The common brushtail possum is a nocturnal, semi-arboreal marsupial of the family Phalangeridae. It is native to Australia, and the second largest of the possum family. Like most possums, the common brushtail possum is nocturnal. While their habit of setting up residence inside rooftops can create problems for householders trying to sleep these sweet creatures are protected in Australia.
Possum (or Opossum) energy can be helpful to the creative artist! When possum comes clambering over the rooftops with his jackboots on, he is waking us up and pointing out that it is time to ruthlessly take opportunities and be resourceful.
Most folks have heard the old adage “playing Possum”. This term refers to the Possum’s behaviour of “playing dead” as a strategy to ward off would-be predators. But this term is extremely misleading. Possums (Opossums) do not choose to ‘play’ dead. When scared, these sweet, gentle peace-loving creatures have an automatic ‘shut off switch’ in their nervous system. During times when the fear gets to be too much, they lapse into a coma-like state. Because of this, Possum or Opossum symbolism and meaning is that of a master trickster and problem-solver.
When he/she is not “playing Possum” this creature endeavours to come up with an alternative plan for difficult situations that don’t require fighting. Based on this, one potential symbolic meaning for Possum (Opossum) is having effective strategies, and projecting the image you want people to see.
Whether it’s playing dead so that struggles retreat without aggression, or bearing your claws and pretending to be fearsome, both aptitudes come in very handy in life.
In nature, the Possum cannot see at birth. This forces the young animal to go on instinct and really hone their senses for survival. So while the Possum spirit may not appear very impressive initially, He is an excellent guide for developing your own senses and uncovering elusive truths, including spiritual ones.
Many cultures believe that if we put our ear to the ground, we can hear Mother Earth’s heartbeat. Land animal totems are keenly aware of this heartbeat – and in fact, are said to walk in time with the beat of the Earth’s heart. Consequently, these land animal symbol meanings relate to intuitition, awareness, and cognizance. Additionally, this animal group represents being grounded, and stable both mentally and physically.
As a creative person do you need help problem-solving and strategizing? Is it time to increase your intuition? Do you need to be more of an opportunist? Are you misunderstood and underestimated?
Possums in Art and Literature – Aboriginal Culture
♥ Possum-skin cloaks were a form of clothing worn by Aboriginal people in the south-east of Australia – present-day Victoria and New South Wales. A Possum Skin Cloak by the Lake is an important Aboriginal Cultural Revival Project.
Possum-skin cloaks were made from numerous possum pelts sewn together with kangaroo sinew, and often decorated with significant incisions on the inside such as clan insignias. They were rubbed with ochre and fat to both decorate and protect them.
As well as being a significant means of keeping warm in this often chilly part of Australia, there was much importance around the making of the cloaks and their wearing. They were handed down through generations as heirlooms. As with most Australian Aboriginal belongings, there were many uses for the one thing – the cloaks were also used as blankets, mattresses and to wrap babies.
♥ Possum Magic, by Mem Fox, is a much loved, iconic Australian children’s story which tells the story of Hush and Grandma Poss. Apart from raising the whole issue of visibility, this sweet yarn provides an insight into distinctive culinary triumphs that are peculiarly Australian.
You can buy a copy of Possum Magic here
Possum Lessons for the Creatively Minded
An Interpretation by Ted Andrews, author of Animal Speak
The Advantages of Playing Dead
Building Upon Ancestral Foundations