I’m not a bit fan of prescribing any animal a particular meaning. If someone dreams of a snake, I’m reluctant to suggest that they might be shedding their skin in some transition, or that the appearance a lion signals courage, believing it to be much more individual than universal.
So it was with some skepticism then that I was invited to pick out an Australian animal ‘totem’card and read of its significance for me.
I hovered my hand over the deck before drawing one. Oystercatcher. Immediately I had an image of the striking bird– the long orange beak, and black and white bodythat tightens with a piercing call moments before taking flight.
The book told me that due to its relationship with the pearl hidden inside the oyster, an oystercatcher brings a message of concealment.The conclusion also drew on the Christian legend that says the oystercatcher once hid Jesus in a time of danger and was rewarded by being given the mark of the cross on its back. What treasure do I hold inside that is currently hidden from view, it questioned.
The second part of the exercise was ‘a medicine walk’ – an extended solo wander in nature, remaining open to whatever arises.
The first thing that rose was the barometer, and a resistance to doing anything other than lying in the shade. But a wander is a wander, and leaving my shoes behind, I found myself padding down a sandy back trail towards the beach. Initially taken aback by the plethora of snaky looking tracks, I relaxed with the realisation they were mostly the drag marks of swamp wallaby tails.
Descending the sand dunes, the beach was glaring and wide as a desert. Squinting my eyes to both horizons I ascertained I was alone, except for a couple of birds to the south. I moved towards the only sign of life. Gradually the birds assumed a familiar shape and colour. Pied oystercatchers! Not just two but four, I realised with excitement when I spied two fluffy round chicks following their parents along the high water mark.