One of my favorite things about having a garden (besides being able to step outside my door to pick some omelet fixins) is watching the insects and animals that come around it. This year, I am especially entranced by the dragonflies and damselflies. Here are some quick facts about both from my favorite source, Ted Andrews’ Animal-Speak.
- Dragonflies have broad bodies and large eyes; damselflies have slender bodies. Dragonflies still hold their wings out even when not flying; damselflies fold their wings back when at rest.
- Dragonflies and damselflies have been around for at least 180 million years. They are very adaptable creatures, which has helped it survive for so long. They can even fly with only one pair of wings if need be.
- Both inhabit two realms: water and air. Therefore, they symbolize both emotion (water) and intellect (air).
- In Japanese art, dragonflies are used to represent light and joy. To the Native Americans, they represent the souls of the dead. For some, they are the mythical relatives of real, ancient dragons.
- The fantastic iridescent blues and greens of dragonflies are created in much the same way that rainbows are formed. Structures in the dragonfly’s shell scatter and refract the sunlight.
Ted Andrews writes that dragonflies and damselflies symbolize transformation and the power of light. As he writes, “Life is never quite the way it appears, but it is always filled with light and color. Dragonfly can help you to see through your illusions and thus allow your own light to shine forth. Dragonfly brings the brightness of transformation and the wonder of colorful new vision.
The other day, a very sharp and very loud DRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR interrupted my morning coffee. (Say this out loud, rolling your R as if speaking Spanish, and you’ll get the idea of the sound. . . . kinda jackhammer-y.)
I looked out the window to see if a road crew had set up camp in our neighborhood. And then it happened again. DRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! And not a hardhat or jackhammer in sight.
But just then, a disgruntled and somewhat dazed looking woodpecker swooped down off the porch roof and lurched toward a much more accommodating maple in the backyard.
So of course I had to read up on Woodpecker symbolism.
In folk traditions, Woodpecker has been associated with weather changes, with fertility, with the heartbeat of the Earth herself. In other words, it is connected to things that have rhythms because of the way its pecking sounds like drumbeats.
According to Ted Andrews in Animal-Speak, when a Woodpecker shows up in your life, it may reflect a need to drum some new changes and rhythms into your life. The manner of flight of a Woodpecker is also important: Woodpecker flies, then coasts down, flies, then coasts down. This unique pattern means that it is important to follow one’s own unique pattern and rhythm.
Are you following your own rhythms?
In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I’d write about poor, misunderstood bats. Don’t get me wrong; bats freak me out a little too. But I do appreciate their symbolism and their place in nature.
Bats represent transition and initiation according to Ted Andrews in Animal-Speak. The Babylonians considered them the souls of the dead; the Mayans thought they were symbols of rebirth.
Symbolic meanings often come from observations of an animal’s traits and habitats. Since bats literally come out of darkness (a cave), we say that they represent death, transition, and rebirth.
Change and death are scary to many of us, and so this association makes bats a source of fear for many. But Andrews has a wonderful way of looking at change:
When the bat comes into your life, you may see some part of your life begin to go from bad to worse. That which worked before may no longer. This is not negative though! And it will only be upsetting to the degree we are emotionally attached to the old way of life or to the degree we focus on the past rather than the infinite possibilities of the future.
Change and transformations are blessings. They are not triggered from without but from within, and the world is our mirror.
Other bat traits include its great auditory perception, its ability to fly (bats are the only flying mammal), and its sociability. Therefore, bats also symbolize clairaudience (clear hearing, or the ability to hear spirit), the ability to move to new heights, and the opportunities we might find in groups.
If bats show up in your life, you can be sure of some great–and perhaps difficult–changes, but you just might be experiencing an initiation into a new way.