Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Native Animal Lore

Learning about Druidry is about learning how we, as humans can more intimately relate to the world around us. Through ritual, meditation and our philosophies we find ourselves evermore in tune with the earth’s cycles and energies. Our ancestors worked with the changing seasons, and saw that these could be recognised in the changes of the trees, the animals and the stars. Many people studying Druidry today, however, are located in many varied corners of the world where the signs we can see in the trees, animals and even the stars are not the same as those in the land of our ancestors. Yet there is much to be learned about our unique places by learning to understand the messages and signs that nature can give us, wherever we are in the world.

Learning about native animals is one way that we can learn to understand more intimately our own place in the world. By understanding the cycles of the animals of the land, sea and sky we can learn more about the seasons, ways to celebrate change in our world, and essentially learn about ourselves.

There are some resources already available for you to find a guide to the symbolic meanings of Australian native animals, such as the Animal Dreaming oracle deck and book of the same name by Scott Alexander King, however it can be very helpful and informative for us to spend time with native mammals, reptiles, birds and fish to see what symbolism we can find in their nature. By noting their colours, their habbits and habbitat, their mating season or rituals or other features about them we can learn what they represent on a spiritual level.

You might also come across tarot decks or books on Aboriginal myths which can give you more insight into the nature of native animals. Aboriginal myths can be used to gain further insight into the nature of the land also, and can be a wonderful resource for guided meditation. It is important to note, however, that Aboriginal mythology is often secret and very sacred. Stories hold power and are owned by people and places. However, there are myths which we can find in published books and these are available to everyone and as long as we treat them with respect, by acknowledging the author and their country if we use them in ritual. If you are lucky enough to be told a told that a story personally, be sure to find out if there are laws concerning its retelling (for example, only for women), as you may not be able to pass it on to others.

Here are some Australian animals and their magickal meanings which I have discovered myself, but they may also have similarities with other systems as of course, these are the symbolic nature of the animals themselves.


The name ‘koala’ means ‘no water’ as koalas do not need to drink and get all the moisture they need from eucalyptus leaves. As a result they represent resourcefulness, adaptability and survival. They spend much of their time drowsy or asleep, so they represent inner journeys, dreaming and meditation. They are also quite noisy at mating time making them a symbol of passion, but also of anger and jealousy.


The image of the big red kangaroos with their muscled chests, fighting for their rank and right to mate represents the kangaroo’s magickal symbolism in strength, power, protection and masculine energy. The pouch of the mothers represents the closeness of mothers to their children and the process of motherhood generally. They also represent travel, endurance and attentiveness.


Living in underground burrows and coming out in the night, wombats are a symbol of homely comforts, homesickness, and stability. With their thick, stout bodies they represent standing your ground, self confidence and security. The energy of the wombat is of reliability, responsibility, study and family life.


The cackling call of the kookaburra is a familiar sound over much of Australia, sounding much like a hearty laugh they represent humour and looking on the bright side of life. As they are often heard laughing before storms they represent weather knowledge, storm energies, insight, divination and prophecy.


Women's mysteries, duality, sanding on the thresh hold of worlds, mysteries of childbirth, mysteries of evolution and progression, adapting to new situations, changing to suit our environment.


Dingoes often hunt in packs so they emulate teamwork, leadership, hunting, cunning, and wit, working smart not hard. The dingo cannot bark but only howl. They are generally silent showing us the virtue of holding our tongues when we may want to comment too quickly. Leading by example not by explanation. "Do as I do, not as I say".


Emus have a striking glare and a controlled and threatening step. They are curiosity, by not timid. They represent confidence, persuasion, study, focus, discernment, judgement and will power. The nomad, travelling their hourney with confidence and focus on their goals.


A nocturnal animal they carefully move through the trees. They are a symbol of caution and the mysteries of the night. Carrying their young clinging tightly to their backs they symbolise nurturance, agility, holding on, safety and parenting.


White and yellow: Their flashing white and yellow feathers symbolise the rays of the sun, beams of inspiration and life. But their harsh calls remind us that the sun and its strength also bring fire and destruction. Black and red: They also remind us of the fires symbolising the red flames and the charred remains. Cleansing and renewing. Both birds are a symbol of the fire season and the power of the sun.

The lyre bird is a perfect symbol of the Bard. With a long repetoire for different songs the lyre bird symbolises memory, poetry and song. Their silvery voices lighten the sound of the bush and their beautiful feathers and dances are a fabulous display. A performer, a dancer, singer and poet. They represent the poetic inspiration within us all.

Certainly, there are many more native animals with many more symbolic meanings, and there are even regional and other variations which will give the animals different meanings in different contexts. What is important, however is that we are making a connection with the world around us, learning more about the natural world and about ourselves. Each one of us has a responsibilitiy to learn about and connect with the sacred landscape around us. To live in harmony with the land and all its creatures and to be aware of its cycles, signs and symbolism. From the mountains to the sea, from the tropics to the deserts, from the forests to the cities, we all have to find our place and learn about our land in our own way.

Possibly the best way that we can learn more about the native animals of our area is to buy some field guides of birds, mammals, reptiles and fish, and find out about the charateristics of the local fauna. Another way of finding out information is to visit your local council, who often supply leaflets about conservation or the habitats of local species. You may even find that they conduct nature walks where you can be shown some of the local animals. Then a wonderful exercise for meditation is to think about the spiritual meanings and symbolisms of the animals of your area.

This process can be done anywhere in the world and there are many beautiful species which we can learn so much about. Indigenous knowledge is a wonderful resource and a point from which we can learn much about the spirit of our area, however there is also a wealth of knowledge to be found in the symbolic natures of the animals themselves - all we have to do is look.