Swimming With Tahlequah

Tahlequah

Most folks by now have heard the story of Tahlequah, the young orca whale whose calf only lived a very short time after birth before she died. She was last spotted was spotted two days ago which marks her grief ritual of 17 days long of carrying her dead calf.

You’d need a stone heart not to be moved by this and her story and grief speaks deeply to me. It speaks to the woman who keens, the woman who honors the need for death rituals, our human need for ritual and ceremony. It also speaks to me as a Human Ecologist, the activist who know it is us humans who have created this chain of environmental events which has accumulated to cause the starving condition of this pod and their poor birth rate.

It’s been interesting to see the reaction of people to this story from animal communicators, to those who believe she is sending a message to humanity and to those criticizing these anthropomorphic interpretations. We are empathic creatures, extending our empathy to other creatures in trying to understand is a good thing, however, not recognizing the signals and blindingly overriding them is not so good a thing. This article invites you into a deep magic, to swim with Tahlequah, you’re also invited to share your art and join us in our Facegroup group to share the art and tomorrow I’ll post on practical ways to help.

A Dark Moon Invitation

Tonight is a dark moon and if you have clear skies you might see some meteors from the Perseid meteor shower. The dark moon is also an ancient tradition of setting intentions. Not some new age wish or a fancy car or big new house but a time to consider your work in the world. A time to consider the steps you next need to take which are aligned to your soul’s purpose, your true work in this world – work that creates a creative action against this crippling grip of patriarchy. The mess we are in today is a natural progression of a death culture which has no regard for the endless supplies of resources it needs to feed the ugly, hungry monster of capitalism.

So this dark moon I invite you to sit by your altar, sit out under the meteor shower and allow yourself to feel. Swim in the waters with Tahlequah, feel the weight of her pain, her grief. Feel the collective pain of the pod and allow yourself to swim through the cool water currents. Swim with her, help her keep her calf afloat – we know she must be exhausted as well as starving – body and soul crushed by her grief. Her’s is a beautiful grief ritual, it allows her to feel her pain and connect to our own pain – to that part of yourself that feels the destruction of habitat, the degradation of river systems, seas and oceans and the stories of so many animals, insects, wingeds and wild ones who are suffering.

Keen for her, let go of the grief that you are used to carrying yet shoved it somewhere as your never ready to deal with it. Cry, sing, chant, tone for her – use your voice as much as your body. Play wild music, dance your feelings, sweat your prayers to her.

Be gentle with yourself, hold your heart for this is heartbreaking work. use your own language of a simple gesture of ritual or ceremony it can be as simple as breathing with Tahlequah, it can be as simple as imagine holding her calf with her. The deep trough of grief she expresses show the deep love she has for this small one who has moved on to the otherworld.

Be gentle with yourself. You might want to lie down with some soothing music, move your body as if you are swimming through the deep, dark waters. Send her strength, understanding, and love, whisper to her.

Be gentle with yourself once you’ve finished your ritual. This is real stuff – record your impressions of being with her – write, drawn, paint. Collage your feelings, make this matter!

Tahlequah by Leah Pinken Kolidas – click image to view her page on facebook

All feelings and interpretations of this mother whale’s grief are relevant yet they are lost if we don’t take action in helping the plight of the entire pod. They are starving due to the lack of salmon and yet they face other stresses such as pollution such as the level of PCB’s found in the salmon, the noise and the sheer volume of marine traffic in the Pudget Sound. Tomorrow’s post will outline those who are working to help this pod of Orca’s and have been doing so. We can help support those doing this work otherwise we simply turn our head away from Tahlequah.

Feel free to share your evenings ritual, your art here in the comments or join us in the Sisterhood of the Antlers facebook group.

 

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Practical Magic

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Click on the image to view the dolls in my Etsy store

Poppet definition: Late Middle English: based on Latin pup(p)a girl, doll. Compare with puppet.  A term of endearment (Oxford Dictionary online)

These little poppets are made with clothes pegs and special scraps of tweed and linen dressed in headscarves and shawls sometimes wearing pendants and symbols. I see them as representing the traditional wise woman that populated myths and stories throughout time. They are a symbolic representation of those who carried the stories, the herbal knowledge of working with plants, those women who midwifed not just new souls into this world midwifes of hopes, dreams and souls.

