Sunday, November 25, 2007

Alternative Thanksgiving

In our family, we are vegetarians (which has nothing to do with being a shaman), so for Thanksgiving, we celebrate a little differently than some of the folks around us. We do go to visit friends and share the big meal of the day, eschewing the Turkey. One year we tried a Tofurkey, but it wasn't for us.

But at some point over the holiday, we take a trip to the zoo. This may seem just another form of unkindness to our animal friends, but we are lucky enough to live in Miami, and we have a wonderful zoo here that is cageless and renowned for research and conservation programs. I do believe that the animals there are treated well. And the weather is always spectacular this time of year (sorry to my norther readers). Plus it is a huge zoo, so we easily walk off many of the calories from sweet potatoes, pecan pie, green bean casserole, cornbread, etc.

This year, I spent some time thinking of totem animals and what they have to offer us. The most obvious example is the pair of Andean Condors that our zoo has, because the form of shamanism that I practice comes from Peru, and the Condor is associated with one of the four directions. We thank Condor every time we open or close sacred space, and it was lovely to be able to thank this pair in person.

But the one that struck me most was a giant tortoise who walked, very slowly, across an expanse of grass right up to the fence to visit us. He stayed at the fence for a long time, looking at us as my daughters looked at him. I don't think I've ever noticed a tortoises's eyes before, and they were so kind and patient, as was he. My preschooler has had a peaked interest in the story of the tortoise and the hare this week, so it was a special treat for her.

When I read over the message for Tortoise, I realized the importance for my own life. Tortoise teaches patience and focus. I have recently been in a period of lacking focus (starting several new blogs, writing pieces here and there, working sporadically on my novel) and have been frustrated at the lack of progress. It is said that when tortoise comes into your life, he is ready to share his ancient wisdom. I thank tortoise for his gift at this appropriate time.

Look around in your own life at this time of hectic schedules. The holidays increase everyone's pace. Could you benefit from the lessons of patience and steady focus offered by Tortoise?

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