Squirrel Medicine

Will you come and join the dance?
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

When I lived in New York City I usually walked through a park called Union Square on the way to Greenwich Village and my store. A band of lively squirrels lives in the park. Some people don't notice them at all; others give them a passing glance and perhaps smile at their acrobatics. Some pause to watch them; others come equipped with bags of nuts to feed them.

During the last winter I lived in the city I became a feeder of squirrels. I thought I knew all about them. They were cute little furry creatures with big tails who stood up and used their front paws to eat. They climbed trees and played. They seemed to enjoy life.

I also knew that in Medicine Cards Squirrel represents Gathering. This animal, in preparing for winter, gathers only what it needs, and this medicine teaches us to discard not only unnecessary physical objects but those negative beliefs which limit our trust in love and abundance.

I soon learned that there was a lot more to know about squirrels. I discovered their alertness (even from the other side of the park they usually knew when nuts were on offer). I learned to enjoy their bouncy gait and the bright eagerness of their eyes as they raced towards the food source.

I watched squirrels bury nuts and dig them up when needed. As spring approached I often saw them carrying bits of paper and cloth up into the little houses built by the Parks Department, and realized that they must be building nests for their babies. Every day they did something new.

As an observer, someone hurrying through the park on the way to somewhere else, I had seen none of this. As a being who entered their lives I began to experience the creaturehood of squirrels - and learned some lessons about my own creaturehood, as well.

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Private Lives

Prior to meeting the squirrels I would have vehemently denied that I held back in terms of participating in the lives of others. Didn't I have a store where literally anyone could come in to talk to me? Didn't I have close relationships with loads of people? The squirrels taught me otherwise.

I noticed that sometimes when I walked through the park there was hardly a squirrel up and and about. I was disappointed, and it never occurred to me to leave my daily offering near a tree, where they could find it. I recognized an aspect of my nature which was by no means generous. I thought I wanted to feed the squirrels, but what I really wanted to do was enjoy watching them come for nuts, and have them know who was feeding them. I wanted acknowledgment.

Sometimes people hold back from participation because they feel their efforts won't be acknowledged (especially if this seems to be the way things have always gone); sometimes feelings of rejection take a more active form. I found that on several occasions the squirrels not only wouldn't eat the nuts I offered, but didn't even bury them for future use. I never knew why, (had someone just been by with almonds and cashews?), but I knew that I felt rejected.

I examined my life more deeply and realized that on many occasions I'd held back from participation because I didn't want to be unacknowledged or rejected. Maybe I wouldn't go to a social event because I wouldn't know anyone; sometimes I stopped bothering with people who weren't open about their feelings. On occasions I stopped loving people who wouldn't love me back (or at least not the way I wanted to be loved).

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What Does Giving Mean?

I asked myself how committed I'd been, on those occasions when I'd felt rejected, to giving. Did I interact with others in order to be told what a wonderful person I was or to make a difference in someone's growth? Did I give because I wanted to give or give because I wanted to receive?

I learned that I had some limitations to discard about love and trust, and that when I gave with less than pure intentions the recipients of my "generosity" were quick to realize it and to reject both the gift and the price tag attached to it. When, on the other hand, I offered advice or an opinion without feeling that I would be totally invalidated if the other person didn't take it, I often found my ideas welcomed.

When we participate fully in live the distinctions of giving and receiving become blurred. I had such an experience years ago in Ireland, at an evening of traditional music and dance. I had no intention of dancing myself, but the hosts had other plans for their guests. No one was allowed to sit on the sidelines, even to draw a decent breath. I found myself whirling from partner to partner in the Haymaker's Reel and other dizzying dances, not concerned whether anyone thought I was a good dancer (I wasn't). I was in the dance, and that's all there was.

When we do what we do, whether it's feeding squirrels, doing someone a favor, or being our loving selves, simply because that's who we are we find life opening up to join us in a joyful dance. And that's all there is.

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Swing Your Crystal

That dance includes all of life. All crystals give us an opportunity to move beyond an observer status. Beautiful as they are to look at, their true power becomes available to us when we enter into relationships with them.

I've noticed, for example, that quartz crystals which originally came to me in cloudy condition get more clear the more attention I pay to them. On the deepest levels they are mirroring my own increasing clarity, which includes the clarity of my interactions with them.

Other stones which are particularly helpful in allowing one to join the dance are rose quartz (for unconditional self-love), pink tourmaline (for unconditional love of others), smoky quartz (for self-esteem), and rhodonite (for patience both with others and with ourselves).

Clusters are especially helpful. They're a dance within themselves. Hold and study a cluster and notice that none of the points seem to be avoiding each other. Notice that rejection doesn't exist in the mineral kingdom.

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Tough Crystals

We can't be consciously part of the dance unless we know when we're out of step. Sometimes insights come to us without prodding; other times we have to brace ourselves and work with some of the more outspoken members of the mineral kingdom.

Foremost among these is black obsidian. I call it "the good friend who tells you the truth." Given that people aren't always fond of hearing the truth it's valuable to keep in mind with this and the stones below that the truths we keep from ourselves hurt us more and longer than the momentary pain (and possible humiliation of discovery).

Malachite can reveal to us the psychic and emotional roots of pain or illness. It will also bring such pain or illness to the surface. Lapis brings psychic debris to the surface, including old memory patterns and habits, and sometimes brings up in its wake old emotional wounds.

Unlike members of the quartz family, none of these stones heal the wounds which surface. Therefore, I recommend that when you work with them you also work with a form of quartz. Clear quartz is often recommended for use with obsidian; you might, for example, hold obsidian in one hand and a quartz crystal on the other. If you place lapis on the third eye (between the other two) place rose quartz on the heart center. Wherever you place malachite on the physical body you may want to place aventurine next to it.

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The Waltz of the Flowers

Flowers are also well-known for not rejecting each other, and there are a number of flower essences which can assist us in getting into the flow of things.

Impatiens (Bach) people stop participating with others because everyone else is just too slow. They don't think or act fast enough; they don't get the job done. This remedy turns the impatient, quick-witted accomplishment demon into a patient teacher with the talent to bring others up to his or her level of performance.

Sometimes we're just generally critical of others, to the point where even their minor flaws may annoy us so much that we take ourselves out of the dance entirely. Beech (Bach) helps us to rebalance ourselves and allows us to step into the feelings of others so that we can understand them.

In a negative Vervain (Bach) state we are so enthusiastic about our particular dance that we try to get everyone else to follow our steps. We may exhaust both ourselves and others in this effort. The remedy helps us to see that eveyrone's dance is equally important.

Sometimes we stand on the sidelines, not feeling that we belong anywhere or afraid to make a commitment to others. Sweet Pea (FES) helps us to feel a sense of being rooted in a community and nurtured by it.

Oregon Grape (FES) and Mallow (FES) address related issues. Mallow is for the expectation of rejection from others, and helps us to take down the barriers we place in the way of friendship and trust. Oregon Grape deals with social paranoia, the fear of active hostility from others, and helps us to instead expect and acknowledge their goodwill.

Beyond the Rainbow
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