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Stopped Dead by Death on 'Burnt Thursday'

I finally took my walk with Freddie – my sweet kairos protector - who stood in front of the Apothiki looking directly at me as I sat at my computer – saying it was now time to go.  He had not had his morning walk.  I was in no mood to go – and anyway, he had gone hurtling out of the door to visit the neighbours. It was after all an hour later than his usual excursion as I had overslept due to finally getting to sleep in the early hours of the morning.  It was time to get some spring water too – so off we went to Kaseni – a 5 minute walk into neighbouring lands. 


As I walked down the path in front of the house to where it touches the corner of the streambed leading to the well – I faced death on my pathway.


A dead badger lay curled on the edge of the streambed and stopped me dead in my tracks.


Just before I took my walk, I had a short, impromtu skype chat about the importance of tending and protecting times of transition with care.  Somehow this was connected.


What was the Totem-meaning of Badger – and what did it mean that it now lay dead at the front of my home?  I knew badgers roamed the remas (streambeds) at night, along with the Boar.  Perhaps they had met and a fight ensued, who knows.


As I walked to the spring, the image was clearly etched in my mind.  On returning to the house I felt compelled to capture the image.  As I walked the same pathway, just to my right – now directly in front of the house - another image of death greeted me.  Our sweet Zimbabwean cow was laid upside down in the grass, with one foot bitten off.  Freddie?


Both these poignant images sent my mind in a spin.  What did they mean – at this time?


Certainly death seemed to be present for many on multiple levels.  People I knew spoke of loved ones lost.  Many were also going through deep transitions at personal and professional levels, including increasing health issues that required careful tending.  Nations were too.  Systems were shifting towards this threshold too – some ready to die perhaps - but most not sensing it was their time, quite yet.


Death is a part of life.  A natural evolutionary cycle of planetary existence.  And yet, why does death shock us so much that it stops us dead in our tracks?


I needed to understand the meaning of the Badger to see if the totem offered some insight. 

I found a website and a quote by Goethe at the top of the page that struck me deeply: “those who are firm in will, mold the world to themselves”.


It also said: According to Native Americans, the sighting of badger tracks was very auspicious. Seeing badger tracks was a message that all things are possible when we tap into our inner creative powers.


The badger stops at nothing to get what it wants, and this is a lesson for us to be persistent in our pursuits. Specifically, those with the badger totem often attract this creature because he/she has difficulty finishing what is started. The badger will help with this aspect in life. You can call upon the stubborn, strong-willed nature of the badger to help you complete any project you start.


The badger is also fiercely independent and can be quite aggressive when threatened. This is a lesson for us to stand our ground and make our presence known when the situation calls for it. Although smaller in stature, the badger commands attention from friend and foe alike. We can do the same, but we must be mindful that we do so in a healthy, constructive manner.


[ ] Animal symbolism of the badger is: Determination, Eagerness, Strong will, Focus, Strategy, Tenacity, Defense, Protection, Independence, Confidence


The badger is connected to the earth, and therefore is a grounding totem for us. When we feel out of touch, or confused the badger can help us get rooted, and anchor us to what is important in our lives.


When the badger comes into our lives it is time for get busy with projects, speak up and ask for help if we need it in our lives. The badger is also a sign that it is time for us come out of hiding - it's time for us to let the world know we are here, and we mean business!


Lastly, the symbolism of the badger also includes individuality. The badger is a unique creature, well equipped to meet all the challenges it faces. It lives its life quite effectively. And although its methods might seem unorthodox, the badger doesn't care what the rest of the animal kingdom thinks about them. This is perhaps the greatest lesson the badger imparts to us. In short, the badger tell us to "walk your own path at your own pace." Never mind what others may say. Have faith in your own abilities and know that you are well-equipped to take on whatever challenge faces you.”


Multiple messages to find meaning in…Walk your own Path at your own pace.  YES!  Perhaps the Badger this day was a warning…of what would happen if we did not.


But what about the Zimbabwean cow – that seemed to have somehow sacrificed herself?  I immediately thought of Africa and the people I knew and loved who had walked their own path, most certainly and ceremoniously their own way.  I wondered if something was perhaps happening real time in the country real, that unbeknownst to me, I was now being alerted to.  I hoped not,. but must check


But today was also Tsiknopempti or "Burnt Thursday” marking the threshold to a period of celebration and Carnival / Panagiri - inspired, in part from the Dionesian times where wild sacred rituals honoured the life-death-life cycle with.   Tsiknopempti was also marking the movement towards Lent and a time of conscious purification and reflection of what needed to be lived more into and that which perhaps needed to die...and our own honouring of the sacrifice that had offered.  And now Easter, the central feast in the Christian liturgical year being the ritual and religiously sacred time of honouring the life-death-life cycle of the human spirit. 


After recent events in Athens, there has indeed been much burning - buildings, anger, passion, love.  Perhaps today was a day to mourn the losses once again – burn off that which was no longer needed - and begin to embrace all that had been forged in the flames.


The upturned cow was a powerful image of Death though – and also, for me, that many rituals at this time failed to honour the depth of the transitions there were there to represent - becoming empty rituals - ‘sacred cows’, with little or no service at all.


Perhaps these events and the practice of reconnecting to the roots and rituals of this Tsiknopempti day, was calling me to face some of the death that was happening in my own life too – and sense more deeply what was being released and to tend and protect the transitioning with this utmost care - by honoring it in ways that were sacred to me. 


When we do come to the point of facing death – of any kind – be it thought-form, value, person, place, relationship, etc - it shocks us to our core.  Yet, as we embrace the death and start to move beyond this – there awaits the presence of Compassion, Universal love and a connection to knowing and insight only available from being stopped dead by death. 


I knew I would continue ponder these icons that had graced my pathway this day – and so in my own way, blessed them both - the badger and the Zimbabwean cow, thanking them that they had awakened much newness in me. 

As after Death, there IS Life.


And in my final walk of the day – circling round to the rema and the badger – I noticed that it had been moved closer to the house. 


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Comment by Chris Corrigan on February 16, 2012 at 2:12pm
Lovely. I have been working with lots of liberal progressive churches lately and so have been deep in the theological and spiritual practices of addressing death and rebirth. Lots to talk about, perhaps in Slovenia?

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