A MESSAGE OF RENEWAL FOR 2016
On a dark November night, high up on a beach on the eastern coast of southern Africa, a turtle ventures out of the warm seas to lay her eggs. She flaps her huge flippers to hide her clutch under the soft dry sand, then turns and makes her way back down to the safety of the waters. Abandoning her eggs, she must trust that some will survive. Some do. After hatching, it is that perilous scuttle down to the sea that can be their undoing. Opportunist predators are always about. Soft little shells are no match for a swooping seagull or the claws of a crab. But their instinctive drive is towards the sea; that vulnerable dash must be made. The first splash of salty water lifts our baby making him light and free for his first swim in the element that will be home for the next eighty years.
So begins the first card in the Wild Voices pack named BIRTHING – AFRICA CALLS. The focus is the concept of beginning anew.
Each of the Wild Voices cards has a number of key words.
For the first card Birthing – Africa Calls, the key words are:
The Carte Blanche
Abandonment to what will be
Mama Ka Grace, who is the artist of the Wild Voices cards, chose wisely when she used the image of the defenceless baby turtle that just seconds after his emergence into the world, has to risk his new life in that race to the safety of the sea. Juxtaposed through this image are our vulnerability and our potential for greatness as we step out into a new year charged with the resolve to do things differently. This raw energy, organic and undefiled, invites moulding. It is the carte blanche waiting for the pen.
You stand at the threshold; you face the awesome prospect of a new beginning. Did you choose to take this journey or did you stumble upon it? Were you pushed by life because you were reluctant to move forward? Or maybe like our baby turtle your instincts drew you and now you find yourself in a new place, and like our turtle you have to survive, you have to keep swimming. However you answer this question now is the time to take courage and step out.
Adult Leather Back female laying her eggs filmed at Bhanga Neck at Kozi Bay northern KwaZulu Natal in South Africa.
Of the seven sea turtle species, five occur in South African waters; the Green turtle, Hawksbill and occasionally the Olive Ridley forage on reefs but only the Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles nest here. South Africa has the longest continuous turtle monitoring program in the world, initiated in the 1963/1964 season which has contributed to the conservation of turtles globally.
The Leatherback (Demochelys coriacea) is the largest turtle in our oceans – one was recorded to be 3m from head to tail weighing 916kg. Typical weight is between 250-750kg. They can dive to 1 280 meters making them one of the deepest diving marine animals. A dive can last 30 to 80 minutes.
The turtles on our east African coast display a strong tendency towards philopatry – the females, as breeding adults, return to the very beach they themselves were hatched on, to lay their own eggs. How does this mystery take place? How does a turtle, having travelled thousands of miles for years and years, know the exact place of her birth?
Could you be feeling the call to return, at last, to that inner place where you will uncover beautiful eggs, incubating for who knows how long, but now ready for hatching?
Science is uncovering the mystery. Recent research reveals that the females rely on a unique ‘magnetic signature’ along the coast – they imprint on the magnetic field of their natal beach as hatchlings, and then use this information to return as adults to lay their eggs.
From the research work of J. Roger Brothers, a graduate student of biology at the University of North Carolina:
"Previous studies have shown that sea turtles use Earth's magnetic field to help guide them at sea, but it was unclear whether magnetic features also help steer them toward the nesting sites chosen by their mothers. Scientists are unsure how turtles detect the geomagnetic field, but it's possible that tiny magnetic particles in their brains help the turtles process unique signatures. Whatever the mechanism, it clearly helps sea turtles find their birthplace so they can reproduce; this would usually be on accessible beaches that have soft sand, the right temperature and few predators."
A PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTION
While we laud the work done by our scientists, some of us at the same time wonder whether all this catching and tagging of Animals, photographing their breeding habits, peering into microscopes to uncover their secrets and even habituating them to artificial conditions is not interfering a bit too much. Must we sacrifice a few so we can learn more about them? In the case of the sea turtle, by tagging them we have learnt that the female returns to her place of birth to lay her own eggs. How wondrous a discovery. Now we suspect they pick up a “magnetic signature” – how even more fascinating. We are awed at the intricate workings of Gaia, we celebrate the magnificence of Mother Nature but simultaneously might the credence we give our science not be too highlighted over the mysterious workings of Nature herself.
THE EGG AS A METAPHOR HOLDS INTRIGUING SYMBOLISM
The Cosmic Egg is produced by the union of the sun (male) and the moon (female). The bright golden yolk is the sun, the light, the conscious, the animus, while the albumen is the silvery white moon, the unconscious, the anima. When it hatches it produces our Universe.
Like the Cosmic Egg you are both the yolk and the albumen. You are being called to hatch aspects of yourself that has been lying dormant. Tension, anger and resentment will hold back a birth. Let go and allow your instincts to lead you in the gentle exploration of growing and unfolding into a richer self.
Diana Graham’s painting “Earth seed” can be seen in her outdoor Eco Shrine “Voices of the Earth” in Hogsback SA. Diana says: “In the latter part of the 20th century Gaia Theory or Earth Systems Theory gave us the understanding of the Earth as a single self-regulating organism. As such it has been regulating its temperatures within a small average range, under ever changing conditions, for hundreds of millions of years. Ancient nature based cultures all regarded the Earth as alive. I use the metaphor of an Earth seed to explore with paint the organic nature of our planet.” www.ecoshrine.co.za
THE GREAT LOVE MAKING
As Pilgrims on this journey to wholeness the Birthing card calls us to arise at dawn and make our way down to a cove on a deserted east African shore. We watch Great Father Sun, as he rises up over the Indian Ocean penetrate Sea/Earth Mother with his golden rays. He bathes her in his light and warmth, and she, now animated, enlivens all within her realm. From this great love-making the planet’s Life Force is endlessly replenished, for the sun is always rising up over an ocean, no matter where you may be.
Universally we too are continuously renewed and in the present moment we can always begin again.
A baby Loggerhead
Inspired by THE BIRTHING I understand that …