Thursday, 18 October 2012

I know I am being really, really quiet at the moment but things are brewing away....  I have stories, good ones, waiting for the end of the chapter so I can bring them here and tell them.  The story of my Drum and the story of dreaming fears.

I am happy and relaxed and contented right now but energy is in short supply and I am a bit up and down.  I think my thyroid has dropped down a bit again - in time for my next review, so hopefuly in just over a weeks time I shall be reporting another dosage hike.  I also have another lot of tablets now to try and regulate my lady hormones which have been cavorting all over the place and causing much havoc!  Chances are though it is all still related to my unbalanced Thyroid...

I have started having a little bit of energy for other things too, I am beading a little again....  and gaming....

I feel like this is a brief moment of rest at the beginning of my new year as stories begin and end all at once.

Life is definately however, good.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

The Welcoming Wasp

There are all sorts of Wasps, Social Wasps, Solitary Wasps, Cuckoo Wasps, Gall Wasps, Wood Wasps, Velvet Wasps.....  but I think my Wasp is a Common Wasp because Yellow Bonnet is a nickname for the common Wasp and my Wasps looked like Common Wasps and they were social.  It could be a closely related species, like the German Wasp, but they are so similar, I don't think it would make much difference - except German Wasps steal from bee hives and that does not feel right....

The lifecycle of the Wasp begins with a fertilized female, ready to take her place as Queen.  She will have hibernated in solitude for the Winter and in the Spring she emerges and eats then flying low to the ground, she hunts for a suitable nest site.  The best sites are underground, by roads, in meadows, in gardens or spruce woods, anywhere where there is a suitable opening.  Less commonly they nest above ground in hollow trees or wall cavities.

When she finds soewhere suitable, she flies around her territory, fixing it in her memory.  Then she begins to make the nest using a paper-like material she makes out of salive and old rotting wood.  She scrapes off small pieces using her mandibles and mixes it all together in to a ball and then carries it back to the nest.  The nest when finished will be a bit like a fruit, with a protective skin and a stalk from which it hangs.  Inside, suspended from the top will be a series of platforms, which are the combs, made up of hexagonal cells, open at the bottom.  She begins by spreading the mixture into a thin strip, making the stalk, the beginnings of the protective outer skin and the first few cells.  She lays her first eggs in the cells.

In the beginning the Queen is in charge of everything as she has no helpers.  She hunts and tends the larva and carries on constructing the nest.  Very soon she would not be able to do everything but the first generation  will be mature in 4 to 5 weeks and will take over all of the Queens duties, except egg laying.  It is the beginning of June generally when these first Workers, or sexually immature females are ready.  Once she has Workers she will not leave the nest again.

When they take over building, they add further supports to the comb as well as further combs, downwards, parrallel to the one above.  They rebuild and add to the protective skin, enlarging it as they go and enlarge the entrance.  The nest cavity itself often needs enlarging and they do this by carrying out fragments of stone and soil, sometimes much heavier than themselves.  Anything too big to take out, is either incorporated into the nest, such as large stones or chewed off, such as minor roots.

The hive has to grow quickly as it has a limited lifespan, come the cold the hive will die off and only a few fertilized females will survive, hibernating in solitude.  The first cells are small and are used for workers and males, later on there will be large cells as well which are used for males and females.  Each cell can be used repeatedly.  By the end there will be 8 to 10 combs of about 20 cm in diameter containing between 7000 and 10,000 cells.  The numer of large cells gives an indication of the age of the nest.  All members of a colony smell the same and differentiate the inhabitants of a different colony by their smell.

In each cell the egg is laid by the Queen and hatches into a larva, it is stuck in the cell so it can not fall out and is unable to move.  It is dependant on the workers for care and they feed it regurgitated juices with older larva taking some solid food too.  It moults three times and in the final stage is fat enough to fill the cell and not need sticking in.  It will make a silky cap over the cell entrance and then spinitself a cocoon inside which it pupates.  When it hatches it chews it's way out and remains in the nest for some time before leaving on it's first flights.

The first Males begin to appear in August and the first females in September.  A sexually mature female will be fertilized by a Male and retains the sperm in a dormant state.  When she lays eggs as a Queen she can choose whether to fertilize the egg or not, selecting the sex.  Males have no purpose within the nest except reproduction, but they are not treated cruelly and are allowed to live, unlike Bees....  Males never leave and do not have stings.  The workers can not exist without the nest and have one further task - they regulate the temperature of the nest.  If it gets too hot they vibrate their wings inside the nest and bring in water.  They also harvest a cooling secretion from the mouthparts of larva.

