Sep 7, 2008

Totem Series: Skunk & Opossum

I'm writing about these in the same post because they have been coming up in my reflective reality in a kind of tag team fashion. They're not power animals I've ever given a lot of thought to, but lately they've been insinuating themselves into my life in rather dramatic fashion.

It started a couple of weeks ago when I was meditating. I found myself staring into the oddest little face; pale beige with dark eyes. I didn't even know what I was looking at, until I heard very clearly "opossum."

A OpossusumForages at Night
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So, I looked it up.

The opossum is a crafty animal that shows us how to play different roles. It knows when to act, when to hide, and when to show its true colors. Opossum is a master at recognizing truth as well as falsehood. When it wants attention it gets it. When it wants to be left alone it plays dead. It is a strategic animal that knows how to mold each situation according to its needs. It has the ability to decode hidden messages and read between the lines.

. . .

Opossums are nocturnal and raise their young in a pouch on their mid section. The young are born blind and rely on their feelings to guide them to their destination. They learn to sense their way around at an early age developing strong instincts by the time they reach adulthood. These instincts are complimented by their inherent ability to disguise themselves. The opossum is a multi-faceted actor that continually changes its appearance. It does not allow its emotions to consume its actions and partakes in the game of life with strategic maneuvers. Part of what the opossum teaches to those with this totem is emotional and mental stability.

The opossum is a craftsman in the art of appearances. When it appears in your life it is telling you to wake up and pay attention. Things are not what they seem to be. By observing your actions, reactions, thoughts and feelings, deeper insights emerge. This emergence leads to self-empowerment. Congratulations and welcome home!

The very next night, as I was drifting off to sleep, I found myself watching a little skunk walking along the side of a road. I had a sort of aerial view of the little creature as it toddled along.

A Close View of a Striped Skunk in the Foothills of Los Angeles
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So, I looked it up.

The skunk is a very powerful totem with mystical and magical associations. It teaches how to give respect, expect respect and demand respect. This totem helps you recognize your own qualities and assert them.

Skunks are fearless but very peaceful. These are two wonderful qualities which you can learn from your skunk totem.

. . .

Individuals with a skunk totem must learn to balance the ability to draw and repel people. Skunks remind us that there is a time to be with people and a time for solitude.

The skunk's stripe is the outward sign of kundalini or life force. When you receive a skunk totem, your kundalini or life force activates and amplifies. You must learn to use this force effectively.

After this, I kept noticing both of these odd little critters, that are so rarely in my thoughts, coming up in conversation around me. I thought it a curious reflection. But, they both made themselves impossible to ignore the other evening when our house was, essentially, skunk bombed.

My husband I were sitting in the living room, watching the Republican Convention, when I noticed the smell wafting into the room. As luck would have it, it was an excessively warm, humid evening, and we had the house completely closed up and the air conditioning on. I knew it had to be fairly close, if we could smell it at all. So, I cracked the window to see what was up. Big mistake! The stench was unreal. And, it was starting to seep in from every crack and crevice all over the house. There was no room any floor, where you could not smell it.

We surmised that a fight must have broken out over cat food. We have a couple of very timid stray kittens we've been feeding. We've been winning them over slowly. So, we were concerned that one, or both of them, had gotten into a scrap with a skunk. My husband peeked out the front door at the bowl and came face to face with, wait for it... an opossum.

Husband: Not happy to find he's been feeding wild creatures in his attempt to nurture our little, waifish, feline friends. Me: Not happy at having a house full of skunk smell. It took a good two days to air it out completely.

I don't think it's any accident that these two archetypes have been appearing in tandem. There are some noticeable parallels between their respective medicines. Both have to do with striking a balance between the public and the private; assertion and withdrawal. And, they're both kind of cute, in their own ways. I just prefer to view them -- and smell them -- from a distance.

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