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                                   Cailleach an Dùdain, Isle of Eigg (The Old Woman of the Mill-Dust).

My Wise Women foremothers followed the wheel of the year observing each stage in the cycle as it related to themselves.

I grew up with the term poppet which in Britain is still used as a  term of endearment said to a child. My poppets are tools and it is up to the practitioner on how they work with a poppet – it was Hollywood ran with the ideas of the poppet and the Vodou doll as a practice of dark arts. The doll, after all, is simply a tool which helps focus our intentions.

Being Scottish I see the poppet as a traditional Scottish doll that can be placed on the timeline which traces dolls as tools of intention, magic and ritual back to the stone figurines of the Paleolithic and Neolithic.

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My poppets represent the rich layered traditions of women’s mysteries, the ones who carried the stories – acknowledging that often those stories had to go underground in times of persecution. These poppets are a focus, a tool in our connection to She Who is Everything, they are reminders of ourselves, our lineage, the person we are, the person we are becoming and an acknowledgment that we have much work to do in these dark times. We live in thresholds times, like the wise women themselves who walked between the physical and spiritual boundaries some of us work in the threshold and rebirthing of a vision that once flourished in a time before patriarchy.
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Women in Galway, Ireland

The women in these photos were good Christian folks but Christianity in Scotland and Ireland existed side by side with the indigenous pagan beliefs for hundreds of years. Even good Catholic women like my Grandmother, born In Ireland in 1900 always had a saying or advice that harked backed to a far older time. She once gave me a written prayer to be said at a dumb supper at Samhain (Halloween) which invited the recent dead to a meal, with a place set for them in a ritual of sorts that enacted their place with the ancestors and the need to move onto the otherworld. We are the wise women of today, those who carry the old stories, sing the old songs sit in circle as we sing and dance between the worlds and share stories with each other that nourish the soul and fortitude the heart – for we so need each other in these dark times and to know we are not alone.

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Working with Poppet dolls

Poppet dolls can be incorporated into simple rituals and ceremonies for healing, intention or gratitudes. How you work with them is up to you. Little vials can hold whatever is needed to be held, scrolls of paper rolled up and tied onto them. Talismans pinned and secret symbols stitched onto the fabric.

With our use they become alive in a sense imbued with our deep intentions fulfilling their use as tools aiding us as spiritual helpers.

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Click on the doll photos to go to my ETSY store and use code freeshippoppet at checkout for free shipping.

 


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Click on the book image above to read my essay Radical Doll Making From Willendorf to Today: The Relevance of an Ancient Tradition.

A magical process

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‘Fulling is where the wool gives up it’s secrets. You can never predict exactly how a wool will speak…I enjoy a kind of meditation when i get tot he fulling process. [It is] is a conversation between you and the wool..You may be using the same wool used by thousands of other felters, but it is a new conversation each time. Christine White ~ Uniquely felt.

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I’m not the sort of crafter that buys lots of glossy books on felting. In fact I have just one. There isn’t lots of short cuts and 15 minute projects. This book speaks about your relationship with the wool, it’s about understanding the process which is happening under your hands. Diving into it’s pages I feel i’ve got so much to learn but I’m ready for an apprenticeship.

My shoulders and arms sometimes dread the fulling process  – throwing out alarm bells in memories of physiotherapist visits from years of bad typing posture. But this time I didn’t want to just throw it in the washing machine to finish it off  I wanted to feel what was going on.  With the purple towel laid out and the little copper cauldron with soapy water it seemed I was preparing for some sort of ritual. To me feting is a ritual, it’s a little bubble of time outside of time. Time set aside. A time for inner dialogue where thoughts bubble up.

As my hands guide the wool to shrink, I know I’m not really in control. It is a conversation, yet one which always throws up  an element of surprise, the unexpected, magic. It’s like life ~ how we deal with outcomes, how much work we put into where we want to go.

And so after much rubbing and pushing, rolling, soaping and soaking … it was as if the as if the vessel was always there it just needed the fibers to take shape.

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