Towards Autumn the number of Workers drops as the number of Males and Females increases and this is the beginning of the end.  With fewer workers, the larvae starve and when their cell becomes too big for them, they fall out onto the roof of the comb below.  Once there, the workers see them as refuse and remove them from the nest where they die.  Only some fertilized females will survive, hibernating in sheds, cracks or house lofts.  Each nest only lasts one year and the new Queen will always choose a fresh site.  In less temperate countries it does appear that the Common Wasp nest can survive for more than one year.  Nests break down rapidly.

Wasps eat sweet things, like fruit and soft drinks and meat, feeding on carrion when available, but they also hunt.  They are predatory and hunt insects, but mostly flies and these are it's main food.  It attacks them when they are not flying, gripping them with it's feet, killing with it's mandibles and stinging if necessary.  It turns the insect into a parcel, biting off legs, head and wings and then carries it back to the nest.  In feeding off of the insect it sucks out the prey's juices.  This predatory role is very important in ecosystems and helps to maintain a balance within the insect world.

They do not attack unless provoked, contrary to popular opinion!  But their nature is that of a predator and they do not hesitate to defend when they feel threatened.

Wasps are instinctive and never waste time.  They are all economy and speed for they live for such a short time and they have a lot to achieve.   They always know how to make their nest and it is always perfect and it never develops.  Occasionally some other material is incorporated such as a piece of paper or polystyrene.  Wasps are born knowing how to carry on the work of their predecessors.  They build in the dark and with limited space.


So everything Ted says about Wasps fits with this, but here is a summary of some of the characteristics of the Wasp.

Although there is a class sytem it is based on efficiencey not snobbery or slavery.  The Queen will have done every job a Worker will have done.
The Wasps are always moving, settling briefly before finding a new home each year.
They are completely focused on raising the next generation.
They are not cruel to lesser members of their society.
They are very inventive and will make any chosen cavity work.
Their method is perfectly efficent, it is economical and quick.
Their method is instinctual but never develops although it does adapt.
They are fiercely loyal and will die for their nest.
They are completely dependant on their nest and only the Queen can survive without it.
Everything they make uses what is around them and is completely biodegradable.
They can only survive in the warmth
They work as well in the dark as the light, building in the dark and hunting in the light.
They are well able to defend themselves.

I can see myself in this....  Wasps welcome change - new places, new starts and can adapt their knowledge for the location.  They instinctively know the right way and efficency, economy and speed comes quickly to them.  They are all about community, fiercely loyal they will fight and defend it but will also sacrifice themselves.  They will do whatever is needed within their community, whenever it is needed. They are creative, they are builders, they are engineers.  Their creativity is beautiful and has to be useful.  They are also female warriors, dedicated to the family, to continuation, they work for the greater good, for something bigger than themselves.

I have never had a problem with new places and situations - changing jobs frequently and in the past, moving around the country.  F would laugh at the bit about knowing the right way to do things and focusing on efficienecy, economy and speed - I am a master of Logistics.  He finds this both useful and infuriating (when he has not told me something that subtly alters my perfect plan).  I will do any task from top to bottom in an organisation.  I like to create but I do feel the need to create things for a use.  I have the brain of an engineer or a builder.  I am coming to understand that the community around me is more important than what I am doing, which is why I am still in my current job, because they are my family.  I am getting to grips with defending myself...  I have always felt pulled on by some purpose.  I like sweet things and warmth.

I think the Warrior side of the Wasp is the bit I have struggled with the most, this determined defence of self, self preservation.  I have not struggled so much with self-sacrifice.  Fighting back....

Maybe I knew instinctively somehow that Tim was Wasp too, family, I let myself be beaten in to giving him up.  I think the decision my family forced me in to helped define me as less a Queen and took away some of my fierce independence, my instinctive knowing of what decision I should make.  This was ultimately damaging.  I guess I dealt with my family by moving away, establishing my own nest and building my own community. 

But there is a flexibility in role for Wasps.  The Queen who can do everything but eventually retreats into the dark to be fertile.  The workers who do everything, except reproduce, who are out there working hard and fighting.  The Males who don't do a lot really, except mate, dreaming in the dark. I think I am definately stuck in Worker and I also find it really iteresting that I can not be a Worker and reproduce.  I think if ever I have children, my life will change very dramatically.

