Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Heron Stalks the Moon

So last year, I wasn't really focused when I went through the Moon of Protection.  F and I went away on our Honeymoon and because we were not living our normal life it was hard for me to pinpoint this Moon at all really.  Except that I really value quality time with F.  I love it when we can explore places together, delving into their history and science and scoiety.  I love just lounging around with him, talking and eating good food.

I would have struggled to identify any totem in the waking life but my totem for this Moon did visit me in a dream, somehow.  I remember waking in the night and thinking to myself, something along the lines of 'wow, that was easy, Heron must be my totem them for this Moon.'  and then falling back asleep.  All trace of the dream was gone by morning and only that thought remained.  Whatever happened in the dream must have been very clear for me to have been able to think that while so very close to being brain dead!

The RSPB puts Bitterns and Herons together and lists the UK as having five, Bittern, Cattle Egret, Great White Egret, Grey Heron and Little Egret.  But to me Heron conjures up the image of the Grey Heron and I imagine this would have been the bird that appeared to me in the dream for me to identify it so clearly.

Grey Herons are large birds, standing up to one metre tall and having a wingspan of up to two metres.  They have very long legs and necks and can stand with their heads down by their body by making their necks S shaped or with their necks straight.  They are wading birds, designed to be able to stand in shallow water and fish but they are not fussy eaters, small mammals, amphibians, small birds and eggs also go down...

For me the imagine of a Heron conjures up one stood in the water, completely still, watching what is going on below the surface and then suddenly in a flash of movement, their head shoots in to the water and comes back with some food which it gulps down.  I can also clearly picture them stalking elegantly, taking off ponderously and flying with those huge wings, neck bent up to the body.

They are opportunists and their behaviour reflects their environment.  In some countries they are migratory birds, but here they remain all year round.  In some places they feed or roost communally but I have only ever seen one feeding in a place.  They like trees to roost in, off the ground and they build messy nest platforms out of sticks.  If no trees or sticks are available they will nest on the ground, on cliffs, in bushes or in reed beds and their nests may be made of reeds or if nothing is available they will just be a scrape in the ground.  They will be found in any watery environment, lakes, rivers, garden ponds, canals, ditches, river deltas, mangroves (not that we have those in the UK) salt marshes, estuaries, mudflats and beaches.

If they roost communally then they will be anywhere from 2km to 38km from preferred feeding grounds.  I know Herons will visit different places and will fish out garden ponds and small lakes.  Many people put nets over garden ponds to protect them from Herons.  When it comes to feeding, Herons will move their head from side to side when they spot prey underwater as this helps them calculate distance.  They will walk very slowly and see what they can find or stir their feet or probe for things.  Grey Herons have been observed using bait to bring in prey such as bread or seeds.

Herons are monogamous and courting takes place on the nest.  The male arrives first and begins building before trying to attract a female.  Some females have been observed to attach themselves to impotent male Herons and then they seek sex elsewhere.  They lay 3 to 7 eggs.

Herons are calm birds which are always patient but focused and ready to take action.  They see clearly, past the reflections and disturbances and visual effects of water.  They literally walk in two worlds and are happiest on this divide - they don't swim.  They are birds of contemplation and grace but also highly practical and pragmatic, eating and using anything to get by.  They must stand with both feet firmly planted on the ground and they are aggressively self reliant.  They know how to take advantage of events others may not even notice.  They work with great precision and efficiency, conserving energy.

They are social but work alone.  They do not need a lot of people in their lives and are not afraid of standing out and being unique.  They see no need to keep up with the Joneses and they know what is best for them and follow their own path.  There is a certain showmanship and self-assurance and this flair for drama contrasting with the extreme quiet and patience can suggest an emotional dichotmoy, a tendency to go from one extreme to the other, drama and melodrama to oppression and repression. Learning to balance these two extremes is an important task but once done, they make good counsellors. Herons are shamanic guides by they are all about emotional stability and will not undermine this.

So how does this relate to this Moon?  This Moon is all about what we Value in the opposites of Protection and Imprisonment.  So often what I value is Love, that sort of Love that is so much a part of Marriage.  I value being in a good Partnership.  My second year of this Moon was the year I spent with my first love, literally.  It was a good year and he was a good man, but as I mved out of Value there was other things I needed to focus on and do and he could not walk that path with me.  I am lucky now that I have a man who can and does walk my path with me.  So much of what Heron is about, are things I value:  walking in both worlds, having two feet firmly on the ground, being emotionally stable, efficiency, taking advantage of opportunities, monogamous partnership.

You might think it is odd having efficiency there but it is important to me.  Ask F...  He is not efficient and sometimes when we need to get things done he frustrates the hell out of me!  And then I tell him he is not beig efficient and he laughs at me.  Wasp, my totem for the Moon of Welcome has this thread of efficency and knowing the right way to do things too.  I guess walking my path and F are the two things I value most and the two things I want to protect the most.

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