Posted: August 13th. 2001
Times Viewed: 5,630
Every once in a while even a verified realist can be surprised by one of Nature's little quirks. And Wren was about to witness one such anomaly that morning. Of course, she didn't know that yet as she set about chopping the hot dogs for the egret, shredding the bread for the seagulls and turtles or scraping the bottom (Wren's note to self: Buy more birdseed!) of what used to be a Yuletide popcorn tin but was now the repository for bird seed and dried corn kernels. Yep, it sure enough looked just like any other ordinary morning in the Jung household. But down at the Little Pond, something 'odd' was about to happen.
The Little Pond looked the same. The turtles impatient for the next bread crumb to drop and nibbling at Wren's toes looked the same. The seagulls- which all look the same anyway- looked the same. The squirrels racing up and down the willow with their hoards of peanuts and the thieving blue jays all looked the same too. And the two female mallard ducks cutting their v-shaped swath through the water of Little Pond looked like they always did when they were late for breakfast: a little bit hurried, a little bit hopeful and more than a little bit hungry. The two brown streaked mallards were always together. Wren would often spot them during the day cruising slowly around the Little Pond. One of the females frequently would move out in front of the other but would always circle back to rejoin the slower one. Nothing odd about that really. Nothing odd about anything that morning at the Little Pond until the hungry mallards reached the shore next to where breakfast was being served.
As one of the ducks shambled up onto the bank, the other remained in the water and sort of paced (or whatever the aquatic version of that is called) up and down the shoreline. The mallard with her webbed feet firmly on the ground began to gobble up breadcrumbs as fast as her bill could mobilize itself and this she did for about thirty seconds or so. The mallard in the water was still moving back and forth and watching her companion's every move. The first inkling that something was 'odd' whispered to Wren as she paused to enjoy the scene. The still-in-the-water duck was- well.. still in the water instead of eating on the bank with her sister-duck. A puzzled frown had not quite fully formed on Wren's brow when the very 'odd' thing nuzzled its way into the up-to-that-point ordinary morning and transformed it into something quite different.
Even as Wren's eyes widened in realization, the mallard on the shoreline began to (How can she describe this?) shovel some of the breadcrumbs into the Little Pond and in the direction of the still-in-the-water duck who gobbled them up as fast as her sister duck could putt them over to her. Flick! There went a breadcrumb! Snatch! There went a breadcrumb down the throat of the still-in-the-water duck. Every once in a while the female on the shoreline would swallow a few herself, but then she would go back to serving up the breakfast to her sister duck. It was odd behavior indeed and once Wren saw the reason for it, it wasn't really all that odd. And yet in the very same moment that Wren saw the reason for it, she realized just how odd it really was.
Nearest the shoreline the water was only an inch or so deep and as the still-in-the-water duck edged closer to reach for the breadcrumbs lapping against the bank, she hit the sandy bottom of the Little Pond and stood up. How she did that was in itself a miracle of sorts because the formerly still-in-the-water female mallard only had one leg.
Where or when or how she had lost that other limb, Wren had no way of telling but as the crippled duck hopped awkwardly on the remaining one- and still half supported by the water- to stretch for the crumbs, she seemed to be in no pain. As Wren could see no sign of any recent damage, it was probably an old injury or perhaps even a birth defect. Losing her balance, the one-legged duck flopped back into the water, flicked her tail a few times and then resumed her back and forth pacing as her sister duck flicked the last of the crumbs in her general direction.
While Pagans often look to Nature for lessons in the patterns of Life, we also often focus mainly on the fact that Nature can be cruel. Efficiency often dictates that the weak or the injured or the old must be sacrificed so that the young and healthy and strong will survive to perpetuate the species. And aside from acknowledging the existence of an instinct that most of Nature's non-human children seem to possess in order to protect their own young as best they can or to band together in herds to confuse charging predators, we humans tend to dismiss as fanciful, unscientific, romantic or 'fluffy' the notion that animals can possess any emotion such as altruism.
As Wren was raised on a small farm, she learned the harsh lessons of predator and prey early on and she is no wide-eyed romantic when it comes to Nature's ways. And yet she has recently learned of new research concerning elephants which seem to strongly indicate that at least some animal species may posses emotions that for many years were attributed only to those peculiar animals called humans.
An old occult theory- one that is at last being seriously entertained by those involved in studying the principles of quantum mechanics- states that serious practitioners are actually co-creators with the Divine and that what these adepts can visualize, will and believe exists can actually be called into existence. 'Creating your own reality' may not be as far fetched an idea in the future- just as it was not in the past- as these studies bear their fruits. (No big surprise here for many Pagans and Occultists!) And while we as Pagans more and more often these days look to Nature for lessons in Life, it almost never occurs to us that perhaps- as energy exchanges tend to naturally seek an equilibrium- that Nature may actually be learning something from us. In the past, perhaps those 'myths' of animals speaking with and aiding humans were based on some real intercommunication that along the way became severed as humankind lost its respect or care for the animal kingdoms. And certainly over the past few thousands years, the animals have had no reason to listen to anything that we may to say to them about compassion and love and caring. As we tear down their homes and destroy their ways of life, they have seen very little of any of those.
Today, many Pagans and non-Pagans are beginning to view Nature not as something to be exploited simply for the benefit of humans or as a mere lesson plan regarding animal behavior but as a community of beings sharing a very small planet of incredible diversity and beauty and dwindling resources. With that philosophy, comes empathy for all of the members of that community. Pagans in particular- in making the choice to work with the animal kingdom energies and elements- are once again beginning to communicate with these beings.
Life is hard. Life can be tough. And Life without Love can be an ongoing nightmare without the hope of ever waking up. There was no reason for the sister duck to help the one-legged duck. In every area from mating to food sources to nesting spots, they should have been rivals. What they were- what they are to each other- is something else that has been called into existence. While we are learning the 'Toughen Up' lessons of Life from Nature, perhaps She is relearning the lessons of Love from us.
As the mallards swam back across the Little Pond toward the bed of wild rushes where they would doze the hot Florida afternoon away, the sister duck kept perfect pace with the one-legged duck and their wings almost touched as they paddled. And as Wren watched them go she had the 'odd' feeling that she had just witnessed something important. Wren doesn't know if Nature planted a 'quirk' in that little duck's psyche that opened up a place where altruism or caring for the crippled other go grow or if Humans working their elemental and shamanic magic(k)s had created that possibility. Perhaps that duck is the first of her kind to display such a thing. Will she now pass this new trait onto her offspring? And what would that- could that- mean might be going on throughout the animal kingdoms? Have Pagans and Animals and Nature created between themselves a new way of being together? Or have we perhaps rediscovered a very old way?
As she at last turned back to the concrete building and the world of the Human, Wren can't help but wonder.
Because if one little mallard duck can break through the limitations of instinct and self-preservation in order to reach out to aid a weaker, seemingly useless and maimed companion- who also desires simply to live- and do it for no other reason than it seems like the caring, loving and altruistic thing to do, then we as humans- and we as Pagans- have a lot of catching up to do.
Walk in Love and Light,
The Witches' Voice Inc.
Anchor Photo: Mercifully we received a "shot that fit" so we didn't have to 'go there' with that R.W.W.I. (Righteous Wren Wand Image - an out of character shot that Wren never cared for, but one that many of us thought looked cool) in this critical space again. This powerful "first harvest" shot was taken just last week and was submitted by the Enchanted Druid Order, We are honored to feature it here for all to experience. Thank YOU EDO for what you are doing for us all.
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