Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Totem in Transition ...



A long time ago, the sun got too hot. It was too close to the earth. This was before man was created. All the animals gathered around a great sacred council fire to discuss the situation.

Humble opossum stepped forward. Back then opossum had a beautiful coat of hair. The spirit of opossum flew to the sun and as it got closer it burnt the hair on it's nose really short. The opossum decided to try and tow the sun back, so he wrapped his tail around the sun and began to pull, He pulled, and pulled, and opossum was able to pull the sun back a little bit.

Unfortunately, the opossum burnt the hair off its tail. And, this why the opossum has a short haired face and no hair on its tail to this day. The opossum gave its best for the good of all that day.

Next to step forward was the fox. Now the fox like the coyote was known as a sly trickster, and also as a good hunter. The spirit fox flew to the sun and grabbed the sun its mouth. It pushed and pushed, and did manage to get the sun back a little bit.


To this day fox has a black tongue as a reminder of that effort. Fox gave its best effort for the good of all.


Next to step forward was the vulture. Back then the vulture had a beautiful head of feathers. In fact, he kinda looked as beautiful as a golden eagle. The spirit vulture flew to the sacred sun and placed his head against the sun. Vulture pushed, and pushed as vulture flapped its great wings, and the sun, began to move back. He pushed, and flapped and the heat of the sun made a great wind for vulture to use as vulture flew the sun back to a safe distance.


When vulture returned to the Council fire it was finally cool enough and all the animals were very happy. But alas, vulture burnt all the feathers off his head, and was bald as he is today.

Vulture had a message. "If it gets too hot again, I am sorry but I will be unable to provide this service again for I have no more feathers to protect me. Everyone, must pray for help and use their own heads to be sure it never gets too hot again."


As you look up to see vulture. Remember, the job vulture does and give vulture a little wave, a hello and a thank you. Vulture will see you and tilt his wings.


I have always thought that my Totem has been the Raven - the Trickster of the North West Coast ... It has been a good fit and I've had no problems with Raven as my totem ...


Then a couple of weeks ago I encountered for the third time in my life a Turkey Vulture circling over me while I jogged around the fields of South Down ... over the next three weeks I encountered Turkey Vultures over and over and over ... Almost every day somewhere I found a Turkey Vulture flying over head ...


Even as I drove back to Manitoba from Ontario, I encountered Turkey Vultures in a number of places including a cluster of four or five sitting with an eagle, a couple of crows and a couple ravens on the side of the highway at a road-kill deer carcass.


Previously I can count on one hand all the vulture encounters I've had, and I would still have enough digits left to count to three ... and suddenly over the space of 20 or so days I saw 25 to 30 vultures ... It struck me as odd, so I started looking into the mythology surrounding this majestic, yet highly reviled bird (Be honest - many people are repulsed by the image of vultures!!).

I was surprised by what I've learned ...

The vulture is one of the ancient mythic characters and is found in most human cultures from North American First Nations to the ancient Egyptians.

The vulture stories are important to the process and maintenance of creation.

The vulture is a messenger of Mother Earth or the Creator, and a guardian of the Holy.

The vulture is never held in high regard, but is almost universally reviled for the work it MUST do. Work that needs to happen.

The vulture is NEVER thanked nor appreciated for the work that it does.

And perhaps most telling - we may well look down upon the Vulture, but in truth, in all myths the Vulture, with her huge wings looks down on us as she drifts overhead waiting to clean up the messes she finds ...

As a Totem, it is said that YOU don't chose the Vulture, but rather when the time is right, the Vulture comes and chooses you ... my reflection and reading since my first encounter with a Turkey Vulture while out jogging has caused me to wonder if in that moment my Totem changed and I moved from being under the protective wings of Raven, to being under the protective gaze of the Vulture ...

The more I've thought about it, the more likely this appears ...

1 comment:

Deborah said...

My MIL always said she wanted to come back as a Turkey Vulture. She died on Feb 16th and for the first time this spring, yesterday, we saw a lone Turkey Vulture high upon the currents near our home.

This caused me to look into Turkey Vultures as totems and thus found your blog here, which I enjoyed very much.

Deb