls I have established to protect myself from being hurt.
It is no challenge to find mobs of grey kangaroos grazing in nearby Happy Valley! I was out still hunting and a mob passed quietly by, stopping briefly to check me out and observe what I was doing! Their bounds remind me to take a leap of faith!
Sometimes called native companions or Australian cranes, these grey birds are beautiful dancers, famous for their elaborate performances which appear to be for both pleasure and as a part of their mating ritual. The Aboriginal people have immortalised their graceful steps through dance. Vocal birds, the females also make a trumpeting sound while dancing. They look very elegant moving across the plains; the freedom contained within their dance spreading and radiating joy and spontaneity. Join in! Come Spirit Dancing With Brolga!
The crocodile is a notoriously patient predator that carefully strikes at the right opportunity. Crocodiles have evolved over thousands of years to be patient, Are you prepared to invest time waiting? Have you got the will to position yourself, be patient and then pounce when the time is right?
Hiding who you are. Knowing who you are. Pride. Pretence. Deception. Display. Showing off and showiness. Using façade as a mechanism for growth. Doubt and self-confidence. Preserving the hidden self. The Frilled Neck Lizards introduces us to the art of deception
Humans have long revered whales and other animals in legends. For thousands of years, they have been aligned with the gods, mythologized, and celebrated in art. The humpback whale has come to remind us to go with the flow.
The Satin Bowerbird has reappeared! Bowerbirds live up to thirty years and can spend half a decade building the bower. This provides a model of the patience, dedication, focus and fortitude demanded of true artistry.
It is quite easy to become bats about bats! Bats emerging from a cave or tree represents the archetypal energies of consciousness breaking out of a limited, enclosing perspective to soar in the limitless expanse of the universe.
When I upturned a pot on my deck a small beige frog emerged, reminding me that like him, I could transform, change and reinvent myself repeatedly. Frog has plenty of wisdom to offer those of us who feel the need to renew.
It seems that we need the message of week fourteen reinforced – drummed in so to speak. This week Butterfly has fluttered into my life reminding me that like her and the frog, I could transform, change and reinvent myself repeatedly.
This week the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo has been screeching at me, reminding me to play and satisfy my curiosity. Beautiful in colour and appearance the cockatoo holds the teachings of self-esteem and confidence. The rose and grey coloured galah teach us spontaneity and fearlessness.
The Kangaroo has bounded back into our lives bringing fresh lessons. Kangaroo is here to remind you that you can only move forward right now. For this reason, once you have achieved your momentum keep moving forward and never look back. All in all, know that moving forward is enough – that you do not necessarily have to be clear on the path. Simply moving is called for and the bigger the leaps and bounds the better.
One of the most powerful Egyptian divine symbols, The Eye of Horus, was represented as a picture of eyes and stylized face of a falcon. The single eye motif also reminds of a falcon’s eye. Just as falcons in other mythologies are associated with sky and sky deities, peregrine falcons are believed to be spiritual beings in connection with sun and sky, light and a higher order of things.
Raven is my spirit bird. I AM raven! Some time ago I established A Raven is Calling and maybe I am being called to edit and reestablish it. Whatever! Raven has stepped in at a very important time to remind me of my path.
Bandicoot has appeared reminding me to set boundaries and look after my inner home. Bandicoot reminds me of the importance of taking care of myself, providing a healthy environment for myself and not allowing the chaos in the lives of others to dominate. Bandicoot wisdom comes from within and is a reminder, to be honest in my daily affairs and above all, be faithful to myself. To walk my walk and talk my talk will help me feel fulfilled
Numbat helps us to go within ourselves and dig out the old ideas and thoughts that we’d abandoned. You may find you start having unusual dreams when numbat visits you, or unusual ideas and thoughts. Pay attention to them, because chances are if you follow or listen to them, they will help to nourish you.
If you think you are too small or ordinary to make a difference you have not been in a closed room with a mosquito (African proverb) or a persistent housefly.
There is so much that we forget to remember. One thing that Lizard has not forgotten is how to let go. Lizard when under threat will let go of its tail as a defence mechanism thereby ensuring his survival, yet we find it hard to let go of the past issues. Remembering these will always be a part of our undoing. If we could only remember to trust and let go our enlightenment would be ensured? What needs to go! Call on your ability to let go!
Hearing Kookaburra’s laugh reminds me to remember that life is for the enjoyment of living.
When Kookaburra calls it is time to take a break and do something nice for yourself.
Week 25 Potoroo
Potoroos belong to a small family called the Potoroidae (rat-kangaroos), within the large superfamily Macropodoidea. The rat-kangaroos are small marsupials which hop on their hind feet, dig for much of their food with well-developed forefeet, and have a complex stomach that allows them to extract nutrition very efficiently from their diet. The Potoroidae contains several small genera, including Bettongia, (the bettongs, such as the burrowing bettong and the brush-tailed bettong) and Potorous, containing the potoroos.
Potoroos arrival signals that it is time to come out from the burrow into the light.
Week 26 Parrot
The parrot also has a great ability to satisfy its needs by foraging for food and nesting places. It is known to eat fruit and seeds and builds nests in all manner of places. Like the parrot, I am actively seeking that which meets my personal needs and the really good news is that a vision is, like a jigsaw puzzle, falling into place.
Week 27 Raven
When you meet Raven, he could be telling you that there will be changes in your life and that possibly you should step by the usual way you view reality and look into the inner realms …walk your talk…be prepared to let go of your old thinking and embrace a new way of viewing yourself and the world.
Week 28 Brush Turkey
Because the turkey is closely associated with the spirit of the Earth, it is also symbolic of feminine energies at work in our lives. This animal has been revered in ancient traditions as a symbol of fertility and abundance.
The turkey is a useful guide to unlocking the fullness of life. It invites those who have it as a totem to cultivate the balance between giving and receiving and find contentment in what they have.
Week 31 The Whale
The whale is renowned for its soul songs, songs that enrich and nurture the soul. Carl Sagan taught that one of the truly magical things about whales was the importance of their songs. Whales, quite literally, have a catalogue of songs that they remember and sing. The Whale swims into my world reminding me that I need to be singing the song of my heart.
Week 32 The Bower Bird
Learn from this skilled artisan! Learn about how to develop your artists eye.
Week 33 The Frogmouth Owl
The Frogmouth Owl comes reminding us to mine the rich negative space that can be found within silence.
Week 34 Emu
Emu is an excellent guide for those interested in shamanic pursuits and techniques. It is one of a few animal guides that is very powerful for shamanists or those who simply strive for brilliance in all that they do. Emu guide can be quite stern and is a custodian of societal law. When emu appears in your life, it is time to apply some mettle and hard work to your situation. Emu doesn’t permit laziness, and emu energy is not very relaxing or soothing.
Week 35 Salt Water Crocodile
The saltwater crocodile has reappeared, determined to remind me that I need to take back my power by examining some of my secrets that have never seen the light of day and by revealing hidden parts of myself. This is not to say that I need to make such reflections public. I am not prepared to post my carefully kept secrets on the internet but I can see the benefit of understanding aspects of the lives of my ancestors which have been passed down and effectively taken power from me.
Introducing Native Australian Trees
Week 36 The Kurrajong
This attractive small to medium sized tree is attractive and highly drought tolerant. It is a versatile tree that can be used in a range of settings. The Kurrajongs dense canopy of glossy green foliage makes it a great shade tree and the cream flowers, streaked with pink or purple throats add to its visual appeal. Various parts of this plant provided food sources to Indigenous Australians who roasted seeds and used them to make bread and as a coffee substitute. The tap root is also an edible, nutritious vegetable said to be similar to a carrot.