Dying Alone

I know its a weird way to start my actually-here posts, but I returned from my trip to find my leopard gecko had passed away.  Caleb had been doing bad for quite some time, and I think it may have been my fault.  I always gave him food and water, but I think that while I was away at college, though my family gave him the same materials, they did not give him any attention.  I know they never took him out and held him or interacted with him.

As a result, I think my gecko, in part, died because of lack of interaction.  It may have also been his time – he was a rather old gecko.  But leopard geckos are the worst when they get old, because they just stop eating (or all of the ones I have had, have).  They’re desert animals, so it takes forever for them to die.

I cried today.  Not necessarily because of the death of my gecko, because everything has a time to go, but more because the poor creature had to die alone.  I think to an extent that all creatures are as scared of death as we are, although it may resurface and rework itself in many different ways.

Along the bike trip, throughout the day, we would pass by on the roads various roadkill.  From birds (I think there was a hawk at one point) to deer to groundhogs and squirrels, the roadkill we passed counted as objects to avoid riding over.  As a result, our trail markers often marked the area around them – drawing a flourescent pink circle around them (that was the color of the trail paint) – and one particular volunteer would place mardi gras beads on top of them.

It was meant as something to make the riders smile, but it also held a solemn note – we were saying goodbye to the deaths that no one was close enough to, to realize, to mourn, to recognize.

The entire earth is a community.  I don’t mean to make us all cry every day for the many, many animals, plants and other organisms alike that pass on, but an occasional moment of solemn awareness, a recognition of the gravity and importance of death, is a good way to start.

My high priest once knew a woman who would go out and draw or photograph roadkill.  Then she would name it, frame it, or in some other way categorize it.  I think that’s taking it a little too far.  But if no one notices the dead, how are we supposed to truly appreciate the living?

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Number Eight of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time

For those interested, today is the day that I will be bicycling from Buffalo, NY, to Medina, NY.

Number 8: Your Familiar Will Still Pee In Your Shoes

Let’s face it – besides all of my previous posts (I think there were one or two) about familiars, familiars still are, at their base, pets. The closest thing I have to a familiar, my dog, is still a dog. He wants his walk every day, he wants to play when he wants to play, and when I go away, he is very, very sad. As a college student, and an active one at that, it seems like I’m leaving for a week or a weekend every few weeks in the summer and in the winter, and in the fall and spring, I’m constantly back and forth between college and home, sometimes going 2-3 weeks without making it home to see my family.

This dog with his big brown eyes and lanky body will still pee on my property when he gets jealous or upset. As I’m sure that the black cat that you own will throw up in your shoes, or be kind enough to leave a hairball right where you step down off of your bed in the morning. Being a familiar means that they get to take part in your rituals, in your spiritual journeys. And on those planes, and in those situations, those animals may be the best friends you’ll ever have.

Your dog may growl at unseen enemies each night and keep watch over you as you sleep – but if you don’t fill his water bowl correctly, don’t be surprised if it (or he!) comes back a little bit later to bite you in the ass.

Number One of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Two of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Three of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Four of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Five of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Six of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Seven of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Eight of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Nine of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

The Right To Life?

I’m not talking abortion here, sorry! I’m sure I’ll hit that topic in a while, though I suppose it is, in a way, connected. As I am now in Sarasota, Florida, I find myself presented with the idea of invasive species and pests. We have them in New York, of course, but it is always more noticeable when you enter into a different culture. I pose the following question: Do those species which compete – and win – and are not native to an area have a right to flourish in that area?

Take the Muscovy Duck – its adorable! I encountered them this morning. But, according to Wikipedia, they’re considered pests by Florida residents. Now these guys aren’t really harming anything – they just happen to shit a lot, and mate. Don’t we all?

So what do we – as biologists, in this case, and witches – do to control these problems? If its an invasive plant, do we have the right to kill it? Will I be able to stand before my gods and say I knowingly committed plant genocide? Duck-i-cide?

I think, in this case, yes. The plants and animals that flourish and choke out other species – they could use a limit. If our natural resources are depleted and the cycles are thrown out of balance by these species – that, too, is our responsibility as caretakers of the earth in which we live. I would rather stand before my gods and tell them I took out an entire pond’s worth of an invasive grass, than stand before them with no pond or life at all because the grass had taken over.

Balance, balance, balance.

Any comments?

Taking It Slow: The Hummingbird’s Omen

Here in New York where I live, there is only one species of Hummingbird, and we see this specimen only when we look hard at where we are and what’s going on. Yet, in the tropics, flitting through all levels of forest in Costa Rica, you see hummingbirds hustling about their duties.

In terms of ecology, the hummingbirds and the plants that are their food supply have a very intimate, dependent relationship. Without the hummingbirds, those vibrant red flowers with their deeply cupped shape would not be able to reproduce. And without the carb-loaded sweet nectar found within the depths of those flowers, the hummingbirds would not be able to survive the night.

We were blessed with the opportunity on our travels to visit a hummingbird garden area a few times. We got to watch the hummingbirds fight and challenge each other over the previous spots along the feeders for at least an hour in the dim light of the setting sun.

Hummingbirds use so much energy during the day that sometimes they fall into a near-death state, called torpor, at night to conserve their energy. Can you imagine running yourself so near death everyday that you’re not really sure if you’ll be able to get your heart working in the morning?

Slow down! It works for the hummingbirds. It doesn’t work for us. There is something to be said about the perseverance of these little birds with their flashy colors and quick moves, but they are made for their job.

We learn to take life one step at a time from these little creatures, some of which are no bigger than the size of your hand.

Hummingbird