Osprey Encounter

July 19, 2013

And then, as he looked after him Telemachus saw the stranger change in his form. He became first as a woman, tall, with fair hair and a spear of bronze in her hand. And then the form of a woman changed too. It changed into a great sea-eagle that on wide wings rose up and flew high through the air. Telemachus knew then that his visitor was an immortal and no other than the goddess Athene who had been his father’s friend.–The Odyssey (Padraic Colum, trans.)

I recently learned that the bird often referred to as the “sea eagle” in translations of Celtic, Norse, and Greek myth is the osprey. This is a large bird of prey that nests along shorelines. Like the bald eagle it prefers a diet of fish, and at a distance it is hard to differentiate the osprey from the eagle. The osprey has a white head like the bald eagle, but it has a brown stripe across its eyes and its underside is white. It is slightly smaller than the bald eagle.

Weighted down with fish.
Weighted down with fish.

Ospreys are fun to watch. I observed this pair fishing in Lake Champlain this past week, divebombing into the water and then heading back to the nest. The young, whom I could not see from the ground, squealed as the the fish was dropped from above.

Eventually one of the pair – I could not tell if it was mama or papa – decided I had been hanging out near the nest too long and began swooping over me, probably intending to intimidate me rather than provide a photo op. While the osprey was distracted by my presence, two little birds decided to mob it in a surprise attack. Ospreys are not built for maneuverability; they are designed to pounce on prey from above. The big bird had no choice but to escape to the open water while I chuckled and got back in the car.

Note the classic M flight shape.
Note the classic M flight shape.

Review: Namgar

July 12, 2013

At the edge of the mountain ridge path
The orphaned white camel colt weeps.
When the frost is so violent that trees crack
The white camel colt seeks for grass under snow where the herd has just passed…

On a cold evening early last spring a few dozen people gathered in the village church to hear Buryat singer Namgar Lkhasaranova accompanied on traditional instruments by her husband Eugeny Zolotarev. It was a fantastic concert. Namgar has an amazing voice and the concert featured percussion and wind instruments I had never heard before.

Buryatia is a large region in Siberia near the Mongolian border. It is in the Adirondack news periodically due to local residents traveling to the region and vice versa. This is not, as I would have guessed, for commiserating about long cold winters. Apparently both mountainous regions face similar ecological challenges, and contact over these issues has facilitated some cultural exchange.

The concert sparked many questions for me, and I would have liked to have interviewed Namgar for this blog. I will probably get another chance to do so, however, because the children raved about Namgar’s school concert for days and they will no doubt lobby persistently to get her back. It surprised me that the children were so taken by Namgar, since her traditional style of music would be unfamiliar to them.

After the concert I picked up Namgar’s CD, entitled “Nomad.” Although I’ve decided I like the CD, I was initially disappointed because it was so different from the concert, being a crossover album containing elements of traditional Buryat folk music and instruments combined with a jazz/rock style. A pamphlet is included with translations of the lyrics in English. In preparing this blog post I discovered that Namgar has released a new CD called “Dawn of the Foremothers.” I will try to obtain a copy to review here.

Book excerpt at Return to Mago blog

July 5, 2013

Seated Woman of Catal Huyuk. Turkey, 6,000 BCE. Photo (adapted) Roweromaniak/Wikimedia Commons.
Seated Woman of Catal Huyuk. Turkey, 6,000 BCE.
Photo (adapted) Roweromaniak/ Wikimedia Commons.
Return to Mago is posting an excerpt from my book Invoking Animal Magic. It will run in eight short segments.

The excerpt is titled “The Animal Mother Goddess” and discusses the Mistress of Animals in her many forms.

“Early religious art was predominantly animal. The cave paintings of Spain and southern France are mostly of animals and animal symbols, like the chevron, egg, crescent, vesica piscis, and spiral. Even obvious goddess figures often have an animal theme, such as the horn that the ‘Venus of Laussel’ holds in her right hand or the feline creatures crouching beside the ‘Seated Woman of Catal Huyuk.’ As the Stone Age progressed, goddess imagery became more pronounced, yet goddess/animal combinations were still common. With the development of writing, goddesses were associated in picture, inscription or verse with specific animals. Some of these goddesses were linked with many animals, or even given the title Mistress of Animals.” read more

New Moon

July 5, 2013

Galileo's sketch of moon phases.
Galileo’s sketch of moon phases.

A new moon teaches gradualness
and deliberation and how one gives birth
to oneself slowly. Patience with small details
makes perfect a large work, like the universe.
– Rumi

Since I seem to be on a roll with astrological posts, I thought I would write about the upcoming New Moon, which is in the early morning hours on Monday, July 8th at 3:14 AM Eastern Daylight Time. The month of July is an extroverted time with the Sun’s energies so strong, but the introverted energy of the New Moon provides an opportunity to go within and integrate the momentous events of the summer. It is a pause in a hectic schedule, an idyllic afternoon in a spate of busyness.

For me it is important to understand what is physically, tangibly happening during an astrological event in order to grasp its metaphysical implications. The light of the Moon is a reflection of sunlight off the Moon’s surface as it orbits around the Earth. When the Moon is positioned away from the Sun we experience the fully illuminated Full Moon. When the Moon is positioned between the Sun and the Earth, we experience the New Moon, which is completely dark. We are confronted with what we don’t know.

When I was working on my book, Invoking Animal Magic, I found that the words flowed easily during the Full Moon, while during the New Moon I worked many hours with little to show for it. I did not find this time unproductive however – quite the contrary. This was a time when I tended to make breakthroughs and work through blocks in my understanding. As long as I was content to work without feeling pressure to produce, I felt satisfied. Since I am more of a process than a goal oriented person this was not particularly difficult. If I had been setting small steady quotas, as some people prescribe, I think I would have been feeling frustrated.

For spell work, the twenty-four hours up to the actual turning of the Moon are considered the best for banishing or getting free of something. The seventy-two hours following the New Moon are auspicious for growth or increase. Usually this is also a time for beginning new projects, but with Mercury retrograde this particular New Moon is not conducive for this. At the New Moon, more than any other time, it is important to step away from the mind’s dictates of “should’s” and “have-to’s” and tune into what feels right. It might be journaling, meditation, ritual, fun reading, play or simply rest.

Give birth to yourself, slowly.