Totem Tuesdays-10/7/14

Are you playing possum? that’s the totem animal of the day.




Opossum Medicine

*Jamie Sams & David Carson/Medicine Cards:
Diversion. Opossum’s greatest form of protection is to play dead. in doing this Opossum confuses many a predator into believing that the game is over. Oftentimes the confused rival walks away or looks the other direction for a moment, and Opossum runs to safety.

Opossum medicine uses a great deal of strategy. If all else fails, Opossum plays dead. It has the ability to fight with its claws and teeth, but it rarely uses this form of protection. Instead, the supreme strategy of diversion is constantly employed when things get a little too hard to handle. Opossum has developed an act that would receive an Academy Award in the animal kingdom. The musk of the death scent is excreted at will, adding to the master play that sends enemies on many trails of confusion.

If Opossum has turned up in your cards, you are being asked to use strategy in some present situation. Rely upon your instincts for the best way out of a tight corner. If you have to pretend to be apathetic or unafraid, do it! Oftentimes if you refuse to struggle or show that hurtful words bother you, your taunter will see no further fun in the game. Warriors have used Opossum medicine for centuries, playing dead when the enemy is least expecting it, the war cry is heard. The fright of this serves to further confuse the unsuspecting opposition. Victory is sweet when the strategy is one of mental as well as physical prowess.

Opossum may be relaying to you that you are to expect the unexpected and be clever in achieving your victory. This could be a victory over a bothersome salesman or a nosey neighbor. In essence, Opossum is beckoning you to use your brain, your sense of drama, and surprise—to leap over some barrier to your progress.

Contrary: In the reversed position, Opossum may be warning you against getting caught in the high drama of your life’s present scenario. “Close your eyes and dramatize,” may keep you from seeing the truth of a situation. You may buy into melodrama in yourself or others. You might as well play dead if you are justifying what you are doing with a tragic victim routine. If this concept does not apply to your situation, take a look at the possibility that you may have recently been giving excuses for why you don’t want to do something instead of telling the truth. In fearing to hurt someone’s feelings you may have trapped yourself in a justificaiton pattern: “I’m too sicke, I’m too poor, I’m watching my weight, I’m too short, tall, sad, busy, tired, etc.”

In having to defend yourself with excuses, you may have lost the point. You don’t have to defend your right to be! The exercise is in learning to politely say that something would not be appropriate for you at this time. That’s all! You owe no one an excuse. Learn to imitate Opossum and play dead, in the sense that the best strategy is no defense. In assuming the viewpoint of no defense, you have chosen the right to be who and what you are with no games involved.

The proper use of diversion is to know when you do not need to use diversion at all. You owe no one an excuse for how you feel or what you choose to experience.

*Lady Stearn Robinson & Tom Gorbett/The Dreamer’s Dictionary:
This amusing animal in a dream is reminding you that ignoring your problems is a surefire method of building a time bomb under yourself; vigorous positive action is the only safe road to relief.

*Mary Summer Rain/On Dreams:
Opossum denotes backward or inverted views; a caution to “stop turning things around” to suit self.

*Ted Andrews/Animal-Speak:
Keynote: The Use of Appearances
Cycle of Power: Spring

A number of years ago when my workshops were just begining to grow in popularity, an individual in the metaphysical field was spreading rumors avout me among certain groups, to undermine my work. Apparently he felt threatened by the increasing attention I was receiving. After a workshop one evening, several people spoke to me about what was being spread around. I remember fuming all the way home. I couldn’t believe this person would make up stories—after all we had done some traveling together. I knew that I was going to have to confront this person.

When I got home and raised my garage door, my headlights flashed on a pair of eyes in the back of the garage. An opossum had taken up temporary shelter. I got a broom and tried unsuccessfully to sweep it out. Finally, I left the garage door open, hoping it would leave on its own and went into the house, temporarily distracted from my fuming.

About an hour later I went outside to check the garage, and the opossum had disappeared. I drove the car into the garage, and pulled on the garage door. It only moved about five inches and then locked. I pulled again and still it locked. Since it was dark, I couldn’t tell if the runners on which it sat were jammed or what was going on. Finally I grabbed the handle with two hands and yanked as hard as I could. The door freed and came down. As it did, the opossum tumbled off the top of the garage door and fell on top of my head. I must have jumped six feet. I don’t know who was scared worse—me or the opossum. Apparently it had climbed on top of the garage door and was lodged in a way that hindered closing the door.

It left rather abruptly, after bouncing off my head and hitting the ground. It appeared just as dazed and unhurt as I was. I tried to get my heart started. I began laughing as I walked back into the house. My anger from earlier that evening was dissipated. It was then I decided not to respond. I would just appear to play dead or ignorant to the rumors. Within several weeks, the rumors had ceased and numerous phone calls reaffirmed that I had responded appropriately. No one was believing the rumors, and my invitations to teach and lecture increased even more.

Opossum teaches us how to use appearances. Sometimes it is necessary to“play dead.” Sometimes it is necessary to put up a particular front to succeed most easily and effectively. This is what the medicine of opossum can teach. It also can show you when others are putting up false fronts and deceptions. Opossum has an archetypal energy that helps us to use appearances to our greatest benefit and that helps us to recognize when others are creating false impressions. Opossum can help us learn to divert attention or to get attention any way we need.

Sometimes it is necessary to behave or act in a strategic manner. We may need to appear fearful or fearless in spite of how we truly feel. We may need to show submission or aggression. We may need to be apathetic or extremely caring. Opossum is the supreme actor, and those in the acting field or that need to learn something of it can do no better than to work with the opossum.

The opossum is a nocturnal animal. It is the only marsupial on the North American continent. Marsupials are animals that raise their young in a pouch on the abdomen. When the young are born, they are blind, but they are still able to climb up into the pouch immediately after birth. There they stay for about one month.

During the spring, I often stop and check opossums hit and on the road. There may be young in the pouch if it is a female opossum. The young can live for a while in the pouch even after the mother has died, but only for a short while.

In the pouch are located the nipples. Most opossums have 13 nipples. In a litter, there can be many more than thirteen young, but only thirteen will be able to survive. This number is very symbolic. Although many associate it with bad luck, it is also a symbol for the one great sun around which the twelve signs of the zodiac revolve. It is a symbol of the sun within.

The pouch, especially in regards to the opossum’s defense of “playing dead,” links it to the aboity to help us draw from our own bag of tricks that which will most benefit us. It can show you which appearance to draw from the pouch to use for the greatest success. The milk of the mother is rich in calcium, as young opossums need high concentrations of it. Those with this totem should examine their own calcium levels.

The playing dead that the possum is famous for is a self-induced state of shock. The pulse becomes minimal. The heartbeat slows. A musk scent of death is released, and for all appearances it will seem dead. The opossum can enter and leave this state abruptly—pretty much at will. This act serves to confuse many predators. The surprise distracts them, and the opossum is able to make its escape. It is this kind of flexibility and ease of appearance that the opossum can teach to those wit hit as a totem.

When opossum shows up as a totem, ask yourself some important questions. Are you acting or about to act in an inappropriate manner? Do you need to strengthen your own appearance? Are others putting up false appearances in front of you? do you need to divert attention away from some activity? Are others trying to divert your attentiojn? Is it time to go into your bag of tricks and pull out some new strategy? Learning to pretend and act in ways and with realism is the magic that opossum teaches.


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