The Tale of the Owl and the Whale

OwlcollageAnd now for something completely different . . .

New year, new idea! I thought that, from time to time, it would be a hoot (pardon the pun) to share something entertaining and “Just for Fun,” so I’ve created a special new category just for those occasions.  This story, which I hope could grow up to be a fully illustrated children’s book someday, evolved out of an animal divination I did several years ago.  I was using cards then, instead of stones, and pulled two to answer a question that I can’t even remember.  As you can probably guess from the title of this post, those cards were the Owl and the Whale.  The meanings of the individual animals were immediately clear and obvious, but what fascinated me most was the relationship between them.  Talk about two animals not likely to “meet” in the wild!  This story became my attempt to envision that meeting: how could it happen, and how might each of these wise creatures be affected and changed by that chance encounter?

Owl reached the branch of the tall tree on the cliff above the sea just before dawn. It was a short flight from the forest where she lived and a pleasant place to muse and dream after the night’s hunt.

Lulled by the rhythm of the sea below, Owl settled into the peace and silence and let her thoughts drift upon the winds. Soon she could tell where the currents of air merged with those of the sea, and her awareness drew closer and closer to the big water. She heard a deep toning from beneath the waves and recognized it as the voice of a vast being just below the surface of the sea.

“Who? Who?” asked Owl.whale

Air and Water carried Owl’s query beneath the waves, where Whale heard and pondered the question. Finally, he raised his huge head and sang Himself in answer. He sang the name that only he knew, the name that conveyed the most basic truth of his soul. “I am I” is what the whale’s song said.

“Who?” asked Owl.

At once Whale realized his mistake. “Of course,” he thought. “What good does it do to sing the song of my uniqueness to someone who has no knowledge of my kind of being?” So Whale sang of his self, his nature. He sang of the age and majesty of the whale-kind. He sang of the pleasures, the graces, sorrows, fears, accomplishments and destiny of his race. It was a wondrous song. Whale was sure he had answered Owl in fullness and beauty.

“Who?” asked Owl, still unsatisfied.

How can I make you understand?” wondered Whale. Then he realized. “Of course. What good does it do to sing the song of my uniqueness or the nature of my kind to someone who cannot comprehend the very element in which I live, someone who knows only earth and sky? “ So, Whale sang again. He sang long and lovingly of the sea, of its strength and tenderness, it’s power, passion and beauty, it’s lights and shadows and the ever-changing flow of it’s life. He sang of the countless other creatures that make the sea their home, and of the long evolution of life from the sea to the land and sky. Whale sang of the way all of the life force of the whole planet merges together in the sea, generating its constant pulse. He sang of the way the sea carries the messages of earth and sky to every other part of earth and sky, connecting the whole planet, all the life everywhere on earth and nourishing it. When Whale finally finished singing he had sung all that he knew, all that he had and all that he was. He felt fulfilled and at peace. He knew that if he had not given Owl her answer, it was not within his power to give. He waited patiently for Owl’s reply.

Owl was silent, her queries spent, her wisdom enriched by Whale’s songs. The sun’s light was just breaking through the red and purple cracks in the night sky.

With slow magnificence, Owl spread her wings and cast herself upon the wind. She soared high, and then dropped down, circling the deep water below. Once, twice, three times she circled, and then flew off toward the cliffs and her forest home, carrying with her the resonant echoes of Whale’s songs.

Whale felt the splendor of Owl’s response with gladness and pride. Slowly, with equal majesty, he cast himself upon the waves. He rode into the sea’s depths toning thoughtfully a new song of the fearless, soaring beauty of Owl’s flight.

Copyright 2016 Dara Tuell

An Animal Stone Reading for the New Year

Fullreading(I’m back, after a long hiatus, and I offer this post as both apology and re-entry gift. For those who have been curious about the animal stone readings I provide as one of my services (, I’m about to give you a taste.  This is my New Year’s reading for visitors of this site.

First, let me set the stage. I do my readings on a small, portable altar with offerings placed to each of the four directions. In the photo at the left, the black and white agate at the bottom, represents the North, and the bronze solar lion at the top is my offering for the South. The directional placement of the stones, along with the symbolic and archetypal meanings of the animal and mineral energies determine it’s interpretation in the reading.  I do use elemental associations with the directions, and if these are not the ones that you are used to, please remember that there are many different systems, and mine are in part determined by my own geographical locale.  I live in California where there is ocean to the West (Water) and mountains to the North (Earth).  At this point I also feel a need to briefly apologize for my shortcomings as a photographer.  I wanted to show the stone animals I use, some of which are actual native fetishes, others merely small animals carved of semi-precious stone, but they are all quite small and difficult for an rank amateur such as myself to capture on camera.  I ask you to fill in the gaps with your imaginations.

A final disclaimer: of necessity, this reading will be somewhat simpler and more abbreviated than what I could offer over the phone. But, again, I am hopeful that it will be enough to ignite your own imagination and intuition to bridge any gaps.)

