Monday, March 24, 2008

Otter is Woman medicine

I couldn't resist the playfulness of this bunny tail cloud I saw floating by in the sky over the lake, it being Oestre weekend and all things bunny going on! Besides, yesterday when I was out for my morning walk along the lake, otter came by to remind me to set aside fret and worry and laugh and enjoy life....

I don't have a photo of otter; she being too curious was too quick for me. Spying me and the dogs, Otter craned her neck out of the water like a long periscope, took one hard look at Musti and Tassu, and dove straight like a shot under the frigid waters. This sunlit icy reptilian surface is the edge of the open water Otter was swimming in. It's by the agitator that keeps part of the waters open all winter long, I guess to protect the gas pumps used by boaters? Anyway, there are no boats now so it's perfect for Otter to splash about, undisturbed, in her leisure. Her fur is extremely thick and she doesn't feel the bite of the water at all; indeed, Otter revels in its iciness.

Otter is very playful, and at first when I saw her splashing about, I thought I saw a person swimming in the lake. Her head was quite large. I couldn't believe it! What! is someone swimming in this freezing water? I hurried closer; her animalness emerged clearly as she stretched out her long furry neck, then flipped her furry tail. Although she fled in a flash from me and the dogs, I knew then that she was an otter; she was much too large for a mink. Erkki, an elderly Finnish man who I met up with today on my walk said that he saw a mink the other day running along the shore--the mink that is, not Erkki. A small perfect fish was clamped in the mink's jaws.

I was reminded by Otter that as Woman's Medicine she had come by earlier, too. Ojibwe artist Shannon Gustafson's Woman's Traditional Dance Regalia that is on exhibit at the Northern Woman's Bookstore has 2 otter accents along the breastplate. From Serpent River First Nation, Shannon has been making traditional dress regalia since she was 11 years old, and now shares her knowledge of regalia making, beadwork, leatherwork, and featherwork with others. Here is Shannon's description of the dance regalia she made:
"This Women’s Traditional Dance regalia is called the
"Northern Cloth" style. It is made from canvas, elk
teeth, beads, bones, conchs, otter fur, and shells.
The Design of the dress is inspired by the Sioux tribe."

For some Aboriginal people, Spring is the time to cleanse the blood to prepare the body for the energizing spirit that this time of year heralds. The blood is cleansed by drinking maple sap for 28 days following the cycles of the moon. Welcome is given to the returning animals and birds....Welcome, Otter! oh sister of frolic, laughter, curiosity, sharing! Woman's medicine that comes to remind us, female and male, to enjoying the blessings the Creator has provided!

These shelves of ice and water tell of the warming coming our way, of shifting balances, of change. Otter medicine as told in Jamie Sams and David Carson's Medicine Cards represents balanced female energy, always on the move, creative, friendly, adventuresome. Otter creates sisterly space for others and spreads joy, laugher and lightness . Otter's return is warmly welcomed. What otter be your animal spirit medicine?

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