The Animals of Change
Getting to know the Animals
It may seem a little odd to consider a series of birds and mammals to help us to understand change better. However this particular group of eight animals have been chosen both for their particular, for the season they may represent, and for some of their associations in myth and psychology.So, without going into too much detail, here is a brief introduction to each of our animals and some of their qualities and associations.
Raven (top middle) Often given very unfair press, due to its close association with death as a carrion bird, the raven represents the concept of change as a whole and particularly the difficult kind that it not only unavoidable, but is in some ways good for us. Its time of year in Change through Nature, and the end of autumn/beginning of winter proper.
Swan (bottom middle). The swan is a massive contradiction. While full of beauty and grace on the surface, that beauty masks the sheer effort of keeping afloat, while on the surface it can manage little more than an ungainly waddle. But swans mate for life, (as do ravens!) and the mute song has no voice but a hiss. The time of the swan is December and the winter solstice when the lakes and rivers can be frozen and swans often over-winter in fields.
Wren (bottom left) The wren is another of the contradictions of the animal world. On the one hand shy and on the other the king of the birds, due to having tricked the larger eagle into success by hiding under his wing. The wren may be the most numerous of all our British birds, but it is also tiny and vulnerable. Its time comes at the hardest time of the year, early February, when the winter ground is still hard and frozen and food is often difficult to find.
Hare (top right) The hare is another favourite, and it's old association with Easter and the festival of Ostara, has been lately attributed to the rabbit. But late March, close to the time of Easter, is certainly the time of the hare, the time when you can see male and female boxing as part of their courtship, rather than being seen as male to male rivalry, as was previously thought. The hare has her next above the surface in a form, and her young, or leverets are constantly exposed to danger and predators.
Wolf (centre left) The wolf, long extinct may seem to have little place here, but there is a strong sense that the spirit of the wolf has never really left. Plus, there is talk of gradual reintroduction programmes in Scotland. The wolves particular qualities include it being a pack animal and a very sociable part of its tribe. A wolf rejected by its pack does not long either long or happily on its own. The time of the wolf here is the time of May Day, or Beltane, when people traditionally around the maypole and picked their partners.
Butterfly (centre right) Summer wouldn't be summer without the colourful and delicate presence of butterflies.Their changes from caterpillar to chrysalis and then full-grown adult mystify and entrance us at the same time. So, the butterfly may be the ultimate creature of change and its time is clearly the height of summer and the summer of June 21st, when its dance is most joyful and elaborate. Best of all its a dance that we can join in with, if we choose to.
Seal (bottom right) Also in the summer we find the seal, but much further in at the middle of the summer holidays on August 1st. The seal represents the thing or gift which wasn't expected, whether is be an actual parcel of food, or the unexpected return of a loved one, but also the loneliness of the seal or Selkie, (its human form) stranded on land.
Swallow (top left) We love to see the swallows arriving each spring, just as we regret knowing they are readying themselves to leave as they congregate on the telegraph wires mid September on-wards. The swallow is all about travel and the need to build and be with close family and relations. It is a communal and cheerful bird, revered by several cultures, who always find a place for it when it returns.