Return to Welcoming

This is my second Moon of Welcoming that I am consciously traveling.  I wrote about the first one here.  I have learnt a lot about my process since then.  I write a post looking at the Moon and how it has been in my life up to that point and then, afterwards I review that Moon cycle and see what I have added.  When I first write about it, I tend to pretty quickly afterwards have a dream which gives me some indication of my totem for that Moon.

I never did look at the Moon of Wlecoming throughout my life though, which I think I need to cover a little.  I did however write another post about Wasp.  My intention for this cycle is to look more deeply at my totems for that Moon and how they relate to that Moon.

I have traveled through three years of this Moon and in a few years time I shall have my fourth.  My first was when I was one.  I remember very little!  My parents moved into our family home on my first birthday and this was such a special home for me.  The house was long and thin so you walked through one room to get to the next and there was two staircases to get upstairs.  My parents gave me the bedroom nearest theres and I loved it.  On one side, there was a tiny window tucked under the eaves and clematis used to grow in and on the other, a huge dormer window poking out of the roof that just sucked in light.  The floor sloped down to the sides, the walls were croaked and wobbly and as I lay in bed i would listen to the comforting sounds of the house adjusting as the wood frame expanded and contracted.

14 was a bad year however.  It is the year I first became ill with glandular fever, my first year of GCSE's and the year I first got my heart a little scratched up.

My sister had a birthday party at our house and invited all her cool friends from Sixth Form College.  I met a boy called Tim who was very, very cool.  He had the whole tortured artist thing going on as well.  he had second thoughts about my age afterwards but i managed to contact him via another friend of my sisters.  Afterwards we used to talk on the phone some and one time he sent me a mix tape, which really ecpanded my music taste n nea and appreciated directions.  He is the person that introduced me to the Pixies.

We arranged to meet at a pub and go on to a party and my sister and her boyfriend took me.  When we got to the pub however, Tim was off his trolley - not sure if it was just drink or more.  He was a bit off anyway and we never really even went into the pub before my sister and her boyfriend whisked me away.

My sister and Mum were really dismissive of the whole thing and tried to stop me from talking on the phone to him.  I am not sure how exctly this whole situation could have been handled differently but I was ill and feeling powerless anyway and I ended up pretty depressed.  I understand that my family did not want me getting into hot water and seeing a boy who looked pretty unsuitable, but...  it was hard.  Losing that battle soaked away some of my power and ability to rebel and make my own path.  I was ready to stand on my own two feet a little. 

My third time through was not too good either.   I started my third year at Uni and gave up smoking.  i think giving up smoking triggered my underactive thyroid, although it was not apparent, possibly, in blood tests at the time.  I suddenly started to gain weight and became depressed, I even tried Prozac, which I hated.  I worked way too hard and got a first, but it was an unpleasant and stressful year.  Luckily F was on the scene...

Not feeling too good seems to be a feature of this year!  I was ill last time we had this Moon in January with a bad ear infection and I have been feeling somewhat up and down ever since.  The opposite of Welcoming is Rejecting and the last two years I have certainly had rejection feature - rejection of a boyfriend, rejection fo cigarettes....

But back to Wasp.  Last Moon of Welcoming I had a dream that yellow bonnet was flying around my face.  When I was a baby ( I must have been one and in Welcoming because we were in the new house), a Wasp flew in my window and stung me on the face while I slept.  After the Moon of Weloming, I had a discussion about Wasp which I talked about in this post here which was very powerful and changed the way I related to Wasp.  I have no idea if Ted really understands how much he helped me with this....

Then during the Moon of Inter-Relations I had two Wasp dreams and what is really interesting, is it was at this time I was diagnosed with Underactive Thyroid.  my ill health stemmed from the Moon of Welcoming and when it was resolved in Inter-relations, it wa Wasp who came to visit.  In one My fore finger and thumb were seized up with a Wasp caught between them, struggling to be free and it broke in two leaving me holding the stinging end.  Ted pointed out that Wasps stings are as much medicine as poison.

In the second dream my Wasps were burrowing under my house and decided they needed more room and started burrowing outwards.

I take all this to mean that I have done some valuable work on my Moon of Welcoming, enough so that my health probelms have been brought to light and I have my medicine (which would be poison to some).  My Wasp is feeling healthy enough to expand it's horizons.  I think things are looking up for my Wasp.  Next I am going to delve further into Wasp as a totem, and try and relate it to Welcoming.