Ill Omen?

Some people tend to see messages all over the place. 

That’s not me.  I’m not the sort of person who thinks the gods are constantly talking to her.  I’ve always been far more likely to attribute something to coincidence than omen.  That doesn’t mean that I can’t find meaning in a given coincidence, just that I like to keep things in perspective.  Just after my first contact Dionysos, I began noticing grape vines and fig trees everywhere.  While I knew that the plants had been there all along and my noticing them at that time was because I had Dionysos on my mind, it still felt as though he was assuring me “Yep, you’re not delusional.  I’m really here.”  I was able to take comfort it that, despite the objections of the logical part of my mind.

Last weekend, I was feeling particularly frightened and agitated (due to some mundane stressors I won’t go into here.)  I decided to go for a walk to help me calm down.  As I was passing the small redwood grove down the street from my house, I came across three dead raccoons by the side of the road.

As you can imagine – this did not help with my anxiety.  I am ridiculously fond of raccoons.  I’ve never done any work with animal spirits or explored the idea of totem animals, but if I had a spirit animal I would not be surprised if it was a raccoon.

Now here’s the thing:  raccoons are very common where I live.  Especially in forested areas, like the one I was walking  past.  They are scavengers and will often come into human areas to see what our garbage cans have to offer them.  (I’ve had to clean up after them more than once, and it is irritating.)  Because of this, some people consider them vermin, and will do all manner of nasty things to get rid of them.  These animals did not appear to have been injured.  My best guess is that someone poisoned them and then dumped them by the roadside.

So, totally a coincidence.

But, though I grew up in this area and have seen many raccoons, I’ve never seen more than one at a time.  (Its not that they’re solitary animals, its just that my own experience has been with isolated individuals.)  If I’d come across one dead raccoon, I would have been saddened but thought little more of it.  But the fact that there were three has been nagging at me.

The stressors I mentioned earlier have to do with my family.  There are three family members, including myself, that are threatened by this problem.  And there were three raccoons.

Yes, its a coincidence.  But I think maybe I should still do some research into animal symbolism just in case it was also a warning.

 

R – Raccoons! (PBP week 35)

How could you not love those faces?

The common raccoon, Procyon lotor, is a nocturnal, omnivorous, and highly intelligent forest creature native to North America.  The name “raccoon” is a bastardization of a Powhatan phrase that translates roughly as “one who rubs, scrubs, and scratches with its hands.”  In many languages the names these animals were given refer to their manual dexterity or their peculiar habit of dowsing their food in water.

Raccoons are very common in the Northern California redwood forests where I grew up.

When I was a girl, my family would spend every summer camping in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.  This is where I met my first raccoons.  They would occassionally wander into our campsite in the evenings looking for handouts – sitting just outside the firelight while the kids tossed them snacks.  Just as often they would come into the campsite after everyone went to bed and break into our food locker.  Padlocks were no obstacle to them.  (Did I mention “highly intelligent?”)  Even so, they were much more welcome than the other wildlife that frequently made its way to our camp – the skunks. 




Angry raccoon is angry! 
Do not disturb his sleep!

Sometimes the raccoons would visit looking for other kinds of amenities.  One night I and my god-sisters, all pre-teen girls, wanted to sleep outside in our sleeping bags.  My parents agreed, but only if my older brother, Russ, camped nearby to keep an eye on us.  To this day, my mother delights in telling the story of Rusty waking up in the middle of the night to a growling noise.  It seems a raccoon had crawled into his sleeping bag for warmth and resented it when my brother rolled over on him.  Both brother and raccoon were out of the sleeping bag in seconds flat, unscathed, but never to see each other again.



What?  Cunning?  Who, me?

I’ve been searching online for raccoon lore, because of the experience I wrote about the other day, but I haven’t found much.  Since they are North American animals, there is no mention of them in the European traditions that I am familiar with.  Raccoons appear in the stories of several of the First Nations, often as a trickster who outwits other animals.  They have the reputation as cunning bandits, due to their intelligence, manual dexterity, and facial markings.  Oh, and their tendancy to claim any food product that isn’t nailed down. 

A bit of UPG (“Unverifiable Personal Gnosis” for those unfamiliar with the term):  If raccoons had been native to Europe, I think they would have been strongly associated with Hermes.  I get the impression He likes them.  (The mask-like markings make me think of Dionysos as well.  But then, that’s just me.)