To begin, the Question: “What does Spirit most want those likely to see this message to be aware of in 2016?”

brownbearFor the center of the reading — which is roughly equivalent to the significator card in a tarot reading, and indicates who we are for purposes of the reading itself — I chose Bear, specifically Brown Bear.  This speaks to the role of Winter and the dark time of year that we are now inhabiting.  Deep in hibernation, actively dreaming and engaged in the powerful — but as yet unconscious –creativity that will result in new birth, it works upon our deep subconscious minds and inner knowing, or intuition. We are now inwardly focused in a place of creatively dreaming all that is waiting to be born of our hopes, desires and actions, all that will emerge during the coming months of returning light and life.

Because of the way I phrased my question as an invitation to a message from Spirit, I chose the reading format I call a “chaos reading,” which means that the stones are thrown so that they fall where they will, instead of being drawn and intentionally placed in certain positions.  From my bag I drew — blindly without looking at them (or trying to figure it out by feel) —  six additional stones, shook them up between my closed hands and tossed them like dice into the reading. They landed as shown in the photo at the beginning of this post.

To the east of our central Bear is a small ebony rabbit. blackbunnyThe black rabbit, as I call it, is one of two I have in my bag. This dark one symbolizes the underground Rabbit, the rabbit sheltered, hidden and safe in its burrow, in its place of magic and power.  Rabbit is a minor trickster and it’s placement so close but to the East of Center indicates that magic is simmering beneath the surface, not quite ready to emerge. This reinforces the message of Bear, and lets us stay focused on our inner work and dreaming at this time knowing that the time for emergence is not yet but will be soon. It also alerts us to the possibility of fun and games, new adventures, and possibly the necessity for risk-taking dawning on the horizon.  If we are feeling at all vulnerable or fearful about the future, just relax and know that in this moment, this time of dreaming, we are safe.

Moving from East to South and West, we find Frog just above and slightly Southwest of Center, with Dolphin directly below and almost close enough to touch Frog, Because of their proximity, I will read these two together.  frog & dolphin

To begin with, both are beings most often associated with the element of water, yet both are actually creatures of more than one element. Frog symbolizes cleansing as well as transformation and the ability to transition from one form of being into another, completely different one. With its deep voice, and nighttime choral performances, Frog alerts us to the possibility of using ceremony and celebration to invite cleansing and transformation in this time of new beginnings.

Dolphin — a water dwelling, air breathing mammal — is also associated with sound, particularly its use of sonar to navigate in deep water, and with the conscious use of the breath to connect with the divine.

These two water creatures, coupled so closely, speak strongly of navigating our own subconscious and emotional waters to consciously invoke healing and transformation.  We can assist the process of bringing the deep and powerful subconscious creativity represented by Bear to the surface of ourselves by doing conscious breathwork, and through the use of music and ritual.

Moving clockwise to the Northwest, we have a small black Bear.  blackbearThis takes us back into our inner sanctum, our place of creative intuition, with a deeper awareness and a more mature ability and intent to emerge and climb to new heights of awareness and achievement. (Black Bear is the climber of the bears, unlike the brown or white bear.)

To the farthest point north of Center lies Deer. Deer is an animal of great gentleness and innocence. It is in the position to the farthest north of any animal in the reading — the North being the place of our greatest wisdom, maturity and strength, the place where we find the deepest parts of ourselves and rise to our greatest heights.  Deer shows us the path of walking gently and lovingly in the world, with our hearts wide open to wonder.  This becomes a source of great strength.  Deer

Immediately below our central Bear — between brown Bear and Deer, but slightly to the East (Northeast) is a small stone that I like to call the “mystery beast.”   mystery beastI call it a mystery beast because it’s obviously meant to be some kind of animal, but I’ve never been able to determine exactly which one. I use it in a reading to hold space for all the many species of animals that I don’t have stones for and that wouldn’t fit in my bag anyway. In other words, and especially for this reading which is not just for one person but for many, it’s a place to fill in the animal and message that is the most meaningful for each individual. What a delightful and magically appropriate opportunity to make this New Year’s divination interactive and personal for every reader!

So, I invite each of you to take a moment, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Feel the earth beneath your feet and the heavens above you. Know your Self as the center where all directions meet, and feel your connection as part of the natural world. Know that you, yourself, in this moment, are as much a part of Earth and Nature as a tree, a blossom, a river or a star. Open yourself and ask for the animal who will guide you in the coming year to reveal itself to you. Breathe, and Feel. Breathe — See. Breathe, and Listen. Breathe — Hear. Breathe, and Know. Take a moment to jot down all impressions, and any message you may have received. This is Spirit’s gift exclusively to and for YOU in this new year.

Winding to a close now, I note that all of the stones fell quite close to the Center — nothing very far afield or off the board.  To summarize the messages I glean from this reading of the stones: Begin within, honoring dreams, feelings and intuition, recognizing yourself as both the center and the creator of your world. Allow and follow the magical guidance of your natural needs and impulses — particularly those towards playfulness and fun.  Laugh, sing, use your breath and your voice to consciously connect with Divine Guidance in order to emerge as a higher and better version of yourself.  Be gentle and loving — especially with YOU — for you are the dreamer and the dream, the guide, healer, teacher, and creator of your life and your experience.

Blessings of the new year from Our Animal Wisdom.