Thursday, July 7, 2011

Totems & Talismans: Turtles, Herons and Owls

With all the outdoor summer activities, I have been doing a little less stitching the past two days, so ...

I thought I would do something a bit different today and show you some of my non-stitching treasures. What got me to thinking about this was a post on the 123stitch message board a while ago asking to see members' stitching and non-stitching collections.

The notion of animal totems has always resonated with me. From the time I took as many elective courses as possible in anthropology as a college student to the time when I was a young woman, just married and starting a family to the present day, I have been drawn to images of different animals at different life stages.

As a young wife/mother, I was drawn to turtles and bought a few, made a few, received a few as gifts and wore a few [as in earrings and such]. I can't quite claim to have felt a spiritual connection as someone who practices a nature religion might have ... but I had a certain affinity for turtles that I can't quite put into words.

Later, while vacationing in Maine for the first time with our children [Bill and I had been there several times while still childless young marrieds], we rented the only cabin we could afford: a log cabin beside a backwater estuary instead of on the the more desirable and expensive ocean shore. Said log cabin came complete with air-conditioning: some of the chinking between the logs had fallen away and you could literally peek through most of the walls. But hey, it was summer, so who cared if the shelter was slightly perforated. The thing I remember most about that summer was the blue heron that nested on a tiny islet in that salt marsh. And I spent way more than I should have on this small bronze casting of a heron ... still one of my treasured possessions.
And now, a mature woman approaching retirement, I have for some time been drawn to owls and ravens and crows. Both my daughter and my husband have gifted me with various examples, I have purchased some of my own as well.

My fondness for turtles and the various birds has been reflected in my stitching and chart purchasing as well ... but more on that another time. Then, too, there has been a certain whimsical interest in frogs. It would seem I am fixated on amphibians and birds.

I am sure someone well-versed in the psychology of symbols could have a field day with all of this. I am content just to chalk it all up to a certain connectedness with the natural world that I think all human persons need to experience. Perhaps my Celtic heritage, with its triad of Maiden-Mother-Crone, is coming to the fore ... owls and ravens have always been important symbols in the old Celtic religions, as well as many other pre-Christian religions. For me, intellectually and spiritually, that Celtic triad has been supplanted by the Roman Catholic Trinity of Creator-Savior-Sanctifier but perhaps it still exists in the unconscious depths of my mind as a kind of racial memory ... I know Freud and Jung are somewhat out of fashion nowadays ... but I always found them fascinating. I'll have to revisit some Jungian theories ... at least, I know what my next little bit of summer reading will entail!


Dani - tkdchick said...

What a nifty and beautiful collection!

mdgtjulie said...

You have some beautiful pieces there. I love the heron especially!!